field
Oct 042017
 

Maybe it has been there for many months. Possibly years even. The dark night of the soul, in whatever form it may be, whether chronic illness, loss, pain, suffering, continuous failures on too many fronts, depression that knows no end – whatever it may be.

Maybe we have accepted it. After all, we have the power to try and alleviate our situation and condition. We do whatever we can, whatever we can think of, whatever we can afford. But for how long? How long does it take before we feel defeated… when we give up… when we break down?

And even when we do give up – it’s not as if anything has changed. The suffering continues, each moment feels like eternity, and the hope… where is the hope? We cannot even remember when exactly we lost it. It was that long ago! Somewhere along the path of struggling and trying and failing and coming up with new tactics; somewhere in that battlefield hope was lost and gone.

And yet hope, couldn’t care less that we’ve forgotten all about it, that we lost it. It’s not offended. Suddenly, out of nowhere, it’s here. Like the very first rays of dawn after a night that has gotten darker by the minute. We did not expect it. We were not prepared for this. We may even be afraid. Afraid that this hope is just a teaser – being lifted upwards for the sole purpose of being slammed down with even greater force.
But here too, hope doesn’t care. Like a child smiling at us when all around us there’s devastation from an earthquake or a hurricane. That smile is untouched by the outside ruins. That smile exists on a realm of its own. We may dismiss it for as much as we want, but we cannot ignore the very fact that it touches us in a way undeniable. It’s there – or rather – right here. And when it is, we see all the ruin very very differently. Just like putting on a pair of tinted glasses. Nothing looks the same as before. The suffering was so real a moment ago, hope was nowhere to be found or remembered a moment ago. But that moment ago now feels just like eternity ago. This is more than magic – it’s almost diabolic.

We have an inherent need to understand. We have a need to have an idea in our mind about how things work, how the world works, how life works. Perhaps we do this so that we know what to expect, perhaps as a way to protect ourselves from unpleasant surprises. Or perhaps we have this need so to allow us to feel belong and connected, rather than alien to this world and this life. This need that we have, may be something that we are consciously aware of, but may also be something that’s controlling us, pulling our strings and pushing our buttons without our awareness, knowledge or consent. Regardless, we constantly try to understand how things really work and how we ought to interact with this reality.

Too often, when reality unfolds in accordance with this understanding of ours, we become more convinced that “we got it”. We may actually believe that we know what to expect. That we cannot be too surprised by anything. This is not entirely unlike arrogance – but it’s a protection mechanism. How else could we possibly take a step if we think that the floor is not solid? This may be a necessary protection mechanism for us to use. If we have been suffering for a very long time, having hope could just hurt us even more.

And yet suddenly… it is now here: Hope!

 

Jun 122014
 

There are two kinds of arrogance. In the first, we are aware of our being arrogant, while in the second we have no such awareness. We can begin to see the unaware kind of arrogance through any of the following, which belong in this category:

  • Making assumptions
  • Taking for granted anything at all (our body, health, relationships, home, abilities, capabilities, disabilities)
  • Having any expectations
  • Believing that we truly know anything (including knowing ourselves)

I can understand anyone who would resent reading the above; most of us don’t like to think of ourselves, or be thought of as being arrogant and according to the above, 99% of us are arrogant. But if we consider “humility” to be the opposite of “arrogance”, and try to find where exactly the dividing line between these two polar terms cross, we may find ourselves continuously pushing the line towards “humility”.

Suffering is not a standalone phenomena. Imagine a pendulum swinging from one side to the next; On one side is suffering – on the other is pleasure, happiness and satisfaction. When the pendulum is stabilized in the center, that’s where there’s inner peace, a sense of wellbeing, relief and stillness.

Arrogance is instrumental in pushing the pendulum further to the suffering side, giving it more momentum and preventing its rest at the center. The reason for this is that we unknowingly use aware/unaware arrogance to protect ourselves against the truthfulness of reality, which is always unknown. We create an illusion of stability that is non existent and at some point the inevitable happens – reality strikes and we break down along with our illusion.

Looking again at the list above we can see that making assumptions, taking anything for granted, having expectations etc’ are all prone do surprise and disappointment. Those result in suffering to one degree on another. The stronger the expectation, assumption etc’, the stronger the surprise. If the surprise is pleasant, the pendulum is pushed to the “happiness side” and if the surprise is unpleasant, the pendulum is pushed to the “suffering side”. Either way, the pendulum is given momentum and the peace and wellbeing that’s in the still center escapes us.

