Thursday, June 26, 2008

How do I find My Way when I don't know I Am Lost?

I’ve gotten a number of letters from people lately. They tell me how hard it is to develop spiritual practice. They tell me it is very difficult to develop consistency. Yes, this is all true. There are some to whom it comes more easily but these have done some of the work in the past. What I mean by that is ‘past lives’.

When you begin to explore the metaphysical and when you encounter terms like, ‘karma’, ‘past lives’, ‘samskaras’, ‘Maya’ and other words that represent things and conditions outside of mainstream understanding, there is a resistance on the part of the mind/personality to accepting what is unfamiliar or outside of personal experience. These days there is talk about these terms in more enlightened circles. Some of these words have entered into the common parlance. We hear them and we use them but... we don’t completely understand them, nor do we have a visceral apprehension of them.

I’ve had direct experience of all of these terms. That doesn’t mean I know much more about them. These things interest me and that is a big key to gaining understanding. Love can truly intensify interest and with Love comes the power and inspiration to make what seems difficult to many, enjoyable to you; if you have Love.

It is always better to fall in love with something if you want to get very far with it. This applies across the board from money to sexual favors. That may seem a little crass of me but I’m not in the business of flowery constructs in order to create beautiful nonsense, thereby creating more disorder than harmony. It’s always best to face the truth straight on. In fact, you will find it a difficult affair to sidle up to the truth on your own terms. The truth doesn’t work like that. Truth demands that you discard all of your presumptions and illusions before you can even get in the door.

Success in the undertaking is why so many people feign love, especially in areas of sexual favors where... most of us are quite vulnerable. Charming people out of their money or their pants is not a new profession. Have I digressed? Have I wandered off and away from what appeared to be some point I was in the process of making? No... just arranging the scenery.

We often do not see what is right in front of us. We often do not look for the source of our inconsistencies and distress. We like to go along to get along and we like to trust until our trust is so broken that we don’t trust anyone including ourselves. Our faith gets hammered and even when we know that certain eternal verities must be true we can’t see how they apply to us. We think we’re right but we don’t trust our own judgment to begin with. We are a complexity of confused perceptions.

You have to really want something to possess it. A great many people pick up the guitar only to lay it down again because consistency is found wanting. Consistency is wanting because the love is wanting. Discipline is crucial to learning anything beyond the popular dilettantism of this age. Love is crucial to discipline. We’ve a common understanding that parents discipline their children because they love them.

We have a lot of undisciplined children running around inside of us. One might say they show up outside of us too as a consequence of what we understand about love. We don’t understand love or much else. We’ve got the memory of what we’ve run up against and how we managed it. Repetition of habitual reaction has given us what we know of life.

At some point you have to become your own parent, or you must discover who your real parents are. You can’t form new patterns unless you get rid of the old patterns and you can’t embrace the truth when you are riddled with self deceit.

Many of the predators among us who routinely deceive and seduce us are often not even conscious of what they are up to. They’ve just been accommodating to the lies that make it easier to get what they want. They’re going to get a lot of sorrow to go along with it because... everything you practice on others you are practicing on yourself.

Change is not easy. It is never harder to change than when you are trying to change yourself. It seems like everything goes wrong. There is a scientific explanation for this. Patterns, like ruts in the road, are part of the uniformity of flawed existence. The world is accommodating to this. Your patterns are part of the ancient flow of the world. But the world will re-accommodate itself to persistence of effort and the world itself will change.

A seed in the dark and compact earth will break through the greater mass because of its love and yearning for the sun. Our ‘yes’ seems not to really be Yes. Our ‘no’ is equivocal too. We vacillate. We surely do.

In these times it is particularly hard to change when the force of the world is so manifestly en-route to perdition. It is the eternal nature of the world to migrate toward corruption. It starts out small... after whatever the most recent cataclysm might have been and then morphs into a grand orchestra of materialized madness. Our human development never seems able to maintain pace with our technological development.

To develop spiritual practice you must swim contrary to the flow of the world. You can’t manage that by yourself and therein is the point. You need help and you have to ask for it. On this, I suspect you will just have to take my word; if not my word then the words of those far more evolved and enlightened than I who have told you the very same thing.

Stop thinking that you are doing it, that it is you that must do it. You can’t do it but... something within you can. You must rely on that. You must strive too. You must strive and surrender and strive and surrender. You must erase from your mind the possibility that you can fail or that you will give up and you will have success.

Go within and ask within. Every time you find that you have missed an opportunity to practice... ask for help. Ask for help as often as you can remember to. I recommend some useful books; “The Impersonal Life” (and every other book by this author), “The Practice of the Presence of God”, “The Door to Everything”, “As a Man Thinketh” and any of the works of Ramana Maharshi, Mikhail Aivanhov, Ramakrishna. There is enough diversity here to appeal to most.

Find someone with whom you naturally agree... whose work vibrates sympathetically with you and follow them. It may be that you prefer Jesus Christ or another avatar. Take what works for you and stick with it. Oft times you will find that one leads to another until you are where you are meant to be.

In every day you can find moments to be still and close your eyes and contemplate or ask. You will be made aware of such a moment today after having read this. See if this is not so. Look at the effort you put into trivial affairs which you seem to muster the strength for with no trouble at all and ponder why this is so.

I think I can leave off here and we shall see if this has caused anyone to come upon new ways of thinking and doing that did not get mentioned here. Anyone who is curious enough to read through something like this has enough interest to keep looking until they find what they seek. Exercise your love. And.....

Visible sings: Then You Let Go by Les Visible♫ Then You Let Go ♫
Lyrics (pops up)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Then again. Who was that Masked Man?

