Tuesday, September 4, 2012

What is Liberation?

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

What I'm about to do now is to illustrate the impossible, which means I will fail. Still, I would like an attempt to visualize the grand liberation. What I cover here is by no means complete, and the pictures are just intended to make a point.

This first picture is a chart of the ordinary set of mind. We could call it 'reality as you know it', or perhaps simply 'you'. The mind of the normal person typically moves speedily and rather randomly between these things, and more. We go from worrying about one thing, to hoping for another, then we plan some thing, and dwell on memories of others. All these pictures, ideas, and thoughts (attachments) replace one another all through the day – a process which normally goes on for as long as we live.

Stress, which is so very common today, increases the speed and the weight of this “capsule” of our minds. All things seem utterly important, yet as attachment intensifies reality loses its vibrancy. The mind, we can say, smothers reality (as it is). To many people (perhaps most), this confinement of me is all they know. They are trapped in it, and fully dependent on it.

Liberation (salvation) is what comes into being when “you” happen to find yourself outside of the mind capsule. This is what the illustration below indicates. From a constant, busy, hard to balance, ping pong-like rush from one thing to another, you have somehow managed to let go. Yes, it can feel as if you actually let go of something physical, like a rock. Suddenly there is great spaciousness, peace, and a perfectly liberating freedom... from yourself. It is so clear you can almost look at it, much like you can behold a can of tuna. The confinement of you, with all its attributes, is there before you, and while you still have access to all this mind-stuff, you are now watching it restfully from infinity. Your senses still absorb the same physical reality, but the experience of being is altogether altered.

Full enlightenment would mean a permanent shift into, and complete re-identification with, free, infinite consciousness, but one can temporarily taste and acquaint Liberation at any point. The main reason for spiritual practice is not to glimpse or quickly touch this Kingdom, but to be able to remain there, when the gates open. Any fool (like me) can manage a quick encounter.

There are two main ways of discovering or entering Liberation (which partially or fully frees a person for life), and those are; forming the mind and having the mind formed.

The first way is activity – and is about making the mind calm enough to discover reality outside of it. When it no longer jumps here and there with great speed, we have a chance to actually see. This is done through techniques like meditation, yoga, silence, solitude, abstinence, charity and so on. Beliefs, which say that there is something more to reality, than the obvious, may help since the mind (perhaps through prayer) reaches out beyond itself for guidance and communion. Faith, regardless of belief, is of even greater value, since it puts absolute trust in whatever it is that holds life and reality together. Faith is to trust the Lord, whatever the Lord might be, and to know in the heart, that whatever brought this Universe into existence knows how to handle it. Faith is to give yourself fully to (completely relax into) God – ultimate reality.

The second way is passivity – which comes whether we wish to or not. Reality (life as we know it) has a nasty habit of crashing now and then. Pieces of the mind-puzzle suddenly disappears in unforeseeable accidents or undesirable diseases, for example. This creates a space, which is a window of opportunity in this case. When death, deafening change, or simple inactivity strikes, most of us are too eager to fill that gap with something new. Some people however come to see reality with sharper eyes when they experience loss, but only those who dare behold emptiness honestly for some time. Finally there is the mystery of God's being and light, which for reasons we cannot grasp, come to enter into some individuals when they least expect it. This, supposedly, is the most effective way to go beyond oneself, and to participate knowingly in His grace.

Only the first way can be practiced. The stillness achieved might look strange and perhaps even pointless from inside the capsule. However, daring to come back frequently to silence will inevitably (I dare say) make your head slip through that boundary which separates Earth from Heaven, and that experience, dear reader, is worth every hardship you have ever gone through, and many many more.
Blessed be the struggles of everyone. Freedom to the world!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Keep Dry For the Waters of Heaven

To discover our attachments to what we consider negative is comparatively simple. The bad news comes, we react emotionally, and rather soon we find ourselves attached to it. Something went wrong at work, or perhaps the house vanished in a fire. The mind and the emotions start to race in repeating negative circles. Why did this happen to me? Why now? Will the gods ever give me a break?

With spiritual practice you get better at noticing and recognicing the patterns, even in tiny, every-day events you learn to see how your mind fluctuates and darkens. Since you obviously gain a lot by not being drawn so quickly and furiously into a vortex of negative emotions and thought-structures, it becomes natural to keep up the effort.

However, joy too brings attachment. On this the Buddha was adamant, and it may seem like backward thinking. Shouldn't I hold on to, and cherish the little luck and joy I have in my life? When things finally go my way, of course I shall revel in it! Everything else would be wasting the good of life wouldn't it? - to spoil the gifts of God...

Truly, this is hard to realize, and I suspect experience is the key as always. When you have that experience of a truly calm mind, which isn't moved much by the fortunes or misfortunes of life, you come to discover another kind of joy. Inner stillness unveils a previously hidden spring, from which true delight and happines flows out into our being.

I suspect most of us have had some taste of this water, when momentarily happiness gives us the infrequent ride for no apparent reason? When there is no obvious cause for joyfulness but simply being alive? In either case, that spring is there to be found, and its wealth and freshness is astonishing. Where the joy we normally experience is dependant on the situation at hand, and the many jesters of earthly life, this well of water, discovered through non-attachment, simply can't dry out.

Certainly, we have to settle with the odd glass of it once in a while, until we complete our spiritual journey, but the taste is so satisfying and thorough that when a lucky stroke comes to rock us from our position of equanimity, we firmly realize that this promising wind will fade too. So we remain silent, watching as it comes and goes, letting it take us where it must, while internally we remain seated by the waters of The Lord - laughing, by the zero-shaped pond of freedom.

Monday, April 23, 2012

God Can't Change... His Mind

All that is subject to change is born and die away. The Lord doesn't. If God was subject to change He would constitute no salvation. If we, in some way, could convince Him to change His “mind”, we wouldn't be able to trust Him. He would then be a pawn to the strongest will, or best rhetoric, just like you and I. 

It is the Eternal nature of The Lord that makes Him worthy of our adoration, and our deepest Love. He is the One mountain that will never yield to the winds of change. He is the Infinite sea from which all waves rise and fall.

Many people believe God to be fickle. They envision Him listening carefully to their prayers, and then after some consideration, responding to their desires. They picture God as someone who bends down to the drama of Man and makes decisions based on our strengths and shortcomings - rethinking His policy with the turn of every tide.

How can a Father like that please anything but our personal and egoistical agendas? God saw me, he heard my cries, and because of my honesty and need, he took pity on my soul. Isn't that an extremely self-centered way of thinking? The neighbor just died from cancer, and children not far from here are drugged and sold as sex slaves. Try; In my cries, because I gave an honest voice to my need, I was fortunate to experience God, and experiencing God I was healed.

