Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of humans as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
~ HELEN KELLER.
While that quote is most often used in a motivational context, and in that context it is useful, it’s a limited viewpoint. Life is never nothing, has always been (and is) a daring adventure no matter what the external appearance may be.
You are unique. There is no one else who has ever lived exactly the same life that you have lived or will live. How your life unfolds is an adventure into the unknown. At no point was getting to where you are now guaranteed.
Congratulate yourself for having made it thus far. There is always uncertainty, even risk. No one knows what choices you will make, or can say with certainty how your story will unfold.
The truly mind-blowingly daring part of the adventure however, is in the possibilities that it holds if you are willing to take risks. Perhaps you will risk choosing love over fear, risk choosing to live as fully as is possible, to perhaps discover that now is the only time there is, that you are the one you have been searching for.
When I complained to my abbot Ajahn Chah, considered by millions to be a great saint, that he didn’t always act as if he were completely enlightened, he laughed and told me that was good, “because otherwise you would still be imagining that you could find the Buddha outside of yourself. And he is not there. — Jack Kornfield ~ After the Ecstasy, the Laundry.
I owned a brand new car once, which was an entirely delightful experience. I took very good care of it, washed it every week, kept it in good mechanical condition. But the reality is that it was a means of transport, a set of wheels to go places, and it did that so very well.
For some however, a vehicle is much more than transport. That shiny sleek powerful machine becomes a symbol, an extension of their image of themselves. Even so, no one says “I am this vehicle”. That would be absurd. The vehicle is not who they are.
The mind isn’t so discriminating however with its “vehicle”. We say “my hand”, “my leg”,” my body” as if it belongs to someone, a someone who is the vehicle that is the body. But its not so.
Living with non vital body parts or a limb removed in no way diminishes our sense of being a self, although our thinking about our body may require an adjustment.
Then there is the mystery of sleep. For close to one third of your 24 hour day, one third of your life,“you” are not actually there.
So if “I” am not my body, and “I” am not always there, then who am I? Really?
In a lifetime there are many little deaths, some big some small. A phase of our lives comes to an end; a career change; the end of a relationship; a serious illness; and the like. Each time, we die a little death and perhaps grieve the end of the story of the self that we believed we were up until that life changing event.
A story is told of Mikao Usui. Having found inspiration in his studies of the sutras (his ah-ha moment!) he sought advice on what to do next from the abbot of the monastery where he had studied.
The Abbot is said to have given him the very zen advice, “Die one time.”
Dying to the story of the ego mind, awakening to the nature of who we really are is the nature of the zen practice, and the very essence of the nature of healing.
Therein lies the revolving door of life and death and of healing. Die one time, awaken to who we truly are, who we have always been …or die the many little deaths on the road to that realisation.
At the end of the talk someone from the audience asked the Dalai Lama, “Why didn’t you fight back against the Chinese?”
The Dalai Lama looked down, swung his feet just a bit, then looked back up at us and said with a gentle smile, “Well, war is obsolete, you know.”
Then, after a few moments, his face grave, he said, “Of course the mind can rationalize fighting back…but the heart, the heart would never understand. Then you would be divided in yourself, the heart and the mind, and the war would be inside you.”
That’s the insanity of war, the insanity of the separated mind’s way of perception.
Scanning the news of the world on any given day is enough to lead you to thinking that the world is gone mad, that its being run by insane people, doing insane things …and you would be 100% correct.
The answer to the chaos and madness is not a single one of the “usual solutions” that are bandied about. The real answer to all this is the healing of the insanity of the separated ego mind, its need for control, its need to be right, and its “slippery logic”.
“Slippery logic” makes it OK to kill people for the “right” reasons, to torture, to deny people their basic human rights, to treat others as less than human, to lie, to cheat, to swindle, to wreak ecological harm on the planet in the name of “a greater good”. I, me, my, mine, is the underlying root cause of all of this. Everytime!
None of this is new of course, but the effects are no longer able to be hidden, and the means to have a global impact brings us to the brink of disaster like never before.
The usual answers, fixing stuff “out there” has been a futile exercise throughout human history. Making a war on everything only creates more war. Fixing “stuff out there” is in fact a story dreamed up by ego mind that created the problem. The real answer lies within each one of us, the opening to the values of heart that lead back to being in the here and the now.
