To Tibet!


My close comrades, Junn & Shahira, behind the backdrop of Potala Palace (25/8/10)

I am away to Tibet till 4 Sept. Enjoy reading the past entries and be awakened to the Truth!
Will share new understanding after my return   :)

Deception, Inception

Mum is old, confined to the wheelchair, as if waiting for her days to come to a final. Her body frame tells a lot from being a diabetic the toll it has upon her. First, the illness took away her sight exactly nine years ago. By sheer luck, or purely an act of love, I managed to coax her to meet a china physician, whom with a three inch long acupuncture needle, with unwavering certainty and confidence, inserted into her skull, without needing to try twice. After a few sessions, she swore that the physician has, without her knowledge, poked a few thousand needles into her skull, as she explains later that she felt her entire brain was vibrating uneasily, as if electric current was passing through her head.

Obviously without her ability to see, she has made a wrong assumption. A single needle is all what the physician gave with a mild electric current connected at the other end of the needle, yet the experience itself would have magnified the entire nerve-filled gray matter; that I am sure would have been an uneasy experience for anyone. It is of no wondered, her hands are ice-cold whenever she is brought to the clinic, though emotionally she showed a kind of courage which she always portrayed. The healing modality did recover her sight, but her ignorance of her own diet brought a full swing of glaucoma to her sight.

Secondly, gangrene has had one of her legs amputated. As I sit beside her, I am mindful of a soul that is weary from the bodily dis-ease that imprisons her to the little corner of the wheelchair, day in and out. Many a times sitting alone, she has obviously forgotten about her wheelchair bound experience as she talks to herself joyfully as if there are people around communicating with her. There was once she walked out of her wheelchair forgetting she is no longer two legged. She was also being noticed eating an unseen banana deliciously as she expressed how nice the experience was to an unseen force whom the observer herself could not see. She seemed delirious, but who are we to know what is in her space as her mind experience brought her to a very real dimensional experience that we are not able to perceive, as understandably we are still trapped in this physical body. And aren’t those who talk or walk in their sleep goes through similar experience?

What is real then? Has reality much to do with the body, or to be précised, the perception of the body? As where we are, so long as we feel that we exist, we are practically experiencing reality, at that moment, irrelevant whether it is in this dimension or not. It can be in a dream, in a coma, in an unconscious state of insanity, or even in this reality. So long as there is a perception of a body, of me, mine or I; the so-called realness of that moment becomes our experience, and hence make us think it is real.

When I am not grounded or anchored into this moment, in this so-called reality, I am obviously no longer here, but somewhere other than here. That somewhere can be as real as here, as I am still identified with the idea of me, mine or I. What then is the difference between now or there? Can I say that here is more real than there? Or “there” is more real than here? For when I am “there” I no longer identify it as “there” except “here”, all the time and hence my reality.

Again, what is real? If the Buddha’s answer to the passing mendicant is “I am the Awakened One” – without question, we are all still asleep in our deepest slumber, a dream in the making, oblivious to its deception. As Morpheus told Neo, in the Matrix, “do you think you are really breathing, in this program”? And may I add on, “do you think you are eating, walking, sitting, peeing, moving around anywhere, everywhere”? Do you think there is someone or somebody, or for that matter, yourself, in your own hologram, except a deceptive dream? Am I really, really here? Or is this just a figment of an imagination as pointed out by Mad Hatter to Alice in her wonderland.

Hence, is there really death then, except the dissolution of the body? Can the mind die? Or simply does the mind continues on, albeit a dream state?

Oh, Absolum, please do not leave me until I know I am the real Alice...
(adapted from Alice in Wonderland)

Bitter Gourd Lesson

My little nephew of six abhors bitter gourd. Not that he does not like the taste but rather, he got the idea from his do-or-die-comrade-brother of nine that the gourd is not good at all. Being young and naive, he unquestionably follows what his peer does, with little wisdom in it. But yet, mind you, he is one wise kid I have ever met. At the tender age of six, he is able to ask questions like why his mind does not stop thinking, why his grandpa needs to leave or why I am unable to speak Mandarin though he has improved himself by taking up English as a means to communicate with me!

Seeing him smart for a question of wisdom, I seek my partner’s interpretation of smattering Mandarin, sufficient enough to make my needs clear to him. Otherwise my mum-in-law is on the reserve, complimenting my needs a little clearer. You see, my m-i-l does not understand English that well and I, on the opposite, have difficulty speaking my needs to her in complete Cantonese sentence. My wife comes in between, knowing a little of Mandarin and lots more Cantonese than me, and hence my mum-in-law completes the whole picture!

