The core of any worthwhile “spirituality” or self-help/psychology is in the understanding of our own mind.
I am not saying “study” of our minds. This is not about what scientists have discovered and for us to use that information just to be “right.”
When we are understanding ourselves, to “reinvent the wheel” is necessary. No one can give us insight through second hand information, unless we are ready to look, become aware and learn from that.
Observe the conditioning in our minds. What we know about or “civilized” society is conditioning. We expect “reality” to follow those guidelines but we may find out that Life does not follow the commandments, laws and guidelines of the “Office world.”
We have a thought. Did we willfully come up with it? Or perhaps, it just appeared? Have we observed that.
Do we become aware of the thought arising, or we simply IDENTIFY with it and call it “mine”? This question is the beginning to find out more about our minds.
At this time, there are millions of people suffering from some kind of mental issue.
What do they have in common? Contact is lost with external “reality.”
In other words, these individuals strongly believe in what their minds dictate.
Someone suffering from schizophrenia, have a “reality” which is undeniable to them. They feel very strong about it. That creates the clash with a different reality of “normal” people. Psychosis, depression, bipolar disorder, dementia… all of those fancy terms, basically describe a mind that is not in touch with “reality.”
If we identify with the contents of our minds, we may live a miserable life. Ego resides right there. Ego is interested in being “right.”
As a person evolves into a different consciousness, that person will realize how forceful our minds could be.
Someone suffering from OCD, is bound to perform certain repetitive actions because in his mind, those activities will bring some benefit. If those actions are not performed, then a sense of guilt and uneasiness will arrive. The mind has control over that person.
Because our society lives in the mind, there is no other “authority” to trust but the conditioning and contents of that mind. That is until we know about out gut-feeling, our heart feelings or any other fancy label to describe a direct knowing which is not necessarily logical or follows a particular benefit for ourselves. To be able to trust “that,” and discern it from the mind, is to create the gap from the rule of the mind.
It is that space, the one that will allow us to observe our own mind.
For example, when we interview someone for a job. We could ask the same questions to all candidates, grade them, add them up and see who is the top candidate. That is the world of the mind, what we have been conditioned to believe. The worshiped idea to be “fair” is there. Nevertheless, personality traits may be covered by someone who is a good talker, a funny person, etc. To observe beyond the answers, becomes important, and to listen to our gut feeling is even more important. Nevertheless, that is not considered to be “fair,” for it is not following “guidelines,” etc. That is the dilemma.
The bottom line is that, we could learn about this experience only if we are AWARE, otherwise; we will perform mechanically the same steps every time there is the label “interview” in our minds, for the conditioning is strong.
We are asleep.
Thus, in that example we could follow the strict steps of the mind to hire someone, or we could go with our gut feeling; but what creates insight and open up our consciousness, is simply to be AWARE that we went with the mind or the heart.
That AWARENESS is the choice-less choice where freedom from the tyranny of the mind resides.
“You said that attachment is the origin of suffering. The Buddha said that the root cause of suffering is desire. That is the second “Noble Truth” in Buddhism. There is a vast difference between desire and attachment. Do you think that you have the truth and Buddha does not?”
Thank you for your question.
No. Ahnanda does not preach truth. He only shares his experiences and realizations.
Take a look at the link below:
Here is a quote from that website: The cause of suffering is: “the attachment to the desire to have (craving) and the desire not to have (aversion)”.
What happened then? Perhaps this website has the “wrong” interpretation? Millions of people believe in what you said: “Desire is the cause of suffering.” However, that belief even though held by millions is plain and simple nonsense.
This problem arises when we believe what the book says, the guru, the expert without looking at our own experience.
Buddha did not say that. It was interpreted like that.
What millions know is only the interpretation, the translation of someone who may have many degrees, who may be very proficient in many languages, but who does not have the capacity yet for inner observation. Perhaps that was a Buddhist follower, maybe not.
Through that nonsense of getting rid of desire, many “spiritual” people are denying life to their own experience through the ideal of DOING what the Buddha “said.”
Misinterpretation is the mother of all scriptures. Please quote me on that.
