Saturday, December 4, 2010

How I Stopped Searching for Love and Became What I Was Looking For

I wanted it so badly, even desperately. I’m sure it started at the beginning, but it seems that I first consciously noticed it around the age of 12 or 13. I wanted something, and it was so vague I couldn’t describe or define it, couldn’t capture it in words, and yet it persisted as a mysterious ache in my heart.

It became even stronger as I moved into my teenage years and early 20’s. It had to do with other people. I wanted something from other people. I wanted to be liked; I wanted to be loved; I wanted to be accepted; I wanted to be appreciated; I wanted to be noticed and recognized; I wanted to be respected; I wanted others to want me to be their friend. I could go on and on, but you get the point.

This desire, this inexplicable craving, continued for a long time. At some point in my 20’s I remember talking to an older friend, who was a spiritual teacher in the lineage of Paramahansa Yogananda, and I told him that sometimes I had this strange emotionally painful feeling of wanting something from someone.

He replied, very wisely I always thought, “Sounds like growing pains to me.”

When he said that, something fell into perspective that actually eliminated that particular pain from my life. I could understand that it was only growing pains. This friend and teacher also encouraged me to see a meditation Master from India who would be visiting Manhattan, where I lived at the time. I did and ended up being with him for the rest of his life.

From this Teacher I learned that our own inner Self is the true source of all that we seek from others. If we want more respect, we need to be more respectful. We especially need to respect our own Self. Respect from others is worthless if we don’t have our own respect.

I also discovered that the source of love is within, and could not possibly lie outside or in another. If we want to be loved, we need to love ourselves. Being loved by others is very unsatisfying and mediocre compared to the fullness of loving ourselves, of being the one to love instead of being the one hoping to be loved by another.

The Buddha once said: You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.

Within the heart exists a great central sun that illuminates the inner and outer world. We can rejuvenate ourselves at any point by visualizing this resplendent sun in our own heart to the degree that we actually see and feel the light.

See the light radiated, feel the warmth emanated, allow yourself to flow into the current of bliss—the pulsations of the divine exaltation within you. Feel the bliss in the heart right now. It is always present. Even when we forget about it, even though we remain unconscious of it, bliss remains. Bliss is an aspect of our eternal nature.

Everything in the outer world is a reflection of the inner world. There is no exception to this whatsoever. There is no reality outside of the one Consciousness we all share simultaneously. This is an essential principle that one day will be so obvious to us we’ll be amazed that maya could be so powerful as to cause us to think there is an outer reality independent from our inner reality.

Our true nature is Light. This physical body is animated and enlivened by a body of Light, which is much more substantial and long-lasting than the physical body. The identification with the body is an aspect of ego, which is an aspect of maya—the 6th tattva where there is a split between subject and object, where the perceiver sees the perceived as different from itself.

Recognizing and appreciating Light to be our true nature, we live in the Truth.

Inner Light is reflected outwardly. It is the Light of Being. This Light has a feeling, and the feeling of Light is love. Light and love pervade and permeate the observable universe, and the unobservable universe as well. Don’t get lost in the darkness of this world.

Live in light. Be one to carry a torch through the darkness, so as to be a light for others as well.

We all share the same inner Light. There is only one Light, and not two or more. Individuals are like beams of the one Light. In one sense they are different from each other, yet in a greater sense they are the same. When we become fully aware of the inner Light that illumines the entire cosmos, we finally experience our unity as well.

At this point we experience oneness on a whole other level. The idea of oneness gradually becomes the experience of Oneness. A wise person lives in the awareness of the Oneness of all things.

However we see or treat someone else, we are actually seeing or treating our own selves that way. After all, the same one, the same Awareness of Being, exists in all other bodies as well as our own. Therefore, however we treat others, we experience the consequences accordingly. All actions and intentions return to us like boomerangs. This is how karma works.

If we do what is possible to help others to be happy and free, we will experience great happiness and freedom ourselves. If we love others, we will experience great love. When we put out our best, the universe returns its best to us. If we give importance and priority to petty matters, petty matters will consume us, and we will lose sight of the inner light and lose touch with our inner love.

More than anything else, the Truth of the present moment is love. Love is the underlying feeling of the inner Self. When we experience God, when we experience pure Consciousness, when we experience the fullness of our own inner Self, our primary experience is that of that most profound love. And that love is felt within the radiance of the inner light. Relaxing into this love and light is the most profound bliss.

When we understand that the true Beloved is our own inner Self, the Light of Consciousness within, which is also the Light of the world, then we stop searching for love and become what we were looking for. The transformation is well worth the journey.

For information about the Course of Training written by D. R. Butler and available by email, write: drbutler.course@gmail.com

For Spanish, write: drbutler.cursoesp@gmail.com

The course is also available in French. Let us know if interested.

Monday, November 1, 2010

An Overview of the 'Spiritual Path'

Someone wrote, “I’ve been on the spiritual path for over 20 years now, and I am at a point where I question exactly what a spiritual path is. It blends in with the rest of life so much that it’s hard to tell where regular life ends and spiritual life begins. Can you give some kind of overview of the spiritual path for people like me who’ve been doing it so long that they’ve forgotten what they’re doing?”

We begin this life conditioned by parents, peers, and society to see the world in certain ways and to have certain understandings regarding what’s going on, what’s out there, and what we’re supposed to do. What we’re taught to be our ‘reality’ depends largely on what culture we are born into and the times that we live in.

A 21st century American lives in an entirely different world than, say, a 17th century Japanese nobleman, or a 14th century Arabian peasant. The circumstances of our birth, including time, place, family, and close friends, are determined by karma. It does not matter whether we choose to believe in karma or not. It is true nonetheless. For more than half the earth’s population, it is a simple matter of fact.

We get caught up in a world of duality, and as we mature into adolescence and adulthood we become focused on the outer world and the ‘other’—or the realm of objective humanity. Since everyone else around us sees the same reality, we collectively agree that this is the way it is. Someone who challenges this, or says that the Truth is different from how we have always believed, is criticized, ridiculed, persecuted, and sometimes even crucified.

For this reason most true Knowers of the Truth keep it a secret among themselves. Attracting the attention of the masses only brings the madness of the world upon you—why bother? Most Masters or advanced Beings currently embodied on Earth are very difficult to find. In this current age they exist primarily in the ashrams of India and the lamaseries of Nepal and Tibet. Only occasionally does one venture to the West, and even then it is rare for anyone to hear about them or to know about their existence.

Even if one should come across such an advanced Being, chances are that we would not recognize him or her, as he or she would not fit our expectations of what such a one would be like. Instead, he or she might appear to be just like you or me, only he or she would be living in a God-absorbed or Self-enlightened state, yet who would know? It’s not the kind of thing that shows on the outside.

At some point we realize that there must be more to life than what we have previously understood. All the ordinary teachings and doctrines grow stale, and there is no life in them, nothing that will take us further if we wish to go beyond our present state. Ordinary religion does not satisfy, as it primarily points to the next life instead of working for spiritual advancement in this one. There are even those who feel that working for spiritual advancement in this lifetime is blasphemous.

There are many possibilities for getting from there to here, many viable paths available according to our individual type and needs, but skipping from there to here I will state that, based on 50 years of experience, study, and observation, the primary essence of ‘spiritual life’ is living in the Truth of the present moment.

There are many paths, many practices and methods, many seminars and retreats. There are all kinds of yoga and meditation teachers, all kinds of Buddhist teachers, teachers of advaita Vedanta, teachers of radical transformation, teachers who say ‘only this’ is real, and even teachers that teach that what is essential is beyond yoga or spirituality altogether.

Regardless of what one teaches, or what path one follows or promotes, eventually we reach the point where all that’s left is to live in the Truth of the Present Moment. What is the Truth of the present moment? It exists at the end of descriptions, for it does not exist in words. It exists at the end of time, for it does not exist in time. It is pure Awareness.

The Truth of the present moment is living while being conscious of Consciousness and aware of Awareness even amidst the dramas of daily life, while not getting caught up in them.

The ‘overview of spiritual life,’ is the journey from one who identifies himself as an individual in this world of time, space, and karmic circumstance, and who is identified with the body, mind, and emotions, to one who identifies himself as pure Consciousness, pure Awareness of Being, even while observing ordinary life go by, as the Witness of a movie. It is the karmic movie of life, and our true Identity is the Witness of that movie, which contains all the dramas.

The ego (ahamkara) and the mind (manas) are the 15th and 16th tattvas in the 36 tattvas of creation, going from the Universal to the individual. The 36 tattvas of Kashmir Shaivism offers the clearest delineation I’ve ever seen as to how the Universal becomes the individual. What we know as ‘sadhana,’ or what we refer to as a ‘spiritual path,’ takes place entirely on the 15th and 16th tattvas, which we experience as the purification of the ego and mind.

Once this purification takes place, awareness of the pure Self arises naturally and spontaneously. Only the conditioned ego and mind prevented us from experiencing it all along.The ‘Yoga Vasishtha’ states that being bound or deluded is nothing more than mental conditioning, and that once that conditioning is removed, the state of enlightenment or liberation already exists in its own right. This is our most natural state. Everything was leading up to this.

So many people worry about the direction the world is taking. This worry, of course, has gone on for many centuries. It is not a new worry. Throughout history people have been worried about the apparent bad state of the world. This is the illusion of maya at its best. Forget the world. When you leave the body you won’t care about it so much anyway. You’ll be amazed at how quickly it becomes totally irrelevant.

Eventually we come to a calm and peaceful state. It is also a state of madness. The true Self manifests as giddiness. The poet saint Rumi said, Let your LOVE be Disgraceful....Crazy...and WILD. If you're TOO Holy and careful...God will escape you!

It is definitely not good to be too holy. My Teacher once said, 'Please do not try to impress me with your spirituality.' Be real, be true to yourself, be sincere in all ways. Don't be pretentious; don't try to make a good impression; and never worry about what others think of you. Be free from these things if nothing else, otherwise objective humanity sucks you in and you start thinking that you're one of them.

