field
Feb 012017
 

Acceleration! We can feel it.
Not only the elderly and the adult – kids are feeling it as well.
The rate in which everything changes, is accelerating. Just like in a whirlpool, getting closer to the center faster and faster.

There seems to be a constant stream of bad news wherever we look. News, speculations, fear mongering, threats and the likes. It seems as if this stream too, is accelerating. Reactions in the form of confusion, anger, fear, panic, depression, hope, caution and the like, are so natural in the reality in which we live, and they often go in cycles of confusion changing into anger, changing into depression, changing into hope, in this order or any other.

Our need for security, stability and comfort has been continuously and increasingly challenged for many years now. And yet now it feels different – as if everything has moved up to a higher gear.
Of course we are free to act, each one according to our individual capabilities and available resources, and at the same time there’s a powerful nagging feeling that the real picture is much bigger than this. Which means that even when we succeed in righting a wrong, the number of wrongs as well as their degree seems to multiply. One can easily become ironic, feeling that for every wrong that they have righted, five more wrongs appeared, perhaps even (and strangely so due to) using their power to act. This is of course debatable but unimportant as it can be neither proved nor disproved.

Of course, some of us have much more power than others. Just like leaves on a tree in the fall, a mild wind will tear-off some of the leaves but not others. A strong enough gust will tear-off every single leaf, perhaps even the entire tree.

To me, this reality that we are part of, is trying to teach us something. It may be that there’s a different lesson meant for different individuals. I personally hear a calm voice saying: “Do not resist“. It’s tone is knowing and loving. It doesn’t say that I will not be adversely affected in the unfolding of the coming torrent of events, but it suggests that the more I will resist, the more I will be suffering.

I know that my own life is going to change. And in accordance with this ongoing acceleration, these changes could become more and more extreme. Yet, at the same time I feel as if we are in the process of shifting from a reality that we are familiar with, to a new reality which we do not know and don’t even have the capability to imagine. It feels like being in a narrow tunnel, being pushed through it by some great invisible force. It is frightening and uncomfortable. There’s no way to know how long it will last and it may well be that some of us may not survive this transition. But it is leading us into a new reality.
I’m not a prophet, and I cannot prove anything, but this understanding is somehow given to me and I’m sharing it.

Those of us who are fully entrenched in the physical three-dimensional reality, are likely to be affected the most by what’s happening, and worse, by their own speculations on what is coming next. Please remember – our ideas and thoughts about what’s happening are incapable of knowing the truth. Everything that we know, and everything that we are capable of speculating, is based on a reality that has passed. Also, being able to see one single tree, can easily be made into a conclusion that the world is a forrest. Being able to get our information from the media, can easily become a conclusion that the world is going towards self destruction. There’s much that we cannot see and what we CAN see may be insignificant in its scope compared with the true magnitude of our reality.

We are each here for a reason. Perhaps the reason is to win, or to lose, or to experience, or to observe, or to learn. But it may be very different from what we BELIEVE that it is. I find great solace in accepting my own insignificance. In moments of sudden clarity, a voice says to me, amused: “You are taking yourself too seriously”. And then I see it and become amused myself. Every time that my mind becomes set in a new picture of what reality is, I lose my inner peace, forgetting that reality is NOT that. I am blessed to receive these ongoing reminders. They are very humbling and soothing.

One thing that I can put my finger on, as something concrete that helped me get to “that special place”, is the practice of Qigong, which I began ten years ago and realized it was saving me. On the outside it looks too benign to completely change a person’s life in a most profound way, but perhaps that is its special power. It is said that the best kept secrets lie out in the open. Qigong is my anchor, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually and for good health. That’s why I have not skipped a single day of Qigong practice in the past ten years. It’s precious.

I will be giving a four-class Qigong workshop at the Schenectady Jewish Community Center. Here’s a link with all the information for anyone wishing to participate.
http://www.schenectadyjcc.org/main/qigong/

For closing words, please consider the following:
1) The mainstream media serves as a tool in the hands of the powers that are in control.

