Feel Without A Story

Yesterday I read a blog by Arjuna Ardagh about masculine and feminine spiritual practice. I am happy to announce that I am the perfect woman by Arjunas classification since I have always been drawn to what he calls “Feel without a story”! ;)

Total intimacy with life flowing, being life flowing, wave after wave of raw aliveness, like the ocean, every wave unique and constantly changing. There will never ever be a wave exactly like another wave. Our tendency though is to create a whole lot of stories around the raw energy of life flowing. The top layers of drama are quite obvious and easy to detect but the story telling has subtler layers as well. What is a story then? I would say that it is any conceptualization above pure, raw aliveness. Any analyze, any cause, any blame, any labeling, any image is a form of story. Even the “me” that has a feeling is a story, very subtle, but yet, a concept that cannot be found.

Take away the stories and what is left is life it self, wave after wave.

Or a bit less poetic and wonderfully to the point by John Sherman:

“You’re here. You’re human. Get over it.”

We are what we are looking for if we dare to drop the stories. Then we are free to play any story for the fun of it. Because the stories will not disappear, what disappears are the investments and believes in them.

– Richard

 

 

 

The Opening Of Eyes

The thinking mind can never understand what life without a center is like. It is of no use trying to grasp it like a philosophy or concept. It is a relaxation back to the natural. To that which is already here before any thoughts arising. That is not a passive or distant state of mind. On the contrary, it is life it self liberated and free to move in the most intimate and vibrant way and you are that moving creativity without anyone doing it.

The thinking mind freezes the natural and ever changing movements of life to dead objects, framed pictures, to hang on the wall as a collection. But life can never be captured and framed as memories. Not even the memories categorized as me and my life. As David Whyte puts it in the poem below:

Life is no passing memory of what has been
Nor the remaining pages of a great book waiting to be read”

When we look at life through the lens of “me” we project that feeling of separateness on every life form and we perceive a world of separate individuals. When the lens of “me” relaxes and we sink back into being, the world changes and is experienced more as a living weave of interconnectedness. Even more relaxed there is really only one life moving, expressing as all this diversity, and you are that life. Not as an idea or a philosophy but as an existential truth, without anyone in particular experiencing it. It simply is.

Awakening is the opening of the eyes behind the lens of “me”. Or to be more precise, those eyes were never closed. That seeing was simply identified with the narrow lens it was looking through.

– Richard –


The Opening of Eyes

That day I saw beneath dark clouds
The passing light over the water
And I heard the voice of the world speak out
I knew then as I have before
Life is no passing memory of what has been
Nor the remaining pages of a great book
Waiting to be read

 It is the opening of eyes long closed
It is the vision of far off things
Seen for the silence they hold
It is the heart after years of secret conversing
Speaking out loud in the clear air

 It is Moses in the desert fallen to his knees
Before the lit bush
It is the man throwing away his shoes
As if to enter heaven and finding himself astonished
Opened at last
Fallen in love
With Solid Ground

 ~  David Whyte ~

 

Why is there suffering in the world?

The short answer to this is that there are no suffering. But that is not very helpful and would rather piss people of since there obviously are a lot of people experiencing suffering in the world. So, it is not a question about if we should help people or not, that is suffering or is in pain. Of course should we help! I am not talking about that. I am talking about the very nature of suffering and if there is any relieve from that to be found.

First of all, enlightenment is not an escape from pain and suffering. Quite contrary, it is a deep dive into the core of suffering until you can’t separate your self from the experience of suffering. It is total intimacy. To be more precise, the resistance to pain is the very cause of suffering. We could call that separation. The no to what is, which splits up reality into a sense of a “me” that resists an experience. The other way around, without separation there is no suffering. Pain, yes, that is an inevitable ingredient of life but without separation, without rejecting what is, there is really no suffering to be found in the very moment here and now. To suffer you need to resist what is and create separation, the sense of a me, and then create a story around this me that are suffering. That is what Buddha called “dukkha” and he discovered that the remedy to suffering is the realization that there is no me, that separation is an illusion. That doesn’t mean that you move away to some higher state of consciousness, it simply means what it says.

