Childhood and adulthood

It makes me vulnerable to tell this story, but I guess vulnerability is essential to our human nature and there’s too much time wasted in hiding it. If I had to tell one major story, it would have to be about my mother. She is one of the most maternal, caring, self-sacrificing people I have ever known. As a compassionate person, and because her family were quite poor, she decided to work hard and go into Medicine. To be a female doctor where she came from was not a small achievement. But at the same time, she had two children. She married into a Medical family too, so she was expected to succeed in her career. Now, the point where I entered, she was already trying to marry the domestic and the professional aspects of her life. When she was in India, offered the chance to study and work in the UK, I was only two, and my sister was seven. Under a sense of duty, she was encouraged to leave me with my Nani, my maternal grandmother. I cannot complain about how my Nani was towards me: I was totally loved and cared for. But something about this has left its mark on me: I didn’t know my father because he left the country to better his career when I was born, and soon I would not know my mother too well either. Gradually, my mother became a stranger. When I turned five and could start school, I was brought to the UK, but this was now very hard for me because I thought of my grandparents as my carers. Also, as my sister and I grew up, we had to deal with my parents’ very unsettled careers that involved babysitters, moving around and periods left with different relatives.

That gap of not knowing my parents has never really closed. Certainly, to know someone as an infant is very different than knowing them later on. Infants have no judgement. I hardly remember my parents that way. I mainly remember their strange features, not really associating them as my own tribe. Then, I had to also adjust to a new culture in the UK, so I felt even more alone with no one around that knew me, spoke my alien language, someone who would be a real friend. Except, thankfully, there was my sister. Dealing with her own issues, but at least she was there.

All this has impressed on my memory a feeling of grief and sorrow. I don’t know if it is mine or my mother’s sorrow at the choices she had to make. More than anything, this affects me now in my relationship with my children. As early as I could remember, I had the strong desire to form a bond with my children where I would always be involved with their lives. But, knowing the fragility of the human experience, it also became a fear that, what if I can’t achieve this? And in this grappling, there has had to be a huge letting-go, that I can’t control what experiences are meant for my children. Just as I couldn’t control what experiences shaped my own childhood. And in that realisation, there is certainly a grief at how everything seems so vulnerable, but also a search for something enduring. Surely, love endures the human fragility and shows its power within and beyond our human limitations.

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Meeting the radiant Mr Rupert Spira

This month I had the rare privilege of meeting author and teacher, Rupert Spira. He is a public figure now, with thousands of students across the globe, and the reason for his following is that he expresses and embodies the truth of non-dual teaching in the most beautiful way.

I went to a meeting in London’s Colet House, where people had gathered to hear Rupert talk. Mostly he answered questions by his students and friends. I asked questions and while Rupert was talking, his presence of peace and tranquillity could easily be felt. Here was a teacher actually living the understanding that he taught, walking his talk so to speak.

The urgency of my question to him lost its importance. I was basically taken over by the peace which made my questions trivial.

I have been reading the Bhagavad Gita since I was a child, having sleep paralysis in my teens which turned into Out of Body Experiences in my twenties. I felt uncertain about discussing these things, but in Rupert’s gathering, such experiences were not unusual at all: many people spoke of them. But the emphasis as always was on a very thorough and scientific approach of testing everything with our experience. Rupert always draws us back into the primary experience we have of ourselves as Awareness alone. He references the work of Ramana Maharshi and others but simplifies it for a modern, western audience. The truth, after all, should be accessible to everyone.

I am very grateful for Rupert’s work and I look forward to reading his new book, The Nature of Consciousness.

 

When you give up…

Giving up is not a “positive” idea in the world; it lacks personal will to impact reality. But personal will is a very limited thing which depends largely on the beliefs we have about ourselves. We can empower ourselves with our beliefs, but only if we have a way to really see ourselves beyond our beliefs and accept them for the reasons they are there. Getting to this place beyond is so absorbing that the need to change personal experience from that level often feels like a false effort, and whilst the ‘person’ who has started to see themselves as spiritual might work on the mind, once their spirituality has consumed them entirely then they will leave the mind behind. Thoughts may still be there, but the identifying faculty which gives them their emotional charge will start to loosen its grip.

So it is not about a person giving up, it becomes the giving up of personhood itself. Ages of dissatisfaction and suffering lead to the point where a person surrenders themselves so totally. Maybe by the force of a situation, or maybe through the pointings of a guru. When we give up on personhood, it means giving up desires that we know are not taking us to the fulfilment we seek. Usually by this point, a person will have fulfilled many of their outward desires through personal will and motivation, and seen that it does not bring them total freedom. Everyone’s inner purpose is to find that place of freedom, whatever their chosen outward roles. The fact that each desire was propelled by its contrast (the fears of not having that desire), will bring those fears to the forefront for our experience, as the shadows that exist in our unconscious thoughts (the thoughts we are not aware of). So we have to face all the fears of our personhood. And ironically, it is the complete acceptance and surrender to this play of opposites that leads us past opposites into wholeness, where both fear and desire are two sides of the same coin, as are pleasure and pain, suffering and liberation.

