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Saturday, May 23, 2009

There is no Difference...Quote

"Es gibt keinen Unterschied
zwischen Dir
und dem erwachten Buddha
au├čer Deinen Wahrnehmungen"

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Search for Truth (part seven)

In the previous column there were discussed some of the ways people make changes to become more receptive to truth. Taking ordination vows is an extreme example as well as deciding to dedicate the rest of ones life to a hermit’s existence or perhaps living in a cave. Others will seek vows such as bodhchitta vows to energetically bind themselves to achieve the transformed state.

However, there are methods we can put in to practice even today and one is to simplify. We could make things easier by giving away what is not used, needed or enjoyed anymore so that there are fewer objects that we need to control, care for, think about or even dust regularly! Even today, I took a carload of things over to Goodwill, so I feel quite happy about that. Another way to simplify is to watch how we spend our precious leisure time and make quality time management decisions to begin or sustain a regular meditation practice.

Another obstacle that often confronts sincere seekers is reading about the lives of holy beings but seeing those stories as something that could happen to others, but not to themselves. Often, Oriental people see themselves trapped in ordinary life but holy beings or accomplished meditators live an unattainable and lofty existence instead of being inspired to action by their deeds.

Since we are still thinking about the search for truth and how to consider how we accomplish our goal of finding or uncovering truth, it is good to understand that some people will instead create a fantasy place in their own minds where they are king or queen, admired, and they will live there as their own private spiritual place. Some create a certain mental place they can visit at will and feel quite okay. Completely at peace and important, they indulge in fantasy escapist life away from thinking about problems but usually this is not spiritual but hiding. However, if you return from that place and quickly become angry for some reason, or if you feel that others are fools, it means that this is a fantasy. Many people doing meditation practice fall into this escapist dynamic and need to be invited back to the actual search and discovery. If we lose our sense of peace from meditation quickly, it probably means that was a fantasy. For people who are attracted to the search for reality, escapist places need to be closed with determination so that sincere inquiry can begin.

A good method to help us gain correct discrimination and avoid fantasy is to remember others who are on the path. The pleasure we feel by joining countless other beings on valid paths to reality means we are not alone in our search. Of course, our search is happening inside us as individuals each with our own experiences, dynamics and karma that are unique. However, even at this moment, we are simultaneously on the path with countless other beings who are also seeking the nature of reality. That produces a kind of rejoicing and pleasure that we can fully indulge with all the creativity that previously we may have channeled into fantasy role-playing. There is a sense of safety in knowing that we are not the only one and countless other beings are also considering seeking truth as important. There are many others also struggling with similar issues and obstacles that we face.

In conclusion, we affirm that the reproducible path to reality encourages us to seek what we do not know. Within this change of attitude, we will be able to find spiritual traditions and authentic guides like a magnet. With a cultivated wonderment and intensity of inner curiosity that drives our sense of seeking truth, we return to a more careful, uncluttered method more aligned with valid, authentic paths to the transformed awakened state. We do not want to become more sophisticated, we want to become more careful and less sophisticated.

This gentle new method of sincerity opens new receptivity that attracts truth, healing the damage of inferior criteria for spiritual seeking so that we become capable of listening more carefully. By seeking what we do not have, this means that we are not yet the perfect container for truth. In the meantime, an open-minded attitude will allow the inner mind such as the subconscious to explore transitional truths that are the actual truth that you seek. When we seek what we need to know next, we become facilitators of the step-by-step path in our own life and own process that will culminate in truths and realities that we will become prepared to know.

These criteria of analysis, sincerity of pure heart and studied simplicity to overcome obstacles are valid everywhere, in all times, and in the future, thousands of years, millions of years in the future, these methods will still be valid. Establish it now deep in your own inner process and you will ring like a crystal bell. You will understand, and you will gain enlightenment quickly. The end.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Search for Truth (part six)

From the previous column it was said that angst can become a generalized frustration or anger about life and specifically stressful because of not being able to do what we want. That is why this energy needs to be directed or channeled carefully so that we do not move into the dysfunctional next step of blaming others. We so often hold others responsible for our lack of time or life situation, or complain that others are preventing us from being a spiritual seeker or truth seeker.

We might view people at work that seem to be thwarting us or we become sorry that we have no time because we have to earn a living. It becomes all the fault of others. This can accumulate and we can forget exactly what it was that we were trying to do, namely, break free. This can lead to the uncomfortable situation and its accompanying feelings self replicating into habitual bad moods. Caught up in our feelings of blaming and the objects of that blame, we can lose sight of our actual inner process interacting with our own mind. It becomes externalized when the obstacles are actually internal.

In addition, once we are blaming others, even if favorable situations arise, we might not be able to make a beneficial change. We might not make the right decisions because we are energetically disturbed at that point, not able to think clearly or resonate inside carefully as described earlier. In addition, because of energetic disturbance we could become fatigued or depressed, and give up struggling to know truth. I think this is a fairly common story.

We might feel even more anxiety as we get older and time is shorter toward the end of life and perhaps we still have not gotten any closer to discovering this important truth. We almost certainly expected to establish a strong connection to truth of reality at a very young age and live our whole life as an aware person. For many, first the gray hairs are coming, and still we might not feel any closer to knowing the nature of reality than when we made the decision. This produces another kind of stress and we might actually change the way we think about ourselves.

