Course of Action, Cause of Action. Which?

Imagine a situation where I am unsure whether to speak or not to speak, to share or not to share, or to keep quiet totally. What would be the cause of action that will bring me to make the right choice? And even if the “right” choice is made, I may find myself landing in a situation where I am being ridiculed or judged for what I have said, misquoted out of context or even accused of lying. What then would be the next cause of action that will bring me out from that embarrassment or guilt? And if I am brought out from that situation of embarrassment or hurt safely, what then would be the next cause that will make me review what has happened in which I could learn from it?

In normal sense, we are taught to plan our next course of action, like a game of chess, anticipating the next move our opponent will take, so as to prepare ourselves for an attack or a defence. It is pretty stressful working out life this way as it is about getting approval from others to live our lives or, planning our moves so that we will not be hurt by life. It is a continuous damned game of trying to make others happy so that we can be happy. In short, we live the life of others to make our lives live. It is a constant battle between living our integrity and living our conscience for others.

This living is about putting fear in the forefront, using fear as a yardstick for learning. An experience of hurt brings us to make a conclusion or judgment of what happened is “bad” and that it should not be repeated again in the future to avoid that pain. It is a constant interaction of what is out there which hurts us rather than what is it inside here that caused the hurt. It is using the effects of the world to make an assumption or a conclusion instead of looking at the cause of the mind which is the source of our suffering.

Yet there is another way of living – looking into our cause of action, instead of planning the next course of action. To look into the cause is to mean recognizing what motivates us to respond or react in the next moment. It is no longer about defending or attacking what is out there but rather a choice we consciously choose to come into peace with ourselves; by making peace with the mind instead of succumbing to its insanity of adhering to the world – by clinging, holding on, blame – practically everything on the belt.

One is working at the root cause; the other, at the symptom. Most of us are wise to discern the difference – in fact most of our lives’ successes are attributed to working on the cause – water dripping from the tap – the tap is the problem and not the water; business not running well – we look into the setup of the company instead of complaining about the business; the plant is not growing well – we work on the soil instead of seeing there is something wrong with the plant. The mind already knows the relationship between the cause and effect of what is going on.

But strangely, when it comes to the “I” and the world, meaning the cause is the mind and the world as the effect – as my perception of the world makes the world it is – the ball game changes. From being wise, there is a dumb side in each and every one of us that still see the effect as the problem – the world. How can the effect be the problem since the effect is a derivative of the cause? Effect is just churning out its result of what the cause is producing. The unhealthy plant is just the effect of what is being put into its surroundings.

Our spouse is the problem to our peace, my boss is the problem to my stress, my parents made me who I am today, the country is making me poorer, traffic jams, food, money, petrol, water, rivers – everything – not even sparing God, as if God has a damn in what our problem is – there is always something out there to complaint about, get what I mean? We may not see the obvious when we are not complaining – but aren’t we doing it every moment – planning how to sweet talk someone, manipulating our strategy to get what we want, acting superior to control – they are all unseen, unspoken, acted out subtly, yet terribly insidious – proliferating in the mind. If one were to care to watch the mind, moment to moment, you will get what I mean.

Indeed a serious diseased mind, operating in all of us. After all being said, I am not implying that we are all “bad” but rather propelling the questioning of why the need to let this form of programming run in our system that is costing us our freedom and peace – not the freedom or peace that is gotten from someone or something, but rather the true freedom and peace that is already inherent in us – when we recognize the inner blocks that is disallowing Truth to reveals itself. It is time we go home, so to speak, for us to turn the radar of responsibility inward to all the pain, and misery that we have unconsciously built within us. What we have sowed we have to own. Not easy, but it is a sure and safe journey home to Truth.

Fantasies change Reality. That is their purpose.

The betrayal of the Son of God* lies only in illusions, and all his “sins” are but his own imagining. His reality is forever sinless. He need not be forgiven but awakened. In his dreams he has betrayed himself, his brothers and his God. Yet what is done in dreams has not been really done. It is impossible to convince the dreamer that this is so, for dreams are what they are because of their illusion of reality. Only in waking is the full release from them, for only then does it become perfectly apparent that they had no effect upon reality at all, and did not change it. Fantasies change reality. That is their purpose. They cannot do so in reality, but they can do so in the mind that would have reality be different.

