Saturday, 28 January 2012

Buddhism is the Only Religion That Self-Destructs

“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

The Ostrich

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

The Ego and Consciousness

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

The Collapse of Belief

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

The Gift of the Universe

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.

Thursday, 5 January 2012


Response to an article by John Tissandier which can be found below.

A very interesting article John you state very precisely the many problems that arise once we accept the idea that there is such a thing as enlightenment, self-realization, awakening etc. Most of these problems collapse if we don’t accept the idea of enlightenment, or at least have a more questioning attitude to whether there is such a thing or not. Even without the idea of enlightenment there is still a hurdle that we all must face. The hurdle is suffering - surely it is this that causes us to invent the idea of enlightenment in the first place. Our quest is not to find enlightenment it is to solve the problem of suffering. Meditation, yoga, residing in I AM, religion, philosophy, seeking pleasure and much more are all the result of our desire to solve the problem of suffering. Each of us will try some or all of these methods or non-methods according to our life experiences and beliefs. This is not a choice it is something we have to do even when we have no ideas about any of this. Life sets us this task whether we like it or not and nothing can stop it until it is solved. You could say that the solving of this problem is enlightenment, but this would be a mistake for many of the reasons that you point out in your non-method sections. The most important reason it is a mistake is because enlightenment suggests something to be attained at some future time. If we believe this we create a sort of paradox in which the very idea of a future enlightenment contains within it a hidden belief that I do not have what I seek - not true, and that it can only occur in the future. This hidden belief dictates that the search must go on forever. The solution to this problem begins the moment we question belief itself, not what we believe. All beliefs are suspect as they all arise from the ego, but questioning belief itself somehow sets in motion a process that will eventually run on its own volition until all beliefs spontaneously collapse. I would not call this enlightenment although I can see how tempting it is to do so. It is not a special state and so removes the risk you stated of arrogance. This is a very real risk judging from all the teachers and masters who pronounce their own enlightenment, awakening etc. In conclusion we are already what we seek yet it is not a choice to stop seeking, the seeking will progress to its natural conclusion which is the futility of all beliefs. Let me be clear about this last point concerning ‘all beliefs’ Beliefs are not just to do with what we think or believe but to do with our total sensory experience as well as the belief that we exist as an individual entity.

         This is a presentation of two different views on enlightenment (also called liberation or Self-realisation). One view says there is an algorithm – that is, a series of steps – to reach this. The other says that this is an absurd notion. At one extreme is Samkhya-yoga (as defined by Ronald Girty), which not only provides an algorithm, but also predicts the exact date on which enlightenment will be achieved. It takes precisely 437 days in all cases! At the other extreme are schools that say not only is there no method, but there is actually nothing we can do to bring about enlightenment. Some sages like Ramana Maharshi accommodate both views. He reminded listeners that they are already realised and so to seek to attain this is absurd, yet he also prescribed the method of self-enquiry for those who felt they needed one.
       What follows is an attempt to bring out the flavour of these two basic approached. I will call the algorithmic view ‘Method’, and the other ‘non-method’.

Method; There is a path to be followed which will lead beyond illusion and to Reality.
Non-method; There is nothing to do. There is nowhere to go.

Method; There is a path to be followed which will lead beyond illusion and to Reality
Non-method; All paths and all imagined goals are themselves illusory.

Method; There is the notion of a do-er carrying out a task.
Non-method; There is a seeing into the emptiness at the heart of the do-er, and so the annihilation of both the do-er and the task.

Method; One must follow a prescribed path and go through various transitional stages, until eventually one will be realised.
Non-method; There are no stages to realisation.

Method; Realisation is the ultimate success. We deserve it thanks to our discrimination and effort.
Non-method; Realisation is the ultimate defeat. The ego with its ridiculous pretensions suffers the ultimate humiliation of being revealed as a mirage!

Method; A discipline; work.
Non-method; An inward relaxation. A holiday from our constant efforts to create an imaginary world dedicated to the futile task of protecting the myth of the ego.

Method; Involves the complexity of a path with its attendant leaders, commandments, formulae, rituals, rules and inevitable disputes.
Non-method; Simplicity. No modification of our outer way of living is necessary.

Method; There is the belief that I am a manifestation of the Source in the form of an individual being, but that by manipulation aspects of the manifestation ( e.g. by my practice), I will affect the behaviour of the Source and persuade it to deliver eternity into my lap.
Non-method; there is no belief in such ‘magic’. The Manifestation depends on the Source, but the Source does not depend on, and its purity is unaffected by, the Manifestation. Thus it is best to be still.

Method; In practice it is trying to make the ‘I am the body’ idea, follow the dictates of the ‘I am the mind’ idea.
Non-method; This duality does not exist and there is only ‘I AM’.

Method; Because it is based on preconceptions it always involves distortion and a limited intervention in the ‘Happening’ of life.
Non-method; Full attention to life happening, without judgement and without opposition.

Method; There are progressive changes in our vision of Reality – we think we see it more and more clearly.
Non-method; The significance we attach to our visions decreases.

