‘Language was invented for the purpose of lying’, this is a quotation from R D Laing. Language can be thought of as imagination, all words are without meaning other than the meaning we assign them. The act of assigning meaning to words involves the use of imagination. The word did not exist until we were able to imagine that it did. There is no limit to the number of words we can imagine and no limit to the meaning we assign to words. When we assign meaning to a word this meaning has power so long as we all hold and imagine the same meaning. There are some words that are reasonably straight - forward and that most of us agree with as to the meaning. There are other words such as god, love, truth and reality where it is not so easy for us to agree on the meaning. We can agree on the general meaning of a word yet there may still be great latitude between the meaning we each may hold. The world of language is also the world of thought. We each of us live in a world of our own thoughts. Each thought is given a particular meaning and is also assigned a certain degree of belief. This can be clearly seen if we observe the verbal interactions between people. We can observe the effect of words on each individual, we can observe words that cause us to love or to hate, words that make us angry or sad and words that can make us laugh or cry or even words that fill us with fear. If we observe carefully we can also see that words that make one person angry do not necessarily have the same effect on another person. This tells us that the meaning that we each assign to words can be very different. A word such as 'death' depending on the meaning given to it may cause some to live their lives with a secret fear. Where there is fear there is imagination and without imagination there can be no fear. What is it we may imagine that can cause us to feel fear? It seems that the answer to this question is ‘almost anything’. Many think that fear is natural and even necessary, while this is understandable it is also untrue. We are afraid for one reason only and that is that we believe in something that is not true and this can be thought of as an inefficient use of imagination. Suffering is always caused by imagination. The process of learning a language begins from the moment we are born. From the beginning we hear the voices and the language of our parents or our siblings or extended family. In time this process is developed, we go to school and are taught not just to speak but to write what we hear. At school we also begin to speak to our peers as well as hear what they have to say. Ultimately we learn language from everyone we may come in contact with. In all of these interactions we learn more than just language we also learn about the way words are used and the emotions that may be injected into them. Some of what we hear is truthful and some is less so. The fears held by our parents can very easily be transmitted through the language our parents use but also through their behaviour. If a mother or father are overly fearful themselves this will be picked up and ingested by the child without ever knowing what has happened. Parents will pass on to their children all that was passed on to them from their parents and again they will not be aware of what has been passed on. It is not possible to assign blame to anyone because no one can be held responsible for what was unknowingly passed on. We do not choose our parents or our language but the part of us I call the ego is the result of all our experiences and without exception we will have ingested much in terms of language and meaning that is not true. The chances of solving this problem are very slim mostly because we are surrounded by others who no matter how learned they may be have experienced a similar version of what we experienced. For most this problem will not be apparent until the degree of suffering they experience reaches a certain level. Suffering always tells us that there is something wrong with the way we think about things. Instead of enquiring deeply into what precisely is wrong with the way we think, we tend to be more inclined to ask what is wrong with the things we think about. We do this because it is easier, but no matter how easy something is it is worthless if it does not work.
Friday, 28 December 2012
Friday, 26 October 2012
It is natural for children to look to a father or mother to guide them and we all have to do this with our parents and then later with teachers or mentors of various kinds. There is a long tradition of this in spiritual circles and no shortage of those claiming to have the knowledge their followers are looking for. This knowledge is often referred to as ‘enlightenment’. As I said it is natural that we do this it is also to be expected that if people are looking for this knowledge or ‘enlightenment’ then there will be many who will claim to have this knowledge. There are many areas of life where teachers are invaluable and this may be true to a certain extent in spiritual areas. Ultimately though there is a problem and teachers in spiritual areas may knowingly or not misguide their followers. The reason for this is that it is not possible to know beforehand if a spiritual teacher knows what he or she claims to know. Naturally we look for clues as to whether the teachers claims are true or not. Unfortunately all of these clues require belief and it seems to be true that if we are looking for something then we have a vested interest in believing things to be true that may not be true. Also a teacher is also unable to know that he or she is actually enlightened without believing it is so. Teachers may also look for clues as to whether they know or not but as with followers this is always dependent on belief and all beliefs will always be suspect. My assumptions are that all beings are inherently perfect – what I mean by this is that all beings are born with consciousness and consciousness is unchangeable and perfect. The only real problem we could ever have is to believe something that is not true. There is nothing about consciousness that requires belief and beliefs have nothing to do with consciousness. Our starting point should be to trust this knowledge - that we have consciousness and nothing we or anyone else could ever do can change this. There are no graduations of consciousness there is just natural pure perfect consciousness and we all have it. The reason we suffer is that we believe things to be true that are not. Ultimately this is something we all have to find out for ourselves, no one can really teach this because all teachings require beliefs and beliefs are actually the problem. Childhood's end is the point where we become responsible for our own beliefs and do not look to others to correct them.
Sunday, 16 September 2012
Have you ever wondered how we can kill and hate in the name of religion or God? Surely there is a contradiction here. Most religions advocate peace and love above all things yet the followers of these same religions find no contradiction in hating or killing those who do not agree with them. This contradiction does not only apply to the apparently religious it applies to us all. The question could be ‘how is it possible to hold two opposite beliefs at the same time?’. The answer to this question is we can do this very easily because all our beliefs are self referenced. That is we create our own beliefs in any form and with as many contradictions as we like. The power to believe anything is in a way godlike we can create a universe of our own in which our beliefs do not have to be consistent they can be anything we want them to be. This is not something that needs proving for the evidence is everywhere we look. It is because of this ability to believe anything we wish that we slowly but surely move towards states of insanity. The only thing that could possibly halt this movement is suffering and so it is that the more our beliefs deviate from what is true or actual the more we suffer. The more we suffer the more we are directed towards noticing the beliefs we hold that cause that suffering. Although we have the capacity to suffer a great deal without noticing the link between our suffering and the beliefs we hold the suffering cannot stop until we do.
Saturday, 1 September 2012
Consciousness is complete and there is nothing we could ever do to improve or enhance it. Even though this is true for all beings it is not known by all beings. Suffering is the clue that tells us that we do not know consciousness even though what we are is consciousness. We do not know consciousness because our attention is focused on something that obscures consciousness. Consciousness does not have a centre or an edge and so can be said to be without qualities. We can describe any object - animal, vegetable or mineral in terms of its qualities, its colour, shape or dimensions. This cannot be done with consciousness and so even though we are clearly conscious we can only know that we are because of the results of being conscious such as seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling and thinking. We know that we are conscious because we have bodies that through the existence of consciousness inform us of the qualities of all objects but not of consciousness itself. Because one of these qualities is thought we are also able to add something new to what we experience – we can add belief to all that we experience and suddenly what we experience contains another new factor called suffering. It can be seen that if we reverse this process so that we observe suffering and notice that the reason suffering has come into existence is because we believe something that is not true and seeing that what we believe is not true suffering would disappear. When suffering and the belief that caused it have disappeared that which has obscured consciousness is no longer obscuring consciousness. The question then is what are the conditions that favour this removal of that which obscures consciousness? This is a tricky question because it is possible that any conditions could be favourable to this outcome. It could also be said that this then is like a lottery where a very few stumble upon those conditions that are favourable to this outcome. The ability to observe suffering and to see the connection between suffering and belief is clearly important so what conditions would favour this happening. Usually when we suffer we very quickly embark on a movement away from whatever it is perceived that is causing us to suffer or to cover up our suffering through self medication or the satisfaction of our desires which does in the short term help alleviate suffering. In the long term it does not and we find that our movement away from suffering only has the effect of burying our suffering to be unearthed at a later time. In meditation we begin to move not away from suffering but towards suffering, we begin to reverse the process I mentioned earlier we begin to notice our suffering and put ourselves in a position where it becomes possible to see the connection between belief and suffering. In the movement away from suffering this is very unlikely to happen for the simple reason that our attention is diverted away from the source of our suffering rather than towards the source.