Perhaps if you take a test in “introduction to Buddhism” you may have to choose: “Desire is the root of all suffering” as the “right” answer. You may score 100% because of that answer, but know that your “right” answer in the “Office World,” is not so in Life.
We could have many desires. As many as we want. Suffering will kick in when we are attached to a particular desire. That means that we may need to attain/possess the object of that desire to feel fulfilled in Life.
Nevertheless, let me share a “noble truth” with you. Attachment is not the true source of suffering, but the ONE who is attached is…. Yes, the “I.”
To intellectually understand the above, is not easy. Therefore, let us stick with “attachment.” But, if “attachment” is hard to perceive, then “desire” is an easy answer. It will sell many books. 🙂
So what do we take home from all this?
Any spiritual guru or any self-realized being including the “word of God,” are by nature, limited by language. In other words, to truly understand what they are trying to convey, we need to look at those words through the mirror of our own personal experience. If it does not make sense, then that is so for us at that moment. That is OK. Move on.
If it makes sense, then do not try to “practice it.” Allow for Life to work on you and go beyond the intellectual realization, by integrating THAT as part of you. Then, you know for you ARE that. BEING is KNOWING.
But if you don’t understand and you are simply following what someone is telling you to practice, then my friend; you are not being honest with yourself, with your current state of BEING.
You may want to be like Buddha, but you ARE not there yet.
Do you think that practice will get you there?
It can only distract you from what you ARE… until you are AWARE.
Thus, “practice” is an entertainment in the meantime. Nothing wrong with that. 🙂
My question is regarding observation. We talk about observing the moment without prejudice. I can observe river, rain, nature, sky, hotness, kid’s innocence etc. All stuff which I feel that is pure and pleasing .
But I am not sure what and how to observe in office work: The effect of work pressure, achievement and loses,the up and downs in personal relationship. How to observe this without prejudice?
I think of making observation part of my office world routine and back at home when I interact with my parents and wife, but it never happens.
I agree if something needs to be changed that can only happen through observation not by resistance or force, but how to make observation part of life.
Thank you for your question.
Observation is not a practice. It is not something that you DO when you remember, or when you have time. It happens when there is “presence,” awareness, consciousness not only of the external elements but mostly what we call “self.”
Ahnanda is not using the word “observation” under the context of the dictionary.
Any of your senses, such as taste, touch, etc. can allow you to observe or be AWARE.
We can use the words observation, awareness and to be conscious interchangeably. Go beyond words. Are you aware of the things you DO, the way you walk, how shallow or deeply you may breathe?
Why not? It happens all the time. There is no need to have “free time” to observe these events.
Your description of what is “pure and pleasing” and what is “impure” and “stressful” are taking you away from observation.
What are those things making you feel? Become AWARE of that. As you are AWARE that those energies are not “you,” then you may walk away from them, easily, effortlessly or just wait until they go away by themselves. Everything that comes to you will go away, that is one of the things you may learn through observation. That is the natural way of things. If the “pure and pleasing” goes away, then the “impure and unpleasant” will arrive. There is nothing wrong with that, things move away; unless we want to make a trauma, a rejection of a natural circular happening in Life. Through our conditioning, we see 2 different things: Pleasant and unpleasant. However, they are one.
The process of becoming aware is similar to having a nagging pain in the shoulder.
It may not be a strong pain, so we keep on living a busy Life, full of activities and accomplishments. Forgetting about that silly pain. Once in while we will become aware of that pain in the shoulder, but unless this pain becomes an obstacle to get us out of our busy schedule, that pain is not important enough in our threshold of consciousness. We will not be aware of it.
Once the pain becomes unbearable, we will observe it. We will be aware of it. Once the pain in the shoulder is at that full intensity, the intellectual question on “how can I observe the pain,” is not necessary at all. We will feel it. We will know.
That nagging pain is a sense of unfulfillment in Life. Something is lacking. You may be looking for the “answer,” something that you believe observation will give to your Life. The nagging pain (observation/awareness) will increase by itself through your own lack of observation. Paradoxical.
One more thing, Observation is not meant to change anything. It is meant to acknowledge it, while resistance and force is meant to reject things.
