Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Meditation 27 - Finding the joy of the kingdom

I came to case fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled! (Lk. 12:49)

If you want to know what it means to be happy, look at a flower, a bird, a child, they are perfect images of the kingdom. For they live from moment to moment in the eternal now with no past and no future. So they are spared the guilt and the anxiety that so torment human beings, and they are full of the sheer joy of living, taking delight not so much in persons or things as in life itself.

As long as your happiness is caused or sustained by something or someone outside of you, you are still in the land of the dead.

The day you are happy for no reason whatsoever, the day you find yourself taking delight in everything and in nothing, you will know that you have found the land of unending joy called the kingdom.

To find the kingdom is the easiest thing in the world, but also the most difficult. Easy because it is all around you and within you, and all you have to do is reach out and take possession of it. Difficult because if you wish to possess the kingdom you may possess nothing else.

That is, you must drop all inward leaning on any person or thing, withdrawing from them forever the power to thrill you, or excite you, or to give you a feeling of security or well being.

For this you first need to see with unflinching clarity this simple and shattering truth: Contrary to what your culture and religion have taught you, nothing, but absolutely nothing can make you happy.

The moment you see that, you will stop moving from one job to another, one friend to another, one place, one spiritual technique, one guru to another. None of these things can give you a single minute of happiness. The can only offer you a temporary thrill, a pleasure that initially grows in intensity, then turns into pain if you lose them, and into boredom if you keep them.

Think of the numberless persons and things that so excited you in the past. What happened? In every single instance they ended up by causing you suffering, or boredom, did they not? It is absolutely essential that you see this because till you do, there is no question of your ever finding the kingdom of joy. Mostly people are not prepared to see till they have suffered repeated disillusionment and sorrow. And even then only one in a million has the desire to see.

They just keep going at it, pathetically knocking at the door of other creatures, begging bowl in hand, craving affection and approval and guidance and power and honor and success. For they obstinately refuse to understand that happiness is not in these things.

If you search within your heart you will find something there that will make it possible for you to understand: a spark of disenchantment and discontent, which if fanned into flame will become a raging forest fire that will burn up the whole of the illusory world you are living in, thereby unveiling to your wondering eyes the kingdom that you have always lived in unsuspectingly.

Have you ever felt disgusted with life, sick at heart of constantly running away from fears and anxieties, weary of your begging rounds, exhausted from being dragged about helplessly by your attachments and addictions? Have you ever felt the utter meaninglessness of working for a degree, then finding a job, then settling down to a life of boredom; or, if you are an achiever settling down to a life of emotional turmoil caused by the things that you are chasing after? If you have, and is there a single human being who hasn't the divine flame of discontent has arisen within your heart. Now is the time to feed it before it gets stamped out by the routine chores of life.

Now is the Holy Season when you simply must find the time to get away and look at your life, allowing the flame to grow and grow as you look, refusing to let anything distract you from this task.

Now is the time to see that absolutely nothing outside of you can bring you lasting joy. But the moment you do that, you will notice that a fear arises in your heart. That fear that if you allow the discontent to be, it will turn into a raging passion that will grip you and cause you to revolt against everything that your culture and your religion, hold dear; against a whole way of thinking and feeling and perceiving the world that they have brainwashed you into accepting.

This devouring flame will cause you not just to rock the boat, but to burn the boat to ashes. Suddenly you will find yourself living in an altogether different world, infinitely removed from the world of the people around you, for everything that others hold dear, everything they are crying their hearts out for, honor, power, acceptance, approval, security, wealth, is seen for the stinking garbage that it is. It disgusts and nauseates. And everything others are forever running away from, holds no terrors for you any more. You have become serene and fearless and free, for you have stepped out of your illusory world and into the kingdom.

Do not confound this divine discontent with the hopelessness and despair that sometimes drive people to madness and to suicide. That is not the mystical drive to life but the neurotic drive to self-destruction. Do not confound it withe the whining of people who are forever complaining about everything. These people are not mystics but bores, merely agitating for improvement of prison conditions, whereas what they need to do is burst out of prison into freedom.

Most people, when they feel the stirring of this discontent within their hearts, either run away from it and drug themselves with the fevered pursuit of work and social life and friendship; or they channel the discontent into social work, literature, music, the so-called creative pursuits that make them settle for reform, when what is needed is revolt.

These people, even though they are full of activity, are not really alive at all: they are dead, content to live in the land of the dead.

The test that your discontent is divine is the fact that it has no trace of sadness or bitterness to it at all. On the contrary even though it often arouses fear within your heart, it is always accompanied by joy, the joy of the kingdom.

And here is a parable of that kingdom: It is like a treasure lying buried in a field. The man who found it buried it again, and for sheer joy went and sold everything he had and bought that field. If you haven't found the treasure as yet, don't waste your time searching for it. It can be found but it may not be searched for. You don't have to slightest notion what the treasure is.

All you are familiar with is the drugged happiness of your present existence. So what would you search for? And where? No, search rather in your heart for the spark of discontent, and tend the flame till it becomes a conflagration and your world is burnt down to a heap of rubble.

Young or old, most of us are discontented merely because we want something - more knowledge, a better job, a finer car, a bigger salary. Our discontent is based upon our desire of "the more." It is only because we want something more that most of us are discontented. But I am not talking about that kind of discontent. It is the desire for "the more" that prevents clear thinking, whereas if we are discontented, not because we want something, but without knowing what we want; if we are dissatisfied with our jobs, with making money, with seeking position and power, with tradition, with what we have and with what we might have; if we are dissatisfied, not with anything in particular but with everything, then I think we shall find that our discontent brings clarity. When we don't accept or follow, but question, investigate, penetrate, there is an insight out of which comes creativity, joy.

Mostly the discontent that you feel comes from not having enough of something - you are dissatisfied because you think you do not have enough money or power or success or fame or virtue or love, or holiness. This is not the discontent that leads to the joy of the kingdom. Its source is greed and ambition and its fruit is restlessness and frustration.

The day you are discontented, not because you want more of something but without knowing what it is you want; when you are sick at heart of everything that you have been pursuing so far, and you are sick of the pursuit itself, then your heart will attain a great clarity, an insight that will cause you mysteriously to delight in everything and in nothing.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Meditation 26 - Growing through painful events

Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory? (Lk. 24:26)

Think of some of the painful events in your life. For how many of them are you grateful today, because thanks to them you changed and grew.

Here is a simple truth of life that most people never discover. Happy events make life delightful but they do not lead to self-discovery and growth and freedom. That privilege is reserved to the things and persons and situations that cause us pain.

Every painful event contains in itself a seed of growth and liberation. In the light of this truth return to your life now and take a look at one or another of the events that you are not grateful for, and see if you can discover the potential for growth that they contain which you were unaware of and therefore failed to benefit from. Now think of some recent event that caused you pain, that produced negative feelings in you.

