It was a cozy restaurant near the forest. That was the setting where the master and his disciple decided to eat lunch. The disciple asked for steak with fried onions as the main dish. The master requested for lentils and brown rice with a small salad.
The disciple said: “It is said that spirituality will lead people to become vegetarian or vegan, but I love too much the taste of meat. I don’t want to give it up yet.”
The master replied: “ Sure. I understand.”
The disciple felt awkward as he thought his master was disappointed. The master sensed that and while waiting for food to be served, he said: “ In the world of duality, pleasure without awareness will inevitably lead to addiction and the experience of pain without awareness will lead to fear. Eating meat has been traditionally a symbol of wealth and power. This strong conditioning has been installed on future generations. More people conditioned with similar traditions will cause unrestricted destruction of the natural balance of our ecosystem, for their view of life will take them to pursue pleasure at the expense of other less developed beings and Nature. However, this trend at this time is backfiring humanity, for we are part of that ecosystem as well. We are all one. That was only a nice spiritual theory a few decades back. Now, it is a reality because we experience the consequences. While people used to debate whether eating meat was good or bad for health or moral purposes, at this time it is a social responsibility to refrain from it, as the consequences are affecting humanity.”
The disciple was shocked, but he asked: “Could eating meat affect us?”
The master replied: “The inhumane treatment of sentient beings, is hardening our hearts. Humans have lost their sense of equilibrium with Nature. Eating flesh to live is part of Life for some species even for some humans, but the exploitation and indiscriminate killing beyond our human physical needs, for the sake of profit or to just satisfy our addiction for taste, is an offense against our planet. The Earth, gains nothing. Other sentient beings suffer while some gain plenty of paper with human pictures in it, which will give them power to control other men. It is a mental game of disconnection with Mother Earth.”
The master took a sip of water and continued: “The addiction of meat is so strong that even though most humans are well informed about this situation, they are powerless to do anything about it. Their wills have been broken. There was a time when families had land with animals to provide for their food. Now, it is another reality where action with social responsibility is the rational direction, that is; to avoid consuming animal products, as much as possible.”
The disciple understood the words of his master and felt a bit guilty. He wanted for his master to tell him clearly to stop eating meat. So, he pushed the issue one more time.
The disciple said: “Master, aren’t you going to ask me not to eat meat?”
The master smiled and said: “Spiritual teachings don’t use the word “No;” as in “you should not do this or that,” for Life has its own intelligence and there is a lesson at every corner of it. If we fail to see something, that is because we lack awareness; but the consequences will be felt sooner or later to shake us up and then wake up. It is in that experience how we truly understand. Mental understanding of ideas and philosophies leads to no real personal change, but only help us to follow beliefs. If you just follow what I say without being ready, great repression will be built inside you and that will be my responsibility.”
The disciple felt a big release, smiled and asked: ” Master, how do I know when I have eaten enough or when my addiction for tasty things kicks in?
The master smiled, took another sip of water and said: ” That is truly a meaningful question. Eating is an art. You need a tranquil space where you can place your attention in what you are ingesting. Eat with gratefulness. Chew your food well, taste it, salivate it, let it go to your stomach and then take a couple of breaths; talk if you need to and then go at it again. Be aware of the signals that your body sends. As you are reaching 75% of your stomach capacity, that is a good place to stop. Your body will tell you exactly if you are aware. Your mind on the other hand, will enjoy the taste and say: Get more! How delicious! repeat! Let the mind enjoy, but remember that it is what you feel and not what you think what drives the art of eating. Leave with a sense that you could have eaten more. There are some days, where you could eat a bit more or less. Life is about feeling balance and not following formulas. To learn to feel is the key. Conscious, aware eating is a fine spiritual practice. Nevertheless, there is an indicator which could tell you most of the time, if you are eating sensibly or not…. “
The master stopped talking. After a few seconds, the disciple asked: ” What is that indicator, master?”
“your belly size.” said the master while smiling.
The disciple asked the master about the significance of control in society.
