Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Truth of Being

Are you aware of a seemingly elusive feeling deep inside you that feels very good? It is like an inner smile, with warmth, light, and radiance. When we open up and relax into that inner feeling, we feel as though everything is right with the world, and that we already bountifully have anything we could reasonably want or need. It is a feeling of a deep contentment, a profound fulfillment, and an exalted sense of well-being. Some say that being firmly established in that most excellent inner feeling is the ultimate purpose of life. An ancient Eastern proverb says: Contentment is the highest goal.

There is only one time that great feeling can be experienced: that is now, this very moment. That great inner feeling is the most profound Truth. It is the secret of the ages, and it is also the Truth of the present moment. We only experience it when we look within. This is the ultimate reason that people meditate or do other spiritual practices—to experience that bliss within our own Self. There are innumerable meditation techniques and methods of practice, but the primary goal in life is to experience that wondrous feeling of our own inner Self.

Ordinarily we are caught up in thoughts and emotions, which take place in time, and which are usually related to the past or the future. Many of our habitual patterns of thought and feeling are of a negative or limiting nature, because we were conditioned or programmed that way from the time we were very young.

Such habitual ways of thinking and feeling lead to stress, tension, and conflict. Instead of life being a joy, a natural high, we go to the doldrums. We spend our days angry, depressed, irritated, insecure, and life seems hard. All this happens because we ignore the awareness and power inherent in the existing moment.

Only in the present moment do we have access to happiness, joy, love, contentment, peace, and the other positive, uplifting feelings.

We need to be reminded again and again to come back to the present, come back to the Truth. Otherwise we get lost in egotistical melodramas and forget all about the existing moment, which is the only life we have. We need a way to actually tune in to the Truth of the present moment, and that is the exact purpose of these writings.

This moment is the stage on which we deal with the challenges of daily life, or, as we will examine, the karma of this lifetime. When we live in the moment, in that space between any two thoughts, is when we face life best. We can learn how to do this, and how to focus the mind in the present moment in a way that immediately modifies our experience of daily situations and relationships. Understanding how we create our own reality is an amazing process.

Right now, in this moment, we can consciously connect with our own inner Self. It has been known by many names in various cultures and in different eras, yet whatever we call it, it remains as it is, and remains the one aspect of this entire cosmos that is eternally unchanging. We experience this within ourselves as our own Consciousness, our inner Awareness of Being.

Ignorant of the eternal Truth, everything we know is fleeting, and as long as things are fleeting there is the potential for anxiety and fear. We know this all too well. And today's world offers new challenges that we would never have dreamed of even ten years ago.

For now, simply be with these ideas, as though you are reading an interesting science fiction story, and especially be open to any insights or new ways of seeing or understanding things that might arise. You might have spontaneous insights and revelations regarding what you as an individual need to know in order to proactively participate in your own spiritual evolution.

Living In Today's World

How do we deal with the realities of today's world, including economic hardship and insecurity for many? Hard times have existed in this world ever since it began, yet there have always been those few who knew the Truth of Being and lived in mastery of life to varying degrees. Many great teachers throughout time have taught this same great truth, although it has been interpreted in different ways, and there have been different points of emphasis, leading to the various paths that ultimately bring us back to the same Truth.

This outer challenging world, including the physical realities of economic hardship, deteriorating health, loss, lack, or limitation of any nature, does exists in its own realm. However it is not the only realm in existence, and it is certainly not the highest, nicest, or most pleasant realm. If we have a choice--which we do, whether we consciously realize it or not--why not choose to live in the exalted truth of the present moment, instead of languishing in the pain of external woe? We do have a choice, but we must exercise it.

We want to get to know that aspect of our own inner Self that is changeless. All things in this world change, physically, emotionally, and mentally. To have a still mind, a still emotional state, or even a still body would be a great attainment. There is great power in stillness, for it is the substratum of life as we know it. All movement, motion, and activity take place like a painting on the canvas of inner stillness.

That inner stillness exists right now; we only need to awaken our awareness of our own Truth.

