The Wisdom of Relationship

The word “relate” (re + late) is to mean to connect with what has just immediately past – to refer to the previous, prior to the present moment. Do you know that we can only be aware of something after it arises, not concurrently or otherwise? We can only be aware of anger after it arises, not before. As such it is beyond my capacity to say “I must not be angry” or “I should not be angry” for what has arisen cannot be instructed not to arise. It is like telling myself I do not want to experience the next moment, and yet the next moment comes, and another and another – who am I to say I don’t want it? Nature takes its course – who am I to dictate nature?

Similarly it is like forcing myself not to hear, except hearing is constantly occurring, irrelevant whether I want to or don’t want to hear. Hearing is none of my business. Hearing is nature. And the nature of hearing takes its own course, irrelevant of my needs of wanting or not wanting it. Do I have a choice in hearing? No. I am subjected to hearing unless and until the sense itself is impaired.

So what is relationship then? To be precise, relationship is our relation to nature – in short, relating to what comes up in me. In the normal terminology of relationship, we talk about relating to another, the affair or dynamics of relation. Yet in reality, there is no relationship out there “out there” except the way we relate to what comes into our space. In other words, we can’t relate to others except ourselves, though by form, there is an illusionary object for us to connect to.

On a deeper reality, everything is already on my plate, the cards changing itself each moment. I don’t have any say in it since what comes to me is beyond my needs, not to talk of expectations. Next comes a process that determines by next moment – my relationship to it. Anger arises – my relationship with anger determines the next moment. Guilt comes – my relationship with guilt charts my next experience. Unforgiveness forms – my relationship with unforgiveness spells my future emotion.  Everything – yes EVERYTHING that comes up is no longer something I can take charge of – except how I respond to it. And “everything” does not come in spurts – it comes constantly to me, whether I am ready for it or not.

Imagine a scene of arrows coming your way that has no intervals and more importantly, no end except you constantly responding to it without a break. That is the reality of the game of this mind – no rest. When nature knocks at my door, I am subjected to play the game of relationship, what choice do I have except how I play it? It is like entering the arena of a game and you have to flow with the game until it ends. But does the game of life ends? No. It doesn’t and it has no intervals. Not even in sleep. Dreams follow. You are relating to it all the time, irrespective whether you are conscious of it or not. It is on autopilot mode. Your experience of the now is predetermined by your unconscious reaction to what has just passed, albeit a brief moment ago. This is it – the truth of existence.

And all our relationship to nature, to what comes to us constantly, is unconscious. It is a life of weary patterns, if ever we define that as Life. How do we change the dynamic of relating, of our relationship to each passed immediate moment? Do we have a choice? Yes, only if we remember to be ever present to the way the relationship is occurring. Mindfulness is the beginning journey of wakefulness to this incessant process of relationship.

To observe and to recognize the dynamics of causal relationship of what passed and the reaction to it is wisdom at work. Overtime the maturity of this understanding brings about a new level of responding to what is. And that’s when a new way of relationship is formed – wisdom relating to what occurred instead of the usual ignorant automated reactions.

So when unforgiveness arise, stop targeting at anyone. It is a byproduct of how one relates to an internal experience that has just passed. It is the consequence of the way we relate to what is, not someone out there. To heal it, we have to awaken ourselves to this process. Only then can true peace and freedom come to our fold.

The Silence of the Heart

Appreciating Angeline for her assistance in this entry

A Truth Story, albeit Another Story

I could not resist but to seek permission from Geraldine aka GG for her permission to allow me to include her recent blog entry here as one of my favorite readings that points me to Truth. I trust you too will benefit as much as me. Love.

Stories, am I?

Who I think I am, therefore I am; but who I truly am, is not who I think I am. – so, who am I?

How do you tell someone that whatever they go through in life, whatever stories they tell, are just simply, a story? How do you tell someone that what I go through in my life, even if I were to share my experiences of what I go through, are just stories? How do you tell someone, that the stories that we each tell, are all unreal, but a story?

We indulge ourselves in stories. Really. Who don’t like stories? We line up to watch movies, read novels – all for a story. And then we meet a friend or a relative for cuppa or dinner, and then what do we tell each other but our stories?

And stories come from roles we take on, or from observation of the roles that others take on. But all in all, they are nothing, but stories.

As if we do not take on enough roles in this life time. When we are revealed or told that we are so-and-so in our past lives, we get so excited, become attached to it in a way (albeit a past) and talk about it all the time. As if, the story in this lifetime is not enough. We need more stories of the past to reinstate who “I” am – I was a warrior; I was a king; I was a queen; I was his wife; I was his concubine ~ really, does it matter? Even today, I am a tycoon; I am a mother; I am a wife; I am a CEO; I am a maid ~ does it really matter?

