The Meaninglessness of Fame

There is an unnatural desire in man (the species) to want to be famous, to stand out, to receive accolades, be important, to be raised up above others. Having said this, I am not writing from what is known as ‘the tall poppy syndrome’, a type of sickness that wants to see others cut down if they are successful.  Achieving things is fine, going past our known potential and doing what may have been considered impossible, creating wondrous music, to excel at what we do, this is something that I consider as natural, to unfold something extraordinary in the human kaleidoscope is noble.
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The Big People Know Everything
When we are children we start to ‘look up’ to people, we are little, they are big, they have more experience in the world and looking out our tiny window we see that they can do and know many incredible things.  Depending on the experiences that happen to us and whether we are powered or dis-empowered by those who educate us, we gradually slot into a place in the community. In some cases in the past adults had an attitude of ‘children should be seen and not heard’.  This attitude has spawned generations of suppressed humans who feel like they are wearing a suit of armor two sizes too small with minimal joint movement. In some cases, in those moments when they escape the suit they often lose the plot and we see a trail of casualties of drug and alcohol abuse and other destructive behaviors.  And of course there are others who manage to surf the gigantic waves and ride safely to the shoreline and live out beautiful lives.
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The Leveler 
I discovered by accident years ago that all men and women are equal. Yes we hear that every day, there are documents in place, people spout it from pulpits in churches, the writers of political speeches throw it in every now for touchy feely effect to have you believe their brand loves everyone.  We have to come back to basics here and rip the idea of ‘all are equal’ apart.  Here’s how it works. I may be a barista, the worlds best, dreadlocks, hipster clothes, mice music oozing out from the vinyl on the stereo system, a smarty-pants walk, everybody loves me.  When I am making the worlds best coffee that has been carried by donkeys from deep in the jungles of Amazon,  I am doing my dharma (my natural calling and life purpose done with utmost integrity and virtue), at that moment I am invisible; when I am invisible God/ the totality of Being/ the Sublime Super Consciousness is flowing through my veins like water at the Iguazu Falls.  When it’s time to go home and I don my alpaca sweater, pick up my 1940’s typewriter and climb onto my solar powered bicycle, no longer am I the worlds best barista, I am just doing what I am doing, biking it down the road, giving the finger to motorists, smiling at the lay…deeees.
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Being able to TURN OFF who we believe ourselves to be is probably the second greatest secret there is.  There is an invisible hierarchy in all communities, and in many cases it’s not so invisible, it’s overt, in your face segregation into pockets of people who ‘know their place’.  I m reminded of a story from India.
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“There once was a man, well educated, had lived in the West for many years and went back to Bharat (India) to visit his family.  He ad a slight arrogance about him that often is seen on the faces of those who see academia as the pinnacle of civilisation.  He got to the river , climbed into the ferryman’s small rowboat. After about five minutes as the boat paddled across the waterway, in ‘exhibition of intelligence’ he opened out a newspaper. (NOTE: Prabhu is a term of respect.) The ferryman said “Prabhu, what is this?” The man gave a little exaggerated chuckle and said “What, you don’t know what that is, you poor fellow, it’s the New York Times, you have wasted a half of your life,missed so much, you don’t know much about life”.  The ferryman said “No, Prabhu I don’t what New York Times is, what does it say?”  The visitor said, “Hear take it, read it.” The ferryman said, “Prabhu, please could you read it to me?.” The visitor said, “what! you can’t read, you have wasted three quarters of your life”. Just then a storm came up, the visitor looked terrified.  The ferryman said, “Prabhu, what is troubling you?” The visitor said, “It is looking very stormy”, he started to shake as the boat rocked up and down.  The boatman looked at him and said, “Prabhu, can you swim?” The visitor shook his head implying that he couldn’t swim. Just then a massive wave hit the boat and as it was turning upside down, the ferryman said, “Prabhu, you have wasted your whole life”… We all value different things, we humans develop a sense of self-importance relating to our achievements.  The tragedy is if we don’t treat them respectfully they divide us, they allow us to feel greater or lesser than others.
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Cosmic Glue
The moon shines out in the night-sky, the planets, shooting stars and a few spacecraft from outside the Earth show themselves briefly and disappear; the night has a resonance about it, a ringing, a deep hum beneath it and occasionally it is broken by the noise of man.  The light of the moon is shared by the rich and poor, lovers, the lonely, the dreamers and the animals peeping out of their holes in the ground.  The Earth in it’s magnificent beauty holds us, its trees that add to its wondrous garment give shade to Sages, dacoits, the homeless and the athletes who need to rest their tired legs. We are bound together, our ancestors held hands with those of strangers we see in the street, the water running through our bodies was once part of something somewhere off in the skies… we are a part of the totality of all of nature and in our hearts our spirits are bound.
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Thought 
It is thought that divides us, everything else is bound together in nature. Molecules collide, they dance and although we can’t hear it they sing. The song of the bird although feint adds a sweetness to the day.  The discriminating mind has its benefits, it allows us to know that 7 pieces of pizza although desirable, will create a problem; walking backwards down the street will not be the immediate logical choice when we think it through.
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We know this ‘thought-thing’ we have can take us to heaven or hell, if we brood over something it can turn into anxiety or stress, if let something go without a fuss, things go smoother.  The ‘thought-thing’ that people usually (and erroneously) call the mind is the source of our discrimination.  We pull stories out of our memory banks that travel with us through our lives.  We have placed people where we think they belong.  There is a tendency to look up to people who have achieved great things, and in the community there is often a feeling of ‘better than’ the less fortunate, the illiterate, the homeless, those who behave in manners that are anti-social.  The poor look at the wealthy and often feel lack, doctors and lawyers are also held in high regard by the uneducated, their feeling of self-worth  can be challenged.  It’s this looking up and looking down that is at the heart of all our problems.
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Bringing a Sense of Order
If I come back to the idea of the dread-locked barista with his hipster clothes, when he goes home the Espresso machine gets turned off and it rests patiently awaiting to appease the needs of the taste buds of early-risers wanting their ‘hit’, the barista is just another hipster in torn jeans, doing his thing, breathing the air or puffing on his e-cigarette.  And after a long shift the doctor lays down his tools after achieving what centuries ago would have seemed a miracle and in some ways I guess it is; he once again becomes himself, a living breathing being with normal emotions, needs, desires, joys and he suffers the same hurts as any of the other brokenhearted, fears of death and other traumatic losses.
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By coming back to basics and seeing that in navigating the human experience we need each other; if a man is suffering, regardless whether he is rich or poor, whatever his cultural background, a healthy being reaches out with empathy, compassion, kindness. At the water-well we all need to quench our thirst equally, a smile is contagious like a yawn, and when we lay our bodies down at night to rest in the dream state, there is no-one higher or lower as we wander the star-fields.
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Tilopa 2.0

