There are many areas in my life I have difficulty accepting. I can’t accept myself for not being able to speak mandarin, I can’t accept myself for making mistakes, I can’t accept failing, I can’t accept myself for being impatient, I can’t accept certain characters and attitudes – there may be countless of them each day. Then there are things out there that I can’t accept – I can’t accept delays in appointments, in services, in queues; I can’t accept imperfection in services, I can’t accept dirtiness – numerous of them. The number of unacceptance is reflecting my inability to love and inability for love to come to my life.
If I don’t learn to start accepting myself, how would I expect to love myself? If I don’t see my own warts and shortcomings, how am I able to love myself unconditionally? If I can’t love myself, surely I can’t love others too. To love myself is to accept who I am and who I am not.
First on the list, which is also the last, is to love myself even when I can’t love myself – love the unloving part of me. Then others will follow naturally. I just need to keep reminding myself this. Whenever I see myself complaining, I look at that complaint lovingly, without identifying and continuing its story. Whenever I felt disapproved, I will lovingly recognize that disapproval – paradoxically when I do that I am already approving myself. One of my teachers recommended me the following technique – whenever I felt disapproved I just need to reverse it by saying I am approved unconditionally – it works! I am not lying to myself, but to see that statement as to mean in an unapproved experience I am approving it unconditionally.
I can’t love myself unconditionally if I don’t stay consciously to my inner callings – the calling for love. All negative expressions are a calling for love. Jealousy, judgments, thwarted desires, upsets, fear, betrayal are all camouflages of my need for love. If I were to listen to the call I would have found love at my front door – but I don’t, simply because I give my attention outward, seeing the world as wrong.
I have been hearing knocks on my inner door but I am afraid to open it. I am too frightened to face what is there for me. I have not known what is beyond the door except to hear the plea of the calling. The only way I knew how to face that knock is to escape via the back door, escaping from the reality of what is. That back door is my metaphor of complaints. The back door is my scapegoat. I will keep returning to that back door whenever I am been threatened. It is only when I take the courage to face the call of the front door knocking that I am starting my journey into accepting love coming into my life. Otherwise love is always out there beyond my reach. Not that I am being deprived from love, but rather I am depriving myself to love. That is the reality.
The back door does not exist. It seemingly gives me a way out, but that way out is actually a cave without an end – I can’t find myself in the darkness unless I turned back towards the entrance where light is awaiting me. There is nothing to run away accept to face and recognize that all the warts are love in disguise.
I am near you and yet so, so, very far. I may be closed to you, feel your hugs, talk to you, hold your hands or even look straight into your eyes – but I have never met you at all. I thought I know you inside out but I have never known you, not even once.
Quantum mechanics proved to me that whenever there is a physical contact with anything, the space between that contact is liken to the distance between two planets. In each touch there is no touching at all. It is an illusion to think I am touching.
In the same way when I see you, I don’t see you at all, except my perception about you. In that perception are all the ideas that I think about you. Not once can I quiet myself from ideas and look straight at you without prejudices or interpretations. I am looking at you with the color glass of my perception. I see you as a woman, or a man, whatever. But that is my mind interpreting you. Beyond perception, there are no words, no forms, no designations of any sort, to identify you. I can’t identify you without perception. Thus whatever I perceive is simply perception working. Perception is simply contorting – fabricating from memories of the past. I can’t get over myself. Neither can I get over you. I am of the experience.
Irrelevant whether I am a doctor, a scientist, a writer, a poet, an accountant, a beggar, a prime minister, a rebel, a clown, whatever it is, the inner stuff that is going through all of us have never changed over the years, though our designations may have changed. From a child to a teenager, to an adult, to finally old age, we are still practically locked within our own same experiences of emotions, feelings and perceptions.
Know what is in front of your face, and what is hidden from you will be disclosed to you. For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed.
– Gospel of Thomas
The anger I experience is still the same kind of nature, never makes me lighter or joyful. My worries, restlessness, happiness, joy, upsets – everything that is already existing in my mental vocabulary is nothing new to me – they are all recycled stuff that I am entertaining and facing each day, each seconds, each moment. Everything seems new to me each day, but the stuff that is going on in me are all ancient and primitive. When all the roles, titles and designations are dropped, you and me, or for that matter, anyone else, are faced with the stark reality, naked, of ourselves. The same old self. Different packaging, same old stuff.
