The first question is one that often comes in various forms, and over the years I have answered it in various ways. The question has been currently expressed very interestingly, so it will be fun to see what comes out as a response, for all of us.
Carol writes: 'You speak about "thought as creative energy." My understanding is that "thought is a product of Mind." How does one who wants to transcend the mind and live in "infinite-experiencing consciousness," navigate this life simultaneously contracting his/her perception to focus on the creative process-seeing all creation already existing in subtle form in the universe--thereby drawing it into physical existence. How can one reconcile both intentions....this apparent dichotomy? Can a liberated jiva have the freedom to do both? The Yoga Vasistha suggests one must have both feet in the same boat--or is the creative process more relevant to one level of yoga more than another, a developmental process, part of the steps to achieving liberation?'
It is interesting to me how this question keeps coming up, and why is there a seeming dichotomy? Remember, I was first exposed to this knowledge when I was 15, so to me there is no dichotomy. It seems to be coming from certain spiritual teachings that have become popular over the last few decades. Westerners understand these things conceptually and intellectually, and can even expound on it for others, and yet the truth is--is the understanding being applied in some practical way in everyday life? In more cases than I like to think, the answer is no. As a rule, we do not tend to actually live according to what we have conceptually agreed is true, and have even been inspired by.
Someone sincerely writes of wanting to live in "infinite-experiencing consciousness," and be a 'liberated jiva,' and yet the next time you know it she is reacting negatively to something her husband said that she didn't like. Carol won't take this personally, as she knows that I am writing to many different people simultaneously and using her question as an example of something that keeps coming up in the minds of people.
The thing to understand is this: most of us are in our minds most of the time, and most of us also agree that we create our personal life through the thoughts we think. So we're creating our life as it is from moment to moment according to how we think anyway, regardless of whether we 'believe in' the principle or not. The Truth doesn't require our agreement.
It's certainly okay to aspire to "infinite-experiencing consciousness," but to consider what we think from one moment to the next as 'a developmental process' in the early stages of sadhana is very naive. People like to think of it as basic and elementary understanding, yet no one actually applies it in their life.
It comes from the way spirituality has been taught and approached over the last 40 years or so. We think we are supposed to go beyond the mind, yet we use our mind all day long to create negative feelings, tensions, stresses,conflicts, figuring out things, getting things right, getting everything done, and it's a little ways down the road before we get back to "infinite-experiencing consciousness," which, when it arises, is only another thought, after all.
Do not underestimate Mind. Mind is not limited to the conscious, waking mind, known in Sanskrit as manas. Manas is what people think of transcending when they transcend the mind. Big deal. There is a great general misunderstanding regarding this. We will learn more of this later.
The following is the collection of 'responses'--probably whether you can make sense of them or not is irrelevant:
Since the Supreme Being created fun, laughter, humor, good times, and lightheartedness, I feel these are the essential qualities to promote--not anything contained in words or ideas.
I do write words and ideas, yet much more than that is happening. If we can tune into what is behind, between, beneath, and beyond the words, a whole other experience comes into play. Words and ideas are only as good as the experience they convey or bestow.
Most of us have 'known' the words and ideas for many years. New facts will not help us. More than anything, we need to open up to a greater understanding of what we already know.
Many people find cause and effect very easy to believe in or agree with. However, it is rare to find someone who actually had activated will enough to truly apply the principle in practical ways in one's own life.
We 'believe' in cause and effect, still, we act and speak in all sorts of ways that create undesirable effects. It takes a special person to actually change their approach to life, in ways that actually benefit other people as well as themselves, and that creates more pleasant karma than the previous approach did.
This is one reason we have a Course of Training via email. Most people already know these things in theory, but few have been trained how to actually apply the principles for the benefit of oneself and others in one's own life.
'Believing' in something or 'agreeing' with something is very mediocre compared to actually practicing the principle in real life.
Yes, lightheartedness is a big thing, more than most of us give it credit for. I'd love to tell people that one of the highest, most advanced of the principles of Truth is to approach all of life lightheartedly, and to remain in that lighthearted state as often as possible and for as long as possible. Yet if I told most people this, they wouldn't take it seriously:)
People refuse to accept that the highest, most refined, subtlest, most expanded states, experiences, and truths are also the SIMPLEST. The more complicated we make it, the further from the Truth of the Present Moment we go.
Our life is whatever we make it to be. It can be heaven, and it can also be hell. It all depends on what attitude and approach we bring to it. If we remain lighthearted, we will experience life as heaven. If we become too heavy and serious, we will experience life as hell.
How could the Omniscient and Omnipotent Self possibly feel overwhelmed in the face of petty samskaras? Is the elephant annoyed by the butterflies? If you are overwhelmed, you are assigning the samskaras much more value and power than they actually have.
To be sure, you could forget about them now and if you never again brought them up in your mind you would be totally free from them. If they ever come up again, it's just a test to see if you can maintain your equanimity and poise. If you do this, they quickly go away again. They wish to create a disturbance. If we remain undisturbed by them, they wilt from lack of attention and die of their own boredom.