– Bringing Fantasy to Truth, A Course in Miracles. 1, pp351

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*Note: For those of different faith who may find the word Son of God uneasy, my self-inquiry leads me to the following understanding:  The world is a dream and we are not really here.  As in any dream who we think we are, is but an illusion. The mind could not comprehend what is beyond it, as it is beyond the mind’s comprehension. Hence the word “God” is created to point to that. Son of God is merely a word coined to mean our true reality, beyond mindbody.

A Near to Impossible Guiltless Mind

Ever come across a situation where we are enraged by what we read in the news and at that brief moment of upset vented our anger, wishing that the perpetrator be sentenced to heavy punishment, suggesting death sentence or even torture as a way to compensate what he has committed? The anger may be expressed in the mind, verbally or in action by petitioning it – but whichever way, seldom do we ponder whether there is any difference between our thoughts and that of the perpetrator who had committed the crime at that moment.

But the issue is not about the act itself, but rather the guilt we imposed upon others. Be it mental, verbal or action, we sentence that person to doom by making him guilty of the crime and make him pay for it. It is as if by doing so, the punishment is justified and the crime nullified. The meaning of guilt arises in our mind each time we make a judgment, as we make others guilty of their act. And each judgment is a passing of a condemnation equivalent to punishment, albeit a mental thought. Doesn’t matter whether it is a trivial matter, as in an irritation arising from a person crossing our path or a serious comment as in what we read from the papers – each little judgment that comes up in our mind is a strengthening of its meaning – that guilt is inevitable. We justify a situation, an event or a communication by placing a label of guilt to it. Imagine how many times we do that repeatedly every day? All judgments are impartial, as it does not see a difference between judging others or judging oneself. Thus when a judgment is directed upon ourselves, which naturally has to occur due to the nature of us putting meaning of right and wrong to any particular event, irrelevant whether it is the world or ourselves, who then justifies our guilt? Sad to say, ourselves. We condemn ourselves severely, exactly as we condemn the world. What we do to the world, we do to ourselves. It cannot be otherwise.

If we have the idea that guilt is the way to redemption, it will also be true that whenever we have done something as perceived wrong in our past, we have no choice but to include and indulge in guilt into the equation as to make the “wrong” complete. We nail ourselves to that pain and perpetuate its suffering. We don’t, or seldom see guilt as part of the “wrong” equation. In fact we see guilt as a necessary step to healing. Do we really heal or merely put a cap of fear into the mind so that it does not repeat itself again in the future? Where there is fear in the future, there is surely shame in the past – shame of what one has done, and thus not repeating it again out of fear. Does one heal by wisdom and understanding or by shame and fear? Both shame and fear are just another camouflage of guilt, imprisoning our mind deeper into the abyss of our dark shadows – a dungeon where it awaits our return as a murderer, a rapist, a bully, a persecutor, a stalker and all its dark relatives – in short, a return of vengeance of what we have created and suppressed within ourselves.

It is purely insanity. That reminds me to share again what J mentioned:

“Nightmares are childish dreams. The toys have turned against the child who thought he made them real. Yet can a dream attack? Or can a toy grow large and dangerous and fierce and wild? This does the child believe, because he fears his thoughts and gives them to the toys instead. And their reality becomes his own, because they seem to save him from his thoughts. Yet do they keep his thoughts alive and real, but seen outside himself, where they can turn against him for his treachery to them. He thinks he needs them that he may escape his thoughts, because he thinks the thoughts are real. So he makes of anything a toy, to make his world remain outside himself, and play that he is but a part of it.”

Guilt rules the world, and it is from this tiny mad idea that springs forth the meaning of judgment, shame, fear, punishment, attack, defense and all its relatives. Guilt is insane as it wrongly perceived that what has been done could be undone. It works on the effect instead of the cause. It sees what has occurred as a condemnation, instead of using it as an opportunity for inquiry, making an understanding out of it so that a new cause is created for the effect to take place in the future. Thus instead of blossoming love and wisdom, the mind uses guilt to flex its muscle, imprisoning oneself again and again to the cycle of birth and death.

