Feb 152015

In my post “Is there a problem with money?“, I have just touched on the Oppressor/Oppressed dualism. Looking a bit closer at this, it would be natural to ask a few questions:

  • Who is an oppressor?
  • Who is an oppressed?
  • How can one tell them apart?
  • Can one become the other and vice versa?
  • Can one be both?
  • Can there be neither?

The moment we attempt to apply labels, problems begin. One person may seem to be an oppressor as an employer and at the same time be oppressed as a family member.
Also, there could individuals who consider themselves to belong to one of these categories, while many others may consider them belonging to the other.

The interesting thing that I have found with regards to dualism, is that whenever I see phenomena as one that’s dualistic – good/bad, right/wrong, pleasure/pain – I already know that there’s something which I fail to see. It is then that I need to take a step back and zoom-out, so that I can see a larger picture. I may sometimes need to repeat this zooming-out several times before a dualistic understanding makes way to oneness/wholeness.

We suffer when we take on the part of the oppressed. We feel powerless, acting out of fear, forced to do things that we don’t wish to do etc’. Many of us blame the oppressor for our suffering.

Surprisingly, we also suffer when we take on the part of the oppressor; we too, don’t do what we want. We may feel powerful in a way that’s limited to only certain playgrounds but not others. Fear is guiding us as well, since we feel that we have much to lose unless we exert power. Yet the more power we exert, the more seems to be needed. It’s both an uphill battle and a hamster wheel.

Either party may not be happy with the part that they have taken on, but that’s simply because happiness – as always – is not dependent on anything.

As Oppressor/Oppressed are simply parts that we assume, we all have both of these elements within us. When too focused on just a few narrow aspects of our life – that is to say, when our awareness is limited – we are unable to see both of these aspects/parts within ourselves. And so we live the illusion of being either one or the other when in reality we are neither. We simply assumed “an outfit” at some early point in our life, and with enough time allowed to pass, and repetition over the same thoughts, concepts and ideas, we have become convinced that this outfit is the “I”: It has become a belief. At that point we can no longer see the true “I” underneath the outfit that we wear. And if we think that the outfit is, in and of itself the “I”, then taking it off and having the freedom to choose any other outfit or even non at all, is not an option that’s even available to us. That’s because taking it off would be perceived as self annihilation.

The repeating pattern in all suffering and struggle, is a state of limited awareness/consciousness. (You may wish to read this sentence a second time).
We cannot simply order or force an increased awareness/consciousness, as we would with objects in the physical realm. It is humility, simplicity, letting-go, allowing and similar states of mind, that with time, consistency and repetition will gradually expand our awareness and allow us to see through the illusion of our own suffering.
The reasons and justifications that we give ourselves for our own suffering and struggle, are sure ways to keep us stuck in whatever unpleasant “reality” we may be in.
Whenever we feel that our life – what we call “reality” – appears to be an uphill battle, we should try to remember that it is just an illusion. That the truth, is that we are free right now. Circumstances have nothing whatsoever to do with it.
We – are – free – right – now.

Oct 182014

A job, a house, a family, faith, a steady relationship, knowledge, a field of specialty . . .   these and many others serve as our measuring stick for what we call “security” or “stability”.
Many of us regard the words “security” and “stability” in the particular context of “something that is good, beneficial, preferable, desirable and which should be sought and pursued”.

This view ignores one very important thing: Reality and the Truth. The Truth is that a job, family and all the others, are temporary. We have some of them some of the time, and then they are gone. At the same time, we use our labels of “stability” and “security” in an attempt to find everlasting happiness. We confuse our own labels of “stability” and “security” which are impermanent, with happiness which we’d like to experience constantly. We confuse happiness, which can only come from within, with a long list of items that come from the outside: a job, relationships, occupation etc’.

All on our own, we create this powerful illusion and perpetuate it day after day, year after year, one thought at a time – constantly.

The Truth is this;
There’s nothing wrong with having money.
There’s also nothing wrong with not having money.
Happiness has nothing to do with either.
There’s nothing wrong with having a relationship.
There’s nothing wrong with not having a relationship.
Happiness has nothing to do with either.