Now, it may be, that what I'm saying suggests a very dull Lord, one who is closer to a natural force, like gravity, than something alive, like a Person. I believe both of these ideas to be misleading. The picture of a magnet may be clarifying: You, a small shard of the greater Magnet, twitch and turn in your prayer, shedding some of the covering dirt (ego) you have gathered over the years, and thus, you make possible for the Magnet proper to attract you. You have moved within reach. It feels now as if He is doing the work, but He always pulled you to Him with the same strength. Only due to the circumstances, and your willingness to come before Him, are you now able to experience His presence. Perhaps this may even cause changes to the events around you, because all things move around Him. But it is not due to a change in Him, but rather the re-alignment between you.

Everyone alive know that strange things happen. The natural world we inhabit is not apart from Him, and though our societies may be horrendous and insane, His presence shines through them. The Universe is highly dynamic and reflects a dynamic aspect of the Lord. He is everywhere, and it is His very being (not will) that causes all events and phenomena. Aligned with Him we live in Paradise. Separated from Him we move through Hell. This is not because the Lord wills it, but because He IS (what is). When we refuse to partake in Him, or hide in a reality of our own ego-centric and individualistic making, we fail hellishly. The Universe can't sustain illusion. That's where all the pain comes from. It is a skewed perspective, that paints a demonic face upon the Eden countenance of God. The Bible calls it His judgment, and even His wrath, but there is no malice or punishing mind behind this hammer. It is simply the result of our ignorance, and His inevitable nature. He is love Eternal.

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

We are plants that can either grow into Loving Union with Him, or turn dry dead in the misconception and refusal of His Light. From an isolated perspective the surrounding world becomes an enemy of me. Through earnest meditation, prayer, and love we heal that imagined disjunction, and reality is made clear to us. His eternal work (being) becomes our own. Through us, as persons, His being becomes action. Look at action spawned from such Unity, and behold; there is the will of God, adapting to the situation at hand, healing the world, so that its waves may be a never-ending melody, in tune with His unchanging essence.

When I now pray; May He help us find His will inside of us, it is not so that He may hear me, but so that I may better hear Him. The Lord doesn't need our prayers, but when we perform them sincerely, His voice reaches its audience, and transforms it into his leaves. We shouldn't pray for God to shape the world into our image, but for us to accept being shaped into His. This is not watching the world being destroyed and calling it the work of the Lord, but to see God's Love in everything, and to shape the world stage for its Artistry.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Eternal Prayer - New Words

Infinite One, our source and our true nature,
You, who is beyond names,
Help us to find and experience your Light.
Through Your existence all things are,
Both physical and spiritual.
Through You we live and are sustained,
Teach us forgiveness when we fail to remember this.
Strengthen us at the hour of temptation,
And stear us away from the path of separation.
Only in You, we are free,
And as You, we are glory eternal.

So be it; truly

Friday, April 13, 2012

Existence Exists

There is one fact that simply can't sink deep enough into our understanding, and that is the two word headline of this post: existence exists. We tend to take it for granted 99,9% of the time, and yet we have not even come close to fathom its significance. Pondering this one fact alone can lead to a great awakening.

Reality, that which IS, might not have been at all, and if it had it could have been something else entirely – something gray, dull, mechanical, and flat. If possible, try to see this not from the perspective through which you survey and judge the objects of existence, but from outside of it. I ask you to look at existence itself – at its inevitable and miraculous being. Yes, here. Take a small step outside of yourself and behold it directly. This is what IS. There is no other story. There is no other reality. This is how IS-ness IS, and it actually and fully IS.

Stay, if you may and like, with this one fact for a couple of days. Exclude to the level you can all other worries, questions, considerations etc. Meditate upon being Existence. Ponder the nature of Existence, not its physical nature, possible illusory aspect, or any detail of it at all. Look at existence itself. It is.

I repeat the same thing over and over because it is very likely that you do not see what it means. Existence exists. In the mind existence is treated like an object like any other, but existence/reality isn't an object. It is what IS. We therefore have to let the fact sink in deeply. This is how it looks, smells, tastes, feels, and sounds right now. Yes, it does look, smell, taste, feel and sound. We know it, but we normally do not grasp it. We have to detach ourselves from the “inside of existence” perspective through which we typically perceive the world, and behold existence as existence.

Let us taste the full impact of these two words, and keep doing so. Until we laugh out loud and long at what they say, we have not managed to comprehend their fullness. We have not fully seen that...

We are.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Wisdom of Cherry Picking

To make sense of reality the mind has to catalogue every phenomena and put them inside distinct compartments, which it labels as best it can. One good example of the effects of mind-boxes is the 'all or nothing'-approach which seems so very common today, and something that Christians (for example) regularly have to deal with. Unless they can defend every aspect, expression, and action performed under the banner of Christianity for the last 2000 years, some people will give them a really hard time.

The same thing happens with the Bible. If you love the book, yet refuse to defend (or believe) every single chapter of it, you are likely to be accused of 'cherry picking', by some atheists. What that expression means in this context is something like this "Unless you stand behind the whole tree, including the berries I have deemed rotten, you shouldn't defend it at all" This I find a very narrow-minded (which means few and tight mind compartments) way of looking at things.

If we wish to walk the spiritual path with honesty, meaning we don't take what we hear for granted but examine it for ourselves, I see no other way but to engage in this kind of cherry-picking. It is impossible to understand Scripture from day one, and even more impossible to understand all of Scripture.

How beautiful a thing it is to read something that inspires us, to initiate or continue on the path, perhaps a single line from the Gospels, The Qur'an, or the Bhagavad Gita. Imagine asking someone who just opened the Bible, why Abraham was ready to slay his own son, and then demand that he/she defended that seemingly barbaric choice of the Patriarch.

If we find anything to hold on to, in the way of spiritual food, then let those two or three berries alone help us begin our ascent of the tree of Heaven. Spiritual progress and understanding happens in steps, and no book has to be embraced in full, to reach the grand destination.

What wine does to violent men doesn't count for all, and so it is with religions. They are indeed powerful tools of transformation, which need to be exercised with a sense of balance, and that's precisely why we shouldn't swallow any of them all at once. We certainly can't defend every limb and twig while barely holding on to one, and if anyone pushes us to do so, it is wise to stick to, and be content with, the cherries we have already cherished – those whose taste we well know.

So, was Mary ACTUALLY a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus, and was he REALLY conceived by the Holy Ghost? Shake your shoulders, and answer truthfully; How would I know? I'm not looking in to that right now, because it doesn't really influence my spiritual practice, nor my way of life. We say these words in Church, but I'm not all that concerned with them, and the joy which this path brings me, doesn't change either way.