Thus forgiveness is necessary. Not that we need to forgive but rather forgiveness as in right perception, that in reality nothing has really occurred except our projection of guilt that leads to judgments. It is the misperception that needs to be forgiven. Without guilt, forgiveness is unnecessary. Thus it is a special kind of forgiveness not targeting at what wrong others have done but what they have not done, except within our own mind – misperception.

Let me share with you a passage which stood out to me this morning when I flipped through a page from the book Your Immortal Reality by Gary R. Renard:

The key was in the remembering. I was improving at remembering that when someone pushes my buttons, the purpose of it was to see the stupidity that I thought true of myself for throwing away everything, or Heaven, in exchange for nothing, or death, in that person instead of me. The quicker I stopped reacting and forgave my brother or sister for what they didn’t really do, the quicker my suffering ceased. That alone would have made forgiveness worth doing, and I realized how important it was for me to continue practicing remembering the truth in any situation, no matter how quickly it came up, because I was the one whose life was transformed.

Out of the Story

Through inquiry, we discover how attachment to a belief or story causes suffering. Before the story there is peace. Then a thought enters, we believe it, and the peace seems to disappear. We notice the feeling of stress in the moment, investigate the story behind it, and realize that it isn’t true. The feeling let us know that we’re opposing what is by believing the thought. It tells us that we’re at war with reality. When we notice that we’re believing a lie and living as if it were true, we become present outside our story. Then the story falls away in the light of awareness, and only the awareness of what really is remains. Peace is who we are without a story, until the next stressful story appears. Eventually inquiry becomes alive in us as the natural, wordless response of awareness to the thoughts and stories that arise.

Byron Katie

No Wisdom, No Talk

Doubt is healthy and yet can be a serious setback to any spiritual journey, more so when one’s journey is merely at the stage of an initiate and the task given in hand is to trust fully and to surrender the doubt. Yet ironically, the opposite can also to be true – that trust or faith, the opposite of doubt, can also be detrimental to one’s own spiritual journey, when that trust itself is blind and naïve.

How then could one draw a line between doubt and faith? I am sure you would have heard of blind faith and skeptical doubt. Overly faith leads to naivety. Overly doubt leads to arrogance. Both are extremes to the middle path of peace and wisdom.

It is in the questioning or self-inquiry that leads to observation which culminates in understanding and wisdom. Without questioning, the mind remains in judgment and deceit – deceiving oneself of what is false as true. And yet inquiring mind or the ability to question could only arise when there is doubt. It is doubt that initiates the journey of self-inquiry, of self-introspection. What is the criteria then that promotes healthy doubt? Wisdom. It is the wiser part of one’s wisdom that propels one to doubt and question. Yet ignorant too does the same – bringing skeptical doubt to the forefront. Both have different consequences. How to differentiate both? Healthy doubt has the function of a desire to understand a situation. Unhealthy doubt has the function of concluding or ending a situation, disallow furthering inquiring. Unhealthy doubt ends in judgment, healthy doubt initiates the journey of inquiry. The former leads to wrong perception, the latter to right perception – one is the result of ignorant; the other, wisdom.

Similarly, faith too needs to be recognized either as faith that blinds or faith that frees. Ironically, it is the healthy doubt that upon questioning and understanding leads to faith or confidence that sets the motion of freedom. In the same way it is the unhealthy doubt that leads to bondage, nailing oneself to repeated merry go round of errors and blindness in the midst of ignorance and holding on to what he or she think is correct, thus blinding one to suffering and repeated mistakes.

Many a times we have difficulty differentiating between true surrendering and blind faith – what is the yardstick we have to take notice so as not to fall into unnecessary obstacles that makes our journey difficult? What is the salient difference of both? Surrendering has the end result of letting go and trust, whereas blind faith has dependency and holding on as its end. Surrendering is done for the highest good. Blind faith has mentality of “what’s-in-for-me”. Heard of the verse “thy will be done” in contrary to “my will be done”?

When one surrenders, one does it with full confidence and understanding that the self is given up for guidance to set in. It has the wisdom to recognize that the self is a deception, not a reality. Whereas in blind-faith, there is a self that is in wanting, and there is a tendency of falling into beliefs, ignorant to the fact that the ego or self is seeking to strengthen itself.