So how change happens then?
It always happens. It is the nature of Life. Change may not go where you want it to go, and that is the fear. We want to control in our tight grip what is meant to change. That is the illusion of security feeding the “I” and the driven force behind our human conditioning.
Observe the Life of a public “famous” person, a “star.” Without a doubt, he has experienced ups and downs in his lifetime.
Beauty, fame, power, health, joy and wealth had different intensities throughout his life. There is no point in time where everything was all there, unchanged as if he had “arrived.”
There is no point in time where a person is the “same” all the way until death arrives. This is a fact.
A what point in Life, that person was “improving”? It just depends on what someone looks at. Some examples of “improving”:
Did he settle with one partner rather than many? Did she take up yoga and meditation as part of her life style? Did he sell 1 million copies of his best seller book? Was she inducted in the rich and famous hall of fame? Are those singular things “improvement”? It is relative. Life is bigger than any single improvement.
Life cannot be compartmentalized, cut in pieces, but we do it in our minds, so “improvement” happens as an ideal to strive for.
That ideal will create in turn the duality of “success and failure.” We are sold on that one. The fiction of success is as real as failure.
Observe the artificiality of all. That is how we live Life, believing that our mental creations, ideals are Life.
In Life, the word “improvement” does not exist. It is not needed as Life has its own movements, as shared before; the full range of experiences entails to go through the 2 sides of a duality.
How does it “work”?
Observe any “positive” virtues or qualities in your favorite actress. The potential for the “negative” opposites is there as well. As a matter of fact, it will be experienced by that person at different times of her current existence or it was in another Life experience , or it will be in the future.
The full range of experiences needs to be experienced. BEING all of those.
That is how we have a variety of people in the world, experiencing a piece of the diversity of the ranges of experiences.
Our conditioning is ready to label and judge their experiences as “good or bad.” It does not matter. Our morality is worth diddly-squat in the way Life moves.
That is why it was shared that enjoyment of the experience is important. That quality of enjoyment is how we “become better.” (Those are not the most accurate words to use, but for the sake of being understood or misunderstood.)
That quality of enjoyment does not depend on what we have, what we earn, where we are in society or how we behave in society.
It all depends on how AWARE we are.
Greater conditioning, means less capacity for enjoyment.
Because we have learned all those sacred “go getter” keywords that we would like to “achieve” in Life to “make it worthwhile,” to find a “purpose.”
That is garbage.
Enjoy Life. Be open to the diversity of it. Expect the unexpected without judgment, without trying to “make sense.”
It is that sense the one that has been conditioned.
Live today, die tomorrow. No big deal. Have you enjoyed the ride?
Yes? Then there will be fulfillment. Nothing is missing.
If we try to “practice” any of the above, we will be fakes for we will try to “accomplish” that thing which looks good for ME… I’ve got to have it! (back into the conditioning of society.)
That “practice” could be made into a religion or some “system” to “help people” and to help MY pocket…but it is completely artificial.
BEING changes through AWARENESS. Give yourself an ample space of solitude to observe the movie of Life. It is in that observation how we learn from the actors of Life and enjoy their unique parts. The plot will keep on changing, but as long as we OBSERVE it without judgment, we will enjoy it… and improve by DOING nothing. 🙂
In your view, what is the most valuable “practice” in the path of self-realization?
That question is not properly made. It is biased with the belief that we need to “practice” to achieve something in “spirituality” to become a “better” person.
Nevertheless, let me share my experience.
To learn to be comfortable with yourself and to have a full life while living alone, is the most important “practice.”
Most “spiritual” people may understand this as to “force yourself” to DO it, because practice “makes perfect.” That is the conditioning, the discipline of practicing something to “achieve it.” That is fine for man-made ideals, but BEING does not change like that.
Life will put you in that situation. That is the natural path, that goes along with individual readiness.
Someone who is not ready, will internally fight it. Outwardly he may be living a life of a hermit like monks and nuns DO. However, they are busy with their own mental ideas, desires and needs to achieve Paradise, enlightenment and favors from God.
