Either Ignorance or Wisdom. Period.

There are only two kinds of perception – right perception having wisdom as its root and wrong perception, needless to say, with ignorance in it. And that makes a whole darn difference in the way we relate with the world. Words are just impossible to make you understand the vast distinction of it. And mind you, the “world” is to mean everything that comes from our senses of experience, that is to say, each and every moment. In other words, where wisdom is present in the mind, a person looks at the world entirely different from one who doesn’t have the same in his mind. How different is different? Simply different. And that is all that matters in life, irrespective what one has or doesn’t have, whether in the present, future or past. Totally irrelevant. Period.

It may sound to many that a mind that has wisdom seem to denote a characteristic of inactive, passive or dumbness since it has no reference of past, present or future, except what’s in the mind each moment. But it is far from it as wisdom leads. Wisdom has the joy and freeing factor in everything it does, minusing the guilt, fear or shame.  And obviously one will misinterpret that without the meaning of guilt in our action, we will practically do anything that has the meaning of wrongness. It will be surprising to know that anything that is defined wrong has guilt in it, not the other way, which also means ignorance as its base. As a matter of fact, “wrong” can only occur in the midst of ignorance.  Whether the action is done at that moment or the judgment that comes thereafter, anything that is defined in the meaning of wrongness has ignorance in it, for wisdom does not see it as wrong but simply action done in ignorance.

Can what has happened be otherwise? Obviously, no. Life becomes simple when we only need to acknowledge that we are either wise, or simply ignorant, in all our thoughts, speech or action. Do we have a choice to choose between ignorance and wisdom at each moment? Obviously to be able to choose is already wisdom at work. And to say that too is incorrect, as where there is wisdom; there is merely wise action, without needing to choose at all.  Can we choose wrongly? Yes, when our decision is based on ignorance. Ability to choose is wisdom, but what we choose can be ignorant or wise since it is another consecutive moment. Isn’t that simple? No one, not even you, or me, but ignorance or wisdom working its way. Since it is not me but ignorance or wisdom doing, does it mean I am not responsible for my mind?

Yes and no. I am not responsible for each action that occurred though seemingly done by me; but I am responsible for the cause that leads to the action. In truth, responsibility is not the contending issue as what follows will be my experience, whether I like it or not. My experience matters. If I am motivated by ignorance, making it my cause to the effect that is going to take place, I have to bear with whatever consequential experiences that comes my way, irrelevant whether I am responsible for it or not (as in my action). To take responsibility only makes my journey a little easier, that’s all it takes. Even that, it has to be a wise responsibility as being responsible in an ignorant way only leads to more suffering. We tend to wisely think that taking responsibility means we stop targeting outwards, but what happens then is that the inwards become the target and that compounds the already suffering mind.

More appropriately, “taking responsibility” is taking the step towards observing and investigating what really happened in the mind, as in the cause, that perpetuates suffering; and that itself is developing wisdom so that each end is joyful instead of painful. Do you see the importance of wisdom?

A Tweak of Attitude Changes Perception

Life is not a problem to be solved;
it is an adventure to be lived.

I came across the above sentence while reading The Heart by John Eldredge. He is indeed a true practitioner at heart. I have for many instances came across such similar statements over and over again but did not see how they relate to my practice until my last encounter with my meditation teacher which took place eight years ago. As I read this word aloud today, I am amused that how a little tweak to my perception made a huge difference to the way I approach the meditation system. And thinking about it, it seems to reconfirm in me that the entire world movement is a constant fear based attitude, seldom from the space of love.

My teacher talked so much about right attitude and being new to his system, I found it a little strange. I had been on another system for at least twenty over years and during that time, meditation is constantly a chore to work on as it is about problem solving and seeing wrongness out there or in here that needs to be fixed. It is about constant looking out for defilements, a word coined in the Buddhist practice to mean taints that intrude the mind. Words such as defilements, taints, intrusions – already defined in me something is wrong somewhere. Probably it is in the translation, I am not sure; but when I started to explore the secret teachings of Jesus, I am surprised the words used were pretty different though both teachings were talking of the same thing – the mind that needs to be transcended. Words like errors, mistakes, missing the mark were frequently used to denote that it is just a misperception on our part overlooking what is obvious. And when we direct it correctly again, what is misperceived becomes right perception, hence freeing us from ignorance.

And that is what attitude is. In fact the journey of joy or fear is all based on attitude. My experience can be viewed as a problem or as something I have not understood. Both will give a different approach in my response. The former makes me try to resolve it from the point of view of fixing what is wrong here and as such it has fear as its base. The latter, an inquiring mind, makes me learn to understand what is going on here which I am not seeing.

