665e5-firebuddhafaceIf you know  what I write about, you know a lot of it has been centered on how to escape the maze of karma.  Before my awakening, karma was one of those heady concepts that seemed over my head and out of my control.  The cycle of reincarnation, destiny, journey of the soul, those kinds of things.  And yet, when awakening took hold in me the force which some want to call kundalini had the very effect of removing the karma by removing not just the blocks that kept the energy from flowing, but the conceptual biases, the beliefs, which had kept those knots and blocks and  the karmas in place.

We are all littered with little programs that run in our awareness which are the result of different beliefs or biases we have taken on in one form or another and these in the aggregate serve to form what our karma is all about.  Yes, karma is defined as “action” in its most simplest form, and while this is a very good way to explain it, my experience has been that this action is the result of certain positions, ideas or beliefs about HOW we think things work….and for the negative karmas, that means that we feel the world works against us not for us (and then this notion serves to guide our actions henceforth) for example.  Beneath all of this is a sense which is in all people that has served to remove us from our own divine natures, a kind of deeper notion or bias about how we feel things are that isn’t really true but becomes true because of how the law of attraction works; you create your reality and then the character of that reality can serve to attract others with similar qualities of energy and consciousness and feeling.

Instead of just feeling our divinity, we have allowed this clutter of  programs to proliferate that get in the way of our own purer awareness of what we are in our root, primordial, or authentic selves. The Zen teachers who tell the story of the student staring into a pond that has a lot of pond scum obscuring its depths is THE image of what I am talking about.  We can’t see the depths because we have too much in the way to even see it.  Remove that, and the view begins to clarify.  The curious thing is that when you do this, you also wind up seeing into the rest of creation from the inside out.  For people so used to using just their physical senses, this is nothing short of an epiphany.  And for most people who do awaken, all of this is a bit of a process so that one day one layer is removed while on another day another layer is removed.  Slowly, or perhaps quickly depending on how you define “slowly” and “quick,” your view begins to change.  You still see the same view, but your awareness has changed.  What has changed is that you no longer have these beliefs and ideas that serve to keep you from seeing the real deal.  the other thing that you might know about me is that I do little about creating systems and methods and more about speaking into the essence of a given thing since that is where I think I am best able to reach the problem or issue in its origins, its essence.  But for this entry, I am going to make an exception.

So let’s talk about seeing what is there instead of seeing what we think we see (or what we feel we see).

I have known many people who have each helped me to understand how this works in the world.  At the time, the experiences with these people were all hard and this was learned at great cost because it meant that I experienced how their schisms affected me, but that also meant that I got to see some things up close, which has its benefits. What I had was a front row seat watching how people were interpreting what it was I was doing (which was effectively reading into my actions their own interpretation of what was going on inside of me).  If I worked long hours, this meant I was actually wanting to escape my family in order to work in my business.  I didn’t care about my family and preferred my work instead.  Now I know how I feel.  This is not a big mystery.  I could hear all of these sorts of things being said and I know just how far off the mark they are.  This was really more about HOW someone felt things were instead of how they actually WERE.  Truth was, had this person actually KNOWN how I felt, she would have used that as her guiding principle instead of making all kinds of assumptions that were incidentally factual, but in reality not true.

To add more depth to this picture I will say that I was all along expressing how I felt.  When we have our illusions wrapped around us, we literally become blinded by these things that we are so invested in that they seem to make up the whole of our reality.  It is easy to say this is the result of the false self at work, and while in a way this rings true, in other ways I find such words or terms to be distortive.  This is NOT a false self, it is an illusion, a pure creation of ourselves which we then most often project in perfect Jungian style onto the world.  We use people and how they seem to us as we look at their behavior through our lenses of illusion.  It is just as true that my life as an artist meant many long hours.  I was the maker, the packager, the webmaster, the accountant, promoter, and salesperson, shipper, and receiver.  I was the finisher of the work, and I designed the displays that helped sell the work.  I developed new work, I supported the work that was more mature.  I had to hustle and the day did not fit into a neat 9-5 regimen like most people’s lives.  None of this was a mystery, none of it was any surprise.  It wasn’t like what I did was a big mystery to anyone.  THIS is how deeply we can hold our illusions about what we think or feel is true.