We are all walking around like a zombie, alone, in the midst of the crowd, talking to ourselves all the time, in our head. Like the dream, where I am the only witness to it, I am also the sole witness to life. I have never shared my life, neither have you – not that I do not want to, I can’t, even if I try.
I laugh alone, talk alone, see alone, hear alone, smell alone, think alone, all by myself – though I am with you. I am sad and I want you to know my sadness – I wish to share my sadness with you. Can I? If I think I can, I am stupidly lying to myself. If my sadness diminished simply because I shared with you, it is not because of you that my sadness diminished – it is because I let go a part of my holding on to that sadness, through sharing. As such we can only be a listener to others’ problem. I can’t do more, except just that. If I start try telling you what to do, I am in fact trying my best to ignore the pain that is in me. If there is wisdom in me, my telling is simply my sharing – not about you, but about me, and me, all the time. As I share my experience, you wake up from your experience. That is all I can do. I am always within myself, sustain by my own ideas.
My journey is to wake up from my dream, provided I know I am dreaming. Or else I am perfectly blind, oblivious to my blindness. This is the one and only intimate relationship I ever will have – with myself, all the time.
When the “me” keeps coming in the way, it interrupts the flow of inspiration that is always awaiting arrival. When I think I know, I disallowed something deeper to arise. When I give up knowing, opening up to non-knowing, thinking ceases and in that space, something sacred, spacious and unconditional enters my space. When I surrender, I won.
Every experience that comes my way has its own process of journey and destination – the chain of causal relationships that is arising from each intention I give to it, moment after moment. Motivated by ideas, intentions change from time to time, creating a vast richness of experience to each journey. There is no one journey that is the same though the destination arrived may look similar – all roads lead to Rome.
All my experience is on the journey, not the destination as that is what I am exactly experiencing right now. My joyful or upset feelings from each experience are derived from the accumulated processes of ideas and intentions that begun since its inception. Thus if I missed the process of the journey, I would have missed how the emotion is derived. I would have no inkling what brought about my joy or upset, except to make a conclusion out of it.
If I am upset I would have make you the victim of my upset – but that cannot be true as the processes that is going through me prior to the experience can be triggered by many other reasons – from my primitive believe system to whatever ideas that I am gathering and concluding at each moment. If your idea is not in coherent with me, I would unawaringly defense myself, and doing so makes me feel that you are attacking me. Having all this processes in mind, I am not with you, not to mentioned hearing you. I am drowned in my own thoughts and feelings. How then can it be true that you are the cause of my upset?
In the same way, my joy cannot be caused by you or anything in the world. All my emotions and feelings are the product of my own interpretations – that is what the journey is made up of. The result, which is the destination, is determined by what I give into the process – the mind is a melting pot – what I put in is what I will taste.
To focus on the destination is to ignore the richness of the journey. To ignore the journey is to miss each every destination that is arriving at my doorstep. If I am unable to see each moment of destination, I am unable to see the reasons or causes of my destination. Many causes creates my destination – many momentary destinations culminate my end result. If I am not here with each moment, my end result is just a superficial experience.
My process of creation is more important than what I am finally creating – the taste of the pudding is in the eating, not the pudding. Destination is just an after effect, nothing more beyond that. All final experiences are basically just that – byproducts. Joy, jealousy, anger, happiness, love, upsets – are all derived result of a journey that I may have ignored. I keep searching for joy, I keep seeking for happiness and I keep escaping from upset situations, not realizing that my true spiritual test is occurring here at each moment – the attitude I give into what I am projecting. Other than here and now, there is nothing in the future as when the future arrived, it is always here in the now, nowhere else.
My life will be lived in vain if I don’t see this important lesson. I am only addicted to chasing after something that is non-existential. What a dream, what a waste.
There is no death except the culmination of life. Where the process of life ends, there arise the meaning of death. Death is not a place or an end itself except a meaning given to an end of a process called life. Life is a cause, death is an effect. Without life, there is no possibility of death. What then is life when I keep missing the now that is unfolding right here in me. Hence to be mindful and aware is my gift, as it helps me to experience life fully, understanding the true nature of things as they really are. To be aware, I have to keep reminding myself to stay in the moment.
