Body, Mind & Spirit
This is one of those books that you can open to a random page, read for a minute, and then just ponder what you read for the rest of the day. Its a book about mindfulness, of letting go, of trying to become more aware, of trying to diminish the power your ego has over you, of quieting that monkey chatter in your brain. It is about realizing that most people do not inhabit a living reality but a conceptualized one. Talk about a gut punch.
If we look more deeply into humanity’s ancient religions and spiritual traditions, we will find that underneath the many surface differences there are two core insights that most of them agree on. The words they use to describe those insights differ, yet they all point to a twofold fundamental truth. The first part of this truth is the realization that the “normal” state of mind of most human beings contains a strong element of what we might call dysfunction or even madness.
You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you, and allowing that goodness to emerge.
However, out of this insight into the nature of the human condition—we may call it the bad news—arises a second insight: the good news of the possibility of a radical transformation of human consciousness. In Hindu teachings (and sometimes in Buddhism also), this transformation is called enlightenment. In the teachings of Jesus, it is salvation, and in Buddhism, it is the end of suffering. Liberation and awakening are other terms used to describe this transformation.
To recognize one’s own insanity is, of course, the arising of sanity, the beginning of healing and transcendence. A new dimension of consciousness had begun to emerge on the planet, a first tentative flowering.
They realize that having a belief system—a set of thoughts that you regard as the absolute truth—does not make you spiritual no matter what the nature of those beliefs is. In fact, the more you make your thoughts (beliefs) into your identity, the more cut off you are from the spiritual dimension within yourself. Many “religious” people are stuck at that level. They equate truth with thought, and as they are completely identified with thought (their mind), they claim to be in sole possession of the truth in an unconscious attempt to protect their identity. They don’t realize the limitations of thought. Unless you believe (think) exactly as they do, you are wrong in their eyes, and in the not-too-distant past, they would have felt justified in killing you for that.
They realize that how “spiritual” you are has nothing to do with what you believe but everything to do with your state of consciousness. This, in turn, determines how you act in the world and interact with others.
What a liberation to realize that the “voice in my head” is not who I am. Who am I then?
The one who sees that. The awareness that is prior to thought, the space in which the thought—or the emotion or sense perception—happens.
We need to understand here that heaven is not a location but refers to the inner realm of consciousness.
“A new heaven” is the emergence of a transformed state of human consciousness, and “a new earth” is its reflection in the physical realm.
Everything, a bird, a tree, even a simple stone, and certainly a human being, is ultimately unknowable. This is because it has unfathomable depth.
The quicker you are in attaching verbal or mental labels to things, people, or situations, the more shallow and lifeless your reality becomes, and the more deadened you become to reality, the miracle of life that continuously unfolds within and around you. In this way, cleverness may be gained, but wisdom is lost, and so are joy, love, creativity, and aliveness. They are concealed in the still gap between the perception and the interpretation.
Most of the time it is not you who speaks when you say or think “I” but some aspect of that mental construct, the egoic self. Once you awaken, you still use the word “I,” but it will come from a much deeper place within yourself.
Most people are still completely identified with the incessant stream of mind, of compulsive thinking, most of it repetitive and pointless. There is no “I” apart from their thought processes and the emotions that go with them. This is the meaning of being spiritually unconscious.
Thinking without awareness is the main dilemma of human existence.
Thinking is only a tiny aspect of the consciousness that we are, nor did I know anything about the ego, let alone being able to detect it within myself.
Most people don’t inhabit a living reality, but a conceptualized one.
A large part of many people’s lives is consumed by an obsessive preoccupation with things. This is why one of the ills of our times is object proliferation. When you can no longer feel the life that you are, you are likely to try to fill up your life with things. As a spiritual practice, I suggest that you investigate your relationship with the world of things through self-observation, and in particular, things that are designated with the word “my.” You need to be alert and honest to find out, for example, whether your sense of self-worth is bound up with things you possess.
Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.
One thing we do know: Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment.
The ego isn’t wrong; it’s just unconscious. When you observe the ego in yourself, you are beginning to go beyond it. Don’t take the ego too seriously. When you detect egoic behavior in yourself, smile.
In the proximity of death, the whole concept of ownership stands revealed as ultimately meaningless. In the last moments of their life, they then also realize that while they were looking throughout their lives for a more complete sense of self, what they were really looking for, their Being, had actually always already been there, but had been largely obscured by their identification with things, which ultimately means identification with their mind.
There are people who have renounced all possessions but have a bigger ego than some millionaires. If you take away one kind of identification, the ego will quickly find another. It ultimately doesn’t mind what it identifies with as long as it has an identity.
As we shall see later, making yourself right and others wrong is one of the principal egoic mind patterns, one of the main forms of unconsciousness. In other words, the content of the ego may change; the mind structure that keeps it alive does not.
The ego tends to equate having with Being: I have, therefore I am. And the more I have, the more I am. The ego lives through comparison. How you are seen by others turns into how you see yourself.
How do you let go of attachment to things? Don’t even try. It’s impossible. Attachment to things drops away by itself when you no longer seek to find yourself in them. In the meantime, just be aware of your attachment to things.
If you are aware that you are identified with a thing, the identification is no longer total. “I am the awareness that is aware that there is attachment.” That’s the beginning of the transformation of consciousness.
“I don’t have enough yet,” by which the ego really means, “I am not enough yet.”
