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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Karmic webs

“There is no beauty without fragility.” – Susan David

I recently heard a talk by Francis Lucille in which someone asked the spiritual teacher, “Why do some people have better lives than others? Why are some people rich, others poor, some healthy, others unwell. Why also can some people deal with setbacks with grace and others not?”

Francis Lucille was to-the-point as usual. He said, “You are mixing up happiness with lots of sociological conditions. True happiness has nothing to do with sociological conditions.”

The questioner can be forgiven: we all tend to measure our happiness through conditions, because our minds are directed outward and we seek happiness through desiring conditions. Even surveys of happiness measure these according to economic and sociological factors. Indeed, when sociological factors are unfavourable, we notice more problems and more suffering.

More suffering. Is that true? Can we really say that to have wealth, health and favourable conditions in life gives you more happiness? And to lack these conditions allows less happiness? Can favourable conditions be a constant for anyone? A deep happiness may have nothing to do with good conditions, but outward conditions being unfavourable can afflict the mind in different ways: some suffer more than others. We may not know why we face the things we face, but we do know that some people handle their pain better than others. And that no one escapes some kind of pain, for pain propels the journey of human consciousness towards truth and the seeking of real happiness.

The mind has its patterns. The mind and body, with their patterns, may affect what happens in our experience, but this karmic web that influences how we think, feel, react and act has nothing to do with who we essentially are, the inner core which is the access point to truth. But the mind, so dominated by its patterns, needs to transcend its tendencies to reference the self in forms before it can transcend the forces of ‘karma’.

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.

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.