As we start to engage in spiritual practice, like meditation for example, we begin from a point of ignorance. We don't really know what is happening. Only with time do we start to understand what the practice does to us. While we may happen upon blissful states, or sudden insights early on, we can in no way understand the full effects the practice can bring about. The same goes for reading scripture, and a religious way of life. Slowly we have to venture ever deeper into waters unfamiliar to us. Understanding that is also understanding the importance and wisdom of "cherry picking". We may trust the words of our elders, masters, priests, or teachers, but we really can't defend a tower upon which we do not yet stand, nor can we truthfully embrace those we have only heard about. Yet, from one berry alone, we can say that this tree bears fruit, and that it is worth holding on to. With the chance of one more fresh berry upon it, I will climb it all the way to the grave.

A berry a day, keeps the devil away... and will eventually make the walls of our compartments fall. The Spirit can stand no such brain-made boundaries. However, if we pretend to know that which we do not, or identify too strongly with our favorite compartments, then accusations like "cherry picking" are bound to make those mind-boxes into safes, in which only small and graven idols of the Lord can be secured. His majesty and essence will roam freely, somewhere else entirely.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Underneath the Wrapping

As an extension (largely a repetition really) of the last post I thought I'd try to give some examples of conceptual wrappings and some further explanation of what I mean by “the abstract eye”.

When we look at these letters which we are currently reading, we cannot help but silently or loudly, utter or take in, the sounds and meanings we have been trained to associate with them, and their combinations (words). Looking closer at the individual letters, like this U, we can see it has a specific shape, which is really all it is – a shape, or a form. A 'u' isn't a letter anywhere but in our minds. What we see is our minds superimposed upon the form. Typographers, designers, and visual artists, have a better chance of perceiving the u as an image, while most people normally never consider the pure line or curve of it. All they see is the U.
What I'd like us to do now is to gaze at this shape: H until we can behold its form free from the concept we call 'h'. To help out we may start by picturing the silhouette of two pillars attached to each other with a thin horizontal construction binding them together. Perhaps it is the ruins of a once great temple? Try then to see the form completely free from any kind of meaning (Staring at it for a long time usually helps). If we succeed it's great, but if we don't, the fact that we can realize that H is a form, just as “meaningless” as any other form, is beneficial. Though we understand it as a letter, it is still that same and simple form, which the illiterate will confirm, if we doubt it.

We typically don't add much emotional wrapping to the forms we call letters, but some sorts of music, some kinds of food, some occupations, and some types of animals (for example), are not as easily kept free from such additions. Just like the sound added to the letter H doesn't really have anything to do with the H-form, our opinions and ideas about heavy metal, soup, police-men, and spiders, are just that – opinion and ideas. Even if it's true that spiders more often bite human beings than butterflies do, they are not nasty, disgusting, creepy, or evil, anywhere but in some people's minds. (This is also true about police-men.)

The emotional wrappings may partly or fully be caused by actual facts, but hairy, poisonous qualities don't equal fear, because if they did, all beings would fear spiders, and loath heavy-metal. That some people love it and others hate it (whatever “it” may be) should be enough really, for us to see beyond our ego-centric ideas about all things. Unfortunately, this “should be” is wishful thinking. Wrappings don't come off that easily.

When we have managed to look at an H, for a short moment liberated from our branding of it, we can use this same technique on the rest of reality. Just try to keep free from ALL ideas when entering places, and encountering people, and you will notice how strange and marvelous a phenomenon they truly are. Treat every moment as a new and unknown revelation, coming to you all-inclusive and inevitable. There is nothing we can change of what already is, but for our reception and acceptance of it.

If we keep this up, we may be invited into the next level of freedom, where form itself is recognized and experienced as a concept. This is where the H blends together with the background (which no thing can ever escape) and starts speaking to us as the Unity it is. When that happens, we ourselves, simultaneously blend together with the world before our eyes and “seeing” is transformed into “being”.

An H isn't built up singularly by dark lines, but is equally made up by the seemingly empty areas between the pillars, as well as the space surrounding it. It is also fully dependent on the reader, without whom, there could never be form, nor letters. Examining an H is examining ourselves. Let us look beyond our ideas of it. Let us take into account all that which is required for the revelation of an H, and study that boundless process in action. Form and consciousness is now shaking hands, moving closer, and as they do they begin to recognize themselves in the eyes of the other. The merger has already begun.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Developing the Abstract Eye

The main reason for our inability to experience Spiritual Reality, is our conceptualization/objecti-fication of the World, and at the foundation of this is our identification with Ego – our “separate” selves. We perceive Reality as objects, and we think of ourselves as objects. This can be overcome.

We mentally (and largely unconsciously) wrap all we perceive in layers upon layers of concepts. These wrappings are not only the words and ideas we superimpose upon all things, but also the emotions and opinions that go with them. In such a way Truth is veiled from our eyes and souls. The world we see is a reflection of the world in our minds. Instead of receiving what IS, we perceive what we have learned and our self-centered relationships to it.

How then, can we remove this obstacle to the Light? Well, why not look at abstract art? In figurative works of art, there are often a story-line taking place in time and space, and there tend to be objects which we know by name and experience. Looking at such a piece we find ourselves go into thoughts and memories. We might ask ourselves what the image is about, and what it means? In either case, the forms in figurative art are familiar to us, and they are hard to watch with the pure and virgin gaze we need develop for spiritual progress.

When we behold non-figurative and abstract art, the game is very different. Here, the nameless, unknown, or uncertain forms, do not as easily give rise to conceptual thinking. They may suggest or remind us of objects we know, but abstract works lend themselves a lot better to an open mind. The trick is to keep the verdict at bay, and to let things remain what they are – unknown. While our minds struggle to understand what they see (in the “meaningless” jumble of color and form), we should give them a fight, and let the work remain abstract – keep it in the shadows of Mystery.

Even if we succeed in doing so, we typically fall into another trap, which is that of judgment. We like this, we don't like that, we would have preferred it another way, or we are disturbed by a lack of balance, too much pink, the frame, or any other of a million reasons. Here is where we must be vigilant. Whenever we notice these judgments, we should try to let them go, and re-focus our gaze on the art before us. Remember, we want to see what IS, and get away from what we THINK about it. This may of course take some practice.

The mechanisms of mind, including the Ego itself, are much like little children. When we give them a finger, they are happy for a while, but will soon start bothering us about the rest of the hand. It is fortunately also true, that if we ignore them, they will raise their voices for some time, but eventually quiet down. With no confirmation at all, they turn all silent and crawl into a corner somewhere.

As we become experienced with watching abstract art, we tend to discover other pleasures, than those previously known to us. There arises a joy in watching the balance of composition by itself, and the play of simple fields of color, and brush-strokes, are suddenly enough to bring great and satisfying experiences. The openness and suggestive power of nameless forms is a great adventure to the mind, and we learn how to receive the artwork without interpretation. This is a great step. Those of us who have learned this skill, have a great tool when tracking the steps of The Lord, and those who doesn't might still have some leads on where (how) to look.