No ego can last for long without the need for more. Therefore, wanting keeps the ego alive much more than having. The ego wants to want more than it wants to have. And so the shallow satisfaction of having is always replaced by more wanting. This is the psychological need for more, that is to say, more things to identify with. It is an addictive need, not an authentic one.
They want different things at different times or may not even know what they want except that they don’t want what is: the present moment. Unease, restlessness, boredom, anxiety, dissatisfaction, are the result of unfulfilled wanting. Wanting is structural, so no amount of content can provide lasting fulfillment as long as that mental structure remains in place. Intense wanting that has no specific object can often be found in the still-developing ego of teenagers, some of whom are in a permanent state of negativity and dissatisfaction.
No content will satisfy you, as long as the egoic structure remains in place. No matter what you have or get, you won’t be happy. You will always be looking for something else that promises greater fulfillment, that promises to make your incomplete sense of self complete and fill that sense of lack you feel within.
You realize your essential identity as formless, as an all-pervasive Presence, of Being prior to all forms, all identifications. You realize your true identity as consciousness itself, rather than what consciousness had identified with. That’s the peace of God. The ultimate truth of who you are is not I am this or I am that, but I Am.
Yielding means inner acceptance of what is. You are open to life. Resistance is an inner contraction, a hardening of the shell of the ego. You are closed. Whatever action you take in a state of inner resistance (which we could also call negativity) will create more outer resistance, and the universe will not be on your side; life will not be helpful.
Most people are so completely identified with the voice in the head—the incessant stream of involuntary and compulsive thinking and the emotions that accompany it—that we may describe them as being possessed by their mind.
Every ego is continuously struggling for survival, trying to protect and enlarge itself. To uphold the I-thought, it needs the opposite thought of “the other.” The conceptual “I” cannot survive without the conceptual “other.” The others are most other when I see them as my enemies. At one end of the scale of this unconscious egoic pattern lies the egoic compulsive habit of faultfinding and complaining about others.
Because when I criticize or condemn another, it makes me feel bigger, superior.
Complaining is one of the ego’s favorite strategies for strengthening itself. Every complaint is a little story the mind makes up that you completely believe in.
Complaining, especially about other people, is habitual and, of course, unconscious, which means you don’t know what you are doing.
Resentment is the emotion that goes with complaining and the mental labeling of people and adds even more energy to the ego. Resentment means to feel bitter, indignant, aggrieved, or offended.
Nonreaction to the ego in others is one of the most effective ways not only of going beyond ego in yourself but also of dissolving the collective human ego.
When you realize it’s not personal, there is no longer a compulsion to react as if it were.
Nonreaction is not weakness but strength. Another word for nonreaction is forgiveness. To forgive is to overlook, or rather to look through. You look through the ego to the sanity that is in every human being as his or her essence.
Sometimes it becomes obvious that the ego doesn’t really want change so that it can go on complaining.
Whenever you notice that voice, you will also realize that you are not the voice, but the one who is aware of it. In fact, you are the awareness that is aware of the voice. In the background, there is the awareness. In the foreground, there is the voice, the thinker.
Awareness and ego cannot coexist.
Complaining then turns into reactivity, another of the ego’s ways of strengthening itself.
A long-standing resentment is called a grievance. To carry a grievance is to be in a permanent state of “against,” and that is why grievances constitute a significant part of many people’s ego.
A grievance will also contaminate other areas of your life. For example, while you think about and feel your grievance, its negative emotional energy can distort your perception of an event that is happening in the present or influence the way in which you speak or behave toward someone in the present. One strong grievance is enough to contaminate large areas of your life and keep you in the grip of the ego.
Forgiveness happens naturally when you see that it has no purpose other than to strengthen a false sense of self, to keep the ego in place.
The past has no power to stop you from being present now. Only your grievance about the past can do that. And what is a grievance? The baggage of old thought and emotion.
When you complain, by implication you are right and the person or situation you complain about or react against is wrong. There is nothing that strengthens the ego more than being right.
For you to be right, of course, you need someone else to be wrong, and so the ego loves to make wrong in order to be right. In other words: You need to make others wrong in order to get a stronger sense of who you are.
Every ego confuses opinions and viewpoints with facts. Furthermore, it cannot tell the difference between an event and its reaction to that event.
Beyond the realm of simple and verifiable facts, the certainty that “I am right and you are wrong” is a dangerous thing in personal relationships
The Truth is inseparable from who you are. Yes, you are the Truth.
Jesus speaks of the innermost I Am, the essence identity of every man and woman, every life-form, in fact. He speaks of the life that you are. Some Christian mystics have called it the Christ within; Buddhists call it your Buddha nature; for Hindus, it is Atman, the indwelling God. When you are in touch with that dimension within yourself—and being in touch with it is your natural state, not some miraculous achievement—all your actions and relationships will reflect the oneness with all life that you sense deep within. This is love.
War is a mind-set, and all action that comes out of such a mind-set will either strengthen the enemy, the perceived evil, or, if the war is won, will create a new enemy, a new evil equal to and often worse than the one that was defeated.
Recognize the ego for what it is: a collective dysfunction, the insanity of the human mind.
You don’t take it personally anymore. There is no complaining, blaming, accusing, or making wrong. Nobody is wrong.
There is something else in you that wants the drama, wants the conflict.
When the ego is at war, know that it is no more than an illusion that is fighting to survive. That illusion thinks it is you. It is not easy at first to be there as the witnessing Presence, especially when the ego is in survival mode or some emotional pattern from the past has become activated, but once you have had a taste of it, you will grow in Presence power, and the ego will lose its grip on you.