Some of you may think that arrogance is better avoided but that happiness, satisfaction and pleasure on the other hand, should actually be sought. But again, one cannot exist without the other. True peace and equanimity exist beyond good and bad, pleasant or unpleasant. It is the same in the face of turmoil, loss, grief and illness as it is in the face of pleasure, satisfaction and happiness. It is the liberation from circumstances. When we are no longer in the graces of what the next moment brings – which is always unknown – we become free.

Apr 202014
 

Did you ever find yourself being in the midst of a dream, totally absorbed in everything that was happening. Then suddenly, the following understanding came to you:
“This is just a dream!” ?
What if this exact same understanding came to you while you are wide awake?

Imagine sitting behind the steering wheel of a car. You have been behind this steering wheel for as long as you can remember yourself. Driving.
One day, you get the shock of your life; this car that you were driving all these years is mounted on top of a flatbed tow truck to which you were completely oblivious. All of the sudden you understand why sometimes, when you wish to go in a certain direction, you end up elsewhere.

Our life is just like that. We live with the illusion that we are behind the wheel and in control of our ride. We expect certain things to happen based on our actions, and many times experience a whole variety of painful emotions, when our expectations are not met.

Until we wake up.

Waking up, is the thought (or idea or understanding or knowing) that what we thought was reality, has actually been our own creation.
It is no wonder then, that so many of us would rather not wake up at all. The shock might just be too great for us to endure.

But here too, we are not behind the wheel; we don’t have a say on whether or not to awaken, just as we have no say on how, where, when and under what circumstances such an awakening is to occur.

Is life going the way you want it to?
Do you get unpleasant surprises along the way?
Is it possible that living your life is similar to driving a car that’s mounted on a flatbed?
Only once we realize that in fact, we have far less control than we may believe – and not before that – that we’ll be able to begin living differently – more connected to reality. Only then will we be able to get out of our car, sit behind the wheel of the tow truck, and perhaps for the first time in our life feel that life responds to us in a way that makes so much more sense.

But it doesn’t end here.

An awakening may not necessarily be a single, one-time-only event. Of course, some people don’t even experience a single awakening in their lifetime. But others could experience several awakenings.

How could that be? Isn’t an awakening simply the end of an unconscious state of living?

Not exactly.

An awakening is an opening up of our field of vision or understanding – of our bubble. Suddenly we can see (or realize or understand or know), that what we used to think was everything – the world, life, reality – was in fact just a fraction of something much larger. And yet our new view – our new reality – as much as it is larger than we may have previously known – is again, not truly “all that there is”. It is not complete. We can in fact, awaken again and again, to experience a continuously larger view and understanding of reality, both that which is inside as well as outside of us. Using the previous example, this would be akin to the flatbed being mounted on top of a freight train, the train being on top of a ship, and so on. Indefinitely. Which really means that we are never in full control, we never perceive reality for what it truly is and that there’s always more. ALWAYS.

Our limitation – that is, being a human being – will never allow us to see, perceive and understand reality for what it truly is. That’s because our senses, which are the tools that we are given for connecting with and understanding reality, are filters. These filters allow some information in, but leave much information out of our reach. Our vision allows us to see, but only in a limited range. The same is true for hearing, smelling, tasting and sensing. Even if our senses had the ability to detect the entire range (of vision, sound etc’), does that mean that there is nothing else in the universe? Just five channels?
I find it very hard to believe. Reality is infinite, and I believe that although we can detect five “channels”, that there is in fact an infinite number of channels.

But there’s more.

The way in which our bodies are built, we have separate receptors to detect sound, vision, smell etc’. Reality however, may not have separation of any kind. It may well be that smell, taste, vision, hearing and the tactile sense, are all part of a single unified expression of reality, along with an infinite number of other means of expression of which we have no reception capabilities.

From my own personal experience with two very different awakenings, I can say that there was no similarity at all between the two, and yet both were so powerful, that everything that I knew to be reality, changed completely afterwards. Both transformations were wonderful and I was left with awe and infinite gratitude and appreciation.

Being open to the idea that an awakening is truly possible, opens the door to its actual unfolding in ones own life. Expectations to have an awakening, stand in its way. An attitude of simplicity, gratitude, humility, acceptance and allowing, open an invisible door which bring us closer to the possibility of such an experience.

Mar 042014
 

Who are you?

