The other day I looked in the mirror and for the first time didn’t recognize myself. It was as though I saw that it was an older man, and then I had to accept the realization that it was who I manifest as being now, and no longer as one in his physical prime. After all, the image was staring me right in the face.
It reminded me of when we had taken the kids to the science museum in Boston, and there was a ‘mirror’ of sorts that would show you how you might appear as you aged, as you could see yourself 10 years later or 20 years later or whatever.
My youngest son Shane, currently a member of the musical group, Quilt, was only a child then, and he freaked out when the ‘mirror’ showed him how he would look when he was older. He ran away from it and wouldn’t come back. Actually, I don’t think it was designed for children, as it did make them look rather weird, with pouches and wrinkles around their eyes and such.
So I looked in the ‘real’ mirror recently and saw an older version of myself, yet knowing that this is my current appearance, that these are real wrinkles. Of course, in the mirror we can only see a two-dimensional version of ourselves, totally unlike the three-dimension version of us that everyone else sees.
I thought, ‘Wow, that’s the truth staring you right in the face.’ Later, I began to glimpse a more expanded version of the same principle. The world, exactly as it is, is staring us straight in the face, but do we see it as it is? Or do we only project our fantasy (imagination) outward?
Speaking of my son Shane, we were walking through the field, down the hill, where Kay and I live, and he kept saying, ‘Everything is so beautiful. Everything is so beautiful.’ And then once he asked, ‘Is it really okay if I keep seeing things as more and more beautiful?’ I have known Shane all his life and this is just how he is. Recently, when someone asked him what he likes to do, he replied simply, ‘I like to look at things.’
His words on that day in the back field awakened in me the appreciation of the natural beauty around us, which I sometimes take for granted after living here all these years. The world stares us straight in the face, yet ordinarily we neither recognize nor appreciate its vast beauty. Nature keeps us alive.
Imagine, for example, how it might be if the whole world had become a city, with only occasional ‘parks.’ I lived in Greenwich Village of New York City for 8 years from age 22 to 30. During this time I reached the point where Central Park was nature, and that’s where we would go when we wanted to experience nature.
Then in my mid 20’s I went with some friends to a yoga ashram in upstate NY. When we arrived I got out of the car and had the strangest sensation. Something was so different from what I was used to that I could not at first recognize or identify it. Finally I realized that this was real nature; this was silence; this was stillness. I had forgotten what true silence and stillness was actually like. In this place, in the country, the ethers weren’t continuously assaulting us with vibrations of every sort as they do in the city.
It would be great if every one of us who are not yet attuned to nature would make efforts to be so. Alone, here and now, everything is always fine. Yet around us the world that mankind built is in a downward cycle. Can you remember how the world was 50 years ago? That was 1962. The world is different in so many ways we could not have imagined then, those of us who were even alive. In the same way, we cannot imagine how different the world will be 50 years into the future.
In 50 years that population of the earth has more than doubled. The world seemed full enough back then; it is hard to imagine that there are actually twice as many of us here. Imagine how crowded it will be 50 years in the future.
It will be for your benefit if you will put the external world in the background, and put your inner state as the foreground of your attention. Our inner state can remain solid and stable even if the world around us collapses. It is eternal, all-pervasive, indivisible, and indestructible.
Someone recently discovered the blog and course by googling ‘eternal serenity.’ He wanted to see what there was online about eternal serenity, and he found us. How perfect.
The following quote is in one of the lessons of the course, but it seems very appropriate here:
“When the external world is shut out, the mind is cheerful, and cheerfulness of the mind brings on the vision of the Paramatman. When It is perfectly realized, the chain of birth and death is broken. Hence, the shutting out of the external world is the stepping stone to liberation.” ~Viveka Chudamani
Of course, for many that seems like a huge step. Shut out the outer world? That isn’t a workable option. Yet, with proper understanding and guidance, we can learn to shut out the outer world even while fully participating in it, playing our own karmic role the best we can—which is true dharma— while relating easily to others and competently attending to responsibilities.
It is a fine line, yet we can learn to live this way. This is one reason that we have a Course of Training. We don’t just read about a principle and agree and think, ‘how nice,’ and then forget all about it. Instead, through active participation, the principle becomes a part of how we naturally live.