All that is required to become free of the ego is to be aware of it, since awareness and ego are incompatible. Awareness is the power that is concealed within the present moment.
Only Presence can free you of the ego, and you can only be present Now, not yesterday or tomorrow. Only Presence can undo the past in you and thus transform your state of consciousness.
Spiritual realization is to see clearly that what I perceive, experience, think, or feel is ultimately not who I am, that I cannot find myself in all those things that continuously pass away.
The only thing that ultimately matters is this: Can I sense my essential Beingness, the I Am, in the background of my life at all times? To be more accurate, can I sense the I Am that I Am at this moment? Can I sense my essential identity as consciousness itself ? Or am I losing myself in what happens, losing myself in the mind, in the world?
Whatever behavior the ego manifests, the hidden motivating force is always the same: the need to stand out, be special, be in control; the need for power, for attention, for more. And, of course, the need to feel a sense of separation, that is to say, the need for opposition, enemies.
The underlying emotion that governs all the activity of the ego is fear.
Illusion will never satisfy you. Only the truth of who you are, if realized, will set you free.
Once you realize and accept that all structures (forms) are unstable, even the seemingly solid material ones, peace arises within you. This is because the recognition of the impermanence of all forms awakens you to the dimension of the formless within yourself, that which is beyond death. Jesus called it “eternal life.
The moment you become aware of the ego in yourself, that emerging awareness is who you are beyond ego, the deeper “I.” The recognition of the false is already the arising of the real.
If someone has more, knows more, or can do more than I, the ego feels threatened because the feeling of “less” diminishes its imagined sense of self relative to the other. It may then try to restore itself by somehow diminishing, criticizing, or belittling the value of the other person’s possessions, knowledge, or abilities.
In a genuine relationship, there is an outward flow of open, alert attention toward the other person in which there is no wanting whatsoever. That alert attention is Presence. It is the prerequisite for any authentic relationship.
The ego thrives on others’ attention, which is after all a form of psychic energy.
Whenever you feel superior or inferior to anyone, that’s the ego in you.
If they cannot get positive attention, they may seek negative attention instead, for example, by provoking a negative reaction in someone else.
The playing of negative roles becomes particularly pronounced whenever the ego is magnified by an active pain-body, that is to say, emotional pain from the past that wants to renew itself through experiencing more pain.
In the early stages of many so-called romantic relationships, role-playing is quite common in order to attract and keep whoever is perceived by the ego as the one who is going to “make me happy, make me feel special, and fulfill all my needs.
What is commonly called “falling in love” is in most cases an intensification of egoic wanting and needing. You become addicted to another person, or rather to your image of that person. It has nothing to do with true love, which contains no wanting whatsoever.
What really matters is not what function you fulfill in this world, but whether you identify with your function to such an extent that it takes you over and becomes a role that you play.
Some pre-established roles we could call social archetypes.
Instead of human beings, conceptual mental images are interacting with each other. The more identified people are with their respective roles, the more inauthentic the relationships become.
In many cases, happiness is a role people play, and behind the smiling façade, there is a great deal of pain.
The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it. Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking. Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral, which always is as it is. There is the situation or the fact, and here are my thoughts about it.
Don’t seek happiness. If you seek it, you won’t find it, because seeking is the antithesis of happiness. Happiness is ever elusive, but freedom from unhappiness is attainable now, by facing what is rather than making up stories about it. Unhappiness covers up your natural state of well-being and inner peace, the source of true happiness.
Parents define themselves by that role and are unconsciously afraid of loss of identity when they cease being parents.
On the surface it looks as if they were concerned about their child, and they themselves believe it, but they are only really concerned about preserving their role-identity.
If there is awareness in you, you will be able to recognize that voice in your head for what it is: an old thought, conditioned by the past. If there is awareness in you, you no longer need to believe in every thought you think. It’s an old thought, no more.
Presence, and only Presence can dissolve the unconscious past in you.
The more shared past there is in a relationship, the more present you need to be; otherwise, you will be forced to relive the past again and again.
Doing is never enough if you neglect Being.
How do you bring Being into the life of a busy family, into the relationship with your child? The key is to give your child attention. There are two kinds of attention. One we might call form-based attention. The other is formless attention. Form-based attention is always connected in some way with doing or evaluating. “Have you done your homework? Eat your dinner. Tidy up your room. Brush your teeth. Do this. Stop doing that. Hurry up, get ready.” What’s the next thing we have to do? This question pretty much summarizes what family life is like in many homes. Form-based attention is of course necessary and has its place, but if that’s all there is in the relationship with your child, then the most vital dimension is missing and Being becomes completely obscured by doing, by “the cares of the world,” as Jesus puts it. Formless attention is inseparable from the dimension of Being. How does it work? As you look at, listen to, touch, or help your child with this or that, you are alert, still, completely present, not wanting anything other than that moment as it is. In this way, you make room for Being. In that moment, if you are present, you are not a father or mother. You are the alertness, the stillness, the Presence that is listening, looking, touching, even speaking. You are the Being behind the doing.
To do whatever is required of you in any situation without it becoming a role that you identify with is an essential lesson in the art of living that each one of us is here to learn.
Every role is a fictitious sense of self, and through it everything becomes personalized and thus corrupted and distorted by the mind-made “little me” and whatever role it happens to be playing.