Thursday, 5 July 2012
The world is as it is and it is only our inability to accept this truth that causes us to suffer. This is difficult to unravel because we never quite see the world as it is. By ‘world’ I mean everything that is. At the same time that we are observing the world we are usually already contaminating the evidence. That is we are adding a story or a meaning to what we observe. Based on this story or meaning we form conclusions regarding what we have observed and what we should do. By adding a story we have inadvertently distorted what it is that was originally observed. The ability to create a story came about as a survival mechanism so that we could communicate and cooperate with each other. A story can hold many meanings. A story can be factual and useful and we can have the simple intention of using our stories for that purpose, to be factual and useful. We can however use our stories and draw conclusions that are not factual and useful and serve no useful service to anyone. Anyone who commits a crime or tells a lie is clearly using some kind of negative story. Addictions and mental health problems such as depression must also be based on drawing wrong conclusions to a false story. It is important to understand that whatever story we construct we have to live. Any story with negative implications must result in us having to live that particular story. Simply put this means that if our conclusion about the world is that it is miserable and hopeless then that is exactly what it becomes. The world is as it is and there is no story or conclusion possible that could explain or describe it. There is power in our ability to create a story and we feel powerful when we do this. There is a sense of power in thinking we know what is happening regardless of whether our conclusions are right or wrong. This is why this problem is so difficult to correct. The power we feel in being able to create a story that gives us the impression that we are in control and ‘know’ what we are seeing or doing is addictive. When something is addictive it means that we want that something more than anything else. Wanting the power to control and ‘know’ means we do not want to lose this power which means there is a limit to what we want to ‘know’. We are responsible for every story we construct in the sense that we have to live that story. If the story constructed is ‘I am depressed and feel hopeless’ then we must take responsibility for that story. This means no excuses for why we feel the way we do. If you ask someone who is depressed why they feel depressed there is always a ‘because’ something is not the way it should be. This ‘because’ story is circular in that it always comes to the same conclusion that what we believe is correct. If we are able to stop using stories to confirm what we believe we may end up at the truth, which is that we have feelings that are continually changing in response to what we believe about the world. These feelings or physical sensations have no meaning we add meaning to them in order to control and ‘know’ what is going on even if that results in suffering. If we can accept 100% responsibility for what we believe and see that what we believe becomes the world we live in, that is the world we have created in our head that we are then required to live in. Further if we can accept 100% what we are physically feeling without adding any meaning whatsoever then we will see the truth that physical feelings have no meaning and that they come and go naturally. It is only in the story we create and add to our feelings that suffering can exist.
Thursday, 21 June 2012
Meditation can be said to be the recognition of everything being as it is, but nothing is being said here of what this means. It is when we try to give a meaning to what this is that all our problems arise. When we don’t give a meaning to ‘what is’ it can be seen that there is still the awareness and the fact of what is. We are trained from birth to give meaning to everything and while this has many practical and useful benefits it may also have consequences that are far from useful or practical. The word for the consequences that are not useful or practical is ‘suffering’, adding a meaning to ‘what is’ that is not true causes all the suffering in the world. Fortunately there is a particular mechanism built in to us all that may help us discern exactly what is practical and useful and what is not. This mechanism is suffering itself, so long as we understand that suffering can only exist when we believe something that is not true. It is important to understand precisely what this word ‘suffering’ means. The word suffering seems to refer to something quite extreme but this is not what I mean by suffering. Although suffering can be extreme it can also be very subtle. It is in the more subtle aspects of suffering that we may learn how we may add meaning to our experience is such a way that suffering is the result. When the cause of suffering is clearly seen suffering can no longer exist. When the body experiences pain it is doing what it is designed to do. This is not suffering, suffering occurs when we add a meaning that is not true to any physical sensations of the body. The more subtle aspects of suffering are, boredom, irritation, frustration, impatience, uneasiness, envy, jealousy, guilt, regret and any aspect of desire where we believe that attaining our desire will cause us to be complete. This does not include eating or drinking or anything necessary to the natural health of the body. Meditation starts with the principle and the fact that everything is what it is and no meaning is given to what this is. With awareness we just notice the way it is. We notice that there are sounds that occur without meaning, there are the physical sensations of the body and again these occur without meaning. There are thoughts that arise up out of nowhere and for no reason. A thought that is not practical or useful has no reason to exist. All of the aspects of suffering above such as boredom or irritation all come with an equivalent subtle physical sensation. In noticing these sensations carefully we may begin to see the root of all suffering. Sensations occur but have no meaning unless we give them a meaning, and these sensations become suffering when the meaning we add is negative or untrue. Once we can identify that we have added a negative or untrue meaning to natural physical sensations it becomes inevitable that suffering will end. There are many possible ‘methods’ of meditation; all of these methods have a problem in that they all involve doing something in order to attain something. Many of these methods can be useful in that we may ‘attain’ the ability to be more focused or to be able to concentrate for extended periods of time, they may also be useful in helping to still the mind. The simplest form of meditation involves no method and no attempt to attain anything. A question can be asked that may make this meditation clearer. The question is what happens when we sit without meaning or purpose? This may appear to be another method but it is not as the natural state of the mind has no meaning or purpose; its natural state is still. If the minds natural state is stillness then all the thinking or movement of the mind is not natural. Doing nothing is the hardest thing of all because we seem convinced that without the ‘anchor’ of thinking we will cease to exist. What does cease to exist never existed in the first place and once we are free of this delusion we find what we really are and what we have always been. This truth of what we are has had many names throughout history such as Buddha mind, spirit, presence, the unborn, nirvana and pure consciousness. It is interesting to consider that every aspect of what we are except one is subject to change. All the other parts that are subject to change swamp the part of us that is not subject to change. Not subject to change can also be seen as invisible or undetectable. Something that is not subject to change has no discernable qualities and this is the reason why so few ever realise the pure consciousness that they really are. It is because we are swamped by all the things that are subject to change such as the mind, the body, the physical sensations of the body, the personality or the thoughts that run through the mind, that the part that is not subject to change is so difficult to detect. If we can clearly identify all the parts of our being that are subject to change are not what we really are then this process of elimination will result in all those parts being seen for what they really are. In other words when all that we are not is eliminated we are left with what we really are.
Monday, 21 May 2012
with Ray Menezes
Friday 22nd of June – Sunday 24th June 2012
Aylesford, Kent, ME20 7BX
Consciousness does not move or change and so was not born and can never die. Consciousness embraces all that is yet does this without any volition at all. When we are in agreement with all that is we begin to approach the nature of consciousness itself. Consciousness itself does not need to be in agreement with anything - does the sky need to agree to its blueness to exist? In agreement or acceptance we approach the nature of consciousness. In disagreement or resistance we distance ourselves from our own nature of consciousness. Even in disagreement we have not moved a fraction from consciousness, for consciousness is what we are and it is not possible to move away from what we are.
A weekend of enquiry into our true nature, from periods of stillness (meditation) we will find that part of us that never changes. As we learn to be with this stillness we will also work together in the group to identify the part of us that gets in the way of this. This part will take the form of gentle discussion within the group as a whole. You will be free to take part in this discussion or to listen. The discussion is aimed at identifying the obstacles created by the ego to insure its own existence. The weekend will consist of alternating between these two parts of the process from stillness to group discussion.
In order to fully be what we are we must learn to identify clearly what we are not. As well as this core part of the process there will also be meditation walks (learning to apply stillness to motion or activity) Also there will be meditation walks within the grounds of Aylesford Priory.
Aylesford Priory was founded in 1242 and places like this have a long history of spiritual enquiry, prayer and meditation. Around the world I have found places with this kind of history and energy that can very helpful as an aid to our own enquiry and meditation.
The priory can supply vegetarian meals for those who require them (please let me know as soon as possible if you want vegetarian meals or if you have any other special dietary requirements).
A meditation retreat can be an important source of nourishment and replenishment and most importantly a time to get to know ourselves in the deepest possible way. It is my view that we are all beginners when it comes to this enquiry/meditation process - as to know anything in regard to who or what we are is to know too much.
The cost of this retreat will be £195. This is for the retreat, accommodation and all meals. Accommodation is in single or double rooms.
A deposit of £50 is required to book a place and the balance to be paid by 20th June. Please bring your own cushions, benches or blankets for meditation if required. For those who wish to meditate on a chair these will be available.
Phone 07957 934047 for more details or to book a place.
London Victoria to Maidstone East
then taxi or No. 155 bus to The Friars
(Mon-Sat: no bus service after 6.00 pm.
Sundays and Public Holidays: no bus service) or
London Victoria to West Malling
1. M20 Junction 6 then follow signs to Eccles and The Friars.
2. M2 Junction 3 then follow signs (towards Maidstone A229) to Eccles and The Friars
(note: major roadworks presently at this junction)
Tuesday, 15 May 2012
Consciousness does not move or change and so was not born and can never die. Consciousness embraces all that is yet does this without any volition at all. When we are in agreement with all that is we begin to approach the nature of consciousness itself. Consciousness itself does not need to be in agreement with anything - does the sky need to agree to its blueness to exist? In agreement or acceptance we approach the nature of consciousness. In disagreement or resistance we distance ourselves from our own nature of consciousness. Even in disagreement we have not moved a fraction from consciousness, for consciousness is what we are and it is not possible to move away from what we are. When we distance ourselves from consciousness we only imagine that this is so. Full agreement is the same as perfect peace and happiness - when what we are is finally realised. When our peace and happiness is dependent on external factors like money, power or anything else we desire, our peace and happiness will be artificial and very short lived. Money, power or anything else we may desire are only necessary so long as we imagine that these things are necessary in order to attain peace and happiness. What we are is already complete and is not dependent on any external factors.
In consciousness there is perfect peace, happiness, and intelligence yet even these only arise in consciousness. We can approach consciousness best when we are not distracted by the things that arise in consciousness. Because the whole universe arises in consciousness it is not surprising that we are distracted yet even the wonder and majesty of the universe pales before consciousness itself. Consciousness cannot know itself it can only ‘know’ that which arises in consciousness. Consciousness does not need to know itself so when ‘we’ are no longer distracted by that which arises in consciousness there is just consciousness that is itself complete.
Consciousness itself does not move yet embraces all movement.
Consciousness itself does not change yet embraces all change.
Consciousness itself does not live and cannot die yet embraces living and dying.
Consciousness itself knows nothing yet embraces all knowing.
Consciousness itself knows nothing of the ego yet without it there could be no ego.
Consciousness itself knows nothing of thought yet without it there could be no thought.
Consciousness itself knows nothing of feelings yet without it there could be no feelings.
Consciousness itself knows nothing of the body yet without it the body is just meat.
Consciousness itself knows nothing of the absolute yet without the absolute there could
be no consciousness or any of the things that consciousness embraces.
Tuesday, 8 May 2012
‘The sky hides the night behind it and shelters the people beneath from the horror that lies above.” This line from Paul Bowles book ‘The Sheltering Sky’ could be translated as ‘the ego hides reality behind it and shelters us from that which we imagine we cannot bear’. What is it that we imagine we cannot bear? Look into a mirror and who do you see? What is seen is usually a person, with all their memories, their likes and dislikes and their history and all of this and more is seen as the identity of the seer. This is like looking at a pure blue sky and not realising that what is actually seen is an illusion. There is no pure blue sky, like the blue of the ocean which disappears when we dip a glass into it and hold it up and see there is no trace of blue in the water. If we could dip a glass into the ego we would find that there is no trace of any identity or ego to be found. What is taken for the ego is only pure intelligent consciousness but dip a glass into this and it would emerge apparently empty. We are not enamoured of emptiness even though in this case what is seen as empty is in fact full. We prefer the blue of the sky and ocean to something that cannot be named or seen. Given the choice we will always choose the ego over consciousness, the apparent to that which is not apparent. The book ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin opens with a doctor removing a pea from the ear of a patient, the pea had been lodged there since childhood and as a result the old man had been partially deaf as well as in recurring pain for most of his life. Towards the end of the book this man asks the doctor if he could put the pea back in his ear. His reason for this is that he no longer has any excuse for not hearing what is expected from him by his wife. Without the ego there are no more excuses for what we do; we are confronted by the world as it is rather than the world as we wish it could be. In this world we choose nothing yet are responsibly for everything. It is not possible to choose, as it is not possible to be anything but what we are, if you doubt this watch Sam Harris’s ‘free will’ video on You Tube. As to being responsibly for everything this is simply a truthful statement of fact, whatever we do has a consequence whether we know it or see it or not. There is no way to escape this truth, not knowing the consequence of our actions in no way gives us immunity from the consequences of such actions. Like the man with the pea, we can hear better without the pea in our ear but may not like what we hear.
Wednesday, 2 May 2012
The ego is almost a closed system, thoughts tend to lead to other thoughts without resolution and as a result become circular. The reason the ego is ‘almost’ a closed system is because thoughts or beliefs that are untrue tend to cause us suffering. Suffering is a major clue that something is wrong and in particular that something is wrong with what we believe. It is always possible that a realisation could occur that would end this tyranny of the ego. For many hundreds of years there has been a debate within Buddhism concerning the gradual approach versus the possibility of instant realisation. It seems to me that in a way both are true and false at the same time. Realisation has always been gradual this is because I assume it is not possible to be born realised. This must be true for all teachers such as Buddha or Christ. Instantaneous realisation does occur but this is misleading because the moment before realisation it was not realised and therefore was not instantaneous. As to what realisation actually means it is not possible to say although it may be helpful if we can be clear about what it is not. Realisation will never be a construction of the ego; it will never involve beliefs of any kind. False beliefs are generally easier to spot but it is the beliefs that refer to things that seem to be true that are the most difficult to identify. These latter beliefs are very common among ‘spiritual teachers’ of all persuasions and their followers. They tend to sound very pleasing to the ear and to the ego. They are often about oneness and love and the light that shines within. All of these do point to things that are true but are nevertheless still beliefs and beliefs require a believer and the ego. It is very easy for the ego to appropriate anything from anywhere and espouse it as the truth. How can we know if what someone is saying is true or not? It is not possible to know - it is only possible to believe and a belief tells us nothing of the truth. It is not possible to be given this truth no matter how eloquent or wise the giver may be. If we want to be free we must look within and find for ourselves what is real and what is not. There are no shortcuts but there is the possibility of identifying what is of the ego and what is not. There is also the possibility of ‘realising’ that the physical sensations of the body are real but have no meaning. It is the meanings that the ego adds to these physical sensations that cause suffering. It is possible to switch our attention from what these physical sensations mean to what these physical sensations actually are. This is not easy because we have been assuming that the meanings we have added to these sensations for so long actually relate to something real. When we are able to be with the physical sensations of the body without adding meaning or resistance then the possibility arises of the ‘flip’ from ego to consciousness.
Thursday, 26 April 2012
Consciousness is connected to intention and intention can be considered to be what we want. At no time can we do something that we do not want to do. Everything we have ever done therefore must also be what we wanted to do. It is important to understand that what we intend or want is a perfect system that enables us to survive as well as the manner in which we survive. If our intention is not clear or complete then it is certain that problems and possibly suffering will arise. A complete intention occurs when we are in full agreement with what we want. This can be very subtle, how do we know if we are in full agreement with what we want? The surest way to check this is to look carefully at what we actually have. What you already have must be what you want. If there is any trace of suffering in what you have then this is the proof that you are not in full agreement with what you want. When we are in full agreement with what we want life becomes easy and effortless. All possible negatives are eliminated and this alone will improve our quality of life enormously. Without negatives our life will naturally find a direction. It is difficult to put a name to this direction but life begins to flow very easily and without effort and in a positive and healthy direction.
Incomplete mindsets involve not being in full agreement with what we want. If we were to program a computer with incomplete information then that computer could not do anything but follow this incomplete information and this in turn means that the computer could not possibly work efficiently. This is true for us, if our intention is incomplete then the information that is given to consciousness must also be incomplete and this must cause negative results.
Complete mindsets are always positive and never involve suffering. Simply put complete mindsets work. Here are some complete mindsets;
At no time will I believe something that is not true. At the root the only things that can be assumed to be true is that which is happening without any beliefs being attached. If we attach a negative meaning to what is happening then we must live through the unnecessary negative meaning and its consequences.
I will no longer accept ageing, tiredness, illness or depression or any other negative belief as all these are beliefs that cannot be true. The reason why these beliefs are not true is because they arise from the ego and the ego is not what we are, what we are is consciousness and none of these beliefs have any validity within consciousness; consciousness does not age, become tired, ill or depressed. Consciousness can never change except when the body dies and is always clear and complete.
I will from now on only learn from my experience regardless of what that experience turns out to be. Without negative beliefs we can only learn, it is not possible to experience something that we cannot learn from. Learning is always positive or else it is not learning.
I will never intentionally do anything to harm myself or anyone else. Being untruthful can be seen to be potentially harmful to oneself and others. Experiment with other possible mindsets and find out for yourself those that work and those that do not.
The most subtle mindsets are those that connect to our feelings, our feelings are connected to physical sensation and as such they have no meaning. If we add a positive or negative meaning to physical sensation then we must live through the meaning we have added. Positive meanings can often be subtly connected to negative meanings and so are unnecessary. What the body feels is known but does not need to be held as a positive or negative belief.
Sunday, 22 April 2012
Everything that be known can only be known as a belief, this includes all that can be known through our senses in terms of sight, sound, touch, taste, smell as well as all the possible thoughts and concepts that the mind is capable of creating. All of this is the sum total of what we can know and experience. The foundation of all that can be known and experienced is composed of belief and belief turns out to be only what we find palatable. What does this mean? It means that it is not possible to know anything other than what we believe and therefore the whole of human experience is suspect and truly unknowable. So long as the lens through which reality is viewed is dominated by the ego it will never be possible to discover anything that is not agreeable to that same ego. What is agreeable to the ego can never be truth because it is truth that the ego fears more than anything else. When we view reality through the lens of our beliefs everything seems to fit together and make sense. This is because the root belief that allows all other beliefs to seem coherent is the belief in the ego itself. This is the belief that all other beliefs depend on and although we may question many of our beliefs we will avoid questioning this one. The ego is our apparent identity, it is who we think we are, and to question this is not unlike wishing to commit suicide. Without the root belief in the ego all other beliefs become transparent, some of these beliefs turn out to be practical and useful and all those that are not are immediately seen and discarded. Our sense beliefs such as sight and sound are obviously practical and useful and are not affected by the collapse of belief. All negative beliefs regarding ourselves or others can have no practical or useful result and tend not to arise, if they do arise they are not believed in and quickly dissipate. Without the root belief in the ego which is not what we truly are there is only consciousness which is all we have ever been.
Wednesday, 11 April 2012
Many years ago I read a warning that said if you meditate be careful ‘as you may be grabbed by the cosmic Buddha’. This warning indicates that if you meditate something may happen that is not of your control. It was said as a warning because there are many reasons why we may meditate and sometimes these reasons are not serious. We may get more than we bargained for. I asked a friend many years ago who was interested in meditation and spirituality if there was a pill he could take that would give him instant ‘enlightenment’ would he take it, he did not hesitate he said no. His reply indicates to me that none of us know what enlightenment is so why would we want it. We may have our own ideas about what it is but still the truth must be that we do not know. Even if we think it is a state of perfect bliss I am sure there is a part of us that has a doubt. This is natural because this tends to be the case when we do not know. The word enlightenment in the Buddhist sense must be a word describing something that can never be known. This word can certainly not be known prior to ‘enlightenment’ or after. It is obvious that it cannot be known before as we clearly do not know what it is apart from our beliefs about what we think it is. It cannot be known after because who is it that would know. If there is any knowing it is the knowing of the ego. The ego has many reasons why it may wish to be enlightened but these reasons all involve a desire for power of some kind. The person who talked of being grabbed by the cosmic Buddha was a Buddhist. This can be put another way that is not particularly Buddhist. There is consciousness and there is the ego, the ego arises in consciousness and at a certain point when we are young takes over the show. That is, ego believes itself to exist as an entity apart from consciousness or separate from consciousness. The ego does not exist as an entity any more than this computer I am using right now exists as an entity. The computer or the ego have a use but something very strange has occurred if we think that the computer or the ego are conscious of anything. Artificial intelligence seems to me to be about something similar; how to make it appear that a machine has consciousness. My guess is that this could never happen, a machine will never be conscious but I have no doubt that we will reach a point where a machine mimics and even enhances many of the tasks that a human is able to do. We can program a machine to play chess so that it may win against a human being but this is not consciousness. Consciousness is what makes such things possible and this is true also of the ego. Consciousness is what makes the ego possible and the ego could not exist without consciousness. Consciousness on the other hand can exist quite happily without the ego in fact it always has because the ego cannot truly be said to exist. We are all on a journey towards what I call the ‘flip’. All our striving to be free of suffering whatever form that striving may take whether we like it or not is leading us towards the ‘flip’. We are not able to control this journey in any way yet the mechanism for this occurrence is already working. When suffering is eventually truly seen to be the product of belief the flip will take place - from ego being the dominant part of us a flip occurs in which consciousness is seen to be what it has always been. Consciousness is what we really are and although the ego has a place in consciousness it will never again be mistaken for what we really are.
