A Path of Joy, A Path of Suffering

Do I have a choice to choose a path of joy, instead of pain, to tread the spiritual journey as advocated by many new age calling for spiritual awakening? Can I be merry and enjoy the very best of life and yet at the very same time be spirited on the masters’ path that brought them to full realization? For me, it is a resounding yes and yet, a no.

After much into the journey of self-awareness, and still, work in progress, it dawned upon me how important the presence of wisdom is to enable me to continuously explore and differentiate what is truth and what is not truth, or rather, imitation of truth. For that I am deeply grateful to the sharing of one unassuming teacher of light-heartedness with a down to earth character that brought me into this journey of self-inquiry.

Until this moment, this sentence is more true to my journey – I need not choose the path of pain to progress spiritually but I’d need to face whatever pain that is already in my space to progress in my spiritual journey. In other words, I need not create pain or move away from pain to make me feel spiritual or good – I need not do anything extra than who I already am now, except to work with whatever that is already here for me or coming my way.

I need not give away my wealth to be spiritual but instead inquire why am I in stress, trying to amass wealth. I need not purposely live a life of mediocrity and act in humility, when at the same time, making ends meet to survive with difficulty. Humility is an effect of wisdom, not something I could mimic or create, as that would only tantamount to the survival of ego. Where I am, the lesson is already here for me. It will neither leave me, nor need I create any for myself to experience.

On the same note, it is not about running away from lessons and drowning myself in merriment so as to indulge further in desires that blinds me from seeing the motivation behind each act. It is also not about avoiding pain or making plans to cover-up what is already here. Both avoidance and indulgence are simply effects of fear of facing the inner demons, the unquestioned pain. Mental complaints, judgments, comparisons, assumptions, to name a few, are camouflages that I create in my mind to escape from the origin of pain. Ironically, those acts compound the pain that I am already in.

Thus the joy of the spiritual journey is about accepting with integrity what is already in me as I work through it to release the pain that I am unconscious about. Not the joy of merrymaking or good feelings practices. There are no choices in spiritual practice except to face squarely what is already here for me. The only choice I have is either to resolve it here and now or to delay it – but never, could I even attempt to leave it.

Every relationship, be it with myself or with anyone for that matter, points me to my pain. Would it be farfetched to say that the way I relate is my pain found? Why do I resist certain relationships? What is in me that I am not relating to lovingly? Why am I holding on to a certain relationship? Why the need to discriminate, judge and compare in hierarchy, the specialness of relationships? If I am sincere and really do wish to understand, I need not look far but to travel into my own motivation behind those acts. In it, I will find my space of pain – fear of being abandoned, of disapproval, of inferiority, of creating specialness which all serves the purpose to hide my own pain.

To resist a relationship is pain. To hold on to it too, is pain. When I hold on to another I am in denial of the opposite of what I am resisting. In short, every moment is pain in progress, except that I am totally oblivious to it as I constantly create avoidance and indulgence to drown my discomfort.

Thus “spiritual journey” is not about getting anywhere or achieving anything, nor is it about hiding myself from the world; but to come into my own presence of what is already in me. It is the journey of resolving the pain without try to fix it, but only through inner understanding. And this can only be done when I give myself the sacred space of non-doing by simply being with what is. It is about seeing what currently blocks me from experiencing the truth, and to finally reckon with wisdom that all pains are simply errors I have put in my system that leads to misperception. Here lies the suffering. Not the suffering of the world, but the suffering of the inner world where my perception becomes my reality. And seeing this truth is a call for freedom – freedom from the tyranny of delusion which I placed myself in.

Take time to reflect on the following verses made by the Buddha and Yeshua, both like you and me, who wanted to know the truth and nothing but the truth:

When this world is ever ablaze,
Why this laughter, why this jubilation?
Shrouded in darkness,
will you not seek the light?

(cited in the Dhammapada)

Blessed are those who have undergone ordeals.
They have entered into the life.

(cited in The Gospel of Thomas)

The Field

There is a field,
Not here, not there, not anywhere;
And yet it is here, it is there, it is everywhere,
within you, within me,
without you, without me.

There is a field;
beyond bodies,
beyond personalities,
beyond you,
beyond me.

Only convergence;
where separation or non-separation is meaningless,
where distance or distant-less is unknown,
where form or formless, is not a question.
neither this nor that
for it is not
something or somewhere or somewhat
but simply
….

It is here in this field, where
no words are necessary,
no approval required,
no understanding needed,
no comparison possible,
no judgment existed,
no now,
no past,
no future,
timeless, unconditioned.

