Sunday, 27 February 2011

We Are The Dead

Something kind of hit me today.  The pure effortlessness of life.  When the belief of there being any causative agent is seen as just an idea, itself without cause, then life becomes...very juicy.

When the notion of control and authorship is seen for the sham it is, then everything appears more real.  More vibrant.  Vivid. Sensual. It's very sexy. Very obvious.

When the belief that there is something at base that creates life, is seen AS a belief, it's incredible how that simple movement, that is spontaneous in itself, seems to reveal a totally easy fluency.  There's no backdrop of story trying to force cause and effect, rhyme and reason.

Not Creationism, Evolution, the Big Bang - they're all just theories.  And all created absolutely effortlessly.

They purport to explain the cause of life, but the wonderful irony is that those very theories are themselves causeless, spontaneous.

Something kind of hit me today.... 'WE' ARE the dead. And that leaves only life.  Smack in your face. Up close and totally non-personal!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Suffering Soccotash

There's much made of suffering.

The Buddhists say that 'Life is Suffering'.

Whooooo.  Life is suffering.  That's some pretty he-ye-vi shit.

And they say that the cause of suffering is attachment.  Attachment to an outcome, or to a wish that things could be or should have been different; or that they be different than what they are,  for ME.

Fair enough - wanting what isn't happening, or regretting what didn't happen, seems an unhappy state of affairs.

But all too often, suffering is treated as though it's a condition or a state... something that continues.  People are said 'to suffer':   'I am Suffering'  'Suffering from',   'He/She is a slave to their suffering'.

If you look at what suffering is though - it always turns out to be a thought.

I'm not denying or denigrating people's experience of life - their pain, or circumstances - just that we seem to fixate on suffering as being some distinct condition.  There can be circumstances, physical sensations,  and then this whole other condition which is identified as suffering.  How long does suffering last, though?  And what EXACTLY is it?  What do we really mean when we say 'suffer'.  The same set of circumstances can sometimes feel like suffering, sometimes feel neutral and sometimes feel enjoyable, depending on the context.

For instance: A headache.

Scenario 1: You've just woken up and you have a headache.  You're laying there with nothing to focus on but the pain in the head.  The thought emerges "why have I got this headache, how long will it go on for, how am I going to get through the day feeling like this....." etc. etc.  The focus on how awful it is and will be.

Scenario 2: You're out with friends, having a laugh, drinking, chatting and a headache comes on.  But you're having a great time, everyone's in a good mood and the banter is great, so you barely notice that the headache is there.  It gets subsumed in the swirl of everything else that's going on.

Scenario 3:  You've been very ill with a severe infection.  High temperature, feverish, shaking, sick.  After a couple of days the infection clears and you wake up and you don't feel sick and feverish anymore, all that's left is a headache.  And you feel relief that the illness is over and that the headache is all that's left of the illness as it fades away, and in comparison that feels great.

So, it depends on the context - the only thing that really changes is the thought about it.  Furthermore, there's no control over what thought emerges;  for instance in Scenario 2, the headache occurs and the thought could just as easily say:  'oh, why me, not now, I won't be able to have such a good time'.

So suffering is entirely one thought and entirely random.   Does the thought actually make the headache anything other than a headache?  And what is the thought itself? The thought is as much an experience as the sensation of the headache.  It's all alive.  A thought that says 'this is awful' ' is just as much life as a thought that says 'this is great'.

If suffering is only one thought, where does that leave Sufferers? If someone who believes themself to be suffering is told 'it's just a thought' then this pulls the rug out from under their enjoyment.  Yes.  Enjoyment.   People do really love to suffer.  It confirms they're alive and living.  It's got juiciness and high drama and intensity.  They don't feel alive unless they're suffering.  They're just as much adrenalin junkies as extreme sports enthusiasts - it's almost like trying to live on the edge the whole time - to really feel that extreme of living.  And to have it taken away by seeing that it's just a thought.... well, there's no fun in that.

Suffering is only a thought that says 'I am suffering' and furthermore the 'I' in that suffering thought is only a thought itself!  So the whole premise of  suffering being attachment is moot - since there isn't any attachment and nothing that suffering could be attached to.  If you see that suffering is just a thought and you see that the 'I' is just a thought then there's no place for suffering.  Just the enjoyment of it.  Ha!

So.....   Life is Suffering?  How about Suffering is Life?


Saturday, 19 February 2011

That's You, That Is

I was discussing with someone a book they had been reading about how everyone is a product of their DNA programming.  They said it had made them more understanding towards people in general because it meant that no-one could help being the way they are.  Fair comment.