Refining Our Radar for Truth or Deception

In the crazy maze of human existence on the stage of the world we live and move in we often enter into states of doubt, fear of not knowing who the good guys really are, who might be deceiving us and we are unsure who to trust. During these days where there are numerous private and other hidden agendas it does seem difficult to wade through information and arrive at conclusions about who are humanity’s allies and who are the foes masquerading as friends or even saviors.
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The Fallibility of the Known
We can use logic to resolve many things, it is a most useful tool that the human species has been gifted with; we may hear words oozing out of the mouth of politicians and those in positions of great trust but we know from experience that words and the follow-on actions often differ, betrayal is only recognised at a later date.  We can do our research and ‘follow the money’ or look at who is aligned with particular corporations, boards of directors, mega-bankers and various others, however we do also know that misinformation is streamed out through the mainstream media to create a particular feeling or ‘normal’ to later implement an agenda, also the ‘secret’ in-the-know conspiracy websites or publications feed the world a mix of truth and misinformation, the misinformation is proved a lie and the associated truth makes a gurgle sound as it goes down the sink.  Both logic and research are great tools but we can easily be misled and we find ourselves in our desperation to make the world a better place unknowingly supporting agendas that are not in our best interests but are down right dangerous.  So do we just rollover, dumb ourselves down with alcohol, recreational poisons, food, sport, piles of objects and bling, obsessions with diseases and fitness or shall we just look the other way?
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Fragility of the Civilisation
We live in a time when the world is fragile, on the precipice of great change, when madmen (if they really had the power and were permitted to do it) could annihilate the world we move in with a push of a button, when scientists in their curiosity could trigger an event that would not only impact on this planet but also those as far off as we can dream and maybe in an instant destroy unknown civilisations, when liberties are being eroded to implement hideous agendas for the covert and also publicly arrogant elite.  With all this doom, gloom and darkness of mankind bearing down on man, what on earth do we do?
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The Beauty of the World
We live on a glorious planet, nature with its wondrous living breathing ecosystems unique to itself, the glorious rising of the sun that we have for a period of time until this timeline runs out of juice and a new one starts, the colors of the birds.  The playfulness of animals, the gentle of touch of our loved ones, the tasty fruits, the dew on the grass, the ability to laugh, the sweetness of melody. When we move away from the madness of men and their games of power and self-obsession, underlying it is something that a visitor from other worlds would perceive as heaven.  We need to be reminded regularly where we ‘sit’ or more specifically where we live in the Cosmos. Earth is a living being unto itself, the Mother that she is supports us, she holds and nurtures us, if we are gentle with her she responds, if in the case of what has happened and we are reckless, she will ‘shake’ and in that ‘shakiness’ what is not aligned with her sense of being will find a new destiny to live on.  I started by writing about the crazy world and living in a time of mistrust and at this point it looks as if the focus may be hinting at environmental issues, it is intricately related but this is not about climate change, polar bears or bees.  Without undermining the need for conscious change and action on how we live and treat the environment we live and move in, I am confident that Mother Earth will take care of her Being and that doesn’t mean I don’t think we should care for the world, quite the opposite, I am a man who refused to pick flowers for most of much of my life in case I hurt them. Caring for the world around us is the same as taking care of ourselves, the way we treat ourselves is usually the way we treat those around us and the tiny field of space we move in.  As for climate change all I will say is that transparency regarding where every dollar goes ought to be a concern, else we may find that while people are sleeping, someone is taking the milk from the cow to feed their ugly monster. My prayer is “may there always be noble people in positions of power and trust.”
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Questioning Everything
When we look at anything, regardless what it is, our ‘filters’ come into play. What we have experienced, learnt or been indoctrinated with writes to our subconscious, we have subtle and overt preferences on how people should look, talk, what is the correct opinion or way to view the world.  These learned or inherited perspectives are useful but at the same time I am confident that they cannot always be trusted, it is only a small part of what I will refer to as our Being. So far I have said we can’t rely on logic, the words of others and now I am adding to the list we can’t always trust our own experience, if we take this approach to an extreme a psychologist could comfortably say there is a form of paranoia going on here.  However if we think carefully and are cautious and address these three things properly it will remind us not to be naive and believe everything we assume to be logical and unquestionable, what we are told and what our way of experiencing the world is telling us.  It is critical that we are aware of the ‘sleight of hand’ that happens around us. So what to do?
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Rethinking Sensitivity
Some people are more sensitive than others.  Although I am sensitive to the point where it becomes annoying, I am not a person who thinks sensitivity is the be all and end all of experience and that anyone who is not is ‘less enlightened’, that is straight out elitist garbage, and I will ‘call’ that delusion out.  Sometimes over sensitive people lack the ability to act, to stand up when needed because they indulge in their sensitivity.  Sensitivity is a tool for life, not something that needs to cripple us and make us over emotional.  Having said that, there is a type of sensitivity that I think holds the key to discriminating about things, people, events and courses of action.  It doesn’t matter whether someone feels like they are a being encased in something like a polar bear suit with thick layers and a pair of over-sized gumboots or they are a someone who sees purple winged unicorns (real or imaginary), the playing field is equal when it comes to our ‘radar for real feeling’.
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A Tingle up the Spine
We all have had that feeling when someone enters the room, sometimes we get a cold shiver. Or at the other extreme when we go into a meditative space like a Buddhist (or choose your flavor) temple we feel a subtle change in mood.  In the case of the person entering the room who was at the source of cold shiver in us, we may know nothing about them, their clothes could be neat clean, even impeccable, they may be well spoken, have average looking features and nothing externally that would be a give-away that would give reason for concern.  In the situation of the meditative-space it may be reasonably empty and uncluttered, very plain and have nothing that represents a world of religiosity or be in any way overtly ‘spiritual’or have anything aesthetically pleasing but still there is an inexplicable subtle change.
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The Field We Move In
Each being, in fact every living thing has a field around it, there are visual parameters but the space around a person or object has an area which is populated by what I will refer to as ‘solidified thought’, this field contains what the being is aligned with, in the same way that storage media for computers and other devices hold information, there is a grid/web/network that holds the past, the present and the tendencies for the future. When a ‘sensitive’ or what is more commonly referred to as a psychic comes into contact with an individual and does a reading, they are usually tapping in and pulling out data from this space, it holds the past, present and their known and associated potentials.  Many of the psychics will have no idea how they do it, they may have a story that is true or false on the method they use but the underlying idea is that somehow they get their result and trust it.  Occasionally we encounter a seer who works outside the common methodology used, however for continuities sake I will not enter the other possibilities of ‘reading’ what is out of sight.
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When we are in the meditation-space, what has happened is over period of time as each individual has come into the environment they have gradually emptied the field in that space.  This works in reverse to a busy day at the beach, when people go home from a sunny day rolling in the waves and getting their butt tanned you will see litter scarring the natural beach environment and it has a dirtied, cluttered sensation about it.  When meditators  attempt to go into a meditative state, the process is about detaching from thought, letting it rise or fall; this action works like a thought-vacuum-cleaner.  In the room where meditation has happened, at a subtle level there is a deep change invisible to the eye, it is ‘touched’ and experienced at a deeper level of consciousness.
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Buying Into the Story
If I come back a little closer to the original idea of this article, I was discussing discrimination and how to make sense in a crazy world, how to be able to tell whether someone is truthful and whether they have an agenda that is detrimental to us, humanity or the world around us.  At a surface level we have emotional reactions to things, we may see an image and suddenly be outraged, if it has a story with it, whether it be true or false, in an emotional state we may become further outraged, if we have a story already imprinted which comes from our personal history or cultural upbringing, the image and the story will mix with that bias and then we not only may get emotional, we may act in a particular manner in response to it. If we are crackers we could blow up someones letter box or graffiti their car.  Much of what we see in the media and advertising is emotive based ‘baiting’, whether a news article or what is being advertised is genuine or not isn’t the issue, what is relevant here is that our emotions can easily stand in the way of feeling the world or the truth of a matter properly.  Human beings are very easily swayed.
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Droid Mentality
REAL intuition grabs its data from outside our logical world and is not limited to the ‘known’.  I am reminded of the limitation of droids in some of the Sci Fi movies and Spock the Vulcan from Star Trek. People need a way to discriminate between surface ‘touchy feely’ intuition which relates to the emotions, and the way of feeling the world, beings and environment.  To someone who has not developed a deep-feeling-sense they would look the same, the world would be divided into two:

(1)  Stuff we know because it is believed to be true and is confirmed by our education (and that’s a variable) and from the zone of Classic Physics (read as: Old World Thought) that has many truths but limitations.

(2) The stuff that relates to dreamers, Tarot readers, fantasizers and people who have too much time on their hands or those who have smoked a lot of weed. (This is not a criticism, I am just creating a polarity of two extremes).

Both those angles have their place in the world of mice and  men but there is option (3) and that’s where we bypass option (1) and (2).  Option (3) is the one that I find myself living by most of the time.

Option (1) is best used for most tasks like when crossing the street it would be insane to close our eyes and feel our way between the cars, or when driving under a low bridge we’d be best to do a basic spatial calculation that the truck is going to fit else it won’t be pretty.

