Monday, April 28, 2008

The What and the Who of You

"Accept everything about yourself--I mean everything, You are you and that is the beginning and the end--no apologies, no regrets." -- Clark Moustakas

Herein lies the power - the ability and willingness to accept absolutely everything about what AND who you are. Not only that, but to accept EVERYTHING unconditionally, that comes down the pike. Our mind (not our true nature) wants to evaluate everything and accept some things and reject others. So while Mr. Moustakas is correct, I would go even further and say, one must accept everything, not only about yourself, but about everyone, everything, unconditionally. How does one do this? By disappearing. At every moment, thousands of things are occurring to which we give no thought and no judgment - cars passing by, little sounds or feelings, an infinitude of sensory inputs large and small that arise at every moment to which we pay little or no heed. But then that one, that particular thing comes along and we find ourselves happy, sad, angry, or whatever. And our reaction to that, or our response to that, is then to evaluate the fact that we evaluated. "I should not be sad or angry or grieving, but I should be happy, blissful, loving, compassionate, etc. Why? Who says so?

The mind says that we should always be happy, that happiness is the great goal to be achieved. Again, who says so? Now, don't get me wrong, there is nothing bad about happiness. Happiness is a great 'place', but basing one's happiness ON happiness, well, it's a little impractical. Happiness, like unhappiness, come and go, and as the Gita says, "Happiness and distress, like heat and cold, come and go. One must learn to tolerate BOTH, without being disturbed."  Or as that great 20th century philosopher, Dolly Parton says, "The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain."

Not surprisingly though, is that, as Mr. Moustakas says, it begins with the complete acceptance of YOU - all of you. If it is your intention to transcend your 'You-ness", you cannot do so until you accept your 'You-ness". 

Let me put it this way. I like to break it down into a basic duality. There is a 'who' you are and a 'what' you are.  Most everyone is well versed with who they are: it is the personhood - man, woman, spiritual, material, doctor, lawyer, slacker, cool, loser, stressed, abused, ecstatic... all of the physical, mental, emotional stuff, past and present, that makes up the essential nature of [ insert your name here].  The difficulty, is that the mind likes to evaluate this who-ness. Some is good and some is bad. "I will accept the 'good' parts of who I am, but reject the 'bad' parts of who I am." But in doing so, we reject the Truth - the truth of who we are. We begin to look at these things and realize that the truth isn't pretty. We similarly look around the world, and although our tendency is to similarly see it with rose colored glasses we realized things are pretty fracked up and that the truth there isn't particularly pretty either. This is the beginning of growth.

Now, besides the WHO of us there is the WHAT of us. The What is not the body, nor the mind, nor the emotions, nor the history, nor the beliefs and so on and so on. The What of us is that which precedes all of that. It is the recognition that arises on deep inquiry into what it is that precedes even the sense of "I".  When one abides as "I" (or as Ramana called it - I-I, and Nisargadatta called it "I AM") one begins to recognize or REALize that what one is is unbounded Awareness, perfect silent stillness, the very space within which the 'who' of you and everything else in the universe, incuding the universe itself, arises.

The WHAT we are is aware OF the WHO we are and completely identifies as that who. Part of the who, the mind, evaluates the rest of the who, and the world, and evaluates and judges it. The WHAT we are is aware of all of this, and apparently 'constricts' to identify with that who-ness. I know - pretty damn confusing. However, this can be remedied in part by simply inquiring, "What is it that is aware of this confusion?" 

Traditionally, as with Ramana Maharshi and others, the question has been put, "Who am I?" This is actually a trick question designed to show you that you are NOT who you think, but something prior to that, which in this case, I am referring to as the What you are - unbounded consciousness.  Unless and until you can truly REALize, concretely, tangibly, that What-ness, you will continue to identify as the who. In fact, you will BE that who.