Method; One is caught up in playing a game where one builds an impressive edifice, bigger and bigger, out of conceptual bricks.
Non-method; One is tired of this game. The bricks appear insubstantial. Even if a  towering castle were to appear one would not be fooled.

Method; We select a goal by placing one image, or ideal, above all other images.
Non-method; There is no attachment to images.

Method; There is an attempt at achieving security by conforming to a school or tradition and escaping the fear of doubt.
Non-method; There is acceptance of the fundamental fact that there is NO security! Paradoxically this is security. What makes us insecure is not some objective reality, but a subjective view of ourselves that depends on desperately holding on to an impossible dream.

Method; There is an immature need for constant reassurance, and the checking of our progress with the teacher. The number of ‘gold stars’ mounts up as we ascend through the levels of initiation…
Non-method; No chart can map the limitless. Immature doubts and mature convictions are likewise abandoned, because it is clearly seen that no thought can capture the essence of what we are.

Method; As we proceed with our algorithm, and approach our goal, we become more awake and everything seems more real.
Non-method; There is an awareness of the unreality of our projections; everything seems more subtle. There is less of a difference between the sleep, dream and waking states.

Method; We are seeking a solution to the great problem.
Non-method; There is no problem. Life is not a problem to be solved.

Method; I am getting a little closer to my goal.
Non-method; Space-time doesn’t exist.

Method; I only desire this so I can help mankind.
Non-method; Every desire is suspect. I am more interested in the root cause of desire rather than satisfying even a ‘noble’ desire.

Method; The path to Reality can be systematically described.
Non-method; The concept of Reality is unreal! The words ‘real’ and ‘unreal’ are unreal! There is only Reality!

Method; Because we are progressively following a linear path, the belief in the absolute existence of time becomes stronger. We watch the calendar in the anticipation of  reaching our goal – we count the days ,,,, and the years!
Non-method; The ears hear the clock strike, but the quiet mind knows no past and no future….

Method; We rise and rise from sinner to God, from limited to limitless, adding goodies to our karma bag along the way, like adding 1’s to a number in the crazy hope of turning it into infinity…
Non-method; It is ridiculous. A day will dawn when you will yourself laugh at your effort. That which is on the day of laughter is also now. (Ramana Maharshi)

Problems inherent in Methods
The formulation of the method will necessarily incorporate the very limits that it is hoped to escape and thereby render the method useless. A method implies dualism and therefore following the method can never lead beyond dualism. If on the other hand the limitless is admitted at the start then it follows logically that there is no need for a method.

A method or algorithm is a set of steps to reach a goal. Since I can imagine this goal it has a form, and because it has a form it is limited and therefore is not the Reality.

There is the danger of increasing our arrogance by making us believe we are moving up a scale and becoming more ‘spiritual’.

Problems inherent in Non-methods
The mind can make a method out of not having a method, and a duty out of not-doing.

Can lead to fatalism.

Being no-thing can be misunderstood by some to mean acting like an inert rock, and being insensible to the ‘non-beings’ around us.

Bottom of Form

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The Mirror of Consciousness

What we think is the same as what we believe. The body experiences life through the senses. In essence the body receives data from the world in the form of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. This data as with all data is also ultimately what we believe. This data is more subtle than thinking but is likely to be the product of many millions of years of evolutionary accretions of belief.  It is important to see that what we believe is not limited to one particular form such as thinking. Data of any kind is knowledge and there can be no knowledge without belief. When we look at the world we do not see anything without belief being involved in that process. Whose beliefs do we see when we look at the world. It is only possible to see our own beliefs and therefore what we see is not determined by what is seen but by the one who sees.

We live inside a most extraordinary mirror; all that we see, hear, touch, taste, smell or think about is a perfect reflection of what we believe. What we like or dislike is not universal to all people it is determined by our own particular beliefs. When we hate, that which we believe to be hateful is immediately reflected back and we experience that same hate. If what we hate is a person then that person may or may not experience our projection of hate.  What that particular person believes or does not believe is what will determine that persons experience. What is not in doubt is the fact that when we hate we must experience that same hate internally. This is not a pleasant experience and the more we hate the more unpleasant that experience must be. This is true of all our emotions; what we feel is what we believe and once believed must be experienced.

Is hate a belief that has anything to do with truth? You may say I hate someone for some wrong they have done to me. This must be based on a very personal belief, what I believe has been done to me has not been done to someone else. Others may confirm to you that you are right to feel wronged but this is also very personal and would not apply to everyone. All that we believe is immediately reflected back to us in the form of the physical sensations that correlate to those beliefs. If we hate, we experience the physical sensations that correlate to that particular belief. Any negative experience we may have is determined only by what we believe to be true that is in fact not true. It is not possible to trick the mirror, what is reflected back will always be precisely what we believe. 