Option (2) is useful because imagination and meandering thought is quite a beautiful thing but I do know from experience, if we get caught in fantasy and emotions they blur our vision and we lose our groundedness.
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Option (3) is something that is based in Emptiness, the same Empty state we encounter in real or deep meditation, there may also be thought present but there is no attachment to or over-interest in thought, instead we are absorbed in the space, in the same way that sky doesn’t grasp a cloud and lets it rise, fall and dance without a fuss.  As soon as we allow thought to arise from the subconscious with its history and partial-knowing, what we end up with is a filter sitting between deep-intuition and whatever truth may be.  Truth has a sensation about it and I am not talking about any supposed Spiritual Truth or great answer to the Universes questions, I mean passing truths that the politicians may be lying.  Often it is easy to research and find out if people in power are lying but based on my observation, many people are supporting agendas that look good on the surface but underneath they totalitarian. In the same way that a religious text can be altered to suit an agenda, people end up unwittingly and naively handing over their allegiance to false Gods and Cults because their intuition never RANG loud enough to warn them, so how to sort this and develop deep-intuition?
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Deep Intuition
EMPTINESS
I have already stated or implied that we need a relationship with Emptiness. This is easy to develop regardless of what cultural or religious background we come from or associate with.  Buddhism has had a focus on transformation of the mind, whereas mainstream Christianity is rooted in faith.  If we do a little exploration we will see there are subcultures of Christianity who explore deep contemplation, there is no practical reason that a person couldn’t meditate on the name of Jesus if that was their flavour.  When it comes to meditation, we do not need to dress up and pretend we are Indians and use Hindi Mantras as many people do, yes beyond doubt they are potent, nor do we need to wear white or head straight to the crystal shop and fill the house with bling.   If someone is not from a religious background there are many tools in the public domain for relaxation, we can leave Spirituality out of the mix. All that is required is a simple method without a whole lot of baggage and a practical regular commitment to taking time out.  If we are always ‘inside’ the world it’s difficult to see what is going on, our story, bias and preferences are too strong. Deep or even shallow meditation will ‘extract us’ a little.
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GRATITUDE
Fortunately gratitude has become popular and feels better than some of the other fashionable things such as eating kale or oil swishing.  In an age of self-obsession the emergence of developing a relationship with something bigger than our imaginary sense of I and understanding we are part of something that shares its abundance freely with us is in itself humbling.  Everything is alive and giving thanks seems the least we can do.
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HATERS
If we have a hate for those who are different to us in thought, appearance and action or even those who harm us with their political agendas, their violence and their hideous actions that enslave us in some way, we end up becoming part of their network of power, we become subservient to them, the underlying negative agenda empowers itself by our response.  I consider recognising this issue as a critical element in self-transformation.  “Turning the other cheek” is a seed idea that needs to be unpacked and contemplated.  It does not mean that we should not act, not create boundaries, or speak up when necessary, it is about our thinking. Our thoughts affect the world and if we add to the ocean of hate it creates additional psychic smog around the planet.   The smog of hate impacts on everyone and all of nature.  If we rise in a state of love then hate has no enemy.  The opposite of love is fear not hate.  It is fear that needs addressing.  If hate has no enemy it turns on itself in the same manner the opponent of an Aikido Master defeats himself in battle through his own self importance, stupidity and violent tendencies.
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FEELING
As we know, there is a surface emotional feeling sense we have that sabotages our deeper sensitivity, it is reasonably simple to explain and even easier if I create a visual example. If I was to break it down a little we can visualise a molecule and picture it as a a bubble. Imagine that each molecule of our being has a ‘stability point’ a sense of equilibrium that maintains its shape and state of balance, like calm water on a sunny day, it has a relaxed gentle sense of movement.  Under normal circumstances in life, the field-shape within the molecule will tilt a little as it goes about its everyday business, when our moods change a little, it reacts like the way water gets a little ripple in it if something light is dropped in it.  If we are traumatised, the particles inside the molecule may bounce off the walls and be pushed way out of shape resembling a damaged pin pong ball, the combination of trillions of these in our being make us feel unstable and at times we find that the instability completely overcomes us, the expression “off the rails” is a good analogy. We become so engulfed by the sensation of internal chaos that our attention is moved out of our natural stillness and equilibrium, our central point of awareness becomes unfocused and foggy.  When we are angry we are in a state of agitation, it is impossible to think clearly, we lose our sensitivity completely, the molecule ping pong balls within are bashing against each other. When we are very emotional and in a state of deep sorrow we become numb, drowned. In a state of joy, the ripples in our being overcome us, regardless of the wonder of the feeling which impacts on our health in a positive way, our vision can also blurred, the molecules are dancing out of control.
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The sensations of joy and sorrow come and go, depending on our ability to recover as we move along the timeline of our life, they all impact in different ways, they can empower us or we may get lost in the endless maze.

If we have developed a type of mindfulness to allow us to extract ourselves a little from the passing show of emotions we will have an advantage in being able to discriminate between natural feeling responses generated from every day existence plus our compiled ocean of experiences and then our intuition will come from outside time and the ‘already known’.
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When we look clearly at the events in the world we move in, we will see that things and events are being translated by and agreed upon by the greater community to be a certain way, this common agreement that is arrived at will at one extreme create a language for basic communication and at the other end a slave-mentality that places parameters about what is or isn’t true, this slave-mentality turns deep thinkers and visionaries into outsiders, nutters and in some cases people are considered to be a threat. An example of what can happen is the Vatican’s assassination of Giordano Bruno
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Truth has a ring to it and it is unmistakable; falsity has a doubt about it, it brings with it a type of confusion and slightly unsettling feeling, and it may even have a sense of self-righteousness and a mission.  Alertness is required, if we are not discerning we may find ourselves supporting agendas that are treacherous, destabilising to ourselves and others, we may end up undermining good men and women and see them as our enemies all because the radar deep inside us is covered over by emotions and a fabricated story being fed and sustained by the greater community’s enslaved limited social consciousness.
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These are treacherous times as we exit the previous civilisation and move forward into the glorious unfolding one.
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May we always be kind to ourselves and those we encounter
May we always be understanding of others
May the part of us that seeks truth and wisdom cut through the fog of misinformation
May we seek unity in diversity
May all beings be happy and uninhibited to follow their dreams
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Tilopa 2.0

 

God Doesn’t Have Problems

We live in a world that seems to have an endless stream of  chaos, mad governments, injustices, violence, suicides, social imbalance, the rich get more toys, the poor crave basics, really bad coffee and many people see no end to the suffering.
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I live on a busy Melbourne street, the other morning a guy was doing somersaults on the road, oddly enough hardly anyone noticed.  I wasn’t sure whether to report the event to help keep the guy safe from himself but when I thought it through, logic told me the fellow survived this long without my intervention, so I just let it roll.  (‘Scuse the pun)
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The Wise Ones
We are very fortunate in our lives, wise people come and go.  Sometimes we miss them; if we are alert they become part of our transformation, they leave us gems to ponder, it may be years before their wisdom unpacks.  I had a very great teacher.  Some people want the sparkly-eyed guru or master in Indian or Japanese pyjamas or dressing gown, to each their own.  But I know from experience,  often the truly wise pass us by without a fuss, no exhibition of spirituality or devotion, they can touch our lives very deeply.  My greatest teacher acted and looked quite normal, it wasn’t obvious, he was understated … when I had a conversation with him about the Dharma or consciousness, I found the mat was pulled out from underneath me whenever I sat chatting with him.  Transformation is about our known world dissolving, it has an uncomfortableness about it.  Many of us eventually come to the conclusion that our story of the world is not exactly correct, this can be troublesome to say the least, we hold ourselves together because we assume coming apart is a problem. But coming apart is the doorway to transformation.
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Dialogue with the Wise
During a conversation with my dear friend he once said to me, “God doesn’t have problems.”  Oh okay, yeah right… Embedded in this simple one liner was a healing balm. Obviously if someone doesn’t have ANY concept of a God it won’t mean much and will be bypassed.  My childhood God died years ago, the bloke with the white beard and floating entourage keeping a sense of order and handing out door passes into heaven to the good guys and go straight to jail cards, do not collect a hundred dollars and get ready for an experience of hot coals for the others.  Fear of God or a negative outcome keeps a lot of people in check.   I guess even without a God watching out for any misdemeanours or serious breaches, people would probably still realise that being a dumb-ass wont get them too far in the long run and a sense of natural order will come about.   But my viewpoint of God is different, not better, I said different.
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My friend said, “God doesn’t have problems.”  So do I make him an authority on God?  We know from experience many Gods have come and gone, civilisations sunken under the oceans and they buried their deities with them, wars fought over different religious ideologies, crimes committed against humanity while forcing a religious elitist agenda.  So God doesn’t have problems?
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Religious – Maybe, Maybe Not
I guess I will have to step out of the land of the Gods and come back to myself and attempt to do the impossible, rethink what God might be, temporarily place the mystery into a box and deal with the ‘doesn’t have problems’.  We do know religions at times can be a problem and we also know there are many good kind happy religious people; and also there are people without religions who have problems and where as others live beautiful abundant lives as atheists.  A healthy minded atheist will ask the right questions, an annoying one has a cult mentality.
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I had always in the past referred to myself a religious man; and mind you one who is at odds with all religions, the arrogance of the clergy, their crimes against children, the exhibitions of devotion and flaws within their twisted-to-suit-them scriptures, the holy elitism and superiority complex they have in relation to non believers and outsiders.   I will maintain that loosely I am a religious man so I can sort the issue and explain why the gem of wisdom has been so critical in my life.
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Lighting up the Shadows
When we have a traumatic or negative experience we generally look at the shadow and this is a very reasonable normal human response.  Losing ones wallet, or breaking a leg is never really a fun experience, an emotional reaction is not unexpected.  As a rule we don’t question a normal emotional response to an experience unless we are one of those people working on ‘mindfulness’ or some other Buddhist technique.  There are people who have had the experience of missing their plane flight and later found out  the plane crashed. Or in other situations somebody’s new heart-throb date didn’t turn up but by coincidence they met there future partner instead.  There are numerous ‘follow on’ events that come out of what we may originally perceive as negative events.  I am not saying we do not need to feel the emotional response to experiences;  however, if we see them as transitional and things to ponder or doorways to other experiences we will have much happier lives. Developing a type of thinking that can maintain a sense of balance is definitely a worthwhile quest.
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My Response to Trauma
When my oldest boy died, like every loving parent and balanced human being I was broken, confused and also I felt betrayed by my God.  How could MY God do this to me? It was a moment when I totally forgot that there was a natural order to human existence and my sense of feeling safe with my imaginary or real God disintegrated.  But thinking more broadly life does its thing with or without me and it doesn’t take a University degree to know full well that people come and go from planet earth every minute.  If we look from above and I am not saying God is above, if we step away from the small window we look through, lift the whole roof off and see the open sky, our perspective changes.  When I look at the passing of a human being it is quite normal to see it as tragic, there is a sense of loss, we hurt, we bang walls, yell, feel abandoned, the ache in the chest is unbearable, we seem crazy, everything is fragile, we are vulnerable.  But then if I look through the other eyes from the totality of beings there is not such a problem, nature which we are part of has a way of regenerating, the seasons and people come and go.  Look at the pavements or between the stones and rocks, grass and weeds gradually start to appear after a while; when there is stagnant water the rains eventually come and a sense of harmony returns, the clouds pass at will and the beauty of their aloofness is natures poetry.
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The Way Out
We often get stuck in a world view that is bordering on self-obsession, attachment to the way we assume things should be, we push against the river of life and tread water.  The Tao Te Ching reminds us that the Tao (Way) is inexhaustible.  Our exhaustion comes from thinking, when we sort the thinking the actions will come into harmony.  We have removed ourselves so far from nature, there are layers protecting us from life; we require a constant body temperature, walls to shield us from the outside, many of us like a tepid world – not too hot not to cold, we quickly run to safe zones when we feel we are out of our depth.  And yes there are adventurers who push the boundaries.
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Those words “God doesn’t have problems” for me was an invitation to think outside the box that holds the human drama in place, a reminder that even in suffering there is more than that moment going on, the totality requires change for life to unfold, the rising and falling of events on the screen of life are the natural order; and I am not one of these people who believe that we are puppets on a string that some giant God manipulates for his pleasure, that is something I cannot subscribe to, I do not see ourselves as slaves, we are creators.  However, there is an underlying TOTALITY that does have a loose unfolding destiny that is not written but it feels its way into forever-ness; as constellations arise and dissolve over eons, the various species of beings adapt to the unending journey of love.
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Although my emotional responses are real, valid, very human, the wisdom of “God not have problems” allows me to relax a little, to trust in something that I cannot define but feel in the depth of Silence, and what I see in the stars that scatter the sky like drops of paint on a living canvas…I can step away from the ‘imaginary me’ with its story, its tragedies and feelings of lack and hard done by-ness and when I feel ready, jump out of the prison-house of the known.
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Other People’s Gods
And if I changed hats and said there was a God that many others have, one who shapes the destiny of people and engraves it into the palm of the hand and follow His Will, well then I would know still know that I was safe, there was a sense of order that I can’t quite understand or see yet and trust that time will reveal its wisdom.  However, I am not that person, that is not my worldview or vision, I will come back to myself and recognise I have choices, there are options in the way I live my life and respond to the passing fortunes and events that emerge out of Emptiness that sometimes surprise me and at other times leave me feeling fragile, inquisitive, joyous and curios.
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May all beings in all worlds be happy
May all people live in love
May all suffering fall away 
May all beings be free from the agendas of others who lack in compassion

