No, they don’t exist.
As we begin the “study” of the self, and observe our mind and how our interpretations of the world are heavily affected by our conditioning, then we will perceive how what we call “Life” and what we call “I” are heavily intertwined in such manner that those “two” apparently separated entities are one.
When there is an observer (I) separated from that which is observed, then apparently there is someone operating out of his own volition. It is that collective “illusion” the one governing our general perception of the world.
Sentient beings (humans, animals, plants, minerals, etc) are agents of change just like cells of the human body. The “illusion” is that every cell has a “free will” to act, when in fact; their activity is in unison acting through the laws of cause and effect.
What we call “good” or “bad” luck are merely shallow perceptions based on what is apparently convenient for what we call the “I.” However, there is a gross ignorance of what lies beyond the surface. In fact, we label happenings as “luck,” when we do not know the causes underneath, that is the label “luck” hides our sheer ignorance.
How could there be “luck” in a world of duality which changes through cause and effect? Consequences and repercussions go beyond what we could perceive on the surface.
Observe your own lifetime. Observe the “decisions” we thought were “beneficial” for “ourselves” at first sight. Many times they will come true, but many times they will not. Throw the dice. Why is that?
There is a plot already happening which many times we label as “destiny,” “God,” “luck,” “fate,” “doom,” etc. Labels do not matter, what matters is to be able to observe without bias, prejudices, reasons, beliefs or expectations.
Wisdom is not attained. There is no achievement there.
Insight is not given in a “spiritual class.”
There is no religion or philosophical system that could offer wisdom, but conditioning through information.
There is no course or “certification,” that could prepare anyone to be a “spiritual guide.”
Living Life will unleash wisdom… little by little.
Living Life in awareness, will speed things up.
Therefore; in Life, we could go slow or we could go fast.
Either way we will get there.
Nowhere. A rat in a maze will run everywhere, “searching” for something. Awareness, will allow us to know that we are in a maze. What is there to search? The “exit”? Everyone will get there without “effort.” Thus, Enjoy the maze!
The “spiritual class,” the religion, the philosophical system, the spiritual certification, the course with the guru, will give you a destination, a “where to go,” Something to achieve!
The majority of “spiritual” people need that. Achieve by paying a fee.
Go through a door, here comes another. There are so many doors! Which one is the “top door” to achieve? What is the shortcut, the “right” method? Label every door: Level 1, level 2, level 3… just like a Nintendo game. Now we are going someplace! Although, nowhere.
What “you” are right now is the product of many, many experiences from many, many lives.
“But… That is reincarnation… There is no scientific proof of that..”
In a family all siblings are different even though brought up by the same parents.
Suzy likes beets but she hates carrots. Her sister, likes carrots and hates beets.
What is the scientific explanation of that? 🙂
What “you” are now, is constant change.
Because our consciousness is different at every point in time due to different experiences, it is impossible for everyone to have the same change to the same extent, as to be the same.
In limited words, “All sinners cannot become virtuous at the same time.”
“This is the only time to change. It is now or never. Don’t waste your time. Convert to our religion. Just believe in so and so and you will be saved.”
That is a huge misunderstanding.
Consciousness cannot change by accepting a religion or philosophy. However, the experiences through that religion or philosophy will help in the process of transforming our consciousness.
A religion or philosophy or guru is not the “solution” but an ingredient into the “solution” which will emerge upon each one of us when our time arrives.
That is the reason why, there is no religious path or philosophy which could be labeled as the “true path.”
Spirituality cannot be separated from Life itself.
In short; to learn to live life in balance, in joy… That is true spirituality.
That is why any religion dealing with the future; such as heaven, and a promise of salvation; is not interested in the “now,” (for that “salvation” is in the future,) therefore; beliefs are born as the main way to understand Life “now.”
“What do you mean?”
Your life “now” should fit into the belief of a future.
Heaven is the goal. Act like a heavenly being now.
In theory that may sound good. That is a nice belief.
In practice, it does not work like that.
To act is not the same as being it. Actions are according to our consciousness and not the other way around.
To act heavenly even though our consciousness is not there, is to start our journey into exploring self-dishonesty.
“But… I want to be an angel!”
Understand fully what it is to be a human being first.
