Tag Archives: Enlightenment

Obsessing Over the Question – Who Am I?

Now THIS is something that I know about! Quickly to start, here is a truncated list of the many different ways I have sought to learn more about myself:

Having completed all of the above and still finding myself without a solid understanding of who I am sure seems to be a classic case of paralysis by analysis.

Valuing self awareness as I do I am forced to question my whole approach. From a spiritual perspective this constant pursuit of figuring out who I am, under the pretext that it can help me live a better life, keeps me entirely out of the present moment and intensely focused on some future state. It is the ego trying to leverage spiritual knowledge to make life better for the ego.

My current gratitude practice is definitely something that I can improve. Is my current life so terrible that I must use all of my energy making things “better”?

Obviously it is not.

I have a healthy family. I have a steady, well paying job. I have friends. I have a roof over my head. I have more luxuries than 99.9% of the planet. And I live in one of the safest countries on the entire planet.

Now, perhaps being in such a privileged position has burdened me the responsibility to make the most of it. Contrarily, if the energy I bring to my daily interactions leans towards negativity because of this burden than a life well lived may be the best course of action.

My needs are simple. I want to laugh. I want to feel safe. I want to live a happy healthy life.

Additionally, this tendency towards obsessive self assessments seems more suited for someone in the pursuit of extreme success. The presence of this proclivity in me may be largely influenced by the incessant social media narrative of the same theme.

But, truthfully it doesn’t seem very appropriate for someone like myself. Success of this nature would certainly bring with it more stress, and I am certainly not known for my innate ability to handle stress!

Image courtesy of ‘ESB Professional/Shutterstock.com’

Knowing Yourself is the Key to Knowing Others

It has been a while since I posted anything on this particular blog but after a lengthy phone discussion with an old friend I have been inspired to reignite the examination of this side of myself. Perhaps the truth of the matter was that I never stopped on my journey.

Challenge

My biggest challenge in life, as it has always been, is figuring out exactly how to interact with the world. I possess strong opinions and a desire to engage, but I always feel inadequate when expressing myself. And the ideas that I am trying to unleash remain trapped within my brain.

Additionally I feel a simmering urgency to get involved as it is incredibly frustrating witnessing how people interact with each other on social media. It is absurd that so many people hold on to their ideas with such a unwavering certainty when even a cursory examination of spiritual principles could cast enormous doubt upon any perspective.

Fear

However, I believe there is an underlying shadow of doubt that is feeding the divisive world that we find ourselves in. People are subconsciously realizing that the paradigm upon which they base their value system is dissolving beneath their feet. And with the desperation of a drowning swimmer they cling to the familiar, no matter the evidence laid before them.

If I claimed 2+2 = 5 no one would react so strongly in denying that untruth. One would simply know it’s wrong and move on. But when foundational ideas about the very way you live your life are challenged…. you get loud, you get angry, and you certainly don’t go down without a fight. There are examples everyday of people experiencing this huge identity crisis. 

In no place is this more apparent than in the social media trend called ‘Cancel Culture’. This draconian and unforgiving practice reeks of fear. It requires a person to completely disregard their own flaws, while highlighting, as paramount, the perceived failings of another and ultimately punishing them harshly for it. And all of this based on a minimal amount of information.

Temptation

The temptation I feel is to respond equally as harshly to those promoting cancel culture as a useful approach to improving the world. But the unfortunate irony is that in doing so I am becoming the very thing I am most passionately opposed to. The upside is that perhaps in understanding more deeply what I need to transcend this anger I gain an understanding of what others need. And I believe this element is at the core of my spiritual journey.

Understanding the essence of who I am, in turn means I understand others. And within this understanding is the gift of truly being able to make a difference in this world.

