In our Egocentric Ideology in the West in particular, the obsession with having more and happiness being somewhere to get too via the acquirement of one more thing some time in the future (“I’ll be happy when this grandchild of mine is safely in the world” etc etc) it is no wonder that we find it a struggle to accept that our happiness, inner peace and pure joy is already in abundance if we are only prepared to sit quietly and take a look!
Those of you who are regularly meditating now will be experiencing this more and more often just from going within and recognising that you are not this body, this form, this character but something beyond – that which is beyond death (what Jesus called Eternal Life). If you understand that the character you call “you” is a mere illusion that is fighting to survive and collect evidence of it’s very existence, you will know yourself in this present moment at one with The Source of all things and the truth will set you free. If you understand that the ego wants to survive at all costs and that you are imprisoned to your so-called personality then you are able to understand that reactivity, justification, attack and blame of others (which cannot co-exist with peace) are natural human states unless we challenge our ego identification. We can’t do this by simply telling ourselves off all the time and endlessly trying to get rid of our bad habits. In fact I would urge you to give up giving up your bad habits for good! Just become present to them and let them exist powerfully! Then focus on a couple of truths – you are not your thoughts… and therefore you don’t have to always follow your own instructions and cravings and secondly you could choose to add some habits that you might label good to your daily life instead. So … to give you an example … right in the middle of teaching you all this stuff about living in the present, I noticed how much I looked forward to things, particularly caravan holidays, way off in the future, even to the point where it felt like my life was just lurching from holiday break to holiday break without taking notice of much in between. These imaginings about how the holiday was going to go never really came true to life and really set me up for disappointment as my rehearsed expectations got bigger and better at each pondering! Then I suddenly became aware how much my thinking was all about a future happening and not in the now. I didn’t try to give that up at all. I just got present to the fact it was happening a lot. And then decided that every time I had a future thought, I would just notice something through my senses about the present moment, such as “it;’s hot in here” or “I can smell roses” or whatever. It’s interesting how adding one positive present moment making habit has changed my thinking to the point where I am now far less in the future, longing for something and not getting that happiness is right here right now people!!!!
Some of you may have noticed how your thoughts have a pattern to them, things you like to rehearse and these very often take away our peace. Especially thoughts of anger, rejection and disappointment when others let us down and we rehearse the story of us being a victim to these people who have dashed our hopes in life. Very often anger masks fear and grasps at making argument and drama at the cost of peace in order to remain existent. If we are able to understand that our ego needs to feel superior and make others bad and wrong, then we are able to grasp the concept that the agenda for the ego is mostly about getting what we want so as to enhance identity. We love to play out dramas in which we are the hero and others are less than us. This is driven by the ego’s fear of lack. In my case it is ever present in my hunger to know more. In others, I observe an addiction to gossip, judgement and implied moral superiority in which malicious criticism and belittling of others is every present in the conversation. These are just a few examples of how we rehearse our feelings of lack in life. They are the very things that zap us of happiness. We have the opportunity in this life to wake up to the stunts that our ego pulls and choose not to listen to those egoic thoughts.
Does this mean that we have no problems at all once we realise our Buddha Nature, our True Selves? Does it mean when something happens that doesn’t work for our lives, we roll over, doormat style and consider that to avoid the ego jumping into existence we must now accept everything that happens? No! It simply means that we recognise our own reactivity. By this I mean that we understand the difference between fact and subsequent feelings that arise from the ego which turns us into a meaning making machine. This is the beginning of the “poor me” story in which we (being far superior to the perpetrator) would never react in such devastating ways / produce such poor standard / treat anyone else like THAT! So if I have had bad workmanship in my bungalow, I simply state the fact to the worker, without all the add on drama of ” how dare you” or “what have I done to deserve this” that inevitably follows on. Exhart Tolle gives the example of Cold Soup arriving at the dinner table in so many of his books. When it arrives, you send it back, explaining that you would like it heating up and no more extra drama than that!
