In times of universal deceit, telling
the truth is a revolutionary act.
         - George Orwell

Napoleon once observed that "history" is a set of lies agreed upon. In an era of ubiquitous fake news and information warfare, this has never been more true. The very concept of objective truth in history is fading out of our world. Pure propaganda and outright lies are passing into our history textbooks as unquestioned truth, condemning future generations to false views about historical reality. But the task of sifting through the lies and propaganda is overwhelming, limited by the ambition and time constraints of most observors. Only those who have dedicated their lives to sorting reality from falsehood are qualified to rewrite "consensus" history as a duty to humanity. The contributors to this site endeavor to do just that.

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Friday, July 14, 2017

The Trip of a Lifetime: Rules in the Game of Enlightenment (Part I)

        The journey towards enlightenment is such a delight to share with others.  Depending on which cultural tradition you come from the journey invariably passes through the seven valleys, the seven kingdoms, the seven chakras, the planes of consciousness, the degrees of faith.  Often we only know that we've attained a certain plateau along the journey when we pass beyond it, because when we're in it we don't have the perspective to know because we're engrossed in our being.  But as the journey progresses and one's faith grows stronger, we find our very strength in our being.  It then becomes a journey towards simplicity, towards quietness, towards a kind of joy that is not in time, leaving behind every model we have had of who we think we are.  It involves a transformation of our beings so that our thinking mind becomes our servant rather than our master. It's a journey that has taken us from primary identification with our body, through identification with our psyche, on to an identification with our souls, then to an identification with God, and ultimately beyond identification.

(Excerpts adapted from Grist for the Mill by Ram Dass (Unity Press, 1976))

       It's a wonderful journey because at every stage you can't imagine anything beyond it. Every point you reach is so beyond anything up until then that your perception is full and you can't see anything else but the experience itself.  For the first few stages you really think that you had planned the trip, planned the provisions, set out yourself, and are the master of your domain.  It's only after a few mountains and valleys that you begin to realize you're not so all-powerful.  But you also begin to realize that the seeming randomness and chaos of the journey actually exhibits some patterns.  It is very hard for a being who is totally attached and identified with his or her intellect to imagine that the universe could be so perfectly designed that every act, every experience is perfectly within the law of harmony of the universe. Whether you're making love or being handcuffed, riding a merry-go-round or having a nuclear bomb dropped on you, we begin to realize that the entire spectrum of possibilities is going to be experienced by beings somewhere, sometime, and it might as well be you.

       When we come out of a philosophical materialistic framework of identifying with our bodies, the subtleties of the mind can escape us.  More is better and now is best, because we never know when the curtain is going to be drawn down and it's game over for us.  More drugs, more sex, more rock 'n roll, more everything, because they might not be available tomorrow. But even after we conquer our desires - if we ever do - we can get stuck in our own minds, hung up on who we think we are and how things ought to be.  Sooner or later the realization comes that nothing you can think of is going to solve your inherent angst about existence, and your doubts about what it all means and what will make life ultimately meaningful.  It is all too easy to surrender to despair, and more than one human being has gone to the grave without a frickin' clue what the whole game of life was about.

       Surrendering what you think you know about the meaning of life, or who you are, is really hard because our entire culture is based on the worship of the golden calf of the rational mind.  The rational mind has become the high priest of society.  Even our intuition has taken a back seat to this new and almighty God, that gives assurances to the doubting mind.  The ego becomes a colossus, casting a shadow over all other aspects of the Self.  But it is during those moments of ego-shattering - whether by LSD or traumatic experiences like car accidents or a prison sentence - that the genesis of true awakening can begin.  We are snapped out of our somnambulance and presented with a different set of possibilities about who you are and what this game called 'life' is all about.  It is like that moment depicted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel where the hands of God and man are just about to touch.  It's just at that moment when the despair is greatest, when you reach up, that the grace descends and you experience the knowledge or the insight or the remembrance that it isn't in fact the way you thought it was.

       If it happens too quickly, too violently, you go insane - and there are people all too willing to reassure you that, in fact, you have gone insane.  The acid-trippers, at least the inexperienced ones, take this chance every time they drop. For everyone else, there is a sense of having "gone back to the One", and merged with that greater reality we call God or the universe. But there's always a price to pay for this merger, and it's paid in social capital.  Up until then, you like the rest of society have been worshiping your individual differences: "I'm more beautiful, I'm smarter, I'm younger..." or "I wish I were such-and-such..."  We have been trained to be preoccupied with individual differences that you can accentuate because that's where the pay-off was. Nobody gets anywhere anymore unless they're "special" - unless they've branded themselves in the social media space.  But now, having tasted nirvana - the divine - you long for something deeper.  Along the road to enlightenment to are drawn toward another reality, like a moth to a flame.  As you get closer and closer you will get your wings singed and taste the fire that will ultimately consume all souls.  Whether that fire purifies you or consumes you while you are still alive is the challenge.  It all depends on who you think you are because the fire can only burn the things you cling to. The fire doesn't burn itself - in truth, you are the fire.

       For you to have come this far and read these words, it is no longer sufficient to just read as a casual observer.  You must commit to becoming it.  For what you take in from here on in is an acknowledgement of who you think you are.  Had you traveled by plane and train and horseback for several days to a remote cave in the Himalayas to hear these words, you would be ready to receive the transmission.  But right now, with such easy access to these words, the preparation of the soul must be calculated and deliberate.  To receive this transmission requires much more than the mind. It requires a desire in you - a desire to use this birth, this lifetime, to become who you truly are.  It requires the desire that you become free of the kinds of clinging and attachment that keeps distorting and narrowing your vision. It requires that you truly desire to know what you are doing here, what your function is here on Earth.