But what about all the people that are suffering in the world? Children that are starving and being abused, wars and violence!  Well, sitting under a tree and meditate will not help anyone but from “no separation”, from a total intimacy with what ever moves in life, even with sexual abuse, starvation, war and violence the chance to help is so much greater because you move as a natural response of compassion and not from resistance or rejection. Because you have realized that there is nothing separate from you and this is felt as love because essentially everything is who you are and you move as an ongoing recognition of that.

Maybe this still pisses someone of but remember that it is not some philosophy, religion or lofty spiritual discourse. It is simply a direct experience on the nature of suffering and the only way to know if its true or not is to check it out for your self … as a real life investigation!

-r-

 

The Unbearable Lightness of Being …continued

The mind thinks ”doing” is active and ”being” is passive. Nothing could be more wrong. Take a walk in nature a hot summer day and just notice the diversity of life, crawling, buzzing, flying, growing, eating, jumping, without a single “me” doing anything. Where is the mover moving all this? There is no centre to all this activity, is it? It is simply life dancing with it self. Look inside the body, same activity there. Heart beating, lungs breathing, blood moving, billions and billions of cells working, hair growing, eyes blinking, brain activity, dreams, thoughts happening, being alive takes no effort at all, it is all done by it self without anyone doing anything.

So tell me, what is this mind that feels separate to life and thinks it knows and rules it all?

– r –

 

 

 

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

What on earth did Jesus mean by saying: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.”

… or what the heck is the point of the old zen saying: “Sit quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.”

Do they really imply what it looks like? That we should sit down and do nothing and in some magical way everything would be done for us?

Today I have been in a bit of a struggle with my self. The mind divided in two parts fighting each other. One part saying I should work, be disciplined, sit down and write a work text I find totally meaningless, do my working hours so I get my salary and do what people expect of me. The other part is drawn to what I love, an expression of heart and beauty, in harmony with the flow of life but with an uncertain economical future.

Somehow the old film title “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” came to me while dancing the frustration out some hour go. That life is actually asking so little that it is almost scary. Nothing could be easier than to live and it is already happening perfectly well without a me doing it. It is all taken care of. Not by some heavenly father or mystical force. Simply life unfolding it self as it always have. So why complicate it? Why does the human mind seam to fear the lightness of being to the point that it is almost neurotic about it? Have to do, must plan, have to succeed, must do this, must do that, why all this worry and busyness? Why this idea about somehow doing life when it is already being done. After all life has been evolving pretty well for the last 13 billion years or so, without a me, imagine that! I mean, all the stars and solar systems, galaxies, plants, animals, and now lately thinking humans, the whole shebang. Amazing, and it is all done by itself! So why worry in the first place?

Deep down it is so subtle. This switch from doing to being but it makes all the difference in the world. Being life instead of trying to do it. To let go of that struggle is such an ease and there is no longer a fight between what actually is and how it should be. There is simply this, weather we call it life or something else, the spring comes and the grass grows by it self … until next time I forget ;)

– Richard –

 

Death

I do appreciate the quote by Steve Jobs below. I have never been close to my own physical death in the way he was but I have been close to death in other circumstances. I can relate to what he is writing though, from the perspective of spiritual or existential death, the dying before dying. The most significant I can say about that kind of death is that it takes away future. No more future sounds terrifying to the thinking mind but the actual feeling of it is finding your self totally here because there is suddenly no way to escape into a better or more promising future. Another word for being totally here with no future is love. Without future there is no hope for a me and that is total intimacy with life. You have lost everything you feared to lose and there you are, naked and totally openhearted.

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Steve Jobs

– Richard –

 

Free Will

 

We live in a society and culture where the idea of a free will and free choice is very strong, especially in the western world. But what if this idea is just that, an idea, a thought with very little significance in the reality of life. What if life operates perfectly well without a free will and what if it’s actually a huge relieve to give up the very idea of someone having a free will?

Ok, so now the mind probably goes; “If I give up free will then I will be forced into situations I do not want!” … or … “I do not want someone else to decide for me what to do!” … or … “I want to be free to do what I think is important, enjoyable (fill in the blank)” … or … “What’s the point if there is no free will, people will end up as coach potatoes waiting for someone to tell them what to do!” … or … “The world need free people to stand up and speak against tyranny!” … and so on so forth.

