The Spiritual Manifesto

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on this blog. To make up for the long wait, I am going to give away everything in this post. All that I know about how to become a peaceful and content person. Luckily, all I know, that is, the gist of all that is said and will be said on this blog (and consequently all that I’ve understood from spiritual teachings) can be summarized in three key insights.

Insight 1: our fears create our suffering

When our ordinary consciousness is nurtured by unconscious fears and general mistrust, we live in a state of subtle anxiety and dis-ease with life.

Some aspects of existence change our consciousness by relieving our fears and foster trust. These aspects we usually call “good”. We hold them high and feel compelled to strive for them (“follow your bliss”). Other aspects strengthen our fears and foster mistrust. These we call “bad”. We reject, dismiss or fight against them.

So, fundamental to the concepts of “good” and “bad” is fear and mistrust.

Concepts create a duality between what is (happening) and what ought (to be happening), that is, between plain reality and conceptual reality. This duality creates a tension in our organism, the subtle anxiety and dis-ease with life I spoke about in the beginning. So, because we hold unconscious fears, we create concepts and because of the concepts we live in duality and dis-ease. To release the dis-comfort we keep struggling for the “good” and avoiding the “bad”, thus perpetuating our dual state and dis-ease. It’s a classic vicious cycle.

The way we usually try to cope with the dis-ease is by trying to change what is into what ought, that is we either fight with or flight from reality. We may try to “cover the world in leather”, that is, struggle to change the whole world according to our ideas, or, renounce the world altogether and seek refuge into a cocoon-like ideal utopian world where everything always goes the way we want it. The important insight is that these strategies will never, ever deliver their ultimate promise because they are completely unrealistic. So, as long as there are unconscious fears, there will be duality and dis-ease. Following these coping strategies only leads to continuous frustration, the sort of rat race many of us feel ourselves participating in.

“The struggle between good and evil is the primal disease of the mind.
Do not seek for the truth. Only cease to cherish opinions.”

~Seng Tsan

“Men are disturbed not by things but by the view which they take of them.”
~Epictetus

“All ideologies are idiotic, whether religious or political, for it is conceptual thinking, the conceptual word, which has so unfortunately divided man.”
~Jiddu Krishnamurti

Additional comment:
The question “what makes me content and peaceful?” does not lead you anywhere because you are peaceful and content by nature. Ask instead “what keeps me from being peaceful and content?”. You’ll find the answer is fear and mistrust in oneself and the universe.

Insight 2: we cannot overcome our fears (by an act of will)

So, how to overcome our fears and mistrust? How to accept and embrace what is? The truth is, we can’t. As we are trying to overcome fear or trying to accept, we are working under the assumption that there is something wrong with fear or that there is something that is not accepted yet. By doing so, we basically label our fears problematic and reject our non-acceptance, respectively. Instead of embracing what is, we are just deepening the illusion that what is, is a problem. We create more concepts of “good” vs. “bad” and, hence, all we do is strengthening duality and dis-ease.

Acceptance and trust is the absence of the urge to do something about an aspect of reality. It is never something we “do”, but the non-objection to what always already “is”.

We are basically “double-bound”: we can’t get rid of our dis-ease, neither by doing nor by abstaining from doing something about it. We can never relieve our dis-ease, we can only keep it going. In fact, as I have tried to point out, “we” are an integral part of our problem.

So, what we need to learn is to let things be and surrender. Again, as long as we are afraid we will have the itch to “do” (or to not do) something to make our dis-ease go away.

“Stop trying to leave and you will arrive.”
~Lao Tzu

“Your ordinary consciousness is the Tao. By intending to accord with it you immediately deviate.”
~Nan-ch’üan

“Unless you make tremendous efforts, you will not be convinced that effort will take you nowhere. The self is so self-confident that unless it is totally discouraged it will not give up. Mere verbal conviction is not enough.
~Nisargadatta Maharaj

Additional comment:
We can’t rationally talk ourselves out of our “hang-ups” because they are induced by irrational fears.

Insight 3: fear is based on the ignore-ance that we are one with the universe

Since we can’t do anything about our dis-ease, how can we ever find peace and contentment? By replacing our fears and mistrust with love and trust.

One way of getting somebody into a consciousness of love and trust is by exaggerating the “double-bind” situation. In this scenario, the spiritual seeker is faced with ever more complex (and absurd) spiritual practices and exercises until (s)he gives up, surrenders, and has a mystical experience (aka a spiritual awakening). The message that this experience powerfully delivers is manyfold: it is now known that the universe is endless, inherently flawless and lacking a specific purpose. More importantly, though, one realizes one’s unity with everything. One sees the universe as it is: one perpetual organism. Thus, the spiritually awakened have a strong sense of feeling at home in the world. And as they do, they will have their irrational (and illusory) fears crumble one by one.