The master replied: “ In society there is a need to impose a will over another. For example the belief in widgets as the way to improve society, will encounter many who will not believe in that. Therefore, a will needs to impose for a belief to rule. Manipulation means to influence another to accommodate their will to our own personal ideas, beliefs. Manipulation and control come together.
In society, a belief will encounter many obstacles, such as rejection from others which will have a reactive consequence. Every disagreement, every fight is an opportunity to display violence over another to subdue that one, to win. In this context, winning is to impose over another.
Life does not work that way. Life shows the path, the direction and we align or oppose. Every opposition is a bitter lesson to learn, but nonetheless; useful for our conscious development.
For example is we observe the climate changing from hot to cold, we dress accordingly. If we believe that things should be the same, there will be a consequence for us. On another level, Life will show death to every person at a particular time. Acceptance is to go with the way. Rejection, fight, implies that there is a personal will with ideas and beliefs, opposing Life. What could be some of the consequences of that? Society has many problems to solve from dysthanasia, euthanasia, orthothanasia, combined with several religious beliefs, moral values involved and such. Society wants to come up with a solution that will be applicable to all; and that belief will be imposed to others to follow in the name of righteousness. Society has its way. Life has another. Observe that Life is completely impersonal and its movement tends to balance different forces. Society usually relies on personal opinion which comes from conditioning, tradition, personal interests and deep rooted beliefs.
Every time we are unwilling to observe the signals that Life is giving us and we stubbornly hold on to a belief for we believe that to be right, we are opposing to what is. To discern “what is now” is one of the greatest awareness we could have.
Life will teach us to respect, to acknowledge and to move on. Thus, become flexible like a palm tree who does not have a rooted belief as to where the wind needs to come from, and to which direction the tree should move to be right. If you observe this carefully, you will discover that every belief a person has is deep rooted in something ideal which Life uses sooner or later, to teach us to open up, to accept and to move on.
Confrontations, control, manipulation are human ways to obtain what a group wants. In that scenario, look for a common ground and take that. Sooner or later the common ground is bound to appear for at the end, we are all breathing the same air to survive. That is the common good.”
Will resume writing on April 22. Until then! 🙂
The disciple had a typical walk of about 3 miles before meeting his master. In his walk, the disciple witnessed how a person stole a cellphone from another, who was walking on the opposite side walk; then he observed that the amount of indigent people begging for money in the company of their small kids, had increased.
The disciple met his master and almost immediately asked him: “Master, are any of these things that you teach me useful to help solve the problems in the world? I see people stealing, I see people hungry begging for money and I hear that people kill one another for personal interest, and yet laws do not seem to help. There is a general idleness to do something real about it.”
The master said to his disciple: “Let me sit down to talk about it.” The master sat and observed the sense of emotional helplessness that his disciple experienced.
The master said: “ What you are learning is called spirituality by many. However, that is a very imprecise label. What you are truly learning is to live life in balance. Therefore, before knowing balance you must experience lack of it, disharmony. Once you are feed up, you will experience inner struggle; then you will be open to look somewhere else, to listen to something different. That is the process.”
“But master,” interrupted the disciple “that can take a long time for others and we need action now.”
The master observed the eagerness of his disciple to change things immediately, and said calmly: “Life has its own processes. There is a process of maturity for a a fruit to be ripe and ready to be eaten. Similarly is with human beings. When we do not understand that, we react and act violently to repress. In human history a reactionary movement has been used to suffocate something perceived as unfair. That is usually the task of politicians who experience that level of consciousness. Out of that struggle, something else happens one way or another, creating further friction which is met with further reaction. At this time, there are many individuals believing that laws and politics can change the world on a positive direction, however; they fail to observe that further struggle comes up, no matter what. That is what human beings label as problems.”
After a brief pause, the master saw the reaction of his disciple as if he was waiting for something else, a cure, a formula that will help everyone.