So, first of all, the tendency of the mind is always to split up reality in two opposites and then hit the like button for one of them and dislike the other. Not much to do about that, it is how the mind is programmed to work. But we do not need to take it to be true! It is simply away to handle and sort impressions. It is for sure functional when it comes to survival like; “Don’t stand in the fire or don’t pet a poison snake”. It is less functional when it evolves to a more or less constant and ongoing like and dislike fight with life as it is in every moment.

It is also seems impossible to actually find an isolated point or event of free choice in life. We think there is but if we instead look and investigate without so much thinking we can’t really find it. We can create a story in the head but where and when is that point of choice to be found in this very moment? It seems to me that life is more like a weave of billions and billions of threads where one cannot really be separated from the other. I can think I made a choice in a specific moment but if I look closer I can see all these threads, an ocean of life events, which creates that very situation. Some I call “mine”, some I call “others” but not even that I find to be true. There is simply one giant weave of life unfolding and it has nothing to do with a “me” having a “free will”. This can of course be quite disappointing to the thinking mind.

And of course,if you try to actually locate that entity inside you call “me”, you will never find that “someone” that has a free will. There is simply life unfolding without anyone having a free will or doing something. Still life flows on and things get done as usual, as it always has. It is not a matter of free will or surrender. It is simply a matter of what is.

Slow down, be present, let the mind slowly settle and see what comes natural.

– Richard –

 

The Fear of Failure

There are two major fears that have been following me through life. The first one is fear of death and the second is fear of failure. Fear of death has slowly loosened its grip and today I can’t really find it anymore. It lost its relevance when I touched my self so deeply that there was no me anymore.  It is not an intellectual understanding; it is a shift on an existential level.  Still this guy, this person, continues to exist as usual.

The second fear, the fear of failure, is what surfaces more and more lately. Maybe that’s really the primordial one, the fear of fears. The fear of failing so miserably that there is nothing left. Yet exactly that is unavoidable and inevitable in life, right? There is no way I am going to succeed, achieve or keep anything what so ever from life. Nothing lasts and if not taken away while living, death will finally sweep it all away. Yet, this fear contains a treasure of liberation. What surfaces now, peeping out from the fear of failing miserable, is an incredible love and intimacy for my girlfriend Mette. It is like I have still been holding onto the absolute, fearing the unavoidable defeat of relationships. Not fully embracing the pain of failure, a pain that turns out to be not bad at all. It turns out to be the utmost intimacy and love. Fail and fail miserably. Over and over again until nothing remains.


Self Portrait

It doesn’t interest me if there is one God
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel
abandoned.
If you know despair or can see it in others.
I want to know
if you are prepared to live in the world
with its harsh need
to change you. If you can look back
with firm eyes
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living
falling toward
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even
the gods speak of God.

—David Whyte

 

Civilization – the neurotic art of getting and loosing

My intention yesterday was to relax some hours with a newly bought computer game called Civilization. There was a suggestive intro with an old father giving his son the task to lead the creation of a glorious empire. The task begun by settling a small village and begin farming in a small and un-explored world. Slowly the village started to grow to a city and expand as new technologies were discovered, bigger and more effective farming, mining, keeping cattle, sailing and fishing to give some examples. Cultural and religious institutions evolving and of course, military resources. The aim of the game was after all to conquer the world.

I was somehow pulled in and also quite stressed by the game and all night along I tossed and turned in bed with images from the game passing by. At daybreak I found my self in a quite painful and alienated state and I really longed for a breathing meditation to process all this energies and maybe get a clue around what was driving all this frustration. To my surprise a quite clear pattern showed up immediately as soon as I sat down breathing. First the insight that settling in a centre, “the capital city”, and then building and expanding from this centre is both the driving force of the ego as well as civilization, they are one and the same, inseparable. Ego is civilization and civilization is ego. Then the insight how both ego and civilization is driven by the urge of getting and as a consequence of that, the fear of loosing.