The end result of both may be similar. I use the word “may be” simply because from my own personal observation and experience, not many finally arrive at its end. Yes, the issue may be addressed, but the experience that comes out of that can be hardness or softness of mind. But in many cases, due to wrong approach that is fear based, having wisdom as its end is practically nil.

My teacher’s questioning of my experiences, or for that matter, of anyone, is towards understanding. He asks, not to belittle us, but to encourage us to having a right approach towards what we experience. Many a times, when we share our experiences with him during retreats, it is so obvious that the questions that come from us are from the direction of wanting to get a quick fix out of the issue. It is like calling out loud to the teacher to fix the problem instead of seeking clarity to what am I not learning here. And as I watch my mind more and more I seem to understand that it is in our system to fix things up rather than to understand it. Could it be our education system that has moulded us to translate the way we look at anything, which includes religion?

It is a sad state of affair as without seeing the contrast of both, one can be easily led into unnecessary deepening of pain and suffering. The more I understand the mind, the more the teachings of great masters, irrelevant which religion they are labelled onto and irrespective what words or meaning used, becomes clear and direct.

Wisdom Begets Wisdom

Truth can only be recognized by recognizing the false. When false is recognized, truth emerges. It is not two separate experiences. It arises concurrently. To recognize false is wisdom and wisdom itself is already from the space of truth. Hence the spiritual wisdom journey is about recognizing the false and truth reinstates itself.

More than not our perception seems to convince us that what we experience is real and hence true to us. What is true is what we perceived but not what we realized. Seldom do we question the way we perceive experiences. When we wake up to perception we recognize each perception is based from old ideas of the past. Even if our perception is based from right understanding deriving from a realization of the past, yet if we are seeing it from the past, we are not expanding our understanding further. The journey of wisdom is non-conclusive as the more we understand, the more we are able to look at the same experience differently.

In other words, wisdom grows as and when the maturity of our ability to see things differently grows. Wisdom begets wisdom. It is wisdom that facilitates the ability to look at an experience from a vast perspective. And it is wisdom that allows us to go beyond the experience and see what is within it. It is wisdom that enables one to see the mechanics of the causal relationship of each experience.

We can’t do, create or mimic wisdom but we can create conducive environment for wisdom to mature. And all it takes is a journey of self inquiry, not taking what we experience as true but to question and time tested until realization comes to our fold. Questioning is not intercepting an experience with a thought but rather experiencing an experience from the perspective of inquisitiveness and curiousity of how it comes about and what it leads to. It is training the mind to see the cause and effect of things as they are and long exposure to this way of seeing brings maturity to the understanding of the working of the mind and the overcoming of it.

Without inquiry, without meditation, it is impossible to see a way out of the mind. Once one masters the working of the mind, one is able to use the mind skilfully for the benefit of the world. Before that can happen, mindfulness, awareness, observation, recognition, and realization is part and parcel of the inward journey of meditation – to get a closer glimpse of how the mind functions. It is a process to be repeated again and again, and yet again. There is no end to the journey. The question of when is it going to end is out of question – except to know that if it really ends, one will know with certainty. What is certainty but a realization itself, and what is realization but wisdom in progress. Hence it is not up to one to make a conclusion but to keep trusting that the journey is constantly work-in-progress unfolding.

The self needs to be questioned. The self needs to be understood. The self needs to be transcended.

Present Made Redundant

My friend wrote me an email recently mentioning that he was made redundant due to a “resource reallocation” exercise within his group. It is just another nice word to mean he is no longer needed in the company. To be made to leave after working for umpteen years can be a cruel shock. But then again, isn’t that what life is constantly making out of us?

We are made to move out from the comfort of the bed to another day of work. We are made to keep changing our choices of food each day else it will get pretty boring. We are made to change our fashion to keep up with the Jones.  We are made to update our IT gadget so that there is always something better than what we are already having. We are made to keep track of what is in news. We are made to manipulate another to keep abreast of our peers. An exhaustive journey indeed the moment we get out from bed. It never stops. Not even when we take a break for a rest.