So when my little nephew nodded his head to mean “I am ready for the question”, I sounded to him to choose only one of the three statements at his very best knowledge. I gave him three:

  • Disliking the food without giving another chance to check it out;
  • Disliking the food and keen to recognize why he is doing that; and
  • Disliking the food and yet forced to partake out of fear of admonishment from an elder peer.

He chose the second statement without hesitation and I questioned him further the reason of his choice. His simple answer was “I just love knowing why”. Now that makes sense as by nature all of us are inquisitive. And yet we seldom use this trait to question our fear or resistance. We take a blanket judgment and come to a hasty conclusion without pondering further, hence nailing down our potential of expanding our field of knowledge which in due time can come into maturity of wisdom, only when we put into practice of what we know.

Without the initial right information, or right knowledge, it is near impossible to come into deepening our realization as wisdom springs from the onset of right idea or right view.

By nature, we are not born to accept fear as ways of growing or learning but yet it is deeply ingrained within us that we have to use guilt or fear to instil discipline and commitment for change to take place. We do it to others and also ourselves. I am truly surprised that even spiritual leaders too advocate guilt as way of healing – that regret is necessary and redemption is compulsory for change to take effect. Obviously they have not given the thought that wisdom has the potential of making change too.

What went wrong along the journey of our spirituality? Have we missed the mark of what the Masters’ have spoken?  Have we reconfirmed what is already in our mind, the ideas that are dysfunctional in the beginning due to our lack of wisdom? Or is it because we are lassitude in applying the nature of the mind – inquisitiveness, which is an integral part of our journey to wisdom? You can only answer for yourself if you wish to see the dharma* coming alive in your day to day living, else the practise is only confined to the little sitting cushion, a fragment of your day living.

*A word to mean Truth

As Stupid As Can Be

When I dislike someone,
in my heart
“I don’t like you doing this to me”
is to mean
“I want you to live up to my expectation”

When I am upset with something,
in my heart
“I don’t like what is happening here”
is to mean
“I want things to be up to my expectation”

When I am angry with what you have just said,
in my heart
“You should not be saying this”
is to mean
“ I expect that you should not say that”

Do I not see
that each time I am adverse to anything
I am stupid enough to expect others
to be what I think it should be?
To imagine that the world
has to follow my needs
is indeed a
stupid
expectation.

Am I not
ignorantly stupid then
at any each given moment
when I am
upset
angry
judging
jealous
resent
complain
or
blaming,
as
what I am actually telling myself is –
I am
stupidly
expecting
the world to follow what I want?

Aren’t I, or for that matter, you, insane, one way or another?

To recognize and realize this is wisdom!

LIFE is Simply my Own Silly Game, Played all by Myself

Am I the player in this movie?



.

When I refer myself as “I am”, I am referring to an experience of that moment. “I am” is a product of experience; experience defines me – I am hungry, I am sad, I am joyful – bored, uninterested, frustrated, neutral, uncertain, dumb, great, angry, stupid, etc. Each “I am” arising at each moment is a derivative of a new experience. In other words, where there is no experience, the “I am” is non-existence. But is it possible not to have any experience at any given time? No. For so long as there is a mind, experiences are happening all the time, in the mind.

Experience can be something from bodily senses or from mental activities of past or future. Try out this experiment – let yourself be aware at this moment. At any one given moment there is surely an experience, arising from either one of the six senses. Experience is, in definition, what is cognized by the mind.

For instance, if there is awareness of hearing taking place, I am experiencing hearing of some sort. It can be from the sound of the fan rotating, the sound of the vehicle passing by the road, the bird perching on the tree singing, the noisy neighbor talking aloud , the mild murmuring of an unknown sound at the background, the washing machine working, or a child shouting in the neighborhood. Or even a sound that I am totally unfamiliar with – that too is an experience. Each mind contact with any of the senses brings about an experience – observe that in each experience there are in reality a few accompanying experiences –

1)      the feeling deriving from the contact;
2)      the perception of the experience (the meeting of a memory and what we experience now) and;
3)      the meaning and definition arising from it.

A real life scenario to depict this: I stopped my car close to a restaurant waiting for Lai Fun to grab a bun from one of the stalls for my mother-in-law who was on her way back to Penang after a five day stay in our little haven. While observing what was around me, with the car engine on, I noticed a car parked in a very ridiculous position from a distance away which to me, was creating a difficult flow for the ongoing traffic. Three kinds of experiences mentioned above were concurrently occurring in my space – the mind itself – the feeling of annoyance, the perception of a past memory that cars are usually parked properly and the arising of a meaning that he was wrong in doing such – making a punishment statement which obviously made him guilty of a “crime” that he had created.

