Question & Answer (4)

What do you mean by “there is neither good nor bad”?
First of all, there is no “good” without “bad” and no “bad” without “good”. “Good” and “bad” are co-dependent concepts of reality. The “good” creates the “bad” and vice versa because only through their opposite can “good” or “bad” be defined and conceptualized.
Second, what we label “good” or “bad” is subjective, that is, not considered so by everyone. “Good” or “bad” are quite arbitrary concepts.
Third, “good” or “bad” depends on perspective. The universe is a completely interdependent organism that is always in balance (otherwise it would not be stable). Pushing here is like pulling there and pushing there is like pulling here. Hence, every “good” action has “bad” outcomes for something or somebody somewhere (and vice versa). There are no purely “good” or “bad” actions, ever. “No bad actions” does not mean that genocide or things like that are ok. Morals and ethics are “good” from a human perspective. But from the perspective of the rest of nature, it is “bad” news. The more people need to live on the planets resources, the more these finite resources will need to be exploited.

Where does “good” and “bad” come from?
Whenever we turn something unpleasant into a problem, we create the “bad”. So, fundamentally, the “bad” is the expression of our inability to deal with fear. It is something we humans create out of ignore-ance, not something that is inherently present in the universe.

How to get rid of desire?
First of all, realize that the desire to get rid of desire is still a desire. So, in that sense, you are trapped. You can’t do much about it, really.
Nevertheless, I suggest the following: think your desires through to the very end. I mean what if your desires became true? What if you became enlightened, immortal, famous, rich, the world’s savior, etc.? What would you do with it? What would you do when the whole world was saved? What would you do with enlightenment or celebrity status? Would you be happy ever after, “done”? Would you think “mission accomplished” and retire? Ask yourself honestly: how many times have you satisfied a desire and immediately replaced it with another one?
What I am suggesting is this: you are not actually interested in fulfilling or getting rid of your desires, you are interested in keep on looking for something that does not exist: the everlasting “goodie”. You see, even your spiritual seeking is just another facet of this game. The fascination with it arises because you dislike what is. You can’t stand it. You mistrust it. It reminds you of your unresolved issues, wounds and fears. It’s like a shadow hanging over you that you want to run away from. But because your shadow follows you everywhere you must keep going. You must be on the move always. That’s why you are doomed to be restless with no capacity to find rest in the ordinariness of the present moment. Basically, what I am saying is that you are stuck with desires because you are a coward. To try to get rid of desires is the cowards way of hiding from his own fears.
So then, to make the long story short: to get rid of desire, that is, to undermine it, all you need is to find the trust to allow yourself to be a vulnerable human being. It’s that simple. Let your heart be touched and it will provide you with unconditional gratitude for life.

How to get rid of fear?
By thinking you fears through to the very end you’ll notice they are irrational and based on separation. For example, the fear of death is the fear of going unconscious without ever regaining consciousness, like going to sleep without ever waking up. Would that be so horrible? As long as we are unconscious there is nobody to worry and nothing to worry about. And the first experience after being unconscious must be becoming conscious again. So, where’s the problem with death?
You see, (psychological) problems are mind-constructs. To get rid of them, opposition will not do. It will only reinforce the problematic nature of the problem. To get rid of a problem, you need to convince yourself that your problem has never been a problem in the first place, because it was illusory.

How to transcend thoughts? Controlling or observing them?
First of all, maybe you can ask yourself the question: what’s wrong with thoughts? As you will see if you try, doing something (e.g. managing/ controlling) or not doing something about thoughts (e.g. observing) gives them a separate and unique identity. It creates an illusory duality between “you” and the thoughts. So, whatever you do or not do to transcend thoughts, prevents thought-transcendence!
There is a solution, though. The solution is exactly the realization that there is no solution. If you want to not be bothered by thoughts, that is, if you want to transcend them, don’t mind them! You’ll see that your mind will become very quiet because most mental noise is a feedback-loop of judgmental thoughts about thoughts about thoughts, etc.
Trust the perfection of the universe which certainly has not created thoughts to torture or challenge us. Look around: has the universe ever made a mistake?

What’s the “meaning” of life?
The universe is inherently playful. It perpetually creates “the ten thousand things” as it joyfully vibrates (goes “on” and “off” continuously). It has no specific purpose other than to dance this dance.
We are the universe in ecstatic motion. So, our lives inherently serve no specific purpose either. And neither does the life of any other living organism. That doesn’t mean that life is meaningless per se. Flowers are meaningful to bees, for example. Everything plays its part in the great song.
Ask yourself: what would you do if you did not have any external or internal expectations to fulfill? You would get together with your friends and sing and dance and play. So, the meaning of life is to live, to vibrate and dance according to the beat of our heart, the universe. What could be more simple to understand?
To seek “meaning” is non other than an expression of (an imaginary) disconnection from one’s own being. It’s the old, old search for the elusive one “thing” that will makes us forever happy so that we will never be sad again. Can you see how this immature fantasy is nothing but an escape from the “down” parts of one’s existence? Can you see that this is the stuff Samsara is made of? Nirvana is not getting this “one” thing; it’s losing the itch to escape from oneself.