Be true to your Self. You are your own God, and the divinity you have always searched for already lies within you. Contemplate this and understand what it means.

As is our tradition, let’s conclude this entry with something from the comments last month:

DRB said: Daniel, you seem to have one real question: 'Are the lessons further on in the course more advanced than the early lessons you are reading?'

You realize that all such terms like 'advanced' or 'elementary' are totally relative. 'Advanced' as compared to what? And if we get into comparing, what's that all about? Somehow the ego has gotten involved, because only the ego compares. To the Self everything is one and the same. Duality exists only from the ego's perspective.

From the perspective of the Self, there is only One.

So, about the course, the thing is, as you have apparently noticed, once you sincerely participate in the course, you begin to advance within yourself. I say 'sincerely' participate because there are definitely different levels of participation. Some people read stuff from many other sources as well, and they read a lesson and think, 'that's interesting,' and they perhaps never come back to it, imagining that they already 'know' the contents after one or two readings. Such people miss the point of participating in the course, and fail to value and appreciate what it actually is and how it actually contributes to one's life.

The course is not about words. Something 'more advanced' is happening.

When you begin to sincerely participate, and make the lessons a high priority in your life, you find that your understanding and vision of things is more expanded, more elevated, and much freer than before. So in truth something in yourself advances. This is the only reason we do sadhana, for that matter. We desire, on some level or another, to move from one state of Being to a greater, freer, more expanded state of Being.

So by time you get to the lessons you will receive in two years, you will be more advanced yourself. So of course the lessons will seem more advanced as well. You will be amazed at how somehow the lessons keep coming up with something completely new and unexpected. These surprises, or even, sometimes, shocks to the system, cause a transformation in our own Being and an upgrading of our level of understanding.

We would get nowhere if everything happened just as we expected it to. If you knew what was in the next lesson, what good would that lesson do you? It has to be a surprise. Something has to be different about it from all other lessons. And in that way something NEW happens, for only in the NEW do we discover 'advanced' aspects of the Truth.

Once we learn something ‘new,’ we can be assured that it will also be more ‘advanced.’ The two go together.

Every lesson of the course can be read on whatever level of understanding the reader already has. The more spiritual understanding you have, the more 'advanced' Lesson 1 or Lesson 2 will seem. In two years from now, go back and read a lesson you received two years earlier. You will be amazed at all the 'new' stuff in there that literally didn't seem to exist the first few times you read it.

This is because the more advanced we ourselves are, the more advanced the lesson seems to be. When we read a lesson our understanding of it corresponds to our own state. When our state changes, come back to the same lesson and you will see so many new things in the lesson you never noticed before.

If someone in the highest state were to read the lessons, he or she would simply see them as expressions of the way it is. The course is a new or 'modern' presentation of something extremely 'Ancient.' But, of course, we can only discuss such things when we get to 'more advanced' lessons.

For information about the Course of Training written by D. R. Butler and available by email, write: drbutler.course@gmail.com

For Spanish, write: drbutler.cursoesp@gmail.com

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Sadhana of Relationships

‘Sadhana’ is the process of consciously participating in spiritual growth, or the exercises or methods we practice for personal development and Self-mastery, leading toward what is thought of as ‘enlightenment’ or ‘Self-realization.’

There are as many different forms of sadhana as there are types of people, and no two have exactly the same sadhana. We have different dispositions, different personalities, and different needs on the level of the soul. Yet everything is amazingly arranged for each of us to get exactly what we need at the exact time that we need it.

One of the primary forms sadhana takes for almost everyone is that of relationship. This does not necessarily mean that we are in a committed or ‘romantic’ relationship, although we might be. Even monks and swamis live in relationship to each other, if no one else. Whether we are involved in a committed relationship or not is determined entirely by karma, and not by the luck of the draw. Nothing in this world is random or purely coincidental; nothing happens by chance or accident. The karmic web we have spun for ourselves, and which we undergo a cycle of during this physical incarnation, is structured very exactly according to immutable, infallible, and undeviating natural laws.

In the broadest sense, we are ‘in relationship’ with everyone we come in contact with, with everyone in our karmic sphere. While we are in line we come into relationship with the clerk at the store. Paying the toll as we drive on certain highways, or to cross certain bridges or tunnels, we are briefly in relationship with the toll-taker at the toll booth. If the car breaks down we come into relationship with the mechanic who hopefully gets us going again.

So the exploration of the principles of relationship should not be thought of as being limited to ‘real and lasting’ relationships (everything is permanent as long as it is happening), but in terms of our interactions with everyone in our lives. Even so, many of us function as a vital member of a ‘couple,’ and it is especially good to understand the underlying elements and factors of relationship in such cases.

For many people, their primary relationship contains the most intense sadhana that they are faced with. Truly speaking, relationships are a great sadhana, equal in intensity and effectiveness to the sadhana of sannyasi. Successful relationships do not come easily, and maintaining the harmony and balance of a relationship can be an exquisite sadhana taking place on the very highest and most expanded levels of our being.

Now for a brief announcement relevant to those who participate in the course by email:

In the very first blog entry, posted July 14, 2008, the titles of the sections of the course were listed as:

Living in the Truth of the Present Moment
What You Think Is What You Get
The Evolution of Wisdom
How Feeling Creates Reality
Attention, Conscious Intent, and Will
Our Amazing Capacity to Change
The Incredible Power of Feelings
The Importance of Priorities
The Greatest Game Ever Invented
The Ego and Beyond
The Inner State
The Art of Flowing
Love Is Where the Heart Is
Growth Through Relationships
God in Human Form
The Mastery of Life
Attaining the Highest Now
Living in Your Own Secret Heaven
Entering the Stillness
Establishing Joy in Your Heart

So far, during the first two years of the course, we have followed this outline exactly, as people entering their third year are in the section titled, The Incredible Power of Feelings, which has been a very powerful section of the course for everyone.

However, with relationships on various levels existing in the lives of everyone save perhaps the most secluded and dedicated hermit, we are moving up our extensive exploration of relationships, titled Growth Through Relationships, to come immediately following The Importance of Priorities, and now preceding The Greatest Game Ever Invented.

I know that many old-time participants simply see the next lesson as the next lesson, and many of them might have no idea, were we to press them for an answer, what section of the course they are in. Other people, however, like an overview of things, and this ‘announcement’ is simply to keep such people up to date.

We are indeed involved in many relationships to various degrees, so we might as well be afforded the opportunity to practice the highest principles of relationship without any further delay, and while we are younger instead of when we’re older. This way we won’t go through life wondering, Why wasn’t I aware of such knowledge when I truly needed it?

On the subject of relationships, I recently received the following letter. Since the writer touches on many points I have heard in various ways from other people, I am quoting from her letter rather extensively:

“After many years of studying and practicing the principles laid out so clearly in your course, my husband and I have each reached a miraculous level of freedom on the inside, a level of contentment and the pure joy of life I never would have believed possible if I hadn’t lived it in my own life. I’ll always be grateful for the huge part you’ve played in that.

“But here’s the thing, and when it’s up it’s a really BIG thing, and it’s up a LOT these days (like whenever we’re in each other’s company for more than a few minutes): Seems like there’s always been this obstacle in relationship with ‘the man in my life’ (whoever he might be at the time) that comes up at a certain point and eventually leads to the demise of the relationship.

“I recognize that it’s a samskara and yet no matter how strong my intention to catch myself going into reactive mode before it escalates into a full-blown screaming match, I still take what my husband says personally, go into a hurtful feeling that blindsides me, and then turn all that fury I perceived in him back on him.

“So here we are, still reading our lessons, still determined that our marriage-as-sadhana be as free of reactivity as humanly possible, yet still reacting to each other’s words/silences, reactions/non-responsiveness, tone of voice/facial expressions, and various other slights (imagined and otherwise) and excuses for diving into the samskara once again.

“And then the bickering that we both hate so much starts as if there’s nobody home to make a choice about it and on many days escalates into explosive anger. So imagine all that, right in the middle of a life that is otherwise wonderful, and you see why I’m writing to you.

“I know that we both desire only to live a life of freedom and fun and loving compassionate service in each other’s company, yet here we are after all these years still wasting our precious time and shakti bickering like the people you describe in my current lesson. And there I go, saying ‘we’ again. I know I should focus on what ‘I’ am doing and not what ‘we’ are doing if I actually hope to change anything.

“I’ve already tried everything except writing to you, and it’s frustrating and embarrassing to realize that no matter what I do I can’t seem to get past this obstacle on my own. I need help before this one takes me down yet another road to a split-up (which sometimes feels like the only compassionate thing we could do for each other if old dogs really can’t learn new tricks).
Please help. I remain,
Your Loving and Grateful Student”

Let’s look at this letter and see what we can learn from it. A significant clue is found right here: ”Seems like there’s always been this obstacle in relationship with ‘the man in my life’ (whoever he might be at the time) that comes up at a certain point and eventually leads to the demise of the relationship.”

In that one sentence alone she sets herself up and creates the possibility for all else to follow. There’s ‘always’ (key word) been this ‘obstacle in relationship’ (key phrase) with the ‘man in my life’ (another key phrase) that ‘eventually leads to the demise of the relationship’ (the crux of her particular pattern.)

Then she describes the process perfectly: ‘I still take what my husband says personally, go into a hurtful feeling that blindsides me, and then turn all that fury I perceived in him back on him.’

Finally she brings up the scourge of relationships: ‘the bickering that we both hate so much.’ Oh, the endless bickering. How many of us would love more than anything to finally be free from that one, while at the same time enjoying the company of a pleasant companion and playmate? So often it seems we can’t have one without the other.

I have often heard that ‘it takes two to bicker.’ However I beg to differ. It only takes one to bicker. If one goes into bickering mode, the only thing the other can do is deal with it the best he can. From the bickerer’s perspective, the other trying to deal with it is perceived as bickering back. In truth, if the first ceased to bicker, all appearance of bickering would cease as well. It just takes one to bicker, and then we get the mirror. If we’re the one bickering, we should at least be spiritually mature enough to take responsibility for what we are doing.

Anyway, our letter writer says there is ‘always’ an obstacle with the ‘man in her life’ that leads to the ‘demise of the relationship.’ Well, she’s certainly set up things to flow right along with their usual patterns. Of course, her concept itself, this whole chain of thoughts and this description she’s presenting as her reality, IS the obstacle. The whole problem is established in the words of this one sentence of hers, which she accepts as her reality.

Then, she acknowledges, she takes something her husband says personally, is ‘hurt’ by his words, then unleashes the full fury of her anger upon him in retribution, to punish him for what he said that hurt her—even though she actually hurt herself by hearing or interpreting his words in a habitual and predictable way that is her pattern of being ‘hurt’ so that she can more easily justify her ‘anger’.

You can believe that she is highly identified with anger as an essential aspect of her true nature, and something that she feels she can’t do a thing about as it’s such an ingrained aspect of who she thinks is. To keep it going she has to come up with a lot of imagined slights.

She has to stop thinking of herself as a potentially angry person. And, to the same degree, she must stop projecting that anger onto anyone else, seeing it as ‘their’ anger, or ‘their bickering,’ or even ‘our bickering.’ As long as any problem or conflict is ‘ours’, or a matter of something that ‘we do,’ we set it up so that we don’t actually have to work with it or change ourselves in any way. For actual transformation, we have to first own it, and recognize that it is ours alone, not something we share with another. She must stop seeing anger altogether, or allowing for the possibility of anger within the sphere of the relationship.

Anger is perfectly natural and in certain situations the healthiest and most dharmic route to take. Yet, when it becomes such a primary feature of a relationship to the degree that it leads to habitual bickering, then it’s not true anger. It is more accurately ‘hostility.’ Hostility is not a verb, not something we ‘do,’ nor is it something we are. It is a state that we sometimes resort to, or if we’re really afflicted by it, a state we habitually live in as though it is the most natural way for a person to be when having to deal with this world.

If the husband had written me and described what was going on from his point of view, I am sure it would have been a totally different perspective, and who knows what I might have said to him? Since she was the one to write, however, the only response is to let her know what she most needs to understand about herself and what she can do to help transform the situation.

Remember that in relationships it is never a matter of who is right or wrong. So you prove him wrong and yourself right, so what? What has been accomplished or attained by that? Did it escort you right along in your sadhana? Actual spiritual growth happens to a greater degree when we are proven wrong than when we are proven right, so why be so attached to being right? When we are proven wrong, at least we can learn something new and grow. If we are proven right, what have we gained other than an inflated ego?

She closes her letter by saying: “I need help before this one takes me down yet another road to a split-up (which sometimes feels like the only compassionate thing we could do for each other if old dogs really can’t learn new tricks).”

Once again she is focusing on the ‘road to a split-up.’ This is behind everything for her. This is the substratum from which her mind operates. She won’t simply relax and enjoy what she has and accept being together as a happy couple.

I happen to have known this couple for many years. I know her husband, and I am certain that he’s never once considered the idea of ‘splitting up’ with her, as he has told me as much. It is all her thing, centered around her predominant samskara that ruled all past relationships. It has nothing whatsoever to do with her husband. He himself is a happily married man. All this stuff she writes about, she does to herself. She creates the whole thing from scratch, based on her own past, and having nothing to do with her actual existing relationship.

So the only true answer is another question: when will she stop doing it? When will she stop projecting some future split up? She affects herself, she impacts her husband, and she also affects their relationship by inflicting this. She must realize that it is her own old pattern, as she herself knows that her husband is her ‘current man.’ Even from how she uses that particular phrase, with the word ‘current,’ you see how she doesn’t naturally think in terms of stability. It’s ‘current’ now but will be something different later, according to her thinking.

She has been given a wonderful relationship. Hopefully she will wake up and enjoy it and finally appreciate it for what it truly is.

And she better not dare think, Or what? Does this mean that otherwise it will be over? After all this discussion, that would just be taking things a bit too far. I’d have to advise him, She’s right, you’d better leave her. Otherwise she’ll drive us both crazy.

We have room for one exchange from the comments following the September 1 entry:

Rico: I've noticed that emotions often arise with no apparent external stimuli. When the emotion is pleasant, contentment is usually experienced. But if the emotion is unpleasant, the mind kicks in with reasons for the feelings or a search for where this emotional "attack" came from. What's making me feel this way? If I follow this where the mind leads, the feeling usually gets stronger. If I ignore the mind the unpleasantness often dissipates in short order.

DRB: Astute observations as always, Rico. This movement of emotions is actually the activity of the subtle body or astral body. We explore this in depth in our course, as you know. Feelings most definitely have a life of their own, relatively speaking.

As explored thoroughly in the course, we can think of the natural progression of the Creative chain from the Universal to the individual as beginning with pure, unmodified and unconditioned Consciousness. From here is a 'link' to higher mind (in Sanskrit, Buddhi), which we recognize consciously as 'intuition.' If we are open and receptive to intuitive guidance, we allow that to gently influence will, which is the next realm, from which we act and move and have our power (either consciously or subconsciously).

Hopefully we apply will to use vigilance regarding what we think, since thought is creative energy. Either conscious or subconscious application of will directs the conscious mind (manas in Sanskrit), and from there the flow of manifestation goes to the emotional realm (as experienced within the subtle body), and finally from there directly to the physical body. It is quite a chain of events, and the above delineates the flow of creation from the Universal to the individual.

You are absolutely right, when we inexplicably feel good, we don't associate those feelings with patterns of past thought. We might wonder if we unknowingly digested something wonderful or if someone slipped something into our drink, but usually we simply accept such blissful feelings as natural and unrelated to cause. We think, "I feel good today. Must be good vibes in the air." Actually, the 'good vibes' exist within our own subtle network.

When negative emotions come up—which are among the chief obstacles to sadhana or spiritual growth—they are immediately associated with all the samskaras and vasanas we have stored up that we think are the 'cause' of our unrest and discomfort.

Truly speaking, they are exactly the cause of our unrest and discomfort, but not in the way we ordinarily think, which is to 'blame' persons or circumstances. Blame is totally misguided energy and we will do well to be rid of that one, in all its forms and manifestations, as soon as possible. Breaking free from blame introduces more integrity and less perversity in our lives.

For this reason, and the practical point of all this, now that you got me started, is when unpleasant feelings arise, it is VERY IMPORTANT to not associate or attach those feelings to thoughts or memories, because once we’ve done this, we are entangled in their net until we finally manage to break free once again, usually only after some help.

If we can refrain from associating the unpleasant feeling with thoughts of any nature, and simply observe the feeling itself—watching it as a vibration along the nervous system—we immediately distance ourselves from it. Once we can simply observe it as a nervous vibration without any reaction to it, and without attaching any significance to it, we withdraw all power from it, and it becomes helpless and impotent right then and there. If we maintain our observation with great vigilance, the unpleasant pattern will never come up or bother us again.

In a sense, this can be understood as a microcosm of the process that leads to eventual freedom or liberation even while in this body.

For information about the Course of Training written by D. R. Butler and available by email, write: drbutler.course@gmail.com

For Spanish, write: drbutler.cursoesp@gmail.com

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Self-Interview

I originally wanted to interview the Self for this month’s entry, but it didn’t say anything. It spoke to me, yet it was wordless.

As a poor man’s substitute, I decided to interview myself. It seems like a good change-of-pace. (First he writes his autobiography and then he interviews himself—what an egotistical maniac.) It’s a little longer than usual, so feel free to quit reading whenever you feel too bored or tired to go on.

Q: Have you ever interviewed yourself before?
A: Last time was when I was in college, I did a self-interview for the school paper, which appeared as a ‘guest-editorial’ and was titled ‘Turtle Soup.’ Eudora Welty was the writer-in-residence at the time, and she told me it was one of the best things she’d ever read by a college student. She was very inspiring and encouraging to me.

Q: Is it true that you blasted the tradition of fraternities and sororities in that college interview?
A: Nah, it was organized independents that bothered me.

Q: So why do another self-interview now?
A: Why not? What else is there to write? Do you have any idea how much stuff is already in this blog, not to mention the lessons of the Course of Training that people get through email? It’s challenging to come up with enough variety to make it fun for myself, and if it isn’t fun for me, it definitely won’t be fun for anyone else.

Q: Then on with the show. Could you say that you have your own path?
A: Perhaps the pathless path. Not really though. I have no desire to be identified with any particular path. If I have a path, it is the path of all-inclusiveness. No one is excluded; no one is ever left out. There are no outcasts on my path. Sometimes we are our own outcast, and think we are left out when no one is leaving us out, but that’s an ego thing. Ultimately all are embraced. There is no ‘them.’ There is only ‘us.” If I were to create a path, I’d simply want everyone to see the highest and the best in everyone, and to stop thinking anything is ever going wrong. Yet a person has to do a lot of work on himself to actually be able to do this. One might think he can do it simply by deciding to, but he’ll quickly discover that this isn’t the case.

Q: Has anything surprised you since you started writing the new course?
A: Oh, many things actually. One thing that surprised me was that many people I thought would be excited about the new course had no interest in it whatsoever, while many that I presumed would have no interest whatsoever are participating with great enthusiasm. This reminded me to never assume anything regarding another or to think you really know someone. Of course, there are also those whom there was no doubt whatsoever about, people who will remain in my life and dear to me as long as I am in this body, and beyond. Kay and I refer to them as 'course people.'