Happiness has nothing to do with anything. It is a natural product of inner peace. It is our natural state of being (prior to our own interfering) and does not depend on any circumstances – not even health. We use our thoughts, ideas, words, emotions and habits to create an illusion of reality, which we then believe. These thoughts, words, emotions, habits and ideas are akin to throwing pebbles into a still lake, disturbing its surface – without realizing that we do – and then waiting for this lake to become still. Only when we stop, can we finally see through our own self-created illusion / self-deception, and realize that we don’t need anything in order to become happy right now, regardless of whatever the circumstances may be. Not because “it could be worse”, but because everything simply IS, beyond good and bad, seeking and rejecting, and whatever other labels we attach to life and the world. As long as we don’t experience inner peace, the illusion still exists.

When we have a job we could lose it, we could lose our house in a fire or storm, we could lose a loved one and we could lose our health or body parts. All the things that we regard as secure and stable are an illusion. Just like a statue made of salt that would melt with the next rain.

And somewhere deep inside we know that all these things are perishable. This is why we are anxious – we struggle to keep this false stability in place, knowing very well that destruction could be waiting just around the corner. We create contradiction inside of ourselves and perpetuate it. It takes tremendous amounts of energy to live in self deception moment by moment for one’s entire life, and we can only stop once we begin to see through our own self-created, self perpetuated illusion.

Unhappiness, anxiety, bitterness, anger, confusion, disappointment, shame, cynicism, doubt, blame – these and many more are a wonderful indication that we live and believe the illusion. When there’s no illusion, all that there is left, is peace. Happiness is a natural byproduct of peace.

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.

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?


Feb 102014

Here is a tool for getting unstuck. From going around in circles, not finding answers or solutions, to effortlessly having the answer fall in our lap.

We’re familiar with seeing a question mark following a series of words that are to be understood as a question. Interestingly, questions in writing don’t really need to be terminated with a question mark, since they most often contain words that are known to be questions, such as: why, what, where, when, how. Or constructed as a question, as in:
Is it happening today (?)

Contemplating the entity of the question, I realized that there is a inquiring energy that is beyond any particular question; As if we were to have a question mark stand alone, without any words preceding it – an inquiring attitude – and it may or may not be equated with curiosity.

When we are stuck with a problem, we try to think in terms of a specific question or group of questions: Why is this happening, what am I not seeing, etc. When we do this, we create a sphere that is made of existing knowledge, understanding, experience, attitude, opinion etc, all from our past. This sphere is static. The questions seem to be rotating constantly in the same space without going anywhere.
I found that when I go beyond any specific question and simply enter a questioning state of mind, which I can also call ‘openness’, ‘allowing’, ‘inquiring state’ etc’, that instead of creating a sphere, I create motion. This motion expands out in all directions to infinity. When I do, I have no sense of being stuck – quite the opposite – I get a sense of traveling into the unknown and unfamiliar as well as becoming connected with something vast of infinite intelligence. This leads to unexpected results; Sometimes I come back with an answer. Sometimes, I come back with a question which becomes the key to the answer. Sometimes nothing happens, but a few days later the problem no longer exist.

It is interesting to note the way we use our voice when questioning: It opens out through a rising pitch. Body language and facial expression also reflect this expansion. Seeking is a motion of expansion outwards. This allows us to grow in heart, mind and spirit.

The opposite of this is dogma. An exclamation mark at the end of some words, exclaims an attitude of ‘That’s it’, ‘I am right’, ‘You are wrong’, etc’, in a way stating a fact. This so-called ‘fact’ may or may not be what its exclaimer believes. Many times we get stuck because of our own misunderstanding or limited understanding. Getting stuck repeatedly affects us detrimentally in heart, mind and spirit and is the cause of much unhappiness, quarrel, relationship problems, illness etc.