 

Photo Courtesy of: De Visu/Shutterstock.com

 

Gnōthi Seauton (Know Thyself)

In all honesty, my spiritual journey has brought me further away from knowing my true self than I ever could have possibly imagined. Since discovering that this incredible dimension exists I have adapted so many more labels that simply hamper the entire process. Labels like:

I should be non-reactive

I should be calm

I should just be

I should be forgiving of everyone

I should be wise

I should not be superficial

I should not judge others

I should be accepting

I should allow others to be as they are

I should be deep

I should not be anxious

So when any feeling should arise that was on contrast to the “rules” above I would use spiritual techniques to try and defeat that feeling. I would struggle to be transparent to negativity, to ignore those anxious feelings and be present, to always look beneath the surface of the person who was annoying the shit out of me, and to be uncaring that my favourite sports team got eliminated from the playoffs.

The experience of being spiritual became another prison. I went all-in on a way of life that was supposed to lead to freedom but I was sadly mistaken.

I have found that any behaviour, or thought, that denies my true nature is as harmful as an act of hatred. It is a poison that seeps into every corner of my body. It is this image of the spiritual person that is the problem. Sitting cross legged, with their hands resting on their knees, holding a steady mood no matter what comes their way, repeating some mantra meant to clear the mind.

I want to foster a new attitude. An attitude that accepts everything about me. An attitude that says that I don’t ever need to change. Truthfully, the spiritual person is every person. As they are. It is not about denying your form. It is about knowing it, and honouring it.

Pay attention. Be aware. Get to know yourself.

But don’t you dare apply any self-knowledge as another means to create change! As if you need to improve? Upon whose authority will you deny the billions of years of evolution that led to who, and where, you are right now. The real spiritual life, as I see it, is to carry-on fully engaged in this world of form, but with an added intense awareness of the mind-body form.

The mind-body has likes, desires, skills, a sense of humour, fears, emotions, faults, loves. Really it has the entire spectrum of what it means to be alive.

In spiritual circles they often speak of transcendence. Transcendence is not the achievement of an enlightened state where this roller coaster of experience doesn’t happen anymore.

It is surrendering to the ride.

Love with all of your heart. Acknowledge your fears. Use your skills. Have a good laugh. Let this form run the show, because really you’re not in charge anyways.

Facebook and the Spiritual Journey

There is something about the online spiritual community that doesn’t sit quite right with me. I am a member of a couple of different groups on Facebook; one about Thich Nhat Hanh and another about The Power of Now. And while I find the intentions of such groups are good-natured, and the vast majority of its members aim to be helpful, there is definitely some sort of mixed messaging at play simply due to the nature of spirituality and the medium itself.

On the path towards release from ego domination and the thinking mind, an online community such as the ones above can only be filled with the written thoughts of thinking minds. It is ego’s helping ego’s get rid of their ego’s. Everyone is doomed to failure!

A common trait is that every single member of these groups has likely experienced the power of the teachings from one of those respected spiritual masters. This experience has caused their ego to assign a label of specialness to these individuals. That’s why these groups pop up in the first place. To honor the person and the teaching.

But it’s like knowing just enough physics to be dangerous, and thinking you will finally create a perpetual motion machine. For there to be power and authenticity in the form of text you must be one of those few individuals who have transcended the world of form. The rest of us are simply following this path and continuously coming across false sign posts saying “Welcome to Enlightenment!” Only to find out we are not there yet.

We want to be there so badly that we can almost taste it. We harbor this hidden jealousy that Eckhart (or Thich) are there and we are not. So it’s within these groups that we get to pretend for a moment that we ARE him. That we truly understand his teachings, and that we can help you just like they helped us.

And I must confess that I have participated in such a way in those groups. And I have blogged for years about spirituality and ended many posts with a realization, or a lesson learned. The truth is that I really don’t know what I am talking about. I feel I understand it very well conceptually, but then another side of me feels like that is the very trap I am trying to avoid!

By far the greatest benefit I have received from the online spiritual community is the discovery of other spiritual masters and teachings that I had never heard of before. And honestly I never would have been exposed to them had it not been for social media.

So perhaps I should follow pretty much every teaching I have ever read and practice a little gratitude. Instead of nit picking the subtle side effects due to the modernization of the spiritual journey I should simply be thankful for the goodness I have received and shut the hell up!

Luckily, forgiveness is also primary theme in all spiritual teachings.

What is Awareness and What is it Good For?

When you feel depressed, awareness does not cheer you up.

When you screw up at work, awareness does not say you’ll do better next time.

