A Post by Narada (Tony Sugden)
There have been times in my life, when I have become aware that we are all made of the same stuff. Times when I know we are sisters and brothers, not by believing that to be true, but by experiencing the essence of such a truth. It’s a high truth, something profound, that brings reverence. Such vision is often related to meditation, or inward comprehension. It’s a vision which has been granted by that which gives Life. In the Yoga world, and some religions, it’s called Grace. A wisdom beyond intellect, but yet innate in my ‘greater’ self.
There have also been times in my life, of being with people where we work towards a better way of relating to each other, of understanding each other’s fears, aggressions, anger, grief. It demands self-honesty. When I commit to exploring my inner feelings towards others, I open up a chain of feelings and associated thoughts which can open up lines of communication in myself that go way way back in my history. That in turn usually sheds light on a now redundant mechanism of protection against harm, which before was a nameless monster in the dark.
So far so good. The trouble is, with opening up with those around me, we all bring our dislikes and grudges to the table, and few of us can claim to be ‘clear’ enough to always be honest in the interactions. To put it bluntly, I can make myself vulnerable (because complete honesty with oneself seems to create that vulnerability), and you can give me a kicking to ‘settle old scores’. And vice-versa. We are not saints, we are all under the burden of our prejudices, our likes and dislikes, our wish to climb some ladder of ambition. Although it’s worth adding that we don’t need to add a burden of guilt just because we’re not clear of that stuff; the world and our early upbringing can plant mechanisms of survival deep down that drive those kinds of reactions.
One way around this is not to involve anyone else in the process of self-inquiry. I came across a formalised description, (Adyashanti – ‘The end of Your World’), of a process which involves writing down the fine details of something that caused me to react, to my detriment.
For example, I react to what someone has said in a way that makes me subject to my emotion be it anger or sadness, whatever. Before it goes into a ‘It’s that person’s fault that I’m now angry, sad’, I have a chance to catch it. If it’s a feeling, is there a thought that follows on, or vice versa. Does the thought and associated feeling have a ‘world view’ i.e. how does it dictate what I feel and see around me? For example does it require defensiveness against a hostile world? Does that belief pattern generate more feelings, more associated thoughts? Does it have a voice that commands or influences me (almost certainly), and last but not least, can I trace it back to childhood, or any event in earlier life? This kind of analysis can get faster, I’m racing through it several times some days.
In the past, I’ve believed that practising many of the techniques of Yoga and Tantra would be sufficient to bring me to clarity. Living in the Ashram, and having the guidance of someone who lives his Truth, has shown me that this is only a part of the story. I need to be free of habituated behaviour patterns as much as possible.
Let’s look at why this might be:-
We are living in a time when we expect politicians to lie to us. It’s part of an ethos, and so our culture develops more sophisticated ways of lying, such as telling just half of the truth or telling the truth but in a distorted context. I don’t believe we mean to harm each other when we do this in our smaller social groups, it’s just become so habituated. Can I be strong enough in myself (for me, the practice of Yoga helps) to be completely honest in my communication? I don’t mean going around baring my soul to all and sundry. That’s weird and unnecessary. But to reflect in the way described above, to add a little dignity to my interactions with others by gracing them with the real me right now. I can’t comment on anyone else. But I do notice the world is beginning to change; becoming sick with the lies and the half-truths we get fed. Maybe I’m one of the last on board?
Honesty with myself also means that I stop building new structures as old ones get broken down. In an ashram that means – stop building new ‘Yogic’ or ‘spiritual’ structures. I can create a spiritual persona, or I can just be me as life created me. In practical terms, there is one safe place for me and that is ‘I exist’. ‘I am’. That’s a great starting point if it’s freedom I want to taste.
Such an openness, such an honesty creates space where I can receive whatever Life has to give me each moment of the day. That just seems to be the way it is. It’s a much healthier, more vibrant way to be. Spiritual experience can never be reproduced, except in the imagination. With clarity in myself, I can better set up my antenna in ‘Clear Air’ to receive the pristine experiences of this day, without pre-conceived notions.
It might help to do away with emotive language like ‘Realisation’ and ‘Enlightenment’, for now anyway. These words represent goals that either I’ve set for myself, or I’ve allowed someone else to set for me. Let me look instead at the possibility of being a fully functional me, communicating with others in a way that is not going to add to the level of trauma and confusion in either of us. If I can see that we are equals, how can I want to score conversational points, or prove my superiority, ’spiritual’ or anything else. Let me look at the possibility of bringing Clarity to the situation myself. And you know, when I am talking with someone who has that Clarity, it works its magic on me and I start to look at what I’m saying in the light of ‘Is what I am saying real, or is it the same old processed ideas and emotional responses?’ We can all do each other a favour here.
I’ll finish with a grand sounding phrase, ‘Deconstructing unnecessary egoic structures’. The ego is a dynamic organic thing which is like a child. If I don’t give it boundaries it will find its own. So give it boundaries. Let it know that it is but a temporary framework, but one which is crucial to this process of realising (not understanding) the Life that I am. The ego doesn’t want to destroy me, to deny me the simple joy of Living. That’s a cop-out, a lack of making effort to understand my internal environment. Or the banal repetition of spiritual clichés I’ve heard people say in the past. As the awesome singer Lhasa De Sela says, ‘Show me how to use all these things that You gave me’. Love the mind, Love the personality I’ve been given. But let me remember, they are the tools that I have in this brief spell as a human being which will all too soon be over. They are my vehicle, the engine and the body of this car.
Who is driving?