2) It’s obvious that the news are mostly bad, upsetting and elicit anxiety and fear.

3) It’s also obvious – if one stops to think clearly for a moment – that most of what’s actually happening is being filtered out, because it’s impossible and further – improbable – that what’s actually happening is what’s portrayed by the media.

The point that I wish to make is that the masses (that’s you and I) can only be kept under control via the use of fear. Once the masses have no fear from the powers in control, there’s loss of control. The media is a tool to keep the masses in fear (under the guise of both entertainment and education).
It may be better for our own wellbeing, to unplug and live life with much less fear and anxiety. If something’s going to hit us, it will. Of that I’m sure.

The wonderful Mark Twain said:
“If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed.
If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.”

Be well.
Have fun.
Know peace.

~ Oded

Jan 042017
 

Wait a minute…
This is a Deja-vu, I know that it is.
I have been here before…
I need just a moment to find my grounding again, because my emotions and my thoughts are in a feedback loop with each other and something is definitely growing inside of me.

I am recognizing it now. It is the deafening silence of inner recognition that a year is ending and a new one is beginning. This recognition is powerful. I need to be only allowing, and in an instant, it will grow into a Walmart-size monster.

Why?
Why does it have such an irrational effect? It is after all, just another day. December 31st or January 1st. So what?
What’s the big deal?
What makes it any different than April 15th or September 3rd?

And sure enough – I’ve been here before so many times. One would think I’d be so familiar with this, and immune, so as to dismiss the entire thing altogether.

Ordeal? Really?
[Sigh]

Perhaps it is like an alarm clock going off in the middle of the night. We suddenly wake up, whether from deep sleep or from a busy dream, to confront a reminder: only two hours left before night is over. OVER!
Maybe that’s what New Year’s is like; placing a finger on the gauge that reads “Birth” on one side and “Death” on the other. And every year [Oh Lordy], the finger gets farther away from the “Birth” end.

Or perhaps it’s more akin to an hourglass that has just ran its course. And now we contemplate the projects, ideas, relationships, jobs, relocations and everything else that we’ve set in motion this passing year. When we did, we had hopes and expectations and now, we stop for a moment… Did it go the way we hoped that it would?
Did we give it enough time?
How much time will it take before we feel it’s enough and try something else?

All of this could theoretically be simply a mental process of evaluation and reevaluation, but somehow, strong emotions are finding their way into this. Why should they? They have no business here. This is just a periodic business meeting between the person that I’ve been a little while back, with the person that I am today. That’s all – a business meeting. What are all these powerful emotions doing here?

Maybe I’m now beginning to see certain things that I’ve been avoiding, perhaps even subconsciously, thinking that they would somehow be resolved. Perhaps their disharmony is becoming more obvious and unpleasant.

I stop. I’m blanking out into this awe-some realm of a continuously-increasing-silence. Without a thought left to think. Without a single emotion left to squeeze, or be squeezed by.

I start laughing. A recognition emerges. A feeling that I’m an actor, playing out a role. I’m getting some leeway to improvise, but I’m not the director. I didn’t write the script and I have no idea what the script is. I’m just receiving it one page at a time as I’m playing my role one day at a time. I may as well be crying, being torn apart by the anxiety of uncertainty, but somehow I end up laughing. It’s just all so ridiculous.

I’m amazed at how easy it is for me to see everything with such utter seriousness. And at times when I’m lucky enough, I could – in an instant – become a bystander and recognize this person (me, that is), looking oh so serious. And at that instant I become amused. I have just been offered a different set of eyes. I’ve been just set free.

May we all be blessed with an occasional borrowed set of eyes, so as to become both relieved as well as entertained and gain the grace of perspective.

Happy New Year

~ Oded Ben-Ami

Sep 172016
 

How simple it is for the experience of living to be overwhelming. There are twenty four hours in a day, bottomless to-do lists, repeated follow-ups on just about anything, needing to be there for others and confronting our plunging energy levels.

Sure, there are better days and days that we’d rather rip out of existence, but there are those periods of time in our life where life as a whole just feels as though it’s too much.