What do we do when we don’t know what to do and where do we go when we don’t know where to go? These are good questions but not the primary consideration because something precedes this as a priority and it’s possible that the answer to this is the answer to the other questions that track our footsteps into the unknown. That question is, “Who am I?” Until we know who we are it’s not going to be all that easy to know what we should do and where we should go.

Until we have some idea of who and what we are, our concerns about all the challenges and impulses that happen to us are going to be determined by the whims of personality and the fickle winds of chance. Today you get lucky. Tomorrow you get unlucky. Yesterday is a dream someone had. It might have been you. It might have been someone else. You don’t really know. If you don’t know who you are then you don’t know who it happened to.

Over the entry way to The Oracle of Delphi were the words Gnothi Seauton; “Know thyself”. Ramana Maharshi says that self inquiry is the way and that you must ask, “Who am I?” over and over again. You get some version of this from so many sources over the entire stretch of history. There has to be something to it but... what does it mean? I wonder about that.

We hear these words. We ponder these words but... what do they actually mean? It does seem to imply that there is something we can find out in terms of who we are. It seems to imply that by seeking and inquiring we are going to come upon something that will reveal a secret that- once we have unraveled or comprehended it- will change our lives. I get the impression that it not only changes our life but illuminates it too. That is to say that so many things that may have seemed ordinary and routine are suddenly exposed to be extra-ordinary and that the routine aspect of it is simply the result of our being trapped in a pattern of repeating ignorance of who thought we were.

Paramahansa Yogananada talked about “self-realization”. This is pretty much the same thing as, “Know thyself” and “Who am I?” When you read the Bhagavad-Gita you once again encounter this dichotomy of false self and real self in relation to levels of awareness. You might title them ‘self appearance’ and ‘self’. It looks like most people are operating from a position of not knowing and then reflexively assuming. The purpose of this is to just get by and keep moving and hope you don’t hit anything by staying within certain boundaries of sense perception according to certain disciplines laid down by family, environment, education and temporal law.

Whoever it is that we are when we don’t know who we are seems to have a lot in common with all of the other entities who don’t know who they are. Everybody wants something until they want something else. Most people want to be someone, motivated by the desire to perform in a particular persona for a particular audience, or because the payoff for a certain role is big or... more rarely because they want to render a service. Well... there can be a lot of examples but it all comes down to some inexplicable drive or the forced necessity of one’s environment demanding that we “Don’t just stand there, do something.”

I’ve been thinking about this “Who am I?” thing and it’s caused me to look at other things that seem connected to it. It’s caused me to look at the obstacles that interfere with one’s ability to know who they are or which shy the mind away from that consideration.

The first thing that comes to mind is the force of the world; the pressure to conform, the pressure to engage, the pressure to acquire, the pressure to advance, the pressure that comes in a hundred different ways and appears to be the force that drives the pitchfork into your hindquarters and pushes you forward for whatever the reasons ever are. You can’t be yourself if you are busy being someone else and you can’t be yourself if you don’t know who that is. It stands to reason that you’re going to be more effective in everything that you think and say and do if it is coming from your real self because there is an authenticity to you that can’t be found if you are a copy of one or more of the fashion constructs of the time. There is a huge difference (I believe) between playing yourself in life’s movie as yourself and in playing someone else.

Like other subjects that come up here from time to time this one isn’t easy to talk about. There’s something hidden about this Self question. It could be my problem is that I don’t know who I am either so how can I talk about it?

I have noted in the writings of a great many sages and spokes-entities for mystery schools that no matter what you do and no matter how hard you try you can’t do it on your own. Over and over again I hear, from sources that I consider impeccable, that ‘you’ can’t get there from here. Subsequently they always come around to the concept of surrender; total surrender. Once again, how can you surrender when you don’t know who you are? It’s....

Uh...uh....I don’t know.

What I hear them telling me is that you have to meet someone. That may be the key to the whole thing. Now, arguably, most people; the great majority of people are not concerned about, “Who am I?” They run up against the difficulties and hurdles that are ubiquitous to the human estate but this is not the direction they head in as a result. They accommodate. They forget. They deny and often enough never entertain any deeper consideration of what is going on beneath the surface.

It seems to me that however you approach self-inquiry that, when you do, if you are consistent, it sets up some kind of homing device. You begin to vibrate at a certain frequency and set up an attractive force that is not dissimilar to what happens between bees and flowers, men and women (or what have you) and magnets in the right position to each other.

There must be some organization, some brotherhood, some alliance of some kind whose job it is to move through the schools of human fish swimming in the ocean of the world for the purpose of engaging the willing in a series of tests and trials whose purpose it to lead them to an introduction that leads to ‘the introduction’ by which you are introduced to yourself and off you go with Lao Tzu beyond the Great Wall of China.

The point of this is, it seems to me, that is may be the easiest thing in the world; since you’ve only got to do the one thing. What makes it hard is that you can’t stop doing it until whoever is supposed to show up shows up. It seems that there is a guarantee that if you don’t give up you are assured of success. So, it seems that the question is, “Do I want this?” It also seems that the trials and tests that I mentioned are all the same trials and tests provided by the one you meet; that other self-speaking to self unknowing, self introducer, agent of alliance, organization, brotherhood asking in a variety of ways, “Do you want this?” All the trials and tests are only this question presented in another manner. Apparently the intention and sincerity of the aspirant is paramount.

It is a mystery to me. Here is the possibility of self-realization; conscious immortality, the sine qua non of successful life offered on a silver platter for a certain degree of effort and just about everybody has some kind of excuse for why they don’t want what they actually want more than anything else that there is to want. I’ll leave it to you to ponder the implications and the consequences of that.

Visible sings: Vanity by Les Visible♫ Vanity ♫