Whoever or whatever caused those feelings was your Teacher, because they revealed so much to you about yourself that you probably did not know. And they offered you an invitation and a challenge to self-understanding, self-discovery, and therefore to growth and life and freedom.

I. Try it out now, identify the negative feeling that this event aroused in you. Was it anxiety or insecurity, jealousy or anger or guilt. What does that emotion say to you about yourself, your values, your way of perceiving the world and life and above all your programming and conditioning.

If you succeed in discovering this, you will drop some illusion you have clung to till now, or you will change a distorted perception or correct a false belief or learn to distance yourself from your suffering, as you realize that it was caused by your programming and not by reality; and you will suddenly find that you are full of gratitude for those negative feelings and to that person or even that caused them.

II. Now take this one step further. Look at everything that you think and feel and say and do that you do not like in yourself.  Your negative emotions, your defects, your handicaps, your errors, your attachments and neuroses and hangups and yes, even your sins. Can you see everyone of them as a necessary part of your development, holding out a promise of growth and grace for you and others, that would never have been there except for this thing that you so disliked.

And if you have caused pain and negative feelings to others, were you not at that moment a teacher to them, an instrument that offered them a seed for self-discovery and growth? Can you persist in this observation, in your observation till you see all of this as a happy fault, a necessary sin that brings so much good to you and to the world?

If you can, your heart will be flooded with peace and gratitude and love and acceptance of every single thing. And you will have discovered what people everywhere are searching for and never find. Namely, the fountain head of serenity and joy that hides in every human heart.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Meditation 25 - Be violent with your attachments

And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off, it is better to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell - And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell. (Mk 9:43)

When you deal with blind people it dawns on you that they are attuned to realities that you have no idea of. Their sensitivity to the world of touch and smell and taste and sound is such, as to make the rest of us seem like dull clods. We pity persons who have lost their sight but rarely take into account the enrichment that their other sense offer them. It is a pity that those riches are bought at the heavy price of blindness and it is quite conceivable that we could be as alive and finely attuned to the world as blind people are without the loss of our eyes.

It is not possible, not even conceivable, that you would ever awaken to the world of love unless you pluck out, chop off, those parts of your psychological being that are called Attachments.

If you refuse to do this, you will miss the experience of Love, you miss the only thing that gives meaning to human existence. For love is the passport to abiding joy and peace and freedom. There is only one thing that blocks out entry into that world and the name of that thing is Attachment.

It is produced by the lusting eye that excites craving within the heart and by the grasping hand that reaches out to hold, possess and make one's own, and refuses to let go. It is this eye that must be gouged out, this hand that must be cut off if Love is to be born. With those mutilated stumps for hands you can grasp nothing any more. With those empty sockets for eyes you suddenly become sensitive to realities whose existence you have never suspected.

Now at last you can love. Till now all you had was certain good heartedness and benevolence, a sympathy and concern for others, which you mistakenly took for Love but has as little in common with Love, as a flickering candle flame has with the light of the sun.

What is Love? It is a sensitivity to every portion of reality within you and without, together with a whole-hearted response to that reality.

Sometimes you will embrace that reality, sometimes you will attack it, sometimes you will ignore it, and at others you will give it your fullest attention, but always you will respond not from need but from sensitivity.

And what is an attachment? A need, a clinging that blunts your sensitivity, a drug that clouds your perception. That is why as long as you have the slightest attachment for anything or any person Love cannot be born.

For Love is sensitivity, and sensitivity that is impaired even in the slightest degree is sensitivity destroyed.

Just as the malfunctioning of one essential piece of a radar set distorts reception, an attachment distorts your response to what you perceive.

There is no such thing as defective love, or deficient love, or partial love. Love like sensitivity either is in all its fullness or it simply is not. You either have it whole, or you have it not.

So it is only when attachments disappear that one enters the boundless realm of spiritual freedom called  Love. One is now released to see and to respond. But you must not confound this freedom with the indifference of those who have never passed through the stage of attachment.

How could you pluck out an eye or amputate a hand that you do not have? This indifference that so many people mistake for love (because they are attached to no one, they think that they love everyone) is not sensitivity, but a hardening of the heart that has come about from rejection or disillusionment or the practice of renunciation.

No, one must brave the stormy seas of attachments if one has to arrive at the land of love.

Some people, never having set sail have convinced themselves that they have arrived. One must be able-bodied and clear-sighted before the sword can do its work and the world of love can arise in one's awareness; and make no mistake, this is only achieved through violence. It is only the violent who carry off the kingdom.

Why the violence? Because left to its own devices life would never produce love, it would only lead you to attraction, from attraction to pleasure, then to attachment, to satisfaction, which finally leads to wearisomeness and boredom. Then comes a plateau. Then once again the weary cycle: attraction, pleasure, attachment, fulfillment, satisfaction, boredom. All of this mixed with the sorrow, the pain, that makes the cycle a roller coaster.

When you have gone repeatedly round and round the cycle, a time finally comes when you have had enough and want to call a halt to the whole process. And if you are lucky enough not to run into something or someone else that catches your eye, you will have at least attained a fragile peace. That is the most that life can give you; and you can mistakenly equate this state with freedom and you die without ever having known what it means to be really free and to love.

No, if you wish to break out of the cycle and into the world of love, you must strike while the attachment is alive and raw, not when you have outgrown it. And you must strike not with the sword of renunciation, for that kind of mutilation only harden, but with the sword of awareness.

What must you be aware of? Three things;

I. First you must see the suffering that this drug is causing you, the ups and downs, the thrills, the anxieties and disappointments, the boredom to which it must inevitably lead.

II. Second, you must realize what this drug is cheating you out of, namely, the freedom to love and to enjoy every minute and every thing in life.

III. Third, you must understand how, because of your addiction and your programming, you have invested the object of your attachment with a beauty and a value it simply does not have; what you are so enamored of is in your head, not in your beloved person or thing. See this and the sword of awareness breaks the spell.

It is commonly held that it is only when you feel deeply loved yourself, that you are able to go out in love to others. This is not true. A man in love, does indeed go out into the world not in love but in euphoria. For him the world takes on an unreal, rose hue, which it loses the moment the euphoria dies. His so called love is generated not by his clear perception of reality but by the conviction, true or false, that he is loved by someone - a conviction that is dangerously fragile, because it is founded on the unreliable, changeable people, who he believes love him. And who can at any moment pull the switch and turn off his euphoria. No wonder those who walk this path never really lose their insecurity.

(When you go out to the world because of the love that someone else has for you, you are all aglow not with your perception of reality but with the love that you have received from someone else, someone else controls the switch and when it is switched off the glow fades away.)

As you use the sword of awareness to move from attachment into love, there is one thing you must keep in mind; Don't be harsh or impatient, or hating of yourself. How can love grow out of such attitudes? But rather hold on to the compassion and the matter-of-factness with which the surgeon plies his knife. Then you may find yourself in the marvelous condition of loving the object of your attachment and enjoying it even more than before, but simultaneously enjoying every other thing, and every other person just as much.