Tilopa 2.0

 

To Love or Not to Love

Out of Emptiness emerged something extraordinary, a sense of awareness of being.  Wise men, fools, dreamers, the religiously arrogant, philosophers, liars, poets, mystics and sages have written much between that (imaginary) first moment way outside time when the awareness said, “something is doing something.”  We shall let all beings have their story, leave them be and attempt to come into our present state of awareness.
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An Uncluttered Present
This present, the supposed NOW that some people speak of is colored by the past. The experiencer has a history, deep in the subconscious and expressing on the screen of life as we know it is a story of who we are, concepts about the way the world works, the possibles and impossibles.  If we are clear that generally the NOW that many people talk about has baggage, there will be a slight shift in awareness, a deepening, we will be more inclined to stop for a brief moment and not just scroll past it like we do with social media posts.  If we robotically say Be Here Now and make assumptions and think that we have it sorted, it is possible that the flippant attitude that we apply to many of the other things in our lives will once again prevent us from digging in.  Constantly abandoning the past is something that can be done, it may be gradual, for some it may come as a quantum leap, there may be a light-bulb moment, it’s then that the work begins.
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That Elixir
By nature or better I say by habit, we are continuously calling up what we know, all those things that have impacted on us emotionally and also our understandings / conjectures about the reality / the world space we move in.   As humans, due to the cultures we are born into we have subtle prejudices. These ‘knowns’ are what stand in the way of LOVE.
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Love, that old word that has more definitions than a caterpillar has legs; love, that thing that people seek changing partners like an evening at a square dance in a country hall; love, that elixir that brings fierce looking grown men to their knees to weep buckets of tears; love, that wondrous misinterpreted something that is elusive as the quest for what God may or may not be.
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About ten years ago in brief a moment of ecstatic-ness I wrote on a blog post:

“LOVE, has no boundaries or judgements. It embraces the totally of all things born and still unborn. It waits patiently for us to take her hand and follow her to our greatest potential, it forgives our shortcomings and speaks quietly to us when we need her most. Love creeps through our life often unnoticed but catches us as we fall. Love is our only true friend, our faithful companion that walks with us from age to age, beyond the graves.” 
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Also the great sage Shams teacher of the Mystic poet Rumi tells us:
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The chemistry of mind is different from the chemistry of love. The mind is careful, suspicious, he advances little by little. He advises “Be careful, protect yourself” Whereas love says “Let yourself, go!” The mind is strong, never falls down, while love hurts itself, falls into ruins. But isn’t it in ruins that we mostly find the treasures? A broken heart hides so many treasures.
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In those words there is plenty to ponder.  Indulgent romantics will focus on the ‘broken heart’ always licking their wounds as if the world owes them something.  A Buddhist will remind us that attachment is our enemy.  Alan Watts, a great carrier of Zen to the West will echo the words ‘let yourself go’.  Shams wakes us up to the fact that the world of the mind and that of love are in contradiction.  Great men and woman know that we can only be a slave to one.  Take your pick, the mind or love.
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The Unknowing Mind
The mind likes to think it knows everything, it prides itself on information.  Love knows nothing.  Love dives in boots and all, it takes chances, it always stands on the threshold, right on the edge of the precipice.  Some people say love and hate are opposites, it is not hate that is the opposite of love, it is fear.  Fear is the gateway to love.  Fear must fall, it has no place in the world of love apart from being that which dissolves itself when love ultimately flowers.
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Love is Grand
When love becomes ‘personal’ it has a wondrous place but let’s move away from here, not because it has no value, self-indulgence only holds a small spot in the universe, we need to think big in the same way that the beings on this planet are only a dot compared to the other intelligent civilizations in the cosmos.   As confusing and as misconstrued as the word ‘God’, love has its interpreters and impostors.  The holier-than-thou religious babble nonsense about love, meantime looking down on their brothers and sisters, out-casting them with their hideous doom and gloom prophecies, and there are those New Agers who delight in ‘one day karma will get them back’, fully forgetting their own minds are filled with hatred and spiritual elitism.  Their version of love is poisonous, it has conditions, “be like me” and we can add to it “if you don’t, my God will get you you evil wretch”.  They fully forget the journey that got them to their present.
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The Alchemy called Life
On the journey into and through love there is accountability but it is not revengeful, it is self-perpetuating.  The great Gods, the word God here translates as those Beings who have journeyed out of original consciousness ions ago and learnt through experience, climbed out of the states of slumber and forgetfulness and become wondrous creative Beings with understandings that are incomprehensible to human intelligence, these great Gods do not have judgement.  They have patience, the virtue of acceptance of the diversity, they know that to get to be the extraordinary Gods that they are is not instantaneous, it is a trial by fire, it is alchemy, removing the gross metal to reveal the gold.
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Returning to Ourself
If we come back to ourselves and ask the right questions.  Who do I hate? What makes me feel better than others? What behaviors of others do I despise? Who do I look down upon? Why is my tribe, caste or social class better than others?  Why is my spirituality more pure and enlightened than others?  Do we see others as a lost cause and trailer trash? We will start to see how much love we have, when we hold the mirror up we will see our shadow and start to see that our love is selective. We can quote scriptures, speak in a manner that sounds pleasing to others, eat the ‘right’ foods, be part of animal liberation movements and do a lot of things that put us into the nice guy category but it’s an incomplete model of love.  Love is much deeper than this.
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Love is there in tenderness with our beloved, sure; it is in our empathy when something wells up inside us and we go past our normal limitations to help others; yes we have it for our families and pets.  But it is more.  Love is in acceptance of what we don’t like, learning not to despise the wickedness of human nature, and that doesn’t mean to delight in it, it is in understanding that the consciousness that underlies the totality manifests in ways that are incomprehensible to us.  We are quick to judge, often forgetting the path that leads us to now, not remembering that we have a story, that we were at some point whether in this life or way back in time in some other place we expressed in ways that were not kind, we betrayed, we hurt, we put ourselves first, we have added to suffering of others.  Love allows other things to be and that does not mean we have no boundaries in our lives and have a form of idiot-compassion that makes us say yes when the best solution is no.  It’s not just in our actions, it’s about our thoughts, do we vilify others just because they are different, because their wisdom is a dormant seed in their consciousness, that due to the experiences in their lives closed themselves down which lead them to actions that reflect a lack of self care or anger and animosity to others.  Is our ‘I am better-ness’ arrogant?  Are we at times the thing that we hate?
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Love arrives in a very strange way; it is common to hear the words “we cannot truly love until we love ourselves fully’; maybe not fully, that type of thinking leads to a feeling of worthlessness, never good enough, it creates an inverted ego.  Neither the ego or its upside down I-hate-me inverted twin have substance.  There is an open secret that we know but forget, every moment is new and this is an opportunity for new growth, the past season is over and although the winter may have been bitter, the autumn of our lives had a mix of joy and misfortune, the spring of new potential constantly remerges and there are new beginnings.  We can abandon our past and extract the wisdom of experience and wander with dignity into foreverness, touching everything on the way with kindness, creating a trail that brings joy to others where possible, being gentle on the world around us.
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I awake to a new day
Although the unborn is unseen out of view
I trust in the benevolence of the Universe
I am gentle, in this is my strength
I can bend and adapt to the changing fortunes that emerge
I am an embodiment of everything I have ever dreamed to be
I walk with dignity into foreverness

