Surrender of the conditioned self inevitably involves an instability. The other side of this is an undreamed-of freedom. A H Almaas writes “The view of totality, because of its all-inclusiveness and lack of fixation, heralds a type of freedom that we have never imagined possible. And what we see is that the price of this freedom is ontological insecurity. We cannot be secure and imagine that we are going to be free. Security requires stability, which easily becomes fixation, a fundamental aspect of the usual sense of self.”
The view of totality, because of its unbounded quality, allows for discovery to happen in any field or area in an unlimited way. It allows us to see that understanding, knowledge, and experience have no limit and that there is no reason to posit a limit or an end. Grasping at security and the fixation of the self lead to the creation of a closed system that always excludes some truth, which amounts practically to excluding the truth of Total Being to live its freedom.”
There is a tradition in our western culture, that regards the best world as a world in which everything is determined, foreordained, destined, tightly managed and controlled and nothing is left to chance. I am quite aware these days, especially living in Germany where that tradition is quite strong and that there are hidden consequences in having become dependent on this tradition. It is a way that has been adopted that has historical and cultural determinants that perpetuate an exclusive way of becoming, oriented to a subject/object-existence. Don Cupitt writes about those days that the focus of religious thought was a more universal influence and involved a belief in an objective purpose and plan in life and as well as a strenuously moralistic and disciplinary work ethic. This was extended to the common people and non believers as well. It is a way that in the past has ensured our place in the world and in life pursuing a relative sense of certainty and security and it remains an influence on our thinking in general. But in that conditioning that involves striving to become secure and certain, there has been something that has been lost in the living of life.
The world goes on beyond that place, time and space of that focused search for something more secure. What we miss in our unquestioned assumptions about life and in our focused way of perceiving, has vast implications. In coming to value the awareness that arises from sitting in silence and coming to see beyond my cultural conditioning and habitual way of becoming that arises from that, there is a clarity in understanding of how my cognitive tendencies have been conditioned and are compromised in this way that pursues dominion over life. Our conditioning is not oriented to seeing the whole.
In silence there is a clarity in seeing what arises from within and what it is that we are connected to and that which is the essence of what we are. We can see in this direct way, that does not involve concepts, that life is in a constant state of birth and decay and that there is a continual high-speed feather light transformation of all things that is occurring that is part of that and that all things are interconnected. Our perception of selective aspects is relaxed and our assumptions of the separateness fall away as we see that the pieces are not isolated from other pieces. This essence of the whole and of our examination of individual pieces can not be measured, understood or realized in an absolute way through a conditioned way of perception. Cupitt goes on to write about the worthwhile step of abandoning that conditioning and that “what the last generation feared as ” meaninglessness” begins to look magical. We begin to believe in the graciousness of pure gratuitousness and happiness of mere hap.”
We listen with hope and fear; we seek the light of another but are not alertly passive to be able to understand. If the liberated seems to fulfill our desires we accept him; if not, we continue our search for the one who will; what most of us desire is gratification at different levels. What is important is not how to recognize one who is liberated but how to understand yourself. No authority here or hereafter can give you knowledge of yourself; without self-knowledge there is no liberation from ignorance, from sorrow. – J. Krishnamurti, The Book of Life
Rediscovering a more comprehensive awareness of what I am has taken me beyond what I had been informed that I am. That information, I have discovered, has been limited by thoughts that have been focused on external information. It has been a fragmented quality of knowing, with many gaps, that has left me with great doubt and no alleviation of the sense of being separated from something that is of my essence. It has included a never-ending sense that what I had become or what I had come to perceive myself to be was incomplete.
In later years there has been a loosening of effort aimed at perfecting and covering over what I did not like of myself as well as a reduction in the constant search for completion. It has been replaced by a more direct experiencing of life and knowing that seems to be more sweeping in its way that allows for a more authentic sense of being. All this has transcended a dependency on thought although it remains ongoing in changes that it brings, one of those being an ever-increasing intuitive awareness that how we come to relate to death is fundamental in how we live. – Gord
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. – Dylan Thomas
True solitude is found in the wild places, where one is without human obligation. One’s inner voices become audible… In consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives – Wendell Berry
Simplicity follows quietude and quietude leads to more simplicity. We find that the simpler our life becomes the less dramatic and cluttered we make it. – Rodney Smith
Clearer seeing arises for me out of solitude. Recently I have changed how I connect with some older friends. I discovered that our way of relating was dependent on my sense of self that was grounded in attachment and identifying with ways and beliefs. Many of these ways and beliefs were habitual and culturally conditioned. They developed out of a teaching imposed by others. I suspect that much of the teaching and information was handed down from past familial generations and it was unquestioned and unchallenged by family members. It was helpful information in terms of promoting survival in those times and it came to be accepted as absolute truth.
In solitude I have come to see deeper into these habitual truths. I eventually discovered that I required some space from others, in solitude, where I could find and explore what was authentic beyond my conditioned and habitual ways of relating to others. That self was in a bizarre and convoluted way, attached to wanting to be liked and never really realized a point where it was secure and content in that. There was always a lingering sense of doubt and impermanence that always seemed to involve ongoing manipulation and attention.
As I awaken to all this I am coming to trust in something beyond the conditioning and pursuit of security and certainty in how I relate to family, friends and others. These days I respond to something other than “a self”, with its accompanying and limiting needs. It is beyond the habitual, unaware ways of acting and interacting. I trust in something else that is not as effable and amenable to description but at the same time is a more authentic essence of what I am. Out of solitude I am discovering what is authentic.
In this brief audio clip Ram Das illustrates how we resort to intellect in our ways of relating to ourself and in turn to others. There is something more authentic of “what we are” that emerges from the silence. It is what we have forgotten, of the essence of living, in our reliance on habit and conditioning that emerges in being. That being is discovered in silence.
Tired of Being by Ram Das Thanks to my friend Kaarel for the audio clip.
An article in the New York times addresses our cultural obsession with meditation. He frames it in terms of being a fad but it seems to me that the interest reflects something deeper. Could it be that something of our human essence has been lost in our western ways and that this popular interest in meditation is very much a search to find what has been lost.
A problem is that many meditation techniques promise a fruit that is not available through any practice structure. When a structure (form) holds the promise of truth of formless truth within it we can be certain that the promise will be unfulfilled. What the form will do is keep us formed and endlessly attempting to effort our way out. – Rodney Smith, Awakening