Perhaps what has surprised me most has been the power of the lessons themselves. They seem much clearer and more powerful than anything I have written before, and I feel this intense power (Shakti) flowing through me as I write. By time I actually complete a lesson, my mind is totally blown all over again.

Q: Let’s examine your writings on the Internet and in your course. What’s the point? Why do it? What’s behind it? And what keeps you going?
A: There is no point to it; it just is what it is. Why do it?—because writing has been the most joyful and fulfilling thing for me to do since I was a young teen. Most people don’t know I published my first short story at age 20. I originally thought I might write novels, but Truth became stranger than fiction.

What’s behind it?—the divinity inherent in the universe—the ‘Force’ is with me (as It is with all of us once we open to its omnipresent beneficence.) What keeps me going? Probably feedback from people who mysteriously enjoy and benefit from what I write. How do people enjoy and benefit from it? Beats me—ask the ‘Force.’

Q: So you started your quest for Truth, and the practice of yoga and meditation, in the early 60’s when you were a young teen. How did that happen?
A: You got me. I remember walking out of the Southern Baptist church when I was 13 when the preacher said we’d all burn in hell for eternity if we did not accept someone who supposedly lived at some point as our personal savior. I felt extremely smothered, and had never felt so uncomfortable in my life. I couldn’t take it. I just got up and walked out, took a breath of fresh air, and never went back. I tried every church in Vicksburg, but obviously none of them quite did it for me. Of course this was Mississippi in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Hopefully things are presented more positively and joyfully now. There’s nothing worse than a gruesome religion.

I think I originally discovered yoga and meditation in some books I found at an old book store. I read ‘Autobiography of a Yogi.’ At 15 I discovered a delightful book by Robert Collier titled ‘The Secret of the Ages,’ and it impacted me more than anything else had at that point. I signed up for a few correspondence courses and ended up dropping them all except for one that made total sense and spoke to my heart. That’s when I first started feeling that I wanted to write a similar course someday.

Q: Objectively speaking, your writings have been well-received and consistently popular for many years. Any ideas on why that might be so?
A: It might be because I am honest and say what I feel and how I see things without sugarcoating anything or trying to live up to anyone’s idea of ‘PR’ or how things should be properly presented. I was never much of a proper person, and I tend to do things incorrectly.

I’ve been told by many that they feel they can trust me regarding spiritual matters, because they know that, if nothing else, I’m at least honest about what I say, whether anyone actually likes what comes out or not. I spent enough time around the Guru to no longer cater to another’s ego, and if they’re serious about sadhana they appreciate that and recognize its value.

Also I’ve been told that my writings are very clear. I have some kind of innate ability to communicate principles of Truth in ways that others actually experience what I’m saying. It happens beyond mere intellectual give and take. Yogis might think of it as a siddhi. But all this is simply feedback I get from others. To me I just write what feels good and what I enjoy reading as I write.

Q: Do you honestly feel true transformation is possible through simply reading words, as in the lessons of your course? Isn’t there some kind of inherent limitation in the written word?
A: Well of course there’s a limitation to written words, but who says the course is limited to written words? They are only the apparent outward form. Any path, any practice, has an outer form, and then, behind the scenes and between the words, there is Essence, there is Being, there is Presence, and this is quite palpable. No one has to take anyone’s word for anything. The written course is only the tip of the iceberg. Also, people gain a lot through our interactions, if they are open to putting themselves out there and not protecting the ego at any cost, especially in a public way. The sooner we realize there is nothing to hide, the freer we will be.

Q: You do have your detractors, though. I’ve read some stuff about you that borders on the obscene.
A: I can’t believe all the stuff I’ve heard and read about myself, or whoever used to be me, over the years. I can’t believe how many different people I am in the eyes of different people. My Guru once said, “I am as you see me,” and more and more I understand exactly what he meant by that.

Apparently you can’t be popular with some without simultaneously being attacked by others. I’ve been called everything from a sexual predator to a snake-oil salesman. I can see why people who are really famous have to totally give up caring whatever anyone else says or writes about them. It isn’t worth it trying to correct all the untruths, and you finally have to simply let them be. Thankfully none of it affects anything that truly counts.

Q: What about the girl?
A: Yes, the girl. I experienced an indiscretion of sorts 16 or so years ago that had unexpected consequences. Warren Zevon, on writing his classic, ‘Lawyers, Guns, and Money,’ said that before he wrote the song he had experienced a day of “improbable and grotesque mischief.” I thought that captured the story of my life quite nicely.

As far as ‘the girl,’ however, she contacted me a while back for the first time in many years to apologize for what she had written. Now she takes the course, reads this blog, is a friend on Facebook, and has an ongoing dialogue with Kay, so her story written all those years ago hasn’t much merit or substance anymore, if it ever did. I certainly wouldn’t recommend that anyone rush out to read it, and neither would she. It was just one person’s perspective of something that once happened, a karmic hiccup along the way. We all do strange things when we’re young. And look at me—I am stranger now than I was then.

Perhaps one day she’ll write her own comments here as she readjusts to the course community and reassumes her rightful place in it. Who knows? This world is strange and unpredictable. I always knew she’d be back when she came back to her heart. She still is who she always was, only, like all of us, more mature and a bit wiser regarding what life is truly all about.

Also, genuine remorse must be honored. If it isn’t, then what honor is in that? How can we live a life of respect and integrity if we refuse to forgive when sincere remorse appears? Forgiveness is the key to the experience of oneness and unity. As long as someone remains unforgiven, that’s a part of us that we are holding separate from God and making less than God. We cannot truly experience God until everyone is finally forgiven for everything (including ourselves). Forgiveness is a great sadhana all in itself.

Q: You recently wrote on your Facebook page, ‘In the process of dissipating the power of personal history, so to reclaim my true life in the present moment, I am tossing out all personal secrets.’ What did you mean by that?
A: Our personal history has a certain power to it. Not in itself, per se, but in our identification with it. If I am still identified with my life of 20 years ago, then I am limited to who and what I was then. If someone else sees and relates to me as I was 20 years ago, then they are limiting me to who and what I was then. If I try to hide any of it, and hope no one ever discovers something about my past, then I am bound by that and it becomes more heavy baggage to lug around. I want to travel lightly, so I do whatever is necessary to break free from the bondage of personal history. To be free from the bondage of personal secrets, reveal them in appropriate ways, and you will be free. This applies only to your own secrets, though. It is adharmic (against dharma) to reveal another’s secrets that you might be privy to.

Q: So you’re tying all the ‘loose ends’ of your past, and, as you sometimes say, bringing everything into a ‘coherent and harmonious whole?’
A: Really, what else is there to do at my age?

Q: Can we ask about Kanti, the mother of your 3 children? How is she?
A: Kanti is living in Manhattan and is doing absolutely great. She never ages, and pretty much looks the same as she always did. She’s like Richard Alpert in ‘Lost’ in that way. We have remained great friends and have mutually determined to maintain a happy family environment for our 3 wonderful children, who are all doing so well in their own lives. She is still offering astrology readings and is excellent at helping people to understand the nature of their karma and to get some perspective on the focus of their own personal sadhana. Kay and I get readings from her every few months to maintain some perspective on what’s happening in our own karmic play. If anyone wishes to contact Kanti for astrology, or for old time’s sake, contact her at nadinekennedy1@gmail.com. This also contains her Facebook name if you care to friend her there.

Q: The Internet seems to be a great place to contact people and groups that exist to promote spiritual evolution on the planet, yet there are also sites that basically post all the dirt that can be gathered regarding spiritual teachers and groups. You’ve made it clear before that you have a bit of disdain for such sites, comparing them to ‘ticks, mosquitoes, and skunks.’ Any further comments on that?
A: I can’t believe they think they are providing a service. I guess they think they’re helping people to not get duped by dubious teachers and groups, and there’s some merit to that, but the problem is that they’ve lumped all the good guys in with the bad, and no one can really tell which is which anymore. My Guru once told me that there are so many false teachers around that it makes it very difficult for anyone to recognize or appreciate the genuine article when it comes along.

Still, if you’re focused on digging up all the dirt and gossip you can gather about everyone, you end up throwing the baby out with the bath water. Even the greatest teachers end up with disgruntled former students whose egos couldn’t take the fire, or who couldn’t accept some aspect of the whole, and who are quick to publically turn against the very ones that most tried to help them.

More essentially, and relevant to all of us, my Teacher said that if more people like you and say good things about you, it won’t help you, and if more people dislike you and say bad things about you, it won’t hurt you. Like everything else he ever said, I have found this to be very true.

I have been the golden boy, loved and respected by so many I didn’t really have time for any of them, and I have been the rejected and frowned-upon outcast who led the whole world in mistakes. I was surprised to learn that it didn’t matter much either way. As far as my inner experience went, I remained the same under both extremes. This actually surprised me, but it was one of the greatest teachings I have had the grace to receive.

Q: Why bring up the past at all?
A: To help bring closure to anyone who’s ever been affected by reading (or writing) such things. To resolve and harmonize all that has come before now. Besides, you’re the one who brought up the past.

Q: So, getting back to the present, how would you currently describe your course, your writings in general, your philosophy, and what you have to offer others?
A: The lessons of the course offer people something to do with their minds instead of habitually following their usual mental routines. It gives a certain focus in an expansive direction. Simply reading and rereading the lessons expands the ways we think and see things. It causes the mind to work in different ways than it’s used to, as well as offering it new avenues to explore instead of repeating the same old parrot-like patterns without ever once recognizing what we’re doing or that our thoughts aren’t even our own.

The lessons are a means of opening up within and discovering and consistently experiencing who we truly are, instead of the dream we’ve had about ourselves ever since we were programmed as children. It’s a way of ‘waking up,’ as the scriptures put it. It’s not for everyone, but for many it’s the best way they’ve yet found.