That is the litmus test for finding out if what you have is love. Far from becoming indifferent, you now enjoy everything, and everyone just as much as you did the object of your attachment. Only now there are no more thrills and therefore no more suffering and suspense. In fact you could be said to be enjoying everything and enjoying nothing. Because you have made the great discovery that what you are enjoying on the occasion of each thing and person is something within yourself.

The orchestra is within you and you carry it with you wherever you go. The things and people outside you merely determine what particular melody the orchestra will play. And when there is no one or noting that has your attention, the orchestra will play a music of its own; it needs no outside stimulation. You now carry in your heart a happiness that nothing outside of you can put there, and nothing can take away.

Here then is the other test of love.

You are happy for no reason that you know.

Does this love last? There is no guarantee that it does. For while love cannot be partial it can be of temporary duration. It comes and goes in the measure that your mind is awake and aware or has gone off to sleep again. But this much is certain, once you have had even a fleeting taste of this thing called Love, you will know that no price is too high, no sacrifice too great, not even the loss of one's eyes, nor the amputations of one's hand, if you can have in exchange the only thing in the world that makes your life worthwhile.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Meditation 24 - Contemplation leads to transformation

Judge not, that you be not judged. (Mt. 7:1)

It is a sobering thought that the finest act of love you can perform is not an act of service but an act of contemplation, of seeing.

When you serve people, you help, support, comfort, alleviate pain. When you see them in their inner beauty and goodness, you transform and create.

I. Think of some of the people you like and are drawn to you.

Now attempt to look at each of them as if you were seeing them for the first time, not allowing yourself to be influenced by your past knowledge or experience of them, whether good or bad.

Look for things in them that you may have missed because of familiarity, for familiarity breeds staleness, blindness and boredom. You cannot love what you cannot see afresh. You cannot love what you are not constantly discovering anew.

II. Having done this move on now to people you dislike.

First, observe what is it in them that you dislike, study their defects impartially and with detachment.

That means you cannot use labels like proud, lazy, selfish, arrogant. The label is an act of mental laziness, for it is easy to stick a label onto someone. It is difficult and challenging to see this person in his/her uniqueness.

You must study those defects clinically, that means, you must first make sure of your objectivity.

A. Consider the possibility that what you see as a defect in them, may not be a defect at all, but really something that your upbringing and conditioning have led you to dislike.

B. If after this you still see a defect there, understand that the origin of the defect lies in childhood experiences, past conditionings, faulty thinking and perception; and above all in unawareness, not in malice.

As you do this, your attitude will change into love and forgiveness, for to study, to observe, to understand is to forgive.

C. Having made this study of defects, now search for the treasures buried in this person that your dislike prevented you from seeing before.

D. And as you do this, observe any change of attitude or feeling that comes over you, for your dislike had clouded the vision and prevented you from seeing.

You can now move on to each of the persons you live and work with, observing how each of them becomes transformed in your eyes when you look at them in this way.

In seeing them thus it is an infinitely more loving gift that you offer them that any act of service. For in doing this, you have transformed them, you have created them in your heart and, given a certain amount of contact between you and them they will be transformed in reality too.

III. Now make this same gift to yourself. If you have been able to do it for others that should be fairly easy. Follow the same procedure: no defect, not neuroses is judged or condemned. You have not judged others, you will be amazed now that you yourself are not being judged.

Those defects are probed, studied, analysed, for a better understanding that leads to love and forgiveness, and you will discover to your joy that you are being transformed by this strangely loving attitude that arises within you towards this thing you call yourself. An attitude that arises within you and moves out through you to every living creature.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Meditation 23 - Seeing is a prerequisite for living

And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. (Mt. 14:23)

Has it ever occurred to you that you can only love when you are alone.

What does it mean to love?

It means to see a person, a thing, a situation, as it really is and not as you imagine it to be, and to give it the response it deserves. You can not love what you do not even see.

And what prevents you from seeing? Your concepts, your categories, your prejudices and projections, your needs and attachments, the labels you have drawn from your conditioning and from your past experiences.

Seeing is the most arduous thing a human being can undertake. For it calls for a disciplined, alert mind, whereas most people would much rather lapse into mental laziness than take the trouble to see each person and thing anew in present moment freshness.

To drop your conditioning in order to see is arduous enough. But seeing calls for something more painful still. The dropping of the control that society exercises over you; a control whose tentacles have penetrated to the very roots of your being, so that to drop it is to tear yourself apart.

If you wish to understand this, think of a little child that is given a taste for drugs. As the drug penetrates the body of the child, it becomes addicted and its whole being cries out for the drug. To be without the drug is so unbearable a torment that it seems preferable to die.

Now this is exactly what society did to you when you were a child. You were not allowed to enjoy the solid, nutritious food of life: work and play and the company of people and the pleasures of the senses and the mind. You were given a taste for the drug called Approval, Appreciation, Attention, the drug called Success, Prestige, Power. Having got a taste for these things, you became addicted and began to dread their loss. You felt terror at the prospect of failure, of mistakes, of the criticism of others. So you became cravenly dependent on people and lost your freedom.

Others now have the power to make you happy or miserable. And much as you now hate the suffering this involves, you find yourself completely helpless. There is never a minute when, consciously or unconsciously, you are not attuned to the reaction of others, marching to the drum of their demands. When you are ignored or disapproved of, you experience a loneliness so unbearable that you crawl back to people to beg for the comfort know as Support, Encouragement, Reassurance. To live with people in this state involves never ending tension; but to live without them brings the agony of loneliness.

You have lost your capacity to see them clearly as they are and to respond to them accurately because mostly your perception of them is clouded by your need to get your drug.

The consequence of all this is terrifying and inescapable: You have become incapable of loving anyone or anything. If you wish to love you must learn to see again.

And if you wish to see, you must give up your drug. You must tear away from your being the roots of society that have penetrated to the marrow. You must drop out. Externally everything will go on as before, you will continue to be in the world, but no longer of it. And in your heart you will now be free at last and utterly alone. It is only in this aloneness, this utter solitude, that dependence and desire will die, and the capacity to love is born. For one no longer sees other as means to satisfy one's addiction.

Only someone who has attempted this knows the terror of the process. It is like inviting yourself to die. It is like asking the poor drug addict to give up the only happiness he has known and to replace it with a taste for bread and fruit and the clean, fresh morning air and the sweetness of the water from the mountain stream, while he is struggling to cope with his withdrawal symptoms and with the emptiness that he experiences within himself now that his drug has gone. To his fevered mind nothing can fill the emptiness except his drug.

Can you imagine a life in which you refuse to enjoy a single word of approval and appreciation, or to lean on someone's arm; in which you depend on no one emotionally, so no one has the power to make you happy or miserable any more; you refuse to need any particular person, or to be special to anyone, or to call anyone your own? Even the birds of the air have their nests and the foxes their holes, but you will have nowhere to rest your head in your journey through life.