If I were to think that there is something much more important than what I am now, I will be pursuing an imaginary journey that may or may not have a destination that I am desiring. So long as I am not present to myself, I am constantly creating redundant journey of expectations.
Similarly, enlightenment is not a place. I keep trying to do things to arrive at enlightenment. I try to be good, I try to please the God(s), I try sacrificial acts of rites and rituals, I will do practically anything to arrive there, wherever it is. I am desperate. But each trying is only bringing me further away from enlightenment. For each trying is creating another redundant journey that has nothing to do with enlightenment. Enlightenment is simply the end of ignorance, of bondage – the bondage to the delusion of self, of “I”. Thus my journey towards enlightenment is to continuously look into myself, to observe and investigate what bondage am I creating – bondage that is binding me from experiencing freedom. If I don’t experience little freedom now, I do not expect to experience greater freedom later. Freedom is the undoing of bondage, the bondage of delusion.
The love I have is always given upon an object – an experience or an end result. I love you. I love the food, I love my pet, I love peace, I love the way you look. I love my body. I love what you said. The love I have is the meaning I give to something I am experiencing. If I am experiencing delight, I am loving the situation. But if I am upset, I can’t love that situation anymore. It can be a situation, an event, a relationship – my love is always about something that I like about.
But how I can call that as love? It is only my mere attachment to that situation that I am experiencing. I am not seeing in myself that my feeling of love is an idea of seeing what is right and wrong. I am bias in my outlook. I can’t see love in a drunkard. I can’t see love in a murderer or a rapist. I can’t see love in those who pollutes the environment for I see them as all wrong. My love is merely an idea of righteousness I am holding on. Where is love?
I love you is because my idea is intact and not been challenged by you. I love you is because I am not been triggered by you. I can’t love you when you do not see the way I see. If I am a person who advocate cleanliness in the house and you may have accidentally left a used cup in the kitchen sink without washing it, I get upset. I can’t love you for what you have done. You are wrong for not conforming to my needs.
I love you because you satisfied my need for pleasure. But what has my need for pleasure got to do with love, or for that matter with you? If love has got to do with my need for pleasure, each time when I think of, say, wanting to have sex, I will feel love towards you. But it does not work that way. I am apprehensive whenever I need sex – there is no love at all at that moment – as I am not sure whether you will give it to me or not. I will scheme my way to attract you into my needs. A painful experience I am not aware off. And because of my wanting that is motivating me to do just as that, when I can’t get what I want, I see you as wrong, as unfair. But if my scheming does produced the result I wanted, I would say “I love you darling”. What a joke! But again, even though you may give in to my need for pleasure I may not necessarily get the “full” pleasure I wanted. For that I may blame you for the result or I blame myself for not good enough to arrive at that climax! No wonder my meditation teacher said that each time I want, I can’t get what I want except suffering.
It will be truer to say I love my ideas rather than I love you or anything that represents what I loved. I love ideas that supports me. I can’t love ideas that opposes me. All ideas in my system are always right, are always the truth to me. I don’t see wrongness in these ideas. If I can see wrongness in myself I am already seeing wrong ideas. I am usually not seeing wrongness in myself but rather seeing myself as wrong – they are not the same. When I see myself as wrong, I am judging myself. When I see wrongness in myself, I am seeing the erroneous views I am holding on. That is wisdom at work. The former is ignorance.
So when I say I can’t love ideas that opposes me, I am saying my ideas are always right. I am also meaning that others’ ideas are wrong. Am I playing God? How arrogant I can be.
All this love thingy is conditional. Or should I say there is no love at all. There is no such a thing call conditional love for love is whole. What is true love then? Is there such a thing? Is there unconditional love then? Is it possible?
The love I have all the while is focused on the object, on the end result – the effect. When wisdom grows in me, I give attention to the cause more than the effect, though many a times the mind tends to hold on to the experience. I recognize the interplay between both cause and effect. I see the wrongness in the effect simply because I was aware of the cause – aware of the wrong ideas I am having. There is no way I could see the effect as wrong so long as I am not aware of the cause. Thus to be aware of the cause and effect is important to the journey of wisdom.