Give up defining yourself—to yourself or to others. You won’t die. You will come to life. And don’t be concerned with how others define you. When they define you, they are limiting themselves, so it’s their problem. Whenever you interact with people, don’t be there primarily as a function or a role, but as a field of conscious Presence.
In Shakespeare’s words, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
Whenever you are in a negative state, there is something in you that wants the negativity, that perceives it as pleasurable, or that believes it will get you what you want.
If in the midst of negativity you are able to realize “At this moment I am creating suffering for myself” it will be enough to raise you above the limitations of conditioned egoic states and reactions. It will open up infinite possibilities which come to you when there is awareness—other vastly more intelligent ways of dealing with any situation. You will be free to let go of your unhappiness the moment you recognize it as unintelligent.
The ego creates separation, and separation creates suffering. The ego is therefore clearly pathological.
Being at peace and being who you are, that is, being yourself, are one. The ego says: Maybe at some point in the future, I can be at peace—if this, that, or the other happens, or I obtain this or become that. Or it says: I can never be at peace because of something that happened in the past.
The ego doesn’t know that your only opportunity for being at peace is now.
How to be at peace now? By making peace with the present moment. The present moment is the field on which the game of life happens. It cannot happen anywhere else.
There are three words that convey the secret of the art of living, the secret of all success and happiness: One With Life. Being one with life is being one with Now.
You then realize that you don’t live your life, but life lives you. Life is the dancer, and you are the dance.
To create suffering without recognizing it—this is the essence of unconscious living; this is being totally in the grip of the ego.
Ask yourself, “Is there negativity in me at this moment?” Then, become alert, attentive to your thoughts as well as your emotions. Watch out for the low-level unhappiness in whatever form that I mentioned earlier, such as discontent, nervousness, being “fed up,” and so on. Watch out for thoughts that appear to justify or explain this unhappiness but in reality cause it. The moment you become aware of a negative state within yourself, it does not mean you have failed. It means that you have succeeded.
When that shift happens, which is the shift from thinking to awareness, an intelligence far greater than the ego’s cleverness begins to operate in your life.
For example, many normal people tell certain kinds of lies from time to time in order to appear more important, more special, and to enhance their image in the mind of others: who they know, what their achievements, abilities, and possessions are, and whatever else the ego uses to identify with. Some people, however, driven by the ego’s feeling of insufficiency and its need to have or be “more,” lie habitually and compulsively.
What is an argument? Two or more people express their opinions and those opinions differ. Each person is so identified with the thoughts that make up their opinion, that those thoughts harden into mental positions which are invested with a sense of self. In other words: Identity and thought merge. Once this has happened, when I defend my opinions (thoughts), I feel and act as if I were defending my very self. Unconsciously, I feel and act as if I were fighting for survival and so my emotions will reflect this unconscious belief. They become turbulent. I am upset, angry, defensive, or aggressive. I need to win at all cost lest I become annihilated. That’s the illusion. The ego doesn’t know that mind and mental positions have nothing to do with who you are because the ego is the unobserved mind itself.
In Zen they say: “Don’t seek the truth. Just cease to cherish opinions.”
If you complain, feel self-pity, or resent being ill, your ego becomes stronger. It also becomes stronger if you make the illness part of your conceptual identity: “I am a sufferer of such and such a disease.” Ah, so now we know who you are.
A collective ego manifests the same characteristics as the personal ego, such as the need for conflict and enemies, the need for more, the need to be right against others who are wrong, and so on.
Ego comes about through a split in the human psyche in which identity separates into two parts that we could call “I” and “me” or “me” and “myself.” Every ego is therefore schizophrenic, to use the word in its popular meaning of split personality. You live with a mental image of yourself, a conceptual self that you have a relationship with. Life itself becomes conceptualized and separated from who you are when you speak of “my life.” The moment you say or think “my life” and believe in what you are saying (rather than it just being a linguistic convention), you have entered the realm of delusion.
and I don’t have a life. I am life. I and life are one. It cannot be otherwise.
Strictly speaking, you don’t think: Thinking happens to you. The statement “I think” implies volition. It implies that you have a say in the matter, that there is choice involved on your part. For most people, this is not yet the case. “I think” is just as false a statement as “I digest” or “I circulate my blood.” Digestion happens, circulation happens, thinking happens. The voice in the head has a life of its own. Most people are at the mercy of that voice; they are possessed by thought, by the mind. And since the mind is conditioned by the past, you are then forced to reenact the past
Alienation means you don’t feel at ease in any situation, any place, or with any person, not even with yourself. You are always trying to get “home” but never feel at home.
To see one’s predicament clearly is a first step toward going beyond it.
The physical organism, your body, has its own intelligence, as does the organism of every other life-form. And that intelligence reacts to what your mind is saying, reacts to your thoughts. So emotion is the body’s reaction to your mind. The body’s intelligence is, of course, an inseparable part of universal intelligence, one of its countless manifestations.
You don’t run your body. The intelligence does.
It is the same intelligence that manifests as Gaia, the complex living being that is planet earth.
These instinctive responses could be considered primordial forms of emotion. In certain situations, human beings experience instinctive responses in the same way that animals do. In the face of danger, when the survival of the organism is threatened, the heart beats faster, the muscles contract, breathing becomes rapid in preparation for fight or flight. Primordial fear. When being cornered, a sudden flare-up of intense energy gives strength to the body that it didn’t have before. Primordial anger. These instinctive responses appear akin to emotions, but are not emotions in the true sense of the word. The fundamental difference between an instinctive response and an emotion is this: An instinctive response is the body’s direct response to some external situation. An emotion, on the other hand, is the body’s response to a thought.
Although the body is very intelligent, it cannot tell the difference between an actual situation and a thought. It reacts to every thought as if it were a reality. It doesn’t know it is just a thought. To the body, a worrisome, fearful thought means “I am in danger,” and it responds accordingly, even though you may be lying in a warm and comfortable bed at night. The heart beats faster, muscles contract, breathing becomes rapid. There is a buildup of energy, but since the danger is only a mental fiction, the energy has no outlet. Part of it is fed back to the mind and generates even more anxious thought. The rest of the energy turns toxic and interferes with the harmonious functioning of the body.
The ego is not only the unobserved mind, the voice in the head which pretends to be you, but also the unobserved emotions that are the body’s reaction to what the voice in the head is saying.
The voice in the head tells a story that the body believes in and reacts to. Those reactions are the emotions. The emotions, in turn, feed energy back to the thoughts that created the emotion in the first place. This is the vicious circle between unexamined thoughts and emotions, giving rise to emotional thinking and emotional story-making.
The voice of the ego continuously disrupts the body’s natural state of well-being.
Thus, a stream of negative emotion accompanies the stream of incessant and compulsive thinking.
Fear, anxiety, anger, bearing a grudge, sadness, hatred or intense dislike, jealousy, envy—all disrupt the energy flow through the body, affect the heart, the immune system, digestion, production of hormones, and so on.
An emotion that does harm to the body also infects the people you come into contact with and indirectly, through a process of chain reaction, countless others you never meet. There is a generic term for all negative emotions: unhappiness.
Ego-generated emotions are derived from the mind’s identification with external factors which are, of course, all unstable and liable to change at any moment. The deeper emotions are not really emotions at all but states of Being. Emotions exist within the realm of opposites. States of Being can be obscured, but they have no opposite. They emanate from within you as the love, joy, and peace that are aspects of your true nature.
We are a species that has lost its way. Everything natural, every flower or tree, and every animal have important lessons to teach us if we would only stop, look, and listen. Our duck’s lesson is this: Flap your wings—which translates as “let go of the story”—and return to the only place of power: the present moment.
The inability or rather unwillingness of the human mind to let go of the past is beautifully illustrated in the story of two Zen monks, Tanzan and Ekido, who were walking along a country road that had become extremely muddy after heavy rains. Near a village, they came upon a young woman who was trying to cross the road, but the mud was so deep it would have ruined the silk kimono she was wearing. Tanzan at once picked her up and carried her to the other side. The monks walked on in silence. Five hours later, as they were approaching the lodging temple, Ekido couldn’t restrain himself any longer. “Why did you carry that girl across the road?” he asked. “We monks are not supposed to do things like that.” “I put the girl down hours ago,” said Tanzan. “Are you still carrying her?
Because of the human tendency to perpetuate old emotion, almost everyone carries in his or her energy field an accumulation of old emotional pain, which I call “the pain-body.
We can learn to break the habit of accumulating and perpetuating old emotion by flapping our wings, metaphorically speaking, and refrain from mentally dwelling on the past, regardless of whether something happened yesterday or thirty years ago.
We can learn not to keep situations or events alive in our minds, but to return our attention continuously to the pristine, timeless present moment rather than be caught up in mental movie-making. Our very Presence then becomes our identity, rather than our thoughts and emotions.
The remnants of pain left behind by every strong negative emotion that is not fully faced, accepted, and then let go of join together to form an energy field that lives in the very cells of your body.
Christ can be seen as the archetypal human, embodying both the pain and the possibility of transcendence.
The pain-body is an addiction to unhappiness.
It may be shocking when you realize for the first time that there is something within you that periodically seeks emotional negativity, seeks unhappiness.
The pain-body awakens from its dormancy when it gets hungry, when it is time to replenish itself.
All things are vibrating energy fields in ceaseless motion.
What we perceive as physical matter is energy vibrating (moving) at a particular range of frequencies. Thoughts consist of the same energy vibrating at a higher frequency than matter, which is why they cannot be seen or touched. Thoughts have their own range of frequencies, with negative thoughts at the lower end of the scale and positive thoughts at the higher.
Most pain-bodies want to both inflict and suffer pain, but some are predominately either perpetrators or victims.
In either case, they feed on violence, whether emotional or physical. Some couples who may think they have “fallen in love” are actually feeling drawn to each other because their respective pain-bodies complement each other.
That in you which recognizes madness as madness (even if it is your own) is sanity, is the arising awareness, is the end of insanity.
There is a tendency in the news media in general, including television, to thrive on negative news.
The sacred feminine was declared demonic, and an entire dimension largely disappeared from human experience.
But then why in many ancient pre-Christian civilizations such as the Sumerian, Egyptian, and Celtic were women respected and the feminine principle not feared but revered? What is it that suddenly made men feel threatened by the female? The evolving ego in them. It knew it could gain full control of our planet only through the male form, and to do so, it had to render the female powerless.
The sacred feminine, because it is suppressed, is felt by many women as emotional pain.
The beginning of freedom from the pain-body lies first of all in the realization that you have a pain-body. Then, more important, in your ability to stay present enough, alert enough, to notice the pain-body in yourself as a heavy influx of negative emotion when it becomes active. When it is recognized, it can no longer pretend to be you and live and renew itself through you.
It is your conscious Presence that breaks the identification with the pain-body. When you don’t identify with it, the pain-body can no longer control your thinking and so cannot renew itself anymore by feeding on your thoughts.
Every human being emanates an energy field that corresponds to his or her inner state, and most people can sense it, although they may feel someone else’s energy emanation only subliminally. That is to say, they don’t know that they sense it, yet it determines to a large extent how they feel about and react to that person.
Since you cannot be unhappy without an unhappy story, this was the end of her unhappiness. It was also the beginning of the end of her pain-body. Emotion in itself is not unhappiness. Only emotion plus an unhappy story is unhappiness.
While the child is having a pain-body attack, there isn’t much you can do except to stay present so that you are not drawn into an emotional reaction. The child’s pain-body would only feed on it. Pain-bodies can be extremely dramatic. Don’t buy into the drama. Don’t take it too seriously. If the pain-body was triggered by thwarted wanting, don’t give in now to its demands. Otherwise, the child will learn: “The more unhappy I become, the more likely I am to get what I want.” This is a recipe for dysfunction in later life. The pain-body will be frustrated by your nonreaction and may briefly act up even more before it subsides. Fortunately, pain-body episodes in children are usually more short-lived than in adults.
A little while after it has subsided, or perhaps the next day, you can talk to the child about what happened. But don’t tell the child about the pain-body. Ask questions instead. For example: “What was it that came over you yesterday when you wouldn’t stop screaming? Do you remember? What did it feel like? Was it a good feeling? That thing that came over you, does it have a name? No? If it had a name, what would it be called? If you could see it, what would it look like? Can you paint a picture of what it would look like? What happened to it when it went away? Did it go to sleep? Do you think it may come back?”
Direct the child’s attention to what it feels like. Let your attitude be one of interest or curiosity rather than one of criticism or condemnation.
The pain-body’s unhappiness is always clearly out of proportion to the apparent cause. In other words, it is an overreaction.
A person with a strong, active pain-body has a particular energy emanation that other people perceive as extremely unpleasant. When they meet such a person, some people will immediately want to remove themselves or reduce interaction with him or her to a minimum.
I had not reacted, not confirmed the reality of her story, not fed her mind with more thought and her pain-body with more emotion. I had allowed her to experience whatever she was experiencing at that moment, and the power of allowing lies in noninterference, nondoing. Being present is always infinitely more powerful than anything one could say or do, although sometimes being present can give rise to words or actions.
In Zen, such a glimpse is called satori. Satori is a moment of Presence, a brief stepping out of the voice in your head, the thought processes, and their reflection in the body as emotion. It is the arising of inner spaciousness where before there was the clutter of thought and the turmoil of emotion.
They relinquish resistance, become still and alert, one with what is, within and without.
Accepting means you allow yourself to feel whatever it is you are feeling at that moment. It is part of the is-ness of the Now. You can’t argue with what is. Well, you can, but if you do, you suffer. Through allowing, you become what you are: vast, spacious.
Knowing yourself deeply has nothing to do with whatever ideas are floating around in your mind. Knowing yourself is to be rooted in Being, instead of lost in your mind.
What matters to you is not necessarily what you say or believe, but what your actions and reactions reveal as important and serious to you. So you may want to ask yourself the question: What are the things that upset and disturb me? If small things have the power to disturb you, then who you think you are is exactly that: small. That will be your unconscious belief. What are the small things? Ultimately all things are small things because all things are transient.
If peace is really what you want, then you will choose peace. If peace mattered to you more than anything else and if you truly knew yourself to be spirit rather than a little me, you would remain nonreactive and absolutely alert when confronted with challenging people or situations.
You would immediately accept the situation and thus become one with it rather than separate yourself from it. Then out of your alertness would come a response. Who you are (consciousness), not who you think you are (a small me), would be responding. It would be powerful and effective and would make no person or situation into an enemy.
When you realize that what you react to in others is also in you (and sometimes only in you), you begin to become aware of your own ego.
Who you are requires no belief. In fact, every belief is an obstacle.
Acknowledging the good that is already in your life is the foundation for all abundance. The fact is: Whatever you think the world is withholding from you, you are withholding from the world. You are withholding it because deep down you think you are small and that you have nothing to give.
Outflow determines inflow. Whatever you think the world is withholding from you, you already have, but unless you allow it to flow out, you won’t even know that you have it.
Ask yourself often: “What can I give here; how can I be of service to this person, this situation?”
“The snow falls, each flake in its appropriate place.”
The atoms that make up your body were once forged inside stars, and the causes of even the smallest event are virtually infinite and connected with the whole in incomprehensible ways.
To be in alignment with what is means to be in a relationship of inner nonresistance with what happens. It means not to label it mentally as good or bad, but to let it be.
Only if you resist what happens are you at the mercy of what happens, and the world will determine your happiness and unhappiness.
The most important, the primordial relationship in your life is your relationship with the Now, or rather with whatever form the Now takes, that is to say, what is or what happens. If your relationship with the Now is dysfunctional, that dysfunction will be reflected in every relationship and every situation you encounter. The ego could be defined simply in this way: a dysfunctional relationship with the present moment. It is at this moment that you can decide what kind of relationship you want to have with the present moment.
You are able to decide what kind of a relationship you want to have with the present moment. Do I want the present moment to be my friend or my enemy?
The decision to make the present moment into your friend is the end of the ego. The ego can never be in alignment with the present moment, which is to say, aligned with life, since its very nature compels it to ignore, resist, or devalue the Now.
In other words, you are never fully here because you are always busy trying to get elsewhere.
This is where impatience, frustration, and stress arise, and in our culture, it is many people’s everyday reality, their normal state.
A vital question to ask yourself frequently is: What is my relationship with the present moment? Then become alert to find out the answer. Am I treating the Now as no more than a means to an end? Do I see it as an obstacle? Am I making it into an enemy?
The moment you see the dysfunction, it begins to dissolve.
Nonresistance is the key to the greatest power in the universe. Through it, consciousness (spirit) is freed from its imprisonment in form. Inner nonresistance to form whatever is or happens—is a denial of the absolute reality of form. Resistance makes the world and the things of the world appear more real, more solid, and more lasting than they are, including your own form identity, the ego. It endows the world and the ego with a heaviness and an absolute importance that makes you take yourself and the world very seriously.
you, blames you, or calls you names, instead of immediately retaliating or defending yourself—do nothing. Allow the self-image to remain diminished and become alert to what that feels like deep inside you. For a few seconds, it may feel uncomfortable, as if you had shrunk in size. Then you may sense an inner spaciousness that feels intensely alive. You haven’t been diminished at all. In fact, you have expanded. You may then come to an amazing realization: When you are seemingly diminished in some way and remain in absolute nonreaction, not just externally but also internally, you realize that nothing real has been diminished, that through becoming “less,” you become
Instead of trying to be a mountain, teaches the ancient Tao Te Ching, “Be the valley of the universe.”4 In this way, you are restored to wholeness and so “all things will come to you.”5
The collective disease of humanity is that people are so engrossed in what happens, so hypnotized by the world of fluctuating forms, so absorbed in the content of their lives, they have forgotten the essence, that which is beyond content, beyond form, beyond thought. They are so consumed by time that they have forgotten eternity, which is their origin, their home, their destiny. Eternity is the living reality of who you are.
Another pointer to the truth in you is contained in the following statement: “I am never upset for the reason I think.”
Avoid watching programs and commercials that assault you with a rapid succession of images that change every two or three seconds or less.
Frequent and prolonged TV watching not only makes you unconscious, it also induces passivity and drains you of energy. Therefore, rather than watching at random, choose the programs you want to see. Whenever you remember to do so, feel the aliveness inside your body as you watch.
If you are able to enjoy simple things like listening to the sound of the rain or the wind; if you can see the beauty of clouds moving across the sky or be alone at times without feeling lonely or needing the mental stimulus of entertainment; if you find yourself treating a complete stranger with heartfelt kindness without wanting anything from him or her…it means that a space has opened up, no matter how briefly, in the otherwise incessant stream of thinking that is the human mind. When this happens, there is a sense of well-being, of alive peace, even though it may be subtle. The intensity will vary from a perhaps barely noticeable background sense of contentment to what the ancient sages of India called ananda—the bliss of Being.
So when you appreciate something simple—a sound, a sight, a touch—when you see beauty, when you feel loving kindness toward another, sense the inner spaciousness that is the source and background to that experience.
The philosopher Nietzsche, in a rare moment of deep stillness, wrote, “For happiness, how little suffices for happiness!…the least thing precisely, the gentlest thing, the lightest thing, a lizard’s rustling, a breath, a wisk, an eye glance—little maketh up the best happiness. Be still.”
To be aware of little, quiet things, however, you need to be quiet inside.
A high degree of alertness is required. Be still. Look. Listen. Be present.
CAN YOU HEAR THE MOUNTAIN STREAM? A Zen Master was walking in silence with one of his disciples along a mountain trail. When they came to an ancient cedar tree, they sat down under it for a simple meal of some rice and vegetables. After the meal, the disciple, a young monk who had not yet found the key to the mystery of Zen, broke the silence by asking the Master, “Master, how do I enter Zen?” He was, of course, inquiring how to enter the state of consciousness which is Zen. The Master remained silent. Almost five minutes passed while the disciple anxiously waited for an answer. He was about to ask another question when the Master suddenly spoke. “Do you hear the sound of that mountain stream?” The disciple had not been aware of any mountain stream. He had been too busy thinking about the meaning of Zen. Now, as he began to listen for the sound, his noisy mind subsided. At first he heard nothing. Then, his thinking gave way to heightened alertness, and suddenly he did hear the hardly perceptible murmur of a small stream in the far distance. “Yes, I can hear it now,” he said. The Master raised his finger and, with a look in his eyes that in some way was both fierce and gentle, said, “Enter Zen from there.”
This is most people’s reality: As soon as something is perceived, it is named, interpreted, compared with something else, liked, disliked, or called good or bad by the phantom self, the ego. They are imprisoned in thought forms, in object consciousness. You do not awaken spiritually until the compulsive and unconscious naming ceases, or at least you become aware of it and thus are able to observe it as it happens. It is through this constant naming that the ego remains in place as the unobserved mind. Whenever it ceases and even when you just become aware of it, there is inner space, and you are not possessed by the mind anymore.
Every experience has three possible ingredients: sense perceptions, thoughts or mental images, and emotions.
Being aware of your breathing takes attention away from thinking and creates space. It is one way of generating consciousness. Although the fullness of consciousness is already there as the unmanifested, we are here to bring consciousness into this dimension.
One conscious breath is enough to make some space where before there was the uninterrupted succession of one thought after another.
One conscious breath (two or three would be even better), taken many times a day, is an excellent way of bringing space into your life.
