Wednesday, 28 December 2011

When the crutch of religion disappears!

As I realized to my great astonishment, I didn’t ‘need’ to believe in religion anymore. The always-present net of beliefs that had always brought me comfort at times of difficulty was gone, completely vanished, and it was ok! Along with the need for answers, the need for wanting a god who would make things ok when I had problems, a need for having something to believe in, a need to have a moral system given to me, a need to belong to a community, all that disappeared in one go, from being a constant crutch for me, to nothing. 

At times, it was disorienting. After all, the habits of a lifetime do not disappear, even if the beliefs did. I would find myself thinking the same thoughts, and then realizing,” oh, I don’t really believe that thought anymore”.  It was strange. I was so used to turning to God, Allah for solving all my problems. And, living in a country where almost everyone has the same religious concepts, it is especially strange. I would hear other people talking the same way, doing the same things, and I remembered myself doing exactly the same just a little while ago, and now being completely out of it. I have to say, at times I found myself thinking, “oh silly people, don’t they know it doesn’t matter if they’re praying five times or none. Do they really think they’re going to be punished in hell if they don’t, and go to heaven if they do”, or, even worse, “do these people need the threat of an external God to be good and charitable” whereas I, awakened being that I am just ‘good’. Tsk tsk. I stayed in the "I am enlightened, hence better than them" trap for a while.

People expect me still to teach the same stuff to my kids.  I struggled with that one for a while too, how to teach something I don’t really believe in anymore. Now, I’m letting life take its course. My eldest son has already reached more or less the same conclusions that I have, but in a more scientific way. My second one is religious, with the tendency to be too literal and rigid. Third son is the one who is slightly autistic. At the moment, I think he’s ok with the ‘good’ parts of religion. My daughter is still young. She hears a lot of rigid religious stuff, but at the moment, I make sure she knows that is not all there is. Help to keep her mind open. 

I see people around me who are searching, but within the religious boundaries. Furthest they go usually is sufiism, with its concept of merging with God, and God being all there is.  I think they are not yet prepared for the naked truth, that keeping within the boundaries will still leave you with residual beliefs, concepts and identifications. You have to throw it ALL out to get to the real. But as we discussed, if that is what is making them happy, then that’s fine. What makes me a little sad is how the religious clergy do their best to keep it mystical, difficult, far out of reach for ordinary people. It keeps them powerful and special, keeps the power game in their hands. Not good. I don’t usually go around broadcasting my beliefs, or lack of, but if someone asks, fine. I'm here to answer any questions.
Religion kept me focused on how this life was just a journey, real life was after death, after going to heaven. But after realizing this is all there is, I am appreciating the magic of every moment, the miracle of life happening anew.

Monday, 26 December 2011

A bit about doubts

As I was reading what I just posted, I realized that it might seem that after seeing no self, I had instant clarity and no remaining confusion or doubts. This wasn’t the case. I’m just writing a tiny bit here, and will expand on this later when I can. 

There was a major immediate shift, yes. Identification with thoughts, the seeing that I didn’t exist as a separate entity from life, etc.  What was seen can’t be unseen, like you don’t start believing in Santa again after realizing he doesn’t really exist. But the mind is very tricky, it continues to create doubts and confusion, doesn’t want the simplicity and truth of reality. And the conditioning of a lifetime doesn’t just finish instantaneously.

And so, one ‘forgets’, and can get caught up in one’s thoughts, emotions and so forth, like getting so caught up in a movie that you forget that it’s not reality. But you still ‘know’ that it’s not real, at the back of the mind, you know what’s real and what’s not. 

This continues to happen to me.  I think it is important to know that this is natural, and it doesn’t mean that you’ve gone into delusion again. 

This is my observation for now, but I would like to write more later about the ‘state of forgetting’ and ‘state of remembering’. But they are both experiences that come and go, and doesn’t mean you have ‘lost’ it. After all, reality remains the same. It is just the mind that creates the doubts, and they are no more than thoughts.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Life flowing...

Very busy time, much happening, so writing after a break… :)

How is life now, now that this carefully constructed structure of ‘me’ that has been lovingly added to over the years has come crumbling down? Now that the beliefs of a lifetime, the concepts formed over decades, the identification with thoughts and emotions, has been seen to be nothing more than an illusion? How does one live in this world with nothing to hold on to? How does one describe the indescribable?

The utter simplicity of the truth was downright astounding. The, the, what shall I say… directness, the unfussiness of life as it is, is so surprising. So simple, in fact, that the mind does not want to accept it. It WANTS the complications, the drama, the ‘add-ons’ that we’re used to living with all our lives. That is why we hang on to stuff without letting go, and in fact, at times create ever subtler forms of identification that is harder and harder to see. 