When we have wisdom, more wisdom will arise. When we don’t, with whatever little common sense we have, we rely on the support of good tidings to guide and lead us the way until understanding matures into wisdom. Wisdom is key.

Nailing instead of Opening to Inquiry

The mind seldom chooses; it judges. I was in the park this morning, walking and thinking a lot. There were sporadic moments where I caught myself thinking where I brought myself back into the moment. It happened a few times and suddenly it dawned upon me that I was making a judgment out of my thoughts rather than making peace with it. To switch myself abruptly back into the moment already indicated that I was favoring the “now” rather than the thoughts. Favoring make specialness out of anything and in specialness there is sure to be of likes and dislikes – judgments. The switch is not done from the space of wisdom but rather an old idea that it is “wrong” to engage in thinking, hence the grasping of wanting to be back into the “now”.

But what is truly in the “now” is the conflict I am going through; not the park, the trees or the fresh air of the morning. A lot of times my perception of the now is about where I am, visually, rather than what the mind is experiencing.

When we talk of wisdom, we talk of what we have learnt from a situation, not the situation itself. The situation is merely the storyline, the learning is the lesson gained from understanding the situation, which usually ends itself in the mind. Back to the case of my morning walk – the situation of that point is my dwelling in thoughts.  With wisdom I would have chosen to step back and learn why the mind was dwelling in thoughts rather than forcing the mind back to the walk. But when wisdom is not around, the only way the mind knows is through ignorance – judging the situation and forcing it to another.

You have and will experience this pattern of ignorance occurring throughout the day. For instance, your boss scolds – you are hurt by it.

Ignorant way of handling – you see your boss as wrong for scolding, or you may justify his scolding as appropriate. Either way is a judgment. You judge the situation and make a conclusion out of it. This becomes a wrong perception – a perception based from judgment rather than understanding.

Wisdom way of handling – recognize the hurt. Learn what caused the hurt, not from the external but rather from the internal – the ideas that brought about the judgment. You work on the cause rather than the effect. This is true learning, and hence the result that is derived from this is right perception – seeing things as they really are.

When a repeated albeit new incident is to occur in the future, say your boss was to scold you again, your past perception will readily appear to address the issue. If you have experienced wrong perception from the past, the only thing you can expect is judgment arising from that instant; whereas if right perception or wisdom is what you have gained, then you will look at the situation with understanding, probably with compassion or even love.

Many a times we experience rejection, abandonment or heartbreak – these are ancient pains that we have not fully understood or learnt and hence being presented to us in a situation to choose again – either we start taking responsibility of those emotions and look into the ideas that we are holding on to or fall back into the ignorant trip and expect it to arise again in the future.

Each moment is a calling for us to choose again from the space of wisdom.

Wrong perception is the wish that things be as they are not. The reality of everything is totally harmless, because total harmlessness is the condition of its reality. It is also the condition of your awareness of its reality. You do not have to seek reality. It will seek you and find you when you meet its conditions. Its conditions are part of what it is. And this part only is up to you. The rest is of itself. You need to do so little because your little part is so powerful that it will bring the whole to you. Accept, then, your little part, and let the whole be yours.

A Course in Miracles, Healing as Corrected Perception, 2. pp158

Ego Promises

To end the bizarre tyranny of ego is why we take the spiritual path, but the resourcefulness of ego is almost infinite, and it can at every stage sabotage and pervert our desire to be free of it. The truth is simple, and the teachings are extremely clear; but I have seen again and again, with great sadness, that as soon as they begin to touch and move us, ego tries to complicate them, because it knows it is fundamentally threatened.

However hard ego may try to sabotage the spiritual path, if you really continue on it, and work deeply with the practice of meditation, you will begin slowly to realize just how gulled you have been by egos promises: false hopes and false fears. Slowly you begin to understand that both hope and fear are enemies of your peace of mind; hopes deceive you, and leave you empty and disappointed, and fears paralyze you in the narrow cell of your false identity. You begin to see also just how all-encompassing the sway of ego has been over your mind, and in the space of freedom opened up by meditation, when you are momentarily released from grasping, you glimpse the exhilarating spaciousness of your true nature.

~ Sogyal Rinpoche (Rigpa Glimpse of the Day for May 19 2010)