Someone told me he didn’t participate in the course because he spends more than enough time on the computer as it is. Every lesson is sent to you in a way that is easily printed out and carried with you anywhere you go. It is not intended to only be read only on the computer. I do get feedback, however, that more and more people are reading their current lesson on their new-fangled phones that apparently brings everything into the palm of their hand. Technology has finally passed me by. Anyway, we recommend that the lessons be printed and read on paper, and kept for future reference.
Someone else said he was no longer interested in intellectual pursuits. It’s hard to ‘explain,’ but the course doesn’t happen as an intellectual process; it is more a course of opening the heart and living in unconditional love right now—in a truly thought-free state, or at least in the space between thoughts. This is the ultimate Truth of the present moment.
All that is real, all that will last, is the love we experience right now. Yet this requires vigilance and remembrance, for so many hidden things totally unlike love are bursting to take over and express themselves through us before we even know what is happening. It is a very peculiar phenomenon.
There were some great interactions in last month’s comments. Brahma asked if it is true that the world as we know it will soon come to an end as he has read in various places.
Brahma, ever since I was a child, I've seen cartoons with a man on a soapbox proclaiming that the world was about to end.
The only thing that can 'end' is the cessation of individual consciousness. Each time an individual leaves this plane of existence, the world ends for that individual.
The last number I heard was that around 300,000 people die, worldwide, over the course of one day. For each of these 300,000 or so people who left their bodies on that day, it was 'the end of the world.'
We only have to be concerned with our own end. If we discipline mind and purify ego through our own inner work, then we leave this world gracefully and peacefully. If we can meditate, we simply go to that same space when the final exhalation approaches, and the transition will be effortless and natural.
We only have to consider our own end. It is the only one that is relevant. All our development is to attain a state that we can die gracefully and peacefully. All individual life leads only to death. For this reason, we remain focused in the present moment, which is the only life we have.
We never have to consider the end of the world, the end of humanity, or anything of the like. Such an ‘end’ exists only conceptually, and is nothing we will ever personally experience.
You see, there is a contradiction in terms between 'we are all One', and the idea of 'mass destruction.' If there is only One Consciousness, who is the 'mass' being destroyed? Wasn't that only the dream of the one Dreamer?
The planet Earth is a living being and has its own evolution in Consciousness, vibrating on a more and more subtle level as we hurl through space and time. As the Earth evolves, 'the world as we know it' constantly changes, and humanity has to change along with it.
Imagine the world as it was 50 years ago. I would have been utterly amazed then if I could have magically seen what the world would be 50 years later. In the same way, we cannot possibly grasp the magnitude of how the world will be different 50 years in the future. It will be like another planet.
It is an interesting topic and something that we explore more deeply in the lessons of the course.
Brahma, your name reminds me of a quote from my early teacher, which is also quoted in a lesson of the course. Notice that the following is all one sentence:
"This is the “waking and the sleeping of The Great Being,” of the “Day and the Night of Brahma,” the prototype of our waking days and sleeping nights as human beings in the finite earth-plane, in the planetary chain and the Rounds, as well as in The Infinite Omnipresence; or, in other words, of the mortal life, of our disappearance from the scene or the cessation of mortal existence in the body, and of our return again, in reincarnation to take up the unfinished work of our individual karma in another Cycle and Round of experiences—or eventual earth-plane life in a new day and form."
Remember that we see what we think, we experience what we think, and where our personal perceptions and experiences are concerned, they have their first cause in thought, in our own consciousness. This primary principle must be understood before the first thing can be accomplished. Yet the only way we can possibly understand it, in our present state, is through constant repetition and persistent reminders. Otherwise the force of habitual patterns is too strong.
For this reason we participate in the course via email, we read the blog, and we do whatever else we do to remain conscious, present, alert, and aware. Otherwise we live in a world of thought-dreams, which is only one step removed from being asleep. Unfortunately, most people have no idea that they go through life in a dream-state. Hardly anyone is willing to be responsible for what they think, yet they are willing to blame anyone and anything for their own experience.
I offer a sincere thank you to those who visit here regularly, as well as to those who bravely offer their comments and questions. The blog 'community' is very special in many ways, and it will continue to grow stronger over time, when we might need it the most.
For information about the Course of Training written by D. R. Butler and available by email, as well as a sample lesson, write: firstname.lastname@example.org