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.

39 comments:

A student said...

Thanks for the new entry - I think it serves as a good introduction as well as a reminder. A question: does attention create as well as perceive?

D. R. Butler said...

Ultimately creation and perception are the same, or happen simultaneously. In time and space, creation might seem to preceed perception, but subtly, free from time and space, there is no difference. The Creator and the Perceiver are the same.

Anastasia said...

In the current lesson 23, you had us read a description of the truth in the present moment written by Jnaneshwar Maharaj in 1290. As I read the passage, I started to weep. When I finished, I realized that it was not the words that I read but the feeling in the words. I felt what he felt when he wrote/spoke the words. An immediate experience of how feeling creates reality. Thank you.

Michael said...

Is it better to read a couple pages of the current lesson each day without stopping to contemplate a particularly meaningful statement, in order to get through the entire lesson a few times before the next one arrives? Or is it more valuable to just stop and contemplate whenever you feel the urge?

D. R. Butler said...

Please stop and contemplate whenever you get the urge. The point is not to finish the lesson. The point is to experience the Truth of the present moment. It is far better to learn one new thing than to whiz through the lesson without any transformation.

Michael said...

Thanks, DR, for keeping me on the straight and narrow and giving more food for thought: it is the experience of the present of the present moment that triggers transformation, not doing something the "right" way. Being, you once wrote, is more important than doing. In other words, it is the quality of your being, the degree to which you are able to tune into and sustain the experience of love and compassion that break the hold of the old.

Anastasia said...

Michael, thank you...great question and exchange with D.R.

Taylor said...

One question from Lesson 3. You write "Actually, once we get this - that the mind will never get it - everything begins to seem somewhat like a big joke, and we start to see the humor in life as it is."
I am very much interested in cultivating this quality of seeing the humor in life as it is because it makes life a lot more fun! Would you please expand on this teaching. Thanks.

D. R. Butler said...

First of all, your question will be answered more fully and on deeper and deeper levels as you progress through the lessons. One aspect of the course is that we develop lightheartedness and learn to see the humor in things that once bothered or even apparently threatened us.

The ego is what makes everything very serious and gives meaning to actions and events that have no real meaning at all. As we break freer from ego through the consistent practice of the principles of Truth, and the greater illumination of the Truth within us, life feels lighter and lighter.

The humor actually arises through seeing the Truth of things in the existing moment, instead of merely the appearance of things or what we think about things. That's one reason we have a course on living in the Truth of the present moment.

You will see for yourself that you will become naturally more lighthearted and less serious as we go along. Then, as you say, life will indeed be a lot more fun.

Chris said...

Would you agree that ultimately it is consciousness that does everything? While we can choose to turn left rather than right, the outcome is not in our hands?

D. R. Butler said...

Consciousness definitely does everything, yet the individual is endowed with will power, the power to choose. Therefore we can choose to turn left or right. However, Consciousness enables us to choose as well as to turn.

Christobal said...

DRB, I love the quote from your blog posting: "You are perfect just as you are, and you can use a little improvement"

This brings to mind something that I often contemplate. It's great to always see and experience the perfection of a situation that I'm in, and thus be connected to the truth and power of the present moment. Yet just because I experience the moment as perfect, it doesn't mean I should not take action to change a situation. We exist in this realm as players in a cosmic play, and as players we must have a *part* to play.

For instance, imagine that everyone on the spiritual path were to just sit around and feel that the current state of the world is beautiful and perfect, a world in which there is tremendous devastation happening to the natural world, and in which the most wealthy and powerful portions of society are working to gain more wealth and power. We can experience great peace and contentment even while all of this is going on in the world, yet does this mean we have no role in changing the activities of mankind?

So while we are perfect, we need a little improvement. We all have roles to play in this world. What can we do to know what action is appropriate for us to take, right now in this present moment?

D. R. Butler said...

Nowhere in yogic literature is there any mention of "sitting around." In fact, in the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says that enlightenment is attained through action, not through inaction.

Indeed, as you suggest, we each have a role to play. As we spiritually mature, we come to better know the truth of our own nature, and what we came here to do. This entire process is explored in depth in the lessons of the course by email.