In reality, all of this was only going on in my mind, not out there. These three mental experiences, put together, make my experience of the moment real by the storyline generated out from it. Do I have a role in this storyline? No – it came up automatically without my ability to control; yes – it is a result of the choices I made in the past, that makes the present story possible – the unconscious meanings I keep generating from each experience that by now had strengthened itself into a “truth” in my field of experience. The mind nature of evident-seeking makes what is unreal into a reality. And If I were to further carry out this story through verbalization and action, by scolding or admonishing the driver, I put forth what is real in me, to the world. I would have manifested a connection of reality, inner and outer, thus strengthening further my righteousness of what I had perceived.

It all started from an arising of an old idea – a righteous one that people should not simply park – it is an idea I already have in my hard disk and this idea did not match with what it sees. When my eyes met that scene – the way the car was parked – the mind searched through its hard disk to match whatever data it had in it and hey presto – a meeting of old idea with present idea – and a feeling was formed.

Now if my previous idea jived with the present experience, I wouldn’t have make a fuss out of it. If I am one who simply parks and I do it out of no consideration for others, what I would meet in my present experience would be common attitude and thus I would not see it as wrong. In that space I would not be perturbed by what I saw. But if my previous idea in my data bank was one of righteousness – that everybody must be conscientious with their parking, I would be having a nightmare dealing with any experiences involving any vehicle mispark which happens so rampant nowadays in our community. I would be a darned angry guy whenever I came out on the road as every inappropriate parking would be wrong in my perception.

Now what I am sharing here is not about the rights or wrongs from the perception of the public but the rights and wrongs from within my mind. If I allow these two opposites to dwell in my mind, I have to be responsible for what comes up in my space. There is no other way out from this. If I do not make peace with myself for whatever ideas I had invested in my mind, I am not making peace with the world.

All experiences afterall, are ideas meeting ideas, stories meeting other stories, dramas unfolding incessantly – the play of opposite idea meeting another or similar idea meeting another – that is all it is, and in that, suffering or freedom ensues.

Now who makes me suffer?

Being Right, Peace, or Understanding?

Will I rather choose peace or, to be right? In a situation where I am faced with a conflict, the first instinctive reaction which I would normally do is to defend myself and the only way to do that is to make another wrong. And to make another wrong is to attack them, not necessary through verbalization or action, but by a simply gesture of silence that will be potent enough to do the job. And I have learned it so well that when others do the same to me, I can practically feel what is going on in their mind; for it takes one to know another, doesn’t it?

So in such situation, how will I be able to arrive at peace? Moving away from the conflict is not a call for peace, as that action itself may bear resentment as its cause. And to stay on with the conflict is to feel what comes up in me – irritation, uncertainty, frustration, hopelessness – all its relatives of unpleasant feelings. Now here lies the dilemma – there is no difference between getting into or out of the situation as both have righteousness in it; and the end result is non-peace with myself.

I can cheat myself by saying that so long as I am not embroiled in the situation, I am at peace – but is there really, really peace, or merely a standby mode of defensiveness? I come to realize that I can’t do peace by merely wanting peace, or do right by merely wanting to be right. Both peace and being right are effects of what is already going on in my mind. Both have different causeways that finally make me experience either peace or being right. The processes that go on in my head, so to speak, directs me towards peace or being right. I can’t really lie to myself as what is in me is already showing telltale signs of either peace or righteousness even though I may think I am peaceful in my head. Listen to the heart and you will know what I mean. To listen to the head is not good enough to know what is going on in me. But when I listen to my heart, it tells a lot about me, or about the truth of what is going on in me.

Hence my teacher was wise to point out that he will choose understanding rather than peace. For when he understands what is truly occurring in the mind – the causes that lead him to being right or being at peace, the end result naturally unfolds itself, which is true peace. To him, the end result is none of his business as there is nothing he can do about it anyway. What he can do is to be with his mind at all times, watching the way it reacts or responds to a situation and there lies his understanding of the causes and effects of every experience. Be at the cause, and not the effect, he reminds me.

In other words, when I am being triggered by a situation, in this case – conflict, I stand in the space of learning – learning what is really occurring in the mind instead of making concluded judgments that kills the possibility of understanding. As such, I am called upon to be with whatever feelings that comes up in me, instead of hurryingly putting out the flames of its unpleasantness, and also to be with the thoughts that generate those feelings. In this way, I am able to see the co-relationship between thoughts and feelings, and how they finally arrive at its effect of peace or righteousness.