When you are comfortable with yourself, at peace; there is nothing to DO, nothing to achieve, nothing to look forward to. In our language and conditioning that may sound as the description of a “loser,” but it is far from it. It is the plain enjoyment of your own company and the experience of feeling fulfilled, at peace, vital.
This is not a compulsory activity (DOING) to become enlightened or “better.” It is a harmonized, natural response of being at peace.
It is in that state of balance how we discover the meaning of to “live in the now,” for the mind cannot go to the future as there is no need to achieve anything: No prize, no grandiose ideal to become, no “spiritual” after-life fantasy to get.
Going into the memories of the past, will show me all the pieces of the riddle which are building the “now,” although without identification with the one who at one time “I was,” the traumatic past experiences do not have the pull to remain in my psyche and change my enjoyment into sadness. The one from that past is not the same as the one who is now. Even though we have the same name and the same memories, there is no continuity of that “I” internally. “I” am free by not BEING a particular “I” at any point in time, by not defining me.
When the mind has no place to go, then enjoyment arrives through the feeling of BEING at peace, in harmony with “what is.”
The mental conditioning of what is supposed to be “fun,” or enjoyable does not allow us to BE, for the mind will look for that idea as the definition of success. Anything less is failure and the conditioning is to avoid it at all costs.
Define something, then that exists. Make that into an ideal to obtain, and the “reality” will be that it cannot be obtained. However, the mind will be entertained with the possibility to achieve that.
What is what I can DO to “improve”?
Become aware of the conditionings. Not to reject them, but to observe that any decision, any choice that we think we make, is coming from certain conditioning which we label as “truth.”
This awareness of all those things that we have learned through conditioning, is the “solution” that will prompt us to unlearn.
Without unlearning there cannot be newness.
Without newness, life may be the “same old thing.” 🙂
Many will repeat that “BEING is before DOING.” Many will understand that AWARENESS is not a practice, yet as a “new spiritual teaching” is being put into words, the first thing most everyone wants to DO is to “put it in practice.”
Please observe that this is not “wrong,” neither “right,” but you could only practice what you can intellectually understand and that is prone to distortion when we are talking about the immensity of Life.
We could hear that “Life will work for you if you accept it as it is, if you flow with it.” Then, we want to practice that because it sounds pretty good, because it makes sense, because a “super Guru” said so, or perhaps because “we want for Life to work for us,” etc.
Any of the above reasons will bring inner dishonesty. As a matter of fact, any reason behind our “practice” is dishonest, ego driven. We are not BEING. We want to DO what we AREN’T to become something desirable in our minds. DOING does not change BEING.
John was fired from his comfy job. He was very angry; however, he is a “spiritual person,” and he recalled the teaching of “accepting what Life brings.” He wanted to put that teaching into practice at that time.
“John, how do you feel… It must be pretty hard on you, right?” Asked one of his friends.
John replied:” Not really. I accepted it. Life works for me.”
John’s friend was impressed. What a guy! So spiritual, so calm, so cool… such an angel!
Nevertheless, John was angry. Inside he was burning with anger, but he made himself believe that he has “accepted” what Life brought. His meaning of acceptance was simple: Not to make a fuss of it. John wanted deep inside for Life to “work for him,” perhaps by giving him a nice job in the future, so he was willing to try that “teaching.” He had nothing to lose.
As days and months passed by without any apparent external change, John became irritated, he lost hope and he was snappy with others around him.
John couldn’t hide his true self anymore.
His dishonest acceptance, was never acceptance. It was another way to try to control Life, so “it works for him.”
John’s DOING was not according to BEING, his current BEING.
That is how spiritual teachings are misunderstood. We come from our conditioning of “making things happen,” and to “DO something to change things, change the world, change ourselves.” Change happens as we allow it. That is all, but our ideas, ideals, taboos, beliefs, traumas will not let that happen. Acceptance, surrendering in Life is not known by the dictionary.
The type of acceptance that is necessary to flow with Life, does not come from intellectual understanding of the word “acceptance.” It does not come from our willingness to practice that “virtue.” It comes through the assimilation of Life experiences. It is an opening in our Ego mind, a hole drilled by Life itself when there is no resistance, repression in us.