They  continued that this also explained why women can't read maps.  To whit I responded (and just look how I walked right into this one.... ) "Well, I can read maps".  They replied (cue fanfare ...):

"And that just proves another point outlined in this book.  That all women are self-centred."


Actually, I think that my assertion that I can read maps doesn't actually prove that ALL women are self-centred... just... that I think I can read maps.  But I get his point.  That we relate everything to ourselves.  We put ourselves at the centre and then appraise, judge, compare and contrast whatever is happening or being said in direct relation to how we think it impacts us personally.

What he and the author of the book (also male) was saying is that it is only women that are self-centred.  For now, I 'm going to leave aside the misogynistic claims of the author and the person with whom I was having the discussion, through gritted teeth admittedly, and assert that all humans are self-centred.  It IS the way we're wired.

And we can't help it.  We live in a culture and a society that promotes and applauds personal success.  The survival of the fittest, slimmest, sleekest, richest.  It's the way we've evolved.  The human mechanism is propagated to ensure its survival as a species and to do that it puts itself at the centre and then each one of the members of the human race puts themselves at the centre of the species.  And entirely logically too, because it is impossible to experience life from any other viewpoint but this one.  You literally cannot be an other-self centre.  You can only be this one.  You can assume what it might be like to experience life as another person, but even if they explain what their experience is, you can't know with certainty that what you think they mean is what they actually mean.

So as a practical and survivalist mechanism, it's a useful one.

But... and there's always a but..... that mechanism to survive is becoming increasingly destructive In My Opinion (see, you can't get away from it). The functioning, being necessarily selfish, seeks to exalt itself above all others - and not just in obvious ways, but in every way.  Everything that this agency of self-centredness does is referrant to itself.  Even acts of charity, it could be argued, make the giver look good, both in their and other's eyes.  In comparison to others we want to be better, kinder, cleverer, thinner, richer, ..... ad nauseum.  We want to be the best, in some way, even if it's by being the best victim!

It's like a virus that's gone awry, run amok.

I grant that there are many who see that the human species is destructive, nihilistic and aggressive in the extreme due to its need to be right at any cost.  Due, essentially, to it's utter self-centredness.

And here's the ludicrousness of it all; if you look to find this 'self-centre' it's obvious that it doesn't actually exist.  The programme/mechanism/functioning/process does, but not an actual 'thing' that can be identified and found.

So where does that leave us?  Where does that leave you and me? If what you think you are is just a functioning of DNA programming, designed to ensure the overall survival of the species by advancing each member to compete against all other members, then does seeing that it IS just a functioning mean you see through the futility and destructiveness of trying to compete as an autonomous individual self?

I think it depends... not just on DNA, but on the particular culture, upbringing, influences, parenting, schooling - in other words the entire environment within which we all live.  All those things that dynamically impact and make up each person and their characteristics and personality.

In an absolute sense, it doesn't matter.  But in terms of the whole experience as living as a species, I'd say it does.

But I can't help it, I'm made that way, apparently.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

It's my life

People say that.

It's my life.  "I'm really happy with the way my life is going at the moment."  Particularly celebrities.  They like to portray this sense of control and satisfaction with how things are shaping up.

Like "my life" is something that is had.  A package.

So ... imagine you can go into the Life Store and buy a life.  I want the one with the cute dog and the kewl kids and the loving, attentive, sexy partner... oooh and add in a big house and 3 holidays a year, couple of high-end cars, a dash of charidee work. Hey - I already have that! (this manifesting stuff works huh, only took 25 years!)

Yeah, like.

If any of us 'had'  a 'life, then wouldn't we be able to dictate what happened in it?  Wouldn't you get up in the morning on the dot of 6.00, eat tofu flakes and yoghurt tea, and listen to vegetarian music.  Exercise for an hour, walk to work at a company that contributes to the well-being of the planet, interact meaningfully with your colleagues whilst giving your all in a self-deprecating but intelligent and meaningful way.  For lunch you'd all share a bowl of mung beans and sprouting shoots around the water cooler, leased from a company that donates 10% of its profits to a project that supplies wells in drought countries.  Then after an intense, but significantly contributive, day, you'll lightly jog home, meditate for an hour, before steaming some organic-delivered-by-a-local-co-0perative vegetables, drink some recycled hemp tea , before dropping off to sleep after sending some positive vibes and non-invasive and non-effort reiki to unfortunate friends.