When you yell at your kids, awareness does not help you calm down.

When hit a car in parking lot and drive away, awareness does not forgive you.

When you are unfaithful to your spouse, awareness does not justify it.

When you steal some bread from the grocery store, awareness does not take away the guilt.

When you lose a loved one to cancer, awareness does not bring them back.

When you have spent your last penny, awareness does not put money in your account.

When your desperate for a spiritual awakening, awareness does not make it happen.

Awareness is always just…..there.

Doing nothing. Helping no one. Changing nothing for the better.

It is the source of all inaction.

Instead it is infinitely loyal. It will never leave you no matter what despicable act emerges from you. It knows nothing about judgement. It knows nothing of worthiness. It knows nothing about evil. It knows nothing of heaven or hell. It knows nothing about death. It knows nothing about suffering.

It knows nothing.

Absolutely squat.

It is not there to heal you. It is not there to make you live longer. It is not there to make others love you.

So what in the world is awareness good for.

There is one way to find out. And that is to align with it. Be a witness to your perceptions. Open yourself up to feel whatever is brought to the forefront in the field of your observation. Let it wander. Do not focus on any witnessed feeling as more important than another. Allow this freedom to dwell in your mind and body.

If you are walking, listen to the pebbles crunch on the ground as feel the pressure of each step. Notice your head moving from side to side looking at the trees. All of a sudden you turn off the road and onto a walking path. Why did you do that? You don’t recall making that choice. Now you notice each leg moving one after the other. You’re not actively choosing that either.  A random thought pops into your head that you should eat healthier.

Why?

You didn’t decide to think that. Things are happening and you don’t seem to be involved in any part of the process.

Soon you start to notice everything. The way your tongue is resting in your mouth. The way the cool spring breeze is making your eyes water just ever so slightly. The rising of your stomach with every breath.

Then it suddenly strikes you.

I am none of this.

Such intense witnessing has released you. You begin the understand the role of the witness. Your dreams. Your hopes. Your struggles. Your judgement. Your accomplishments. Your failures. Your suffering. All of these things are not “You”. They have simply been witnessed by “You”.

Now, even more dramatically. All of the ways in which you have defined who “You” are begins to fade away. The simple gap between something being inherent to your identity, to simply being observed, causes a cascading avalanche of the former self into oblivion.

Ultimately the realization hits. The me that has ruled this life, does not exist. There is no meat to this ego. There are no obstacles for me to overcome. There are no requirements for my existence. There is nothing that was there before.

There is only awareness.

Random Thoughts on Existence – Part 2

The spiritual gurus have said that an enlightened life takes no effort. Can anyone teach me what is an effortless life? As far as I can tell it would be like floating in a river and not trying to swim in any direction. What is the equivalent of floating in life? I cannot just sit in this chair staring at my computer screen and answering the phone. That would just be another kind of swimming. It seems so natural and easy to align with the flow of the river. There’s no arguing with it, no judging the decisions of where it goes, and no resentment of paths missed. But what makes up the river of life? Is it my routine? My job? My favourite show? I have forgotten what it’s like to live an unstrategized life. I feel so tired, but not quite tired enough. Can I simply choose not to swim or must I wait until this helpless body can’t put up a fight anymore…

The Last Poem

I need a poem so stunningly beautiful

That it self-destructs

I would guzzle such a poison that annihilates the reader

Where each verse joyfully burns away my weathered skin

Leaving no aspect of this reality unchallenged

Upon reading such a creation I rise above this body

And witness the mortal me

As the entirety of his existence

Dissolves into nonsense

Quickly, a desperate escalation of his pace

As the emptiness hunts for him

With each step he pushes against crumbling stones

His fingers claw into the earth with all that he can muster

Still, he falls into that unrelenting blackness

Wailing and Flailing

The pounding wind from the decent

Soon becomes as still as a vacuum

All perceptions are left floating

Empty and resting

His surroundings become irrelevant

And I can’t tell if he’s still falling

Nor can he

Differences dissolve

And our true nature resolves

It is the merging of that which was never apart

Oh to have such a poem

Freedom packed into rhyme

Infinity captured within time