Tilopa 2.0

 

Rearranging Time and Healing the Past and Future

All of humanity suffers.  We can ask the experts like Buddha, phone a friend as people do in a TV quiz show or better still, we don’t need to think too hard to recall our own experiences of doom and gloom. If we need a reminder to really confirm the idea we could go to the slums, visit the homeless to see and feel their world. We can if it is appropriate for us serve the community to help pad the suffering of others a little and at the same time by serving others it will take the focus away from ourselves and this will also warm our hearts.  We know there are many great healers out there, some work within the field of Western medicine, others take different natural or left field approaches. From my experience although the body goes ouch and requires maintenance, bringing our thoughts into a sense of order, taming the ‘bull’ of the mind is critical.  I found something that works for me and I will never go back into the dark night of the soul.  I will attempt to explain it as simply as possible.
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Reconsidering What is Normal
As a general rule, human beings have a view of time which is linear, it comes from a number of sources:

From our natural conditioning
The education we receive from those around us in the environment we are born into.
What we have in our subconsciousness in our DNA inherited from our ancestors.
The agreed upon human consciousness.
The database of experiences from our journey through the corridors of the Cosmos.

The normal view of time that we experience is start at A travel to Z and in-between there is a splattering of events in a sequential order. It would seem fair not to question this sense of order and accept this agreed upon version of time, that is unless you had explored quantum physics, suddenly things go a little skewiff and the world that we know will start to shatter.  There is plenty of material to study on the subject if needed but I would like to keep this simple.
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The A to Z of limited time
As it goes, if we are a healthy person we will be reasonably comfortable with our dreams of the future, we go about our everyday life, maybe work a job and seek some sort of greater position in the hierarchy of the world, we may study for a University degree of some sort or if we are a musician or artist we could strive to eventually be a master of our instrument or art-form. This is an acceptable way to live, we seek success and and make efforts to become more than what we imagine ourselves to be at different points of our lives and go on to greater things.  If life slaps us we may not be able to meet the outcomes of our dreams and could stumble through our days with an overwhelming sense of failure, feeling totally unfulfilled, we end up pushing up daisies and further down the known timeline eventually become food for other creatures.  Whether we meet our life’s goals or not, the time sequence A to Z is the dominating foundation that most of mankind uses to measure events. Contrary to popular opinion as bizarre as it may sound, I am confident from my own experience the A to Z timeline is not the only option and a number of other people I have met are also feeling that the fine old Swiss timepieces are out of sync or at times meaningless.
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Dream Fixing
I will sidetrack for a moment.  Some years ago I had a recurring dream that was very disturbing, no matter what I did it would come back and scare me.  Fortunately I have a friend who is very wise, he has worked as a Psychologist for years so I ran the problem past him.  He advised me to use a simple technique of imagining I was in the nightmare and suggested I take a trusted imaginary friend/Buddha/Jesus/or other option with me into a conscious recalled version of the dream.  I did this a few times and have never had that dream again.  This simple method of dream-changing got me thinking about rewiring my brain or at least the ‘body of thought’, and this has opened up the gateway to deep change in my life.  In summary, all I needed to do was go back into the dream in my imagination, recall the details and observe the situation I was in while in the presence of someone I felt safe with.
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The World of Smoke and Mirrors
Intuitively I realised regardless of the simplicity of the technique how potent it was and began to consider how else I could use it to ‘fix things’. I started to look at the trauma I had experienced in my life and started to dig back through my memories.
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One thing that we are all familiar with is how our memories can differ, when we ask a number of people about ‘what happened’, they will all tell a slightly different story. When I saw my first UFO from the outside, I was with three other people, none of us saw the same thing but we all saw something, the variations were fascinating.  We also know when people give a description to police after a crime event, chances are some will be adamant about what they saw regardless that all others have a differing opinion, the solution they usually take is to go with the general consensus and let the case rest. Often what happens in the case of trauma and abuse is people have a still-frame version of events and in order to put their thoughts at rest, they will fill in the gaps; people know something happened but the detail may be corrupted by the imagination but there will be enough written to the memory to cause enough damage, the emotions get in the way and derail the experiencer of abuse and it becomes difficult to function.
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Rewiring the Past
What emerged from this simple one-off dream healing technique is something that changed me forever, I dont say this lightly.  Like many people I have had a series of traumas in my life, the type of things that people often don’t recover from.  I had a brainwave and thought I’d give an idea a try.  I remembered two critical events in my life as a child and teenager.  These were situations where someone turned up at the events I was concerned about and NOBODY would know what was going on, without going into detail in both cases I was in serious danger, these events scarred me emotionally for many years after.  Being a person who is prepared to go outside the square, I felt I could find a solution to what troubled me.

The Accidental Time Traveller
Each night I started lying quietly in a semi meditative state and going back through my life and taking my older wiser self to visit the events that had disturbed me.  The process was rather simple:

I removed all distractions such as phone, made sure the stove was off and told the world to go away 🙂
Lay on bed, made sure I felt safe and comfortable
Called up an overview of the event to my memory
Called imaginary friend-helper (in my case it was my future wiser self)
Focused on the event
Whenever I felt a little uncomfortable I looked to my friend for support
Consciously walked through what I could recall and watched my younger self in the experience
If I felt too uncomfortable I would close the session
Over a period of days I kept going back until I felt I didn’t need to enter that particular experience any more

I found that I became a lot lighter in my every day waking life and not so troubled by my past.
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Making Sense of the Nonsensical
Some of the following may sound reasonable but other concepts would seem illogical to a number of people. My logic here was:
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Events of the past write information to the subconscious
The world is not as solid as we think it is but is constantly reconstructing itself moment to moment
We are co-creators of the environments we move in and the idea that God is pulling the strings undermines our well-being and dis-empowers us
We can update and rewrite the information stored in our memory by visiting our past
Rewiring our ‘relationships with past events’ opens up new experiences that we would have missed and changes the attitudes we have about the present
The past events work like a filter that allows us to only see a small percentage of what is happening around us
The present state of our subconscious thoughts creates the emerging future
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With the above in mind here’s what I consider happens and although it may not make sense would seem incredulous, a person does not need to believe what I am about to say. Regardless of my explanation it is reasonable to assume ‘something worked’. In two of the traumatic experiences as a child and teenager a man turned up who I now recognise as the present/future ‘me’.  He stepped in and stopped the events which were going on.  In one case I was being severely harassed by some people and NOBODY apart from my girlfriend at the time knew anything about what was going on and there was no possible way she could have organised someone to help me. During this event which impacted for days I was terrified, out of balance,  a man arrived went to visit the people and requested the harassment to stop, it ceased immediately.  In the other case I was in a serious abusive situation as a child and who I refer as the ‘future me’ came into the room, created great havoc and chased the men out.  This may in some way sound like an imaginary misunderstanding of events but without going into detail about the circumstances there is no way anyone else from the normal waking every day 3D world we are in could have been my rescuer.  I am confident beyond a doubt that the future me went back in time and interrupted the flow of events exactly as I envisaged it, even though it may seem absurd.  However, regardless of who it was, here is how it works.
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The Tree of Time
If we see ourselves as a garden it will be easy to articulate the process.  We, like any garden will have numerous trees and plants growing, in this case we can assume it to be a jungle and is survival of the fittest.  Each one of the major experiences in our lives is a seed of a future tree.  If we experience loving events it will impact on us and soften our heart, from this will grow tree with good fruit in the future, if we have a traumatic stressful moment it will generate a plant that is in some way poisonous at a future time. If our ‘garden’ gets too cluttered with poisonous plants, everything that is tasty, nutritious or for our benefit will be strangled and the joy of life will be lost.
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When we consider that the seeds and roots are in the past and grow into the future, by carefully going back to the major events of our lives with some type of imaginary beloved who we feel safe with, we can tell our younger selves that we will be okay in the future and that we are going to make it and live a beautiful life of wondrous experiences.  We can also go back to the more joyous or loving events and feel the sensation that they give off.  This feeling the sensation will strengthen the ‘trunk’ that goes into the future present, by doing this we can restore the balance of harmony within ourselves.
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Rewiring the Future
Although the future is unborn, the seeds and roots of it are in the present.  As we can go into the past to change our ‘relationship’ with it, we can also create still-frames in our consciousness to move into in the future.  It works like a blue print and creates a definite ‘something’ to manifest, even though it is nebulous it will solidify if we don’t try and control the events between where we are and what is in the template; if we feel the joy of it and this doesn’t need to be a real joy, it can be joy like the equivalent of a forced-smile; the part of us that creates uses the emotional sensations as food for what will appear in the future. I learnt some time back that when you get out of bed of a morning it is good to stretch and smile regardless how you may feel.  The brain sends the message through the body that it’s a good day emerging.  Also as soon as waking, we can turn our first couple of thoughts around to positive, it will help structure our day, if we don’t do this, we will be playing catch-ups trying to re-balance from niggling negative thought.
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Keeping it Simple
This is a simple version of what I know works.  If I went into detail about moving along our life’s timeline and/or jumping off it, or more specifically if I discussed how it sits inside our Greater Mind, it would probably not sound credible; or if I discussed the numerous events and shifting or manipulating our timeline or being on multiple timelines it would probably sound absurd.  We are an unfolding consciousness and the process is like a flower opening.
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A wise person once said, “Be careful what you ask for.” I will add to it, “but if you are gentle and loving to yourself, if you FEEL worthy of good fortune, the genies lamp will be found.”

