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.

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