If you ever get to this state you will at last know what it means to see with a vision that is clear and unclouded by fear or desire. And you will know what it means to love. But to come to this land of love you have to pass through the pains of death. For to love persons is to have died to the need for persons and to be utterly alone.

How would you ever get there?

1. By ceaseless awareness.

2. With the infinite patience and compassion that you would have for a drug addict.

3. It will also help you to undertake activities that you can do with your whole being, activities that you so much love to do, that while you are engaged in them, success or recognition or approval simply do not mean a thing to you.

4. It will help too if you return to Nature: send the crowds away and go up into the mountain and silently commune with trees and flowers and animals and birds, with sea and sky and clouds and stars. Then you will know that your heart has brought you into the vast desert of solitude. There is no one there by your side, absolutely no one.

At first it will seem unbearable, but that is only because you are unaccustomed to aloneness. But if you manage to stay there for a while the desert will suddenly blossom into Love. Your heart will burst into song. And it will be springtime forever.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Meditation 22 - The ingredients of love

Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. (Lk. 12:37)

Everywhere in the world people are in search of love, for everyone is convinced that love alone can save the world, love alone can make life meaningful and worth living.

But how very few understand what love really is, and how it arises in the human heart. It is so frequently equated with good feelings towards others, with benevolence or non-violence or service. But these things in themselves are not love.

Love springs from awareness. It is only in as much as you see someone as he or she really is here and now and not as they are in your memory or your desire or in your imagination or projection that you an truly love them.

Otherwise it is not the person that you love but the idea that you have formed of this person, or this person as the object of your desire not as he or she is in themselves.

I. Therefore the first act of love is to see this person or this object, this reality as it truly is. And this involves the enormous discipline of dropping your desires, your prejudices, your memories, your projections, your selective way of looking, a discipline so great that most people would rather plunge headlong into good actions and service than submit to the burning fire of this asceticism.

When you set out to serve someone whom you have not taken the trouble to see, are you meeting that person's need or your own? So the first ingredient of love is to really see the other.

II. The second ingredient is equally important to see yourself, to ruthlessly flash the light of awareness on your motives, your emotions, your needs, your dishonest, your self-seeking, your tendency to control and manipulate. This means calling things by their name, no matter how painful the discovery and the consequences.

If you achieve this kind of awareness of the other and yourself, you will know what love is. For you will have attained a mind and a heart that is alert, vigilant, clear, sensitive, a clarity of perception, a sensitivity that will draw out of you an accurate, appropriate response to every situation at every moment. Sometimes you will be irresistibly impelled into action, at others you will be held back and restrained. You will sometimes be made to ignore others and sometimes give them the attention they seek. At times you will be gentle and yielding, at others hard, uncompromising, assertive, even violent.

For the love that is born of sensitivity takes many unexpected forms and it responds not to prefabricated guidelines and principles but to present, concrete reality. When you first experience this kind of sensitivity you are likely to experience terror. For all your defenses will be torn down, your dishonesty exposed, the protected walks around you burnt.

Think of the terror that comes to a rich man when he sets out to really see the pitiful condition of the poor, to a power hungry dictator when he really looks at the plight of the people he oppresses, to a fanatic, a bigot, when he really sees the falsehood of his convictions when they do not fit the facts. The terror that comes to the romantic lover when he decides to really see that what he loves is not his beloved but his image of her.

That is why the most painful act the human being can perform, the act that he dreads the most is the act of seeing. It is in that act of seeing that love is born, or rather more accurately, that act of seeing is Love.

Once you begin to see, your sensitivity will drive you to the awareness, not just of the things that you choose to see but of everything else as well.

Your poor ego will try desperately to blunt that sensitivity because its defenses are being stripped away and it is left with no protection and nothing to cling to.

If you ever allow yourself to see, it will be the death of you. And that is why love is so terrifying, for to love is to see and to see is to die. But it is also the most delightful, exhilarating experience in the whole world. For in the death of the ego is freedom, peace, serenity, joy.

If it is love that you truly desire then set out at once on the task of seeing.

Take it seriously and look at someone you dislike and really see your prejudice. Look at someone you cling to or something you cling to and really see the suffering, the futility, the unfreedom of clinging and look long and lovingly at human faces and human behavior, Take some time out to gaze in wonder at nature, the flight of a bird, a flower in bloom, the dry leaf crumbling to dust, the flow of a river, the rising of the moon, silhouette of a mountain against the sky. And as you do this the hard, protective shell around your heart will soften and melt and your heart will come alive in sensitivity and responsiveness. The darkness in your eyes will be dispelled and your vision will become clear and penetrating, and you will know at last what love is.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Meditation 21 - Becoming fearless and free

The pharisees said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" (Mt. 9:11)

I. If you wish to get in touch with the reality of a thing, the first thing you must understand is that every idea distorts reality and is a barrier to seeing reality. The idea is not the reality, the idea "wine" is not wine, the idea "woman" is not this woman.

If I really want to get in touch with the reality of this woman I must put aside my idea of "woman" or Indian and experience her in her "this-ness'" her concreteness, her uniqueness. Unfortunately most people most of the time do not take the trouble to see things like this in their uniqueness; they just see the words or the ideas; they never look with the eyes of a child at this concrete, unique, fluffy, alive thing that is moving out there in front of them. They only see a sparrow, they never see the wondrous marvel of this unique human being here in front of them; they only see an Indian peasant woman.

The idea therefore is a barrier to the perception of reality.

II. There is yet another barrier to the perception of reality - the judgement. This thing or person is good or bad, ugly or beautiful.

It is better enough to have the idea of Indian or woman or peasant when I look at this concrete individual. But now I add a judgement and I say, "She is good, or she is bad, she is attractive and beautiful or she is unattractive and ugly." That further prevents me from seeing her because she is neither good or bad. She is 'she' in all her uniqueness. The crocodile and the tiger are neither good nor bad, they are crocodile and the tiger. Good and bad are in relation of something outside them. In as much as they suit my purpose or please my eyes, or help me, or threaten me, I call them good or bad.

Now think of yourself when you were called good or attractive or beautiful by someone. Either you hardened yourself because you really thought you were ugly and you said to yourself, "If you really knew me as I am you would not call me beautiful." Or you opened yourself to the words or that person and you really thought that you were beautiful and you allowed yourself to be thrilled at the compliment. In both cases you were wrong, because you are neither beautiful nor ugly. You are you.

If you get caught up in the judgements of people around you, you are eating the fruit of tension and insecurity and anxiety, because when today they call you beautiful and you are elated, tomorrow they will call you ugly and you will be depressed.

Therefore, the proper and accurate response when someone calls you beautiful is to say, "This person given his present perception and mood sees me as beautiful, but that does not say anything about me.

Someone else in his place and depending on his background and mood and perception will see me as ugly. But that again says nothing about me."

How easily we are taken in by the judgement of other people and then form an image of ourselves based on this judgement.

III. In order to be truly liberated you need to listen to the so-called good and bad things that they tell you, but to feel no emotion at the feedback any more than a computer does when data is fed into it. Because what they say about you reveals more about them than about you.

