Friday, September 4, 2009

Love, Light, and Bliss

If this is your first visit to our blog, we welcome you. I encourage you to explore the entire blog, and especially the first entry, dated July, 2008, entitled “An Introduction,” for it gives a concise and clear account of what we do here. I invite you to also check out the comments at the end of each entry, as we have enjoyed many very interesting and provocative question-and-answer exchanges, and you might find that some correspond to your own life.

The purpose of the blog is manifold. Primarily, it is a place to tune in to positive energy and to the Truth of the present moment. The words naturally guide us into the wordless state, or the state between words. The Truth of the present moment is beyond words, and cannot be exactly stated or verbalized. We cannot define or describe it; we can only allude to it. Alluding to it in a certain way, however, brings about the experience of it—an experience so profound that it cannot be captured or understood in words alone.

The blog is also a meeting place where we can have our questions answered in ways that everyone can benefit from the exchange. Everyone who reads this is invited to share comments or questions in the comments following each entry.

One person wrote to say, “In your lessons you often talk about relationships, and apply the principles to relationships. This is very good for people involved in relationships, but what about the rest of us? When do we get to the ‘love, light, and bliss’ you spoke of? Spirituality is much more than relationships, wouldn’t you say?”

Well, of course spirituality goes far beyond relationships. It goes beyond duality altogether, for that matter, where the only one you can ultimately have a relationship with is your own Self.

In reality, this is already the case--everyone is another individual expression of the same inner Self. When we talk about relationships in the lessons, we’re not limiting them to interactions in a romantic sense. We’re speaking of interactions with everyone we come in contact with.

Since everyone is ultimately an individual expression of the same One, and we all share the same exact Awareness of Being, then how we see and relate to others in any way becomes a central emphasis of sadhana—or spiritual work, or the process of personal development—or however you wish to think of it. The thing is, relationships of any nature, even those with your dog or your cat—who are also God in disguise—include certain aspects of your spiritual development. If there were nothing to be learned or harmonized, they would not even exist.

One of the most intense, yet productive, spiritual practices is doing our part to create, maintain, or restore harmony to any relationship, including whomever we are with at this moment.

The world isn’t generally set up where we can easily avoid other people. Even monks and swamis have to deal with other monks and other swamis. Karma isn’t set up to go through life alone. Therefore in order to be in harmony with the natural order of the universe, we must first be in harmony with each individual who has been included in our karmic sphere—those with whom we share a relationship of any nature, no matter how intimate or how casual.

If we are always relating to the same Self in all its various disguises, then the principles of relationship are extremely significant in fully realizing our own true nature. Through practicing the principles in practical ways in our own life, including relationships, we do the work we came here to this planet, in this body, to do. The secret lies in being in harmony with whatever is. See the equality of things, and don’t get caught up in polarities.

Another wrote to say, “Infatuation has really come up strong this year and honestly reveals a pattern of behavior over the years where I periodically develop these odd crushes on people. They seem to last for a while, cause me some degree of pain and confusion. Then they pass. I would like to be free of this pattern and do my best to see the Truth in the present moment. Any thoughts or ideas will be greatly appreciated.”

First of all, infatuation comes in many forms and on many levels. For example, most of us are greatly infatuated with our own thoughts and melodramas. We think they’re so interesting that we can hardly wait to tell others all about them. Meanwhile the others wait for us to finish so that they can tell us their thoughts and melodramas—the ones they are currently infatuated with.

Of course, you mean infatuation with another person, and I know very well how much pain and confusion this causes. The pain and confusion arise from its illusory nature. It feels like we should do something about it, and then it’s painful when it’s inappropriate or impossible to do anything whatsoever, and if we do something about it, we cause unnecessary karmic complications. So there is pain and confusion either way, whether the infatuation “works out” or not. Infatuation never “works out” in an ideal, Hollywood-ending kind of way.

Infatuation is unrelated to love, even though our mental melodrama tries to convince us that it is real and has great meaning and promise. Infatuation is very powerful, yet it passes extremely fast, and we’re left wondering what hit us. In one moment we’re madly in love, and in the next moment we’re wondering what we got ourselves into.

When we are relatively young it’s very challenging to remain totally free from infatuations. We always think we see a person who is more interesting or more rewarding or more something than the other people we already know. We think she is unique in some way, and that she can add something indispensable to our life that is available from no other.

At my age infatuation is no longer a problem. For one thing, we start to see that no matter how mysterious or unique another might outwardly appear, ultimately it’s only another variation of everyone else, or a different combination of all the traits and qualities we are already familiar with. Under the spell of infatuation she might seem to be a wonderful and mesmerizing creature, but once the spell breaks we might be amazed to see how completely ordinary she is in all ways.

There’s no easy answer to putting an end to infatuation. It’s just one of many things we need to work on as we progress on the spiritual path. As we mature on all levels, and expand our awareness of the Truth, infatuation and other contracting qualities gradually fall away from us.

The spiritual path is not different from all the things of regular life. It is not something vague and other-worldly, having nothing to do with the ‘real world.’ It is a certain approach to each moment, where we bring our own awareness and presence into every situation life presents, including when we are grabbed by infatuation.

In truth, living a spiritual life is simply being more aware and present in each moment, focusing attention on the higher qualities such as love, light, and bliss, while refusing to focus attention on the more contracted qualities such as anger, agitation, worry, jealousy, suspicion, infatuation, and the like.

A spiritual life is how we live each moment—it is being totally focused on the Truth of the present moment, as well as free from the remembered past and imagined future. Such things no longer imprison our attention.

Love, light, and bliss are available at any time, while undergoing any endeavor. We can sit and experience them in formal meditation, yet there is no reason to limit the higher qualities to sitting meditation. They can be integrated with every situation in life, with every relationship, with business ventures, or simply strolling down the street. It is a moment-to-moment thing, independent of circumstances.

There is no limit to how much, or how often, we can experience the love, light, and bliss that is already an integral part of our own eternal nature. They exist within us already. They are more who we actually are than any verbal description we could make about ourselves.

We only need to take our attention off our apparent problems and difficulties and focus our attention on the already existing love, light and bliss. They are part of our nature, not passing phenomena like thoughts and feelings. The nature of the inner Self is love, light, and bliss. After all our thoughts and emotions have come and gone, we will see that this is the way it has always been as well as the way it will always be. Love, light, and bliss are eternal.

So it’s not when do we get to the love, light, and bliss? It’s when do we start focusing our attention on our already existing love, light, and bliss, that exists without interruption? These more expanded qualities exist right now within our own Self. It’s up to us to recognize and appreciate them, and nothing stops us other than the conditioned mind and ego.

Because some work needs to be done to break free from the conditioned mind and ego, and to learn how to consistently focus our attention on our higher qualities, as well as on pure Awareness of Being, we offer the Course of Training through email. The lessons of the course lead us step-by-step from where we currently find ourselves to where we ultimately wish to be.

As Shunryu Suzuki once said: You are perfect just as you are, and you can use a little improvement. That about sums it up.

We look forward to getting to know those of you who sign up for the course this month. It is a great adventure to share together, and has the potential to change lives forever.