(It's likely though, that Vivality woul'd lay in bed til 12, get up, scratch, eat a bacon sandwich, surf the internet, go to the theatre with friends, have a gourmet meal cooked by someone else, be driven home after 2 bottles of wine and some chasers, watch some crap tv, surf the internet some more and pass out at about 3.00 a.m.  Rinse, wash and repeat. But that's an entirely alternative reality!)

Neither is wrong.  Or right.

Point being... You never choose 'a' life.

For two simple reasons.

It ain't your life.

And there ain't you to choose it.

There's just life.

Cue vegetarian music......

Thursday, 10 February 2011

I wanna tell you a story...

A story of seeking.

Tried a  range of things: Para-Psychology, Meditation, Buddhism, Yoga, Tai Chi, Zen Buddhism, Taoism, Scientology, Power of Nowism, Advaita, Neo-Advaita, Non-duality.

An interesting ride, to be sure.  But there was always  certainty that what was being  looked for had to be absolutely simple and accessible. To everyone.  Otherwise it was exclusive, and couldn't be true.  If it was true it had to be true in all circumstances and for everyone and everything.   So I worked my way through the 'isms' one by one - rejecting them when their limitations and rules became apparent.  To whit:

The hypocrisy of namaste and bowing only to fellow Buddhists and watching the wallowing in suffering of some devotees!

The frustrations of trying to meditate; trying to watch the thoughts, still the thoughts, transcend the thoughts, be the gap between the bloody thoughts;  just to end up with cramp in the legs and again that feeling of not being able to DO IT RIGHT.

Trying to 'get' Zen koans - eh? What? Either they were obtuse or I was.

Taoism - The Tao Te Ching - that which is the Tao cannot be spoken: didn't stop the bugger going on about it interminably though, did it! And all that kidney rubbing - WTF!

Scientology - sheesh; that's some wacko, out-there, scary shit - Close-call that one....

Ole Eckhart's 'Be, Here, Now'.  All very well - until I realised that I couldn't be anything but here, now.  You can't be  last Saturday at midnight or May 5th in 2030.  So, that was a relief; I didn't have to try to be exactly where it appeared I already was!

Yoga - All those contortions and trying to get the Sun Salutation right, downward dog... crazy cat, hungry hippo (;-]) and the only benefit turned out to be the 10 minute nap at the end when the teacher said and . ... relaaaaaaaaaaax.

Tai Chi - Spending 2 years just to learn the 11 short form version and standing in tree pose for 10 minutes, hearing all the other students proclaim how amazing the energy was, rushing round their meridians.... and I just ended up with aching thighs.  More inadequacy.

I couldn't get it from any of the things I tried - Too complicated.  Too difficult.  Too many rules and regulations, conditions to be met, standards to live up to.

I'm not saying that all and any of these religions/cults/methods aren't useful for many people - but I felt like an outsider who was at the party, but didn't know how to dance.

Then one day I followed a link to a youtube vid by U.G. Krishnamurti - and he barked in his unequivocal way:  "There's no such thing as enlightment".

That was a wack in the face!  WHAT!! ......But I pulled myself together and thought "hmmm.... that's an interesting concept" and ....... off I went again.

Attendance at non-satsangs with non-dual, non-teachers  followed, and even more, that frustration of NOT BEING ABLE TO BLOODY GET IT!  Except now they were propounding that there was nothing to do because there was no-one there TO get it!  I thought they meant that nothing existed (they did and still do, some of them - and perhaps they're right).  All there is, is this,  but that doesn't include you.  And I'd look down and see this body and feel these sensations and thoughts and feel even more that they saw things in a different way to me.  (and perhaps they do.)  And slowly I thought that I got what they were saying... sometimes... Through a process of elimination it became obvious... sometimes.... that there IS only this and there can't be anything other than this, but I still couldn't get this no-me idea.  Because I was looking for my own non-existence*.  Like trying to see a ghost that you've been told doesn't exist. Crazy.

And those words! Consciousness, Awareness, Presence, Being.  A state to recognise, to 'be in'.  Perhaps there are people who DO abide in a state of blissful non-dual awareness.  But it just sets up the belief that there's something to be understood or 'got'.

To be fair, a lot of the non-duality crowd do stress that there's nothing to get which isn't already apparent.  But when they start bandying labels around, the frustrated seeker latches on and tries to make something extraordinary and other-worldly out of the total ordinariness and obviousness of life, living.  I know that they're trying to point.  But you can't point at something that isn't a thing.  It's like trying to herd cats.