As a matter of fact you also have to be aware of the judgements that you make about yourself, because even those are generally based on the value systems that you picked up from the people around you. If you judge, condemn, approve, do you ever see reality? If you look at anything through the eye of judgement or approval or condemnation, is that not the major barrier to understanding and observing things as they are in themselves? Take the time when somebody told you that you are very special to him; if you accepted that compliment then you ate the fruit of tension. Why do you want to be special to someone and to submit to that kind of approval and judgement? Why not just be content to be you?

When someone tells you how special you are, all that you can accurately say is: "This person given his particular taste and needs, desires, appetites and projections has a special desire for me, but that says nothing about me as a person. Someone else will find me quite unspecial and that too says nothing about me as a person."

So the moment you accept that compliment and you allow yourself to enjoy it, you will give control of yourself to that person. You will go to great lengths in order to continue to be special to this person. You will be in constant fear lest he meets someone who will become special to him and thus you will be dislodged from the special position you occupy in his life.

And you will be constantly dancing to his tunes, living up to his expectations, and in doing so you will have lost your freedom. You have made yourself dependent on him for your happiness, for you have made your happiness depend on his judgment of you.

Then you can make things worse by beginning to search for other people who will tell you that you are special to them and you invest so much time and energy in making sure that they never lose this image they have of you. What a wearisome way to live!

Suddenly fear comes into your life, fear that the image will be destroyed, and if what you seek is fearlessness and freedom, you must let go of this. How? By refusing to take anybody seriously when they tell you how special you are.

The words - "You are special to me" simply say something about my present mood regarding you, my taste, my present state of mind and development. It says nothing else. So accept that as a fact and do not rejoice in it. What you may rejoice in is my company and not my compliment. What you may enjoy is my present interaction with you, not my praise.

And if you are wise, you will urge me to find many other special people so that you are never tempted to hold on to this image that I have of you. It is not my image of you that you enjoy because you are ceaselessly aware that my image of you can change so easily.

So what you enjoy is the present moment, because if you enjoy the image that I have of you, I will content you and you will be afraid to be yourself lest you hurt me. You will be afraid to tell me the truth, to do or say anything that would damage the image that I have of you.

Apply this now to every image that people have of you and they tell you that you are a genius or wise or good or holy, and you enjoy that compliment and in that minute you lose your freedom; because now you will be constantly striving to retain that opinion. You will fear to make mistakes, to be yourself, to do or say anything that will spoil the image.

You have lost the freedom to make a fool of yourself, to be laughed at and to be ridiculed, to do and say whatever feels right to you rather than what fits in with the image others have of you.

How does one break this? Through many patient hours of study, awareness, observation, of what this silly image brings you. It gives you a thrill combined with so much insecurity and unfreedom and suffering. If you were to see this clearly you would lose your appetite to be special to anyone, or to be highly regarded by anyone.

You would move about with sinners or bad characters and do and say as you please, regardless of what people think of you.

You would become like the birds and flowers that are so totally unselfconscious, too busy with the task of living to care one little bit about what others think of them, about whether they are special to others or not. And at last, you will have become fearless and free.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Meditation 20 - Loving is seeing

But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. (Lk. 6:27)

When you are in love you find yourself looking at everyone with new eyes; you become generous, forgiving, kind-hearted, where before you might have been hard, and mean. Inevitably, people begin reacting to you in the same way and soon you find yourself living in a loving world that you yourself have created.

Or think of the time you were in a bad mood and found yourself become irritable, mean, suspicious, even paranoid. The next thing you knew, everyone was reacting to you in a negative way and you found yourself living in a hostile world created by your head and your emotions.

How could you go about creating a happy, loving, peaceful world? By learning a simple, beautiful, but painful art called the art of looking. This is how you do it;

1. Every time you find yourself irritated or angry with someone, the one to look at is not that person but yourself. The question to ask is not, "What's wrong with this person," but "What does this irritation tell me about myself."

Do this right now. Think of some irritating person you know and say this painful but liberating sentence to yourself: "The cause of my irritation is not in this person but in me." Having said that, begin the task of finding out how you are causing the irritation.

2. Initially look into the very real possibility that the reason why this person's defects or so called defects annoy you, is that you have them yourself. But you have repressed them and so are projecting them unconsciously into the other.

This is almost always true but hardly anyone recognizes it. So search for this person's defects in your own heart and in your unconscious mind, and your annoyance will turn to gratitude that his or her behavior has lead you to self-discovery.

3. Here is something else worth looking at: Can it be that you are annoyed at what this person says or does because those words and behavior are pointing out to something in your life and in yourself that you are refusing to see?

Think how irritated people become with the mystic and the prophet who look far from mystical or prophetical when we are challenged by their words or their life.

4. Another thing is also clear: you become irritated with this person because he/she is not living up to the expectations that have been programmed into you.

Maybe you have a right to demand that he or she live up to your programming, as for instance, when he or she is cruel or unjust, but then stop to consider this. If you seek to change this person or to stop this person's behavior, will you not be more effective if you were not irritated?

Irritation will only cloud your perception and make your action less effective.

Everyone knows that when a sportsman or a boxer loses his temper, the quality of his play goes down because it becomes un-coordinated through passion and anger. In most cases, however, you have no right to demand that this person live up to your expectations; someone else in your place would be exposed to this behavior and would experience no annoyance at all. Just contemplate this truth and your irritation will vanish.

How foolish of you to demand that someone else live up to standards and norms that your parents programmed into you?

5. And here is the final truth for you to consider; Given the background, the life experience, and the unawareness of this person, he cannot help behaving the way he does. It has been so well said that to understand all is to forgive all.

If you really understand this person you would see him as crippled and not blameworthy, and you irritation would instantly cease.

And the next thing you know you will be treating him/her with love, and he/she is responding with love and you find yourself living in a loving world which you have yourself created.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Meditation 19 - Relief & attachment: obstacles to love

No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of heaven. (Lk 9:62)

God's kingdom is love. What doest it mean to love? It means to be sensitive to life, to things, to persons, to feel for everything and everyone to the exclusion of nothing and no one.

For exclusion can only be achieved through a hardening of oneself, through closing one's doors. And the moment there is a hardening, sensitivity dies. It won't be hard for you to find examples of this kind of sensitivity in your life.

Have you ever stopped to remove a stone or a nail from the road lest someone came to harm? It does not matter that you will never know the person who will benefit from this gesture and you will receive no reward or recognition. You just do it from a feeling of benevolence and kindness.

Or have you felt pained at the wanton destruction in another part of the world, of a forest that you will never see and never benefit from? Have you gone to some trouble to help a stranger find his way though you do not know and will never meet this person again, purely from a good-heartedness that you feel within you?

In these and so many other moments, love came to the surface in your life signaling that it was there within you waiting to be released.

How can you come to possess this kind of love? You cannot, because it is already there within you. All you have to do is remove the blocks you place to sensitivity and it would surface.