My inner inquiry is not one that is active, looking out for the solution, but rather a passive inquiry, far more potent than having the mind figuring out what is going on. By simply being with what is already here for me in my experience, I am opening up a potential space for understanding and wisdom to arise. To be with myself does not mean not handling the conflict. On the contrary, it helps me to resolve the conflict with peace by being true to what is in me first and in it I will see the reasons behind the meaning of conflict, its cause and its end, thus leading me to act skillfully, for my highest good and the good of the world. Hence, do I choose peace over righteousness, or choose understanding over both? It starts from me and it ends in me. There is no conflict out there except of my own.

I will not Value what is Valueless

A Course in Miracles, Lesson 133

Sometimes in teaching there is benefit, particularly after you have gone through what seems theoretical and far from what the student has already learned, to bring him back to practical concerns. This we will do today. We will not speak of lofty, world-encompassing ideas, but dwell instead on benefits to you.

You do not ask too much of life, but far too little. When you let your mind be drawn to bodily concerns, to things you buy, to eminence as valued by the world, you ask for sorrow, not for happiness. This course does not attempt to take from you the little that you have. It does not try to substitute utopian ideas for satisfactions which the world contains. There are no satisfactions in the world.

Today we list the real criteria by which to test all things you think you want. Unless they meet these sound requirements, they are not worth desiring at all, for they can but replace what offers more. The laws that govern choice you cannot make, no more than you can make alternatives from which to choose. The choosing you can do; indeed, you must. But it is wise to learn the laws you set in motion when you choose, and what alternatives you choose between.

We have already stressed there are but two, however many there appear to be. The range is set, and this we cannot change. It would be most ungenerous to you to let alternatives be limitless, and thus delay your final choice until you had considered all of them in time; and not been brought so clearly to the place where there is but one choice that must be made.

Another kindly and related law is that there is no compromise in what your choice must bring. It cannot give you just a little, for there is no in between. Each choice you make brings everything to you or nothing. Therefore, if you learn the tests by which you can distinguish everything from nothing, you will make the better choice.

First, if you choose a thing that will not last forever, what you chose is valueless. A temporary value is without all value. Time can never take away a value that is real. What fades and dies was never there, and makes no offering to him who chooses it. He is deceived by nothing in a form he thinks he likes.

Next, if you choose to take a thing away from someone else, you will have nothing left. This is because, when you deny his right to everything, you have denied your own. You therefore will not recognize the things you really have, denying they are there. Who seeks to take away has been deceived by the illusion loss can offer gain. Yet loss must offer loss, and nothing more.

Your next consideration is the one on which the others rest. Why is the choice you make of value to you? What attracts your mind to it? What purpose does it serve? Here it is easiest of all to be deceived. For what the ego wants it fails to recognize. It does not even tell the truth as it perceives it, for it needs to keep the halo which it uses to protect its goals from tarnish and from rust, that you may see how “innocent” it is.

Yet is its camouflage a thin veneer, which could deceive but those who are content to be deceived. Its goals are obvious to anyone who cares to look for them. Here is deception doubled, for the one who is deceived will not perceive that he has merely failed to gain. He will believe that he has served the ego’s hidden goals.

Yet though he tries to keep its halo clear within his vision, still must he perceive its tarnished edges and its rusted core. His ineffectual mistakes appear as sins to him, because he looks upon the tarnish as his own; the rust a sign of deep unworthiness within himself. He who would still preserve the ego’s goals and serve them as his own makes no mistakes, according to the dictates of his guide. This guidance teaches it is error to believe that sins are but mistakes, for who would suffer for his sins if this were so?

And so we come to the criterion for choice that is the hardest to believe, because its obviousness is overlaid with many levels of obscurity. If you feel any guilt about your choice, you have allowed the ego’s goals to come between the real alternatives. And thus you do not realize there are but two, and the alternative you think you chose seems fearful, and too dangerous to be the nothingness it actually is.

All things are valuable or valueless, worthy or not of being sought at all, entirely desirable or not worth the slightest effort to obtain. Choosing is easy just because of this. Complexity is nothing but a screen of smoke, which hides the very simple fact that no decision can be difficult. What is the gain to you in learning this? It is far more than merely letting you make choices easily and without pain.

Heaven itself is reached with empty hands and open minds, which come with nothing to find everything and claim it as their own. We will attempt to reach this state today, with self-deception laid aside, and with an honest willingness to value but the truly valuable and the real. Our two extended practice periods of fifteen minutes each begin with this:

I will not value what is valueless,
and only what has value do I seek,
for only that do I desire to find.

And then receive what waits for everyone who reaches, unencumbered, to the gate of Heaven, which swings open as he comes. Should you begin to let yourself collect some needless burdens, or believe you see some difficult decisions facing you, be quick to answer with this simple thought:

I will not value what is valueless,
for what is valuable belongs to me.