But I’m moving too far ahead. The basics first.  Life after seeing through the illusion of self is sweet. That is not to say that bad things stop happening, or that you live in a state of permanent bliss. Life continues to move, to flow, through experiences which are labeled ‘bad’ or ‘good’, through times which can be unpleasant or joyful. But there remains an inherent sweetness to life, a foundation of love and a positive energy, and an increasing equanimity inside. The seeking and quest for answers just drops. Experiences are seen as just that, experiences, and the mind does its job of labeling those very experiences. But the power of those thoughts loses its hold more and more. Like clouds passing through a sky, thoughts come and go. The judgments, comparisons, labeling is seen to be just a function of the mind, and in this seeing, the glue which keeps us identifying with our thought or be carried along with them, gets less and less. As time passes, I find that there are less thoughts than before too, but this is not a deliberate ‘controlling of thoughts as in focused meditation. It is a natural by product. The increase or decrease of thoughts is equally a happening in life. Naturally, the mind becomes quieter, at rest. Increasingly, one uses the mind as a tool when needed. Obviously, to function in the world, you cannot do without the mind, it is a wonderful tool, but it stops being our master. That I found to be a major immediate shift - the non-identification with thoughts.

I had so much anxiety about the future, regrets about the past. But then, when the main heroine in my life (me!) was seen to be just that, an illusory character, the past and future were seen to be nothing but a story in my head, and the anxiety and regrets, more thoughts which brought nothing but pain. By all means, we need to do necessary planning and thinking, but the obsessive useless thinking part, well, just didn’t make sense anymore.

Emotional reactions, for me, are taking time to wind down. I still find myself reacting illogically at times, caught up in my emotions. But the flavor of it has changed. Emotions pass more quickly, usually seen pretty quickly for being arisings in the body, triggered by thoughts or outside stimuli. I think it is helpful to look at the emotional reaction arising without the story attached to it. Feel it in the body, and that lets it pass through

After seeing the illusory nature of self, one realizes that everything, EVERYTHING one believed in, ALL the concepts, ALL the identifications, all that one so carefully holds on to, has been a lie of sorts. As I said before, I did not find this happening immediately, but over a period of time, after passing through the ‘gateless gate’. Some stuff dropped instantly, some not so quickly. Your life, as you knew it, becomes unraveled. This is the point where subtler forms of identifications can take place without you realizing it. For example the bit about ‘Oh, now I am enlightened’ or ‘Other people are inferior because they haven’t woken up yet’ were thoughts which ‘hooked’ me, until I saw through them.  Or even ‘Life is all there is, so I don’t need to do anything’ is another concept to hide behind. I found that there are thoughts, concepts, identifications which I have to at times consciously bring into the light of awareness to see through them, and then they get uprooted. Honesty and a willingness to look inside is important at this point to clear out all the crap one has built up over so many years of conditioning.

This is getting to be rather a long post. Guess I’ll write more in my next one, talk a little about doubts that arise, and some other aspects.


Monday, 19 December 2011

The Fire of Truth

So... What is this thing called Aawakening, Realization, the First Step, the Gateless Gate? I can only speak from my own experience, that's all anyone ever has.

As I wrote in my last post, maybe some people have an awakening which wipes out all identifications, conditioning and old mental patterns in one go. That has not been the experience here, so I don't really know. The way I see it is:

Awakening has been the ignition of the fire of truth, a fire which burns
everything untrue. Everything which is not true or real gets burnt or drops away, some immediately, some slowly, till you're presumably left with nothing. (I say presumably, as I can see that I am not there :))

Starting from when one is an infant, the belief of being a separate entity from life is gradually created by our mind. Perhaps it is a default programming which is furthered developed by our parents, environment, language, etc. I think there is a default mechanism there, as I cannot imagine a child who is brought up away from society on its own wouldn't still develop the same illusory self. Who knows. As it is, we are taught that we are so and so, we are 'good' or 'bad', our personality is like this or that, we need to be special, ‘do well’, etc.  Our self image develops along with our concepts, beliefs and use of language, creating an ever-thickening, constricting wall of 'me’. And our belief in a self becomes a deeply entrenched, unquestioned reality.

When this illusion is seen through, when it is seen that who we are is nothing more and nothing less than life living as these myriad unique manifestations, then a lot of this wall crumbles immediately; concepts and beliefs are dropped, our precious opinions seen as being nothing but thoughts that were believed in. ‘Our life’ as we knew it is seen to have been an imaginary reality in our heads!

However, some parts of this imaginary wall of self built over so many years are harder to burn away; old patterns of thoughts, some deeply entrenched conditioning or delusions remain. The mind is a tricky thing! Some of these identifications can be hard to see, and maybe even new ones develop. After all, the mind loves to have something to attach to, some identification.  For example, one can get attached to the belief of being 'an enlightened person', or being superior, or becoming Awareness or the ‘Witness’.  Perhaps these need to be consciously looked at, brought into the fire, so to speak, so they too can be burnt away, uprooted out of the system, or maybe life does it for us. Maybe we are happy with some parts of the structure remaining, or maybe it gets burnt to the ground anyway, until one is completely free.

And we are free to play our character again, free to rest in this wonderful unknowingness. Ego does not have to be destroyed, it is just seen for what it is, an illusion created by the mind.

This ‘burning down process' after awakening seems to be different for everyone in the sense of time, intensity, quality, the way it manifests, etc. Perhaps all the above is BS for you. Who knows for sure. I certainly don’t. As I said, all I have is my own experience to write about.