Your primary question was, "What can we do to know what action is appropriate for us to take, right now in this present moment?"

The truest answer is, it is intuitively obvious. Right here, right now, it is intuitively obvious what is the right (most dharmic) thing to do in this moment. On a broader scale, the right thing to do in any moment is whatever creates, maintains, or restores harmony in whatever situation or circumstances we find ourselves.

It might not be intutively obvious what is the best thing to do tomorrow, or next month, unless for some reason you actually do need the answer now, so as to make a necessary schedule or such. You don't wait to the day of the airplane flight to see what is intutively obvious the right flight to take. Some things have to be taken care of in advance. In such cases, the answers are intuitively obvious now.

As we progress on the spiritual path, we understand more and more, and open up more and more, to what is intuitively obvious. In time, we live this way. As we free ourselves from the impositions and contractions of the mind, what is intuitively obvious becomes clearer and more accessible in the moment.

A wise person lives intutively, not mentally. Letting the mind be our guide is basically relying on rigid conditioning from the past. The mind has no way of knowing what is right to do now. It is completely dependent on past programming.

For many people, this approach is a whole different way of looking at life. This is one reason we have the Course of Training, with 2 lessons monthly to guide us in living in the Truth of the present moment.

Gradually, as the mind is purified, everything simply becomes more, well, intutively obvious.

Sue said...

In the lessons you often make the point that we create our own pain and suffering, that no outside power superimposes it on us. So I'm thinking of people who live ridiculously hard lives, like in certain African countries, or somewhere like Burma for example, where monks are murdered by the military. These people are truly suffering, yet how can they be held responsible for it themselves? I can hardly imagine the degree of suffering they must experience, yet in many cases isn't their suffering forced on them by some form of external cruelty?

D. R. Butler said...

Sue, I can definitely see where your question comes from. Many people share this question in some form or another. How can the world be so unjust, and what did we do to deserve it?

First consider something that might at first seem very strange. Humans have a great capacity for suffering, but it is finite, not infinite. There is a limit to how much a human being can suffer.

Suffering is also very relative. People are accustomed to whatever conditions they live in, and those conditions feel natural to them. So consider the possibility that any one of us, in our own ways, suffer as much as the unfortunate people you refer to. What if a person of wealth and power, with a life of comfort and ease, actually suffers in his life, with his own melodramas and such, as much as a person who lives in poverty and mud and doesn't bother to wipe the crawling flies off her face anymore.

The difference is in the karma alone, the apparent physical circumstances. It's not that people with unfortunate karma suffer more intensely than people with more fortunate karma. We each suffer in our own way, and we each have a 'hard life' to some degree, no matter how it appears outwardly to others.

I know this is a whole different way of thinking from what we are accustomed to, yet consider it anyway, just to see what insights might possibly be gained from it.

As far as what we did to deserve it, or what is ultimately responsible, we have to understand karma and reincarnation. In this single lifetime a person's destiny might seem cruel and unfair, but had we the developed ability to see into that person's previous lifetimes, the present lifetime experience would make perfect sense and seem perfectly just.

There is just so much the conscious mind can't understand, so many things that can only be alluded to. Through the lessons we can help the mind develop new ways of seeing and understanding things, establish new paths in the brain for neurons to flow along, so to speak. On our own, even with the best intentions, it is hard to break free from how we've been conditioned to see things.

Anyway, your question is subtle and complex and there is so much we could say about it that it would take a whole lesson in itself, but for now simply experiment with new and different ways of seeing things. The world is truly not as it appears.

Naganath said...

Reading the latest lesson makes me realize a lot of things about myself. And I cannot stop laughing. I love this lesson. Question: So the more aware of the One is the higher the score in the virtual reality game?

D. R. Butler said...

The answer is yes. The more aware we become of the One, or the Oneness of all, the higher our 'score' in our virtual reality game.

We are formless spirit enjoying a virtual reality game of what it's like being a human individual. The game wins when we forget who we are and think we are the human individual, or when we forget that it is only a game to be enjoyed, not a situation or condition to be taken so seriously.

