The duality of suffering and pleasure

In our society suffering, immolation, sacrifice, etc. have a “good” connotation. Typically, it is the “I” giving up itself for others.
Pleasure, sensuality, sexiness, etc. have a “bad” connotation. It is the “I” being ego centered, hedonistic, indulging himself rather than “helping others.”
Our morality is based on the dichotomy of those values.
Pleasure is mostly condemned and suffering exalted, considered “spiritual.”

Suffering, immolation, sacrifice are always of the “I.” It is the “I” suffering for others, to become better, to accomplish things. This could be easily labeled as Love but it is not. Giving yourself for others without the “I” in between, is indeed Love. The difference cannot be told by the media, the masses, the lawyers… Thus, behind an action there is always an intention, not known by the “others” and mostly rationalized by the “I” to fit an image of sainthood. In time, this becomes absolute hypocrisy.

Paradoxically, pleasure is fulfilling in the experience of “no-I.” If there is an “I” wanting to experience pleasure, that pleasure will be unfulfilling for the “I” cannot reach satisfaction, the ego-mind will continually disturb the experience of pleasure.

Sex is a great example to illustrate the above.
Individuals condemning pleasure in the name of morality, have already a strong conditioning against sexuality. The “I” wants to be in “control” in an experience which is meant to abandon the control of the “I.” A person is unable to be fully present, in the “now” while thinking about being in “control.” We can learn a lot about ourselves from our sexuality.

When the “I” looks for pleasure, it cannot resist the sensations but yet the experience may be unfulfilling. Thus, it becomes addictive. The mind will keep a dream of pursuing full satisfaction which cannot  exist.
Thus, the avoidance or regulation of sensual pleasure is preached by many religions and societies. The “rebels” of this sort of morality act in rejection of established moral values, but they are still influenced by the morality of guilt and sin, deep inside.
Their reactionary movement lacks awareness, for with awareness there is no need to be reactionary.

Suffering is used by religions and moral laws as expiation of “sin.” The morality of guilt and shame is created through the exaltation of suffering as a means to redeem the individual from “sin.”

Suffering and pleasure are 2 ends of the same experience. The experience of one side, brings necessarily the other. Therefore, moral values rejecting one side to promote the other are unrealistic, utopic.

Our conditioning is to reject one side of a duality. At this time, that teaching/belief  is outdated and detrimental. Integration of all energies, is very important at this time. Here is where the balancing act resides, where harmony in the self means harmony with the world, the Totality.

Suffering and pleasure are part of living Life at this time.Embrace them. They are not meant to be a traumatic experience unless we make it that way;  but only  a particular and passing  experience of the vast range of experiences in Life.   It is the dolphin swimming  in the ocean: Now you see it, a minute later you will not… yet the Ocean remains with Life.  :-)

 

 The journey of Self-realization

I live in Tampa, Florida. Our winter here is pretty mild so far. I went to Lima, Peru for vacation to visit family.
In Lima, the Sunshine is emerging as Summer is on the way.
I could not be able to fully appreciate the weather in Tampa unless I go somewhere else, ideally to the opposite experience. Self-realization uses pretty much the same “method.”

Most of us are comfortable with our Life styles. We have been conditioned.
To be conditioned is not a “bad thing,” it is just the “outside” becoming the “inside” to put it in simple words.
Therefore, there is a need to “distance” from the outside to become AWARE.

Life has many “methods” for this when the person is ready to initiate the journey of self-realization.
Someone may lose everything that his conditioning has valued. Another may find an extremist religion to get out of his conditioning. Another may experience a disease, a life threatening situation or the death of a loved one. Those events will force the individual to see Life from a different perspective: It is either to change to survive in newness or to embrace their own physical death.  Newness is the outcome of either “choice,” thus there is no “good or bad” choice.

At the end of this “game,” whether we endure, suffer, complain, etc. trying to be the same, to remain the same, to maintain “status quo;” Change will appear. This realization may be the beginning of “spiritual” intelligence in Life.

I can appreciate now the weather in Tampa, Florida. I am aware of the subtle changes of green shades on trees, vegetation, and the intensity of the sun. I am aware of the wind, its cooling effect in Winter rather than the gentle breeze it used to be in the Summer. The above,  may be nonsense for someone who is entrenched in the “office world” and the “political activities through economies of scale,” living fully in the world of the mind.