Now let's leave the gallery and go for a meditative walk in nature. While we see trees, bushes, rocks, sky, lakes, and all the other things we know, we can learn how look at them as we do an abstract piece of art. Think of them not as these things you have knowledge about, but perceive them as patches of form and color that together make up the undivided weave of reality – the very fabric of Creation. We are so accustomed to evaluate and judge that, even were we to walk through untouched lands, most of us would fall into these habits of “too barren, too dense, too green, too chaotic, too murky, etc”.

Allow me therefore to repeat: The world is not a piece of art for you to judge as a critic. It is not a meal cooked to please your personal taste. The world wasn't molded to suit your specific body or mind. The world is the reality from which you have grown, just like the straws of grass on the ground. For you to even think about judging it, or having opinions about it, is great and swollen pride. For millions of years it has prevailed, silently, perfectly, until right now, when you and I come here and start uttering our preferences, as if they somehow mattered. Who cares if we dislike the autumn, if we find birches more pleasant than spruce, or robins more likeable than crows? Life is not about our opinions. If we can bring ourselves to understand that, we may also be able to behold nature (and art, and people) with less of a labeling and judgmental gaze. Again, it is about being receptive to what is. It is about listening with our eyes, and to do so as if all the forms of life were equally important.

If we practice this, and continue to do so, there is a great chance that the Lord will let His Presence be known to us. All things in Nature sing His tune, and when we become aware of that, we also hear that same voice answering from within. That's the first step of true freedom, and a spring of deep and saturating joy. Whenever we make an effort to listen, we can now make out the Piper's flute on the wind, unwrapping the veils of Paradise, and its piercing benevolent Beauty!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Words of the Wordless - 1

The Light of Evening

Impossible to share
Walking by the lake
In a crescent moon evening

Unwrapped of thought
And freed from self
He hums with joyous Spirit

If the beasts of myth
Crawled onto the shore
In that elated hour of magic

He'd marvel no more,
Than at the already strong,
Sublime, and gracious Presence

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Opening the Ribcage

When I recently came across the quote below, by Thich Nhat Hanh, posted by the Thich Nhat Hanh Quote Collective on Facebook, my heart was greatly moved. Twice in the last couple of years I have come to see very clearly my own shut door, by having it opened slightly to the greater world, for a little while. Without this experience it is really hard to understand or see what I will try to point at in this post, but perhaps by reading the beautiful lines below we can begin to imagine an opening of the soul.

Since I learned how to love you,
the door of my soul has been left wide open
to the winds of the four directions.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

When we think of ourselves as separate individuals moving through a world apart from us, there arises a great need for physical and mental protection. The fear generated by such a perspective results inevitably in the construction of a mental armor – a closed gate. I believe most of us never reflect upon this part of our psyche, and we are therefore largely unaware of it. I, at least, was almost fully unaware of mine before I was fortunate enough to have it opened for a while, which gave some perspective.

As we grow up we become reserved (mildly put), and suspicious of everything we encounter. We keep things at a distance, and only rarely do we somewhat dare open the gates to our hearts and souls. Thus, as we meet new people, and even nature itself, we do so in a halfheartedly and protective fashion, inviting them barely to the edge of our inner gates. This mainly happens on an unconscious and automatic level, but if we pay close attention to how we approach the world, we may come to notice this to some extent.

My first experience of having this armor opened, was at a Sesshin (Zazen meditation retreat), while doing outdoor walking meditation, and just like expressed in the Thich Nhat Hanh quote, I felt as if the wind was suddenly allowed inside of me, and the whole scenery could then enter through a great gate consisting of my chest. The sense of separation between subject (myself) and object (the world) was thereby substantially lessened.

Since these experiences I have tried to remember the feeling of those moments when I meet people, whether friends or new acquaintances, and to be aware of how I approach them. Doing my best with being as fearless as possible, I welcome them with my chest and body straight towards them and as mentally naked as I can manage.

A great part of the spiritual path is walked by learning how to receive. It is about welcoming the places, events, and people we come across and to acknowledge was is. While we might be busy with making an impression, acting, judging, and labeling what we see, the secret is to receive what comes before us, without disturbing its revelation, with the noise of our own self-portrayal. Even when we act, it is vital that we listen in this way, so that we can become aware of what we're really doing. Life is free though, and that is true even of the most profound dimensions of it. Therefore, if we can learn to keep the bowls of our selves empty and welcoming, Heaven will provide the wisdom, joy, and compass for further travels. If we can muster the courage, to slightly open our ribcages, and let the sharpness of life touch our sensitive hearts just a little bit, then we will also open ourselves to the winds of the Lord, and from their whispers, steadfastness and an even greater courage will grow.

I really recommend everyone to study how we welcome and relate to situations and people. How do we approach them physically (posture, direction, facial expression)? What happens on the mental level? (emotions, thoughts). If possible, are there changes we can make, for a more inviting, and less protective stance? Do we welcome the world to enter at all, or do we still prefer to keep it at a distance?

That Mystery, which brought us about, supplies us with food, keeps us warm, and in a great other number of ways sustains our being, have we learned how to trust it yet? To what extent do we dare bare our hearts to its immensity?

Love, they say, is best done naked.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Body and Earth

While the spiritual journey consists of a shift of focus (identity) from form to spirit, it is important that we do not make an enemy of the body, or of matter itself. In spiritual contexts you neither fight, nor flee, but accept and transcend what you wish to overcome. It is much like finding an ugly spot on your new wall-paper. As long as you do not accept it, the spot will keep bothering you, and leave you no peace of mind, but as soon as you accept its presence you become free of it. In a way, you will no longer see it.

The Salvation presented by Jesus of Nazareth, or the Nirvana of Siddhartha Gautama, are Absolute. That means they are independent of conditions. If you think that a change of environment is necessary, you are wrong, though it might initially be very helpful. On this issue Sri Ramakrishna speaks wisely: “...when the trees on the footpath are young, they may be eaten up by goats or cows for want of fencing. A fence is needed in the initial stage. When, however, the trunk gets thicker no fence is needed. Then even an elephant tied to the trunk will not do any harm to it.”
(From the Gospels of Sri Ramakrishna)

While the body is not the truth of what we truly are, it is our one vessel on this voyage, and abandoning the vessel does us no good at all. On the contrary, it is our inability to accept and connect with the vessel that keep us bound to it. In our problems, worries, and ambitions of every day life, we lose contact with body and earth, and lead a life almost fully in our minds. We think about the frightening or hopeful future, and on other places and times which we cannot touch, taste, smell, hear, or even see. To a great extent, we live not in Life, but in our minds' maps of reality. In this abstract world of ideas, opinions, plans, goals, regrets, and strategy, we become disconnected from body and being – fully or partly lost in a labyrinth of endless thought-patterns. 

