The Spiritual ManifestoPosted: March 9, 2013
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.”
“Men are disturbed not by things but by the view which they take of them.”
“All ideologies are idiotic, whether religious or political, for it is conceptual thinking, the conceptual word, which has so unfortunately divided man.”
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.”
“Your ordinary consciousness is the Tao. By intending to accord with it you immediately deviate.”
“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.”
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.”
“The real calm of sages comes from the fact that they are ready and willing to do whatever comes naturally in all circumstances.”
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”: