Shiva drinking poison to save the world

Half-way through my first year of college, I was reading a book by Krishnamurti when I read the following; “What is, is, and thinking about it, is avoiding it.” At that time, I had absolutely no idea what that meant, but I knew in my soul that his statement contained truth and significance that I wanted to know and/or needed to understand. Almost 50 years later, I  have come to understand what he was getting at, but the knowing is not in my thinking mind… is more an “acceptance”, a matter of letting go, rather than an “accumulation” of knowledge. I began wanting to understand in my thinking mind, the totality of who I am, who “God” is, why I am alive here now, how I can best relate to the world, and what to make of things spiritual (if any), etc. etc.; in short, what IS. Many times during the years I happened upon some epiphanic nugget of understanding which appeared to bring everything together into one beautiful snapshot of bliss, only to have Coyote appear and say “not so fast, buster.” While my questions (and Coyote) lingered, all as aspects of what “is”, one day the questions began to recede into the background, and “Emptiness” emerged as the foundation of my awareness. Emptiness balances the opposites, and releases their death grip on awareness.

For most of my life, I just wanted to find happiness; lose the suffering and anxiety that were aspects of my life; find peace that surpassed the chaos of not understanding. I tried forgetting about what was “wrong” and focus only on what I envisioned as being “right” and positive. I thought I would find it out “there”, by acquiring through learning and becoming someone other than who I actually was. I knew that I was not consistently wise or kind or loving. I was suffering, so something must be amiss with me. I tried to force my unfolding. In most of the books that I was reading, and from speakers at workshops that I would attend, I would listen to their formulas for finding peace, for becoming enlightened, for realizing “truth”, and I would attempt the best I could, to put on their cloak of awareness. It would feel good for a while but eventually, I would arrive back where I started. It is funny, a few weeks back I was going through some papers related to my spiritual journey that I had written 35 years ago, and I can’t honestly say that I am significantly different now, from who I was then, only that my perspective on who I AM has changed.

Chogyam Trungpa, a devotee of Padmasambhava who founded Naropa Institute in Colorado calls this attempt to find meaningful truth “out there”, spiritual materialism, an effectively impotent and counter productive struggle. Trungpa says that only by becoming still, and by listening to our own intuitive voice of inner being are we able to make progress towards the reality of finding peace with those ideals that we envision. Those ideals are not and never have been, out “there”; There is no secret to be uncovered, no truth to be revealed or contained in a secret manuscript, not one religion vs. another, not in the words or actions of a guru, teacher, lover, savior or psychologist, which are little more than fingers pointing at the moon. The awareness of what “is” (truth) is in our own awareness, right now, and we do not need to do or change anything, or become someone different. But our perspective needs to change to see it. Like one of those postcards that looks like a crazy mess of lines and squiggles until you look in just the right way, and there is a hidden giraffe or bicycle, our perspective needs to change to allow the hidden image to come through. In this existence, we can become quiet, and the hidden nature of life can be revealed. That sounds crazy. How is it that what confused me contains the peace that I seek? If this is so, why didn’t I see it?

What “is”, regardless of whether or not I am able in any particular situation to assimilate the totality of that experience, contains all of the opposing energies inherent in the universe. Practically speaking, what this means is that suffering and chaos and the pain of not understanding, is as much a divinely inspired gift of reality as clarity, peace and joy, and all are potential visitors to my awareness. The fact that I am suffering does not mean that I have done something wrong, or that I could have avoided it. All of these aspects are potentially present in nature and in any situation, and because of the veils of ignorance (that we have also been gifted with), there is not a lot that we can do to guarantee that our experience is going to be peaceful and free of suffering. Suffering and ignorance are part of what “is”, all aspects of divine, and are not “error”, and it is likewise not error that joy is at times fleeting. What we can do, however, is come to a perspective within our own awareness that neither refuses to accept the suffering, nor insists on maintaining only joy. We simply experience, what “is”. If we are pushing and pulling in order to create only the experiences that we find acceptable, we will find ourselves worn out and disappointed, with whatever it was that we were attempting to avoid, crashing down our door in some other form. If we can only accept our ideal vision that we see out “there” as our expectation of the way things ought to be, and are unable to assimilate what “is” because we find it unacceptable, life will usually give us an (often rude) awakening (through suffering) to bring us out of our sleep. We will meet our match.

Look at it this way; You have heard the saying “All the world is a stage”, right? Well,
spiritual materialism is thinking that you are going to be (or need to be) the “director” of the drama (life) that you find yourself in. This is your play, and you are the director, and when other people make their entrance onto your stage, you are going to see to it that they do not mess up your script by controlling the action. You are going to force the ending that you desire. But this does not always happen in that way, right? It is invariable that events and people come into our life that are not subject to fulfilling our desires. Things change, and crazy things happen. Unexpected and unplanned for events and needs come into play that were not what we wanted. The only “intention” that we can have, that will prove to have lasting value and provide the relief from suffering that we seek, is the intention to “let go” of the need to have absolute control over our destiny. We still have to make decisions about our life, but we will tend to make better ones that are less egocentric, and create more peace in our life, and in the lives of those around us.

Crazy wisdom is being in the same dramatic life, but in this case we realize that all these people that enter our drama, also are partaking in their own drama(s), playing many roles at one time, and they too also have their script to fulfill that we do not understand,  and as we move through life, we will enter many dramas during the course of a day, having little beforehand idea which actor is going to appear on stage playing which role, and sometimes we are cast into a role that we do not like, and do not understand. It’s a crazy scene. If we push against this unfolding scenario, and are not able to maintain our equilibrium and composure, we are not going to be peaceful or happy, and we are going to create more suffering for ourselves and others. What comes toward us, through no fault of our own, can be crazy at times, and we will be well served to have on hand the space (wisdom) to deal with it. We cannot control what comes toward us, but we can become more adept at not reacting, but responding more in alignment with our own truth through divinely inspired improvisation. We will see more of our commonality rather than our differences. We will be more kind.

Maintaining our equilibrium in the midst of unplanned changes is a state of mind that is approachable. We can create in our awareness, a spaciousness, an emptiness, where we can be more present with whatever comes toward us without reacting out of fear, or neediness to control the outcome. It is simple. I promise, it works. Do this;
1)- Get comfortable.
3)-Bring your awareness to each out-breath.

That’s it. Everybody can do it, and it does not take any special training or apparatus. If you find yourself “thinking” instead of focusing on the out-breath, just say “thinking”; not as a judgment against yourself, just as a reminder, then get back to focusing on the out-breath. Start with being able to focus on one breath….then go for two….then see if you can get to ten in a row.. If you find yourself thinking, just say “thinking’, and start over at one. If you make it to ten, start over at one, and do it again. Do this for 15 minutes or more each day, and pretty soon, you will be looking forward to these quiet times with your breath. You will create a spaciousness that will support you in those crazy times that will come. It’s like putting hard cash into your emotional savings account. Promise.

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