Posts Tagged truth
Many people who have traveled the world and especially those who spent a fair amount of time of what we used to call the Third World, have often remarked how happy and relaxed the local people are. Often upon returning to the uptight and stressed world of the “First World”, they will talk about their easy-going smiles that seem to light up a room.
I have noticed that myself in my own travels and just that one small perception was one of the ideas that inspired my book Liberation from the Lie.
Why is that? This is the question I am going to try to answer in this post. But within this question arises the clearest expression of discovering the awakened self.
Anyone who has ever meditated – anyone who has been attracted to what we might call Eastern Philosophy – reaches a stage where they make inquiries into the self. “Who am I” they ask themselves. “What am I?”
In this way we start to explore the self – that being that we have taken ourselves to be these many years.
Awakening reveals something really quite amazing about this self. It reveals a quality that we might be very reluctant to see or admit to.
It reveals that this self is very grandiose. It’s the BIG story. It’s the MAIN story. It has a bigness to it. But it is a solitary and detached bigness. We can’t help noticing how this all-important self is separate from the rest of the world. It’s separation gives it a feeling of vulnerability – brittleness.
In contrast, realization shows a universe where beingness is without dimensions. It doesn’t possess substance. It’s just … light – ‘the incredible lightness of being’.
You might want to see if this is true for your own experience. When something is BIG, then it’s IMPORTANT. It has weight. It’s something that needs to be carried about. It’s very fatiguing. If we are to experience our essence, we just need to see this BIGNESS and get sick and tired of carrying it around.
Now let’s get back to our Third World Friends.
In places that are far less stressed, that have far fewer things – the concept of the BIG me is far less vigorous. There is an easy-going quality of the self. Because it’s not nearly so big, it can be a lot more nimble and generous. It has little, but it is happy to share the little it possesses.
Thought, desire, fear, grandiosity, all contribute to making life and our sense of ourselves so much more complicated and convoluted. We get all wrapped up in this HUGE version of ourselves. The whole endeavor takes on its own terribly serious quality. This is how we make it all so very complicated.
We really don’t need to do this.
What we need to do is just see all of the bullshit spiritual baggage for what it is – an expression of our own underlying grandiosity. This is all the false-self with all of its immense weight. It’s a life killer and the life it’s killing is your own.
So just stop trying be something. Focus on simplicity. What is your essence? What is that one and only quality that you cannot be without? What is the source of you?
Every time we want ‘to be something’, we are back on the wheel of samsara.
Read the next line as gospel truth.
The person you take yourself to be, this person that right now believes that she is reading this post, that person is just part of the show.
Everything is the show. It can’t be figured out, because he who would try to figure it out is also part of the show. It’s all a show! This is what enlightenment is – the realization that you are nothing – that everything you believe yourself to be, that which believes it is that sees, touches, feels, hears, and all the rest is all the show as it is happening right now! That which seeks to change it – to mold it to their preferences – that too is just part of the show. When this is truly seen and felt, every urge to change what it is – is seen to be the essence of futility. It all stops here and now.
The show IS the show. There is really not much more you can say about it. It is what it is.
Now let’s deal with a question that will inevitably arise: “Are you saying that I should do nothing – that in the face of all the problems we are facing nowadays, that I should just site back and enjoy the show?”
Answer: What you do is part of the show. So if you feel motivated to work on social justice issues, then do what you’re motivated to do – do it 100% – do it with all of your heart. Just know that you are playing on the stage of being. This is NOT, I repeat NOT a minimalization of doing. To the contrary, when you are Realized, the doing what you love gets massively energized. Everything is just an incredible vibe. Everything feels alive. You finally understand the Native American understanding that everything is alive – not on an intellectual level, but on a gut level. It is the purest of energies. When we believe that we are a small and vulnerable part of the show, that’s then when we get scared and frustrated. There is a very decisive difference. You will know it when you experience it.
Also, when you believe that you are this small person in this vast world, that small person will need to be the center, the focus, the problem, the issue. It is the being that must wonder HOW to get enlightened, HOW to be happy, HOW to be fulfilled, HOW to be successful. It will be the IDENTITY that needs to be seen, that needs to be respected, that needs love and to be loved, that needs acknowledgement, if only from yourself. In other words, this is the grandiose character. It is the very definition of “uptight”.
This is the essence of duality. On one side is the well-intended you yearning for freedom, release, understanding, oneness and on the other side is the perceived you, stumbling, confused, sad, frustrated, frightened.
But when you realize that everything that is happening, and most especially the person you believe yourself to be is a kind of automatic show*, then you are truly FREE and liberated. This is the truth from someone who is living that truth and this person living this truth is also part of the show.
If you have any questions about this post, just contact me. I can help you along the path.
Just feel the whole complexity of the false self and, simultaneously, feel the pure simplicity of that which notices. You are THAT. But even that is saying too much.