Want to know what self-realization may entail?
To get out of our current conditioning, fully, without a chance to go back until the “new” conditioning takes effect.
That is all, but when is happening to “you”… not to many are able to survive.
But if you survive, there is an issue. What is the problem?
To call the “new” conditioning “truth,” “reality” and all of those self-empowering words that only brighten the halo of the “I.”

To be able to perceive different perspectives is the origin of clairvoyance (clear vision.)
Summer is different than Winter. We call them opposites, but they are not. They are different shades of the same experience.
The same happens with every human being. Every human being is experiencing a particular shade of the full range of experiences. This awareness brings understanding of the human dilemma of “doing the right thing” or “being a good person.” Those labels only have meaning through a particular perspective, a particular viewpoint, conditioning…

The “Office World” is just an office located in the 2nd floor of the skyscraper of Life. For many individuals, that is their only reference, their perspective, their reality. Self realization lies in getting out of that office and rather than taking the elevator to  the 100th floor, you will take the stairs to the 100th floor to learn to see Life from different perspectives. You will sweat, you will feel uncomfortable, you will suffer,  you will be tired, it may seem as if the 100th floor will never arrive. You may lose hope… but you will continue on, because you are ready. Once you get to the top… It is time to come down. That is the “reward.” The experience will free you as nothing could ever do.

That is the price of Freedom from the known, that is… Self-realization.

I have modified this blog a bit to express change. The “about” page was changed. “Exploring the Depth of Living” was simplified with the phrase: “The journey from Yoga into Tantra” while living Life in joy.

From now on, I will be sharing twice a week: Monday and Friday.
I appreciate your openness to read these articles. Change is all that could be offered in this new phase.  :-)

Grief and transformation of emotions

What do you feel when a loved one dies?
What do you feel when you experience a broken heart?
What would you experience if you are told that you only have a month to live?

Most of us will perceive those experiences as a hardship, something that shouldn’t happen to us, but yet it does.

Psychologists have come up with stages of grief: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Observe in yourself how grief transforms into anger and how that in turn will transform into sadness, depression and finally into acceptance.

Nevertheless, for most that final stage of acceptance is not “true” acceptance. It is more accurate to call it to be submissive.
The angry tiger becomes a docile kitty cat.
We could fight, struggle with anyone except with Life itself.
Observe how the experience of opposite emotions will be going through the experience of the “cycle” of grief: I could deny, just to accept. I could feel anger, just to be submissive. I could bargain with the higher powers to be, rationalizing the incident; just to be depressed.

Acceptance is not submissiveness.
Acceptance is openness to the experience.

When you are a “Life walker,” a seeker; you may find out that those 5 stages of grief are not accurate in your case.
There is one important stage, which will return a true smile in our faces.
That final stage is called GRATITUDE.

Gratitude is not say “Thank you” as many think. Gratitude means to be able to be fulfilled in yourself. Nothing is lacking. You are at ease and able to live with you.
“You” are Life itself, complete. Nevertheless, most “normal” people cannot experience that yet. For them gratitude is just another “spiritual keyword,” a nice way to say “thank you,” with the mind.

If a loved one passes away, your stage of grief will be fully transformed through “spiritual alchemy,” when there is a sense of gratitude in you. A loved one is gone into another journey. You are not lacking. That sense of grief was shown to you through that event. You are grief. Nothing wrong with that. However, you can transform it, that is; use the same energy to come up with something else: Acceptance, Gratitude.

When we are not aware of transformation of energies, we will only repress them to try to act tough, quasi-spiritual, disconnected, disinterested, etc.

Many individuals will experience grief, express it and keep it for as long as they can. They thrive in getting pity from others. It is a way for them to feel important as people may finally notice them. Others, may reject grief as they have been conditioned to believe that they have to show a happy face all the time.
Very few will transform it, and yet even fewer; will feel GRATITUDE out of that experience. Ultimately, there is FREEDOM in GRATITUDE.

A trauma or fear of Life comes when we have not reached a state of true acceptance, when we are continuously struggling with Life.
Our conditioning that we should fight for everything may work in the “office world,” but it will never work with Life.