You may also notice that you cannot think and be aware of your breathing. Conscious breathing stops your mind. But far from being in a trance or half asleep, you are fully awake and highly alert. You are not falling below thinking, but rising above it.
When you notice the compulsive need arising in you, stop and take three conscious breaths. This generates awareness. Then for a few minutes be aware of the compulsive urge itself as an energy field inside you. Consciously feel that need to physically or mentally ingest or consume a certain substance or the desire to act out some form of compulsive behavior. Then take a few more conscious breaths. After that you may find that the compulsive urge has disappeared—for the time being. Or you may find that it still overpowers you, and you cannot help but indulge or act it out again. Don’t make it into a problem. Make the addiction part of your awareness practice in the way described above. As awareness grows, addictive patterns will weaken and eventually dissolve.
Jesus already taught that you need to lose yourself to find yourself. Whenever you let go of one of these patterns, you de-emphasize who you are on the level of form and who you are beyond form emerges more fully. You become less, so you can be more.
“Stillness is the language God speaks, and everything else is a bad translation.
Being aware of stillness means to be still. To be still is to be conscious without thought.
As soon as you rise above mere survival, the question of meaning and purpose becomes of paramount importance in your life. Many people feel caught up in the routines of daily living that seem to deprive their life of significance. Some believe life is passing them by or has passed them by already. Others feel severely restricted by the demands of their job and supporting a family or by their financial or living situation. Some are consumed by acute stress, others by acute boredom.
Without living in alignment with your primary purpose, whatever purpose you come up with, even if it is to create heaven on earth, will be of the ego or become destroyed by time. Sooner or later, it will lead to suffering. If you ignore your inner purpose, no matter what you do, even if it looks spiritual, the ego will creep into how you do it, and so the means will corrupt the end. The common saying “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” points to this truth.
Whatever you do takes time, and yet it is always now.
The great arises out of small things that are honored and cared for. Everybody’s life really consists of small things.
Even belief in God is only a poor substitute for the living reality of God manifesting every moment of your
Your primary purpose is now to enable consciousness to flow into what you do. The secondary purpose is whatever you want to achieve through the doing.
You cannot become successful. You can only be successful.
Don’t let a mad world tell you that success is anything other than a successful present moment.
As you already know, your secondary or outer purpose lies within the dimension of time, while your main purpose is inseparable from the Now and therefore requires the negation of time. How are they reconciled? By realizing that your entire life journey ultimately consists of the step you are taking at this moment. There is always only this one step, and so you give it your fullest attention. This doesn’t mean you don’t know where you are going; it just means this step is primary, the destination secondary. And what you encounter at your destination once you get there depends on the quality of this one step. Another way of putting it: What the future holds for you depends on your state of consciousness now.
When doing becomes infused with the timeless quality of Being, that is success.
Some changes may look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.
Stupidity is relatively harmless, but intelligent stupidity is highly dangerous.
The modalities of awakened doing are acceptance, enjoyment, and enthusiasm. Each one represents a certain vibrational frequency of consciousness. You need to be vigilant to make sure that one of them operates whenever you are engaged in doing anything at all—from the most simple task to the most complex. If you are not in the state of either acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm, look closely and you will find that you are creating suffering for yourself and others.
Acceptance means: For now, this is what this situation, this moment, requires me to do, and so I do it willingly.
Performing an action in the state of acceptance means you are at peace while you do it. That peace is a subtle energy vibration which then flows into what you do.
If you can neither enjoy or bring acceptance to what you do—stop. Otherwise, you are not taking responsibility for the only thing you can really take responsibility for, which also happens to be one thing that really matters: your state of consciousness.
When you make the present moment, instead of past and future, the focal point of your life, your ability to enjoy what you do—and with it the quality of your life—increases dramatically. Joy is the dynamic aspect of Being. When the creative power of the universe becomes conscious of itself, it manifests as joy.
Joy does not come from what you do, it flows into what you do and thus into this world from deep within you.
The fourteenth-century Persian poet and Sufi master Hafiz expresses this truth beautifully: “I am a hole in a flute that the Christ’s breath moves through. Listen to this music.”1
Enthusiasm means there is deep enjoyment in what you do plus the added element of a goal or a vision that you work toward. When you add a goal to the enjoyment of what you do, the energy-field or vibrational frequency changes.
Enjoyment of what you are doing, combined with a goal or vision that you work toward, becomes enthusiasm.
Also make sure your goal is not focused on having this or that, such as a mansion by the sea, your own company, or ten million dollars in the bank.
Make sure your goals are dynamic, that is to say, point toward an activity that you are engaged in and through which you are connected to other human beings as well as to the whole. Instead of seeing yourself as a famous actor and writer and so on, see yourself inspiring countless people with your work and enriching their lives. Feel how that activity enriches or deepens not only your life but that of countless others. Feel yourself being an opening through which energy flows from the unmanifested Source of all life through you for the benefit of all.
You cannot manifest what you want; you can only manifest what you already have.
Jesus gave the key to the creative use of mind and to the conscious manifestation of form when he said, “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
At the core of all utopian visions lies one of the main structural dysfunctions of the old consciousness: looking to the future for salvation.
The meek are the egoless. They are those who have awakened to their essential true nature as consciousness and recognize that essence in all “others,” all life-forms. They live in the surrendered state and so feel their oneness with the whole and the Source. They embody the awakened consciousness that is changing all aspects of life on our planet, including nature, because life on earth is inseparable from the human consciousness that perceives and interacts with it.