Saturday, 7 April 2012
The ego is a ghost that arises in consciousness. The ghost has a name and many preferences. It believes it lives and will die but it has never been born. It believes that life is suffering and seeks to confirm this at every opportunity. The ghost has discovered that suffering more than anything else gives the appearance of life to something that does not exist. The ghost does not exist and although it suspects this it does not know it. Huge amounts of energy are expended by the ghost to keep this secret from itself, when the secret is revealed the ghost will fade and be no more. How is it that something that does not exist appears to suffer? This amazing trick is created using smoke and mirrors; stories are invented that sooner or later will cause suffering. Once created suffering has all the qualities of reality and this is because the body mirrors what the mind believes. It has probably taken thousands of years for this trick to become as sophisticated as it now is. It is now so sophisticated that it can hardly be conceived anymore that suffering is a dream created by something that does not exist. Through belief consciousness can and does create everything including the ghost and it is through the realisation that belief is the source of all illusions that suffering can at last end.
Sunday, 25 March 2012
To understand powerlessness it is necessary to understand the problem of choice in regard to the ego. The ego is the result of all the ‘events’ that occur in childhood in which a network of beliefs are formed that become a blueprint for the way we view ourselves and others. These beliefs take on a life of their own and we believe ourselves to be what we are not. The beliefs that we believe ourselves to be are not true and the result, the ego is also not true. What we ‘choose’ is not really a choice as it is determined by false assumptions made by something that does not exist; the ego. Believing ourselves to be unlovable we ‘choose’ actions that prove this belief. We are forced by our beliefs to prove that our assumption that we are unlovable is true. If we could really choose why would we choose suffering? It is more accurate to say that we are programmed to expect to suffer. Another way of saying this is that we ‘want to suffer. When we expect something enough it becomes a need and therefore what we want. The universe is infinitely subtle, complex and unknowable and we are not different from the universe. To believe that we are able to choose when what we are and what we are surrounded by is so infinitely subtle, complex and unknowable can only be called ignorance. The ego cannot tolerate vulnerability because vulnerability is truth and the ego views truth as a vampire would view a crucifix. The idea of accepting anything can only be an idea of the ego. It is not possible to accept anything or to understand anything and if there is any acceptance or understanding then it is the ego that does so. The ego wants something to hang on to and this is because the ego does not exist. The ego’s purpose is always to reinforce the illusion that something that does not exist does exist. Believing that we accept or understand anything is a trick to convince ourselves that we exist. What does exist can never be known and this is why those who claim to be enlightened or awake may be very convincing but also deluded. There can be no knowing what is or what is happening and as a result it cannot be true that we are powerful or powerless. Nothing can be said about what we are or what we are not. Consciousness itself has no concerns with any of these questions.
If you take a glass and dip it into the ocean you will see beyond doubt that the blueness of the ocean is an illusion. This is not so different to the moment when consciousness realises itself.
Wednesday, 21 March 2012
A definition of the word hypothesis - a proposition, or set of propositions, set forth as an explanation for the occurrence of some specified group of phenomena, either asserted merely as a provisional conjecture to guide investigation (working hypothesis) or accepted as highly probable in the light of established facts.
Krishnamurti once wrote that logic should be taken as far as it can go or to be as truthful as it is possible to be. This is good advice, another way of saying this is to look for a truthful and consistent hypothesis that can be tested and if necessary adjusted or even dropped. I realize I have been doing this for many years without really knowing that was what I was doing. My first book ‘Blood Washing Blood’ is full of these hypotheses and my recent book ’Everything That is Not a Belief is True’’ is concerned with what I consider to be the ultimate hypothesis. If used correctly a hypothesis can be a bridge to the absolute. Logic or truth are honed relentlessly until their limit is reached. This limit involves another hypothesis which is that the limit is seen as a point in which all beliefs break down and we are left at the door to the absolute. The absolute is another hypothesis that is similar to a singularity in physics – a place or event where all the rules of nature break down. Some of the early hypotheses I worked with were to do with power and the ego. Blood washing blood is a very powerful hypothesis first used by zen master Bankei in regard to meditation. I found that blood washing blood is a universal hypothesis that when applied to the ego makes many important questions clear. Blood washing blood when applied to the ego becomes – the cause of suffering in the world is the result of the ego or believing something to be true that is in fact not true. The ego is the cause of suffering yet it is also the ego that offers us solutions to this suffering which usually involve more suffering. For instance when we feel unloved the ego may suggest that the solution can be found in food, drugs, alcohol or sex. The ego invents solutions such as thinking, religion, philosophy, science and just about everything that the human mind can construct. All these things are constructions of the ego and sometimes they are useful and sometimes they are disastrous. Most of these things excluding the simply practical and useful cannot be trusted as they are blood washing blood – trying to wash a blood stained garment with blood and expecting to clean it. This is not possible, not only are the solutions of the ego futile they can also deepen the problem. In the world most of us as a result of experiencing pain arrive at the conclusion that we are unlovable and then resort to strategies to attain various forms of power like money, intelligence, beauty or even aggression and violence. None of these can ever give us true power because the power that was lost is the result of what we came to believe about ourselves. None of these strategies for attaining power can ever reverse this kind of belief. Having a lot of money for instance may feel good for a while but only for a while, it cannot change what we really believe about ourselves. Blood washing blood is a hypothesis that quickly and clearly shows us all the constructs of the ego that cannot be trusted. Once we are free of the trap of looking for the solution where it cannot be found the true journey can begin. I heard a physicist recently say "we have to experiment with every stupid wrong idea before we can get on to the right one".
One night a neighbor of Mullah Nasrudin was walking home and found Mullah squatting on the ground beside a lamp post evidently looking for something.
"What's the matter mullah?" asked the concerned neighbor.
"I have lost my keys" replied mullah
"Oh! Here let me help you." and the kindly neighbor got down on his knees and started searching for Mullah's keys as well.
After some time spent looking the neighbor straightened up and quite puzzled asked "are you sure you dropped your key's here?"
"Oh, I didn't drop them here." replied Mullah.
"Where did you drop them ?!?" exclaimed the now bewildered neighbor.
"Over there" and Mullah pointed to the front of his house that was in darkness.
"So why are you looking for them here ??!!??" shouted the angry neighbor.
"Because there is light here." replied mullah.
Thursday, 15 March 2012
What we understand is determined by everything that went before. It is formed from the totality of our experience. We do not choose what we understand because we do not choose what we experience. We view what we experience through the filter of our level of understanding in the moment. Understanding can and does change but at no point can we control it. What we are and what we experience is not the result of choice. What we ‘choose’ is what we compute we should choose which is based on whatever level of understanding we have in the moment. This is one reason why we find it so difficult to get along with each other. We all have a completely different level of understanding and our level of understanding tells us how to relate and how to act. Each human being has a unique perspective based on the experiences that only that person has experienced. From our particular level of understanding we form conclusions about everything and tend to believe those conclusions. When we disagree or become angry about another persons point of view it is simply because it is different from our point of view. We can only be angry about a point of view if we believe something that is not true. What is not true is that we are right and someone else is wrong. What we believe is determined by experiences we did not choose and could not control. We hold to these beliefs as though our life would end if we found that what we believe is not true. Everything that is not a belief is true because a belief by definition can never be true. A belief is an abstract notion. The word cat is an abstract representation in a word of a creature we all agree to call a cat. Understanding the word cat in no way helps us understand the creature this word represents and this is true of all words. Words and beliefs have the power to make us believe something that is not true and even to fight to the death to protect what we believe. In Zen the goal is not to increase knowledge and belief but to reduce and end our reliance on knowledge and belief. Consciousness is pure intelligence in which belief is absent. Beliefs arise in consciousness but when they do they tend to obscure the pure consciousness that we are. Wanting to be enlightened involves a belief that causes pure intelligent consciousness to be obscured. This is true of anything we want to be or even of what we don’t want to be. We are what we are regardless of what we believe and what we are is pure intelligent consciousness. Effort is not required to be what we are; effort is only required to be what we are not.