The mind keeps wanting you to be abreast of what is here. Keeps pushing you out of your need to rest or enjoy just simply being in the moment. There is always something to do or somewhere to go or somehow nothing seems to be right here. To step back and watch this incessant need is indeed a challenge. I recall just a little more than a decade ago where the 486 Pentium processor was considerably fast and I am sure I did not complain about its speed then simply because it was the best during that time. Imagine using the same model now and I can be sure the mind will get irate about it. Life is on the fast lane and the mind is being unconsciously pushed to speed up or else we will miss out what is already here. But is that true? The mind is getting more and more mindless, and without doubt more irritated and restless than before. The kids need to listen to music or songs to study, to occupy the mind so that focus is possible. How can that be so?

Give a little attention to the mind and one will be surprised by the discomfort within. To settle the mind takes a little longer than it used to in the past. Contentment is unheard of nowadays. Simplicity is rarely found. In the past, a retreat is devoid of worldly needs where the practitioner has bare minimum to live through each day giving more time for self development. Now, things have changed. Life is incomplete without a mobile phone and it has to be carried to retreats and has to be checked randomly whether there are any calls or sms that came in. The mind is a little busier in this sense. This little is sufficient enough to break the peace of the mind as it is in constant check – waiting, harboring, anticipating, expecting. With more and more new features added into the phone – no longer merely a gadget for calling – enabling one to reach practically any information at the touch of a finger, what more is there left to each moment, except virtual reality hovering in the mind, mindless to what is already here.

The World is the Meaning I put to it

It is interesting to observe the way Masters look at the world and those of worldlings. To those who have crossed the border of awakened state, life is seen as meaningless. And this statement has to be further explained and understood to avoid misinterpretation of its true meaning. To the worldlings, meaningless has a connotation of negativity – it has the aspect of unpleasant feeling in it. In fact it is not meaningless per se – it is a meaning given to something that one is not feeling pleasant about and finds no way of getting out of it and since it has no value to the experiencer, the meaning of meaninglessness occurs. For example, boredom. When we don’t see the gift behind the veil of boredom and not able to get out of that state, the feeling of meaninglessness arises. It is the non acceptance of what is that creates that meaning.

Do you observe how meaningfulness has direct relation to purposefulness? Purpose drives one. Where there is no purpose, one find ways of making meaning out of it and hence creates a purpose out of what was once purposeless. Seldom does one face purposelessness directly, simply because it is not a desirable experience to be with. Instead we turn away from it if we can’t change it and replace it with something more “meaningful”. In fact that is how we have been continuously advocated – don’t dwell in negativity, simply be positive. But how can positive be gained when at the recess of the mind is kept the demon of negativity?

Isn’t that the way of incessant addiction, driven by purpose, making meaning out of meaninglessness? Isn’t it a fact that everything has no meaning until we give it a purpose and hence a reality is born out of it? What is reality except our meaning over it? And when that meaning no longer fit our needs, we abandon it and take on another. Life is constantly such – an endless one indeed, fulfilling a meaning that is meaningless.

Whereas the Master perceives life differently. He sees the true nature of meaninglessness in everything, found in each every experience. It is from right perception, seeing all experiences neither as desirable nor not desirable simply because they are merely experiences for him to acknowledge and thus no reasons for him to be attached to. In other words he is merely a passerby to the experience. He has no qualms about meaninglessness as that is exactly what experiences are. Thus his perception of meaninglessness is born from right understanding and has the nature of peace instead of negative feelings. The worldlings experience feelings whereas the Masters recognize each feeling as an experience, passing through him. Not just feelings, but also everything that is found in the mind.

As such, a Master does not perpetuate experiences; but undoes experiences by allowing the dance to end itself without involvement, whereas the worldlings continue the process of denial by chasing after what can’t be chased, by giving meaning to what is meaningless. Meaning perpetuates existence and make what is unreal, real.

Neither one is better than the other except one is towards total freedom whereas the other, perceived freedom.

The Illusion of Experience

I was bestowed with smallness the other day. To be exact, it came on Saturday night when I suddenly felt I was not rightfully myself, and I found myself feeling uncomfortable, a clear contrast of what I was not just a moment ago before it happened. I could not put a finger to it, but I just knew it entered into my space. I woke up the next morning feeling a little depressed, probably a little useless too and it accelerated itself until late that night when I was supposed to work overnight for a rushed project. But I did not; I just give up and went to sleep at 2am, feeling terrible.

This morning upon waking up, it overwhelmed me some more with darn smallness when a guy whom I made prior appointment to meet this morning made me perceived him as trying to make me small. The mind was scheming every moment, not present to him, trying to get out from it, seeing him wrong in every moment. So strange how this mind is.