That is the “now.” The future will come as a consequence of that.
This is not intellectual understanding. It is living life in awareness.
Therefore, to become conscious, aware is the first step. A belief system is not interested in that.
A belief system is only interested in beliefs about the future.
The discovery of “being” a human being is forgotten to embrace a futuristic ideal.
The “Now” is suppressed in order to live the futuristic ideal.
Life is greater than any belief system.
Joshu asked Nansen: “What is the path?”
Nansen said: “Everyday life is the path.”
Joshua asked: “Can it be studied?”
Nansen said: “If you try to study, you will be far away from it.”
Joshu asked: “If I do not study, how can I know it is the path?”
Nansen said: “The path does not belong to the perception world, neither does it belong to the non perception world. Cognition is a delusion and noncognition is senseless. If you want to reach the true path beyond all doubt, place yourself in the same freedom as sky. You name it neither good nor not-good.”
At these words Joshu was enlightened.
Mumon’s comment: Nansen could melt Joshu’s frozen doubts at once when Joshu asked his questions. I doubt though if Joshu reached the point that Nansen did. He needed thirty more years of study.
from Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, A Collection of Zen and Pre-Zen Writings Compiled by Paul Reps (Anchor Books, New York ~ 1956)
The above came in an email to me.
“Mumon’s comment,” show the “enlightenment of knowing.” To be able to express what Mumon said, is the knowing of going through Life itself in awareness.
Is to study “bad,” a waste of time in “Spirituality”?
Neither good nor bad. It is part of the necessary experience and not the ultimate experience.
No one could become “enlightened” by just hearing words which just “make sense” to them. There has to be a background of experiences along with deep insight, which does not come from being “intelligent” or well read.
A person lost in rationality cannot flow with Life. A person who does not have critical thinking skills, is an easy prey for beliefs.
Let me share what I see through my experience in Life, as being the obstacle for seekers not being able to open up to a different consciousness:
Rationality. Thinking. Beliefs: Believing in the “only way.” Believing that “spiritual” experiences come included with a dogma to be followed, studied and recited to others. “Black or White” mentality.
That sense of “freedom as the sky” as Nansen mentioned, is lost in the cage of beliefs and rationality and with that our ability to perceive Life without beliefs.
For example, when someone makes Zen as Zen by defining it, by giving it boundaries, then, that “practice” becomes another dogma just like any other dogmatic religion full of beliefs.
Let me put it in another way, anything that we define becomes rigid in our mind. That rigidity is not consistent with the way Life is, which is constant change.
Defining Life as being “constant change,” is not what is. It is just a way to express something for the majority to understand, to “like” a writing, but the “reality” of defining Life as being change, makes of Life an unchanging event, stuck in change. Paradoxical wording.
Life is…. Life. “What is.” 🙂
The above is what a Zen student may enjoy. The puzzling, contradictory words which break the system of linear logic and black or white mentality; however, let me tell you something:
That game of words is completely and utterly meaningless. That game of debating as to who has the best “rationale,” is empty of substance.
Let me put it in a short phrase: The more we think, define and reason, the further away from “what is” we will go.
“Geshe” is an “academic degree” emphasized by a tradition of Buddhism for nuns and monks.
Someone could be very intelligent to get that “degree,” nevertheless; it does not mean that his consciousness has changed. In that sense that intellectual prowess is a fake façade hiding the real self, which is BEING not THINKING.
“What do you think I should do?” Anyone could come up with “solutions.” That is all in the realm of ideas, “theory.”
“Spiritual” people, full of degrees in Metaphysical studies and/or labels such as “yogi,” “guru,” “priest,” etc. may be well versed in words, logic and reason; but their consciousness may be at the same level of a “normal” everyday man: Full of “I,” beliefs, emotions and moral standards.
Are degrees “bad”? Neither good nor bad. Useful in the “Office world,” useless in Life outside the office world.
BEING, CONSCIOUSNESS changes all by itself through the assimilation of Life experiences. There is no study, no religion, no dogma, no God, no book or philosophy able to make that change to fulfill our needs for “enlightenment.”
Therefore, what do we need to “do” in Life?
To BE free like the sky, to let it happen.
Who is not allowing that “change” to happen?