True wisdom resides only in the now, unfettered by stories about a past, and not bound by fears about the future. All else is part of the ego minds fantasy.
The shift has to take place in you and I before it will be observed “out there”.
What happens when we weave “question everything” with “feeding the good wolf”?
What the mind receives gets processed. That means everything, everything you see and visualise, whatever you listen to, what you enjoy, whatever gives you pleasure in life, both the positive and the negative.
Images are very powerful inputs. Your mind doesn’t discriminate when it comes to images, and especially moving images which generate strong feelings. Remember how many times you watched images of the twin towers falling for example.
Films and T.V. shows (of every kind), video games, the nightly news, flood our minds with repeated images (some real, some created) that get processed and stored as if they were our own real life experience.
The screens big and small are illusions in themselves, just coloured dots that create an image. Believing what is presented on them has consequences. These images and the feelings generated can get woven seamlessly into own personal story. We can make them “real” even when they are not.
Its not like that you say, I know the difference between real and not real. The insidious side of this repeated exposure is desensitisation, a closing of the heart to what is not OK, what has never been OK. Desensitising leads to acceptance of the unacceptable, until it becomes our reality.
If your mind is being continually assaulted by negative images and the fearful thoughts that inevitably result, finding peace within becomes far more difficult when the appearance of the world “out there” seems to confirm the fears in the mind.
Be selective with what you feed your mind, question its reality. Is it fear making? Where is the love in it? Give time to, and be in real life, the here now. That’s the only place that love, happiness, joy and lasting peace will be found.
A Native American Cherokee elder tells a story to his grandchildren (all the children are “grandchildren”) about life .
He says to them, “A fight is going on inside me, a terrible fight between two wolves. One wolf is evil—-he is fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, and false pride.
The other is good —-he is joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.
This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too.”
The children thought about it for a minute, and then one asked, “Which wolf will win, Grandfather?”
The Elder simply replies, “The one you feed.”
It’s a great story, with a powerful message, and with a question for each one of us. But its easy to dismiss its message.
The “good” wolf is a symbol of ourselves living consciously. The “evil” wolf is a symbol of our way of being when living unconsciously …a symbol of all those negative human traits that goes with ego mindedness.
Whatever we focus on, keep in mind, is reflected in the world we experience. Be mindful of what is being fed into your mind, be as aware as possible of the effect it has inside you.
Ask the question, “Which ‘wolf’ is this feeding?”. Then act on the answer.
Eckhart Tolle Quote:
“Deal with the past on the level of the present. The more attention you give to the past, the more you energize it, and the more likely you are to make a ‘self’ out of it. Don’t misunderstand: Attention is essential, but not to the past as past. Give attention to the present; give attention to your behaviour, to your reactions, moods, thoughts, emotions, fears, and desires as they occur in the present. There’s the past in you. If you can be present enough to watch all those things, not critically or analytically but non-judgementally, then you are dealing with the past and dissolving it through the power of your presence. You cannot find yourself by going into the past. You find yourself by coming into the present.”
This is a very real and practical approach. It combines “feeling the feeling” - not denying that something happened - with staying out of judgment about right and wrong, and with staying in the present.
It’s all too common that past trauma is re-created over and over again, by getting enmeshed in the emotion and pain, and then being carried away in it. That process takes us back into unconsciousness. It’s not wrong, but it reinforces victimhood and reopens old wounds.
Healing comes when we no longer identify with that past trauma, it isn’t who we are. It’s OK to feel that we had no choice in that story of the past, but by being conscious, which means being in the now, we get to choose how the story ends.
Theres an old saying that to get the choicest fruit you have to go out on the limb.
People are so very interesting. Some people want the easy “truth”, a story from an authority figure that makes their choice the right or true one. It is then so easy to fall back on “But my teacher taught me that … (fill in the blank) ”.
Some don’t really care what the facts are, they already have a story that they have accepted as the “truth” and will disregard all other data.
Neither way works if you are seeking Truth.
It is human nature to cling to fondly held beliefs, to a sense of safety, to the comfort of the accepted beliefs of the community or the culture in which we are engaged. However this is can be easily become another prison for our minds, one that limits our perspectives and understandings. It’s just the way things are.
The courage to question everything, even those things seemingly least open to question, to see with new eyes, is the nature of seeking Truth.
Sometimes you have to go out on the limb.