The key thing to understand is that upset and anguish come from the hidden agenda of the ego whose song is “I can’t get no satisfaction” especially in our fame obsessed collective future in which genuine relationships are impossible. The biggest fear of the ego is non-existence. The ego needs to feel this superiority and design a whole life around fear of death or smaller forms of that which would diminish the ego, like not being as “big” or as “right” as we believe ourselves to be. So how do we get out of this trap if it is part of human nature to grow up with a successful ego identification in place? The important point is this:
The power of being present is that it has the ability to shine the light on the falseness of your ego identification and offer you FREEDOM in this present moment, right NOW! Becoming awake and aware highlights the ego patterns in you which cause your suffering through greed, selfishness, dishonesty and the need for power and control which necessarily has you blame others for all your so-called problems in life. It is the ego which snatches our happiness and encourages us to dwell on past regrets and self recriminations as part of Red Light Consciousness. Or in Green Light Reflex style to grasp at happiness beyond this moment to some fictitious happening way off in the future and attached to getting something that isn’t present right here and now. I’ll be really happy when….
As we discovered last week, part of this journey into self discovery involves observing your relationship to things. ” I have therefore I am”. Are you truly diminished if others have more? – a scarcity mentality is all part of ego craving… Endlessly wanting stuff keeps the ego alive even more than actually having stuff! So if you have an Amazon Wish List as long as mine, perhaps it’s time we both delete it? Western economics is entirely built on a collective consciousness of “wanting” and “desiring” – the Wish List concept being a classic example of our ideology along with all those must have technological desirables that change every few months to the point where ownership of one of these sparkly new phones, tablets, TV’s etc serves to automate desire for the next model almost as soon as the present items is clutched in your ever more greedy sweaty palms.
If we understand how much of our self worth is wrapped in ownership of things we can see how tenuous this link is between ownership and joy. It can also go the other way in which a super spiritual person has “anti possessions” as part of their identity but instead of becoming free, they are attached ever more firmly to their attachment to have less (and pat themselves on the back in front of others on a similar path).
If we understand that in simple activities, like just contemplating flowers or noticing the dew on a spider’s web first thing on a sunny Winter morning’s walk, awakens our inner being, our buddha nature, our True nature or whatever you want to call the understanding of our formlessness, then you can experience the message of instant joy and love being available in the present moment. Toward the end of his life, the Buddha gives a famous “silent sermon”. He reaches into the water and draws out a Lotus flower and simply holds it up and gazes at it, saying nothing. Only one monk begins to smile as the realisation that all creatures, life forms and our”selves” are one hits him. He realises that all part of the same divine life essence are present in that moment and it is said that this moment was the origin of the ZaZen tradition. The Lotus flower is a symbol in Buddhism because it grows in mud and represents our inner flowering as we become awake and aware to a life beyond ego and the material. In Christianity this is represented by the Dove – another creature with an etherial quality – that defines the presence of the Holy Spirit.
I come back to my point in week one now – that I’m not asking you to believe in any kind of “God on a cloud” outside of yourself kind of divinity. You are the truth. Your experience and the very being you experience in those still small moments on the cushion is the divineness I am pointing toward. But that’s the whole point – I cannot put this stuff into words because you simply can’t jam it into sentences – you experience it in the present moment as you understand, but not in a head level way – a snippet of what no doctrine can define.
When Jesus said “I am the way the truth and the Life” he did not mean that if you aren’t a Christian you won’t be saved. He was pointing toward this: that the life that you, your innermost I am-ness (not the ego) is the Christ within. All your actions reflect the oneness within or the Devine and are sensed deep within. This is what we call LOVE. As St Augustine put it “Love and do what you will”. The bible tells us that the greatest of gifts if LOVE. In the same way Buddhis talk of our Buddha Nature and Hindu’s refer to Attman. All are referring to the same truth that Christ was pointing too in the gospels. This love – this True Me – cannot accommodate a competitive nature that seeks to destroy others, dehumanise enemies and become trapped in an endless cycle of action and reaction against another. This is why those that use the gospel verse above against non-Christians or define themselves as better than are missing the whole point of Christ’s teaching and have become wrapped up in a religious ideology that has an identification with one right way that is used in the service of the ego to fight others (sometimes literally) in a mission to eradicate any others that don’t ego identify in the exact same way.
Our relationships are then unmotivated by wanting, or thwarted wanting which is marked by anger, resentment and complaining; or by competition, or even by indifference. These are all marks of the ego. Instead, we are able to find inner peace and an expression of endless love simply by being present in this moment and now this one, ad infinitum… I believe that one of the loveliest things about participating in Yoga class is that experiencing your body and noticing sensations is a very great place to start this journey of experiencing this joy and peace that passes all intellectual understand and just… is…