The blocks to sensitivity are two: Belief and Attachment.

1. Belief - as soon as you have a belief you have come to a conclusion about a person or situation or thing. You have now become fixed and have dropped your sensitivity. You are prejudiced and will see the person from the eye of that prejudice. In other words, you will cease to see this person again. And how can you be sensitive to someone you do not even see?

Take just one or two of your acquaintances and list the many positive or negative conclusions you have arrived at and on the basis of which you relate to her/him. The moment you say so-and-so is wise or is cruel or defensive or loving or whatever, you have hardened your perception and become prejudiced and ceased to perceive this person moment by moment, somewhat like a pilot who operates today with last week's weather report.

Take a hard look at these beliefs, for the mere realization that they are beliefs, conclusions, prejudices, not reflections of reality, will cause them to drop.

II. Attachment - how is an attachment formed?

1. First comes the contact with something that gives you pleasure: a car, an attractively advertised modern appliance, a word of praise, a person's company.

2. Then comes the desire to hold on to it, to repeat the gratifying sensation that this thing or person caused you.

3. Finally comes the conviction that you will not be happy without this person or thing, for you have equated the pleasure it brings you with happiness.

You now have a full blown attachment; and with it comes an inevitable exclusion of other things, an insensitivity to anything that isn't part of your attachment.

Each time you leave the object of your attachment, you leave your heart there, so you cannot invest it in the next place you go to.

The symphony of life moves on but you keep looking back, clinging to a few bars of the melody, blocking your ears to the rest of the music thereby producing disharmony and conflict between what life is offering you and what you are clinging to.

Then comes the tension and anxiety which are the very death of love and the joyful freedom that love brings. For love and freedom are only found when one enjoys each note as it arises, then allows it to go, so as to be fully receptive to the notes that follow.

How does one drop an attachment?

People try to do this through renunciation. But renounce some bars of the music, to blot them out of one's consciousness creates exactly the type of violence, conflict and insensitivity that clinging does. Once again you have hardened yourself.

A. The secret is to renounce nothing, cling to nothing. Enjoy everything and allow it to pass, to flow. How? Through many hours of observing the rottenness, the corrupt nature of an attachment.

You generally concentrate on the thrill, the flash of pleasure that it brings.

B. But contemplate the anxiety, the pain, the lack of freedom; simultaneously contemplate the joy, the peace and freedom that are yours each time an attachment drops.

C. Then you will stop looking back and allow yourself to be enchanted by the music of the present moment.

D. Finally take a look at this society we live in - rotten to the core, infected as it is with attachments.

For if anyone is attached to power, money, property, to fame and success; if anyone seeks these things as if their happiness depended on them, they will be considered productive members of society, dynamic and hardworking. In other words, if they pursue these things with a driving ambition that destroys the symphony of their life and makes them hard and cold and insensitive to others and to themselves, society will look upon them as dependable citizens, and their relatives and friends will be proud of the stats that they have achieved.

How many so-called respectable people do you know who have retained the gentle sensitivity of love that only un-attachment can offer? If you contemplate this long enough, you will experience a disgust so deep that you will instinctively fling every attachement away as you would a serpent that has settle on you. You will revolt and break loose from this putrid culture that is based on acquisitiveness and attachment, on anxiety and greed and on the hardness and insensitivity of non-love.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Meditation 18 - Qualities of love

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. (Jn. 15:12)

What is love? Take a look at a rose. Is it possible for the rose to say, "I shall offer my fragrance to good people and withhold it from bad people?" Or can you imagine a lamp that withholds its rays from a wicked person who seeks to walk in its light? It could only do that by ceasing to be a lamp.

And observe how helplessly and indiscriminately a tree gives its shade to everyone, good and bad, young and old, high and low; to animals and humans and every living creature even to the ones who seeks to cut it down.

I. This is the first quality of love: its indiscriminate character.

That is why we are exhorted to be like God, "who makes this sun to shine on good and bad alike and makes his rain to fall on saints and sinners alike; so you must be all goodness as your heavenly Father is all goodness.

A. Contemplate in astonishment the sheer goodness of the rose, the lamp, the tree, for there you have an image of what love is all about.

How does one attain this quality of love? Anything you do will only make it forced, cultivated and therefore phony, for love cannot be forced. There is nothing you can do. But there is something you can drop.

B. Observe the marvelous change that comes over you the moment you stop seeing people as good and bad, as saints and sinners and begin to see them as unaware and ignorant.

You must drop your false belief that people can sin in awareness. No one can sin in the light of awareness. Sin occurs, not as we mistakenly think, in malice but in ignorance. "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." To see this is to acquire the indiscriminate quality one so admires in the rose, the lamp and the tree.

II. And here is the second quality of love - its gratuitousness. Like the tree, the rose, the lamp, it gives and asks for nothing in return.

How we despise the man whose choice of his wife is determined not by any quality she may have but by the amount of money she will bring as dowry. Such a man, we rightly say, loves not the woman but the financial benefit she brings him. But is your own love any different when you seek the company of those who bring you emotional gratification and avoid those who don't; when you are positively disposed towards people who give you what you want and live up to your expectations and are negative or indifferent towards those who don't?

Here too there is only one thing that you need do is acquire this quality of gratuitousness that characterizes love. You can open you eyes and see. Just seeing, just exposing your so-called love for what it really is, a camouflage for selfishness and greed, is a major step towards arriving at this second quality of love.

III. The third quality of love is its unself-consciousness. Love so enjoys the loving that it is blissfully unaware of itself.

The way the lamp is busy shining with no thought of whether it is benefiting others or not. The way a rose gives out its fragrance simply because there is nothing else it can do, whether there is someone to enjoy the fragrance or not. The way the tree offers its shade.

The light, the fragrance and the shade are not produced at the approach of persons and turned off when there is not one there. These things, like love, exist independently of persons. Love simply is, it has no object. They simply are, regardless of whether someone will benefit from them or not. So they have no consciousness of any merit or of doing good. Their left hand has no consciousness of what their right hand does. "Lord when did we see you hungry or thirsty and help you?"

IV. The final quality of love is its freedom. The moment coercion or control or conflict enter, love dies. Think how the rose, the tree, the lamp leave you completely free.

The tree will make no effort to drag you into its shade if you are in danger of a sunstroke. The lamp will not force its light on you lest you stumble in the dark.

A. Think for a while of all the coercion and control that you submit to on the part of others when you so anxiously live up to their expectations in order to buy their love and approval or because you fear you will lose them. Each time you submit to this control and this coercion you destroy the capacity to love which is your very nature, for you cannot but do to others what you allow others to do to you.

B. Contemplate, then, all the control and coercion in your life and hopefully this contemplation alone will cause them to drop. The moment they drop, freedom will arise. And freedom is just another word for love.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Meditation 17 - Innocence regained

Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Mt. 18:3)

The first quality that strikes on when one looks into the eyes of a child is its innocence; its lovely inability to lie or wear a mask or pretend to be anything other than what it is. In this the child is exactly like the rest of nature.