My writings in general, including the course, the blog, and Facebook, present the Truth of the Present Moment as I have come to understand it after 50 years of seeking, studying, training, being whipped into shape by various teachers in various ways, having my ego obliterated over and again by the Guru until I couldn’t be anyone other than who I am, and the experience gained as a teacher, writer, speaker, answerer of innumerable questions, and leader of many classes, workshops, and retreats over the 30 years I functioned in such a role.

The past is a memory; the future is a projection; neither exists now except in our mind. What is the Truth of the existing moment? Is it the pain in my back and hips? Is it the confusion in the mind? Is it the continuous emotional ups and downs? Probably it’s not any of those, as they all come and go; relative truth is only temporary, or for this time only.

The Truth with a capital ‘T’ is the one Principle that never changes in a universe where everything else on every level of being constantly changes. The body changes, thoughts change, emotions change, the world around us changes, ‘others’ change, but the Truth of divine Awareness within never varies in the least. It is eternal, all-pervasive, and all-inclusive. Nothing exists outside it. It includes the entire cosmos of the waking world, the innumerable realms of the dream world, the vast world of deep sleep, and the Turiya state that simultaneously permeates the other three. It is the only Truth there ever is, ever has been, and ever will be. It is without beginning or end. It is an unmodified, undifferentiated, unconditioned, formless Awareness of Being.

Did you know that scientists are now discovering that perhaps there never was a ‘big bang’ that began the universe? Those on the ‘cutting edge’ are now discovering that, wonder of wonders, the universe had no beginning and has no end. Welcome to the Vedas, the Upanishads, and all the other scriptures that have existed for thousands of years saying the same thing.

As for my ‘philosophy,’ I’m not sure I really have one that could be put into words other than, in my own experience and observation, all of life, and all spiritual seeking, leads to eventually living in the Truth of the present moment. I don’t have any mental speculations. The mind is only the 16th of 36 Tattvas (levels of creation); what does it know? I wouldn’t put my trust in thoughts or concepts. The only thing concepts are good for are to be broken.

My philosophy is to be real, be sincere, be who you truly are, live according to your own heart and your own nature, feel good about yourself as God made you, even manifests as you, just as you are. Drop all pretension. Give up your fake veneer and your hypocrisy even when you think you’re being genuine. Stop playing your phony games that you’ve been playing so long you don’t even remember that they are phony games.

Give up the endless desires to impress anyone or to improve anyone. Please, please stop explaining yourself. There’s nothing worse than someone insisting on explaining something to you and thinking that you’ll understand something about them better after they complete their explanation. We all already get it. Get over yourself.

Rip off your mask of propriety and hurl it into the ethers. Forget everything you’ve ever been taught you should or shouldn’t do. Free yourself from the shackles of conformity. Stop worrying about being good enough for anyone else. You already are all there is. All you lack is this understanding.

Whatever you do, at least don’t feel guilty about it, because the guilt you feel is much worse than whatever you did to feel guilty about. In fact, the secret to truly enjoying a fulfilling life is simply to love every single thing you do during every single moment. Of course, you have to greatly value your own life in order to do this, but then that’s the point, isn’t it?

You are already divine; there’s nothing to become. Don’t do anything to seek the good opinion of others, to make others like you, or to attract others to you. Otherwise you will only lose yourself and fade into oblivion in the objective world of humanity, thinking you exist yet being only a floating reflection of how others see you. This greatly reduces you and in fact dissipates whatever Shakti, whatever inner power you might have gained, by caring how you are perceived by others. Love them, honor them for who and what they are, for whatever function or role they play in your life, and remain in harmony with whatever arises from one moment to the next.

No one needs to see you except yourself. Others need only to see their own Self. No one will ever understand you except yourself. Others have to understand their own Self. When we all do this, when we really get it that we’re the only One here, and that everyone around us is an individualized aspect of the same One, we’ll realize that deep within we share the same Self.

Spirituality is a matter of realization or recognition of the already existing Truth. Many have the delusion that it’s about becoming something or attaining something we don't already have. My Teacher said the Self is already attained. The only reason we do sadhana (spiritual practices) is to purify the mind and ego. Once they are clear and no longer prone to projection, delusion, and false identification, the Truth reveals itself within us naturally and spontaneously.

What have I to offer others? In myself, there is nothing. I love and honor all, but there is nothing I can offer anyone except to share what I have learned from the universe in the forms of all my teachers. If I can do or say anything to help anyone recognize their own inner Self, their own inner value, then I am immensely fulfilled. I am fulfilled anyway, yet there is a great dharma in helping others to recognize their own Truth and to enjoy their own freedom, and it is very gratifying.

On Facebook, I offer lighthearted friendship, a humorous perspective, some words of wisdom, and even some good music. On the blog, I offer all that anyone can or will accept. However, due to the nature of the way things work, one is limited in how much he or she can or will open up to accepting and receiving until there is some degree of commitment to the process of uncovering and dismissing all that is false, and some contribution to the source of the possibility of new knowledge and an expanded sense of being.

My friend Baba Rampuri, an American who was the first Westerner to ever be initiated in the glorious tradition of the ancient Naga Babas in India, and who now functions as a guru himself—and whom I hope Western yogis will come to know better, for he has much to offer us—recently wrote that people have this delusion that knowledge should be free, yet knowledge is the most expensive thing there is, and it has to be highly valued before it can actually be received and used in meaningful and transformational ways.

(I recommend Rampuri’s excellent book, “Autobiography of a Sadhu,” and you might also enjoy his website: rampuri.com. Obviously I like him a lot, as you know I don’t recommend people lightly. He has experienced over the past 40 years a life that most of us could hardly imagine. If I didn’t have my own peculiar karma, I’d probably be a Naga Baba. Or perhaps it’s just fond memories of another incarnation.)

In the lessons of the Course of Training via email, I offer all that the universe is willing to pour through me. Everyone starts out on the level of his or her own current understanding and perspective of things, and with each lesson, on the 1st and 15th of every month, we take another step in the process of breaking free from all that we’re not and opening up to all that we truly are.

In one of the lessons there is a quote from Ramana Maharshi, the great Indian saint and sage. Let’s end with his words for now, for to me they perfectly sum up everything:

"There is no greater mystery than this: Being Reality ourselves, we seek to gain Reality. We think that there is something hiding Reality and that it must be destroyed before the Truth is gained...A day will dawn when you will laugh at your past efforts. What you realize on the day you laugh is also here and now.”

For information about the Course of Training written by D. R. Butler and available by email, write: drbutler.course@gmail.com

For Spanish, write: drbutler.cursoesp@gmail.com

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Story of My Life (Autobiography of a Nobody)

I feel like doing something a little different this month. Ever since sometime in my 40’s (and it still feels weird to me that I’m older than that now) I’ve had this title in my mind, ‘Autobiography of a Nobody.’ If I were to ever write the story of my life, it seemed, it would be the perfect title.

I doubt I’ll ever get around to the long version, but I decided I would finally use the title in the August entry of our blog, and instead of resorting to my usual impersonal approach of focusing on the principles of Truth, I would share my memoirs here and now—just as a change of pace—and probably much to Kay’s great chagrin.

I was born in the same room, and delivered by the same doctor, that had delivered my mother 22 years earlier. My first two years were spent in the middle of cotton fields. After that, my parents moved to the city of Vicksburg, MS, where I grew up and attended high school. My home overlooked the mighty Mississippi. At that time it seemed like the most perfect place in the world to be a child and teenager.

I discovered yoga and meditation at the age of 15. Even to this day it is somewhat of a mystery to me how I actually discovered it or began. No one I knew practiced it or knew anything about it. I told one of my friends that I was practicing yoga, and he said, ‘Oh, that’s where they lay on a bed of nails, isn’t it?’

I began taking a correspondence course at 15 that I continued until its completion when I was 29. It was written in the 50’s by a man in his 80’s, who had spent 17 years in a hidden lamasery in Tibet, until his Master told him to take the teachings of Truth to the West during the years of the Great Depression, and to help the people learn to prosper again and get free from the poverty, lack, and loss of the times. He did this, and many of his students are today well known names.

In high school I also read ‘Autobiography of a Yogi,’ by Paramahansa Yogananda, which opened me to a different sort of world than I was used to, and also inspired the title of my own ‘autobiography.’

I continued my education in Jackson, MS, at Millsaps College, a private Methodist liberal arts college that was the liberal stronghold in Mississippi at the time, as well as the state’s most prestigious academic institution. I took a ‘creative writing’ course taught by our ‘writer in residence,’ the great Eudora Welty. The first interracial marriage in Mississippi took place in our chapel when I was a student there, and we were all very proud of that. I majored in philosophy and English literature. I never knew why, or how I would ever ‘use it,’ until years later.

At 22, about a year after the unexpected death of my mother in an automobile accident, I moved from Mississippi to Greenwich Village. Actually, on my 22nd birthday, my girlfriend at the time took me to see the original cast of “Hair” as my first ever Broadway play. I don’t think, up until that point, I had ever enjoyed anything quite so much.

I worked for 3 years as a magazine editor in NYC, and then decided to focus on free-lance writing, of both articles and short stories. I had published my first short story at 20 while still living in Mississippi. During this period I was one of the very few people I had ever known who actually supported themselves as a writer.

I was gradually pulled back to my roots and my true love and began writing more about yoga and meditation and the creative power of the mind. I still feel it is important to understand the relationship between our thoughts and the process of creation—otherwise we don’t understand how and why things happen as they do.

One article was titled “As You Think, So You Are.” There were a great many people who wrote to me via the magazine to ask if I had any books, or if I wrote a course, and where could they get more of what I had written. The first lesson of the original course was mailed in August, 1975, in response to the people who had enjoyed the article and encouraged me to begin a course. So I began a more elaborate exploration of the principles presented in the article, and the course began to grow through word-of-mouth.