What kinds of illusions do you live under?  What colors your world and life?  What keeps YOU from seeing the clear light of day?

The path through awakening is most often one that leads to a place of neutrality in a sense, a removal of the lenses and thus the ability to see all sides and to see how the sides are or are not distorted by these self made lenses.  Now, having said all of this, the reality remains that I attracted a person like this into my life who was like this, so in all honesty, it is easy to point out the mote in my neighbors eye whilst ignoring the mote in my own.  Continually pointing out the problems in the world or in others is actually a waste of time because the most productive thing you can do is to take care of your own stuff.  If you find yourself continually focused on others’ ideas of you or feelings, then you simply are not focused on your own inner garden.  In this way, yes, there is a certain importance to taking care of YOU first.  It is madness to assume that by being a servant to everyone else is going to naturally lead you to a life of spiritual abundance when your bucket needs to be repaired.  You just wont really ever receive any lasting satisfaction from trying to fill others’ buckets with your own leaking like a sieve.  So you heal your own fractures first and then suddenly the light and life begins to fill you.  You no longer point out the problems of the world simply because you feel so full.  When you feel so full like this, you do not feel lack or loss.  You only feel……full.  Imagine a world full of people working from this side of the equation, of inner abundance instead of running around pointing out the problems in others, which is only pointing out your own short comings in a rather backward manner (via projection).  The curious thing is that if you have a leaky bucket, you will find yourself surrounded by others just like you.  Fix your own and you will find others around you doing the same.  It is a scheme that works very well all the way around.  You can heal the world by healing yourself.  Heal your own fracture and you often find the same happening around you.  This sounds like magic, but it is a common feature of how this kind of work goes.

Not to belabor the point, I will give you a quick example of what I mean.  I read somewhere someone who was quoting something from Ram Das’s Be Here Now.  His teacher and Das were talking about how his old teacher’s students were not catching on to a certain teaching that the teacher had espoused.  Das was one of these people.  He wondered aloud to his teacher why it was he was unable to embody this important teaching.  I forget exactly what this teaching was, but the specifics of this wasn’t the point.  What was the point was that his teacher observed that the teacher had not himself fully embodied the teaching.  The teacher probably heard that something was a good idea and thus he passed on the good teaching. But the teaching was not really part of who or what the man was, so he quite naturally attracted people who could not embody the teaching either.  This is what I mean, and if you think this is magical thinking, this happens ALL THE TIME and is most obvious when you have a way to observe what someone says and what they do.  Eventually you will, if given enough time, be able to observe if the teaching has sunk in and is part of who the person is.  Without that, the Law of Attraction works perfectly.  On the other side of the coin, having a teacher who then is able to embody a given teaching can result in freeing up all of the people s/he taught this teaching to to also embody it.  When we heal ourselves, we offer an opportunity to the world we have created to also heal.  So in this way, healing yourself is actually very huge. Its just not as immediately apparent to most people, but it is nonetheless how things work.

Being caught in our illusions is a bit like how someone makes the assumption that fire trucks cause fires.  Now we all know that is preposterous, and yet, it IS true that fire trucks ARE at an amazingly large number of fires, so it does make a kind of sense that they could be construed to be involved in creating them.  But in using this example, I am trying to underscore what we all tend to do at one time or another about the events in our lives.  In the words of the writer Anais Nin, we see the world as we are instead of as it is, and it is this tendency that leads not only to misunderstandings, but it also leads to suffering because, well, its so far off the mark of what is REAL.  I would later meet someone with the same kind of karmic issues as my (now ex) spouse who would make even more difficult statements that had to do with how I abused my students, how I manipulated people with my new-found powers.  It was all pretty crazy to me, and yet it all had a basis in something that existed before I even came along.  I had stepped into a karmic merry-go-round and was experiencing something I had not yet cleared from my consciousness.  When I saw and heard these things being said, it was hurtful, yes, but it also showed me so clearly how people describe a world that they FEEL is happening rather than what is really there.  We have this habit of not stopping and actually looking at things from a dispassionate perspective without bias and belief playing into the moment, and this is how a distorted world view emerges.