A dog is a dog; a rose, a rose; a star, a star; everything is quite simply what it is.

Only the adult human being is able to be one thing and pretend to be another.

I. When grown-ups punish a child for telling the truth, for revealing what it thinks and feels, the child learns to dissemble and its innocence is destroyed.

Soon it will join the ranks of the numberless people who say helplessly, "I do not know who I am," for, having hidden the truth about themselves for so long from others, they end up by hiding it from themselves.

How much of the innocence of childhood do you still retain? Is there anyone today in whose presence you can be simply and totally be yourself, as nakedly open and innocent as a child?

II. There is another more subtle way in which the innocence of childhood is lost; when the child is infected by the desire to become somebody.

Contemplate the crowds of people who are striving might and main to become, not what Nature intended them to be - musicians cooks, mechanics, carpenters, gardeners, inventors - but somebody; to become successful, famous, powerful; to become something that will bring, not quiet self-fulfillment, but self glorification, self-expansion. You are looking at people who have lost their innocence because they have chosen not to be themselves but to promote themselves, to show off, even it if be only in their own eyes.

Look at your daily life. Is there a single thought word or action untainted by the desire to become somebody, even if all you seek to become is a spiritual success or a saint unknown to anyone except yourself?

The child, like the innocent animal, surrenders to its nature to be and become quite simply what it is.

Adults who have preserved their innocence also surrender like the child to the impulse of Nature or Destiny without a thought to become somebody or to impress others; but, unlike the child, they rely, not on instinct, but on ceaseless awareness or everything in them and around them; that awareness shields them from evil and brings about the growth that was intended for them by Nature, not designed by their ambitious egos.

Here is another way that grown-ups corrupt the innocence of childhood; they teach the child to imitate someone. The moment you make the child a carbon copy you stamp out the spark of originality with which it came into the world. The moment you choose to become like someone else however great or holy, you have prostituted your being.

Think sadly of the divine spark of uniqueness that lies within you, buried under layers of fear. The fear that you will be ridiculed or rejected if you dare to be yourself and refuse to conform mechanically in the way you dress and act and think. See how you conform not only in your actions and thoughts but even in your reactions, your emotions, your attitudes, your values. You dare not break out of this prostitution and reclaim your original innocence. This is the price you pay for the passport of acceptance by your society or organization. So you enter the world of the crooked and the controlled and are exiled from the kingdom that belongs to the innocence of childhood.

IV. One final subtle way you destroy your innocence is when you compete and compare with yourself with others. When you do that you exchange your simplicity for the ambition of wanting to be as good as someone else or even better.

Think of this: the reason why the child is able to preserve its innocence and live like the rest of creation in the bliss of the kingdom is that it has not been sucked into what we call the world - that region of darkness inhabited by grown-ups whose lives are spent not in living but in courting applause and admiration; not in blissfully being themselves but in neurotically comparing and competing, striving for those empty things called success and fame even if they can be attained only at the expense of defeating, humiliating, destroying their neighbors.

V. If you allow yourself to really feel the pains of the hell on earth, the utter emptiness it brings, you might experience within you a revolt, a disgust so powerful that it will shatter the chains of dependence and deceit that have been forged around your soul and you will break loose into the kingdom of innocence where mystics and children dwell.

Meditation 16 - Your one true teacher

But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. (Mt. 20:8)

You can get someone to teach you things mechanical or scientific or mathematical like Algebra or English or riding a cycle or operating a computer.

But in the things that really matter, life, love, reality, God, no one can teach you a thing. All they can do is give you formulas. And as soon as you have a formula, you have reality filtered through the mind of someone else. If you take those formulas you will be imprisoned. You will wither and when you come to die you will not have know what it means to see for yourself, to learn.

Look at it this way: There have been moments in your life when you had an experience that you know you will have to carry with you to your grave because you are quite unable to find words with which to communicate the experience to anyone. As a matter of fact there simply are no words in any human language to communicate exactly what you experienced.

Think of the kind of feeling that came upon you when you saw a bird fly over a lake or observed a blade of grass peeping out of a crack in the wall or heard the cry of a baby at night or sensed the loveliness of a naked human body or gazed at a corpse lying cold and rigid in a coffin. You may try to communicate the experience in music or poetry or painting. But in your heart you know that no one will ever comprehend exactly what it was you saw and sensed. This is something you are quite powerless to express, much less teach, to another human being.

That is exactly how a Master feels when you ask him to teach you about life or God or reality. All he can do is give you a formula, a set of words strung together into a formula. But of what use are those words?

Imagine a group of tourists in a bus. The shades of the bus are down and they don't see or hear or touch or smell a single of the strange exotic country that they are passing through, while all the while their guide chatters away, giving them what he thinks is a vivid description of the smells, sounds and sights of the world outside. The only thing they will experience are the images that his words create in their heads. And let's suppose the bus stops and he sends them forth with formulas about what they can expect to see and experience. Their experience will be contaminated, conditioned, distorted by those formulas and they will perceive, not the Reality itself but Reality as filtered through the guide's formulas.

They will look at Reality selectively or they will project their own formulas on to it, so it is not Reality they will see but a confirmation of their formulas.

Is there any way you can know that what you are in touch with is Reality. Here is one sign: What you perceive does not fit into any formula whether given by another or created by yourself: it simply cannot be put into words.

So what can teachers do? They can bring to your notice what is unreal, they cannot show you Reality; they can destroy your formulas, they cannot make you see what the formula is pointing to; they can indicate your error, they cannot put you in possession of the Truth.

They can, at the most, point in the direction of reality, they cannot tell you what to see.

You will have to walk out there all alone and discover for yourself.

To walk alone that means to walk away from every formula the ones given to you by others, the ones you learnt from books, the ones that you yourself invented in the light of your own past experience. That is possibly the most terrifying thing a human being can do: move into the unknown, unprotected by any formula.

To walk away from the world of human beings as the prophets and the mystics did is not to walk away from their company but from their formulas. Then, even though you are surrounded by people, you are truly and utterly alone.

What an awesome solitude! That solitude, that aloneness is Silence. It is only this Silence that you will see. And the moment you see you will abandon every book and guide and guru.

What is it that you will see? Anything, everything: a falling leaf, the behaviour of a friend, the ripples on the surface of a lake, a pile of stones, a ruined building, a crowded street, a starry sky, whatever. After you have seen, someone may attempt to help you put your vision into words but you will shake your head No, not that that's just another formula. Someone else will attempt to explain the meaning of what you saw and you will shake your head again because meaning is a formula, something that can be put into concepts and makes sense to the thinking mind, and what you saw is beyond all formula, all meaning. And a strange change will come about in you, barely perceptible at first but radically transforming. Because, having seen, you will never be the same again. You will feel the exhilarating freedom, the extraordinary confidence that comes from knowing that every formula, no matter how sacred, is worthless; and you will never cease to learn as each day you observe and understand afresh the whole process and movement of life. Then every single thing will be your teacher.