Wednesday, 7 March 2012
I find it useful to look at aspects of consciousness such as thinking, vulnerability and belief individually but also at how these aspects work together. Belief is deeply linked to thinking but I have learned that it warrants attention in its own right. Thinking could also be seen as believing because thinking and language are composed of belief. What is the relationship of thinking and believing to vulnerability? My definition of vulnerability is ‘the physical sensations that occur through our senses’. Our senses give us data concerning the world and our place in it. Before thinking there was vulnerability and consciousness. For a long time this was enough but at some point in human development probably as a result of some drastic change to our environment language and the cooperation that goes with it became necessary. Thinking/language and belief came about as a need to cooperate. Its function was therefore practical and useful but thinking/language and belief are very complex systems and there are unforeseen consequences to using these systems. Vulnerability is what the body experiences when faced with the world/others directly; that is without the buffer of thinking/language and belief. The unforeseen consequence of thinking is the ability to buffer or separate from what we are naturally and physically feeling. When we are buffered from our physical sensations they are reduced in intensity. This reduction in the intensity of feeling is seen as a form of control. It is very appealing to be able to control unwanted feelings. Unfortunately this is not true, while it appears that the intensity of feeling is reduced it is also repressed and what is repressed has gone nowhere. To be vulnerable is a condition in which physical feelings come and go without repression. It is possible and necessary for us all to live without the repression of feelings. In my own experience this only became possible when the degree of suffering involved in repression reached a certain point. This point is a point of surrender where we stop fighting and trying to control what we are feeling. Once this Rubicon is crossed there is no going back as it is soon seen that living without repressing and controlling what we are feeling is infinitely preferable.
Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Belief is the ego’s attempt to justify and confirm its own existence. This is a paradoxical statement as the ego does not exist. There is consciousness, and eventually language arises in consciousness. Language is composed of words and words are composed of belief. All words represent a particular aspect of belief. In the beginning language came about as a survival mechanism that enabled us to communicate and cooperate. At some point the word ‘I’ came into existence as a means of identifying the individual that was talking. With this word there came about a separation from everything in existence. We came to see ourselves as separate and in time began to record and remember all the possible ways of being separate. In this process others became different and other tribes even more different. We began to look for differences like the colour of our skin or differences in size or shape. From this search for difference we eventually come to the present day, differences are everywhere along with the varying values of these differences. We look at the world and all the people and creatures of that world, including ourselves and we assign particular values to all of it. At the centre is oneself to which is usually assigned the best value although not without doubt as to our true value. Then comes our immediate family whose members will also be assigned a value of varying preference. This valuing then radiates out to our village, town or city and country. Everything in the world or even the universe is assigned a value. Because of these values and differences there is conflict with ourselves and everyone else, with the animals and the world itself. Wars, crime, and mental illness are some of the products of this way of viewing oneself and the world. In the beginning language came about as a survival mechanism and may still be used as such. For this to happen we need to go back and start again and learn to understand that what we are has nothing to do with words or belief. What we are is pure consciousness and there can be no difference in consciousness. All creatures have consciousness and in every case it is the same. Each creature expresses that consciousness in a different way according to the body in which that consciousness resides. Yes there is difference all around us but difference does not have a value such as better or worse. On the deepest level there is no difference. On the quantum level all matter is indistinguishable from all other matter. Without consciousness nothing could be seen or known to exist. In consciousness there is no difference yet through consciousness all differences are perceived. It is reasonable and practical to give our bodies a name but how can we name consciousness. Can you differentiate your consciousness from my consciousness or the consciousness of an animal? If you did how would you define that difference? Any difference can only be defined by using words and beliefs, and consciousness exists independently of words and beliefs. With the collapse of belief we become what we have always been and the proof of this is the end of conflict and suffering.
Wednesday, 22 February 2012
The process involved in ending suffering requires a particular kind of work. The ego should not be seen as a problem rather it should be seen as the solution. The ego can be viewed as a guide that shows us clearly when and where we believe something that is not true. It is a very simple and elegant guide that cannot fail once we learn of its existence. The body has a similar mechanism that tells us clearly when we do anything that may damage the body. This mechanism tells us precisely when something is too hot or too cold or too sharp. The ego can be seen in a similar way, it shows us precisely when we believe something that isn’t true. Ultimately it can tell us precisely what it is we believe that is not true. It is not necessary to look for what it is we believe that isn’t true it is enough to just acknowledge that there must be something we believe that isn’t true if we experience any form of suffering. Pain itself is not suffering, this is important to recognise. Pain is the natural warning system of the body that tells us that something is wrong, either in terms of something we are doing or something that is already happening in the body. Suffering is always a mental construct that tells us something about our pain that is not true. The mental construct is usually ‘it shouldn’t be like this’ or variations of this such as ‘I don’t like it’ or ‘it is bad and will probably get worse’. Suffering is also another word for anger, depression, irritation, boredom, frustration, jealousy, greed, embarrassment, shame, guilt and many other subtle and not so subtle variations of these. When any form of suffering arises the process is first to simply see that suffering is arising, this is not so easy as we may have learned over the years to see this as normal. If it is seen as normal we are missing the point that suffering is a sign that something is wrong and that we believe something that is not true. Once it is established that we are suffering we have to trust that this can only mean one thing, that we believe something that isn’t true. When I say trust I am saying that this process must resonate with you enough to at least try it. In time you will not need to trust, you will know. The negative physical sensation that goes with anger for instance is simply noticed and we then apply the rule that this must mean I believe something that is not true. When I say ‘apply the rule’ I do not mean necessarily to think about it although you may want to in the beginning. Thinking is not necessary as we have the ability to recognise something without thinking. Having consciousness we recognise many things without thinking. We recognise that we are alive and breathing and seeing and feeling and hearing and many other things, all without thinking. It is possible also to recognise that something that is believed is not true. We can often recognise when someone else believes something that is not true but find it harder to recognise in ourselves. Once this is established leave it alone until it arises again and then repeat the procedure. In time this whole process will happen instinctively and without effort. Resolve to follow this process to the end, the end being the point where you no longer cause yourself to suffer by believing something that is not true.