Society has its particular codes of ethics, even for individuals who are overwhelmed. Society’s codes don’t care much about the individual – it’s too busy protecting its own survival. It’s in denial of anything that would undermine its existence, and overwhelmed individuals pose a real threat for society’s continuity. So it just pretends that we are a negligible minority.

We live at a time where the rate of change seems to be increasing by the day. We used to live an entire lifetime in the same environment, more or less, and things were recognizable. Later, the rate of change increased, but the rate was such that it allowed us to gradually come to terms with the new.

Today, the rate of change is so fast, that as fast as something new is being introduced, so it also vanishes. We don’t even know whether or not the new trend (language, technology, education, politics, practices etc’), is here to stay for long enough, to even consider it as existing. Our society is in turmoil and we are left confused. Those of us who are not confused today, may find themselves in a state of shock tomorrow.

Nothing is wrong with us – individually or collectively. If any feelings of insufficiency or incompetency arise, it is only when we compare our life today – in terms of actions, thoughts, emotions and reactions – to what it appeared like in the past. Recorded history has no parallel anywhere in its unfolding, of such a light-speed rate of change, and there’s no one from whom we can seek advice. We are the cutting edge. Alone as a society and individually.

There is nothing wrong with us. There is nothing wrong with being confused. There is nothing wrong with being afraid or panic. But it doesn’t end here. With increasing confusion and stress on so many fronts, society’s codes and no-nos are being challenged as well. Crime, addictions, destruction of self and destruction of the other, are all part of this changing landscape. Society’s codes are being challenged. Society, as we know it, is crumbling.

Sooner or later we’ll be able to recognize the Phoenix as it will rise from the ashes, but at the moment, what we mostly see are the flames and the destruction.

Don’t judge yourself. Don’t blame yourself. Don’t expect to be the same person that you were yesterday. Don’t expect to know in advance how to act and whether or not it is right or wrong. We don’t know. But we’re going through all of this as one, perhaps more united as a society as we ever were before. That’s because the pain and fear is no longer limited to the underdog who never makes it to the news; it is now becoming a reality for those who thought that they were protected.

We live this movie as it is being written. We cannot flip a few pages forward to see what’s happening next. Once we can come to terms with such a reality, once we stop denying the fact that we really don’t know what to do next, that’s when we can take the first step: re-centering. We must take a pause. Look at the children when they play, with their arms spread sideways as they spin faster and faster and faster. At some point they can no longer continue. They lose their balance and they fall to the ground. If they stand up too early, everything will be spinning in front of their eyes. They must stay on the ground, overwhelmed for a while, before their minds can reorient and their balance resume. Only then they can get up and start a new game.

One day at a time. One crisis at a time. One breath at a time.
We can do it.

Jun 012016
 

A difficult to name feeling, that is shared by many of us. We may be unable to explain it to others, or even to ourselves. Sometimes, we believe that we know the reason, but later realize that it is something else.

This feeling comes in different forms. It could be ongoing, or repeatedly waxing and waning. It may be gone for several years and then come back. It may feel like seeking, disconnectedness, loneliness etc’.

Consider this;
There’s a word: ‘I’. We use it all the time: I work… I am reading… I wish… Etc’. Words are labels for mental concepts. It doesn’t mean that what these concepts represent is Real, only that we – both as a society and as individuals – have created them and now use them. The moment that we use the word ‘I’, we create separation.
If there’s an ‘I’, than the ‘I’ stands separate from everything else.

When there’s a word for ‘I’, and there another word for ‘God’, God and I are separate. We use language so automatically that most of us are oblivious to the finer “side effects” of language, and yet subconsciously, the emotion that we experience by such use, is that of separation. Many of us make significant efforts to be closer to God or the spiritual, or “the beyond” – or whatever word one wishes to use. At the same time, only very few of us experience proximity or unity with a higher spiritual essence. ‘I’ and ‘God’ remain separate, by virtue of our existence as separate manmade concepts.

This being the case, separateness can be substantially reduced through some personal work, though perhaps of a somewhat unfamiliar kind.