The mind is our inner TV. It has so many images. Most times we believe in those images as “real” and add our own expectations, our own story of how life should be for “me.” When a setback is felt and grief comes in the horizon, that TV show will be the same repeat which in turn will bring more suffering to the ego, the “I.”
Why is that suffering?
Because my expectation of what Life should be for “me” does not fit reality. Ego cannot accept that. The repetition of the images is there so we don’t forget. It is a nagging reminder.
Anger, denial, etc. are expressions of the fighting ego.

EGO cannot have GRATITUDE, for ego always wants something else. Ego is in a state of lacking fulfillment.
That is why it is said that “time heals.” For the ego will look for something else in time to cover the previous trauma.

Self-observation is an invaluable tool for self-knowledge. For that to happen, we need to allow ourselves to feel the full range of an emotional experience. Life is always teaching us, showing us, who we truly are.

Until December 1st! Enjoy Life.  :-)

Forgetting the past

A reader asked: ” I want to forget my past but I could not. What to do?”

Observe that “I want to forget my past” does not work. 
It does not matter what “method” someone may want to use.
The “I” cannot forget at will just as the “I” cannot stop thinking at will.

To say to someone “forget and forgive” is completely meaningless. Nice words to say, it sounds wise, but that is as far as it goes.
It is not about trying to “forget something,” that is like trying to catch your own shadow.

It is not a matter of DOING something like drinking tequila to “forget.”

The past is gone. It will be remembered if that was a cause of trauma, which means if it wasn’t accepted as it was.
What otherwise was like a flowing river;  becomes stuck in a particular place due to a trauma perceived by the “I.”

Thus, the “keyword” to emotionally understand this issue is Acceptance.
Acceptance is not a concept, a nice thought to be entertained with or some sort of “spiritual” catchphrase.

If your mind says: “That makes sense. I will accept my past.” Nothing will happen. You will still remember it. The trauma is there.
Acceptance is to take away the blockages which are not allowing the waters of the river, to flow freely.
“Taking away” the blockages means to realize the beliefs, ideals, hang ups causing the trauma.

For example, you may have experienced a hard childhood. Whatever hardship you may think that you endured, has taken you today to where you are. Do you see that?
Would you label yourself as a “failure,” a byproduct of that traumatic childhood?
Yes? That is where lack of love will begin. It begins as a rejection to ourselves. We cannot forget something which we blame to be the cause of our “failure.” That memory will be triggered over and over by different events. All we are showing in our reactions, is our own suffering.
That lack of self-love will cause our inability to have a healthy connection with another human being, where love is at stake.

No? Then, if you are not a “failure,” then ask yourself: Why that pain from the past cannot be let go, accepted as part of Life? You may have broken your finger in the past, but even if you remember the experience, it will  be neutral, it will not move you a bit. You can only be emotionally moved by something from the past, if that hasn’t been accepted, assimilated, processed. 

Do you see that the type of acceptance I am talking about, is not coming from the mind?
Find the rejection. That is all. Once you find it, accept it with your heart.

I found out that a very dear friend of mine, passed away yesterday. Memories of the past will be triggered. My mind could even say how unfair life is. She was so young and full of artistic zest. Whatever my mind adds as justification or explanation, is just an interpretation. To accept means to feel the event whole in its entirety, without finding a place to hide. By allowing the event to go through me, it will not be stuck in my emotions as a trauma.  By not using my mind to explain and justify things based on my ideas and conditioning, it will go through me as it came.  For when you are an empty door, aware of who is passing by, there is no place for a trauma to stay. 

Rejection of a Life experience is the obstacle not allowing the river of Life to flow, to change.  The past is only memory. Observe how you perceive it, observe your own interpretation of it and how much damage we can do to ourselves when that interpretation does not fit the ideal that we have of how Life “should be.”

Life is. Always the present, always the “now.”   Embrace it, love it, move with it.  :-)

Yoga is about Control

Ultimately, yoga could be understood in the need to control.
Our society is sold on that idea.
Control means to enhance our sensation of power, our ability to decide the course of actions.
When that control is used in the self, it can only become a source of ego.

Who is controlling?
That “center,” or persona controlling things is what many will call the “true I.” Nevertheless, that center is just that mind playing the game of the controller and the one being controlled.