By now it’s getting quite complicated, but it appears as such for the mind that can only understand things through ideas. The consciousness in us, which has a self-conscious mind, begins to see its own nature as consciousness itself rather than as a limited person playing a role. A child does not have a strong sense of self-consciousness but neither does he or she have strong ego-consciousness: such a mind experiences both pleasure and pain, letting them go. The developing mind that can create low states of false identification or advanced states of peaceful beingness is the mind that begins eventually to search for its source.

As more and more ‘people’ awaken to their nature as consciousness, they realise there is no dimension to their true being, it has no limits, and therefore it must be shared. If it is shared then we and our world are an appearance in the same one being. That shared beingness has the fragrance of love. The egoic development may be a natural part of transitioning from childhood to the use of an adult mind, but in an awakened world, the mind need not go through as much search and polarity of desires and fears in order to know itself. I hope a more easily awakened world comes forth, which makes experiencing much more joyful instead of tainted with separation. Then humanity will begin to evolve to another dimension of being.

The Dissolving

In one of his question-answer sessions, Mooji explains that the reason consciousness chooses to come into the play of form is because it loves experiencing: it loves the variety, the contrast, the tastes. It is totally in love with it. But it forgets itself to do this, and eventually this forgetting turns into suffering.

What he speaks is clearly demonstrated in the the way children, animals and nature seem to dwell. They lack a ‘developed’ mind, but they are infinitely more advanced in their ability to absorb and enjoy life. This is because of the absence of thoughts, which we adults value so highly as a means of success and survival. Yes, maybe the mind is a helpful tool that allows us to do more than animals and children, but has it really made us happier? I think you’ll say no. Why does it have to develop then? Well, the short answer is, it is a necessary but painful stepping stone in the growth of consciousness. It is the mind that enables us to question Who We Are and the Meaning of Life, in order to search for Truth. It does this through a process of what the ancient Indian texts call ‘neti neti’ (I am not this, nor that). I say Indian, not Hindu, because Hindu now has religious implications, and the Yogis that wrote the old texts would probably not have wanted to brand themselves has having a religious identity. Their truth, after all, is the deconstruction of identity.

As children and animals enjoy the experiences of ‘No-Mind’, they do so unconsciously, not knowing that what they are enjoying is the truth of themselves reflected in many forms. Once their minds and hence, egoic ideas, develop, they think of themselves through their analytical faculties and can no longer enjoy pure experiencing. This is a push from consciousness to create misidenfication and unrest in order to investigate Reality (through the faculty of mind), and make the mind a servant to self-knowledge.

The mind begins its seeking and and goes through many identities before it eventually realises that ultimate truth is not ‘out there’. Once it turns inward, its conceptual identities fall away and it eventually is able to come back to pure experiencing, like the child or the animal. Suffering may also start losing its mental sting, as pain is no longer burdened with the concepts that make it unbearable. Pain and pleasure become passing phenomena. The deeply embedded fear of annihilation may begin to erode. We may feel like kids again. But there is an added seeing because this experiencing is now coming from knowledge rather than ignorance. We know God’s grace rather than innocently sleeping in it.

The being that enquires within through the thinking mind is able to dissolve into Ultimate Reality. The thinking mind is a useful tool but once it has done its job, it is not needed for consciousness to know itself. The mind and its patterns (karma, genetics, whatever you want to call them), eventually dissolve into all-pervading Reality. A step into this dissolving is to become the witness of experience, rather than the one identified with a role (ego). The witnessing consciousness is a step inwards. But there is further to go. Everything has to be given up from the mind. Even the desire to use thoughts to get certain outcomes (which can work depending on the patterns of the ‘person’). In the ultimate reality, the feeling of personhood is gone.

Suffering and free will

We have come up against the idea that our suffering is self-created, and that we can change.

This is true TO SOME EXTENT.

On one level, we are totally powerful. On another level, we are totally powerless. It depends on who we think we are.

Yes, our thoughts determine reality. But how can we change reality without knowing our thoughts? They are programmed into us on a level we are not aware of.

Only when we go to the level of pure awareness, we know our thoughts.

Ironically, at this level we are so detached from the role of the body-mind that we don’t expend energy trying to programme new thoughts. But actually, dissolving the baggage of the old thoughts is enough to effect freedom. But this freedom does not eradicate everything from the body-mind: there is still momentum, which is the force of our previous programming still playing out on the body-mind. Only the body-mind is subject to karma (ways of thinking passed on from generations through genes, and our own environments). The freedom of knowing we are not the body-mind affects the true self instantaneously because there is only the NOW for the true self. But the effect of karmic dissolution on the time-bound body-mind will happen gradually once its habits lose their momentum. Some of these ancient habits are deeply buried and it takes time for them to even come into our field of true awareness, so sneakily they hid in the layered egos of a person.