Anyone who has the question you presented would be well served to look into the Course of Training via email, as one aspect of the course is answering this very question in a way that is actually transformative and makes a practical and palpable difference in your life. Your question is very easy to answer, but merely reading the answer won't in itself change anything. That is why we offer the course.
The answer is simply that you 'replace' 'unfruitful habits and distractions' with actions and habits that are more fruitful. The simplest natural law is to focus only on what is pleasant and to refuse to even consider what is unpleasant. This is easy to know, but does 'knowing' it make a difference in how you experience life? It does if you actually apply the principle. Many would think that refusing to consider what is unpleasant is being unrealistic, or sticking one's head in the sand, yet it is simply a possible way of viewing and experiencing life--if one has the discipline to actually live this way.
Toby the 'how to's, why's and wherefors' are in the lessons of the course. As mentioned above, such things cannot be learned simply by knowing the answer. Otherwise you could just read a book or an article and improve. People who participate in the course are those who have realized that nothing changes until there is a commitment to the process of transformation. Transformation doesn't happen simply by 'knowing about' things.
In addition, why bother with 'spiritual practices'?
Any 'spiritual practices' that are different from the rest of life are ultimately a waste of time. The only true 'spiritual practice' is going through your moment-to-moment daily life seeing the play of Consciousness equally in everything, seeing everything as equally divine. All other spiritual practices are very mediocre.
Gordon, 'Is it acceptable for 'spiritual' people to choose to divorce and not continue with the tapasya within their marriage?'
First of all, there's no such thing as 'spiritual people.' The only difference in people is that some see the unity of all things, while others don't.
'Divorce' has nothing to do with sadhana or spirituality. It is just a part of life. On one level, it is simply a legal term. On another level, it is two people sensibly realizing that their karma as a couple is over, and harmoniously separating, wishing the other well, and going their own ways. This is the most dharmic conclusion to a relationship whose karma is finished.
Shyami here's a great karmic lesson: Much of sadhana is simply coming into harmony with what is. Life is set up to test you at every turn. Parents have to deal with unacceptable behavior in their children. Children have to deal with unacceptable attitudes and traits in their parents. Couples in relationships have to accept a thousand distasteful things about each other in order for the relationship to work. Nothing is handed to us on a silver platter--here, an easy life, you deserve one. That is not what the physical plane is all about. We do not come here on vacation. We are here to come into harmony with our karma, which is however our personal life presents itself at anytime, including all relationships, and especially family. So the work, ultimately, is simply coming into harmony over and over again.
Margaret, this question regarding your quote from the lessons is one of those things that is answered through the process of the Course itself, in its various forms. Primarily, the answer goes back to replacing what's not wanted with what is actually preferred. Again, though, merely knowing this is not likely to change anything. That's why we have a course--not to learn new facts or information that can just as easily be found on a thousand sites on the Internet--but to learn how to actually activate change and true transformation, while immediately learning how to be in harmony with however it is--which is actually the first major step toward truly changing anything, if, indeed, anything is ever worth changing. For most people, the only thing that actually needs to be changed is their attitude.
Scott, I admit my statement seems a bit radical. I am certainly not 'against' meditation, nor do I discourage it. I have practiced meditation for many hours over many years, beginning when I was 15 in Mississippi, of all places.
I suppose more accurately I could have said that any 'spiritual practices' that are not or cannot be applied in a practical way in daily life is ultimately a waste of time.' And I still don't feel comfortable with the term 'spiritual practices.' In reality, we do whatever practices we do in order to purify the mind and the ego, which leads to a greater freedom that is hard to comprehend until we actually experience it. It's only 'spiritual' in our own mind, in our own way of describing things. There is nothing inherently or absolutely 'spiritual' about the process itself. These days people have lost track of what true spirituality is. Instead all these limiting concepts have arisen around it. When people get too trippy about it, it turns off others and gives spirituality a bad name.
True spirituality is seeing the play of Consciousness in all things, seeing that everything in life is a manifestation of divinity, as there could not possibly be anything else. True spirituality is living in harmony with the contents of each moment of life. True spirituality is living each moment in contentment. True spirituality is recognizing Love and Light not only within us, but AS us, as our own true nature.
True meditation is being aware of Awareness, conscious of Consciousness. Meditation is recognizing the Awareness of Being as our own Self. We can sit and close our eyes for a while if we want to, but people also do that while thinking the most bizarre things. True meditation happens anytime and all the time. It is not something we begin or conclude. It is what is going on all the time, and sometimes, when we 'meditate' we tune into that which is already always happening.
Where did God come from? God didn't come from anywhere. God was always already here. God has no beginning or end. Everything else comes from God, or is God in that particular form, or situation, or relationship, or whatever. There is nothing that is not of God. The Absolute must by definition be in, around, and beyond all things. Nothing exists separate from it. It is the All, the Alpha and the Omega, and nothing else has ever yet existed.
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