The highest, most refined feelings and experiences will not be found in the melodramas of outer life and passing time. If we lose touch with our inner feeling, we get lost in our mental stories about what is going on and who is doing what. We get lost in habitual negative emotions that go along with those mental stories, and we lose touch with the Truth of the present moment. Through careless thinking we tend to create a reality that we don't even want. The mind creates our personal reality in each and every moment, not just now and then.

We Create Our Own Reality

The one underlying theme throughout this work is: Remain conscious of that great inner feeling right now. Awaken it within yourself. Create a positive habit out of it. Don’t wait for some external source to inspire joy. Joy naturally springs from within us whenever we get momentarily free from mental burdens and concerns.

Through the power of meditation, or through visiting the space between thoughts, we experience a great inner light. Through the conduit of this exquisite light, we experience love within our own heart.

This heart, the heart of love, is the portal through which we experience the highest aspect of the present moment.

We can go through life conscious of this extraordinary inner feeling everywhere we go and during everything we do, regardless of what is happening around us or to us. We can simply make this inner radiance our lifestyle. Through doing so, that extraordinary feeling is spontaneously radiated to others around us.

The sparkling inner feeling is palpable—others can easily sense it. It is contagious--others will feel good by simply being around us, without having any idea why. If we maintain this great feeling within ourselves, others will pick up on it and begin to experience the same feeling within themselves. Spend some time with a cheerful person, and see how much better you feel afterwards. Then spend some time with a depressed or angry person, and see how much worse you feel. There is a definite, distinguishable difference.

Through understanding this simple principle, we see how we can most contribute to others and the world around us by simply maintaining a good feeling in ourselves. We will discuss this fully so that you can master the process.

Experiencing true joy or love is a transcendence of time. The experience itself happens only in the present moment.

It is one thing to know about these principles and to agree with them, but actual mastery in practical daily life is a whole other matter. It takes practice, repetition, and consistency to actually apply these principles of truth in our own life. Otherwise we have learned some interesting information without any significant transformation. There are many who seek knowledge of the Truth, yet only a few are willing to do what is necessary for actual achievement and mastery.

When we are conscious of Consciousness, we experience that great feeling in the heart. Consciousness is not cold, intellectual, or remote. It is warm, heartfelt, the most exquisite openness and intimacy.

If you ever get the idea that I am repeating myself, I am. I have experienced a lifetime of repeating these principles over and over. It takes much repetition of a single exalted idea to make the slightest impression in the average human consciousness.

We are so conditioned and programmed to see and experience the world in rigidly limited ways. It is very challenging to open up to new ways of seeing and experiencing things, and the only possibility of success is through continuous repetition of the principles of Truth, as well as the persistent practice of our new understanding in moment-to-moment life. After exploring the principles of Truth in many different ways, and through applying them in practical ways in our own life, they gradually become part of us, and become our own understanding and wisdom.

Living the Principles of Truth

Understand from the beginning that these writings are regarding the communication of natural principles that can be practiced in one’s own daily life for a greater life, regardless of how one’s life might be manifesting in any given moment. The same principles can be applied equally for success in business or career, for harmony in relationships, for intensity and focus in sports or the arts or any field of creative expertise, in matters of health and longevity, for increased prosperity and the enjoyment of life, and in the long run, spiritual growth and absolute freedom.

We can live in our own secret heaven here and now, while in this physical body. Unfortunately, most of us unconsciously use the same creative power to live in some degree of hell here and now, in this body, because we describe many aspects of our life in negative, hellish ways instead of positive, heavenly ways. We live in financial insecurity, for example, because we focus on fear and anxiety instead of developing a consciousness of prosperity through feeling the reality of having all that we need. Such an attitude attracts prosperity to us, while negative attitudes of lack and loss repel it.

It is possible, through intention and practice, to think only of what we actually want to manifest in our life, or what feels pleasant, and to refuse to think of what we don’t want to manifest, or what feels unpleasant. This seems so simple that the conscious mind is almost unable to recognize the profound life-transforming significance of it.  The only way to learn the Truth is to try it, as an experiment, to see what happens.  What have we got to lose?