For there is no otherness;
no you, no me;
simply Beloved,
in stillness,
in totality,
of Is.

Beyond the concept of time,
the concept of distance,
the concept of form,
the concept of space,
the concept of self…
Is.

The Mind that Never Fails to Proof itself Right

I was at the coffee shop one of the past mornings, forgetting that this place is favoured and haunted by many as a favourite gourmet choice, be it breakfast or lunch. The tables were full as usual so both Lai Fun and I were hunting for a place to squeeze ourselves in. After waiting for not too long, we managed to acquire a space for both of us to sit, from the kind permission of this gentle looking elder man who was waiting for food to arrive. There was a young child accompanying him, probably around the age of four, which to my assumption, is his grandchild.

Lai Fun went to make her order while I awaited her return making sure that the seats were not taken over by anyone else. I scanned around the stalls to decide what was I to have for my breakfast when suddenly I was attracted to this particular noodle stall close to where I sit where the owner was awaiting customers to place orders, a rare scene compared to the many other stalls that were busily taking in orders. Since I was hungry and did not wish to wait any longer to make order and wait for my favourite food to arrive, I immediately placed an order with this stall.

What came later was a surprise, or rather judgment, to be precise. The bowl was big but the food in it was pretty little. What shocked me was the price of it. It was an extra ringgit more compared to the usual rate most caterers were offering. Immediately there sprung judgment in my mind–it is of no wonder that people were not ordering from this stall! How else could my mind think otherwise when the thought arose without needing me to even think about it? In the past, I would have reprimanded myself for having such unwholesome thoughts, but now with a little wisdom from my teacher, I was encouraged to question my idea behind this thought.

It is pretty amazing how the mind find ways to imitate the truth by covering it up with meanings. The first that came to me was what if that one ringgit was used to settle a parking fee; would I complaint? A resounding no came into me and I thought this had easily resolved my annoyance as what I have been continuously working on in my journey now is peace – to make peace with myself. But I knew the issue is yet from over. True enough, just a few minutes later into my eating, the food which the elder man ordered arrived; huge quantity, probably a double of what I was eating.

And you can guess what happened next – the mind started the task of seeking evidence. Isn’t this something familiar that the mind does all the time? It wanted to know what the price of the elder man’s meal was; not out of curiosity sake, but to make the caterer whom I was unhappy with, guilty. It was just waiting for an opportunity to attack, to punish and confirm that what he (the caterer) did was wrong; and all this was happening in the field of my mind, not even in speech – what an insane storyline the mind was creating!

When the price came to my knowledge – twenty cents cheaper and double the quantity than what I was having; the war of evidences began. I could practically see how painful the meaning it has created for itself. The condemnation, the judgement, the punishment and the guilt it imposes onto others. It doesn’t matter whether the person was aware what was going on in me or not. Simply a coward’s expression of anger and frustration, complaining all the way through.

It was time for another inquiry – obviously the process of car parking ticket did not work at all, an impostor way of covering up what was much deeper that what I was unaware of. So I threw a question in my mind – questioning myself what idea was the mind running that continued its story of condemnation. My job was to question and not to give an answer to it as each answer would be just a camouflage of what I am not ready to listen. I just needed to question and hear deeply – deep enough for the answer to automatically pop up when it is ready. And it doesn’t take long when I am authentic to resolve it within my mind, and not seeing wrong in the world. The voice came clear and crisp – cheat. Aha! this was the rooted idea that was more true running within my system than the thought that the food quantity does not consummate with the pricing, everyone trying to make a living and that it is their right to charge whatever they wish, or many more other storylines that the mind loves to tell as consolation. All those stories were merely lies to keep me away from recognizing this idea. How I could be sure that these were all lies and not compassion was that if given another chance, I would and will not reorder food from this stall again.

Finally the cat was out of the bag – cheat. Surely this idea has long been rooted in me which I had not acknowledged and obviously it had been reinforced again and again exactly as what I was experiencing during the incident, if not for my awareness. The meaning of cheat had to revisit me so that I could release it – it cannot be otherwise but, what I did was reinforcing it instead. I was using my idea of cheat to make another wrong. I took the idea as my gospel truth and had again and again, made others wrong – that was not the first and neither would it be the last. I will be subjugated to the unnecessary journey of hell if I did not acknowledge that the beginning of this idea was the whole cause of discomfort in me. By being with this truth, peace can only be possible. It does not matter whether the idea can be overcome ultimately, but merely by being authority to my own idea is the beginning of peace, of finding my way home to freedom.