If it does, surely it must give us peace. If it really does, surely it must liberate us, and we must be contented. But are we truly at peace? Do we really feel liberated? Do we notice that somehow somewhat, there is always something missing? And for that, we are always unconsciously striving for something?

When I was talking to a loved one today, whom I am normally quite fearful of, I listened. I listened to his stories, his reasoning, his blaming. I see his guilt, his need for acknowledgment and his call for love. Perhaps I am not normal, I don’t know, but after having understanding and dealt with my own inner demons, I finally saw him, for him. I did not see him as someone who was victimizing me anymore, nor pointing fingers at me or anyone. I saw him as someone who was calling out for love – to be understood and acknowledged.

And again, how do you tell someone that? That beneath all those stories that he has shared are his own ancient pain, guilt and shame that only he himself can elevated himself from? I emailed my teacher this morning, telling him brutally how I felt no compassion for people who don’t own up for their own pain. Yet tonight, as I witnessed this loved one, compassion automatically set in as I realised that I too, had been unconscious before, speaking of which I still have a tendency to fall into the unconscious mode from time and time. The only difference between him and I today is that now I’ve understood and choose to remember it as often as I can – to be mindful, that is and to take responsibility for my own shit.

Suddenly stories are not that important anymore. I remember friends used to gather round just to talk about other people or our own stories. I am not saying that we shouldn’t talk to each other or share with each other, but have we considered the intention and essence of sharing? Are we calling out for love? or are we reinforcing our illusionary meaningful roles in this existence? Are we meaning to feel better about ourselves after gossiping about or blaming others? Is it possible, that our lives are in fact meaningless, that we have to “do” something to make it meaningful; to satisfy a need we are not conscious of? And why the need to make it meaningful, except to strengthen the meaning of “I”? I could go on with this “I” thing.. but it’s just too much bullshit.

It pains me to witness even when compassion arises. But that is only happening because I forget that there is someone out there, a ‘body’ out there so to speak, hence the separation. And when Wisdom fails to set in, I buy into that ‘story’ and fall into a depression. How egoistic. But if I could forgive myself for my projection of unconscious guilt, then no one is suffering. And even if I am still seeing a ‘body’ out there, I could always choose to perceive from a Wisdom point of view so per se – to respect their journey, and to see them perfectly as they are, trusting that everything is in divine order.

Afterall, I am no saviour. Just a passerby with lessons to learn and to grow in my journey of a-loneness.

The Wisdom of Splosh!

If you know how to swim, I want you to imagine yourself climbing up an old tree that has a huge branch overhanging a beautiful lake and when you are right at the edge of that branch, take a deep exhilarating breath, and plunge yourself into the lake – letting go off all needs to look good on how the fall has to be. You do it just for fun, to experience what surrendering is all about – to experience what comes up in you the very moment the “splosh!” comes to effect. It is different from a person who has prior skills in taking a dive. No. Not about something you already know but from the space of an inquisitive freeing mind that you wish to explore and experience.

And that is exactly the metaphor of what non-doing is all about. It is not about not doing or doing but rather out from these two opposites that you already know how to do – by the way, “not doing” is a kind of doing, too. Non-doing has a unique characteristic of inquisitiveness, of inquiry. It has wisdom as its foundation. More importantly it has the ability to step out of its own way, and just observe – observing from the point of impartiality without sugarcoating or expecting what is being observed. It has the characteristic of a scientist or a nature lover – both learn to observe what is there that needs to be understood. One can learn more from true nature than false nature.

You can learn the habitat of an animal either from a zoo or from a natural setting. You may immediately question my rational how we can really learn anything from an animal trap in its surrounding. Yes, we can. We learn that traps ultimately inhibit naturalness. We also learn that animals that are caged for too long lose their abilities to hunt, to be creative so per se. That’s what inhibition does to us. They are no longer passionate about life except to eat, walk around or probably make a few sounds to attract attention. The zest for living dissipates. And that is a good lesson for us to reflect upon ourselves whether we have trapped ourselves this way, domesticated, albeit an unseen prison or cage.

In the Shawshank Redemption movie, it tells the story about two men’s hearts through the trials and temptations of imprisonment or incarceration. It tells about what happens when one lives within the walls for too long a time. First the wall makes you very angry and hateful and probably also crazy. After awhile you seem to get over it and don’t notice the walls anymore. The time will come when you realize you need the walls for your survival.