Below, is a practice that may change all that.

We are trying to become aware, of ourselves using the word ‘I’. As soon as we realize that we have just used the word ‘I’, we should do the following:

  1. STOP!
  2. We may experience a sudden inner silence. When this occurs, we allow the silence to be (without any doing, acting or interfering on our part) for as long as it lasts. There’s a consciousness shift taking place at this time, one which is beyond words, concepts, thoughts, emotions or sensations.
  3. Once the experience of silence has ended, we move on with whatever we were doing previously, as if nothing happened.

There’s no need to avoid using the word ‘I’, although that may be an added layer to this practice, one which some of us may wish to try.

This practice takes some patience and perseverance. There is no end result, only an increasing sense of connectedness, relief and liberation.

When we begin this practice, we are likely to be using the ‘I’ without noticing, practically all the time, which is completely understandable. Gradually we become more aware and notice our use of ‘I’ more and more often.

This is an exercise in awareness. We increase our awareness to include something which has previously been below the radar of our consciousness. Each time that we do this practice, we create a tiny hole in the wall of separation. Tiny enough that we may not notice anything. Continued patiently over a period of time however, we will notice several things:

  • We will be noticing our use of ‘I’ more and more frequently.
  • We will become aware of being about to use ‘I’ even before we actually say it.
  • We will begin to have an experience of increasing unity with all things: known and unknown, familiar and unfamiliar, physical non-physical and spiritual, inside of us and outside of us, of this world and beyond. It is a very powerful experience, awe-inspiring, amazing, uplifting and liberating and certainly not of this world.

When we begin, It would best serve us to put our expectations away. It will allow us to stay with this practice over an extended period of time – long enough to reap its remarkable benefits.

Apr 052016
 

When we were kids, we couldn’t wait until we’d be all grown up. First, as kids, we are second degree humans; we are important, but adults are more important. That’s why they keep telling us: Once you are grown up (fill in the empty space . . . ). Second, as kids, there seem to be something mysterious about being an adult; perhaps because it is something that we cannot attain at that moment.

As kids, we thought that once we become adults, we’ll have all the answers and we certainly had many questions. Curiously, it may have not occurred to us back in our childhood, that many of the adults that we approached with our questions were either unable to give us an answer, or that their answer made little sense. That alone, should have been a revealing hint, that the answers to that which we seek, may not be in adulthood.

Another thing that may not have occurred to us as curious and questioning kids, was the whole issue of “At what point did we actually begin to have these questions and problems”? Had we actually asked this question, it may have occurred to us that we weren’t in fact born with all these questions and seeking, and that it came later.
But why did it come later? Is it possible that the whole IDEA of having questions which are in need of answers, and the seeking for something that we believe we do not have, that this IDEA has simply been handed over to us by kind hearted people who are themselves as lost as lost gets?

And so, this insane restless search for God-knows-what, has started very early on in our lives, for reasons that are not clear, and has been escorting us on-and-off ever since. At times, we may just let it be as we allow ourselves to be absorbed with the busyness of life. But then at other times, these nagging feelings resurface.

What is it that we seek?

Surely, it must be something very special. Is it the same thing for all of us, or is it something different for each person? After all, there are those who honestly believe that they’re not looking for anything other than the next rung up in the ladder . . . at least that’s how they may feel for a while.

Here’s what I think.
As newly born babies, what we saw in the world was miraculous. We saw much more than we’ll ever know. Our sight, both the physical as well as the spiritual was clear and unobstructed. We saw many of the things that adults were seeing, but also much much more, with depth and understanding that goes way beyond the five senses, logic, concepts and language. But from very early on, our education/programming started. We were forced to see the world in a particular way. Concepts were introduced to us that were a completely unnatural separation of the oneness which IS everything, and each such concept was labeled by means of words. These concepts and words were then repeated to us again and again on end, until we started repeating them and later on, identifying with them. From that point on, what we’ve been seeing as the world, has nothing whatsoever to do with the world and with reality. We lost several most precious things:
– True understanding – concept-less.
– An actual connection with reality
– Awe
– Inner peace

Ever since that early programming took place, we are alone – an isolated and disconnected bunch of souls, living day-in-day-out, minute-chasing-minute like zombies in nowhere land, trying to make sense of our lives.