Friday, 16 December 2011

The Crumbling...

In July of this year, I somehow got to know Ilona Ciunaite (Marked, Eternal -, from Liberation Unleashed, on facebook. I do not remember how, it is one of those things which make you wonder at the perfect flow of life.

She saw where I was “spiritually”, if there is such a thing. She told me about  seeing through the illusion of self, and what the implications are. That the self is nothing but a concept, a thought that is tacked on to the rest of our thoughts, sensations, emotions, what have you.  I understood her intellectually, but it was just that, a vague mental understanding.

She guided me by asking me about questions that made me look inside, to see if “I” exist. At first resistance came up, I did not want to see.  I have since come to realize that this is the case with most, seekers and non-seekers alike. Non-seekers are content  in their lives as they are, which is fine. I guess I wasn’t, that is what made me a seeker. But even the so-called spiritual seekers often do not want to look at the truth, they want a watered-down version of the truth, something that suits their perception of what the truth should be. Which is fine too, I guess. All of it is life flowing, life as it is.

Along with the resistance, which took the shape of distractions, anger, ‘I don’t have the time to do this’  kind of stuff, came fear. Fear to face up to the truth, fear that somehow, I will not be able to continue to live and fulfill my responsibilities, fear that I’ll become robot-like, fear that I was doing something ‘wrong’.  Ilona patiently helped me by asking the right questions, helping me focus. This is what is the usual way at Liberation Unleashed, a one-on-one dialogue to help others see through delusion.

When I was able to focus enough to really LOOK, I could not find myself! What a revelation! I, as a separate entity living and controlling ‘my life’ did not exist. All of our personas, our so beloved selves are nothing but a story our mind has made up. We spend so much energy maintaining our story, defending it, believing our thoughts, protecting our make-believe characters. What a sad and funny story at the same time!

Awakening to the truth was nothing I expected. It was almost a non-event, something so natural, so obvious that it seems strange afterwards why it was not seen before, and by everyone.  Almost a non-event I say, but at the same time, a life-changing paradigm shift, a complete change of perspective.  Opinions, thoughts, ideas, memories, sensations, emotions were seen for what they are, arisings in life, but with no ownership of them. My beliefs and mental stories were gone, or at least the majority of them. Life took on a flow, an almost magical wonder!

That is not to say that all conditioning, habits, reactions were wiped out. No. Maybe in some cases that happens, but my experience was that, after seeing through the illusion, I was still reacting at times, getting caught up in thoughts, but very quickly, within minutes, seeing them for what they were. Whereas earlier, I would be completely caught in the story, letting myself be swept along whatever emotion or thought I was identifying with.

I had believed that “I” needed to do this or do that, that I was controlling life. As if anyone could. Or rather, as if there is anyone there to control! Life, as I knew it, was gone.

More of life after this ‘seeing through’ in  the next…

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Life in a box

HI. Here's my first post, about life after a few months of seeing through the illusion of the self. But first, let me write a little about life BEFORE this.

I spent about forty-some years doing what everyone else seems to be doing - searching for happiness. Living in a society which is rigid about social,religious and cultural norms, I grew up believing that the way I lived was the right, in fact the ONLY, way to be.

And so, within this narrow view of life, I searched. To help myself deal with the different issues that life brings us, I turned to religion and the search for God. I tried to be 'pure' and 'good' in the hope of finding eternal happiness in heaven. I thought I found some peace, mistaking the safety net of old beliefs for contentment.

My best friend, from a different culture and background, talked with me about different viewpoints, but I was sure I knew it all.  I'm sure she must at times have been shocked at my  arrogance at times, but she was too nice to have told me what a jerk I was sometimes! However, I'm sure at some subconscious level, I must have been registering the fact that there are other ways to think, to be.

Some  years ago, I was finding it difficult to cope with life's problems. Having come across meditation techniques on the internet, I decided to give it a go, to find that ever-elusive happiness. At about the same time, I started thinking about things which I had always just accepted to be true and unquestionable. So much didn't make much sense to me anymore... If there was a God, why ever would He make His beloved creatures suffer like this? Or punish them in everlasting hell? No, I couldn't accept that!  In the meantime, I diligently meditated for one to two hours every day.

For reasons I don't quite understand, maybe this is the Grace that is spoken of,  maybe it was my conversations with my best friend, maybe it was a natural process, whatever the reason, my deepest beliefs started getting shaky, weak at their foundations. I wanted the truth!   I looked into all sorts of spiritual offerings on the net. Buddhism, meditations, Sufism, etc, etc. I read "Conversations with God" and "The Power of Now", but nothing seemed 'right' or true. Everything seemed to have extra stuff added on, things I found hard to swallow as being real. Every philosophy seemed to try to make sense of a universe that really made no sense at all, by twisting it to fit its paradigm of life, reality, it's own box!

God, was I confused! But at the same time, there was an excitement, an 'inner rush' at challenging my own beliefs. It sounds weird, but that's how I felt. The mental box I had built around me was showing cracks...