I agree with Lasse Berg in his book “Dawn over Kalahari” when he suggests that the competition and struggle between men came with settling as farmers. Before that there was not really any personal ownership of property and things, hence also nothing to loose. With ownership and the prosperity of getting more came the fear of loss and the foundation and main driving force of civilization was laid. As the computer games so well pointed out with all this energy around getting and loosing. In terms of society we could call an ideology based on ownership for capitalistic and it is clearly painful. Weather we speak of ego or civilization which is really one and the same, the believe in a centre with the ability to posses (and loose). May it be things and money, relations and love or spiritual achievements. They are all the same game of getting and loosing.

Freedom is to see that there is nothing to get and nothing to loose. That it is all constructions in the mind that we choose to believe in. To see that there is no true ownership to be found in reality, not even to that we call our own life. All is given but it is not for a you. It is told that Alexander the Great wished to be carried through town towards his funeral with his empty hands dangling outside the coffin. Showing to people that not even him, the great king that conquered the world, could really carry anything with him. This is true not only regarding physical death but in any given moment of life. There is nothing to get and no one really to get it, that is all mental and emotional constructs, and the realization of that is true freedom. Not an alienated and distanced freedom from but an intimate freedom in …
or even as … the dance of life.

– Richard –


In this high place
it is as simple as this,
leave everything you know behind.

Step toward the cold surface,
say the old prayer of rough love
and open both arms.

Those who come with empty hands
will stare into the lake astonished,
there, in the cold light
reflecting pure snow,

the true shape of your own face.

- David Whyte -

The Sacred Marriage

I am a bit puzzled, happy and annoyed by this popular movement around bringing forth the feminine within spiritual circles.

Happy because I feel it’s very important to say yes to what has been repressed.

Puzzled because I feel it turns over from patriarchy to matriarchy and I can’t see what difference that would really make. Flipping over from one identification to another. So far I have not yet found that other side where the grass is greener than where I stand.

Annoyed because … well, to be honest I don’t know why I find this movement somewhat provocative …

The mind has a peculiar habit to split up the wholeness of life into two opposites. This goes for everything, male and female included. I feel it’s a trap though to put female and male in an either/or perspective. Ok, it’s how the mind works but nevertheless contra productive. It always seeks to divide wholeness into opposites then identifying with one part and rejecting the other. It is equally not helpful to state that there are no sexes and that male and female are cultural constructions. It is indeed true in the end but not because you state that as an intellectual idea. Male and female are deep running programs in the human psyche and culture. For instance, if you are someone with a male physical body and consider your self straight, imagine your self putting on very female sexy clothes and walk the streets among people or imaging your self having sex with another man. It is easy to say that there is no gender but usually you will encounter strong inner and outer resistance if you are breaking the conditionings. If you are truly interested in no gender, you have to be prepared to take that to its uttermost consequence. Otherwise it’s just fancy academic philosophies.

My experience is that the first step is to see and admit that I have actually divided existence into male and female. I could of course come up with a whole bunch of outside causes to this but at the bottom line I have to take responsibility for that split by saying yes to and receive both the male and female side of existence back into the dance of wholeness again. This is nothing new. It’s a symbolic thematic that can be seen in many mystic traditions. The alchemical work that ends in “the Sacred Marriage” between the King and Queen which gives birth to the “the Alchemical Hermaphrodite”, also called “the Divine Child”. In more traditional Christianity, the immaculate conception between the holy spirit and virgin Mary which gives birth to the Jesus child. In Hinduism we have the divine hermaphrodite, Ardhanarishwara, which is the union of opposites, Shiva (consciousness, male energy) and Shakti (life, female energy).

If you ask me I would say that it is the collapse of the imaginary split between the absolute and relative, oneness and relations, non-duality and duality, the ocean and the wave, male and female. Form is emptiness and emptiness is form. Why keep on fighting around that?

 

When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter the Kingdom.”

– Gospel of Thomas, 22

 

In the end there is absolutely nothing esoteric and mystical around all this. The student asked the zen master; “What is zen?”. The zen master slammed his stick in the floor shouting “This is zen!”

But who wanna listen to that?

– Richard