• August 1, 2019

    When do I become visible to myself?

    Of course, observing myself in action, I see the identities that operate in me, that I have habitual reactions which carry me through most situations without the need or ability to change anything. When I look to see more, I do not see anything that resembles a permanent, cognizant self, able to be. There is attention and perhaps presence, the lights are on, but no one is home.

    Rumi in his discourse 14 says this very clearly…what is real in me is not visible to myself. “You cannot see the attributes of man: examine yourself and you will not find anything so you suppose yourself empty of [His attributes]. Yet it is not the case that you have changed from what you were, only these things are hidden in you, like water in the sea”.

    In the presence of other people, more possibilities arise. Someone may see me without prejudice, attentively, and then I may see more of my non habitual self. If another gives me space and uses attention impartially, I am given the gift of greater freedom to be. This is the transformative power of real listening.

    This is an important guide for my behaviour towards others. When the other does not impose their opinions of me, when their attention is open and spacious, something more of me may become evident, something not conditioned by my past that is more of my true nature. Alas, the other person may also reinforce my habitual self by expecting and seeing only that, and then my limitations are likely enhanced. Seeing this, what efforts must I make to be more open to others?

    There is another possibility. Can I turn towards God? Can I have the sense that I am seen by Him? By this I do not mean the god of the religions, who is a human construction. By this I mean my sense of relationship to a Universal Being, the all-pervading consciousness. Turning in this direction, I become visible to myself as a reflection of Him, having an endowment of some aspects of Himself which His presence naturally calls into being. I feel recognized and I see who I am and have always been.

    Tags: , , , , ,

  • November 30, 2016

    I would like to know what this work has to say about despair. In our inquiries together, we don’t seem to deal with it but I think many of us experience despair.

    I think all of us experience despair at times. Let’s agree on what despair means. (Group member consults telephone internet). Ok, according to the dictionary, it means to be entirely without hope, to have no confidence in the possibility that circumstances can change for the better. Can we begin with this?

    This view says that despair is the result of circumstances…that there is cause and effect. This seems clear. Can we carefully separate them so that we are able to look at them individually? Despair is not in the circumstances, it is a state of mind and body sensation that is a reaction to the circumstances. This distinction opens up the possibility that my reaction can be different. But in despair, I see my state as an inevitable consequence of my circumstances, I justify my despair and that helps to make the situation seem hopeless.

    Is it ever really true that circumstances cannot change? But having invested in the circumstances as a valid explanation of my state, I no longer see the possibility of change. I leave no room for the universe to move in another direction from the one I have identified and adopted. So, to address my despair, I first must see how I have accepted this state, helped to create and sustain it by my thinking, and that it may now support some habitual function in my psyche, perhaps justifying self-pity, inaction, victimization and defeat. Can I see that despair is my state? Can I observe it impartially?

    Please understand that I do not make light of the circumstances that can bring us to despair. There are situations in life that can be absolutely horrific and there is seemingly no way out. But I know from my own experience that, most of the time, it is not nearly as dire as that. The circumstances have turned against what I want for myself or others and my worst imaginings have taken hold of my mind. But that is because my vision is partial and my wants are based on limited understanding.

    Thankfulness is a wonderful antidote for despair if I am capable of it, thankfulness for my life and what I have been given. Spending time with other people doing simple things may be helpful. Doing something no matter how small to improve the situation can also shift my state.

    However, I think there is also a deeper despair than the one provoked by personal circumstances. There is despair at my limitations, the cruel things I have done and the unspeakable cruelty of life on this planet. In any real spiritual work, this despair must arise and it is irrefutable. If this despair remains objective, not supporting psychic habits or identities or political causes, it may invite an experience of redemption in which the beautiful and the sweet, the overwhelming feeling of love, are gifted to you, lifting you out of despair. This kind of despair is a link to the divine. It’s an objective feeling which connects to higher states. Ecstasy and suffering combine and the profusion capsizes reason.

    Isn’t forgiveness the answer when I despair about the things I have done?

    Perhaps for you it is and may it be so. For myself, I have not found an end through forgiveness. My trespasses live on.

    Tags: , , , , , , ,