       You've had in these last few moments the answer to every question your mind could ever create and all the food your soul needs.  You did not proceed because you expect me to tell you who you are. What you're looking for is who is looking - it's happening all around you and you ARE what's happening.  So the next time you sit waiting for something to begin you will realize that there is nothing that needs to begin, for the beginning, the middle and the end are already who you are.  Don't get lost in the words.  You can collect them, chew on them, write them down and save them until they turn yellow, or you can go away and reflect on them.  But ultimately, until you are ready to sit quietly and open your heart and quiet your mind, the transmission you yearn to receive will not come, and the rational mind will be chasing mists.  It is a peculiar predicament that the knowledge can only be known by your transforming yourself into the knowledge itself.
The simple rules of this game are honesty with yourself about where you're at, and learning to listen to hear how it is. Meditation is a way of listening more and more deeply, so that you hear from a more profound space.  To hear how it is, you must be open to it.  You must open your heart.  You must accept your personal reality and the greater reality around you for exactly what it is. Changing your job, moving to a monastery, growing your hair long or shaving it all off... it doesn't matter.  These are just outer forms.  What truly matters is the nature of the being that fulfills the form.

       For someone who has grown in evolution to the point that he or she understands that this precious birth is an opportunity to awaken - is an opportunity to know and perhaps to be God - all of life must become the instrument for getting there:  marriage, family, job, play, travel, all of it.  Every facet of your life must be spiritualized.  When Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, "Do what you do, but offer the fruit to me", you do it with enlightenment in mind.  Each of us has a different path; no one path is any better than another.  You must simply honour your own path. When you are asked the question, "Who are you?", don't answer, "a lawyer" or "a housewife" or "a factory worker". Answer that you are a being going towards God.  Perform your responsibilities and pursue a just livelihood, but do it so that you may go to God.  Optimize your situation "as given" to fulfill your karma and journey towards God.
Don't get caught up in the social pressures about celibacy and whether or not to get married.  The true marriage is with God.  The reason that you form a conscious marriage on the physical plane with a partner is to do the work of coming to God together. If you're marrying for convenience, or solely out of passion, it will pass and there will be suffering.
Even your ordinary relationships are on thin ice because you are bound to outgrow so many of your friends.  They go on different paths than you do.  That's reasonable. But parents, children and relatives aren't so easy to "move on" from.  But that is your given karma during your incarnation.  You may grow and evolve at a different rate than they do, but having to continually deal with them is all part of the fire of your purification.  They will attempt to pull you down and away from God, but your job is to eat that.  You must work with the karma of the space you were given to work in, and that includes your human relationships.

One style of life isn't necessary better than another.  It's all just grist for the mill.  Each form is just a form; each individual has his or her own unique karmic predicament to work out.  What is key is learning to listen to the heart to discern the proper way forward.  This is what is called dharma.  No path is better or worse than another - it depends on the individual and their circumstances.  Don't try to be the Buddha or Christ - that's just mimicking.  This game is much more subtle.  You have to listen deeply and discern your 'trip' moment by moment.  Only Truth will get you closer.  Only being straight with yourself will get you closer.  Only simplicity of mind will get you closer.  Only an open heart will get you closer.  Certain acts - like smoking pot, for example - may give you insights and show you the place where you need to go, but over time they won't necessarily get you closer.  Only when you're really honest with yourself will you see that you can be shown the possibility without it being the means to attaining that possibility.  In fact, you'll even begin to realize that happiness doesn't necessarily awaken you and get you closer to God than unhappiness or pain or suffering.  Pain and suffering awaken you more, because the only reason you experience pain and suffering is because you are shown what you are clinging to.

       When you gain the compassion that comes from understanding how it is, you don't lay a trip on someone else as to how they ought to be.  You grant them space for going to God on their own.  You work with your own fire - not because you feel superior or more awakened, but because you understand where you're at in your own incarnation, and that you are surrounded at all times by beings at every level of incarnation.  Some of them are very new at the game - like mosquitos, or petulant hucksters.  But some of those around you have done the work, quietly and invisibly going about their journey to God without pretension.  You exist as a statement of your own evolution.  It is a fallacy to think that you can impose your trip on another person.

       There's no "form" in this game at all.  It's who's in the form that counts.  It isn't how holy you look, it's how much you are the spirit of the living Christ, the compassion of the Buddha, the love of Krishna, the fierce discriminating wisdom or Tara or Kali.  It's all too easy to get caught in the chain of gold - the chain of righteousness and ritual.  That is not liberation.  But eventually you do perform the spiritual practices, not out of obligation, not out of guilt, but because you've got to do it. Because it's demanded of you by you.

       Learn to quiet your mind.  Go ahead and pray, read the books, and practice devotional acts and singing.  But realize these are all just tools to open your heart so that you can invite Christ to fill you with love - not because you deserve it, but because you know that with a closed heart the reality of the universe cannot flow through you.  You must listen very deeply within yourself, and learn to feel with the deepest kind of honesty you've got.  If you make a mistake, admit it, and get on with it. Don't cover your errors. The whole spiritual journey is a continual falling on your face. Aright yourself in whatever way involves not hurting another being's spiritual opportunities.  You'll never win this game if you try to use one soul for another. If your journey to God involves keeping another being from getting to God, forget it.  You'll never get there.
All kinds of inner voices - the id, the superego, the shadow - will keep vying to be at centre stage.  But quieten the mind and learn to listen to the "still small voice within."

[Part II is for YOU, Annalee! So stay tuned! ;-)]

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