The attitude delineated by the exclamation mark creates an inward motion. This inward motion acts to disconnect us from growth. It causes our world to shrink, causing us to feel trapped, become paranoid, have panic attacks, feel claustrophobic etc’. The voice used in conjunction with the exclamation attitude is with the pitch coming down, similar to the inward motion – a closing. The facial and body muscles tend to tighten, a furthering of the closing that’s in an inward motion.

It’s interesting to see how many people with an expanding inner motion, seem to be happy, healthy, successful and loved, while many people with a contracting inner motion seem to be unhappy, fearful, feared of and lonely. This is by no means a “rule” but it can be seen quite often.

I found that the simple act of sitting and visualizing a question mark, without an attempt to achieve anything, becomes a light beam that takes me out of difficult circumstances – where my mind may even be working against me – allowing me to discover freedom beyond my current sphere of understating. I visualize the question mark without thinking any specific question, along with an attitude of allowing and openness. This creates a wonderful opening – a doorway leading towards relief, personal growth, and peace, which is then followed by a clear mind, renewed energy and effective, positive action.

Dec 262013

One night, as Mr. P was walking on a side street heading back home, he saw a person searching for something by a streetlamp. Wanting to help, Mr. P asked whether anything got lost and was told that a bunch of keys got dropped. Mr. P began searching.
After quite a bit of searching, as no keys were found, Mr. P asked the person whether they can remember the exact location where the keys got dropped. The person pointed to a dark section further down the street. Mr. P, puzzled, asked the person why were they looking for the keys here and was answered that there’s no light where the keys got dropped.

This story sounds ridiculous and foolish. After all, real people don’t search for a lost article where it’s easy to look. They search where they believe the item could be found. But there’s more to this story than meets the eye.

For many people, life goes on along a general plan which looks something like this:

  • School for twelve years.
  • Finding something that we like and are good at, preferably in a field where we can make a lot of money.
  • Going to college and getting a degree in that field.
  • Getting the best grades possible while getting as much hands-on experience working in the field.
  • Finding a job that we love or starting a business.
  • Moving up the ranks as an employee or having a business which grows steadily.

This of course, is a gross generalization, and there’s too much that it doesn’t cover. And yet for many, this is the general plan. There is much comfort and reassurance in having a general direction to follow. Otherwise, how would we know what to do? And although the above is a gross generalization, it’s amazing how many people actually follow this path.

Sometimes things don’t work out exactly this way, but many of us believe that that’s due to circumstances beyond our control, not due to anything that we do or fail to do. Circumstances such as bad luck, bad genes, bad history, bad relationships, one critical mistake etc’.

But isn’t this treading, in a more or less familiar path, akin to searching for something in the wrong place because it’s convenient?

Consider this;
The word ‘tenure’ is practically history at this point in time, with minor exceptions. The same is true for words like: retirement (that one can actually live off of), work benefits, a full time job defined as a 40 hour week, and many more. People used to go to college for four years and then get a job. It made perfect sense to go to college because that was the key to getting a job. For the same reason, it also made perfect sense to take loans to pay for college education. Later, four years were no longer enough, and many had to get a Master’s degree before they could get the kind of a job that they sought.
But change didn’t end there. The world constantly changes socially, economically, spiritually, ideologically. The giant employers of the past – GE, IBM, General Motors and others – have been downsizing. The same happens with government offices, universities, and generally speaking – with employers and employment. There are simply less employers out there today, compared to twenty years ago, and so there is obviously less employment. Taking a college loan today is extremely risky, when many of those unemployed have – not only a college degree – but also many years of valuable experience.
Additionally, getting a college degree is meant to please an employer; with increasingly less employers available, the price tag, time and effort that’s needed for the purpose of getting a college degree, may no longer justify attending college at all for many people.

And of course employment and college is just one part of a much bigger picture. There isn’t a single aspect of life lived today, that is identical to how it used to be not too long ago: relationships, family structure, sexuality, communication, relocations and much more. Still, the general life-plan that people today envision, looks almost identical to the way it was in the past.

It looks as though something has been lost along the way, and that we are searching for what the unseen future has in store for us, using the familiar old maps. But what are the options? What are the new guidelines for living life in this new and unfamiliar reality? When we look left and right in search for clues – looking at what may work for others – we could become even more confused, unable to get any clear ideas.