All of this is the result, I contend, of just what Buddha was so famously known for espousing, which is how expectation plays into our own suffering.  Instead of expecting something that is realistic from people or events, we choose to expect what we feel we desire.  This is actually based on something NOT realistic at all, but actually forms our own karma, the thing that serves to cloak our own divine selves.  Some desires are  soaked in karmic issues and so will not adhere to what is real but will speak instead of something deeper inside of us that also happens to be unresolved and most often, volatile, hurt, and broken feeling.  All of this material is brought to bear in the moment, at least potentially, so that our desire governs our actions and feelings instead of our being able to see what is there.  So instead of accepting what happens, we kind of fight with outcomes so they serve to make us feel bad or hurt because we feel we did not get what we wanted.  But what we wanted was itself based on these memes, the beliefs that we have floating around inside of us, and this all traces back into our karma.  There is a reason for all of this and you CAN release all of this in time if you want to go that deep, but for now, a more modest approach to keep things simple.

When you enter an experience, stay open to what is happening.  Try not to put too much investment in an outcome.  Try to simply go with the flow and make your mind up in the moment about what you want to do for that time.  This will keep you from leaving THE MOMENT.  A curious thing happens when we leave the MOMENT.  We begin to imagine and our imaginations naturally form based on our beliefs and inner Karmas.  Try to shorten that and keep yourself in the here and now. I know how hard it is to keep imagination out of it, I am myself highly imaginative, so it’s not easy.  But try it.  You might feel like this is just too passive an activity.  I am not suggesting that you not voice your opinion or just go along for the ride, but rather to observe the moment more and give yourself some time to really feel into that moment and into what it is you feel that you want.  Before you make your decision,  ask yourself if this is really what you want. This is not something you have to agonize over.  But over time, by doing this, you may find that your choices may change first in a small way and then in larger ways.  Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of doing what you think others would have you do; do what YOU want to do.

Observe your thoughts and watch how your own thinking naturally may turn back to a sense of expectation about something.  When you find yourself doing this, stop for a moment and allow yourself to suspend this tendency, first for a moment, and then the next time, for a longer time.  As you go through each moment in life, you will find you have an endless series of opportunities to do this careful self observation.  It might not be easy at first.  In fact, it might be downright cumbersome to you.  But I ask you, if you are interested in overcoming the things that lead to your suffering, isn’t something like this worth it?

When you meet someone for example, resist the desire to pigeon-hole them.  Keep your mind open about them.  I knew someone once who identified me with her father due to one important but really incidental trait that we both shared.  The result was that I found myself being compared to her father about a whole list of things that actually had nothing to do with me, but were actually things that she had not yet reached peace with her father.  It was interesting and also painful to watch and experience, but it sure was educational for me.  Here a person had become blind to the real me and was no longer really dealing with me but someone from her past.  This is a very hard thing not to do, so it means you need to practice what is called mindfulness.  This is simply being aware of what you think and feel at any moment.  You do this through a practice of observation.  You simply allow yourself to be more in an observation role and for some, it takes some practice, but after a while it can actually lead to a nice little space inside of you that is both quiet, calm, and even happy.  It is a place of peace inside of you if you let it.

This method can work a variety of ways and you can actually adapt it to your own use, but the core of the idea here is that you stop yourself from forming opinions about things based on your first impression.  Rather, allow yourself to register those thoughts and impressions, but just don’t make up your mind about them, because once you do and ego gets a hold of it, the next step is in placing those impressions into a belief about something.  Once something is a belief, however small, it takes on a life all its own.  It is actually something that has a life of its own.  You let it drop into your subconscious self and the rest becomes more or less automatic and hard to change once set in motion unless you have a supple ego who can give up the good readily.

This is a modest approach, but is one that you can use to help change your own level of suffering in your life by being aware of the process AS IT HAPPENS that results in unrealistic expectations or expectations that simply do not fit reality.  This can also lead to a simpler life and calmer self.

Now one path through this is to actually release karma, which will result in a lessening of these expectations, but for some doing this type of karmic release may be too much to take on right now.  Besides, it is also possible to come at this from another direction without such heady  issues at hand.  Goodnight and good luck!