Reconnect now. Feel the body. Feel the weight of it, and the pressure on your bottom, back, or feet. Can we read on without losing the awareness of it?

Since we spend most of our days primarily with the voice in our heads, it is very good to re-establish a conscious connection with the feet, which are furthest away from the brain. When we walk it is great practice to make aware every single step, and the feeling of contact with the ground or floor. As long as that conscious contact is maintained, we are never fully lost in thought. Many forms of spiritual practice like Hatha Yoga, Zazen, and even Martial Arts, or any kind of Dancing, helps greatly in getting to know the body. To welcome the body, be in the body, and be the body, helps us re-discover and experience the Oneness between mind and body. The spiritual presence underneath and within all, is more easily discerned when the energies of the body are welcome, balanced, and perceived by us.

What I'm speaking about here is a very far cry from idolizing the body, or any form of emotional (positive or negative) attachment to it. You need not look in the mirror once to love and accept the physical structure you have at your disposal. Live through this flesh and give it the honor it deserves, but allow also its decline by age and any disfigurements from accidents and disease. These are as natural as its strength, beauty, and agility, and may teach us to seek in the right place. All we need to understand really, is that some disabled persons are happier than the girls on the catwalk, and we need to look there no further.

By making it a daily practice to make aware our breathing, or our placing of the feet on the ground, we establish a connection with the body energy, and the surrounding air or soil. Whenever we find ourselves repeating or listening to a superfluous stream of thoughts (typically a reprisal) we will gain a lot by moving focus instead to the temple of our being – the body, and listen in to the silent sermon held at all times in the halls of nerve, sinew, muscle, and bone. In such a way we may come to remember the secrets of the Earth, from which our bodies sprang and are sustained.

"For in him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28)

Monday, March 26, 2012

One Indestructible Tower

I'm playing with building blocks, together with my very young daughter. Being a person trained and active in the making of art, I soon start to envision the small “artwork” I have laid the foundation to on our living-room floor. In a miniature fashion I'm sort of thrilled and eager about seeing it finished. My daughter however has other joys entirely, and finds it very amusing to destroy my construction, when it's only half way done. With a sigh I gather the pieces anew and start over. This time, I get a little further before CRASH, she once more turns it to ruins (and laughs hysterically, clearly pleased with her power).

When it happened this scene illustrated very clearly to me, what I already knew; that our joy must be based primarily in being and doing (adding one block to another) rather than in our goals or achievements (the finished construction). Achievements are very elusive, ideas really, that keep us dreaming about and dreading the future, and regretting or lingering in the past.

When we are not content in being, our actions are strained and restless. The fruits of our actions (if we ever get there) end up unwholesome – a reflection of our inquietude. Just as a starving person will care little for the shape, form, or balance of the meal, when discontented we sow and reap disharmony.

That we need desire and discontentment to propel our cultures and societies forward is simply not true. It is impossible to stay passive on a spinning globe, where suns and seasons have us thrown around in an ever changing carousel. That Life naturally seeks to continue, is by itself enough to initiate action, and that action is so much more wisely chosen and executed, from a place of contentment, and a background awareness of eternity.

Only at that moment, when you no longer desire IT, will I dare entrust you with IT's power.

For balance we should get our priorities right and find our joys firstly in being, secondly in doing, and thirdly, in achieving. As it is now, many of us reverse this order, and only manage to live when they manage to achieve. The rest of life is reduced to a means of “getting there”, to a few highlights, in an otherwise barely bearable existence.

How then can we find contentment in being by itself, enjoy doing what needs to be done, and celebrate achievement when The Lord allows it to happen? The answer is simply to change our focus and investments. I believe we have all experienced forcing ourselves to do something seemingly “boring” or “pointless” (like moving the lawn, shoveling snow, or perhaps playing with toys with our children) only to at some point discover it to be rather pleasant. When that happens we have managed to shed our ambitions, plans, hunger, and fears, and entered for a while the simplicity of being. Materials then feel more tangible, forms more beautiful, and living things turn much more alive. There is then happiness in being by itself, and time no longer veils the wealth of living.

Treasures are found where we dig, and where we dig only. Harmony and fulfillment is discovered by digging persistently in the right place, and that place is right here, and right now. Here is the only place that will never leave us – The one tower that cannot be destroyed, neither by the whims of men, nor the play of immortals.

Can you find (be) it?

"...Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
(Luke 12:33-12:34)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Choice

Being angry with the thief for stealing our possessions is like being angry with the sun when it is too hot. But the thief had a choice, we might argue...

Well, then so have we... as we turn our anger into forgiveness, and free our minds from ego.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Daily Dance with Shiva

Have I died yet today? Have I let go of all the energies that currently pull me into this and that? Have I stilled myself for a while, to assert and re-establish my contact with the ground? Shiva, the destroying aspect of the Absolute (in Hinduism), makes space for new life to prosper. Can I dance His dance, and experience renewal each and every day? Do I dare be new today? What is THIS very moment? What does it call me to be? In which way does it create me? Yes, here I am, open and free to listen.

The struggles, obligations, demands, opinions, ideas, identities, and worries we carried yesterday, are to be consumed in the holy fire of being, so that we can face this moment with the freshness and vigilance of spring. Let us taste the pure awareness of our being. Truly it is free from all these things. It wants for nothing, but simply is.

Let us allow ourselves to simply be like that. Let's die away from all the notions we have of who we are, what we want, and what Life is. Breath deeply, and experience the sensations of being. Receive them in their utter simplicity. Can we do so without adding anything? Can we do so without analyzing and labeling what right now IS? There are no questions here. There are no problems to solve. There is simply being. Movement.

There, something calls for my attention. A baby cries. Listen the sound of it. Feel the vibration of it. Welcome the experience of it. It plays with my ear. A small sensation of pain right there inside the ear. Welcome pain. How do you feel? What is your nature? I walk, feet on the floor. There is the form or the baby. How sweet. I lift it up and pull it to my chest. Sensations. Warmth. Life. I don't demand the baby to be silent. Feel the soles of the feet on the tiles. Feel the pressure of the chest against the infant. I allow it to cry for as long as it wants. I just do what I know to do, and rock it slowly back and forth. There is no hurry. I'm not trying to be in two places at once. There is only the matter of priority. The phone rings, and the food in the oven calls for my attention. I move steadily to the phone, and turn it off. How does the button feel against my finger? Smooth. I put down the crying baby on the floor, and move to the oven. Listen to the cries. They intensify, and change pitch for a while. Now, the handle of the oven. A little warm. Opening. Heat in my face. Slowly and carefully I take out the food and place it somewhere safe. Only ever one thing at a time. Always present to what happens. No demands. Simple being. No rush. There is the baby again. I walk back and start comforting it once more. Stay present to the sensations in the body, and the awareness in which all this appears. Have faith in being. Let the baby cry.