Around the same time, a Yoga Master from India, an authentic Shaktipat Guru, was going to be in Manhattan for a few weeks. All the teachers I most looked up to encouraged me to be sure and go to see him, insisting that he was very special and ‘the real thing.’ A friend of mine, and at the time one of my teachers, was a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda. He told me that this one was the first genuine yogic Master that had come to the West since his own Guru.

Having no interest in a ‘Guru’ of my own, and feeling that I was already doing quite well in my sadhana, I went to see him out of curiosity. The first day I met him everything changed. My experience of myself changed. My perception of the world changed. The depth of my understanding was totally transformed. It was like entering another dimension of life. This was at 29, the ‘Saturn return,’ when we seemingly go from one incarnation into another.

I would spend the next 26 years writing a course exploring the principles of Truth, as I understood them, from the perspective of that particular path and lineage, as my seva or service offered to the Master and the mission. I traveled many places and led weekend workshops. I even taught meditation classes in India. I became a ‘spiritual teacher.’

My second Saturn return brought just as much change into my life as the first one had. In 2002 I ‘retired’ from the official position I had held all those years. I had a strong pull to ‘retire’ into privacy and seclusion. My life and my sadhana had been under public scrutiny for many years. I did not want to be anybody, and I certainly didn’t want to have to live up to being anyone in particular. I just wanted to relax and be me, take a breath, and not be needed.

I spent the next six years in virtual seclusion except for seeing immediate family. I spent as much time with my 3 children as I could. Kay and I married in 2003, after knowing each other since 1976, and her two children (and now two grandchildren) have become part of my own family.

Interestingly, Kay attended an Intensive I led at Ananda Ashram, in Monroe, NY, in 1977, when she was nine months pregnant with her daughter Tiffany, who today is maturing as a hatha yoga teacher and leader of others in her own right. Kay also was my children’s primary ‘babysitter’ all their lives—so our families always seemed to be a bit intermingled.

We currently live in a village of 90. There are actually more people in the cemetery, which we walk through from time to time, just as a reminder of how everything comes and goes. One of the original families that settled here were part of the famous ‘Tiffany’s’, and the tombstones of their descendents lie crumbling in the cemetery. You can actually see dates going back to the late 18th century, and then the names and dates sort of fade away. You see that when your tombstone finally crumbles into dust, you are truly ‘gone,’ almost as though you were never here. It gives some perspective.

No one in our village, which has one of the world’s smallest post offices, would dream of what I actually do or of what I spend my time writing. I honestly don’t know if they would be able to put the two together—my work and me—in any kind of comprehensible way. I imagine only people who participate in the course can actually grasp the essence behind the apparent paradox.

In 2008 I began the current course and this blog. I had given up being anyone’s ‘teacher’ six years earlier, and no longer cared to be in any such position, but I could still write, which has always been my first love. And what would I, now in my 60’s, have to say after starting all over from scratch? What would be my approach now? I couldn’t imagine, and was as curious as anyone to find out.

At that point, in the beginning, I couldn’t imagine that I had any more to say to anyone. Really, I had written years and years worth of lessons—which a swami friend once referred to as ‘the world’s longest book,’ and now I was to begin all over with Lesson 1? What to do? What to say? How to begin now? And what on earth would actually be worth anyone’s time to read when so much good stuff is already available?

Once I began, it was like riding a bicycle, and the words started pouring out of me. I don’t write with my mind. I don’t think about what I’m going to write beforehand. I cannot imagine outlining a lesson before I write it. I go to the computer and start writing, and I’m as amazed as anyone else at what comes out.

Sometimes I am ‘writing’ (which is more like taking dictation) and I find myself thinking, ‘I never heard that before. I wonder where that comes from?’ Yet it is always intuitively obvious and not worth doubting.

I have said for a while that I have reached a point where everything is either intuitively obvious or not worth thinking about. I don’t think a lot. I find that useless and purposeless thinking tends not only to dissipate creative energy, but also ultimately leads to agitation, and it’s no longer worth it. The secret was to lose interest in the constant activity of my own mind. I replaced that with maintaining a strong center in the heart, a center of feeling. I enjoy love and light much more than being lost in perpetual thought.

I usually direct my thinking process into this blog and the lessons of the course. And now there’s Facebook, an amazing phenomenon I never anticipated, especially regarding the inherent possibilities of an ongoing real-time satsang—meeting together in the heart and mind for the purpose of experiencing the Self we all share.

August is the beginning of the 3rd year of the course and blog. We have come a long way and accomplished a lot during the first two years, on the level of coming and going and accomplishing. For those about to complete their first two years of the course, a solid foundation has been established, so that what is to come next can be strong, stable, and unquestioned right from the beginning.

My Teacher once told me, “Make the course so strongly rooted in the principles of Truth that no one can ever legitimately question or doubt it.”

The beauty of the course, to me, is its constant ever-awakening into something new—even for me. For me, what’s new is really new, even if it’s ancient. If you’re one who takes the course, you know that spiritual growth or personal development of any nature can only take place when we see, acknowledge, and appreciate what is new.

Focusing on what is old only makes us old before our time. Seeing what is new rejuvenates us and keeps us young.

As per my custom, I will conclude with a Q&A exchange from July’s comments. There are many outstanding exchanges among those comments, and I sincerely urge you to read through them. It is a great community that meets and shares comments here. However, it will be challenging to choose only one. This is a comment I posted July 22:

Amazing as it might seem, I've been busy. There are more and more participants beginning the course each month, more stuff to respond to, more questions to answer, and a lot of other life-stuff as well, as karma kicks its way through this physical entanglement we call our life.

We've already broken our all time record for number of comments following an entry. So there is more and more activity here, which is fantastic, and which obviously can sustain itself for a while even when I'm unable to contribute or respond. Others seem to fill in nicely at the perfect times, and the Shakti takes care of all. For now, however, I'll see if I can 'catch up' a bit.

Renee, a relatively new participant, asked: "My questions are, what is the difference between the ego and samskaras? And, how do you convince someone you are taking them seriously when you now are able to see the situation as amusing? Do you keep the amusement to yourself and maintain a serious affect?"

The samskaras enact their influence and power over us through the tandem of mind and ego. Therefore, purifying the mind and ego is the same process as breaking free from samskaras. It's simply two different ways of understanding the same thing.

I don't do very much at all to convince people that I am taking them seriously, as I'm rarely taking them seriously in the least—and almost never as seriously as they are taking themselves. I can be appropriate; say if I'm at a funeral or a wake or something, I don't go around all jolly and encouraging people to see the humor in things in their grief.

I actually don't ever try to convince anyone of anything. If they're happy with their own understanding and vision, I'm already happy. Even so, sometimes I do keep my amusement to myself. Sometimes it actually is best to not display your amusement. So I spend a lot of time secretly amused.

Karen Jo, when I first read your beautiful poem I was so moved that I wanted to respond poetically in return, but things kept coming up and I never found poem-time, so since you've now resorted to prose I'll at least address your question.

Yes, the question is hard to put in words, and the answer is hard to put in words as well. Perhaps that's why I waited so long before I began to procrastinate.

You see, the thing is that no one has ever yet been separate. There has always been only Oneness. Even when we are totally lost in the apparent reality of duality, Oneness is real all the time—whether we consciously recognize it or not.

So our loved ones—the ones we hope to spend eternity with—are only expressions of that Oneness, or of the eternal Beloved. The Beloved is ultimately always the same One, no matter which form or forms we recognize It in. In truth, It lives in and animates all beings, and there is no one else, and certainly no one separate from it.

The outer, objective world is only a mirror of our own subjective consciousness. The One lives in all, and all are in the One.

In the 'Spanda Karikas,' a major text of Kashmir Shaivism, it is said: One who knows the Self sees the entire universe as a series of reflections in a mirror.

Since there is no true separation between you and your loved ones now, why should there come to be any separation later? Will we be less aware or appreciative of our loved ones in the next realm than we are in this one? No, we will be more aware of them, much closer to them, and we will experience more intimacy than what is possible in this dense physical world with its limitations of space, time, and circumstance. These bodies can only get so close. The subtle world is far-out and limitless.

Love is eternal. We are love. We are eternal. All that exists is the Truth of the Present Moment. The trick lies in understanding the fullness of exactly what that means on the very highest, deepest, and most expanded level.

For information about the Course of Training written by D. R. Butler and available via email, write: drbutler.course@gmail.com

For Spanish, write: drbutler.cursoesp@gmail.com

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Birthday!

July is Happy Birthday month around here. My own birthday is July 4—I came in with a bang. Kay’s birthday is July 20. And the first ever blog entry and introduction to the beginning of the new course was published here on July 14, 2008, so the blog is two years old this month. Lesson 1 was emailed to participants for the first time from July 15 to September 1, 2008.

If you’ve never read the original entry of the blog, I invite you to do so. It was the first introduction to the course and the blog and everything that we do here. It also contains an outline of the topics explored in the course.

If you’d like to read that introductory entry, simply click on the link below this paragraph and scroll to the bottom to the July 14, 2008 entry, which is where it all began (if it doesn’t come out as a link, simply copy and paste into your browser).

http://truthofthepresentmoment.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2008-10-14T23%3A00%3A00-04%3A00&max-results=11


So July is a month of celebration around our place. We invite you to join us, and to enjoy the month in the spirit of celebration. Anything can be celebrated. The moral of the story is to live all of life as a celebration.

Just yesterday I told Kay, “Every day is a party for me. All I do these days is party.”

You see, simply sitting here writing to you is a party for me. I’m enjoying a great time. Writing has been the most fun thing for me since about the age of 14, when I wrote my first short story of a utopian existence. Of course at the time I’d never heard of ‘Utopia'. It was just a story of how I thought life could be.

I'm still working toward that utopian existence. Actually, I feel that I already live in my own Utopia. I cannot think of a single way my life could be improved or made better. Do you have any idea how freeing that is?

There is a story that my Teacher told many times over the years. The story was very mysterious to me at the time, and I found it very interesting that he seemed to make such a point of it.