May All Beings Be HappyNOW!

Tilopa 2.0 

 

What the Fudge isn’t Enlightenment

In the West we have been bombarded for more than a hundred years with information about various types of Utopian consciousness that will save us not only from the world around us, secure us a happy afterlife but also protect us from ourselves.  Some of those who arrived from the East to guide those seeking escape and the meaning of life have been very sincere and kind, others deluded and many with private agendas of proselytizing and spreading their brand and there have been those who have been corrupt, abusive and downright dangerous.  All these bods, whether they have been genuine in their quest to serve humanity, self centered or suffering from bizarre delusion, have added to the definition of the word ENLIGHTENMENT.  And from this word there has grown a mystique that this glorious fruit offered to humanity must be acquired at all costs.  Some would leave their families, others give up their life savings or even deprive themselves of basic nutrition and adhere to a diet suitable for a field rat or sparrow; then there have been those who felt it was appropriate to dress in the national costumes of other communities and use what could be described as a designer-language that only the initiated could make sense of, others are considered outsiders or ignorant. And there have been numerous ‘chosen ones’ who considered themselves privileged and saved beyond doubt because they hold to the true teachings.
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Normals
So let’s look at this Enlightenment thing.  I will start by mentioning a few things most people desire and say quality of life, happiness, a peaceful mind, good health and a kind heart are core things that may be part of ‘Enlightenment’ but they are also sought by many who do or don’t have a religious or spiritual quest, mankind sees them as normal and healthy.  These for some may be the fruits of this mysterious Enlightenment thing but when we look at them it would be fair to say that there have been numerous people who did not seek any God or paradise who would have achieved those goals and when I glance towards one of my favorite Indian good guys, the sage Ramana Maharshi, I am reminded that he died of cancer, so maybe this shortlist of desirables does not equate to Enlightenment or isn’t associated with it; they may or may not be spin-offs.
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Lighting Up
One common dictionary version of the word Enlightenment is “the action of enlightening or the state of being enlightened”, this doesn’t really say much it’s like saying there is a fishiness about fish; but we could surmise from its common usage that the word light or the concept ‘to throw light on’ would play a part. … Scene Change: Enter lots of people looking quite peaceful carrying candles and glowing.  This mind-picture has a lot of associated problems, all of us have met people who did dress-ups and looked all sparkly but turned out to be absolute shysters.  I like the idea of don’t believe what we see or hear, the senses can deceive us; in the same way that when people drink alcohol, their sense of judgement goes out, maybe we can consider that the senses can give us a false view.  So I will start by saying let’s forget what we are told.  My reasoning is based on the idea that we often hear interpreters of other peoples experiences telling us how something is, I consider this as absurd, commentators don’t necessarily know what the truth is, they assume and then create a logical story that is often very convincing.  Human nature is rather predictable, it’s like the lotteries, there are a few winners and everyone else talks about what they would do if they won. So what to do?
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Masquerade
For starters, we have heard secondhand that there is some type of elixir, something to be sought; the evidence seems to be based in scriptures and every now and then we hear of people who say they have made contact with supposed holy men or women who had that special Enlightenment thing.  And then we meet people who probably in all honesty believe that they are enlightened, whether it be true or false at this point doesn’t really matter.  I do think we need to sort the masquerade and exhibitions of devotion from what I would call depth of experience.  From my perspective depth of experience seems to be an important issue; and this translates as to see or feel deeper than what is presented or assumed to be so.
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The E Word
If there were such a thing as Enlightenment and won’t I buy in either way with a true or false argument, in an effort to make sense of it I think we would probably need to apply some basic attributes to this mysterious ‘E’ word, and yes I may be adding to the fiasco but we can be sensible about it; there also is the problem that in being sensible I am creating an assumption that the ‘E’ word must be sensible in some way, it is reasonable to say that it may not necessarily be so and an example that would challenge the ‘known sensible’ is the Zen Koan tradition.  A student is given a short text to contemplate that may seem nonsensical.  However, using analysis and critical thinking to get a number of issues sorted seems fair.  To be clear minded and create a foundation to work from is a good idea even if the end experience (or understanding it) disintegrates the foundation and common sense, we need to enter the subject in an orderly fashion.
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The Restful Mind
When we look at the numerous techniques found in Eastern, some of the Western religious traditions and in indigenous cultures we see there is a focus of what I call Taming the Bull, I will translate this as ‘to bring about a clarity of mind.’  I will use the word ‘mind’ in a particular parlance; the mind in this case means the container of thought and belongs to an associative thinker; imagine a balloon full of floating jellybeans of various sizes, each bean has attributes/stories about it, some micro and the others long sagas.  A calm mind-space may not be the definition of enlightenment but the desire or experience of such would allow ones perception to be clear without having chaotic thought in the way. What I am implying here is experience may need to be untainted by stories, is this necessary? I will commit myself here and say yes, that’s a given. The stories we have about things is what colors our view and can get in the way of ‘seeing’ properly.
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I will come back here and make it clear about what we are doing, we are looking at the word Enlightened, a word that has been dressed up and thrown around the spiritual circles, a word that has confused people, a word that has created a graveyard of casualties; we are trying to find a way to decide who may be the real deal and also if the E word exists.  Can we resolve the issue of enlightenment without others, can we either get rid of the idea, develop an approach to chase and secure the elixir or at minimum never be fooled again by wanna-be’s and shysters?
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The Illusionists
Often when some supposed spiritual expert or religious people discuss Enlightenment, they give us examples of Utopian worlds outside our vision, things that are not accessible by our senses; this type of attitude is  downright dangerous and has the potential for an abuse of power.  Whether it is Viking boats paddling to Valhalla, glowing faced Buddhas or Vedic Gods, if it is not something tangible it is good to keep them out of the mix for now or maybe forever.  One person creates a story and because it is not measurable it allows them the expert/master/guru to keep a student or disciple within their scope with a promise of a goal.  Is there something beyond our normal senses?  Yes obviously, contemporary physics tells us this, we don’t have to dig too far, does the miraculous happen?  Sure, we see it every day in numerous ways, many things defy logic and we make up stories to normalise them.  The issue is not that there isn’t something extraordinary beyond, it’s about trust, naivety, bullying of the ignorant and buying into the stories of others, not all but some of the experts would be deluded and self-righteous, others who make it up as they go and jiggle it around a bit to suit their agenda and there are those who are indoctrinated who believe in a specific tradition but have no personal experience. So what to do, do we burn the lot, give up?
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Getting Excited
We are also faced with another serious issue and it’s what I call spiritual euphoria, I have seen this many times.  An example is when I have been to events where due to overwhelming evidence I am confident that a ‘spiritual’ person/teacher is an absolute charlatan (or even criminal),  people in the gathering are having some type of temporary experience of some sort of bliss/ euphoria. When they leave the event they associate their experience with the guru or whoever; in a short period of time after a few visits they have acquired the beads, the book, the prayers, the candles and a ready made community who supports the belief that what is going on is deeply spiritual and the guru gets the enlightenment seal of approval by a naive to some degree semi-hypnotised community.  Contrary to popular opinion, there is a possibility that Enlightenment would probably not only be about feeling good 24/7 but it is fair to say that if there was such a thing as Enlightenment, feeling good may be an attribute….let’s continue.  The desire for or idea of 24/7 feeling blissful could easily be an obstacle or at least amisunderstanding.
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Spiritual Spam
These days we are bombarded with what resembles wise sayings.  I like the word discrimination, when discrimination is used as a tool of analysis and not to marginalise people or communities, it is one of the best things in our toolbox.  It is easy for people to read some words and get a temporary feeling of warm-fuzzy and get the wisdom salivary glands going, from my experience I think it is important to carefully pull apart these words of wisdom, to give them life.  Often when we read words we make assumptions based on our own history and conditioning. Sometimes the creators of the supposedly wise words have committed heinous crimes against women and children, I don’t subscribe to the idea ‘they had a temporary lapse of virtue and didn’t live the teachings’, this may be true but I am not comfortable with delusory flowery sayings that create temporary euphoria and brain sparkles, it’s a bit like fake plants, they may look okay but have no substance and just take up space.
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The Magicless Pill
And there are many people who have taken drugs and assume because the experience they have is outside the normal-known that they have opened up consciousness, I am quite comfortable to say that after forty years of meditation and explorations of consciousness, the drug experience has little to do with super-consciousness, if there were a benefit from them and I do say this with great hesitation and extreme caution, it would be a reminder that our normal way of seeing is not the only worldview but there are other ways of perception.  As the world’s mental health institutions are littered with casualties from drug experimentation, this idea is fraught with danger.  Of the great men and women I have met in my life, I haven’t met anybody who resembled a Buddha or someone similar who would encourage external substances to help awaken something inside, i have met wonderful people who are drug users and it would be unreasonable to say that drug users are not necessarily kind people, we are talking about consciousness not about integrity or character; there is now a culture of people hanging out with bods they refer as Shamans and potion-ing up;  most that I have met are a little unstable and I am yet to meet someone who has evidence of an ongoing type of spiritual experience that doesn’t seem like a type of psychosis, I have met a number who are semi-euphoric people.  We were talking about Enlightenment.
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What Would Buddha Do?