Obviously, this undermines the fundamental problem of discomfort, anxiety and dis-ease. As we start to trust the universe (ourselves!) we automatically drop our judgmental concepts and (re-)align ourselves with our innate being and what(ever) is. We flow at-one-ed with life instead of trying to reject or to push it. We finally become free to be completely ourselves in any situation, which ultimately means that we become free to feel everything, to be vulnerable and open. That way, we find the compassion, peace and contentment we have always been running after.

“Nirvana means extinction of all notions and ideas. If we can become free from them we can touch the peace of our true nature.”
~Thich Nhat Hanh

“It is false to speak of realization. What is there to realize? The real is as it is always. When all sanskaras have been given up, the Self will shine alone.
~Ramana Maharshi

“The real calm of sages comes from the fact that they are ready and willing to do whatever comes naturally in all circumstances.”
~Alan Watts

Additional comment:
When there is no more concept of “problem”, then there is no more problem! The reason for the problems in the world is that people, because of their irrational fears, create imaginary problems in whose pursuit of solving they mess up an otherwise perfectly balanced world
.

Clip from the brilliant movie “A Single Man”:

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10 Comments on “The Spiritual Manifesto”

  1. Well Done and Well Said. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It’s a beautiful thing to see another’s perspective, especially when it is laid out so well. Great quotes as dessert.
    Peace~Vadim

  2. Brilliant. The double-bind describes the futility of humanity beautifully.

  3. Harry Riley says:

    Excellent words, excellent clip. Thank you:)

  4. Christine says:

    So when one realizes one’s *inherent* union with the Universe isn’t this realization ultimately our “bliss” – which we have been seeking? That is – we have really been seeking the Truth of our very Existence – and not some elusive “bliss” state. So then “following your bliss”, as Joseph Campbell writes about, *is* following your inherent non-dualistic nature/existence – or pure Beingness – which is apparently gives a sense of “bliss”:) peace, contentment, etc.

    For me it is an ongoing, ever-expanding awareness that “our” existence is inseparable from and inherently interconnected with the “Infinite”, not a one time “awakening” where everything else falls away. As even the feeling of bliss may “fall away.” Because even with that knowing, that seeing of inherent unity, fear may and does still appear in “the system” – the mechanism of “me” – which is also a part of the “matrix” of the Infinite – not separate… The difference is you know you are who is aware of the experience of fear that the me mechanism is having… 🙂 On a “good” day that is 🙂 lol As you say, we are free to feel and experience everything – to be open and vulnerable – to just be who we are – without being worried that we have somehow separated ourselves from the Infinite – the cause of fear.

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

      I love Joseph Campbell. He taught me many things. But he was not a mystic. He even said so himself. He never had a mystical experience. For me, his mantra “follow your bliss” always leans a bit too much towards changing one’s life (for a better life) rather than changing one’s consciousness of one’s present life. And that’s a big difference. One says follow your passion and you’ll find peace, the other says peace is here now if you did not object to life. There is nothing wrong with following one’s passion if it’s done for it’s own sake (that is, just for the sheer enjoyment), but if it is done for a specific purpose, to get something (even to find peace or enlightenment) we unconsciously assume that we are not there yet, that we stand in competition with the universe from which we have to first wrench it. So, “following one’s bliss” can be the expression of an inherently fearful, ignore-ant attitude. Why follow what you already always have? I think you see it the same way. I just wanted to make the point that Joe probably was speaking from duality, from a “you-need-to-get-something-before-you-can-be-happy” consciousness.

      I am not saying that a one time awakening experience will “do it”. I am saying that the message of such an experience can radically change one’s consciousness if understood correctly (which could take years!). Realizing “not-two-ness” undermines our fears and therefore our judgmental, dualistic concepts of “good” and “bad” which constantly cause us to struggle for a better reality (“follow your bliss”, desires, etc) and reject present reality.

      Fear is what creates Samsara. Without fear, there is no Samsara. Nirvana is the same ordinary life but experienced without anxiety and dis-ease. In a way, the only thing that has changed is that we now fully embrace change.

      Lots of Love!

  5. Awake in 365 Days says:

    I love love love this post and the quotes and the video. I particularly need this reminder: Additional comment:
    The question “what makes me content and peaceful?” does not lead you anywhere because you are peaceful and content by nature. Ask instead “what keeps me from being peaceful and content?”. You’ll find the answer is fear and mistrust in oneself and the universe.

    I have this sense of always striving, searching, when really I know that its right there (the peace), but I’m playing this game with myself. I also often find myself in this mind set of fear and mistrust of myself and the universe, So there it is – Fear – Samsara! Without that fear there is Nirvana, Thanks for sharing this, its a treasure trove 🙂

    • Thank you. I think Adyashanti once said that we have to “dance our dance out”. I think he meant the dance with our fears. Once the seed of love and trust in one’s own nature is planted, it’ll just be a matter of time. ❤


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