The master said: “ You are ready to look inside therefore your experiences will be different. Most humans are not ready. Many are always looking outside and trying to change things from an idealistic position. For example, many politicians believe in political systems as the necessary value to change the world; but they do not look at their own greed, their own violence, nor the ones following the ideal, the people. If they knew that, they could understand that any idealistic system that they choose will fail, for what they ARE is different from the ideal that they want to implement. Laws can force someone to DO something, but they cannot change that person to BE something else.”
The disciple was a bit disappointed with that reply and said: “Master, the systems implemented in the world have brought technological improvement and greater life expectancy. Something must be right.”
The master smiled and said: “The psychological and emotional profile of man has been the same or even degraded as time has gone by. Greater life expectancy is not the same as quality of life. Stress, anxiety, fear, anguish, restlessness, worry, neurosis.. with greater life expectancy, those will last longer as well. There is no balance there, and that is what human beings will learn to sense. Trust the process.”
I remember a professor saying in a business class: “It is Ok to use people but not to abuse them.”
That saying lingered in my mind for many years. It rhymes; it acknowledges the fact that the means do not truly matter, but only the end result which in this case; is my own personal gain, my profit. That saying could be similar to: “It is ok to choke people, just don’t kill them.” Why do we use people for our personal gain?
For many, this way of operating in society is alright. “Everyone does it.” John may use Mary to obtain his own goals. Mary becomes a “thing,” an object and loses her essence of being a human. As a society we are used to use people to obtain what we desire.
In the “spiritual world” such behavior has a consequence. When our ego separates from another being, then the other is not important or less valuable than us. The degree of importance given to others changes according to our consciousness and moral values; but nonetheless using another has been a common practice.
If someone would like to progress in BEING; then that practice of using others to attain goals, needs to observed. When we are caught in DOING for the sake of our own achievement, then that observation may not matter.
I could become “friends” with someone just to gain a benefit. That is not truly friendship although it may look like. It may look like I love someone. It may look like I care. That sort of dishonesty is the one going on in our typical behavior in society. “It looks like” is preferable than the actual fact of BEING it.
Although out of such “useful” relationship many great things could apparently happen. However, the seed prevails and as the tree of using others grows, it will fall as soon as fully grown. For most, the line between using and abusing is only seen when it is conspicuous, so obvious as when the “friend” becomes dry wood and a fallen tree. Otherwise, there is plenty of time to “milk the cow,” while serving our purposes.
The business world may have its own rules which are many times conflicting with goodwill practices and care for others. The conflict going on in most human beings is whenever values are antagonistic of each other: My “progress” means destruction of “the” environment, for instance. We do not see that as “my” environment.
It is that greed, that selfish desire to enhance the “me first,” the one masked with pretty words and sophisticated ideas.
“Why should you care about conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” is the title of a current “news.”
“It is a corridor for pipelines taking oil and gas to world markets.” Forget about humans killing each other. Forget about the unnecessary human suffering. We do not perceive how that suffering will affect us, we cannot perceive the connection. It is all about geopolitical and economic considerations, not humans.
That is how any talk about “peace” could be mere lip service, when there is the ultimate motive behind: The pipes which are good for ME. That is the “reason” why I should care about.
Using but not abusing, all under the dignified label of “peace.”
Most individuals are aware of all the problems going on in the world: Global warming, poverty, wars, riots, human rights issues, animal right issues, inequality of wealth, tyrannies, social class issues, etc. All of those ‘issues’ have been created by society itself.
When some self-realized individual refer to our world as “ugly, cruel, violent, mad, etc.” Most individuals instantly dismiss that. Those words do not matter to most, for humans have created their own “heaven on Earth,” that is a little bit of hope of a “better future,” a mix of “let me get some wealth, power, and social status” and a sprinkle of believing that “we have plenty of time to live.”
The level of conditioning of most human beings is outstanding: Many were born to work repetitive, non-challenging jobs for most of their lives and their aim in Life is to “buy things,” and start a family just like themselves: Unable to observe the “Matrix” around them. Completely trapped in it. As long as there are countless ways to get entertainment, these individuals are “happy,” although; they will never know the actual experiential meaning of happiness.