One may resent reading this and say that they have a VERY fulfilling life with a great job, a great spouse, children etc. And I have no doubt that they do. But that’s not the entire picture. The troubling truth is ever present. One may keep it hidden from the entire world, even those closest to them, but they know that in moments of silence, these thoughts haunt them. This is why so many of us cannot handle a single quiet moment, or meditation, and must constantly move from doing one thing to the other. And if we have nothing to do, we create them: checking Emails, texting, shopping, TV, calling someone, internet – we a have a room full of toys.

Think about AWE, for example. Although we don’t experience awe very often, we do get glimpses of awe every once in a while. It is always extraordinarily simple and very powerful. Just like being overtaken by a view of the moon, or a sunrise, or a flower, or a beautiful smile, or an amazing act of kindness . . . It is nothing short of magic. And in that moment, while we are in awe, time stops. Which to me suggests that Time is also just a concept that was programmed into us early on and isn’t real at all, (even if we found ways to justify its existence). When we’re in awe, time ceases to exist, along with our problems, pains, difficulties and everything else that’s part of our lives.
Imagine living in endless awe from now on.

Well – there’s good news and there’s bad news:
The good news is that there’s a way back to that which is lost, at least partially. The bad news is that to get there would be impossible as long as we wish to continue our way of life as it is now. It’s a tough choice. But it CAN be done.

A word of warning before you continue reading. Most of you are likely to feel very strongly against what’s to follow. Which is hardly surprising as it goes against every single thing that we were ever taught. There’s also likely to be a strong emotional element of profound objection and rejection of what’s to follow. Just be aware and as you read, be aware of yourself, of how you are reacting, and don’t be afraid to question those reactions, emotions, thoughts, and yes – fears – that may come as a torrent. Keep in mind that you are free to make whatever choice you wish. But also ask yourself this: Is it possible that we never made a choice to live our present life in the first place – that it was handed to us in terms of what life is all about and how we should fit in.

With that being said:
If we cannot see the world for what it truly is, and if it is manmade concepts that shatter the unity into incomprehensible bits and pieces that don’t fit together, and if these concepts themselves are not real – then by closely inspecting and questioning each of these concepts, they should disappear. In fact, much of the power that these concepts have for us, is through an unseen and unnoticeable power of assumption. There is much more assumption behind much of these concepts, than there is actual substance. Just like atoms – a nice concept accompanied by a nice picture, which doesn’t stand the reality test, and as we zoom in closer and closer, the actual substance that we expect to find blurs away until there’s nothing left.

For example; Let’s say that both you and I look at a painting of a red rectangle. I ASSUME, that you see exactly what I see. In reality, this cannot be proved or disproved. One may say that it CAN be proved true because if both you and I are given a box of crayons and a sheet of paper, we will reproduce a similar picture. And that’s true. However: by being given a box of crayons and a sheet of paper, we are forced to use these tools. We are forced to reduce our means of expression. But even prior to that, as we simply LOOK at the red rectangle, because of our conditioning, we are already forced to see it as a red rectangle in the first place.

Take this article as another example.
When I first wanted to write this article, it was nothing more than a feeling; no concepts, no thoughts, no words. Then, as I was trying to be able to convey this feeling to share it with others, I had to begin conceptualizing it. Each additional concept damaged the intensity of the initial wordless-truth, which was alive. It ended up as lines of text, which to me at least, are too far removed from what I was hoping to convey.

But how can we realistically question these concepts? You may be amazed at how simple it can be. We can ask simple basic questions. For example:
1) How can I be certain that there is in fact such a thing?
2) Is it possible that there isn’t such a thing?
3) Am I willing to be open to the possibility that, as much as I am convinced that I am right, that I may actually be wrong?

This is just a starting point, and we may add as many poking, provocative, offensive, ridiculous, stupid, irresponsible and dangerous questions, as we are able to conjure up.
We can do it with anything. ANY-THING.
Let’s take a few examples.