*what you would love to do (as briefly discussed above) is also ‘automatic’.
We miss THIS life in the pursuit of enlightenment. The latter is ego, the former is truth; this ineffable now.
Everything we believe is true can only be true for the moment in which it is seen. That too passes. The truth is a stream that no mind can contain. We are the collective vessels of streaming, always changing, truth. The ever-changing and the never changing; one eternal moment, one eternal truth.
Stop seeking and be the ever changing truth you are.
Why does the mind have trouble with this? Because the mind can only know things – fragments – objects. But the truth is this flowing stream of thought, feelings, emotions, and objects. The paradox is that this stream holds no thoughts, feelings, emotions, or objects.
I would like to try to add a little clarity to what I noted earlier. Nonduality can be an escape from the challenges of living in a complex society, but it doesn’t have to be. I wrote a book about this call Liberation from the Lie. Until we see the source of our fears and why we might want to escape the truth (the Fear-Based Self), we will never find our Authentic Being. This Authentic Being is connected to everything and everyone. When we discover our authentic being we can live from a place of real compassion, empathy and partnership. This is love. I can’t tell you how I’m moved by just the sound of just the wind. We are all connected. But when we live a life that is NOT connected, that is separate on account of our religion of spiritual philosophy, then we risk failing the call of life.
But this is not an easy or simple path. The journey described in Liberation from the Lie asks us to be courageous and rigorously honest with ourselves. We need to question every belief that we support from a position of faith, including a belief in one’s inadequacy, insufficiency, or worthlessness (for these identifications underlie our compulsion to achieve or to cling to our pathos). We also need to question our beliefs about the world’s inadequacy, insufficiency, and worthlessness. When we are free of beliefs, only can we live as truth.
It’s time to move on from what is simply false in Eastern philosophy (Buddhism, Advaita/nonduality, and some Taoism). Jesus said the truth will set you free and the whole purpose of this blog is to identify the false, so that the ineffable truth of being and life can shine forth.
1. The basic tenant of Eastern spiritual philosophy is that we are not our thoughts and feelings. We are, therefore, not who we “think” we are. So far, so good.
2. Our thoughts and feelings change, but, as these philosophies point out, there is a part of us that doesn’t change. This part is that presence that observes our passing thoughts and feelings. We are, they say, this changeless entity. Now we’re getting on some shaky ground, but let’s continue.
3. This presence, which is our true self is separate from the body/mind. It is neither born nor will it ever die. It is eternal consciousness. Here the philosophies collapse. I will try to show this below.
My experience shows that Point 1 is partly correct. Clearly, we are not our thoughts. Our thoughts, do, indeed, change. One day we “think” we love our wife/husband, then something happens and then we discover to our shame and disbelief that we now are not the one who loves this wife/husband. Life has changed completely. But we can also observe that some of our thoughts change constantly, other thoughts change only occasionally, and still others are nearly constant in our life. Within this array of change, we can detect patterns of thought and feeling. These patterns suggest an individuality that is, in fact, real. For example, I know that I love to explore issues, that with all my heart and soul I stand up for those who have been victims of unjustice, I love the music of Brahms and Mozart, etc.
Our Eastern Philosopher will say that my seemingly consistent thoughts/feelings are merely an outcome of my conditioning. They are “mere” appearances on the utterly changeless and characterless ground of being. They will further assert that this is not a theory, but the the outcome of direct experience, it is therefore not an issue of philosophy, but of direct experience. I can respond that the same is true for me. I am able to employ the power of presence, that power that is central to Eastern spiritual tradition (EST), to detect and identify these patterns. I can, therefore, make the same experiential claim. It is something I can directly observe.
But more importantly, I can also experience what is pointed to in EST and assert that the ESTer is drawing a decisive line of separation between “presence” and thought/feeling/experience, in which it is posited that one’s true identity is exclusively on one side of the experiential dimension. Our ESTer posits that Reality is the ground of experience and sensed experience (thoughts/feelings/observations) itself is mere appearance. All objects (thoughts/feelings/sensed objects) are passing and insubstantial. It is highly ironic that a philosophy that eschews separation so depends on this division, that this Maginot Line of separation is posited between one’s true identity and what is mere passing appearance. I can see the mere passing appearance of that tree just outside my window. I can look away and the tree is no longer in view (the tree ceases to exist!), but when I look back – what do I see??? – it’s remarkable, but it appears to be that same tree. Yes, the direction of sunlight might have changed a bit, but I am very sure that it’s the same true – perhaps five seconds older.
Now before moving on, let’s take a deep breath. What is the EST person really doing? Is it not possible that by labeling all sensed objects (thoughts/feelings) as mere passing appearance, he is negating his own role in this sensed life? Consider that possibility. Is this any different from the substance abuser who is also seeking to avoid the challenges of life through booze and drugs? Is this any different from the depressed person who lifts himself out of the anguish of his psychological being by adopting a zealous faith-based attitude on this life? Is this any different from the religious fanatic who believes that this life is just a preparation for the real life that begins at death and he can avoid all of the messiness and unpredictability of everyday life and dream of living an eternity in heaven?