So put your books and formulas aside; dare to abandon your teacher whoever your teacher may be and see things for yourself.

Dare to look at everything around you without fear and without formula and it won't be long before you see it.

Meditation 15 - Love is found in freedom

Teacher, they said, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality. (Lk. 20:21)

Look at your life and see how you have filled its emptiness with people. As a result they have a stranglehold on you. See how they control your behaviour by their approval and disapproval.

They hold the power to ease your loneliness with their company, to send your spirits soaring with their praise, to bring you down to the depths with their criticism and rejection.

Take a look at yourself spending almost every waking minute of your day placating and pleasing people, whether they are living or dead.

You live by their norms, conform to their standards, seek their company, desire their love, dread their ridicule, long for their applause, meekly submit to the guilt they lay upon you; you are terrified to go against the fashion in the way you dress or speak or act or even think.

And observe how even when you control them you depend on them and are enslaved by them.

People have become so much a part of your being that you cannot even imagine living a life that is unaffected or uncontrolled by them. As a matter of fact, they have convinced you that if you ever broke free of them, you would become an island - solitary, bleak, unloving. But the exact opposite is true.

How can you love someone whom you are a slave to? How can you love someone whom you cannot live without? You can only desire, need, depend and fear and be controlled. Love is to be found only in fearlessness and freedom. How do you achieve this freedom? By means of a two-prolonged attack on your dependency and slavery.

I. First, awareness. It is next to impossible to be dependent, to be a slave, when one constantly observes the folly of one's dependence. But awareness may not be enough for a person whose addiction is people.

II. You must cultivate activities that you love. You must discover work that you do, not for its utility, but for itself.

Think of something that you love to do for itself, whether it succeeds or not, whether you are praised for it or not, whether you are loved and rewarded for it or not, whether people know about it and are grateful to you for it or not.

How many activities can you count in your life that you engage in simply because they delight you and grip your soul? Find them out, cultivate them, for they are your passport to freedom and to love.

Here too you have probably been brainwashed into the following consumeristic way of thinking:

To enjoy a poem or a landscape or a piece of music seems a waste of time; you must produce a poem or a composition or a work of art. Even to produce it is of little value in itself; your work must be known. What good is it if no one ever knows it? And even if it is known, that means nothing if it is not applauded and praised by people. Your work achieves maximum value if it becomes popular and sells! So you are back again into the arms and control or people.

The value of an action, according to them, is not in its being loved and one and enjoyed for itself, but in its success.

The royal road to mysticism and to Reality does not pass through the world of people. It passes through the world of actions that are engaged in for themselves without an eye to success or to gain or profit actions.

Contrary to popular beliefs, the cure for loveliness and loneliness is not company but contact with Reality. The moment you touch this Reality you will know what freedom and love are. Freedom from people and so the ability to love them.

You must not think for love to arise in your heart, you must first meet people. That would not be love but attraction or compassion. Rather it is love that first springs in the heart through your contact with the Real. Not love for any particular person or thing but the reality of love and attitude, a disposition of love. This love then radiates outwards to the world of things and persons.

If you desire this love to exist in your life you must break loose from your inward dependence on people by becoming aware of it and by engaging in activities that you love to do for themselves.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Meditation 14 - Graceful change

The kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and men of violence take it by force. (Mt. 11:12)

Compare the serene and simple splendor or a rose in bloom with the tensions and restlessness of your life. The rose has a gift that you lack; it is perfectly content to be itself. It has not been programmed from birth, as you have been, to be dissatisfied with itself, so it has not the slightest urge to be anything other than it is.

That is why it possesses the artless grace and absence of inner conflict that among humans is only found in little children and mystics.

Consider your sad condition. You are always dissatisfied with yourself, always wanting to change yourself. So you are full of violence and self-intolerance which only grows with every effort that you make to change yourself. So any change you achieve is always accompanied by inner conflict.

And you suffer when you see others achieve what you have not and become what you are not.

Would you be tormented by jealousy and envy if, like the rose, you were content to be what you are and never aspired to what you are not? But you are driven, are you not, to be like someone else who has more knowledge, better looks, more popularity or success than you. You want to become more virtuous, more loving, more meditative; you want to find God, to come closer to your ideals.

Think of the sad history of your efforts at self-improvement, that either ended in disaster or succeeded only at the cost of struggle and pain.

Now suppose you desisted from all efforts to change yourself, and from all self-dissatisfaction, would you then be doomed to go to sleep having passively accepted everything in you and around you?

There is another way besides laborious self-pushing on the one hand and stagnant acceptance on the other. It is the way of self-understanding. This is far from easy because to understand what you are requires complete freedom from all desire to change what you are into something else.

You will see this if you compare the attitude of a scientist who studies the habits of ants without the slightest desire to change them with the attitude of a dog trainer who studies the habits of a dog with a view to making it learn something.

If what you attempt is not to change yourself but to observe yourself, to study every one of your reactions to people and things, without judgement or condemnation or desire to reform yourself, your observation will be non-selective, comprehensive, never fixed in rigid conclusions, always open and fresh from moment to moment.

Then you will notice a marvellous thing happening within you: you will be flooded with the light of awareness, you will become transparent and transformed.

Will change occur then? Oh, yes. In you and in your surroundings.

But it will not be brought about by your cunning, restless ego that is forever competing, comparing, coercing, sermonizing, manipulating in its intolerance and its ambitions, thereby creating tension and conflict and resistance between you and Nature and exhausting, self-defeating process like driving with your brakes on.

The transforming light of awareness brushes aside your scheming, self-seeking ego to give Nature full rein to bring about the kind of change that she produces in the rose: artless, graceful, unself-conscious, wholesome, untainted by inner conflict. Since all change is violent she will be violent. But the marvellous quality of Nature violence, unlike ego-violence, is that it does not spring from intolerance and self-hatred.

So there is no anger in the rainstorm that carries everything before it, or the fish that devour their young in obedience to ecological laws we know not, or body cells when they destroy each other in the interest of a higher good.

When Nature destroys, it is not from ambition or greed or self-aggrandisement, but in obedience to mysterious laws that seek the good of the whole universe above the survival and well-being of the parts.

It is this kind of violence that arises within mystics who storm against ideas and structures that have become entrenched in their societies and cultures when awareness awakens them to evils their contemporaries are blind to.

It is this violence that causes the rose to come into being in the case of forces hostile to it. And it is to this violence that the rose, like the mystic, will sweetly succumb after it has opened its petals to the sun and lives in fragile, feeling loveliness, quite unconcerned to add a single extra minute to its allotted span of life. And so it lives in blessedness and beauty like the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, with no trace of the restlessness and dissatisfaction, the jealousy and anxiety and competitiveness that characterize the world of human beings who seek to control and coerce rather than be content to flower into awareness, leaving all charge to the mighty force of God in Nature.