An argument.
1) How can I be certain that there is in fact such a thing as right and wrong?
2) Is it possible that there isn’t such a thing as right and wrong and that we are both right, depending on the perspective?
3) Do I have to prove the other person wrong to feel good about myself? Is that some mental need of mine?
4) Am I trying to prove something to myself? To the other person? To on lookers?

Feels weird?
It has to. This is something most of us hardly ever do and it feels unnatural, absurd and pointless.

Another example: Reality.
1) How can I be certain that there is in fact such a thing as reality?
2) Is it possible that there isn’t such a thing as reality, and that it is no different than a dream from which I haven’t awakened yet?
3) Is it possible that reality is a collective dream of millions of people, animals and plants?
4) Is there a way for me to know the truth?

Imagine a person – who’s unable to discern colors – looking at a peacock. All that they can see are shades of grey. They believe that they see the peacock for what it truly is. In fact, they are likely to become upset (at least earlier in their lives, before they learn to accept their disability) when it is suggested to them that their painting of a peacock, using a black Sharpie, is not truly what a peacock looks like.
Our concepts, likewise, are a form of disability. Language serves to both establish and perpetuate this disability.

Some of you may be thinking: “Dissolving concepts by asking questions, cannot possibly be this simple, otherwise, many of us would have already found it”. This again, brings in the power of assumption – we do it all the time. We do it in science, in medicine, in religion, in art, in relationships and in life. Assumption is the creation of something that’s not really there. And it’s easy enough to apply these questions to the possibility that we may be making assumptions.

If one is willing to seriously consider the possibility, that it is in fact possible to rediscover awe, and begin to live life in a way that has not been experienced since our first two years of life – one of several phenomena may be experienced:
1) We may feel foolish
2) If we persist, we may come across situations where we can easily see that a concept is not real, but at the same time realize that if we do not use this concept, society will reject us.
3) If we continue to persist, we may discover that hand in hand with an increasing awe, we are also experiencing paralyzing fear, as the world begins to change in front of our eyes, as we’re seeing things that are “not there” (at least according to what others may say), and also not seeing things that others say are there.

Do you think that’s unlikely?
Could that be an assumption you’re making?

Sep 262015
 

They come through the doors – searching. They want answers, they want guidance. They’re afraid to be disappointed yet again. Perhaps this time it’s going to be worth it. Perhaps this church, this synagogue, this teacher, these writings, these practices . . . Perhaps finally, this will be IT.

An answer . . .

Is an answer a real thing or is it manmade?
Looking outside, I can see people, cars, animals, trees . . . I don’t see answers. I don’t see questions either. What is an answer?
That’s not a part of the real world – of reality. We were taught very early on, to acknowledge a concept – an illusion – one that’s called questions and answers. The theory behind this is that every answer gets us closer to that which we try to achieve / get / have. Asking the “right questions” will give us the “right answers” and create a fulfillment of whatever expectations we may have.

It’s pretty straight forward actually, or so we’ve been told:
I want a cookie.
I ask a question: “where are the cookies?”
I get an answer: “They’re in the jar on the shelf.”
I open the jar and eat the cookie.
How simple!
We have just proved the existence of questions and answers.
Or have we?

Did we ask the “right question”?
What makes us think that we did?

Perhaps the “right question” should have been:
Why do I want a cookie? Or
What happens once I’m done eating the cookie? Or
Who is that “I” who wishes to have a cookie?
Or just about any question at all.

Perhaps, what we consider “the right question”, is the one which helps us create and perpetuate an illusion of understanding, to be delivered through “the right answer”.

Why does it seem that the questions that bother so many people the most, have no answer?

Why do we believe that the questions come first, followed by answers? It could easily be seen the other way around: Every answer that we get, creates three more questions. But that of course, is not a part of the way we’ve been taught. We just happened to stumble across this opposite concept by accident, and our teachers may just dismiss it as being too philosophical or perhaps be puzzled as well.