The pointing, and seeking, and latching on, and being frustrated, is what's trying to be pointed to or described.  That interminable, unstoppable, morphing, unrepeatable movement.

And then one day (following a pretty brutal conversation) it was obvious that there's nothing doing this.  There never was, there is not, nor will there ever be.  What this is, what life is, isn't being done by anything.  There are no conditions or rules. And that means that nothing is excluded - the very fact that there IS  life (all this)  is  ordinary and astounding.  Obvious and unknowable.

WHAT is it?  Don't know.  HOW is it? Don't care.

I spent 15 years searching for an end to the search.

And it's a bloody relief to know that there IS nothing to find.

* when I was grammar and spellchecking this post the programme highlighted these words: "my own non-existence" as a redundant expression.  Just about sums it up!

Life goes on...

Have you noticed that it does?  Perpetually.

Regardless of what it's doing, it just keeps going.

Despite what anyone wants or thinks they need, on it rolls.

So, where does that leave you?

Sunday, 6 February 2011


We say about someone:  'They're so compassionate.'  What we mean is they're kind or loving or giving or helpful or pitying, show mercy.  A definition is 'to be aware of someone's suffering'.

But real compassion is the willingness to be totally uncompromising.  To refuse to do what the other person is asking you to do unless it is pointing them in the way of reality. Just being aware of someone's suffering is pointless - it does nothing - for either party.

It's a totally stubborn refusal to support a story.  It's understanding what a story is, why it's there, how it's working and what it does for the person  - and then being willing to destroy it - constantly  loosening the threads, snipping away, until the story (whatever it is)  drops away - or sometimes just being brutal and yanking it away; giving them no opportunity to pull it back.

This applies to all sorts of scenarios - parents to children, adults to parents, teachers to pupils, managers to employees, friend to friend....  Ultimately it's about being willing to be honest. Because feeding someone a false story to either appease them or yourself is cowardice.  It's how society works generally.

Take Santa Claus - we tell little children that a big man - a stranger -  is going to come into their room and they must keep their eyes closed and pretend that he's not there.  In the next breath, we're saying don't trust anyone you don't know; if any man offers you something and you don't know him, run away - scream.  But we teach them that it's ok to let a stranger into their bedroom in the middle of the night, cos he's bringing them presents!  And we use this story to exert power over them for the rest of the year.  "If you're not good, Santa won't come" (poor love, he only comes once a year anyway!).  We lie to our children so that we can manipulate their behaviour to make things easier for ourselves.  And that's when the whole stinking story of make-believe begins: fairies, vampires, zombies, god, spirits, ghosts.  Imagine what it would be like if we didn't promote stuff that doesn't exist. And just said to kids "carry on playing  - enjoy the rain/sunshine/wind and forget about stuff that doesn't exist."  (they'd look at you strangely anyway - cos that's all they do!).

And to do that, we'd have to drop our own stories about 'stuff that's not happening' and be absolutely certain that what we're saying is unassailably true -  that the tales we tell and the things we say we believe  ARE  stories.  But OUR stories are the ultimate addiction.  In order to present truth,  it has to be demonstrated - with no shadow of a doubt.  And that means seeing your own story to begin with. And once you see that, it can only ever be a story.

And once you know something, you can't unknow it (I don't mean remembering something) I mean KNOWING.

Refusing to buy into a story and demonstrating to others what their stories are in a way that's obvious, is difficult - it flies in the face of how society is structured.  It's not popular, that's for sure! Whether  it's seen or not is out of your hands - it's not down to you and it's not down to them.  Being willing to point it out though,  is compassion.  Com-passion.   With Passion.  Total Conviction.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Carry on Living

Say that everyone suddenly over the course of 24 hours stopped dead and looked to see if what they are is a story?  What would that be like? It would just be more story.  It would be life configuring into people who realise that there's nothing doing them.  Would there be less violence,  hate, war and aggression?  I don't know.  It's totally unpredictable. And it's not happening, so it's just surmising.  Life surmising what it would be like if it realised that it was only itself, when it's already only itself!

And if it happens - that's just part of the mechanism too.  Since there isn't anyone/thing there doing this;  if life configures into a movement of some people trying to wake up others up to the fact that there's no-one there, when there's already no-one there, then ... what's the point?  There is no point.  It's laughable.  A process of recognising that if there's nobody here, then it stands to reason that there's nobody there, so it's just a movement of life - life trying to get itself to see that it's only life.  What a farce - Carry on Living! ooh-er matron...