Through a Mystery the Universe of forms came into being. It expanded and created stars and galaxies. Stars died and planets were born. Simple organisms and plants were brought to life, and then more complex forms, animals, and finally beings. Was there a problem during this process? Who went through great stress to make all this happen? Naturally, and simply, all these things evolved. Through being, being came into being.

Our lives and actions are this very process, and it is still going on. Our only problem is that we do not trust it. We do not allow it to happen as it happens. We fight it. We thus rebel against the Lord, our maker. We make demands on reality, and we go to war with it, to realize our version of Life, as if we, separate from the Universe, could control it by ourselves. What happened to 'Thy will be done'?

I am not talking about passivity, but speak again about acceptance, and perspective. When does living turn into problems? Where does it happen? What is a problem? I once saw a film about newborn pikes, and how they grew into maturity, by consuming their brothers and sisters. As soon as one of the siblings had grown to be a fraction larger than the others, it ate them – swallowed them whole. In many beautiful lakes there are great pikes swimming around. Is the cannibalism of pikes a problem? Should we teach them manners?

Do we dare to let go of ego here, and see to what extent problems are made by us? Calming down, and letting go of ourselves for a while, we are given perspective. When we stand firmly in the purity and simplicity of being, it is easier to see what is what, and how we paint reality in our image, rather than the Lords. By dying away from this distortion of Truth, and by ceasing to fight the Lord's process, we become able to accept it for what it truly is. Seeing it clearly, we dare enter it, and when we become One with it, we have fully entered His Kingdom.

Feel the life-giving breath, going in and out, automatically, then ask yourself again; What is most important today?

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" (Matthew 6:26-6:27)

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself..."
(Matthew 6:33-6:34)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Honesty - The Master Solvent

A great spiritual approach is to let the things of the past fall aside for the freshness of the moment. However, at times, memories simply won't stop haunting us. What I'll write about in this post is no more than basic psychology, but perhaps it will look a little different in a spiritual context.

I recently had cause to look at one of my own memories, which, insignificant as it seemed, kept coming back to me. I see no reason to go into details, so let's just say it's a situation from my early teens where I'm given more responsibility than I can handle. I fail in an embarrassing way, and when my friends give me a hard time about it I refuse to acknowledge my ignorance, which makes the situation even worse.

Though the memory of this event has returned many times over, I didn't manage to recognize its nature, until a few weeks ago. Now, in retrospect, the heaviness, discomfort, and sadness of it is very obvious, and I can clearly see the psychological attachment I had to it. Though I barely admit it even now, I was still trying to work myself out of that situation, decades after it happened!

Basically, since it wouldn't leave me, even if it seemed a ridiculous every day event, I decided to look at the situation again. Probably due to meditation practice (mainly) I now managed to do so more honestly. Though staying alert to what IS, and stop clinging to the past, is a vital and accurate piece of spiritual advice, being HONEST, is even more important. With practice we learn to be honest in real-time, and react in tune with who we truly are, but if our memories aren't sorted out, we will have an impossible time staying present.

What I could see, and dare admit to myself, as I looked closer at that memory was: Yes, I failed. I was incompetent. I couldn't manage the simple task I was given, and I did handle it badly. When my friends challenged me and teased me about it they were mean and immature, and I was saddened by how they were treating me. It hurt. The whole situation really hurt. So I wept now, 25 years after it happened, and the angel of Honesty relieved me of my pain.

This was a truly distinct episode of healing. The heaviness of that event was reduced to a very light and very thin papery file in the cabinet of my memories, which I can now bring out and look at without any sort of emotional load attached to it. The difference is quite remarkable. I know it will no longer disturb me.

When we go through such an act of honesty once, we are given a bottle of the greatest solvent of all, which we may use many times over if need be, and perhaps even bring up Live. Staying present is the very opposite of looking away. Staying present is looking pain straight in the face and saying; I can handle you, because I now accept you. I am open to your terrible gaze, and I will not deny what you do to me. That is how the wrath of the Lord is washed away and how His light becomes clear to us. It may take three days on the Cross, but fore Heaven's sake, it is worth it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Eternal Subject

We have this idea that we can study life and reality. But while doing so we forget that our closest access to Life is not the object of our studies, but the one who studies. The act of studying is Reality and Life in progress. It is a live, first-person perspective of Life. The greatest way to understand Life is to observe observation and to be aware of awareness. It is Meditation.

This experience of awareness, which is what lets us know that we are, is not an object but a subject. It is actually misleading to say a subject, because then we pin it down, and regard it as an object. When we picture ourselves as objects, we move from the experience of being, into thinking about being, which is hugely different, and may be very misleading.

Awareness (subject), as we experience it, without thinking about it, really has no form. Looking in the mirror we see a body, but that form is nothing like the experience of awareness. Cutting a head open we see a brain, but that form is nothing like awareness either. When someone pinches our arms, or tickles our feet, we are aware of it. If someone bangs our heads to the wall we might lose conscious awareness for a while, and so we tend to draw the conclusion that awareness is in our brains. But is that really the case?

If we pull the pedals out of a car it no longer functions, but does that mean its ability to move is in the pedals? What else is required to make the car move? When we split reality into objects we attribute functions to objects. We say that lamps shine, plants grow, and that cows produce milk, but is that really the case? To produce the thoughts which rise in your consciousness right now, what do you need?

Water, food (plants/animals), sunlight, heat, gravity, electricity, an atmosphere, oxygen, space, a planet. These are some of the constituents of a human being. We can lose our eyes, our legs, a kidney, our memory, even our sanity, and yet survive. But if we lose any of the above, we instantly die. If it wasn't for these and the context we find ourselves in (the input) neither thoughts nor emotions would appear. Isolate a brain in the remotes of space, and I can assure you, it would neither think nor show signs of awareness. Without oxygen most car engines don't work, and without a ground on which to roll, wheels don't do much good. Lamps can't produce light. Lamps can only channel the electricity and power of the Universe and help produce light. That is what lamps do.

Looking at the world through a tube doesn't make us the tube. Feeling the heat upon the skin, doesn't make us the skin. We now go back to awareness, the very thing that tells us that there is being - I AM. But what is it that IS... aware? Instead of looking at awareness like an object, know it as subject. Experience awareness, which is you. Try to stay aware of awareness while objects and thoughts come and go. Do this often, and don't answer the question about what subject is, with your mind, because you can't grasp your Self like that. You cannot catch your own tail.

Awareness is acquainted through awareness. By paying attention to the infant of you, you incite it into communication and growth. A new, ancient root is waiting to be rediscovered. It yearns to sprout into its fullness of being – what we may call, The Christ inside.

When we no longer allow the forms of the world to bewitch us, we rest in the Oneness of Him.