You are not your body!
You are not your arms, legs, brain, muscles, face, heart, kidneys, fat or skinny, healthy or sick, fully functional or disabled. You are given a body as a means of interacting with the physical world. You are aware of your body but you are not your body. Like a pilot of an airplane, or a driver of a car – you are behind the controls. You control your body which allows both input and output. Input comes from the sense organs – hearing, seeing smelling, tasting and sensing – and output comes by talking, walking, using the hands etc’.

You are not your thoughts!
Your thoughts are yours, but they are not you. You are given the capacity to think, develop abstract ideas to benefit yourself, your society and your environment, but that’s not you. Here again, you are behind the controls, but you are not your brain or your mind.

You are not your emotions!
You can experience love, anger, sadness, jealousy and much more. Similar to thought, this is an ability that you are given and allowed to have. An ability doesn’t define who you are.

You are not a woman, not a man, not a son or daughter, not a father, mother, brother, sister uncle or aunt. Those are your circumstances and they do not define who or what you are.

You are not your history! Your history is your life’s story. It is a part of your circumstances but you are what you are beyond and regardless of any circumstances.

Your are not your ideas, opinions or beliefs. These are thoughts that you adopted and made yours, by your own choice. You made those yours, but what’s yours cannot be you.

You are not your occupation; scientist, politician, CEO, judge, banker, artist. This is again a choice you made to be directing your talents, time, curiosity and exploration for the purpose of earning money and (hopefully) grow spiritually.

You are not your family, society or any mutual interest group!
You are not African, American, German, Dutch, nor are you a member of any smaller group, such as a union, groups of mutual interests or any other group.

You are not your circumstances! You are not rich/poor, happy/unhappy, successful/unsuccessful, employed/unemployed, married/divorced/widowed, jailed/free, healthy/sick or any other circumstances.

Who are you?

YOU, are that which is left, after everything else has been removed.

When you completely stop everything – the doing, saying, listening, seeing, thinking, feeling, smelling, sensing etc’, even stop the attempt to stop – what’s left is you.
You are that which is aware! The silent observer.

This is very profound and it means a lot of different things, some of which can be put to words, but most cannot.
It is very important to understand that all of those things that we are not, do not define us, do not create gain or loss on the most fundamental level. We are a non physical entity. We are allowed to interact with the physical world and many confuse the interaction which is not us, with the awareness which IS. Many adopt their life’s story to be their definition of self. This opens the gate to much misery and suffering. We become like a leaf in the wind, tossed around, soaked, trampled and crushed; moving between highs and lows, becoming happy by a promotion, angered by criticism, saddened by loss etc’. We lose any sense of grounding and rootedness. We know no peace, are stuck in infinite closed-loop cycles of thought, behavior, habit and belief, looking at what other people do in order to know what directions are possible for us, and on and on and on.
But that’s not us.
And because it is not us, it is possible (as some people discover, usually following some trauma or catastrophe), possible to simply be aware – be the observer. The moment we realize that we are beyond our life’s story, circumstances and interactions – we become free. Free from “ourselves”.
This freedom is unlike any experience of physical-world freedom. We discover the non-physical entity that we are. When this happens, life ceases to be an endless struggle. In fact it becomes like the famous song:

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is just a dream

Life is suddenly seen as a dream – very realistic and convincing, yet just a dream. This is why people who are highly spiritually evolved, are said to be awakened.

Zhuangzi, a Chinese philosopher also known as Chuang Chou, once said:
Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.

This is directly related with personal growth. We cannot experience growth before we know who we are. And since everything is in constant motion, when we don’t grow we become less. We contract, decrease, recede, become reduced and diminished. We shrink. Our world seems smaller, some even experience claustrophobia. And let us be clear; Growth is not a job promotion or a raise, it’s not a change in occupation, it’s not moving to a new neighborhood or a new country, it’s not undergoing plastic surgery, changing our name or finding new relationships. In fact, these are all ways to run away from that inner feeling of emptiness, lack and inadequacy. We convince ourselves that these external changes in circumstances are growth. They are not!  just as our circumstances are not who we are. When growth is experienced, it is a completely non-physical experience.

I can understand if some of you find his post confusing. Describing non-physical and spiritual phenomena through physical tools such as language, are akin to seeing the shadow of a beautiful painting – all that is seen is a dark rectangle. The only way to truly discover what’s behind all these words, is to completely stop everything – the doing, saying, listening, seeing, thinking, feeling, smelling, sensing etc’, to even stop the attempt to stop. In the silence and stillness that emerges, bit by bit, we discover who we are.

The next time that you find yourself complaining, suffering, when you are in the grips of physical pain, anger, stress, losing control or anything else that feels anything but wonderful –
ask yourself one fundamental question:

Who am I?