In the story, a Master and his student were traveling, the student supposedly taking care of the Master on the journey. The Master was elderly in physical form, and from all appearances, seemed to be a simple and humble man. The disciple was a young man who was eager to get somewhere in his sadhana, and he was happy to be traveling with his Guru.

It was evening and they were both very tired from walking all day when they came upon an inn. The only problem was, they didn’t have enough money to pay for the night. The Master suggested that they go in and find a place where they could get some sleep, and said that if they were quiet and stayed to themselves they’d be able to rest without disturbance.

He gave the disciple only one instruction: “No matter whatever happens,” the Master said, “don’t become anyone.”

The disciple thought that would be a very easy task, and they quietly went inside and each found an empty room to sleep in.

In the middle of the night, some men came into the room where the disciple was sleeping and woke him up rudely. “What are you doing here,” they demanded. “You haven’t paid for the night.”

Half asleep the disciple cried back, “Don’t you know who I am? I am the disciple of a great Guru. He is so famous, so adored by many, yet I alone am traveling with him.” He told them his Guru’s name over and over, so they’d be impressed and understand how important and worthy he was, but they only became angrier with him and threw him out.

Outside, the disciple spent the rest of the night on the ground. It was cold, and the ground was hard. He slept fitfully. In the morning, as the light came up, his Guru came out of the inn, well rested and refreshed.

The Guru laughed when he saw the student. “Did you remember what I told you?” he asked first thing. The disciple answered sheepishly: "Telling them I was the disciple of a great Guru was the only thing I could think of that would impress them enough to let me stay.”

Then he looked at the Master and said, “How did you get away with spending the whole night in the inn?”

“Oh, the same men came in my room also,” the Master said. “They woke me up roughly and demanded to know what I was doing there. I was very feeble and humble in their presence. I said I was just a tired old man who hoped for a few hours of rest, with their blessings. So they said to each other that I was a harmless old man and to just let me sleep.”

I have no idea, consciously, why this particular story comes to mind now. Perhaps it is related to certain comments that have been made here in the comments and in the threads on my Facebook page. The story seemed somehow appropriate, and it makes a great deal more sense to me now than it did when I first heard it. For one thing it reminds me of something the Guru once said to me directly: “Never become anyone.” I feel I have done nicely in this regard.

Let’s consider a couple of exchanges from last month’s comments. There are over a hundred comments a month now following each month’s blog entry, and I only have room here for 3 or 4 at the most. It is impossible to select the ‘best’ so I can only be representative. I sincerely encourage you to check out all the comments for yourself, for the essence of the blog lies in them.

Ben: asked about specifics regarding the course, including the cost.

DRB: Ben, regarding the cost of the course, we ask a minimum donation of $15 a month, and you can save by signing on for a year for a minimum donation of $150.

We are well aware of the relative costs of things in the world, as well as the relative costs of things of a spiritual or transformational nature. I know you can pay a lot more and receive a lot less than what is asked in exchange for the course.

We are also aware that many people are experiencing financial difficulties these days. For this reason I prefer to keep the price low enough so that anyone can afford it. I know that if certain of the people who take the course now are managing it, then it is managable for anyone if they are dedicated enough to inner growth and transformation.

There are participants of the course who are able to afford more than the minimum suggested donation, and they send more simply because they can, and due to their appreciation and gratitude for what they gain through the course. Because of their generosity, we are able to keep the minimum fee low enough for those who are on limited incomes, so that the course is essentially available to everyone who is willing to learn and practice the principles of Truth.

As far as what is involved in taking the course, you get a lesson of around 10 pages on the 1st and 15th of each month, and all that is asked is to read the lesson at least 2-3 times during the two weeks, referring to the current lesson daily if possible, and simply applying the practical principles explored in the lessons in your own daily life.

As far as what you get that is unavailable on the blog, you get step-by-step guidance to progress from wherever you find yourself now to wherever you want to be next, spiritually speaking, and then onward to spaces and places that you might not now even imagine. It is challenging to imagine the impact of the course in advance, for it is similar to a child attempting to imagine what it must be like to be an adult.

Anyone can receive the first month of the course free of cost, simply by writing and requesting it (drbutler.course@gmail.com). Please do not request it for others, however, as it does not have the same energy exchange, and chances are that they will pass it off as being of little or no value. This type of information and guidance is available only to those who truly want it. (Having said that, it is always appropriate to share the link to this blog with anyone you think might be open to it.)

Stuart: asked about the conflict he feels between his actual experience of reading the blog--which he describes as 'very powerful'--and some ‘unfavorable’ things he previously heard or read about the writer.

DRB: Stuart, your comment amuses me more than most, and I am easily amused. I am a fairly even-keeled guy, but this one really made me laugh. Of course, I'm usually prone toward laughter, no matter what happens. Mostly I laugh inwardly, however.

You know, people say all sorts of things. One of the first things my Teacher warned me about was gossip, and the dangers of listening to it or passing it on. He taught to stay immune to gossip and to remain unaffected by such conversations. Yet, the ego gets all excited to hear the latest juicy gossip, so what to do?

There has never been a universally popular figure in the field of spiritual growth or self-development and transformation. All of them had those who resonated with their presentation of the principles and were totally open and receptive; yet all of them also had their detractors, those who were against them and focused on the seeming imperfections in their personal lives.

In the past there were crucifixions; today there are Internet sites that spread the worst gossip anyone can come up with. And, in their delusion, they think they provide a service.

I will be 65 on July 4th. I have enjoyed a long and full life. In all that time, surely there are some things you could pick out to make me sound really bad, if you wanted to focus on those things. I can't think of anyone for whom this might be different, regarding their own lives. We are all very human. We can come up with a highlight film of our life or a lowlight film. I'll take the highlight version every time.

My understanding is that my seva, my dharma, my duty, my work, my thing to do in life, my service, my contribution, what I do, and what happens, is to write the course that goes out via email to many around the world, and to keep this blog up to date and answer questions in the comments. Whatever comes through, whatever is received by others, happens through grace. Their own readiness and receptivity attracts it to them.

The process of inner evolution happens due to the grace of the Universal Uplifting Principle—the initiating, awakening, expanding, and uplifting force of Nature, called by various names throughout time and place. Whether we call it 'the Shakti', the 'Holy Spirit', the 'Guru Principle', or by any other name, it awakens in us through the grace of God and stays active in our lives through our intention and effort to stay attuned to it at all times. It is the way it is; it is what happens.

If I were you, or if I were to advise anyone, I would say to definitely go with your own experience over the words of others. 'Objective humanity' is invariably in error. Don't even go there.

Laura: asked if the most convenient thing is really the most practical thing, as she’s always felt that doing the ‘highest’ thing is not always so easy.

DRB: It's always seemed to me that the most convenient and most practical were often the same thing. You have been conditioned to think that the highest is not always so easy? At least you are honest and seem to know yourself somewhat.

What is the 'highest'? If there is high, there is also low. How do we do the lowest things, and what are they? What are the 'highest' things? In reality, what we call the 'highest' is the 'most expanded,' as opposed to existing in a state of contraction.

The Truth is simplicity itself. The 'highest' thing to do is nothing, because the highest state is effortless. It's about remaining aware in the present moment. In complete effortlessness life happens; the karma of the body happens as though it has a life of its own, and we are just along for the ride.

True sadhana is living in the Truth of the Present Moment. We are always in the present moment; this is an eternal reality, it never changes.

If we are aware of the Truth (pure formless Awareness of Being) right here and now, we live in a state of supreme contentment, and it is totally effortless.


In this thread we have discussed the upayas. The 'highest' upaya, Anupaya, is effortless. Anava upaya, on the other hand, which we work in to purify the anava mala (the original taint that causes us to feel small, impure, and unworthy) and in which we make use of the body, mind, and prana, does require consistent self-effort and, in fact, self-discipline--the effort to continually 'come back to the present moment, come back to the heart, come back to our love.'

Anava upaya includes those things you could think are not so easy. And it's true—our conditioned ego does not want to do those things: meditate, keep the body strong and flexible through the practice of hatha yoga or other means, think well of others as well as ourselves, maintain a positive attitude, see all things as the play of Consciousness, remember the love that dwells eternally in the heart, and all the other things we do to rid ourselves of the ties that bind us.

Anyway, you are on Lesson 2. You have much to look forward to. Thank you for joining us here on the blog.

Lorna: writes that while she is benefitting greatly from the course, she has multiple sclerosis and asks what to do about the first half of her life that might have led up to living in a wheelchair for the last 20 years.

DRB: Lorna, unfortunately none of us can do anything about the first half of our life. It was what it was, it was all karma, and every aspect of it was necessary to lead up to this. Nothing was ever done wrong, and there were no mistakes. All those are human judgments that have nothing to do with the Truth of the Present Moment.

I strongly advise to meditate and focus on the subtle body, the body of light and energy that animates and enlivens this physical form (which is basically, for all of us, a corpse waiting to happen). The subtle body is pure and perfect, and in it you are always at your peak, at your best, quite independent of physical age. Through reading your lessons and applying the principles in your daily life, become familiar with the subtler aspects of your being.

The physical body is so temporary. It is our dharma to keep it in as good shape as possible, but we don't have to aim for unattainable ideals. In a hundred years from now, what will it matter?

You obviously have good understanding. You understand the importance of 'purifying' the ego. Part of that purification is realizing that we are not the body; we are Spirit temporarily occupying a body, which has its own karma. The most we can do is remain in harmony with the karma of the body exactly as it is, without feeling a need to change or improve anything. Harmony is always the key and the goal.

Focus on your inner perfection, purity, beauty, and divinity. This is the reality of you. One day we will 'wake up' from this physical life as though it were only a dream, and on one level that's all it really is.

Thank you for your question, and I am happy that you are enjoying the course.