That will be the most tragic experience we as humans will ever have when we depend on walls to define who we are. We no longer have the desire to escape from the very bondage that has held us captive. We have totally forgotten that those walls were originally not part of the equation. Freedom was not earlier recognized until bondage came into our picture. And yet when we are stuck too long in bondage, freedom is totally forgotten. What a tragedy!

The need for walls in our day to day living is found in our desire to do more. Our importance is found by how much we do. Without doing, without the walls, we feel insecure and unimportant. And that feeling propel us to keep doing incessantly, irrelevant whether the doing is necessary, or tires us out. At least it keeps the mind away from that uneasy feeling of insecurity. It is an addiction. In fact, the mind has gone beyond addiction – it is a disease.

There is much trust and faith needed to surrender the doing, to arrive at the level of plain observing of what comes up next in the mind, without identifying with it. Only when we stop anticipating or interfering with the mind processes, nature unfolds for us to understand – with it wisdom is born.

It is rather difficult or near impossible to show someone the wisdom of non-doing, that by stepping back and not interfering is the world being conquered. Doing is deeply hard-wired in our programming – to the effect that the whole entire world’s survival is based on control. For one who has been in a career or life of control or being controlled, such a view of non-doing is obviously alien, detrimental and probably a threat to them. The irony of experiencing the miracle of non-doing is by letting go of control and that is the last thing one would ever do – thus creating an experience of so-near-and-yet-so-far – like water and oil place together – not knowing what it is like to be the other. If you could only experience a glimpse of non-doing in your meditative state, albeit a brief one, it has the power of transforming the way you live your life. You will experience deep insights and inspirations when you come from the space of stepping back and observe. But if control is your nature, consider applying control as a self-discipline in non-doing.

Non-doing is wisdom based. It has the desire of non-interference and manipulation. Its desire is at the cause rather than the effect. It responds rather than react. That makes a whole world of difference between the ego and the spirit. It is a path that you need to trust and let go. No other way. And in it miracle occurs.

Noisy, Nosy, Nonsensical Mind

Lai Fun lamented that during her recent meditation retreat in Myanmar, she observed her ability to listen to her teachers’ recorded talk from her walkman was at a tuned volume level of 3 whereas when she was back here in Malaysia, even the level of 5 seems an impossible feat for her to listen clearly to what the recording was conveying. Are you aware that there are noises humming around us and yet we are totally oblivious to it? It is like experiencing the quietness of the air-conditioning room until the unit is being switched off – that latter quietness is a vast contrast to what was before.

Both of us have, for quite awhile, concluded that the noise decibel here in our country is on the high side. I am not just referring to the obvious sounds you can pick up through your hearing but also the continuous drumming of minute noises lingering at the background. It is like experiencing tinnitus, except on a milder degree.

There are more vehicles on the road than before. There are also more people using mobile phone units. With affordable mobile phones for everyone plus the creative number of high pitched ringing tones occurring so very frequently in public places, it is of no wonder that the noise decibel here has increased multifold. I am also suspecting that the various bandwaves and frequencies used in electrical products are compounding to the noise.

When one stays in such places for a long time, one becomes numb to the experience, no longer seeing it as a problem. In fact some of us need noise to survive, as seen in students studying with their earplugs over their ears. It is a strange phenomenon, at least to me, to observe that they find difficulty focusing their study in silence than with noise in place!

Over to the mind. I have received numerous feedbacks from first timers into meditation commenting that the mind seems to be on a noisier mode while they are meditating compared to when they are not. Is that true? Or would it be more accurate to say that the overwhelming discomfort in the mind that is so ancient in every one of us makes us totally numb and oblivious until we quiet ourselves down in meditation?  That is when we see the true colors of the mind playing out itself. The mind is in constant noise, constantly restless. It is always seeking something to do, to grasp, to fill its thirst of emptiness. That is the noise incessantly going round the clock, in our head all day long, not even sparing our sleeps, manifesting itself as dreams. Researchers conclude that we have 60,000 thoughts a day. I think it is an understatement. It is also found that 70-80% of those estimated thoughts are negative by nature. Isn’t that sad, if it is true? You may add these facts to your cart as another reasons for you to pursue a course in mindfulness meditation!

Years ago I was offered a trip to Nepal for my mindfulness meditation retreat. The centre, an outskirt of a three hour drive from Kathmandu, was nestled at the very age of a river that was connected to the Himalayan terrains. Unlike any river I have seen before in Malaysia, the torrential current of the river flow was indescribable. I had to practically shout to make a communication. I was told there are many incidences of people being swallowed by the river due to their own negligence. It was not an easy start for my meditation where I had to battle between the noise of the river current and the noise in my head.