And thank God, the cloud started to thin later in the day and I became much myself again. This smallness came to me as a gift – which may sound strange to you – and of course, not when I am in it, not when the feeling of smallness was so real (of course it was!) and my job during that moment was to love it as much as I could, without trying to bring myself out of it (if only I could). And in that smallness, everything seemed bleak, terrible and insecure – and I was totally drowned and immersed in it. The story lines that come along with it made me feel even smaller. Worst, it told me how my past molded me into such. That’s the magic of illusion.  No wonder, Robert Scheinfeld, author of Busting Loose the Business Game calls it total immersion. And yes, on that note, I would strongly encourage you to read the book – he makes spiritualism fun and funny, at least to me.

And guess what, I got a gift after loving it, after coming out of it. It was a brief aha, a brief realization but a very revealing one – that when I feel great, in opposing to feeling small, it is just another camouflage of superiority, of having the ability to stand above all. What crap! Not to say both are right or wrong but it is simply a game of egoic stardom. Both at their very core are meaningless, and this is seeing them as neither real nor true, from the perspective of Spirit, or wisdom, as opposed to trying to label or distinguish them. The insight was pretty different from the level of taking integrity, or looking and resolving with what I am not authentic with. One of my beloved teachers tells me to forget all these stuff as they are ego in disguise luring me to keep searching and clearing – and when would it ever end? Instead, he asked me what is it that I wish to respond. And it is pretty paradoxical to be in the Now, as many spiritualist advocates. In the past I am advised to see what comes up in the now and face it. Yet on a new level, I am asked to see the now as unreal. Indeed a deepening of wisdom. It reminds me of what my meditation teacher said, first see it as a thought and later see it as a mind – both are different wisdom maturing.

What smallness does to me

And it dawned upon me how I try to get out of the smallness by engaging myself to share it with my beloved.  I am not saying that I should not open up myself for support to let me see the truth, but the motivation behind it was simply unwholesome. I came to see that my purpose of talking about my smallness is to get someone to buy into it, whereby when I am awake to myself, had a scheme of wanting to pass on that shit. If the person who listens to me is consciously awake as in wise, I can’t “throw” that stuff over to her. Her role position has to be merely from the space of perfect hearing and not even trying to resolve it for me by giving suggestions, as by doing so she has already deemed to see my issue as real and my smallness would have spread to her, unknowingly. And if I don’t get anything from her, I will subtly instigate her, and probably even make her upset or guilty for not supporting me or for not seeing where I am coming from. My ego job is just to stir her out of her presence and that would have done the perfect job of spreading the disease of smallness. Irrelevant whether she retaliates or buys into my story, for any reaction has already got the contagious spreading.

And if I find that she does not play my game, I move on manipulatively to look for another “victim”, speaking in tones that lures him or her into my den of smallness. And when I get him or her to buy into my stuff, I’d find a little relief from it, as if part of my shit is now out of my system. And just at the right time and right moment when the person starts to feel small, due to the contagion she has taken on, I’d find myself automatically out of that state and start to feel a little better. That is when I’d start to feel great again. But what is great except the game of passing on the baton of inferiority to superiority, to and fro, all the time, relating again and again?

Eckhart Tolle coined the word pain-body – as an egoic force that is contagious and anyone who is not awakened to his or her presence will easily get contaminated by it and the next moment, the game of finding a solution comes in, spreading and deepening the ego further. It is so obvious the meaning of life is just this – making myself aloof so that I don’t feel small – like crabs crawling all over each other, the fittest will stand above all, until another brings it down again. No matter how much integrity I have or how wise or responsible I am, luring behind it is this supremacy – the wanting not to be look down, and hence creating situations to make others small so as to defend myself from getting it, by the unconscious way I think, speak or act. To defend or to attack is already part of the ego equation. Have you experienced a passive defense, not to mention passive attack? When I feel I am right, already I am in defense which includes an attack. When I think I am wise, I am already having an equation of unwise – all for the sake of satisfying the ego. Whether I feel better or not – both are merely part of the equation of the ego. Any difference between being selfless and selfish?

Now I see from the point of view why my spiritual master seek that I stop teaching at this juncture. To teach is to see someone’s need and that is ego at work! And neither is it about not teaching. He is to mean that it is not about what I do but what I am motivated upon, and in my own words – ignorantly wise or wisely wise?

Once in the beginning there was uselessness
and one knows not
he wakes up one day and starts probing the reason behind it
and came to reclaim whatever power he gave to it
later it dawned upon him
that too is not true
as the hide and seek has to continue
so long as he continues to seek
he wakes up from another dream
one more time
and found meaninglessness in both
and in that awakened state
he triumph over all.