So what is it?  We do know according to legend/history that Buddha experienced something.  At the core of his teaching is detachment, when we look at the reasoning behind this it seems clear it is because if someone is clinging to things, it will ultimately lead to suffering at its loss.  Gautama Buddha also aligns with Jesus Christ, without sounding like a sermon  which this is not, I am cross referencing something from another tradition; Jesus supposedly said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal”, both of these great men have had religions and cults built around their lives and teachings, both imply that what may be worthwhile pursuing is not in things and also point out that if you hang on too tight to things you may be heading for trouble.  So is this Enlightenment? In both cases we are given a method of how to relate to things, to keep them in their place but this would not be the goal would it?  If we look at it closely we are given a hint of something worth pursuing, we see a picture that the relationship between ourselves and ‘things’ are critical, it is implied that there needs to be a letting go, a non clinging to things.  If we are not cautious and are a zealot or extremist we could easily begin to despise the world around us, to treat it as the enemy and this is a tragedy to say the least.  Many people spend their lives running away, are scared of life, frightened of natural emotions; when you take an idea too far it can become poison.
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Who’s the Boss?
If we look closely at detachment there is an implication that being obsessive about something makes us a slave to it.  So is Enlightenment about being a master instead of a slave?  The word Master (with a big m) comes up a lot among guru-speak, it’s a little challenging to someone from the West when they hear an adult calling someone in an Indian pajamas “Master”. Going back to the Jesus way of doing things I am reminded that the apostle Peter called Jesus Master and he said “I am not your master”, I would consider this to be a good yardstick to work from, assuming that Jesus was real, looking at his behavior it is clear he had a decent set of values and if any one was to be someones master, he would be in the running to get the top job.  In some traditions such as the Radha Soami and Ruhani Satsang groups in Northern India they imply that the Master is inside, it is light and sound, they also refer to someone alive as representing the Living Master, I won’t address this approach as either true or false, it is just one of many references I could have used. But there is an implication of ‘handing over’ to another, but some say, “no go”.
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Looking Elsewhere
In some traditions like the one just mentioned we hear that the guru or God is inside, beyond any doubt these words have created many problems, there’s a lot of baggage associated with this approach. And the idea also presents some marvelous questions for the inquisitive seeker of life’s mysteries.  We have also heard people say ‘I am God’, some of these are people who would be described as having mental health issues and we have heard some great noble men and women also refer to themselves as God, and we can also read in some biblical translations that Jesus said something like, “Know that ye are Gods”.  Are these great personage Divine madmen?  I would apply a little commonsense here, the word God is a variable and means something  totally different to many people. When we hear people saying that God or guru is inside, this creates a series of complications, however it does if we follow this line of thought remove the idea of running down the street and looking for a savior or some dude in an Eastern outfit.  Some say the word guru means teacher, others say remover of darkness and there are those who will look starry eyed and start babbling a stream of indecipherable words that almost seem insane as they expound their love for who they are devoted to.
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The idea of looking INSIDE may not be the solution but it is not a bad idea, if Buddha puts out a warning to not get attached to ‘things’ of the world, it would seem practical to look the other way, his attachment could also include people as they are in the world of form.  And as a back up confirmation we hear that Jesus said, “the kingdom of Heaven comes not by observation, the kingdom of Heaven is in you”.
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Opening the Box and Looking In
When we look inside, what do we see?  Fears, joys, wandering thoughts, dreams of the future, memories, and sensations such as aches, tingles, anxiety, fleeting passing images, textures.  Are these the things that we are seeking, is this what they are talking about?  Some would say,”obviously not” and consider it to be a stupid question.  I personally am never in a hurry to dismiss and arrive at assumptions about things said by those I consider as wise.  It would seem reasonable to say that these things are not what we are looking for, however they may be a useful part of the tools required to get the result which is sought to understand this Enlightenment thing people speak of.  There is a form of meditation that some people do, it’s called Neti Neti, a simple translation would be “not this, not this”.  As anything presents itself in our thought field in meditation it gets the gentle tap of the conscious-ping-pong-bat, Neti Neti not this not this. When we look towards the sage Ramana Maharshi we will see he told those who inquired about God and the mystery of life that they need to meditate and ask the question ‘who am i’, he said that meditation without self-inquiry is not so good, and also implied that self-inquiry without meditation is fraught with danger.  Both Buddha and Ramana’s methods seem to be pointing to get under the bonnet of our thinking.
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I Think I Thought
Thought can be troublesome, it breaks people, prevents them sleeping, leads to despair unless they can find a way to step away from it.  Trying to catch or stop thought in its tracks is like stretching out your fingers, putting them into a river and attempting to get reasonable handfuls of water, most of it slips through the fingers, it’s a futile quest.  If we think about it, the meditative process is in a way defined by Buddha when he reminded us that attachment is an issue, we can take that idea and apply it to our internal processes and not just what is going on outside.  When we try and stop thought we are attaching to it; thought has its own business, we assume that because its in our mind-space that it must be ours. Personally I am not fooled by this, I see thought the same as looking out the window.  If a van drives past it is obviously not my van; if thought is passing i see it as not my thought; however if I attach to it then the relationship deepens, if I follow it an action may follow, I do not need to follow it, it’s not my thought, it is only as solid as a cloud and I know clouds change shape, they move on and disintegrate. Thoughts also emerge from my inbuilt tendencies, there is an Indian word called samskaras that some people would be aware of, I am not an Indian so I will speak English instead because it’s easier to understand without adding a whole lot of spiritual jargon to the mix.  Our tendencies will relate to the world around us, we see an image, it is delightful, we want to posses it or have some type of experience with it, the hooks go in, we are attached.  From day dot, the first moment of our lives we have been creating a story on how the world is, developing beliefs that we think are truth, it may be political, social, religious or just natural preferences. Out of the stories created, thoughts stream from our subconscious; we believe we are something, someone, we have a vision of how the world is, we usually don’t doubt the stories, they are hardwired and make up our world.
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Walking Through Space
When we plunge deeper, the world dissolves, there is no ‘ground’, there is no substance; we may choose to call our awareness ‘the perceiver’ and think that it has real substance but when start digging around it becomes clear there really is nothing to grab onto, it’s the same situation as trying to look out our own eyes. It may be simpler just to say, “ok there is conscious—ness, something is aware of the movement of forms of shape-sounds in space” but I am confident there is no need to get carried away with a definition.  The mind of man likes a sense of order, to categorise things, some forms of Zen are about undoing sense, I don’t mean to become nonsensical, I am saying that logic is the wrong tool, it’s like trying to catch a rainbow in a bottle, trying to answer or do the impossible.  The sage Jiddu Krishnamurthi used to say, “can we ever ask the right question?”, he was one of the great explorers of spirituality and religion, I would not be in a hurry to disregard this simple question.
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Checking In
We are looking at what this Enlightenment thing might be and all the associated spiritual games played by many, all those experts, the seekers, the gurus, the religious addictions people have and the fanciful dreams of what it’s about. We have heard many times ‘look within’, those words have been said in great seriousness and also flippantly they are thrown around by many spiritual types of people. A question arises, so what about the outside, is it meaningless?  When we look with our eyes we see a world in motion, nothing is static, when we listen, sound is also in motion, it has a starting point and a decay, it is time-bound. When we taste, the cake is there and then it’s gone it barely touched the sides and internally in our thinking thoughts come and go at lightening speed, the one thing that is consistent is movement. And a reminder that we know from experience that stillness or emptiness is constant. Here we have the situation of EVERYTHING is in motion and there is an underlying stillness, we can almost conclude that attachment to anything that moves may not be practical because it is time-based, it has a shelf life, or we could view it from another perspective that it is permanent at each moment and may never be repeated, whichever way we choose to see it it does seem reasonable to say that anything that is time-based is probably not what we are pursuing. Understanding that attachable things, even the forms of Gods are things that at some point need to be disconnected from.
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The more we look we find ourselves in the situation that the very point of awareness, what we call the experiencer of the vision is the critical element in the picture.  And this is no new revelation but it is critical that we get rid of a lot of other assumptions, if we don’t they will get in the way and shape our understanding.  We are faced with a dilemma and it is the very one that has been used by the charlatans to delude others and in many cases themselves, there is something slightly out of the ordinary doing something, however when we look towards the real Zen teachers we can see that ordinariness may be critical part of the process, and it is not that I am saying that ordinariness is the essence of Enlightenment, but if we look closely we will notice that things are only made ordinary by ‘thought’, when something is familiar it is shrunk down into the ‘known’ and is considered ordinary, when really what is going on is miraculous. The real Zen teachers and I am saying the word ‘real’ intentionally to separate them away from religious tradition with all its baggage, there are those outside of and also a few in the traditions who looked through a bigger window at the world, and I am not trying to be disrespectful to traditions.  If I don’t clarify things an assumption may arise that I am saying that Zen is a path to enlightenment, it may be but discrimination is important.  Although the Zen tradition is diverse and the Koan tradition may seem chaotic as well as nonsensical it clearly shows that the tool we are using ‘the thinking logical mind’ may not be suitable for the job to be completed and without getting over cerebral about it all, finding the extraordinary in nature around us seems to be closer to what one is seeking than philosophical discussions or treatises on what God, the meaning of life or Enlightenment might be.
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I am comfortable saying :