It took me a while to arrive at my own peace and once I got used to the sound of the river gushing I was already making headway in my progress. One day an unusual experience got me really startled. It was a hot afternoon and I was sweating profusely, grumbling about the heat – so unconsciously in the mind. It was going on for awhile before I caught the mind in its restless state and that was when I started to realize an obvious similarity between the noise in my head and the sound of the river.

The unsettling restlessness in the mind has created a massive level of discursive thoughts to the extent that I was shocked to recognize a contrast between the relatively silent gush of the river and the incessantly noisy state that the thoughts were creating.  The torrent of the noise in the mind was many times more intense and magnified then the voice of the river gushing through the centre! It was indeed a revelation. Without the river I would not have seen that contrast. It is of no wonder the Buddha used the word ogha or “flood” frequently in his discourses to define the nature of defilements – the cankers flooding through the mind.

Have you wondered that we are not much different than those people talking to themselves, at least not verbally, but in the mind – the internal dialogues and monologues, and probably trilogues! So what are external noises compared to the noise of the mind? Is the mind getting more and more noisier each passing day? You bet so. Just be silent for a moment and you will have a firsthand experience of what it is. All the best :).

Turning the Radar Inwards

When one begins shifting attention from outward observation to inward, the landscape of reality changes from being an observer to being observed; from seeing the world to seeing oneself in the mind. The observer is now being observed. The subject and object experience is no longer separated as inside or outside. The duality of both ceases to be and a new experience comes into light – the mindscape of reality.

The observer’s familiar appearance of the outer landscape takes a 180 degree turn when he changes the radar of his observation inwards into the mind – he has taken himself into an unchartered, unknown and unfamiliar territory, albeit that space has been in existence since god-knows-when. The mindscape and landscape runs in parallel reality, except that the outer world seems more real and tangible than the inner. Strangely the outer could not exist without the inner. And when the inner is finally being faced and understood, the outer world either fades or does not seem that real afterall, relatively.

The parallel reality of the mindscape and landscape is a macroscopic equivalent to the relationship between form and essence the world take on. What is in the form does not truly reflect what is in the essence. The label “sugar”, which is a mind conjured form, does not have any sweetness except in the experience, the essence. “My child” is another example of a mind conjured form, that has little to do with what the being outside is. Similarly the label “company” does not tell anything except pointing to something that is beyond words. Every label the mind gives to the world does not have any true essence – it is practically baseless, empty, meaningless and totally void until the essence of it is being experienced.

The words that are written here do not have any meaning unless and until one understands the essence behind what is expressed as words. The form is pointing towards the essence but the form is not the essence. The form can’t represent the essence in any other way except limiting itself as a means for communication.

Thus all the words pointing to the world, to Truth, to God, are entirely meaningless, unless and until one comes to it as a direct experience. To hold on to them as a gospel truth is missing the mark – forgoing reality for falseness. Thus when one shifts his or her view from the world to what is in the mind, from the landscape of the world to the landscape in the mind; the essence of reality comes into view. What was once viewed as reality outside is now witnessed as mere forms, an utter meaninglessness in comparison to what is more true and real in experiences found in the mind.

And when the mind is being faced, a new ball game is set into motion. A new way of seeing comes into play. When one truly and honestly observes without sugarcoating what is stored in the mind, one may be surprised by what the experience demonstrates – that in reality the essence is not at all what the form is conveying – that the world one sees is not exactly what the mind is experiencing. In fact it is in direct opposite of each other, a turnaround of sort.

When one sees betrayal in the world, the observer who observes the observed see self-betrayal instead. When one seeks for love outside or rather, from the world, the mind’s experience, in reality, is seeking for love within, which can only occur when one has a feeling of being unloved. The world paints a different picture of what the mind is telling. It is a stark contrast to what reality is. Thus it is rightly to express that the world is a false façade covering what is more true and real within the mind. When the mind is not fully understood and realized, the world is simply an outward appearance of beauty of which is hidden the lies and falseness of what has not being resolved, not seen, and transcended. To comment or to complaint about the world only worsens what is within, entangling further the web of delusion that the mind is projecting.

Having a right attitude in this journey is utmost important if one genuinely wishes to understand the mind, as any comment or judgment towards what one experience only deepens the lies and falseness further, propelling the Truth back into its hiding, making one a never-ending victim to what is. Meditation, or observing the mindscape, is a mastery of revealing what is hidden and overturning what is blocking. It is a skill that has right attitude as its foundation. It is a lifelong journey, of unraveling what is not unraveled, seeing what is not seen, and, understanding what is not understood. In short, it is facing what one has long ignored making ignorance the domain of one’s life.

And when all is done, what is left is simply Truth – nothing more can be furthered simplified.