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