Waking up to each Teaching

Elephant and the blind men

Every teaching that comes into my space is not for me to protect but to realize, and in that realization is the teaching protected. The teaching is not for me to keep but only as a tool to use. The mere act of keeping translates in me my fear of it being attacked and hence the need to defend it. As I defend, as in protect what I thought needs to be protected, I am unknowingly attacking what I am protecting, whilst in reality, the teaching needs none of my protection. Hence my so-called good intention, born out of ignorance, unknowingly does more harm to the teaching than prolonging its sanctity by attacking its existence, making the teaching vulnerable to the world.

Not that the teaching loses its essence but rather the essence is blocked by the illusion of fear and with that the teaching is no longer seen in its truth but as false under the pretence of fear. And since this reality is not seen, what is false will be taken as truth. Hence, the drama of ownership of one’s faith and dispute over others.

The teachings of each great teacher are effects of what they had personally realized put into words to convey their personal realization. It is by no means meant to be protected for how could it be possible for a worldling who has yet to realize protect what is being realized? It equates to an act of hiding what one does not know what to hide.

Each teaching is not meant to be infused but rather to be reflected upon intelligently and put into practice. A discussion on the relevant topic thus puts one in an advantage as that brings the mind to see the teaching in a different perspective. It is always the case of we only know what we know and thus if we do not share what we understand we could only be understanding from our point of view which may or may not necessary be true. Until our wisdom comes into full fruition of which needs no one to confirm its arising, we have no other choice except to share our experiences with a knowledgeable, if not realized person. Even then we have to muster whatever little wisdom we have to accept or to question what is being discussed or shared, without any reason of rejection but to put it into litmus test and see its resilient over the test of time.

Herein lies the fine line of deception – to reject others’ opinion of the teaching is to deem one is holding steadfastly to his view of what he thinks is right – which is a form of protection but not realization. For when one truly realizes, there is only a sharing of truth and no reason for defense; and to accept what other opines without inner inquiry is to deem one being led into blind faith. Both are extreme by nature.

The wise way of a spiritual pilgrim will be like how my kindred friend puts it – if what she hears is not to her level of understanding, she will not object but to have an open mind about it until she self-realized it for herself whether what is being said is true or not. In this way she does not block herself from seeing the teaching narrowly.

The demand of the teachings requires that we take nothing for granted. Only through inner inquiry and self realization that the teaching becomes self evidence within us. The teachings itself now takes on the form of a living spirit, a continuation of what has being realized from those trodden in the past. It is no longer separate and hence no real external protection is required as it has been internally protected.

The 7As Path to Freedom

Ananda, the close attendant to the Buddha, once exclaimed with joy how easy it was to understand the matrix of the mind; of which the Buddha himself retorted that, without the arising of the Awakened One, such statement cannot be possible.

Looking back on my own journey, I fully understand where the Buddha was coming from. Without right information and right practice, it is impossible to bring forth understanding, not to mention realization. The journey itself is profound, and most times, difficult. Without graduation of proper steps, missing the mark is potentially high. The word sin, to mean missing the mark is an appropriate statement to denote the metaphor of an archer aiming his arrow at the bull’s eye. Imagine the little space at the centre in comparison to what is around it. To hit into those area is much easier than to land itself at the bull’s eye. And that is exactly what a spiritual journey can entail when one is not accurate in his or her path.

Within my own limited observation, there is a pathway that all of us have to begin and continue with. And that too, can only come into the picture when one takes full responsibility of one’s mind – if not all the time, at least as frequent as one can.

The pathways are the 7As in sequential order:

The ability not to forget to be in the present of one’s own mind and body experiences. For many this is tiresome – not that it is difficult to remember – but rather it is difficult to stay connected to the inner being as the mind is consistently addicted to the external experiences. Ironically, all our experiences are within but somehow the mind interprets the experiences as external, eg. smell – we deem the outside object as the cause of our like or dislike, not realizing that the cause in actuality is within us. The object is merely the effect of our inner perceptions.

Once one is aware of the present, one is called to be awake to what is occurring at the mind level. This is a skill that needs to be trained. Many a times the initiator tends to give attention to the concept rather than the reality of what is here at the moment. Even experienced practitioners tend to miss the mark at this level. For instant, seeking for companionship to share in the spiritual journey is an effect of loneliness, which is more a truer experience occurring in the present. All others are storyline camouflaging what is needed to be addressed and aware of.

When one passes the test of the above two, one is confronted with another difficulty – to recognize it exactly as it is instead of taking personal identification over or with it. This level is pretty tricky as the mind can be sly to conjure numerous meanings out of what is. For example the feeling of hurt. It is difficult to acknowledge hurt as an experience instead of identifying oneself being hurt by someone. Hurt is a painful experience, no doubt about it – but most of the time we don’t acknowledge it as that – just as an experience – and instead we want someone to be responsible for it. Other times we brush it off, seeing the feeling as trivial or even wrong to have. To recognize hurt as a painful experience is wisdom at work as there is a clear acknowledgment that it is something that only oneself is experiencing and has nothing to do with any other person. It is also to acknowledge that these are the stuffs that makeup the personality of each individual and whether they are worth sustaining. One can’t remove it by pushing it away. Only through the process of acceptance can it be transcended.