When we see everything as the same, that all things are ultimately equal, and that things just happen without there being any individual doer, we start to live in the Truth of the present moment.

Naganath W. said...

Wow.

A student said...

I had a dream in which I was walking by a display in a museum. On a wooden table were metal cans of what looked like spam, some partially filled, some empty, some unopened. The sign beneath them read, "From the Middle Ages." I thought, "Yuk! You would think they would at least clean them out before displaying them. This is really gross." Several days later I was reflecting on one of the Lessons in which you write about how we carry the past into the future in such a familiar way that we inhibit our ability to experience anything new. You emphasized that each moment is really an unprecedented experience, but we subconsciously transfer or import yesterday's labels (food for the mind) into today's fare. It struck me all at once that doing this is like eating food from the middle ages out of ancient tin cans. Yuk is right. When I realized that I saw myself back in the dream, sweeping the whole mess off the table with a single sweep of my arm. Now the table was clear. And so thankfully -- was I!

D. R. Butler said...

The poster known as Rico sent this youtube clip that anyone reading this will want to see:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ae2dBOxt-vA

D. R. Butler said...

A number of people remark that they have a hard time 'keeping up' with the lessons, or that they feel they are 'behind.'

In this course there is nothing to keep up with and no way that we could possibly be 'behind.'

All that is required is to focus on the current lesson. If we tune in to our current lesson, we are caught up, we are exactly where we are supposed to be.

We need to stop this endless judgment upon ourselves, these limiting ways of describing ourselves.

Anyone taking the course should simply feel great about having access to the lessons. They are there for you for the rest of your life. Once again, all that is required for anyone, no matter what lesson you are on, is to tune into your current lesson, no matter if it's Lesson 1 or Lesson 30. The lessons of the past aren't any more relevant than anything else of the past.

The only reality is the present moment. The course is 'Living in the Truth of the Present Moment.' It is simplicity itself. Do not complicate it.

A student said...

Your interview on your home radio station in Vicksburg today was wonderful to tune into. Just one more way to connect with the transforming energies at this time.

Anonymous said...

Would you please explain the "three worlds" as you have mentioned in the most recent lesson,They are also mentioned in many eastern scriptures. Thanks

D. R. Butler said...

The "three worlds" comment was from a quote from the Yoga Vasishtha. There are different ways of understanding the three worlds, although we ordinarily only take one of them as 'reality.' They are the waking world, the dream world, and the world of deep sleep. Or they could be thought of as the physical realm, the subtle realm, and the causal realm. Knowing about the three worlds in itself doesn't really help anything, but developing access to the state that remains the same in all three worlds is a great attainment. In yogic literature this state is referred to as the "Turiya state."

It is a state where we simultaneously are in touch with the waking world, the dream world, and the deep sleep world. It is an aspect of our own Self that eternally remains the same, and is never changed or altered by outer conditions or influences.

This is what is useful in sadhana, or personal development -- being in touch with that within ourselves that never changes, that always remains the same no matter what. When we are centered in the changeless, we can sit back and watch the constantly changing in a state of great equanimity.

There is only one thing that never changes. All spiritual work is done in order to discover and live in that changeless state of pure Awareness.

juanananda said...

Yo DR, tuning in to Vicksburg was easy and simple--it was so good to hear your voice again. Love it! Hope you'll accept Dr. George's invite to come back again soon.

Your comment (L. 20)about reading the current lesson in the bathroom (if one is worried about having time to keep up with the lessons) cracked me up. It's my rule to immediately read my new lesson into a tape recorder. Then I keep the tape in my car since I spend lots more time in my car than in the john. This way I'm always caught up on the current lesson and ready for the next one.
I'm so glad you're writing again!
Lots of love from Houston.

A student said...

What does it mean to be proactive in sadhana?