  • Thought is an obstacle
  • Philosophy can be seriously flawed because it sends people down a track where they create a story that is interpreted a certain way and is not about personal experience
  • The perceiver of the experience is critical
  • The perceiver is not the same as the thoughts about what a person believes him or herself to be, people create a story based on temporary attributes
  • There is a witness but I say the W word with great caution because of assumptions people make
  • Gods and gurus may get in the way
  • External things are transitory and attachment to them has a use-by date
  • The logical mind is totally out of its depth but may be a useful tool to help eliminate what Enlightenment isnt
  • Confusing a type of euphoria with Enlightenment is common but erroneous
  • One’s personal experience is the yardstick for measuring
  • Thought divides things into categories where the familiar is not extraordinary whereas the new or unknown is

So where does this leave us?
When we look at the list above and apply the Neti Neti – Not This Not This approach, by elimination and that also means getting rid of our sh*t, we will find a type of space in our thinking.  If we enter into a quest with ideas of what something might be, everything will be colored by what we bring to it.  Suddenly I may sound like a Buddhist if I use the word Emptiness, as we know in Buddhism Emptiness is often mentioned.  Not being a Buddhist it is easier for me to break it out of the box, the conclusions or perspective may be the same as some who discuss Buddhism but any ism will have its assumptions and we don’t need them to color our thoughts even if the ism holds some truth.
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Everything’s in Motion
We can conclude without a fuss that everything in the world is transitory,  we know that things are moving in, on or are in relation to space, they arise, stay a while and fall away into foreverness. It’s the relationship with the empty-still-backdrop that allows all things to come into form or have motion.  The more we look clearly and analyse we will begin to see that WE are in the way of the view, the ME that I think I am is blocking the view of not only how I see the world, experience and see things but it also is THE thing that prevents me from seeing who or what I am.  ME is at the centre of the totality of all the experiences I have had and based on the data I throw together, a picture emerges that I use to define me.  We could simplify it down and say ‘well I am the witness’, with that approach great caution is required and here’s why.
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There is an assumption that we are at the centre, we are inside looking out at the world, people rarely question this.  We see life on a timeline going from birth to death , A to Z with life stuff in the middle.  Some people have a belief in reincarnation, this  ME we could define as other A’s to Z’s;  whether reincarnation is true or not doesn’t matter here, if somebody has an experience of their other lives then they could come to a reasonable conclusion about the existence of reincarnation, until then it’s just a concept, religious flippy floppy info that we have been indoctrinated with.  Our brain is a very sensitive machine, it translates data and sends it via pathways throughout the body.  We know that we don’t all see the same thing, we as a human community agree on certain aspects, a tree is a tree, there is an unspoken acknowledgement and orderliness, as well as rules and limitations that the community members say are possible, when someone says anything that doesn’t fit they, are defined as odd, a nutter or occasionally a Saint or miracle worker.  Let’s look at all this very closely.
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A View Through the Lens
The world we move in has a giant filter over it, the filter is in the individual, everything is being translated through filters that shape each persons view,  I am hesitant to say ‘live in the Now’, it has so much baggage and when most people are in the NOW, the filters are blocking the present experience.  But there is a great benefit to constantly come back into the present by throwing a rope around the wayward wandering mind who is self obsessed with a story of who it believes itself to be.
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I wouldn’t be foolish enough to say that there is or isn’t Enlightenment. However, it is critical to undo all the stories, myths and second hand versions of what it is; without removing the concepts of what it may be, the concepts will create a false goal and a person becomes a slave to an idea that is not based in the individuals experience.  If we need to DO anything, and I will say I prefer to NOT DO anything, it would be to come back to oneself, and the deeper we go we find that there is NOTHING, and in NOTHING is the potential of EVERYTHING.
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Tilopa 2.0

Yoga -Unknowing the People We Know

We hold each other prisoners of the past, accidentally bypassing the fact that nothing stays the same. We do know that people grow through experience, but it seems difficult to forget what we ‘know’ about those who have been a part of our lives.  There is a petty holding on to the past, this ‘placing people where we think they belong’ could be considered our enemy or a major hurdle to jump over in our lives. Most of our enemies are inside us, the human species has a tendency to be a slave to his/her thoughts, regurgitating the ‘story’ of what and who we believe others to be, and even more serious, who we believe ourselves to be.
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Community of Humanity
Buddhists have a word called Sangha,  I like this word, it is often interpreted as ‘community of monks’, there are other similar meanings where it implies to other kindred souls on the Buddhist path. There is a broader way of looking at it, in the big picture view I would define it as ALL BEINGS, purely because we are all in this together, all with our own challenges and distractions.  If I look at it from another perspective I could define it as a tribe or people of like mind; whether these definitions are true is not overly important but it is useful for me to get an idea across.
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Impressionable Beings
We have all seen the situation where a person may not be a smoker or drinker, but if they hang around regularly with people who have these habits, they could easily take these things on as part of their lifestyle. As children we were warned about the company we keep, stay away from the ‘bad kid’ or we may end up the same. We are impressionable beings. I usually try and hang out with brilliant people and those with a gentle spirit.  If we are sensitive people when we go into a hotel where it’s rowdy and rough, we may find it very uncomfortable to be in that environment, to others it’s a ‘what’s wrong with you, get over it’. I will state that I don’t think being ‘sensitive’ is important at all, I say this as a sensitive person, there are very wise people who have the sensitivity of a sledgehammer. When we go to a place of meditation or an environment where good works are done, we often get an uplifting feeling, this is no accident, we feel the world around us.
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Network of Thought
There is a grid of thought that surrounds us, this is one of the reasons why cities are chaotic, it’s not just the noise, the pollution, the traffic, men in dark suits, the hustle and bustle with no rustle of leaves and the absence bright colours of spring or the shades of autumn, we have unconsciously created a network of thought that wraps around everything; we extend way beyond our bodies.  There are clusters of thought pollution, I could call it ‘psychic smog’ and also there are some islands of refuge, empty churches with their spacious reverb, gardens or big old trees to lie under. When we go to the country, in the open spaces we feel better because we are not getting battered by the floating ‘debri’ thought particles from others that invades our thinking.
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When we are away for long periods of time from our families or people we have spent large portions of our lives with, we no doubt change.  What life serves up brings about wisdom, we transform into different people, we may also develop new personas or patterns of behaviour, neurosis, or even drop things from our lives that were part of our shadow, we may gradually overcome those things that were not the best part of our personalities.
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A New World
However, it is an aspect of human nature to place people exactly in the same space where we knew them, even if years have passed.  The whole world is caught in the past.  I have noticed that when people come to a new country they can ‘reinvent’ themselves, it obviously does depend on the environment they move to, and the amount of personal power and energy, they often succeed in a new world; personally I think it is because they have the opportunity to reconstruct their world view and can detach from the opinions that others have of them. Our loved ones can stunt our growth and ‘hold’ us in the position where we have always been; regardless of their unquestionable love, it can suffocate our unborn future.  It is critical to those around us to see them as a creative-process-in-motion and allow and trust that they have enough insight to be able to carve out a pathway forward unhindered by our opinion of who and what we believe them to be.  I think there is a need for us to see the good in others, regardless of their habits they have that may be destructive; if possible we can try to hold them safely for a while and say ‘you have endless potential’.  People we love have a deep trust in our opinions at a subconscious level, if we can’t see the success and potential in them, we will ultimately undermine them.
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Constant Change
People often don’t feel safe when someone they love changes, they are comfortable with the ‘old someone’, the new version requires a shift in the eye of the beholder. When a husband or wife takes on new habits or friends, if the partner is insecure they often object and undermine their loved one.  In a way relationships can be like letting out a kite string, allowing someone to fly but keeping a gentle hold on the ‘attachment’ string.
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Letting Others Be
If there is a secret to life, and yes there are many, I think it is to be able to undo the story we have about others, to understand change does happen, regardless that some habits and patterns are deeply engraved.  We need to trust in the unfolding process that is a part of nature and allow others to have enough space without our opinions about who we believe them to be and holding them back.  It is strangers who usually see the brilliance in those around us, their eyes are fresh, uncoloured by history, it is their ‘unknowing’ that permits them to experience the beauty and genius of our loved ones that we can so easily miss.

by Tilopa 2.0