For information about the Course of Training written by D. R. Butler and available by email, write: drbutler.course@gmail.com

For Spanish, write: drbutler.cursoesp@gmail.com

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Living in the Truth of the Present Moment

I began studying and practicing yoga, meditation, and learning of the creative power of mind at the age of 15 in 1960. In the years since then I have spent time with and studied with many teachers from many paths and traditions. My first teacher, a man who had lived 17 years in a lamasery in the Himalayas of Tibet, wrote a correspondence course, which I began at 15, a year after he had left his physical body.

I never met him physically, although I have had many dreams and meditation experiences with him. They always have the same lighthearted, uplifting feeling. He wrote his course during his late 80’s summing up all he had learned during his extraordinary lifetime. His course lasted 14 years and played a major role in my own training and development. Sometimes even now I feel he speaks through me in the lessons of my new course, Living in the Truth of the Present Moment, available via email (please inquire at drbutler.course@gmail.com

I met the physical Guru in 1974, received Shaktipat (divine initiation), and began writing my first course in the summer of 1975. Among other things, I strongly recommend the physical Guru for anyone who feels he or she needs work on the ego. There is no better cure anywhere in the world. Also, of course, there is the supreme initiation, which is an awakening, a rebirth.

When it was time to write the new course and blog in 2008, I wanted to sum up what I felt, after all my years of study and practice, was the absolute essence of the spiritual path. So I titled the course, “Living in the Truth of the Present Moment.”

To live in the Truth of the present moment is truly all we can do. Years back, when I was traveling and leading workshops, I would ask for volunteers to come up to the front of the room and demonstrate how they did sadhana (spiritual work; inner work). No one ever outwardly did anything, since all we can do is live from the highest (most expanded) perspective in the present moment, from one moment to the next.

The course via email is for those who are truly committed to their own spiritual growth or self-development, who want to progress step-by-step to establish a solid foundation on which the Higher Principles can be imbibed as one’s own, and actually practiced in one’s daily life, and not simply be a philosophy to agree with or believe in, which results in no true transformation.

Here in the blog is where we stay up-to-date with each other, and in the comments we have an ongoing Q&A session. I heard my wife Kay remark recently to someone that the comments of the blog was like the workshops of old, complete with sharing sessions, Q&A sessions, and a general sense of camaraderie and the feeling of a family reunion that used to pervade the workshops when I was still a traveling man.

The blog is open to everyone, and while presenting suggestions and tips for spiritual opening and reminders of the Truth of the present moment, and offering positive energy that anyone can tune in to from anywhere in the world, it also serves as the primary introduction to the course. We do not advertise, and the course grows completely from word-of-mouth, which I feel is the purest form of growth.

So I feel that ‘Living in the Truth of the Present Moment’ is the essence of the spiritual path because, when you come right down to it, it’s the most we can do. I know many people who practice various paths and believe and agree with spiritual principles, yet they are rarely consciously present in the existing moment. Instead, their minds wander through the past, future, and fantasy-worlds, and while this is the case, they literally do not know what they are doing or what is actually going on around them.

This requires a conscious presence which can’t be merely agreed with or believed in. It is the work of the present moment, of maintaining awareness of the existing moment, which is the only time we are actually alive, or actually here for that matter.

The past exists in memory (in Sanskrit, chitta) and only influences the present to the degree that we allow it to through our own attention. The future does not yet exist; it is the ‘now’ we are currently living into. We can live into any future we like, but if we only repeat past patterns and habits we will only create new versions of the past, over and over again.

Whether you take the course or not, please make extra efforts this month to maintain an awareness of the present moment. We can never, no matter what we do, get out of the present moment. We will always be here and it will always be now. ‘There’ and ‘then’ are points of reference only. The only time we are alive is right now. The only time we can live life to the fullest is right now.

What’s more, the higher, more refined feelings—love, compassion, cheerfulness, lightheartedness, joy, peace, contentment, fulfillment—are only available now, in this very moment.

Unfortunately, many of us habitually focus attention on ‘past’ feelings, which are generally negative emotions—fear, worry, anger, jealousy, envy, the sense of unworthiness, resentment, blame, and any other unpleasant feeling you can think of. These all have their origin in the past, and do not exist in the present unless we ourselves bring them into the existing moment by focusing our attention on them, which many of us do habitually.

Living in the Truth of the Present Moment affords the opportunity for a new life, a clean slate, and the availability of all the greater feelings and experiences accessible while in human form.

In the Present Moment there are no limitations. In the past or future there is no freedom.


Now for some Q&A from last month’s comments:

Martha: Would you share something about finding/identifying true spiritual guides/teachers?

DRB: A true teacher first needs a true student—one who is open and willing to learn something completely new and different from anything she's ever glimpsed. When you are at this state of openness and receptivity, be absolutely clear about what you want to learn from a teacher or guide. What is your highest goal? When you are clear about this, you will intuitively recognize the true teacher.

Everyone has a true Teacher, Guru, Guide, Master, Elder Brother--by any name--on some level and in some form. Sometimes more than one form is used. The Guru Tattva (principle of awakening, initiating, expanding, deepening, freeing, liberating) is in no way limited, and will use whatever means is karmically available and convenient through which to reach us.

We recognize the true Teacher, in whatever form it appears in the moment, through our own inner experience. There is a simple and subtle 'knowing' about it that transcends any aspect of doubt or hesitation.

You can't tell another who his Teacher is any more than you can tell him who to be in love with. We simply fall in love because that's what's happening. In the same way, we recognize true teachers and guides as they appear for us along our journey toward the Light.

Many have led and guided me, and helped to expand my vision; my major teachers and influences can be counted on one hand. The true Teacher is One. The 'how' or 'why' of it is a simple matter of recognition, just as we recognize our own inner Self. It is a higher vision than what we ordinarily use.

Shanti: I remember when I was doing seva, telling myself: 'I'm not the doer.' What do you do to remember this?

DRB: I don't do anything to remember that I'm not the doer.

It doesn't occur to me anymore that I am the doer. I know better than that. I learned all the easy ways and also all the hard ways. May you only learn through the easy ways.

I don't (listen to me saying 'I don't') do anything to affirm that I am 'not' anything.

Using 'not' in an affirmation is not truly an affirmation. It's simply the denial of what we actually (perhaps subconsciously) think is true.

We don't ever have to 'not' be or do anything. It is much more productive to focus attention on what we are actually doing or being, and seeing only the best in it.

At least focus attention on what is pleasant and what feels good. There's no reason to focus attention, which is our connection to the Creative Power of the universe, on what is unpleasant or on what feels bad. Because if we do, guess what's next?

If we focus on knowing we are the Self of the universe, we could not possibly think we are the doer. Therefore the pointlessness of thinking we are not the doer.

How can we not be what we never were in the first place?

We use the vast power of the mind to complicate things. The Zen teacher and writer Alan Watts said: "Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes."

Anonymous: posted his or her experience when he or she became ‘enlightened’ and ‘Self-realized.'

DRB: Referring to the previous comment by anonymous, it is beautifully written and perfectly expressed. I do not see or feel anything delusional in it, as it feels very sincere.

I would be very careful, however, about referring to oneself as "enlightened" or "self-realized." Anyone who has truly attained this state is firmly established in it, to the degree that one's state never fluctuates and is never disturbed on any level. It doesn't take 'time out' from its enlightened state.

We can't be Self-realized when we see a flower but something else altogether if someone bumps into us on the street and calls us an idiot.

Also, 'who' is making the assertion of being enlightened? The ego can't be enlightened. It can only be deluded. I have been asked before if I was enlightened, and I couldn't find anyone inside myself that the question could either be directed to or answered by.

Who would answer, 'No'? 'No, I'm not enlightened. What kind of fool would think I was enlightened?'

We certainly don't want to define or describe ourselves this way, for it is obviously very limiting.

Yet, who is there to answer 'Yes'? If someone answers 'yes, I am enlightened, I am Self-realized' then who is it defining or describing oneself as such? The Self doesn't use words to describe itself. For this reason the Self cannot be contained in any particular description or definition.

The Self exists in a non-verbal space.

To ask the question is to presume that there is someone to answer the question, and there is no one like that.

The Self doesn't go around thinking, "I am enlightened, I am Self-realized." The pure Self, or Consciousness, is beyond descriptions, beyond words and concepts. It simply is.

I realize the comment was posted by 'anonymous,' so we can't assume anyone is describing anyone as anything. This is just what came up for me when I read the comment. I appreciate the comment. Thank you.

JP: refers to a quote from a lesson regarding how we tend to manifest in front of others according to how they see us, and how her ego is concerned with controlling how others see her.

DRB: We simply accept it as the perfect play of Consciousness. When someone treats us like we're great, we become very magnanimous. It's like they draw it out of us. If someone treats us like we're a deadbeat, there's not very much to live up to. Everything we say and do will be interpreted through their view of us. What to do?

Nothing. Who cares?

You said, "Most of all I would like to feel OK within myself regardless of how another sees me."

Another only sees the projections of their own thoughts, unless they have the capacity to see the Truth in others, and then they will only see the Self manifesting in your own peculiar way.

Give up the idea of controlling how others see you. It can't be done. Be yourself, live true to your own nature, and above all else, be the Seer and never the seen. Remain content within yourself.

People have said great things about me and treated me as though I was a wonderful person. Others have said terrible things about me and speak as though I'm a horrible person. None of this affects me anymore. My Guru treated me like the greatest, and no one else could possibly make me feel any greater. My Guru also treated me like the lowest, and no one else could possibly make me feel any lower.

There is only one Consciousness peering out of all these pairs of eyes simultaneously. Any particulars exist in the mind only. See the same Self equally in everyone all the time, and you won't even care what you think, much less what anyone else thinks.

For information about the Course of Training written by D. R. Butler and available by email, write: drbutler.course@gmail.com

For Spanish, write: drbutler.cursoesp@gmail.com
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