What if in reality – true reality, reality beyond human ideas, concepts or language – there is no such thing as questions and answers?

If that’s true, then the answers that we supposedly receive and interpret as a roadmap to get us closer to something or somewhere – is just a part of a lifelong self deception. But this self deception is incomplete and imperfect. Here and there, we see repeatedly, how some of the most troubling questions that come to us, remain unanswered again and again. Questions that we may have had for ten years, or twenty years, or half a century – same questions, still no answers.

Sometimes, we become convinced that this time we actually do have an answer. It’s life changing. We now have a road to walk and we begin to tread it. How wonderful – what a relief. We begin to explore this exciting new road, and after a while, once the initial excitement has worn off, we come across new questions.
NEW QUESTIONS.
It is the answer which created these new questions. Questions that were not there earlier. The road that we believed would reveal to us something that is missing from our life in the present, gradually becomes less and less paved, until it completely disappears, leaving us in the middle of nowhere, with more questions than before, less hope and more cynicism.

When will we stop asking questions?
What does it take before we see the illusion that’s behind this theoretical way of understanding the world?

Guidance?
What does Guidance mean?
What qualifies as guidance?
What do we expect when we seek guidance?
How would we know “guidance” if we see it?

If we are wise enough to know, that which we still don’t know, how can it be that after thousands of years of existence as a species, we still ask the same questions as people asked thousands of years before us? What’s wrong with this picture?

What are we looking for?
What are we hoping to find?
What would happen once we find it? . . . “THE END”?

What if we question our very questioning itself?
What if there is nothing to be found?
Imagine that!
What if we have been interpreting some inner feeling of discomfort, through the lens of the question/answer paradigm, further reinforced by ‘concepts’ and ‘language’?
What if we simply allow this feeling of discomfort – whatever it may be – to be left as it is? Perhaps it’s there for a reason. Perhaps it’s trying to show us something, to teach us something. Why should we get in its way?

Sep 122015
 

My previous article was released on May 16. This is the longest gap that I had in writing these articles.

This summer has been a challenging one for me. My mother had her cancer return and the therapy that was meant to help her, made her condition much worse. At that point I received a call from my siblings in Israel, telling me that mom is in the hospital and that her health was going downhill fast. I flew to Israel, thinking I may be attending her funeral. Instead, her condition started improving. After six weeks of being with her in Israel, seeing her getting constantly better, I came back to NY.

Two weeks later I get another call; mom had a stroke and she’s in a coma. The doctor’s told us that she has mere hours left to live. I got on the next flight to Israel two weeks after coming back. This time I was completely prepared to be attending my mom’s funeral. When I arrived, two days later, I was told that she was still alive. The “mere hours” that she was “given” to live, have become days, the days became a week, and after three weeks she began to gradually open her eyes. After a few more days she started whispering a word, and then two words. Then she started asking to be fed. I stayed in Israel five weeks for the second round and on the day that I came back, mom has been moved from a regular hospital to a geriatric hospital.

In essence, I spent the past three months in Israel. Overnight, my life has changed. Before I went to Israel, there wasn’t really a “roadmap” on how to live and what to do next, but apparently there was the illusion of such a “roadmap”. Upon my arrival in Israel, however, even the illusion of such a “roadmap” was gone. Although I was born in Israel and lived there until I was thirty, I didn’t feel as though I was coming back home. To me, New York felt more like home than Israel ever did. I felt as if I am on a self imposed exile from home, in a hostile place. A place where the “me” always come before “you”. Where people who are standing in line behind me, walk in front of me and run as fast as they can forward, to bypass me and get ahead of me. Where drivers change lanes, ignoring everyone – not a honk, not a look. Hostility was the prevalent energy. Life as a war. War against everyone, war over everything. This is what insanity looks like, and I was there, not because I wanted to be in Israel, but because I wanted to support my mother, father and brothers. Unbeknownst to me, I have arrived at school, and became a student.

The ground which I believed I was standing on, was suddenly not there. Not that it ever was. But believing that there’s a ground underneath ones own feet, is a much easier idea to handle, than the (thought, or belief, or yet another misperception) that one is floating in a void with nothing to hold on to.