This fourth level too has its own hardship. Closely connected to acknowledgment, acceptance has the ability of holding the bull by the horn, in its literal sense. It is the ability to take it fully as it is, in other words, accepting the experience with detachment, to mean not taking it personally. The word detachment and acceptance seems contradictory – but that is exactly how the healing takes place. In this world of duality, the opposites are merely a different perspective of another. When there is resistance, there is holding on as its opposite, occurring at the same time.

Acknowledgement may not necessary lead to acceptance, hence it is considered a level of its own, for one to address. It is like finally making an effort to open a closet of unwanted stuffs – whether one can accept it is another thing all together – both are leading on but may not necessary occur concurrently.

Note that at every level, commencing from the first, the ego has every opportunity of setting in, interrupting or ending the process for wisdom to finally come into fruition.

In this final process, when acceptance comes into fullness, one is able to catch a glimpse of what is in stored – that the things that we have been pushing away in the past, seeing them as real, turns out to be an illusion created by past conditioning – that in it there is no reality, no you or me, except an imagination of the mind. It is at this point that wisdom takes over – the issue disentangles itself, without one needing to do anything about it. The experience is liberating, a revelation and self-evident. One may then realize how the nature of the mind works – that it is not by running away is the world healed, but by facing is the world understood. Awe is an appropriate word to imply it is not one’s doing, which is ego-centric by nature, but God’s will – to mean the opposite of ego, or in the Buddhist context, wisdom that is free from defilements.

“Awe should be reserved for revelation, to which it is perfectly and correctly applicable.”
– A Course In Miracles.

When awe is comprehended, it dawns upon one how the mind game perpetuates its own suffering. One sees the absurdity of the game – that all projections are denials of what is within. And this denial is the cause of suffering. When more attention is being paid to the mind, one sees the familiar pathways the mind consistently takes that brings about ancient pain. One will be naturally led to take heed of the mind and not succumb to its conditionings. Freedom is eminent at this level. It is by not realizing the nature of the mind that one is trapped continuously by its conditioning. (read also Nothing but Toys)

At one with God. Not that there is something or someone for one to merge but rather one came out from the dream one created by oneself. A play of delusion, a fabrication of lies that one unconsciously formed throughout the journey of ignorance – of non awareness, awakefulness, acknowledgment and acceptance.

And it is in this experience of atonement that faith in one increases to pursue the journey of awareness closer and deeper and hence the 7As snowballs itself, leading one to finally finding oneself – awakened, enlightened. And naturally, awareness becomes the refuge for oneself, for the world, for the highest benefit of all.

“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.”
– Pursah’s Gospel of Thomas

Everywhere but Here

The Debate

2 Sept 2010. Soon I will be back to Malaysia.

Someone asked me while I was at the airport waiting for the ticket to be confirmed whether if I have really been to Tibet? It took me awhile to answer him not because he was being cynical but because, like him, I too felt that soon everything will be like a dream. As in a dream, did anything actually happen, except in the illusion of the mind?

My teacher told me once that of all the myriads of experiences we have in life, there are actually only six of them. Irrelevant whether we are somewhere, someplace, with someone or something, we are constantly dwelling within the six experiences – seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and mind experiences. I have never once got out of these. All experiences are dwelled within these senses. They are the bases for me to experience the so-called world. Without them, the world does not exist. So to say whether I have really been to Tibet is really a question I need to ponder deeply!

That reminds me of a friend who told me of a story about a monk who has never heard of what a train is, not to mention sitting in one. While in it for the first time, he asked the benefactor innocently why the house he is staying in is trembling! To him, there is no concept or idea of what a train is and thus the meaning of train was totally out of his mind except the experience of trembling. And even that, it is an old idea as trembling is not a norm where he stays.

Can I say Tibet is in my mind? You betcha. And can I too say Tibet is outside my mind? That too is possible as where there is inside, there is bound to be an outside – inseparable except seen from a different perspective. Unless I put it that Tibet is neither inside nor outside the mind, but of the mind. Then there is no longer a dispute as all meanings are derivation of the mind.

What about the experience of Tibet then? The fresh air, the snow-capped mountain, or the longer journey to the base camp of Mount Everest? Is it real? Storylines are rampant, in fact never ending. What is more important is our response to it. No matter how beautiful a storyline is, if our response is of stress or ancient emotions, we are always back to where we were – never left ourselves, no matter how illusionary far we are from our base.

In that sense whether I am here in Malaysia or Tibet for that matter, I have never left anywhere – as I am always within the confinement of my mind, in short, perception, feelings, consciousness or mental activities – all being played out again and again – though different in appearances, the content always remains the same. Until wisdom sets in, the entire experiences are based from old conditionings of ignorance and delusion.