Control your thoughts. Control your emotions. Control your reactions.
Observe the center, the mind directing the separation between who “I am” and what “I should be.”
Observe that the one that “I should be” is built upon conditioning.
That conditioning has been learned and thought of as a source of goodness, righteousness, morality, compassion, etc. 

Thus, yoga is the desire to bring the one that “I should be” into the front, by suppressing the one that “I am.”
Let me elucidate. Let me use a simple duality; we can use a label such as dirty.
The word dirty becomes the ideal to suppress. The ideal to embrace is the word clean.

“I must be clean.” That is the generalization that I could repeat to myself. Nevertheless, what “I am” is not “black or white,” it cannot be hidden under my ideal.

“Control yourself so you are not dirty.” 
That mentality of separating what is meant to be together, is creating a serious mental disease in most human beings at this time.
Dirty is meant to be together with Clean. Both are just extremes of the same journey.
Life is change as we already know, and repeated here ad nauseam. Change is to experience every inch of the circular journey, where dualities are only perception of the mind due to its tendency to separate things.
If your clothes are clean, it is a fact that they will get dirty while living Life.
Yoga is the need to maintain the ideal of the word “clean” despite the fact of change.

If Yoga is not intimately understood as union beyond the mental dualities, it will create a mentally diseased individual; that is someone who is in continuous fear, even obsessive compulsiveness of not losing the ideal of “clean.”

That control will be used to maintain the ideal even in denial of the reality of change.

However, Yoga is a great path. It will bring all the elements of the “I” into light.

At the end is not about the “I” having control of Life, but to see the mirage of the unchanged permanency of the “I.”

If the “I” is not permanent, so is the control/power that he inflicts.
Once we see that totally, without  the influence of conditioning; we could observe for the first time that “union,” “yoga” is in the absence of the “I.”

That “I” is the promoter of control, power, achievement, goals, etc. all ideals of our society. That is why, most can only live and understand life from the mind: Unable to feel it, unable to enjoy it. Paradoxically, unable to live Life.

Starting in the path of Yoga

Joe feels depressed. He is disappointed by the experience of Life. He cannot believe that Life is so short and full of troubles, never ending struggle just to meet death at the end. The idea of being inside a wooden casket and seeing all pitch black from there is frightening. He becomes a seeker…

Tina was minding her own business, busy with things to do and places to go. One day through a dream she had an experience: She was speaking with a beautiful being. “He” was  a peaceful white light in human form. It was very soothing to hear his voice. He had a message for Tina: “Tomorrow you will know more about me, little child.” The next day Tina met some people, who had the same experience. Tina labeled that experience as “meeting God” due to the support of others “chosen” ones.  She became a seeker…

Ralph was born in a religious family. He knew about God. He knew about being a sinner and even though, he didn’t care much about it; he believed in that. It was his conditioning. There was nothing much going on in Ralph’s life. It was a mediocre experience for him. One day he meets some people in a party. These people looked very happy. Ralph wanted that for him. They told Ralph that they have found happiness in their church. Ralph became a member of it. Ralph became a seeker…

The stories may change. The common denominator is that either the seeker wants something more than themselves: To become better, to know the “truth,” etc. or they desire a relationship with the highest being, the highest power, to be “someone” by default of a relationship with the “highest” thing ever.
They are looking for “union” with something “better” than themselves, that ambition will give them a sense of purpose.
That is how Yoga arrives in their lives.

Every deistic religion is a form of yoga, for the ultimate is to be close to God, be equal to God, fused with God, in the grace of God, one with God, etc. The label “God” has such importance in this path.

Every form of Yoga has a common characteristic: To increase the ego of the seeker as the idea of “becoming better” is infused in the participant.
The striving of becoming some ideal, is a form of ego. The ego wants “some of that” to increase its own appreciation, importance, self-respect, etc.

Every yoga path, has a particular practice which separates the participant from everyone else, that is what makes them “better.” Even if it is about performing a physical asana in the yoga studio: That practice gives you a title: “Yogi,” it gives you a sense of belonging to a special circle where “yamas and niyamas” are dutifully practiced, separating you from the rest. “You” are “special.”
That feeling of being “special” will give the seeker a sense of purpose, motivation, an objective in Life to be “better” and to reach to the “top,” just like in the “office world.” But this is even “better,” for it is no mundane stuff. It is “spiritual,” “divine.” 