This however, is the case only if we search under the streetlamp. Our current experience, knowledge and emotional comfort is based on the past. The past is the streetlamp. But the answer cannot be found there. It can only be found in the darkness, or in other words, the unknown and the unfamiliar.
It’s inconvenient, frightening and risky to go into the darkness, but sometimes that may be the only choice that we have.

Entrepreneurs know this very well, and they live their lives in the dark unknown, utilizing a healthy combination of intuition, knowledge and thought.

What about those of us who don’t see ourselves as entrepreneurs?
Perhaps the answer is not in getting formal education, but in self-education. Perhaps the answer is not in receiving money from an employer, but in giving – by serving society. Perhaps the answer is not in studying and working in “the best fields” where the money is, but rather in slow, painstaking search for who I am, what are my natural gifts, what do I do best and how can I use these gifts for the betterment of society and service. Perhaps by trying new ways of thinking and of seeing the world, we may create an entirely new field, that doesn’t even exist yet. Perhaps for too long, we developed a laxity and an increasing indulgence in convenience, while allowing our mental and spiritual capacities to deteriorate and decline.

To what degree is it us creating reality, versus reality creating us?

It is fear that is preventing so many of us from searching in the dark. But one day, we’ll have no other choice but to realize it. When this happens, we’ll take a confident stride, and with an inner peace and confidence, walk into the darkness of the unknown and unfamiliar, knowing that the answer is now closer than ever before.

Dec 172013

Stillness, Silence, Emptiness; The Abyss.

This is a special meditation for those who tried meditating in the past with very little success. It is very simple and very powerful. This connecting with stillness can be done at any time, especially very stressful situations that lead many of us to lose control, clarity and grounding and which could then lead to a panic attack or depression.  This practice generates powerful results regardless of the length of time put into it.

Sit comfortably and allow your body to be loose, including facial muscles.

Become aware of your breath and accompany each inhalation and exhalation with your awareness.

Towards the end of each inhalation pause for a moment before the following exhalation.
Towards the end of each exhalation pause for a moment before the following inhalation.
This should feel simple and easy, not strenuous. If it does feel strenuous, make sure that:

  • The pause is not long
  • You are not clenching the back of your throat, as if about to pronounce a ‘K’ or a ‘G’ sound.

The pausing should be done using the lungs, to stop moving air, and not with the throat, to squeeze and prevent air from passing. It should be a floating pause rather than a jamming pause.
It’s fine if there’s a minuscule amount of air passing, as long as there’s a general sense of a pause, as opposed to an ongoing breath.

Do this for a little while . . . 

Notice the stillness you experience during the pauses. It is utter silence – perfect stillness.

Do this for a while . . .

Notice how each inhalation and each exhalation are born from the stillness and die into stillness.

Do this for a while . . .

Notice how, as inhalation/exhalation is happening, stillness is constantly in the background, behind/below/underneath the breathing – it is ever-present, infinite, eternal.

Do this for a while . . .

As you become aware of the constant presence of stillness, both during pauses and during breathing, you can now eliminate the pauses and just breath naturally in and out. Remain aware of the stillness moment by moment.

The moment you begin to think, the stillness is lost. Thought is movement and noise. Stillness is utter silence. Stillness is ever present and infinite, even during thought, however thought pulls our awareness away from stillness and we lose the stillness during thought.

Avoid the pitfall: Trying.
Trying is a concept that should be abandoned. It keeps stillness away from us and out of reach. Just like trying to sleep: the harder we try, the longer we remain awake. There should be no trying at all, and no doing at all.
Instead, there should be a Letting-go and an Allowing.

When we become aware of stillness, an infinite abyss will begin to open and expand.
Do not be afraid. Not only will you not be hurt – you will be protected and guided; guided away from the elements in your life that hurt you (whether or not you are aware of them) and guided towards inner peace, calm, happiness, wellbeing, grounding and knowing. Again; Do not be afraid.

Do not practice while driving, operating machinery or other types of work that may risk your safety.