I do not seek to judge the ESTer, but it is possible to detect a pattern in human history that revolves around the negation of everyday life – because life can be challenging, it can be complex, it calls on us to make tough decisions, it brings to light all of the empty faith-based beliefs we might cling to out of fear of the unknown. This is what life is. Wake up to its fantastic messiness. Life calls on us to be challenged. Anyone who has parented a little baby into adulthood knows this is true. Anyone in touch with their heart senses the vapid emptiness of EST.
Welcome to the challenge of your life. Make the best of it, for time is passing.
What happens when “you” do nothing?
Did you birth yourself?
Do you choose your death?
Do You do the seeing?
Do You do the hearing?
Do You do the tasting?
Do You choose your thoughts?
Do You choose your feelings?
If you are rigorously honest with yourself, the answer to each of these questions (and so many more) must be “no”, a real emphatic “NO“..
Then – let life live you. Trust!
Fall into life – if we see the truth and I mean REALLY see the truth of life, that is the most transformative, heroic, and loving act we can do.
We sever the ties to FEAR. Sever it fully and see how beautifully you survive the fall.
Wu Wei – Doing Nothing
I am not an Advaitist. I am not a Buddhist. I am not anything, but myself, committed to what is true and freeing myself of what I can SEE as false. That is the challenge of our lives.
This is what you must know; people are addicted to feeling good. In comes in every form and flavor. That is the work of ego, working in service to our primal Wound. “If we fail to strive for safety – happiness – feeling good – then how will I ever be secure, happy, and feel good?” This is the perennial question of the ego. This is its obsession.
See that security – happiness – feeling good are all concepts. They are not real. They are projections of the mind. They are the false. As long as you insist on pursuing them, you will waste your life on goals that are unreal. You will live as Don Quixote, living a life that is filled with madness chasing after windmills.
The grave danger in Buddhist and nonduality teachings is how the mind bends them to achieve the goals of the deficient self. How does it do this? It does this by negating the authentic self! In this role, spiritualism is no different from any other authority in our lives that seek to mold us in ITS vision and kill our own.
Awareness shows us what is true and what is false. Usually, what is false are the beliefs we cling to that make us feel safe. But any belief that we cling to, that is not based in the truth of actual seeing can and often will undermine our well being. Beliefs are limits. They are ideas that we have absorbed from authorities in our lives. Coming alive to who we truly our asks us to question and explore our most deeply held beliefs.
Life is not designed to be easy. Only an ego loves the easy – the easy money, the easy sex, the easy this, the easy that. Life is designed to be active – alive. When we “rest in awareness” as the only goal of life, we have sacrificed our individuality. We have zoned out in the life of total “acceptance”. The only problem with that “belief” is the one thing we fail to accept becomes ourselves! Can you see that? Zoning out in belief is the same thing as zoning out with drugs – only more challenging and thus a bigger accomplishment of the ego. That’s why doctrine based spiritualism is thought to be better than drug abuse. Is it?
Zoning out is not a problem. Often the body/mind needs to zone out. We live in an exhausting time and zoning out is a pleasure we would be foolish to deny ourselves, but it is not our ultimate identity. When that happens, as it often does in meditative philosophies, we fail in the challenge of living.
Wake up to your aliveness. Wake up to your senses. Wake up to your mind – the mind that is embedded in what is real and is motivated to drop what it discovers is false. For example, I know that cars are contributing to the environmental deterioration of the planet, so I’ve decided to do all of my local errands by bike or foot. That’s what I do. If I think that makes me better than others, then I have converted what I have seen as true within awareness to be an action of ego. I see all of that and act accordingly. I see that income inequality breeds racism and classism, so I support political agendas that encourage people to live as sisters and brothers economically and socially. I know that my body depends on nature, so I can SEE that we are all connected and that when one part of our world suffers, we all suffer. I see that this as true. I see that when we pursue security through weapons, walled communities, unfair laws, racism, sexism, that we inspire division and this is life out of balance. So when I observe those tendencies in myself, I can see where I am contributing to the division and hardship of the world. Seeing it is the first and most decisive step we can make in our own liberation.
This is the challenge of living.
And before I conclude this post, let’s talk a minute about humor. Ultimately, this is the most liberating emotion of all. Grave seriousness is a very dependable red flag of the ego. Take yourself lightly in nearly all matters and you will truly see what is false in you. When you become overly serious (one of my “issues”) check out the status of your ego and get a good laugh out of your grandiosity. I can assure you probably look pretty funny to others – or even worse an authority for others to follow.
If you choose to follow, as many spiritual traditions urge us to do, then know yourself as a follower. If you choose to be yourself, that you become a light unto yourself. That light can free others of their own darkness.