Observe this: There are many people facing hunger around the world. Humans will not lift a finger to help “thy neighbor” unless there is money flowing. What is money? Fancy paper without real value, as it used to have when the World had the gold standard. Humans are so trapped in their own game of coins and papers, and will remain oblivious of the suffering of their own kind. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/09/world-richest-millions-starving-wfp-200918090724645.html
It is hard to convey to someone trapped in that game, about the intricacies of ego and greed; when their game dictates that “they must acquire and keep for themselves and only give when there is profit.” Their whole conditioning doesn’t allow them to see others as themselves, but there is a constant separation, a constant division which perpetuates suffering. It is “me” vs “you” and the “survival of the fittest,” just like those animals in the wild with the difference that for an animal there is no thinking involved; so there is no motive to kill and exterminate others. Their way keeps a balance of species within Nature. On the other hand, humans extinguish species. Humans have a clear objective, a plan and that makes their activity completely ego-centered, greedy for there is no harmony with Nature and the common good. Thinking is unable to feel harmony.
When we are so attached to this “game” we cannot become aware of what is going on. While in the game, we can only believe that everything will get better if the economic conditions are alright. We can only see at a superficial level. We believe that we can teach someone to be honest, to have values, when we are not honest. That is the greatest mirage. “Teaching” values is not the same as teaching math. I wonder why we haven’t figured that one out? We are immersed in the thinking “game.”
To observe society from a different perspective, we need to be outside the game. That observation requires solitude and independence from the influence of the “game” for a long time.
Someone who is used to eat sugar, may hear that sugar is “bad for you” but still eat it in many ways. When that person is no longer exposed to sugar for a long time, then if the person tastes sugar again, then he will be in shock due to too much sweetness. Similarly is the process of being able to observe the “game,” it can thoroughly be done once we are out of it. That step of courage isn’t made through joining a religion or some spiritual group. Life chooses the time, according to our readiness.
The religious world works exactly as society does. There are rules, regulations, commandments which are practiced and followed. From the religious perspective it could be said that their rules are “pure,” “spiritual,” etc. but that statement is merely a point of view.
Society has rules which are not labeled as “pure,” but as “good,” “moral,” “positive,” etc. That is also a perspective, although; it has been “bought” unobserved by the immense majority.
In both “worlds” there will be inner conflict as the validity of those rules have not been deeply considered by the individual but rather imposed from the outside: Whether that is “God,” or the “Government,” it is the same thing by all practical purposes.
To follow a structure is considered of great value. We are taught to identify ourselves with a system, a philosophy, a team, a guru, a god. As a matter of fact, “success” of any system is based on observing how many followers that system has. In that world, the collective consciousness of the masses is very important, but the ability of the individual to observe inside and act accordingly is disparaged.
Under those circumstances, we have created an ideal of spirituality based on the value we give to the teachings and experience of someone else deemed “elevated” or superior. The authority.
Nevertheless, those teachings are interpreted by followers in different ways. Thus, the need to standardize teachings became important to keep the structure simple; although the intrinsic value of the teaching, which needs to be dynamic to change according to circumstances, is missing.
Therefore, we have “spiritual individuals” with utmost rigidity. Those who believe that to follow an ideal is more important than to assess the individual circumstance given by life.
To look inside requires freedom from the structure of systems. Many disenchanted former followers of structures; will take the path of apparent self-observation and rejection of external authorities. However, we cannot pretend to act in an authentic way in society or a religious setting, while we are utterly conditioned by them. Deconditioning is the single most important item to be able to observe different perspectives. After we have done this “homework,” then we could be able to observe, become aware and act.
Thus, there is value in being a follower, but that cannot be the ultimate. There is also value in acting freely, but that could be a greater illusion when we have not gone through the “process” of deconditioning.
“God/Government says and I do,” may sound like a great act of abnegation, but we forget that this authority who speaks/ writes to the masses, will not be able to fit the particular individual circumstances.
If the authority says/writes: “You should never kill” then questions of interpretation will arise: Could I go to war in the name of saving “my” country? Could I kill someone out of self-defense in all circumstances? Is it alright to kill other species to eat and survive or the law of “you should never kill” applies to this?