The followers said to Yeshua, “Tell us how our end will be.” He said, “Have you discovered the beginning, then, so that you are seeking the end? For where the beginning is, the end will be. Fortunate is the one who stands at the beginning: That one will know the end and will not taste death.”
– Gospel of Thomas
To recognize the beginning is to recognize the end. Without recognizing the beginning there is no way to come into recognizing the end except to indulge the end. I can’t recognize anger, except to feel angry, until and unless I go to the source of my anger. Otherwise I am simply entertaining anger though I think I am aware of anger. When I am able see the entire picture of this causal relationship I am experiencing unconditional love for myself. I see how my suffering is my own creation and how by understanding suffering comes to an end.
There is no judgment involves here except compassionate understanding. When I understand myself I understand others too. There is merely compassionate understanding of the nature of things as they truly are. Unconditional love springs from this understanding, not from judging what is right and what is wrong. Common love is about feelings. Unconditional love is about understanding.
I can’t do unconditional love. Unconditional love does me. I can only do love as that is not what it is. Love is superficial, unconditional love is complete.
There was once in a retreat I greeted my teacher a good morning, and he stopped with a queer look on his face asking, “What so good about morning?”, and before I could say anything, which luckily I didn’t, he continued on saying, “just morning will do”.
It may sounds queer for my teacher to ask that way, but in truth, I seldom mean what I wanted to say – I may said it out in a very meaningless way to camouflage my uneasiness, particularly when I felt vulnerable in a situation, or I say it out of obligation to reciprocate. I may even say it out just to get attention. All these gestures defeat the purpose of wishing.
But my teacher’s question and statement meant more than that. To him there is no such a thing as a good morning, even though I may mean it as a wish. To put a “good” is to escape the reality of what is, to make good over something that I may not want to face. To make good so as to wish the bad will not come. But we all already know umpteen times, that it is an impossible task to cover up unhappiness, not to mention making it disappear. Yet we keep trying year in and year out, even to the extent of making resolutions not to be unhappy. If I really authentic with myself, I will acknowledge that my experiences of unhappiness are many times more than happiness on a daily basis. Happiness is so elusive.
But because I am not ready to face and understand unhappiness, I will either try fixing it by blaming someone out there so as to make me feel good, or just cover it up with an action, either by going for a drink or moving away from a situation, or even ignore the discomfort within. Can we really ignore? Some has that ability of sweeping it under the carpet, seeing the triviality of facing it, and choosing happiness instead. But does unhappiness ever disappears?
We never take to task to inquire why we are unhappy. Instead we try chasing after happiness, over and over again. Can we truly choose to be happy? We can, except an illusion of it. In reality there is no such a thing call happiness – it is just an act of holding on to an idea of pleasantness. By the way, what are pleasant feelings and unpleasant feelings? Feelings are practically neutral until we give a meaning to it – one man’s feeling may be another man’s poison. Imagined those who goes to gym to develop their muscles – they may either see pain as happiness as each workout brings about obvious results, or, on another extreme, they may see gym as a torturous place when they are force to participate in it. In both cases the pain is similar but our idea makes it pleasant and unpleasant, hence the illusion of happy and unhappy. We can’t choose happiness simply because happiness is an effect. But we can recognize our ideas. When there is wisdom present in that moment of recognition, peace may arise – something more real than happiness.
Happiness is due to our ideas, not something out there. We kept chasing after happiness as if the answer lies in the future, not recognizing that happiness is not about something out there or in the future, but right here in the present moment where our ideas are. I may think having lots of money will make me happy – and if ever that comes true, my happiness at that moment of time is not because of money, but because of my idea behind it. My idea changes moment to moment and if that particular idea about money does not surface at that point of time, whatever money I have in my hand will not bring me any happiness. If I am not aware of this truth I may think it is because I am not having more enough and that will propels me to seek further – what a nightmare of futile pursuit – chasing after something that is not out there at all.
Wisdom is key to each experience of peace. Without having the wisdom to see the truth of what is, my life will be liken to a hamster, running on the wheel, awaiting its end.