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.