Some would like to go into philosophical, moral and even scientific discussions to answer these questions; that is to answer an ideal with another ideal. The masses want the “easy steps” to remember “how to act” and not to make “mistakes.” Any answers will create further religions, more philosophies, beliefs and so on.
That is our world of beliefs, ideals and conditioning. Few individual authentic actions, but lots of rehearsed, conditioned ones.
What could be the word to sum up all the experiences currently going on in our planet, the Earth?
Love? Peace? Happiness? Hope? Understanding? Animosity? How about violence.
At this stage in my own evolution, I am observing all of that violence within. Perhaps, that is the “reason” why I pick the word violence among all the other labels. Through the experience of violence, I have been the tyrant and the submissive peon. Once one side is experienced the other side will follow, for that reason; submissiveness is passive violence.
Violence has been with us from time immemorial. A culture conquered another through violence. Then, there was violence within that conquered culture. A gender subdued another through violence. A race proclaimed its superiority through violence. In society, we clash with one another and use violence to “win.”
Violence is not just physical, but that is the most obvious and grotesque. We could insult one another, we could look at someone in a despicable way. We could say things with irony, sharpness, dryness and sarcasm. We could speak with a tone of voice meant to overpower another. To take advantage of another, is violence.
Then, we could go into the “subtler” aspects of it, the ones which not too many could observe: I could compare a person with another. That is violence for I am not respecting their unique individuality. I could teach someone that respect means to infuse fear to others, that is violence. I could “correct” someone by putting down their ideas, by letting them know that “I am right, you are wrong;” that is violence as well. The key to understand violence is in being aware of the sensation, the internal emotion, the feeling which it brings. Many times it could be perceived as a “current” over the head area. That will change our facial expression. Definitely, the first sensation will be “closing up” or clenching up. Most will feel their stomach areas tighten up. If we are able to observe this emotion, open up; let the perceived violence go through you and outside you. Thus, it is not necessarily an action the one which defines violence, but rather the engine of it; is the sensation we have inside.
There are countless ways to express violence, even while “making love” (which by the way, is the most common.) Violence is everywhere and “I” am part of it. Do we see the enormous significance of this?
How can I love and feel peace with violence within? The conditioning of using violence is overwhelming. Isn’t the “alpha male” the archetype of violence? However, we could observe that the media almost worships that “winner” image.
No wonder we are violent. That trait could be desirable for those in society who are looking to get ahead, to dominate others and show them who “they are;” it is desirable for those who only care to “look out for number 1,” nevertheless; that sort of enhanced ego, cannot harmonize with the common good. There are consequences for behaving in such selfish way.
I recall: “ A violent man does not die a natural death” Tao Te Ching – Ch 42 or in a Christian way : “… and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7.
Despite all the religious and “spiritual” teachings, violence endures. It toughen our hearts, it creates psychological pain which in turn will be a traumatic experience lingering in our beings for as long as it needs, until one day we realize it is there, ready to heal into its opposite, that is Gentleness.
Authentic gentleness is not the “practice” of a violent person. Gentleness is the outcome of lack of violence.
It is a wonder how religions and spirituality have named the capital sins, the main vices, etc. as important to eradicate; however, we are not looking good enough at the obvious violence.
We want to deal with our ego, to become “better,” but we have a hard time recognizing what that ego is.
It is way easier to start with violence as we can smell it. However, we may need to be aware that if “I” try to stop it; “I” will inflict violence on myself. It is not by rejection or suppression how violence will subside. It is by being aware of it, through watching it in ourselves and fully realizing what it is and what it does to us.
“Non-violence” is non existing in a violent being, thus; we can only “practice” it, which is truly the rehearsal of a script.
To meet violence only with some defined “non-violence,” is to take the process of understanding violence in ourselves, in a trivial way. We could DO actions which seem non-violent, but when we ARE violence we cannot get away from the fact of who we ARE and thus, we only cover the reality of ourselves with the veil of “good deeds,” until we have the fortitude to look inside.