That is the process of the path itself. Some like to label that, to define that… as the “I.”
A Life walker, who is bored in Life; may have a narrow consciousness.
A life walker may realize that to “open up” that consciousness is of paramount importance.
How do we do that?
By simple appreciation of “what is.”
In that simple, easy to understand phrase is the “secret” to become One with Life.
To understand consciousness is the key. We could manipulate our consciousness by using beliefs, attachments and concepts. We could manipulate our consciousness by believing in something static which we could label as “truth.”
We could manipulate our consciousness by becoming attached to concepts, ideas, ideologies, scientific explanations and even to a God.
Nevertheless, rest assured that any “effort” that we make to “become better” is pointless. There is absolutely nothing that we can “do.” Because there is no “one” doing.
Awareness of “what is” without labeling, without opinions, without moral thoughts and with high doses of appreciation of the existence of “what is,” becomes that medicine for the soul. Just because something “is” it has a “reason” to be.
Any attempt to label, to put something into the “holy box” of human morality means to express a subtle contempt of “what is.” It is in that rejection how our consciousness remains stuck, paralyzed, into the realm of what is known, traditional, and safe.
Any particular action by itself is unable to change a person’s consciousness.
Want to become a saint?
Help the poor. Help your neighbor. Pray to God. Practice celibacy. Shave your head and cover your whole body with robes (black or white.) Read the Holy Scriptures, practice some penances.
Do we think that we could go to “heaven” by “doing” those things?
Let me give a concise answer.
How is that possible?
Actions mean nothing when intentions are underneath.
“Helping” someone is truly a support of our ego.
Does it mean that “I” should not help?
No. Help by all means, but take away that “I.” The “I” who remembers, the one who keeps track of “good deeds.” The one who deserves “heaven.”
Don’t do it because that is “morally right,” but because there is a passionate feeling in your heart, in your soul, in your core to act in that way.
If that inner passion is lacking, then any action in the name of “high morality” becomes self-delusion.
Empathy is not a “moral value.” It is a sense of belonging to everything that exists.
How is it possible for a world surrounded by so many religions and teachings of “moral values” to be surrounded paradoxically by so much ego ?
The answer is evident. There is no human activity able to change consciousness.
Do we want to pray 1000 times per day? Dow we want to “practice” something to “become good”?
Just observe “what is” inside you. Any attempt to change that “ which is” by force, by following a method, by manipulation, by beliefs or by rejection will create a personality, which lacks self-honesty.
Just observe, become aware. Assimilate your experiences. Change happens in that awareness.
Awareness increases as our consciousness increases. Consciousness increases through appreciation of “what is.”
Truth is to be true to yourself at every moment. Truth is not a paragraph of perceived facts or from some scripture. There is no religion or philosophy, which holds the “truth.”
The truth cannot be held. It flows, just like Life, just like consciousness, just like the River, the Ocean and the aroma of dawn. To try to hold that in our hands so it is “mine,” that is the “sin,” the illusion, the ego trip.
Appreciate its flowing beauty. That is all.
There is no philosophy or religion able to describe in words “what is.”
“When you die, you either go to Paradise or hell forever.”
That is just a belief. It is not true for those who have experienced life as continuous movement and consciousness as eternal. It is not true for those who have experienced the paradoxical aspect of self and no self.
“Life is a return journey where souls go through a process of purification.”
That is a belief. Again, continuity of life as “is” entails no “home run,” no “return” for everything is new but paradoxically that “newness” could only be seen intellectually as a return.
Any intellectual knowledge as in:” This works this way therefore; there are 2 possibilities, it is either this or that. One is truth and the other is false.”
That sort of analytical dualistically mind, cannot quench his own doubts with reasons.
When to know means to “live it,” then to speculate things intellectually is just another belief system.
Obviously, what Ananda is sharing according to his experiences in life, is another belief system for someone else.
But… “This knowledge comes directly from God and your realizations are from your own crazy mind.”
🙂 There is nothing coming from “God” that could be put into words. Why?
Words can only express duality, “black or white” understanding. What is beyond duality cannot be explained in words, it needs to be experienced to be understood.
Then we could believe the answer is in “non-duality.” Right?
Have you listened to a so-called “non-duality” teacher?