The art of Living Life, that is “spirituality,” is not learned by following books, quoting spiritual phrases from spiritual gurus, or by enrolling in a spiritual class. All of that is conditioning from the “office world.”
I am not saying that it is “bad,” I am saying that all of that is conceptual teachings, intellectual understanding, information. To truly KNOW, we need to experience the process of Life’s teachings; in a word; to be AWARE of it. It is happening in front of our noses all the time.
Busy in trying to change what is happening to us, we will buy any sort of “magic formula” to change our destiny, rather be AWARE of who we ARE. What is going on outside is only reflecting what goes on inside. Life is the biggest mirror, but yet we could be blind to its reflection.
If we cannot be AWARE, then to “practice” the teachings of someone may be our necessary beginning until we let go the conditioning of the mind. Until then, inner honesty will be hiding from our Awareness.
Ahnanda shares the path of discovery within yourself. This is not the path of “how to do it.” This is not the path of “teach me, I’ll pay for your services.” Become aware that change is happening. Through that, learning and teaching become one, and so unlearning. Student and Guru become one and so “spiritual” lineage. Life and “you” become one and so the Totality. Observe it, acknowledge it, enjoy it, let it happen… Tantra is hiding under those words, and that is a close as we can get when something is beyond a definition.
Until January 2nd! 🙂
The ego, the “I,” is the source of mental anguish and suffering. Someone may experience physical suffering; it is just another experience unless it is interpreted as everlasting trauma.
As we know, everything in Life changes. That movement happens all by itself. If the mind is attached to a traumatic experience, then it will be re-lived when a trigger appears.
The trauma is created when there is a rejection to a particular experience.
That is how the “I” separates from Life.
“Spiritual sugarcoating,” is meant to strengthen that “I.” It is meant to support it. There are many ways to do that, but here is a powerful one: It s called CHOICE.
“Choice” is the strongest support. Choice comes from the mind. It is conditioned. If we have 2 paths ahead of us, which one do we take?
If the mind “chooses,” it is for sure the “I” choosing. Many reasons. Weigh the “Pros.” At that point we say: “I choose.”
If the gut feeling is choosing for us, then there is no choice. That feeling is out of our control. It does not depend on our conditioning, our beliefs, our rehearsed moral standards. There is “no- I” in that.
Have you heard the Taoist phrase, “Doing nothing doing, to get things done”? It is about a choice-less decision/action. Actually, there is no decision, no thought, no mind.
To learn to listen to our gut feeling implies to step aside from our conditioning. Honesty resides in learning to listen to our gut feeling.
“So what is the “science” behind listening to our gut feeling?”
This is not science. This is Life. To go according to our feelings will make us “feel good.” Do we need any further explanation? Do we need any other reasoning?
To feel is fulfilling in itself.
“But what about if we get a “bad” experience?”
Life is not linear. There is something to learn, ups and downs. Something is needed to be experienced before there is change. To learn to listen to our gut feeling is probably the most important “skill” that we can have in Life.
Because that is our connection with Life. That is what we are meant to DO for Life, for us. It is egoless. That is our mission. Life manifests an action, an activity through us.
If we cannot connect to our “gut feeling,” because we are not sure what it is , then start with the mind. We need to recognize when the mind kicks in, how it interferes with our daily affairs and how we believe that “I am the dictates of the mind.”
That is the only “spiritual practice” that Ahnanda could endorse.
To learn about your own mind by observing it, should be the most precious “spiritual class” that we could ever take, under the setting of the “spiritual retreat” of your own sacred time and space.
Recognize when you are hungry and when the mind tells you that you should eat. Recognize when the mind cuts your enjoyment of looking at a flower, just to throw a thought about your day at the office. Recognize when the “little voice” speaks and how readily we identify with that voice as “Me.”
Observe that as long as we are used to only listen to our mind, we cannot have “choice,” for all there is in the mind… is timeless conditioning, beliefs, taboos, hangups, ideals, learned morality…
“If the “choice” of my mind is not really “my” choice for there is conditioning and the choice of “my gut feeling” is not “my” choice, then where is “my” choice?”
🙂 Nowhere. This ain’t sugarcoat.