Very quickly I realized that my past knowledge and experience was utterly meaningless. Even my most basic tool – tuning in to silence – was not available to me. The inner noise was deafening, with meaning that I was unable to decipher. There was an emotional roller coaster without an end in sight. There was pain, fear, struggle, anger and all those things that I have managed to become free of for such a long time.

Counterintuitively, in the midst of all of this and for a reason that is still beyond me – I said: “Thank You”.

I don’t know why I said it. I didn’t have the slightest feeling of gratitude when I did, and there was no logical thought process leading to a conclusion that saying “Thank You” was the right thing to do. Non of that whatsoever.

But when I said “Thank you”, everything stopped. Everything became silent. I became silence itself. In the moments that followed I was zooming out from the picture that I had of reality. This zooming out revealed to me that what I was experiencing as reality, actually had a much larger context. It wasn’t “all that there is at this moment”.
This new and larger picture was not a clear one. I was unable to tell what this newly appearing context actually was. All that I was able to tell, was that I was misunderstanding everything. This was the doing of silence at that moment, as it has been at different times in the past. The feeling of tremendous relief that followed this experience, in indescribable.

After this experience, I continued to say “Thank You” when toxic thoughts and emotions where present. At those later times, the thought of saying “Thank You” was already a conscious one, one based on previous experience. But even then, there was no feeling of gratitude behind the words. And yet, saying “Thank You” in the midst of turmoil, was repeatedly making the illusion – which I have been believing to be reality – fade away. And once the illusion disappeared, all that was left was silence. A blessed, welcoming silence. Silence that felt like home. A home beyond geography.

I am now back in NY, but only in part. Not because my physical body is not in NY, but because what I call “me” today, is different than what stood behind this word only three months ago. The school that I have attended taught me some lessons. But the lessons that I may presently be aware of, are just a small fraction. The full scope of the lessons learned, will gradually become apparent in the months and years to come.

May 162015
 

Even though I have been practicing and teaching Qigong since 2007, whenever I think that I know a thing or two about Qigong, I am humbled yet again. After all, what’s the big deal about Qigong? On the outside it looks just like a bunch a slow movements of one kind or another, sometimes accompanied by vocalization. What can it possibly do?
And yet each time I’m being amazed to discover how it takes on a life of its own, expanding infinitely, just like the universe.

I began practicing Qigong when I was in severe physical pain and my life was falling apart on all fronts. I had no expectations from Qigong to give me anything and at the same time, I had nothing to lose by giving it a try – I was desperate. From the first pain relief that I experienced after only three weeks of practice, I knew that there must be much more to Qigong than what my analytical mind could figure out. It was not just pain relief; An entire new outlook on life was emerging, seemingly out of nowhere, one which has allowed me to view the world as a welcoming open door, as opposed to the menace which I have previously regarded it. It has also allowed me to experience life as a wonderful moment-by-moment-opportunity, as opposed to an uphill battle – which is the way by which I have mostly lived my life up to that point.

I thought that by age 40 I knew what the world and what life were all about and that was very arrogant of me, but of course I couldn’t see it back then. Every time that I practice Qigong, no matter what the circumstances of the moment may be, the serenity, inner peace and relief that follow, never cease to amaze me with their power and depth. It’s as if the practice allows me to open my eyes and to realize a new layer that is part of my life’s reality, one which I was previously unable to see. And with such an added understanding, the problems and difficulties that I may have experienced prior to the practice, lose much of their power over me. Fear and doubt lose their firm hold and I become free.

Before I started teaching Qigong, I realized that I was a little selfish to benefit from Qigong and at the same time keep it all to myself. Since then, I have been teaching at the American Cancer Society, several senior centers and private classes. As long as I continue to receive the feedback of amazement from people who discover Qigong’s ever-expanding depth, I will continue to teach.

If you are interested in discovering the secrets of this 5,000 year old energy practice, I invite you to join one of my classes. For more information click
http://odedbenami.com/classes/