Because of previous conditioning, we are unable to see the greatness of our own Being. Through persistent practice we can learn to break free from prior, limiting conditioning, so that we can live in the awareness of our own Truth, the Awareness of Being, which is living as a true human being. When we live in the awareness of our own inner Truth—and the love, light, and bliss that accompanies that experience—then we have fulfilled the purpose of our being here.

Among the Eastern scriptures is a great text called the Yoga Vasishtha. It contains the teachings of the sage Vasishtha to the young Lord Rama, which basically explains how all of life came to be and how the universe works. In it, the sage says:

O Rama, if you overcome the sorrow of repetitive history, you will live here on earth like a god. When delusion is gone and the truth is realized by means of inquiry into self-nature, when the mind is at peace and the heart leaps to the supreme truth, when all the disturbing thought-waves in the mind-stuff have subsided and there is unbroken flow of peace, and the heart is filled with the bliss of the Absolute, then this very world becomes an abode of bliss.

Such a person has nothing to acquire or to shun. He is untainted by the defects of life and untouched by sorrow. He does not come into being or go out, although he appears to come and go in the eyes of the beholder. He is not affected by the past tendencies that have lost their momentum; his mind has given up its restlessness, and he rests in the bliss that is his essential nature. Such bliss is possible only by self-knowledge, not by any other means. Therefore, one should apply oneself constantly to self-knowledge. This alone is one’s duty.

Some lesson headings:

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
Inner Growth Through Relationships
The Greatest Game Ever Invented
The Inner State
The Art of Flowing
Love Is Where the Heart Is
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

The previous is the original entry of the blog, published in July, 2008.

For information about the Course of Training written by D. R. Butler and available by email, along with a free Lesson 1, write: drbutler.course@gmail.com

Spanish: drbutler.cursoesp@gmail.com
French: drbutler.course@gmail.com

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A New Approach to Being Free

First of all let me assure you that I am aware that ‘spirituality’ is as old as time itself, and that there is nothing new under the sun.  Life on earth has gone through many cycles and ages, and only the most recent are included in ‘recorded history.’  By ‘spirituality’ I mean the process of gradually realizing the Truth of one’s eternal Self, and eventually living with that sublime awareness.

Although there is nothing ‘new’ about spirituality, our spiritual life becomes more real and alive for us when we approach it in an entirely new way, or have a new insight or perspective regarding something.  If we don’t do this now and then, our inner life dries up and appears to be meaningless, because we have become stuck in a dead past.  We wonder why we are here and what we are supposed to do.  Or, more commonly, we never even get far enough to formulate those questions.

Spirituality is different from religion.  In true spirituality there is nothing to believe, no dogma, no rights and wrongs.  There are simply things that contribute to the growing awareness of the inner Self and things that hinder it.  Recognizing which is which is known as ‘discrimination.’  This is about the only true criteria we have as far as guidance for living a dharmic life.

We've been programmed and conditioned all our lives to feel that life is about getting better, improving, and becoming someone or something important enough to be significant. My Teacher once told me, 'Never become anyone.' If we don't become anyone in particular, even though we play our appropriate karmic role in this incarnation, there is nothing to improve or get better.  We can simply relax and enjoy the way it is.

Even being asked, 'Who do you think you are, anyway?' is easy to answer if we never become anyone. The answer is that we think we are no one. That is the most freeing feeling in the world.  If I thought I was anyone in particular, it would feel so presumptuous to even be writing this.

Someone wrote something about anger being impossible to stop once it gets going.  I responded that it is true that anger is very difficult to stop when we're in the midst of it, yet we can drop it in an instant if we came to the full awareness of how absurd we're being.  Anger is an absurdity.

When we truly investigate our habitual negative emotions, we see that there is a certain absurdity to all of them.  Sometimes we are like grown-up children having a tantrum, or expressing some negative emotion because we couldn’t get our way about something that doesn’t matter in the least.

In last month’s entry I wrote that even though we could answer a question very well if someone were to ask us, if we make the effort to articulate the question for ourselves, it opens us up to a whole new understanding.

A friend of mine, Scott Marmorstein, a healer and writer, wrote:  'How do you look around yourself and see "one"? What is the reference to 'Oneness' you use?'