Changing from blaming others, I might now decide that the blame actually belongs with me and that I do not deserve to hold truth about the nature of reality. Some might punish themselves for not having achieved their potential. In this way, the benefits of anxiety that they might feel, which started out in a healthy way to encourage change can become destructive. Some folks might even get angry at truth because it eludes them, such as in stories we hear about people becoming angry with God. Eventually, again they could become tired as the anxiety exhausts them; they become depressed and give up.

Another important issue facing busy Western people is the stress experienced just from daily living taking the very best part of life. They are expected to go to work and produce money for the company or maybe it is car parts they are stamping out in a factory. We are all expected to produce it very carefully and with a good motivation. However, when you look at it another way, you might say, "They are getting the best bits of my whole life, the tastiest bits. In the morning before I go to work and at night when I come home from work, I only get the leftovers! I'm tired of it!" Stress from everyday living can wear you down and make you even less capable of sustaining concentration on this important search that you promised to yourself.

Some people will not tolerate it and make an abrupt change at this point and are delighted to throw off the stress of everyday life and dive into a life of renunciation and spiritual practice. They are happy to be rid of the thorn of stress from ordinary daily life. Some choose to seek freedom by making decisions such as taking ordination vows or entering into a reclusive lifestyle to spend the rest of their life meditating and praying. It still happens even in the modern day. They will not tolerate it anymore; the cost in valuable life is not worth it.

They decide to seek truth and know reality by making promises, not like a New Years kind of promise, but strong, active promises, deep promises that they are going to seek freedom. This time they make an energetic promise to themselves. Some, by receiving vows such as bodhichitta vows to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings ensure that this time the power of the promise is embedded into their very being. To be continued…..

Monday, May 18, 2009

Search for Truth (part five)

The knowing method of deciding whether something is true or not is often described as having some special feeling inside. This becomes more trustworthy as we do strong purification practices to gain clarity, then when we feel inside that is true, the inner mind resonates in a special way. However, ordinary unprepared inner mind basis for resonation often comes from earlier happy or unhappy experiences. As we learn from those experiences, we use them to build a non-verbal inner structure in order to establish the reality and validity of subsequent experiences. This is very normal thinking and careful thinking in everyday life. However, there are other factors influencing us in establishing criteria for deeper inner authentic life, the nature of reality. These are the very things we wish to establish beyond any doubt and wish to know intimately. Then, criteria of feeling inside or resonating in a less clear state of being might not be the most careful criteria for establishing truth of reality.

However, this inner resonance feeling in the heart center, not in your physical heart, but in your heart center, feels like something waking up inside rather than an emotion, the usual indication of an experiential process. This is an interesting and different kind of resonance that feels as if you have been looking down, and suddenly you look up and become alert, not just resonant but alert inside.

So there are happy or unhappy experiences held in memories influencing as well as this deeper experience of resonance. If we take all of these various criteria, and mix them together, I am wondering, how do these inner factors affect or change your worldview or ability to seek truth in a valid manner while they are interacting inside? It could be a bit of a confused mixture.

To add to that mixture might be attitudes discussed in earlier columns of this series such as disrespect for the sacred. Even something as sacred as the search for ultimate meaning can be demeaned by cynicism or conflicted doubt and confusion about reality. How would that change our ability to deeply resonate so that we have a more valid method to gain transitional understanding?

There are also other issues surrounding a search for truth. One of them could be a strong agonizing inside because we might be experiencing oppressive feelings of living a life that is a lie. I think many people on spiritual search, sincere spiritual seekers, have this feeling overwhelm them from time to time. It feels like being under a heavy, smelly, wet blanket that is dirty, that maybe a cow pooped on it. It is something heavy, disgusting, uncomfortable, and dark, and we are hidden. We want to just take it, rip it, and throw it off! This is an important issue but something prevents us from throwing that off even though it is the very thing that we want. This is something that I call anxious wanting to be alive. Feeling oppressed while we are looking for what is true and real can add to the confusion of how to make correct discriminations.

However, this suffering we experience by not possessing the truth, not knowing, or not being able to experience this alive feeling can actually be a kind of blessing. The suffering of that angst alerts us and causes us to want to change, isn't that so? If we did not have that feeling, we would not take steps to change ourselves. There could also be a kind of energetic anger associated with this; a feeling of living a false existence not of our own choice could possibly make us angry. Often we do not know who, what, or even why but we feel angry, and upset about life. However, if all goes well, the energy of that determination can cause our inner process, the inner resonance to redouble and begin seriously to seek truth.

Continuing to hone the ability to discriminate carefully in this way, ordinary criteria begin to crumble. You might say, "I cannot believe what my early religious education taught me, and I reject this. I reject what the newspapers say, and I reject this, or I question this, and I question that. I even question my own motives. I question the motives of my parents. I question the motives of my friends." Then you might become difficult to get along with and somehow, nothing satisfies you at that point. Now, mental energies need to be directed into a careful method to get the desired result.

On the other hand, how agonizing could harm us or others is that we could become angry and thinking could deteriorate. When we cannot think clearly due to inner anger we will become more spontaneous, shall we say. This spontaneous new being that cannot think and is angry at everything does not understand the cause of the anger. Somehow, issues of not being able to live life as we wish, not having opportunities to seek truth in the way we want to, somehow, it becomes the fault of others. The very thing that could have been a blessing has made us become quite scary to be around. To be continued…