By Paul:
For we have many parts in one body, but these parts do not all have the same function. In the same way, even though we are many people, we are one body in the Messiah and individual parts connected to each other.” (Romans 12:5)

By Lao-Tzu (Approx 4-6th century B.C.)
The reason that can be reasoned is not the eternal Reason.
The name that can be named is not the eternal Name.
The Unameable is of heaven and earth the beginning.
The Nameable becomes of the ten thousand things the mother.
Therefore it is said:

'He who desireless is found
The spiritual of the world will sound.
But he who by desire is bound
Sees the mere shell of things around.'

These two things are the same in source
but different in name.
Their sameness is called a mystery.
Indeed, it is the mystery of mysteries.
It is the door of all spirituality.

(Lao-Tzu. “Reason's Realisation”. The Teachings of Lao-Tzu, The Tao Te Ching. Rider. Singapore. Revised edition. 1999 Paul Carus. p.30)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Weakness of Spiritual Teachings

Those who could profit most from spiritual teaching have no chance to grasp them, and those who no longer need the teachings, are the only ones who fully comprehend their message. If you have never seen a forest, or a plant, it is impossible to make sense of the green parts on the map. You can stare at them for hours on end, and yet, you will only delude yourself while trying to understand them.

We have all been invited to the greatest party of all, but it seems the Host wrote encrypted invitation cards, and has only delivered the key to a lucky few. Most of us have no clue as to where or when the party is held. Now how do we get hold of this code key?

Can we trust those who claim to have it? Can, yes, but I wouldn't recommend it. Walk instead into that silent meadow, where the Manor of our Host is situated, and sit down upon the grass before His doorstep, and wait patiently. If He doesn't open the door, come back again, and do so regularly until you receive it. Don't shout, demand nothing, and expect nothing, because He can't stand ungrateful guests. Just remain perfectly still, and as silent as you possibly can. With some luck, He will allow your presence, and He can't hide in that House of His forever, can he?

When it comes to pass, that you make out His silhouette through the window by the door, something will happen inside of you that you cannot explain, and going back to that card of invitation, it will suddenly make sense to you. Though the words looked like real words even before, you will now see that though you could read them, you missed out on their meaning. You may now read them for the first time, and they will tell you what you already know. Because in that brief glance of the Host, something utterly silent was communicated, and in you the full invitation is now made visible - written on your very being. Reading the card will pull these words from your innermost self and into your mind, so that they may make sense also on that level. Welcome to the party!

On these issues Paul writes very well:

"The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14)

"Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly--mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it..." (1 Corinthians 3:2)

A 14th century Zen Buddhist Master puts it this way:

Even if, for example, one were to read a thousand sutras and ten thousand sastas, if the Dharma eye has not been opened, this Buddha wisdom would not be clear. One who has not clearly penetrated Buddha wisdom will not understand even one line of sutra.
(Zen Mater Bassui. “Know Your Inherit Nature Before Studying the Scriptures.” Mud & Water. Wisdom Publications, Boston, Revised and expanded edition. 2002 Arthur Braverman. p.89)

If, before this experience, you find something intriguing, exciting, slightly attractive, or mysterious, in spiritual scripture or teachings, stay with them, but keep them open, and keep yourself open. Don't make up your mind about them, and don't let anyone else make up your mind for you. Accept that you do not know, and seek the Lord primarily in Life rather than in Scripture. A straw of grass, on the lawn outside the Church building, has more Truth and substance than the entire Bible. Touch the hand of another human being once, and you will have come closer to the Truth than you will through a lifetime of lofty ideas and thinking.

No book in the world can affect The Lord's presence and infinite being. If we'd rather read a tourist guide to Mount Everest than climbing the Mountain, we can do so, but though very importantly, it can direct us to the tracks most suitable for climbing, it does a poor job with replacing the experience of the Mountain, which, we have to understand, doesn't come or go with books or words.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Practice Timelessly

Heaven doesn't reward what we have done in the past, nor does it reward what we intend to do tomorrow. What do I mean by this? Do all our charity work, and hours of prayer/meditation count for nothing? Yes, in short, that is what I mean.

Years of spiritual practice or conduct will of course increase our chances to endure and welcome the wind of transformation when it comes, but if we're in that mind-set of gathering grace, for our future blessing, we are severely mistaken. They do not accept hand luggage on the Flight to Heaven. To enter that plane of communion we must be stripped naked.

With thoughts like “If I only pray regularly, and meditate every day”, I must surely reach enlightenment/salvation in this life”, or “I have been far to sloppy with my abstinence or fasting lately to expect any kind of progress” we bring Time into the equation. This is bad practice. It is weakness of faith, and it is aiming falsely. The actions of the Lord require no time.

When you look to the future for freedom, or take refuge in the past, you leave the one and only place where Life IS, and where awakening is possible – Here and Now. What you did last week, or the minute before this one, is of no consequence in this context. God, I dare say, will forgive the most hideous error or crime in a second. It is not “He” but We, that hinder His Light. We must find the courage to believe this, and to forgive ourselves, and that's the one and only tricky part.


Spiritual discipline, and a religious way of life, are not there to merit our future salvation. We practice and live this way to improve our relation to the NOW (Life). Whatever our self-judgment, whatever our doubts, we should
let go of them and re-enter Being (here) at once. Here is where the Lord awaits us, here is where He invites us, and here is where we may chose to strip naked (sacrifice our egos) before Him. Nothing we did in the past have the power to stop this from happening, but for the mental bonds of faithlessness that cause us to hide in Time.

In essence, there is no distance to The Lord. Walking there takes no time. He is not even a step away. With a single leap of faith right now, we can skip decades of arduous practice. Trust the fullness of this moment. Give yourself to this place. We have always stood, and are still standing, by the Altar of the Lord. Do we have the faith and courage to "expose our necks" and let it happen – to let that happen which The Lord brings, whatever it may be?

Okay then, so we struggle some more and we suffer some more, but we are lost when we look to the future for our salvation, and we are of little faith until we can shed our savings on the doorstep of every day and moment, because “...surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19)

or as Paul writes: “...I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.(2 Corinthians 6:2)

It is better that we return to this now (the presence of the Lord), if only for a second, than make up plans for a future in perfect virtue. Fall into the deepest pit of Sin, it doesn't matter. If we re-enter this now in faith and fully undressed (of us), the Lord will welcome us with all of His Love, and embrace us as if we were (in our capacity of) His One and only Son. I will even claim that; if we come with empty hands, He is unable to deny us.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Ways of Knowing and Unknowing

"Using the mind to look for reality is delusion. Not using the mind to look for reality is awareness.", says the legendary Bodhidharma.