I enjoyed Scott’s question and responded, 'Oneness' could just as easily be 'way it is.'  They even sound alike.  The Oneness is simply the way it is.  It already exists before the question 'what is this oneness?' ever arises.  Even the question arises from the Oneness itself, as nothing can be apart from it.

The 6th tattva is the maya tattva, where subject and object are split in two.  Then the Seer experiences itself as different from the seen, and the Knower experiences itself as different from the known.  Before that, the Self exists, whole and complete, without any sense of difference or separation.  Seer and seen, Knower and known, are all One.

So basically the 'Oneness' you ask about is when 'you' and 'I' recognize that we are One and the Same.  It started off that way, long ago, and never changes.  The Oneness was here way before we had any sense of being someone other than the Oneness itself.  In fact, the sense of being someone in particular is only a thought that comes and goes.

I must be more than a thought, says the ego.  I know I am.

A sutra in the Spanda Karikas says: 'One who knows the Self sees the entire world as a series of reflections in a mirror.'  When sustained this makes the most fascinating contemplation.  It leads to the experience of pure Oneness.

In response to another:  You are right in that you are experiencing something that is common to us all, and your description of it was perfect. That feeling of not wanting to do anything about what's causing the suffering, and even wanting to keep the painful or unpleasant samskaras instead of doing what you know to do to be free of them, is tamas guna, and it is very powerful. The three gunas that make up this physical world are the three most powerful forces of nature, and it takes a while to be completely free of them.

They can also be understood as the 3 'moods.' They are a great thing to be patient about, while still moving in the right (most freeing) direction the best we can for now. All we have to do is keep going. We don't have to be perfect yet, even though we already are.

Thanks for having the courage to write about the hard parts of life. A lot of people write to say how well they are doing, or how the course has helped them, and these are also fine comments, but I also like when someone truly reveals their real feelings and experiences, even though they might not necessarily be impressive to others.

Ghayas of Montreal asks, basically, what is the right balance between ambition and gratitude.

Gratitude is essential. It is important to feel a great gratitude for what we have. Many people ignore this in favor of focusing what is wrong or what is bothering them, as though that is a matter of great importance.

Many of us have no idea how much worse it could be.  We sometimes think we do, but we really don’t. Therefore gratitude is of utmost importance. Being thankful for what we have attracts even more of what we are thankful for, and creates the sense of security and being cared for.

Ambition for a better life is much greater than complaining about a hard life, for the latter only attracts an even harder life. Even so, ambition is secondary to gratitude.

There is egotistical ambition, which is fairly harmless unless we become obsessed with it and stop enjoying life as it is because of it, or use it to control or manipulate others.

There is also a certain 'ambition' that comes from within, and comes from the heart. This is tuning into God's plan for us, or the Divine Design of which we play our part.

Look and see where your ambition is coming from. Is it your ego simply wanting something 'better'? Or is it inner guidance that if you listened to you would know your true path in life? 
Sadhana—that Sanskrit word that basically means actively participating in our own spiritual evolution—is not separate from moment-to-moment life. Sadhana is a certain attitude and approach toward the conditions and situations of daily life. It is not something done only at certain times and under certain circumstances.  It is fulltime.

You are right that a Play is going on and that all is not as it appears to be. What you refer to as 'self-effort' is primarily activating will to think the highest thoughts (expanded and free), so as to lead to the highest actions—as thought leads to action, and actions create consequences corresponding to the nature of the thoughts that caused them.

Since I was a teenager I was fascinated by the great siddhas, sages, and saints –the great Masters of all traditions. What has fascinated me the most is that they include some of the most bizarre personalities you can imagine. We cannot apply the usual standards and be able to distinguish the madman from the saint.

Believe me, you don't want a pious spiritual teacher, one who goes around speaking softly and behaving gently all the time.  Nothing could be more deluding. My teachers always shattered my concepts of what great beings are or should be.  If I thought a 'spiritual person' would do one thing, they would do the opposite. I learned I could not define them in ordinary terms.

In order to attain liberation, we need our minds 'blown' quite a bit. We cannot allow our concepts to remain as they are.