Suffering can only occur when we believe something that is not true. This is an extraordinary quality of the mirror and it is this more than anything else that makes freedom possible (freedom from our own false beliefs). I suffer when I believe something that is not true. When I stop believing something that is not true the cause of suffering is no more. The mirror is a mechanism of truth but truth can never be a belief. The absence of a false belief is all that is required to reveal that which is true. If we believe that we are unlovable then what will be reflected back to us will be the proof of that belief. This proof can never be a pleasant or comfortable experience. The mirror does not lie it can only reflect back to us what we truly believe. How do we know what we truly believe? We know what we truly believe by observing what is reflected back, this is the proof of what we truly believe. The difficulty lies in observing the proof without belief. This is possible but difficult because we are so addicted to belief that it is hard to observe anything without projecting belief onto what is observed. Also the one who observes is also a conglomeration of beliefs.

 The mirror is our guide it tells us always precisely what it is we believe and further what it is we believe that is not true. Ultimately the mirror will reveal that the one who observes is also composed of beliefs that are not true. This is where consciousness is leading us, slowly but surely towards the end of all beliefs. That which is does not need belief to sustain it. Consciousness is always revealing that which is true and that which is untrue. That which is true is not a belief and that which is untrue must inevitably lead to suffering. Suffering includes fear, anxiety, depression, irritation, frustration, intolerance and many subtle and not so subtle variations of these. If we observe carefully those moments when we suffer we will come to see in great detail all the things that we believe to be true that are in fact not true. This must happen if freedom is to be anything more than a nice idea.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The Hungry Ghost

We are born as pure consciousness, in time an ego is formed that comes to inhabit this pure consciousness. The ego is the sum total of all the knowledge absorbed from birth onwards. The sum total of this knowledge is made manifest by consciousness. This knowledge that the ego is composed of can also be seen as a hugely complex system of beliefs. It could be said that knowledge is just data or information but that belief is something more. Belief can be likened to desire made manifest. I believe in God can then be translated as 'I want to believe in God because there is something to be gained by doing so’. Even the most insane of our beliefs can be translated in this way. There is always a hidden agenda behind our beliefs in which something is expected to be gained. It is not necessary that what is gained makes any sense. It is only necessary that something is desired with the expectation of gaining something. This is the hungry ghost referred to in Buddhism. The hungry ghost does not wish to be free it wishes to continue eating or desiring. Usually when it expresses the wish to be free it is in the hope that somehow it could be free while continuing to desire. Desire is really the illusory belief that what is desired will fill me or complete me. The fact that even when our desire is satisfied it is satisfied for only a moment seems to go unnoticed. We are born as pure consciousness and this never changes we are always that pure consciousness. Consciousness is complete, nothing can change it. This is the great mystery, if consciousness is already complete what is it we are looking for to complete ourselves. The ego is the sum total of all absorbed knowledge and belief and is made manifest by consciousness. Because consciousness itself has no agenda or hidden beliefs it seems to have no substance. On the other hand the absorbed knowledge and beliefs of the ego appear to have substance and so this illusory entity is able to ‘squat’ in an apparently empty house. The house is not empty it is filled with consciousness and even the ego itself could not exist without this consciousness. Consciousness is not interested in the delusions of the ego because consciousness itself is always complete.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Pain and Suffering

What is the difference between pain and suffering? Pain is a natural function of the body without which we could not survive. Pain is the ability of the body to feel physical sensation. Physical sensation is direct feedback for everything we do. Physical sensation sets limits on what we can do. In a sense the body and its physical sensations is always connected to truth.
Suffering is very different from pain, suffering is always the result of believing something that is not true. In fact if you are suffering then it must be true that you believe something that is not true. Remember pain is only the natural ability of the body to feel physical sensation. We can turn the natural sensation of the body, in this case pain, and turn it into suffering by adding a belief that is not true. This belief is invariably 'it shouldn't be like this'.
Although this may sound reasonable it is not. If it is raining and we say or think it should not be raining something very strange has occurred - we have somehow come to the conclusion that reality is not what it is but what we think it should be.
When you experience physical pain check to see if it is natural at this point in time to be experiencing this. If it is natural leave it alone, do not add a preference such as 'it shouldn't be like' this'. If you can identify that you are adding 'it shouldn't be like this', to whatever reality you are experiencing you will find that suffering will begin to fade away. Pain without the addition of a belief that is not true is very different from suffering.

Sunday, 1 January 2012


Free of belief, consciousness shines pure, and anything done or believed with the intention of realising this can only obscure it. This cannot be improved and there are no stages to attaining it; the consciousness of all beings is already pure and complete. Meditation, yoga, fasting or any other spiritual or religious practice can in no way affect the natural purity of consciousness and there are no spiritual or religious texts including this that can in any way change what is already there.
The purpose of these words is not to teach or reveal; it is only to disrupt the beliefs that we unintentionally use to obscure consciousness. Our beliefs are naturally being disrupted but this is a slow process that can be considered evolutionary. It is possible to speed up this process considerably. When belief itself is questioned deeply enough, a point of no return is reached and all false beliefs spontaneously collapse without effort. What we read or hear can be understood on a relative level according to what each of us is capable of understanding. It is important to understand that we cannot fully understand anything until our understanding is free from belief. Free from belief, these words would disappear.

Invitation to a book launch for
Everything That is Not a Belief is True by Ray Menezes
PHONE MADDOX ARTS ON 020 749 53101