It is one of the most boring intellectual things I’ve ever heard. Lots of reasoning to teach “happiness” through thinking…
But… Happiness is a feeling.
To connect with life through feelings is to encounter a different dimension of living life. This we could experience for ourselves without beliefs or dogmas.
When we realize that anything spoken by anyone is just a perception due to a limited experience of life, (his own experience) how could we pretend that this small piece of life could explain everything there is?
Life is not meant to be “explained.” It is meant to be “lived.”
When our life becomes integrated into “what is” without dogmatic beliefs, when our heart becomes open and ready to give the best of us through continuous feelings in every experience that life offers, then at that point; we could understand that the Universe is constantly playing with us, it is seducing us to open up, to unwind, to let ourselves be in that feeling of togetherness and appreciation of life itself. It is at that point, when we could be in love with Life… and that my friends, is the “highest religion” there is.
The above is not a “belief system.”
Ananda is not looking to “save souls” when there is nothing to save. Ananda is not looking to “help others,” when life itself performs that wonder all the time. Ananda is not looking to build the “true religion” for that is a narrow vision of the immensity of Life. Ananda is not looking to be an “instrument of God,” when everyone is that already.
Ananda only shares his experiences for the common good, that is all.
The awareness of being is consciousness.
That awareness could change according to the perception of ourselves, what we believe to “be.”
For instance, if that awareness is of just the body; then our consciousness will dictate that in fact, we are the body. Then, our life will shift into this consciousness. A haircut becomes more important than feeling at peace. A dress becomes the status of who we “are” in life. A car becomes the image of success, which is related with “I” the one who possesses it, the one who has arrived to that place of power. That “I” has a form, a picture, a label.
In that consciousness, everything is fleeting: Beauty, health, wealth, power and that is the cause of our continuous struggle to maintain something which will change in time.
That causes suffering.
Our state of consciousness will not allow us to see something different.
Here is when we could understand religious ideas that portray the body as being “bad,” “sinful,” and to get away from it as much as possible to become “spiritual.” A belief system cannot do this fictitious separation. Only a greater consciousness can, and in that greater consciousness there is no separation, there is no denial of the body, but embracing it as part of everything.
Avyakt7 feels that the word “consciousness” expresses better our spiritual side. There are other words as well to express the same, such as spirit, soul, godly nature, etc. However, those words come already attached with a mental image, a definition which will not allow us to experience what is; that is to discover beyond definitions, images, beliefs and traditions.
That word “consciousness” could be exchanged with the word awareness.
When that awareness shifts from being only in the physical world, to the inner world, is when our consciousness will shift into something different.
Unless that has occurred, we will only live in the world of change, the world of forms, the world of beginning and end.
In the quest for consciousness, we could observe the physical world, we could observe our breathing; that is become aware of it, we could even hear our own heartbeats; this expresses another level of physical awareness.
When the observer, the one experiencing consciousness observes that in itself, is when a different level of consciousness has begun.
At this level we are in touch for the first time with what “is.”
It is at this point where consciousness could know other perspectives and perhaps realize that the answer of all of our metaphysical or existential related questions were there, in that experience.
Someone who is trapped in just the physical consciousness, will be seeking for reassurance. That person will be interested in “life insurance” for a life after his life time, that person will be interested in preserving his own life as much as possible in his “youth.” That person will be interested in gaining favors from the “higher ups” of Heaven; for in that person’s consciousness, the afterlife is a reflection of the physical world: You get something, keep it as much as possible and then fight to keep it or find someone with power to help you keep those things.
That is what the afterlife looks like for someone in that consciousness. Some religions will reflect that in their ideologies.
Once our “field of vision” is amplified due to greater awareness, we could understand someone coming from a different angle, a different consciousness, a different awareness; but this is not reciprocal.
That has been one of the major issues with all the avatars that humanity has had. Their explanations about “their reality” couldn’t be understood, that is how spiritual teachings could become easily misunderstood.
Greater awareness means to understand that “black or white” teachings merely reflect a state of consciousness. They cannot be the “absolute truth,” for everything that we perceive is according to our state of consciousness. With greater consciousness, we will be able to see the different shades of color in between the “black or white” extremes. This is the rainbow of colors needed in our lives.