D. R. Butler said...

Being proactive in sadhana is simply doing your part instead of passively waiting for things to happen on their own. This primarily means to practice the principles in practical ways in your own daily life. Be aware of where your attention is focused, activate will to do what you know is right to do, and to refrain from doing what you know increases suffering in anyone's life, including your own. Practicing the principles of sadhana, or spiritual development, is simple; yet it is very easy to follow along with habitual tendencies that only increase our entanglements in egotistical melodramas. Have a conscious intent to come back to the moment, come back to the Self, and come back to your love.

Michael said...

What do you do when you realize you have been overtaken by one of those "sticky" samskaras like attachment, aversion, compulsion, inhibition, addiction and so forth? What is the quickest way to get back on track in order to minimize the damage you might otherwise inflict on others and yourself?

D. R. Butler said...

Try the reminder repeated in the lessons: Come back to the moment, come back to the heart, come back to your love.

This simple affirmation, used as a reminder, can bring us back to sanity and present moment awareness as powerfully and quickly as anything available.

When we remind ourselves: "Come back to the moment, come back to the heart, come back to love," we can be transformed in an instant. We can only be conscious of one thought at a time, and when we are conscious of our reminder, all the stickiness of habitual tendencies are replaced and forgotten once again.

The process is so simple, and very powerful. What is challenging is remembering to do it.

Anonymous said...

So is this an online radio station?

Can we hear the podcast?

D. R. Butler said...

The podcast isn't available as of yet. However, it looks like I will be returning to the show, and I will let blog readers know in advance.

I just heard from "Dr. George," who conducts the show, and he said there were more people tuned in via Internet to our interview than there had even been in the history of the radio station. They were amazed at how many countries were represented.

We let those who take the course know in advance, and I announced it on my facebook page, but I forgot to mention it here on the blog. I'll remember next time.

Anonymous said...

Several friends, who are also long time students of the course, have sought my counsel recently about how to deal with difficult situations as these situations are occurring. These situations include; intense physical pain, anxiety attacks, transitioning from blissful contentment to being depressed.

I have shared my own experience and what advice occurred to me at the time but I was curious how you might counsel a friend on how to deal with life's most challenging moments.

A student said...

I've been working the formula, "Come back to the moment, come back to the heart, come back to your love," with positive results, especially when I get stuck. First, I realize the request is directed to the attention itself. When my mind starts to wander again I know the attention has abandoned the preoccupation and is in the process of returning to the heart. Sounds like the Prodigal Son!

D. R. Butler said...

Looking over the last two comments, I think "a student" perfectly answered the question proposed by "anynomous."

Probably the answer I most give people is that the solution to their problem or answer to their question will be revealed to them through focusing on their current lesson. So much is there that we have yet to see.

Anonymous said...

I often see myself standing on a grey blue beach by a grey blue sea tossing a pebble here, a pebble there and waiting for the ripples to come to me. They always come and they are always soothing and refreshing so why do I still worry after casting my pebble?

JohnRama said...

To "Anynomous": For me I found that as we progress on our spiritual journey many issues and bad habits are going to come to our awareness. During this purification process it is very important to be "kind" to oneself. Try to be your best friend and not beat yourself up. You ask "Why do I still worry?" None of it is going to make to much logical sense because we are purifying the mental and emotional bodies and the orign of bad habits may not be obvious. However, I believe the good news is that none of us have to know the cause of the bad habit, it is enough to just practice the teachings in the course because they are the cure. So, hopefully, you won't be too concerned about the whys.... and just be happy that you are in this process it grace working and freeing you. It's a very great thing.

Angelle said...

In Lesson 8, you said "Painful experiences are best forgotten. We can do this once we discharge the emotional energy held in the memories corresponding to those experiences." How do we discharge the emotional energy?

Anonymous said...

thank you JohnRama that is a helpful reminder

JohnRama said...

To "Angelle" I think your question about how to let go of the emotional charge from painful experiences is similar to "Anonymous" who asked about how to handle life's most difficult challanges. I found that feeling gratitude in the midst of the worst times is the best way to handle it and it also helps discharge and eventually eliminate the emotional charge. Gratitude softens the heart so that when the memory of it comes up again you experience love. Having faith that what happened was for your best deepens the love in your heart and gives you more wisdom so that each tme the memory returns you experience only gratitude.