If we study the lives of the saints, we discover that, objectively speaking, there is nothing outwardly ‘saintly’ about most of them at all. The only way we know we have come into contact with someone special is our own experience. Something will change. Our inner state might feel suddenly expanded, we might feel inexplicably exalted, more at ease, more cheerful, more real, more like ourselves. It might be a new awareness of joy, or a feeling of falling in love. If nothing is changed, if there is no inner impact, then you know him to be simply another ordinary person.

One of the first and simplest principles I learned was: things are not always as they seem.  I repeat this a lot, because many people think they already understand it, yet they continue to believe that things are as they appear to be.

Someone asked, "Could you paint us a word picture of what life would be like to live as a totally free person? I have a hard time imagining what it would be like to live in total freedom."

You have a hard time imagining what it would be like to live in total freedom because total freedom is being free from the mind, free from imagination.

Nisargadatta Maharaj said:  "There is only imagination. It has absorbed you so completely that you just cannot grasp how far from reality you have wandered. No doubt imagination is richly creative. Universe upon universe are built on it. Yet they are all in space and time, past and future, which just don't exist."

So we can never imagine or expect or anticipate it. If we knew what enlightenment was like we would already be enlightened. What we usually think of as enlightenment is totally off the mark. The mind simply can't grasp the reality of it. One reason for this is that it is simply too simple. The mind does great with complication, but not so well with simplicity. Yet, the highest Truth is simplicity itself.

Paint a word picture? We've already discussed how the highest state cannot be captured in words.  There have been, however, some hints from the scriptures and from enlightened beings to have some idea which direction we are going in. The full exploration of this comes through participation in the Course of Training via email, although even this cannot be comprehended until it is actually experienced, because it does not at first glance even seem rational that it could possibly be true.

One quality of a totally free person is that they are completely spontaneous. There is no thought behind their actions or words, no motive or agenda. It is as though life happens through them for the greatest benefit of everyone around them, but that they, in truth, do nothing.  Grace flows through their words and actions.

Another quality is that they are consistently lighthearted. Only ego can be serious. They might assume another apparent feeling or disposition under certain circumstances; for example, a free being might display anger toward another, yet there is always a twinkle in his eye and his anger is directed toward a particular samskara, or some aspect of conditioned mind and ego, to help burn out the obstacle or block for the one who has come to for guidance.

Another quality of a free being is that he or she remains the same in all circumstances and around all people. He doesn't automatically react to anything, he never becomes defensive, he never explains himself, and he never considers that anything he did or said was a mistake. This could sound to the uninitiated like a huge ego, but he is so identified with God's Divine Energy that he has full faith that only the Shakti acts and speaks through him.

He is fearless. He sees the One in all. He sees the same Consciousness everywhere and in everything. He sees his own Self in everyone who comes before him. He knows we are all the same while we think he is different from us.

Even though the enlightened state cannot be captured in words, we could go on and on listing the qualities of a free being according to various scriptures and other free beings.

An important quality is that such a one is totally non-judgmental. She looks up to nothing, and she looks down at nothing. She lives in a state of equality-consciousness, where everything is completely equal.

She is beyond polarities, or pairs of opposites, like good and bad, or right and wrong. All these are conditioned ways of thinking, and she is free from conditioning in order to be a ‘free being’.

A free being has no likes or dislikes. Everything is the same. He sees God equally in everyone. His primary function in life is to help others see God in themselves.

He is mostly playful, and he sometimes becomes childlike. (Not childish.) He can relate to scholars and dignitaries, yet he remains simple and sometimes apparently naive. He is always true to his own nature, and never considers the dharma of another to be his own.

He might have preferences and inclinations, as these are energies that naturally accompany a human incarnation, but there is no desire, no motive or agenda, and no attachment to the results of his actions. He is free from ego and mind, and puts the disciplined mind to good use for the benefit of all around him. He performs his actions as though they really mattered, while inwardly knowing they don't matter in the least.

More than anything else, and the most concise way of understanding a free being, is that he or she lives in the Truth of the Present Moment.

For information about the Course of Training written by D. R. Butler and available by email, along with a free Lesson 1, write: drbutler.course@gmail.com

Spanish: drbutler.cursoesp@gmail.com
French: drbutler.course@gmail.com