In other words, we have choice only when what we are becomes the present-moment awareness of freedom. Otherwise we are robots to greater or lesser extents depending on how much awareness has arisen. As sleeping robots we are destined to suffer, because this gives us the wake up call to be free. When this suffering is overtaken by awareness is decided by the grace of the Infinite, Eternal mind, director of the movie.

The world as projection

I have been thinking about sensitivity. We say we are highly sensitive if we experience energies and pick up on different feeling-vibrations as if they are our own. We call people ’empaths’ because they have a tendency to feel empathy and their boundaries of ‘selfhood’ are not as distinct. These people usually have a hard time, and since my teens, I seem to have become such a person.

In New Age circles, there is a big emphasis on using sensitivity and protecting it, by learning boundaries, being grounded, saying ‘no’ if we feel overwhelmed etc. But these are just coping mechanisms for what I feel is a transitory phase for the ego, just as in New Age circles there is often great activism against the perceived ‘wrongs’ of the world, which is good as it reflects the newfound feeling of compassion to balance out the old survival ego, but this is somehow still in ego because it creates a new ‘other’ to be angry at. Activism coming from true understanding of our shared being, a non-egoic sense of acting in the world, is still rare.

Coming back to empaths… The ego of strength and conviction, with clear boundaries, trust in apparent reality and good self-esteem has eventually been eroded by the polarity of experiencing the darker side of life: being let down by the world or ‘others’, feeling insecure, feeling afraid. These emotions make one doubt one’s ideas and make us sensitive to a wider circle of emotions around us, not just the emotions we ‘like’. Focussing positively out of aversion for the negative is still an egoic state (believing in a small, separate entity that has preferences). It eventually gives up its attempt to control experiences through the ‘mind’, because it is connected to a collective unconscious that it cannot always control. This sudden feeling that actually, we cannot control everything, breaks down some of our naive concrete ideas and leaves us with fewer defences against a range of emotions, often picked up from ‘others’ because our own inner emotions are projected and reflected back. The Law of Attraction is working all along, but we cannot always orchestrate it, as we believe ourselves to be people who can’t possible know our deepest beliefs or even how others’ beliefs are interacting with ours. As Rupert Spira has said, “To know your thoughts, you have to change the whole universe.” It is easier to surrender than to take this on. For people who manage Law of Attraction easily, I can only think that they are using a deep level of trust which most ‘separate selves’ can’t muster, and this is also something their mind structure has allowed them to access.

So these coping mechanisms for sensitive people may be helpful, but the real shift has to be in the feeling of selfhood that is noticing the range of vibrations ‘out there’. This time, the ego may not be so susceptible to being built up again through focussing positive on our own experience, as we realise we are deeply connected with anything we perceive outside of us – it influences the structure of our minds. This time only the gradual disempowering of the egoic identity can help us to truly detach from forms and notice the true background of love and safety that is underneath all phenomenon. From this place, if we have a preference for something, it is not as an aversion to something else or as a security for our small sense of self: it is in order to reflect our sense of true being, rooted in freedom, love, and the safety of the truth that all are one changeless reality, which we feel in the knowing of our true self.

The Judge Inside

Within the mind, there lives an entity called The Judge.

The Judge is a construct of thoughts: thousands of years of human conditioning passed along generations, helping us to define ‘good’ and ‘bad’. This little character sits within the human psyche as a very personal persona, judging not only our own but everyone else’s words and actions. It calculates rewards, punishments, deserving, and so on. It values and evaluates. Of course, its ideas could be a total fabrication. It could be missing vital facts and judging on misinformation. But still it assesses everything it comes into contact with. The worst part is that it separates life into many others ‘out there’ who are behaving in certain ways. It responds to ego because it is an egoic construct. We learn this so acutely as children, being told what is good and bad behaviour.

I am not saying children should not learn appropriate conduct. It is vital and inevitable that they learn to identify different objects and forms of behaviour. But it takes us down the road of confusion as adults when we haven’t balanced this ‘logical’ understanding with the understanding of interconnectedness – the ability to suspend mental noise and judgement and feel as One Totality that whatever is going on around, we can’t possibly know it all mentally.

The Judge that operates primarily against one’s own personality is turned inwards and creates guilt or arrogance. The one that comments on others creates blame, anger, pity, jealousy, vengeance, and so on. But it is the same construct of mental judgement of life, breaking life into tiny pieces of experience we feel we can analyse and label.

From the point of view of consciousness, everything is occurring simultaneously as part of one expression. There are no distinct separations and there is no piece of the puzzle that can be taken out and evaluated. The Judge cannot see its own ignorance until it admits it knows nothing. Once it is witnessed from the viewpoint of awareness itself, realising life is one everywhere, it loses its certainty of labels and gives in to the Unknown.

The Judge that never rests is like a poison in the mind. But eventually it creates so much confusion and sorrow that it poisons itself. The end of the Judge is the end of the subject-object relationship. It is the end of duality.