Why do you say life should be approached as play?
Life makes most sense when we play, that is, when we do something that does not need to serve a particular purpose. Playing is always a goal-unoriented activity.
However, because of our unconscious fear and mistrust in all things natural (especially our inner), our main motivation, our goal, in life is to (im-)prove, better or enhance ourselves (or any other variation of one-upmanship). This is obviously serious business and has nothing to do with play anymore. In that state of consciousness, the state of lack, we miss life completely because we are so focused on our goals that we won’t allow ourselves to “play” anymore. Goal-orientation suffocates creativity. This is what Jesus meant when he said “unless you become like little children you will not enter the kingdom of heaven”. And this unplayful seriousness will bug us our entire life since we can never ever reach our goal of happiness and peace as long as we are not deeply convinced that everything is fundamentally ok the way it is, which, obviously, includes first and foremost ourselves.

What is love?
Love is that which comes from a place beyond “right” and “wrong”. Hence, it is unconditional/ non-judgmental acceptance.

How to open the heart of compassion?
One thing about humans is that whenever we are afraid or even slightly suspicious of another person we are retreating far into our persona, our mask and fail to see a connection. This place inside our shells is a desperate and lonely place.
We usually need to see vulnerability in others to lose our fears, trust, come “out”, connect and start to care (that’s why looking at a baby or at cute animals is a big ego-slayer!). Compassion flows as we know that deep down, behind our masks everybody is as vulnerable a human being as we are. Thus, the key to our heart is acknowledging our own vulnerability.

End of part 4 (of 5)


9 Comments on “Question & Answer (4)”

  1. When I speak to my junior high students about the Eastern concept that good and evil (and other opposites, or other things we conceptualize as opposites, anyway) are dependent on each other, I use superheroes and comic books to make my point. There is no Superman without Lex Luthor, no Batman without the Joker, and so on. That the stories need a “hero” and a “villain” for there to be drama and for us to care. Similarly, I tell them, Daoist, Buddhist and other Eastern Philosophers say we do this with our lives, our rivals and those we feel mistreat us become “evil.” Then I ask if we would really understand “good” if we didn’t know “bad.”

    And I watch the smoke come out of their ears.

    That last question is usually where I stop. It blows their minds, and that’s about all they can do in one class period. It’s really fun to get them to think outside a Western box for a day here or there.

  2. Joseph Van Looy says:

    Your blog means a lot to “me”.

    I’m so grateful !

    With kind regards,

    Jos Van Looy

    Antwerp Belgium

  3. harryrice says:

    There are some really meaningful statements here, but they are rooted in the belief that there is a “you” here which has choices, which is autonomous. “I” cannot choose to accept, to reject or to willfully do anything. The Is, the All, the Universe, This, Totality, whatever label is attached, needs no help. Only It is; whatever happens must happen. Even surrender to the “It” is not the result of any choice.

    • Thanks for commenting.

      I agree, if we say there is choice, that we are the boss, we must assume a separate entity. But if we say there is no choice, that we are a mere puppet, we are implicitly assuming the same. Why? Let’s look at it that way: if there is no separation, who is acting? When I lift the hand and when there is no separation, it is me in any case who lifted the hand, whoever that “me” is. Choice vs. fatalism does not make sense from a non-dual perspective because it is a concept that requires separation (a subject and an object) to work logically. “Is the ocean waving or the waves oceaning?” is a non-sensical question, because wave and ocean are one and the same process. The question of choice vs. no choice collapses when subject and object are one.

      I agree, the universe needs no help. I would never suggest that.
      I also agree that nothing is required and nothing can be done to be “liberated”. However, as long as we think otherwise, there is a rationale for a teaching that can point out that such ideas are delusional. My teaching aims at finding trust in the universe (oneself!). Trust requires nothing, it is the embodied realization that everything is ok as it is. I do think, though, that we can “find” trust, just as I can find my keys in my wallet.

  4. harryrice says:

    Keys may appear, but there is no I that finds them. I-keys=dualism.

    • What do you mean there is no I? IT is I, and I am IT. That’s why we talk of “non-duality”: no difference between I and other. To say there is no I would suggest there is only other. Which is only half the “Truth”. The all-I is the same as the all-other. Or in other words, the relative and the absolute are not different levels of reality.

  5. Just so you know–there is a letter omission in the text below (What’s the meaning of Life? 4th paragraph. non instead of none (I suspect). I have this problem myself to such a degree that I wonder why I see them so easily elsewhere and not in my own. Just in case you want to change it. And I love your writings. Maybe because they are understandings that continue to flow in my head. Peace.

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