Put another way, in terms of the Yoga Sutras - "Union (yoga) is the elimination of the perceived limitations in consciousness. Then the establishment of the Seer (the What of you) in it's original true nature. Otherwise conformity TO the limitations (the Who of you)."  In other words, we BECOME the who. Like water, which unbounded is, in a sense, formless, when poured into a container, takes on the shape of that container, in a sense, becoming that container. Unbounded awareness, totally identified with the container, becomes that container - the What becomes the Who, forgetting it's real unbounded what nature.

In reality, the what and the who are not different. The waves on the ocean are not separate from the depths of the ocean. It is all ocean. The who is not separate from the what. They are ONE thing. All that arises in consciousness is non-different than the consciousness within which it arises. However, the lop-sided identification with Who, including the mind which evaluates and judges, causes untold amounts of suffering, to oneself and 'others'. Being grounded, however, in the WHAT we are totally diffuses this situation. The WHO is accepted as it is. It doesn't mean that it can't or won't change. But the judgment around it is released. As Carl Jung said, "We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses." So, accept the WHO you are, but more importantly, inquire deeply and repeatedly into and truly recognize the WHAT you are. That is Freedom!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Preparing for Death

One of the great advantages of becoming older is the clarity one gains regarding death. As the body begins to act and react in ways which it never did before, one is forced to look at various aspects of life that were never quite as "in your face".

Death, to most, has an ominous sound to it. It is depicted as the Grim Reaper, the skeletal figure draped in black. People flee from it, consider it an inappropriate conversational topic, skirt around the issue, joke about it, etc. But as one begins to actually lose energy, experience more aches and pains, as well as seeing the loss of a gradually increasing number of friends and relatives, the unquesionable reality of one's own physical demise becomes apparent.

There is a wonderful story in the Indian epic Mahabharata where the King Yudisthira is given 100 questions by Dharma, the Lord of Death. One of the questions is, "What is the most wonderful thing in the world?" to which Yudisthira answers, "That every day, people see others dying around them, and yet they think, 'I will never die'". And that was in a time when people did, in fact, see people die around them. Now we rarely see it. People are born in hospitals and die in hospitals or hospices. Then everything happened in the home. So, people would see others die, and yet there is a sense that I will never die. In truth, you never will. Oh yes, the physical will stop functioning, but that is just the manifestation which you call [insert your name here]. But what is prior to that will never die, as it is 'aja' - unborn! (If you didn't know what Aja meant, now you know.)

Now, it's not exactly like you have to be prepared for death - after all, it will come when it comes, whether you are prepared for it or not. However, if you knew that you had, oh, say, one day before you absolutely were going to die, what would you do? How would you prepare? Would you try to see some great sites, party out, make your own form of 'Bucket List,' or would you take a more contemplative approach?

Anyway, just something to 'contemplate.'

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Freedom At Any Cost!

"The exact contrary of what is generally believed is often the truth." -- Jean de la Bruyère

What are you doing for Freedom - yours or anyone elses? There is NO time for complacency, comfort or ease. My master used to say there are three things that must be extinguished immediately: fire, debt and disease. Our country, our culture, the entire western civilization is diseased. Not only is it diseased, it IS a disease. And like many diseases, it has infiltrated itself so deeply into our psyche, like the worst type of cancer, that no one can distinguish it - like a tumor that is so deeply nestled and entwined within the brain, that to remove it would mean certain death. But in some cases, death is far more appealing than diseased living, or at least it should be.

“It’s interesting to reflect that if all insects were to disappear from the earth, within fifty years all forms of life on earth would perish. We depend on them that thoroughly. But if all human beings were to disappear from the earth within fifty years all other forms of life would flourish.” -- Jonas Salk

Although it is politically and spiritually often incorrect to say so, euthanasia is a kindness. Our culture is more disease than ease. Everything in our culture is topsy turvey. But we have little to compare it with. We don't bother to look truthfully into the past, but only take the histories from those who write them - and history is written by those in power. We don't have the common sense of gerbils, to do what is natural, but rather we do what the media tells us. Just because our society lives a certain way now, or for the last 10 or 20 years, does NOT make it right. Every great turn in culture has taken a revolution of some kind. It is at the very root of revolution - to revolve, to turn, to move away from. You cannot try to keep your place in the river AND flow downstream. It requires letting go of what you are now comfortable with - all of it. What we have now, among other things, is complication, materiality, selfishness. The opposite of that is simplicity, spirituality and community. Every facet of the modern life is polluted by some aspect of complicated choices, materiality or narcissistic ideals of "What can I get for ME?" These MUST be given up if one hopes to achieve liberty, freedom, or peace.

"The cost of Enlightement is EVERYTHING! - Jed McKenna (and many, many others)

"The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance." - Thomas Jefferson (and echoed in the Yoga Sutras, Bhagavad Gita, etc.)

So what IS to be done? The biggest revolution is within ourselves. Are we complacent? I am. And I am furious. I am anguished. And people would tell me I am wrong to be so. They would tell me it is not Enlightened to be so. But it is not enlightened to NOT be so.

I don't do 'Love & Light' because Awakening has nothing to do with Love & Light. I don't "do" Compassion, because compassion is a symptom and NOT a cause. You don't create Enlightenment by being compassionate. Compassion is Awakened as you awaken.

I have compassion for everyone. I LOVE everyone, more deeply than most can know, and this IS why I am furious and why I am anguished. Very few even see the pain they are in, or that there is a way out.

It has been said that if you are disillusioned by your spiritual teacher, than you are deeply lucky, for it is our job, not to make you happy, nor to comfort you, nor to strengthen your already too strong sense of comfort in being an individual, but rather to dis-illusion you - to un-illusion you, to take away the illusions that you so desperately hang on to. I don't want to be your friend. I want you to recognize Truth. If what is said through this person offends you, it only offends your mind, your habits, your beliefs, NOT you. In Truth, you are longing to hear the Truth, but your mind will fight it at every step. While it is possible to dip the arrow of Truth in honey, that is not my job. There is far too much honey out there already, and most expect the honey, and can't distinguish what is honey coated truth and what is honey coated manure. The vast majority is honey coated manure. So I will speak the truth and recognize that I run the 'risk' of offending some ego, some mind, some old habits. Tough Shit! The Ashtavakra says"Don't be cripple minded" I say, "Don't be a wienie!" Wienie-ism is running rampant in our society.

With this now deeply rooted, post modern attitude of entitlement, radical narcissism, and instant gratification without effort, I can only echo the words of Frederick Douglass, "Those who profess to favor freedom, yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."

Many will refute this with the ideology that, "There is nothing wrong!" AND that is ABSOLUTELY true. There is nothing wrong. The illusion is part of the game, and so is the destruction of illusion if you want Truth. That is also not wrong. It is simply the Truth of the matter. There is nothing wrong with pain and suffering. It is perfectly natural as a symptom that things are out of balance and can be corrected. It is not wrong, it is a warning signal. Similarly, illusion and ignorance are not wrong, they are a warning that something is not being seen. Yelling is not wrong, it is simply a voice trying to be heard over all the lies that you are being fed every day by most of those around you. Not that they are intentionally telling lies. They simply don't know better. They have been lied to; their parents were lied to; the society, religions, educational institutions, medical institutions, etc. etc. are all lying and being lied to. The Truth is like the most valuable diamond that could ever be found. But few even know how to distinguish it anymore. That is why you have to let go of EVERYTHING you believe. Drop it ALL. Have the Courage (from 'couer' - heart) to fight ignorance within ourselves and within the 'world'. To do otherwise is the greatest of sins. So, I will leave you with just a few quotes along those lines.

With the deepest of love & compassion,
Aja

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"The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a time of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality." -- Dante, The Inferno

"The World is not dangerous because of those who do harm but because of those who look at it without doing anything." -- Albert Einstein

"Noncooperation with evil is as much a duty as cooperation with good." -- Gandhi

"Make yourself sheep and the wolves will eat you." -- Benjamin Franklin

"I never give them hell. I just tell the truth and they think it's hell." -- Harry Truman