The seeker starts by increasing his ego. Why?
Because as mentioned before, the most important aspect of any religious/ spiritual path is for the participant, to be aware of ego, the “I.” That is the common link of any path.
The easiest way for self awareness to occur is by increasing ego.
Unfortunately, many seekers are not conscious of this and rather believe in their own self-importance, self-righteousness.

Nevertheless, the struggle to become “better” has started by separating ourselves from mainstream. That is what a religion/ spiritual path brings, a different perspective so we could look at our conditioning, what we have learned in mainstream society.

This great “tool” is overlooked and instead it becomes a lifestyle for many, where to be “right” and close to God is believed to be achieved through certain practices, DOINGS, etc.

A path of yoga is without a doubt a necessary path for many to un-condition from the “office world;” it is a subtle continuation of the idea that our society has about the importance of achievement, to become better, higher, more powerful. That is why, this path is readily understood by the majority and part of their “spiritual” journey.  :-)

Labeling the Journey

“Since Life presents many perspectives which are labeled by humans according to their conditioning, what is the point of a spiritual path?”

To be ONE with Life. However, that cliche answer is not truly what it is.
“Then… what is, what is?”  :-)
We are already ONE, but we are not aware of it.
To “gain” that awareness, there have been 2 apparently contradictory paths. One is the path of Yoga (Union) the other, is the path of Tantra (Openness/Expansion.)

Observe that in Life, paradoxically openness and union are the same exact thing.
The question is: Who opens and who is in union?
The “I.”
Thus, the “I” is the main thing, the link between those 2 apparently contradictory paths. That is why all paths return to the “I.”
In Yoga, the “I” is the last thing for someone to become fully aware of. It is the path of resistance, struggle, suffering of the “I” to become something else, greater, improved, magnificent. I am not referring here about memorizing the definitions of Patanjali about yoga or the practice of pretty asanas like in the “yoga” studio near you.
Yoga is the will power to be someone else and the struggle to make it happen through controlling the mind.

In Tantra, the “I” is the first thing to become aware of, by going into the beliefs systems, taboos, hang ups, ideals, moralities… all of that which makes up the “I.” It is the path of pleasure, enjoyment, openness, by being “nothing,” that is being away from the mind. Thus, emphasis on unlearning, leveling the mind, regaining innocence of a child and not trying to be someone… such as “equal to God.” Taoism is closest to Tantra than any other path. However; to understand it we need to live it, experience it and put all books aside.

I can put this writing together about yoga and tantra into 2 pages long, because it is my Life experience.  It does not come from a book. Although many salesman are putting together their own versions of yoga/tantra, know that in “reality” those labels only describe a Life experience and every salesman, only puts their own flavor in it. Their “creation” is ready to be sold with the “right” package. Happily, purchased by the masses who are looking to solve their problems by taking that “magic” pill. Let me share with you something that I have found true in my journey: Every book/writing which has been of any help in my journey, has always been free of charge, easy to download.  No salesman involved.

Yoga and Tantra are 2 ends of the same continuity. When the “I” becomes someone equal to “God,” then to be in union with Life, that “someone” will need to go away. But that is at the end of the “yoga” journey.
In Tantra, that “union” preached by Yoga, arrives when the “I” opens up to Life. Open, open, expand, until the “I” is no longer there…

In your Life at this time, you may be living your interpretation, your creation, of one of those 2 paths. However, a fruit matures at the end of the journey. Thus, in spirituality, in Life the journey is to go through both paths without choosing, without making a brainy “selection” coming from the “I.” Life will give the opportunity when the “aspirant” is ready.

I realize that “yoga” has a name recognition. A “good” name. Easy to follow. Easy to understand. Tantra instead, has a “bad reputation.”
To go into the path of pleasure, before having experienced fully the suffering of the “I,” means to find suffering in pleasure. Nevertheless, as we know; all experiences are “good.” They are part of the journey.

“How do you label your own journey then?”
In this life I could call it: From yoga to tantra. The offspring of that marriage is Ahnanda.

Both, yoga and tantra; are paths of self-discovery. Life may give someone a book, another a guru, yet to another a spirit-guide, etc. The means are different, but the end is the same: Self-discovery. To be one with Life.