Saturday, 18 February 2012
Imagine a dictionary that holds all the words of every language that has ever existed. Every single word represents a belief that has absolutely no reality except the reality we choose to believe. We can string these words together to conjure up all the things that the human race claims to know. All the books in all the libraries of the world are composed of these words. All words represent nothing but mystery. When we teach a child about cats sitting on mats there are no cats and no mats and nothing that sits. Eventually the child may move on to the works of the great philosophers but still the words that are used contain no meaning other than the meaning we have been trained to give to the words. We can use these words to hate or love, to ridicule or to praise but still there is no meaning to any word we may use. Why then do words have so much power? Before weapons are used a war is started only by the use of words. All wars ultimately end also with the use of more words. Words can cause us to kill or to feel depressed, they can make us laugh and they can make us cry. We are trained to give words meaning and although there may be a value to this, words also have the power to manifest all the suffering in the world. A word is either ink on a page or pixels on a screen or sounds picked up by our ears. To all words we attach a particular meaning and this meaning may be different for each of us depending on our life experience. Usually the meaning we attach to a word is a meaning that we have not thought too much about. We have learned to accept various meanings simply because everyone else accepts these meanings. After a while we forget that the meanings we have used are actually devoid of any true meaning. It is this forgetting that is at the root of all suffering in the world. It is possible we forget because many of the meanings we use in the world work. When enough meanings work in a practical and useful way the meanings that don’t work seem to go unnoticed. The meanings or beliefs that don’t work tend to be the meanings and beliefs that cause us suffering.
Sunday, 12 February 2012
What we say and do is a reflection of what we believe. All beliefs fall into two categories, that which is practical and useful and that which is not. ‘All’ beliefs is another way of referring to the ego. Like all other aspects of reality belief has no true existence. All that we see, hear, touch, taste, smell, feel and think about is nothing but belief and belief has no true existence. What we see and hear etc is not a problem as it falls into the realm of practical and useful. What we think about is a different order of belief, but still falls into one of these two categories, practical and useful or not. When belief is practical and useful it is fairly straightforward. Communication is useful but can also be non useful. To find what is practical and useful it is important to know that all beliefs have no true existence. Once this part is clear it becomes easy to see what is practical and useful and what is not. It is because this part is usually not clear that all the negative aspects of belief arise. For most people what is practical and useful can be anything they prefer, this can be useful but can also be extremely un-useful. We can prefer to harm ourselves or others, we can lie, cheat, steal, or kill. None of these could occur without resorting to an untrue belief. Once all untrue beliefs are seen for what they are, harming ourselves or others becomes impossible. Because we are born into a world that uses untrue beliefs on such a large scale it is no wonder that we also will learn to use untrue beliefs. All false beliefs must sooner or later result in suffering. How do we begin to reverse this process? Most spiritual traditions attempt to answer this question but not always in a way that we can easily assimilate. The ten commandments for instance tells us not to do certain things and refers to these things as sins. This is not useful, if we tell our children that if they do certain things like lying then they are sinners, this contributes to them thinking and feeling bad about themselves. Once we feel bad about ourselves we begin to do harmful things to ourselves and others to confirm this belief. The part of us that is not real believes many things that are not true. The part of us that is real is pure intelligence and is unconcerned with that which is unreal. The more truthful we are the more we are aligned with our true nature. If we say we will do something and then do not do what we say we are not keeping our word. The more we do this the more we move away from our true nature. Not keeping our word means that we cannot trust ourselves or others and also that others cannot trust us. Inevitably if we do not keep our word we begin to suffer. There is virtually no limit to this suffering. The increase in suffering is only there to guide us back to truthfulness and pure intelligence.
Sunday, 5 February 2012
Someone was telling me that when he sits in meditation he feels restless and bored and eventually he gets up and stops meditating. What exactly is boredom? Boredom is one of the many forms of suffering that can be thrown up by the ego. Suffering always occurs when we believe something that is not true. What is the ego’s purpose in creating suffering? The ego only has one purpose and that is to ensure its own existence. To exist the ego creates drama, any drama will do. Boredom in this sense is drama, it may not seem to be that dramatic but it gets the job done. In a sense any form of suffering is also a form of drama. A drama can be defined as a feeling or sensation that leads you to believe in something that isn’t true. What the ego would like you to believe is that when you experience what we call boredom you should do anything in your power to avoid it. What are the possibilities involved in avoiding boredom? In the example above we can stop meditating and switch on the television, or read a book, have sex, eat, drink alcohol, take drugs, get into an argument, kick the dog, steal something or kill or hurt someone. Depression and many other so called mental illnesses are also options to avoid boredom. In meditation it is possible to face and transcend ‘boredom’ safely. In this sense meditation is when we become willing to face boredom without running away form it. Boredom itself cannot hurt us unless we do something to avoid it. In a way boredom is the ego’s most powerful weapon yet on the surface it may appear quite innocuous. At the opposite pole to boredom is excitement which has a very close link to boredom. These two, boredom and excitement are like an engine. When boredom arises we look for anything that may alleviate it; we look for something further along the spectrum towards excitement. Whatever stimulus we may find that is opposed to boredom we cannot sustain so eventually we get bored again, and so the cycle continues.
Saturday, 28 January 2012
“Buddhism is the only religion that self destructs” is a quote from the Dalai Lama. I like this as it seems to me to be saying that beliefs can be used to end belief. I think it is true that Buddhism has contained within it the seeds of its own end, at the same time it also seems to have so many ‘beliefs’ that it may be difficult for some people to find their way out. Someone said to me recently that he was afraid to read my new book ‘Everything That is Not a Belief is True’, he said he might be ready to read it in a few weeks. There is probably not much in the book that he has not already heard me say. This man seems to be afraid that by reading my book he will lose some or all of his beliefs. This suggests to me that his beliefs are quite fragile. This is probably true for many people, their beliefs are fragile so they need to be protected. If someone threatens or rejects our beliefs we may become angry. If we truly believed in something I doubt that anyone else’s opinion of our beliefs would hold any significance. The reason we may feel threatened is because all beliefs are in their nature fragile; they are not true. We choose what we believe because we feel there is something to be gained by believing what we believe. In a way when we believe something we are hoping that what we believe is true so that we get the gain associated with the belief. For instance we may believe in Buddhism because we want to be enlightened and therefore hope that this belief is correct. Inherent in all beliefs must be doubt. Doubt or any fragility of belief means that belief will always be unstable and in time must collapse. This is what we are afraid of; if belief collapses then it seems hope also collapses. And what if all beliefs were to collapse? It would seem that this would be the end of all hope. In a way this is true but we could not come to a conclusion that life is therefore meaningless without constructing a new belief. With the ending of belief all that arises in consciousness is seen as thoughts, feelings, sensations, sight, sound, touch, smell and taste that are just arising in consciousness. No meaning is attached to any of these and there are no negatives or positives. We may be afraid that there are no positives but this does not mean we are dead, we still feel what we feel. Without positives or negatives all our experiences are complete, nothing is missing and nothing needs to be changed.