Jesus puts it like this: “"I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants...” (Matthew 11:25)

With infants he means those who keep their minds free from conceptual thoughts and judgment – those who manage to enter every day and moment as if they had just been born. Here follows an attempt to demonstrate the weakness and limitations of conventional knowledge, and an invitation to un-know the world in our minds, which is the world of separation, and the world of yesterday.

Imagine for a while that the gray area above represents the “empty” Universe. In this example it is all that exists. Even the beholder of this unknown reality is part of the grayness. There is nothing we can say about this Universe. There is nothing to make out, no context, no nothing. We do not even understand it as gray, because this is all we “know”.

Now we add something for the sake of perspective. Looking at the Universe this way we suddenly have a world of form - a world of concepts. The gray area in the middle remains untouched and unchanged, but the surroundings are different. Looking at this we now understand the unknown grayness as bright. This is how we perceive it. The surroundings we understand as dark. Observe that these two definitions appear together. By separating one from the other, two identities emerge. Brightness and darkness can only be understood when they exist together. They are dependent on each other.

What if we had added something else? While the gray area in the middle is still unchanged, we now understand it as dark. Dark, is how we perceive it, but what is its true nature? Is it bright or dark? We can point to it and call it dark, but do we now actually know this unknown “stuff” of our Universe? Its character seems to change with the alterations of its surroundings.

What about this? Another context and a new number of descriptions are suddenly possible. Our non-changing grayness can now be understood as calm, pale, boring, sharp, uniform etc, and yet it remains completely unchanged. This is something we can experience in real life too. We walk along, feeling fine, and comfortably dressed, when we happen to enter a fancy store or restaurant. Suddenly we become very aware of our clothes, and how bland or sloppy they feel. As the context changes so does our self image.

Observe that the noisy, vivid background in this example needs the straight grey to be understood as such. If our entire Universe was noisy and vivid, we would never know it. It would simple be, as it is. (It is not the case that it would truly be noisy and vivid beyond our understanding of it. Without any other element to inter-exist with, such characteristics as noisy and vivid simply do not exist.)

Exploring the world through our senses and understanding it through our minds, we are confined to this domain of relative conclusions. We are limited to a dualistic image of the world and life in general. We do not make our verdicts about the objects we encounter based on the immidiate surroundings alone. We compare also with of our entire culture of memories, and so we can relax our experience in the fancy boutique with memories of the bums in the street and our circle of similarly dressed friends. In such a way we get a wider perspective - a bigger picture, but it is still based on the same relative understanding.

(There are also the actual illusions of vision to take into account. Do the many grey discs in the image above have the same value and color?)

So, what is the true nature of this stuff, which we cannot truly see? Is there a way to understand this unknown grayness of our symbolic Universe in a more Absolute fashion? Can we know at all without the help of dualistic comparison?

Well, there are those who say we can. By spending time with stillness and silence, one can become aquainted with it. By beholding the world without prejudice, criticism, and labelling, and accepting what IS, one can ”see” beyond the concepts of the mind. This is the way of Unknowing, which has been advocated by Mystics in the East and West for millenia. It is the way of mindfulness and meditation, and holistic communion with reality itself. It is a completely wordless way of penetrating into the core and mystery of Being itself.

Look again. What do you perceive? If you cannot go to your mind, memories or feelings to tell you what you are, then what ARE you?

I'll end this post with a suggestion, or perhaps it is only some questions: What if the essence (grayness) of God is so dynamic in its nature, that it can be perceived in a multitude of different ways? What if no actual change is required to bring variation/creation about? What if the entire Universe is only a matter of perspective?... one's set of mind.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Disarming the Gorillas of Life

All spiritual traditions advocate detachment, or non-attachment, as it is sometimes called. Spiritual teachers, contemporary, and from the past, all have different ways to explain and express this very important principle of religious practice/conduct. Zen Master Bassui says we shall walk through this world as if it was a village ridden with pestilence (touch nothing), and Jesus expresses it even more radically when he states: "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters, as well as his own life, he can't be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)

Like all spiritual teachings these are pointers meant for investigation and guidance. If they are understood as truth in themselves misunderstandings are inevitable. It would certainly be very stupid to love our enemies while simultaneously hating our families. What then, do they mean? And why should we detach ourselves from life and the many gifts of our Lord?

Just like the fish cannot know what water is, since it is constantly submerged in it, we cannot know what life is, until we (to some level) become free from it. When it happens, that we come to see life, not from a point of being submerged in it, but from a point of detachment, it is truly a fabulous revelation. Great unstoppable laughter is then likely to erupt, because the strangeness of life, and the incredible reality of its being, is pure awe and tremendous joy. In amazement we look around, and for the first time we become fully aware of the fact that; this really is! Just like fire is unaware of heat, we are not fully aware us, and if we cannot know our own nature, then how will we ever know the Lord, in whose mysterious image we're created? As it is, we are far too involved in the details and desires of daily life, to manage any kind of perspective.

Let's put it this way. To become free from the leashes of earthly life, we must neither desire, nor repel the phenomena and objects we here encounter. Neither negatively or positively charged energy can create the stillness and spaciousness required for perspective. Only when the energies of life are allowed to flow freely through us, without clinging to our consciousness, can we hope to elevate ourselves enough from the stickiness of the world, to experience what we are.

The more we have invested (of ourselves) in this world, the less willing we will be to let go of it. While the mind wrestles with the wraiths of impermanence, in its futile attempts to gain control (over the targets of its fear), and while we struggle to become (accepted or important in the eyes of others) we grasp continuously at the foundation of relative existence. The Absolute thus remains unknown.

I get this picture of an enormous, self-governed, artificial intelligence which reaches out (with one of its numerous antennas of sense) and connects to a tiny box within which a simple computer-game is running. Attracted to that game of climbing ladders, jumping barrels, and saving damsels in distress, the antenna inside the box forgets its greater self (the Master AI) and freedom. It now fears the digital barrels, and the screams of the damsel keeps it busy climbing ladders and collecting points. What in this situation would give it the courage and space to pause for a while, and remember its true nature?

It cannot stop the barrels from rolling, and therefore it must accept them. Not fear, not hate, not repel, but accept them. Love is even better. Save the damsel, love the damsel, but let go of possessive desire. (More about love in a later blog-post). Hiding, or bailing out from life is a repellent, negative energy decision, which gives importance and substance to the world we are trying to transcend, so that will not work.

The only solution available is detachment. If we can learn to accept, or maybe even love, whatever we encounter in this world, while to the best of our abilities, we avoid to cling, crave, desire, hate, fear, loath, judge, or in any way become seriously involved with it, then we may reach a point where we can see within ourselves the true meaning of detachment, and how it strangely enough takes us deeper into existence, and into the very soul of things..

With experience, faith gets stronger, and as the presence of the Lord becomes increasingly clear, so does our house on the rock, which no wind in the world can move. Only from there, true detachment, and fearless, unconditional love is possible.