Saturday, 21 January 2012
Over the years I have noticed that psychotherapy often seems to be viewed in a negative way by spiritual seekers and even spiritual masters. Might the reason for this be that psychotherapy tends to be about the ego and its role in our suffering. I have come to see that the ego does not like to be seen, so from the ego’s point of view spiritual teachings of various kinds are safe; the ego need not be seen at all. Where there is an ego there is suffering and the more rigid the ego is the more suffering there will be. The spiritual search can only occur because we are suffering in some way. I understand that looking closely at our own ego is not a pleasant experience so naturally most people try to avoid it. In my experience the only reason we are drawn to therapy or spirituality is because we are suffering. Of these two options clearly spirituality is the safer option as it isn’t required that the ego be looked at. Surely this is like an ostrich burying its head in the sand and hoping that because it can’t see the danger the danger will not be there. Of course we would all rather become enlightened without getting our hands dirty. Strangely many spiritual teachings refer to enlightenment as an egoless state, yet also seem to deny that we should look at the ego. When I talk about psychotherapy and the ego I am not saying that we should analyze the ego or examine it in an intellectual way. The ego is deeply connected to suffering so it is in suffering that we may most closely approach the ego. The ego demands that when we suffer we do something to avoid that suffering but if we examine the suffering itself we will come to see that it is created by the ego that then encourages us to avoid what it has created. To examine the suffering means to allow the physical sensations that occur in suffering to be what they are without avoiding them in any way. The ego would rather you not do this because if you do the ego will be revealed as the cause of our suffering. It does not want to be seen as the cause it would prefer to be seen as the saviour that will put an end to suffering. I am not necessarily advocating psychotherapy, if you find a therapist that understands the ego, not theoretically but actually then that could be helpful but this examination of suffering can also be done alone if we have the motivation to do it. The spiritual by-pass is a great trap created by the ego to avoid being seen as the creator of suffering. It is natural that sooner or later we all become spiritual seekers because it is inevitable that we will suffer. It is interesting to note that the four noble truths of the Buddha are -
1. Life means suffering. 2. The origin of suffering is attachment. 3. The cessation of suffering is attainable. 4. The path to the cessation of suffering.
While it is true that the origin of suffering is connected to attachment, the origin of attachment is in the ego. If for instance we say that we are attached to pleasure this must mean that we believe that there is a value in being attached to pleasure. Without belief there could be no attachment and without belief there could be no ego.
Sunday, 15 January 2012
Consciousness is a quantum field of potential. It appears to have no movement or direction of its own. The movement and direction are there but so subtle that they appear to be not there. Out of consciousness there arises ego and the ego could be said to be so subtle that although it appears to be there it is not. Where there is a body there is consciousness. All creatures have consciousness and when the body dies so does consciousness. The new-born child without any experience or knowledge knows what it wants. The child wants to be in a state of equilibrium, it wants to be fed, clothed and cared for although it thinks about none of this. Consciousness allows the child to know when these needs are not met and then allows the child to communicate with its parents so that these needs are met. As the child grows its needs change and at every stage of development the needs of the child may or may not be met and they are met or not met to varying degrees. When the child’s needs are not met the child experiences and remembers this as suffering. To compensate for this suffering the child and later the adult begins to deploy a strategy to control suffering. This strategy is usually referred to as desire but I prefer the word ‘want’. Unfortunately this ability to want can also be used to want what we do not want. Wanting something we actually do not want means we want something that we are not in full agreement with. There are many things we can want that we are not in full agreement with such as food when we eat too much or alcohol when we drink too much. What we want is what we have got, not what we wish we had. What we want and what we have is made manifest by consciousness. As I said consciousness is a quantum field of potential; which means that what we want is received by consciousness in a literal sense. We want to eat too much so consciousness allows us to do this the fact that we are not in full agreement with this want means that we will suffer. Suffering is our guide; it tells us what it is we are not in full agreement with. If we observe closely when we suffer there comes a time when we begin to move towards full agreement with what we want. There can be no suffering when we are in full agreement with what we want.
Wednesday, 11 January 2012
In 1974 I had a near death experience in which the ego temporarily collapsed. This was experienced as perfect peace, suddenly there was no more fear even though I was still drowning. This event as well as enabling me to survive set me off on a quest to find what had happened to me. Since then I have practiced, studied, and eventually taught various meditation techniques, mostly zazen and vipassana. I also worked for eight years in a psychiatric unit working with adolescents and trained to become a transpersonal psychotherapist. All of this to find out what had happened to me for that short time in the ocean. About a year ago the last piece of the puzzle fell into place, the penny dropped. I saw that all suffering is caused by believing something to be true that isn’t true. Although meditation was very useful in many respects, it was the collapse of belief that finally brought me back to the perfect peace I had been searching for. The only reason I can see as to why we meditate or do psychotherapy is to reduce or end suffering. The reason meditation can be difficult is because unknowingly we are holding on to beliefs that are not true. This causes agitation in the mind and although meditation will help us relax it is unlikely that these false beliefs will end. The ego itself is thought and thought is composed of belief; in fact all that we experience is also formed of various subtle layers of belief. This process is evolutionary in that it can take many years of finding out that believing something that is not true inevitably causes suffering. This can change when we question belief itself, not what we believe but belief itself. It is very helpful to remind ourselves when we experience suffering of any kind that the belief behind this is ‘ it shouldn’t be like this’, and that this is clearly not true, as it is like this.This applies also to meditation, when the mind is agitated it is suffering and this must be because we believe that ‘it shouldn’t be like this’. We can apply this throughout the day whenever we feel angry or frustrated, identify this false belief and observe what happens. The more we do this the more we naturally come to see all the negative and sometimes positive beliefs we hold that are not true. Eventually this will happen without any effort. All beliefs are destined to collapse whether we like it or not.
Saturday, 7 January 2012
Before reading this post it would probably help if you read the mirror of consciousness post.
Many spiritual traditions talk of desire as something that needs to be controlled. It is seen as a problem but this problem may also become the solution. It is helpful to first change the word desire to want. One reason for this is just to detach from all the connotations that the word desire holds. The word want is simpler and more straightforward. All that appears in consciousness is what we ‘want’. This want may be the result of conditioning or millions of years of various forms of belief but even so it is what drives us. What we do is what we want to do, what we believe is what we want to believe and what we eat is what we want to eat. This list is endless it is all that we are. When we feel depressed it is because we want to feel depressed. We may have forgotten why we want this but the result is the same. This is not easy to accept because we live in a world where we all deny responsibility for what we are and what we want. We make excuses for our mistakes or we blame others for what we feel. None of this is true we are responsible for everything whether we know it or not. The result of all this is inevitable suffering and suffering that is self created. The first step then in ending suffering is to accept responsibility for everything. This is not to say that others do not harm us or the world does not hurt us. We are physically designed to experience pain and we would probably not survive without this ability. We are not however designed to suffer. Suffering is caused by believing something that is not true, it is also caused by wanting to suffer even though we may have forgotten why this is so. What we believe can only be what we want to believe; so believing something that is not true is also what we want to believe. To solve this problem we need to look very carefully at what we want and to begin to notice if we are in full agreement with what we want. Every day we do things or experience things that we are not in full agreement with. If you feel frustrated or angry then these are the clues to the things you are not in agreement with. Why do we do things we are not in agreement with? The reason is to do with the rules we construct about how life should be. We make these rules and then feel unhappy when the world does not conform to these rules. The world cannot conform to your rules because your rules are crazy or not true. That is, they do not conform with the rules of the universe. The rules of the universe are not written in any book they can only be known by consciousness itself; not by the knowledge or beliefs contained in consciousness. Consciousness itself can have no problem with the universe. Consciousness is the gift of the universe and is complete. It cannot be changed or improved and it cannot be diminished. Consciousness appears diminished because our minds are occupied with beliefs that are not true. When we want or expect something that is not in accord with the rules of the universe we experience suffering and rather than question deeply what it is we want or expect we usually just keep on with the same beliefs and expectations.