I have been writing text for a meditation course I will be running from the end of September here in Aurignac. The course includes talking about the 4 Nobel Truths, the underlying principles of Buddhism and whilst waiting to have my hair cut, I was reflecting on the word suffering and the causes of suffering as this is the first of the Nobel Truths.
If I look at my own experiences, particularly over the last 2 years, I have gone from being in the depths of despair to one of complete elation, I think my personality type is like this and that is why I find Yoga so beneficial it grounds me pretty much. Just recently I was heading for another great downer as it seemed yet again my life and business were being held back and as much as I said to myself OK that’s fine, deep down it really wasn’t.
So often we read in self development texts, the texts of Buddhism or Hindu, for example, about the relationship between our emotions and the attachments we hold. Whether our emotions are high or low they will in part be due to the external things going on around us. If we have that inner peace, that part of us that ‘knows’ then it acts as our silent witness to the events of our life unfolding and our reactions to those events. If we can’t find that inner peace then we will find ourselves tossed from day to day from the highs as well as the lows and this is the trap I have found myself in.
We cannot be happy for ever and everything in our lives goes in cycles, the great wheel of fortune; if you are up then at some stage you will be down and so on. Nothing stays static in life, we are born, we grow up and progress through life and then we die, a cycle of change. Some people adapt and embrace change while others find change a real challenge. We seek certainty in our lives because we have a fear of the unknown and in this respect we don’t really engage in life fully as we are either looking behind ourselves or in front, trying to second guess what happens next. However; if you analyse our need for control, I think you will find that if we really knew from one moment to the next what was going to happen that it would be intensely boring, no spontaneity, and no surprises.
In examining the path of our lives to take out our judgement from the things that have happened to us, we no longer see things in black and white, and good or bad, everything becomes an unfolding of ourselves and as such an incredible opportunity for our awakening as compassionate human beings. In this way we eliminate suffering from our lives because we are no longer attached to the fruits of our actions, everything just is, we have no judgement, no ambition about it, no feelings of injustice, and it all becomes something we can work with.
Eckhart Tolle writes about in The Power is Now that when you live fully in the present moment there can be no problems and no fear. He gives an example of a man about to go bankrupt, seeing his business and hard work crumble to dust and of course he is upset. If we look at this event from the perspective of the present moment we can see the man doesn’t have any problems. If we even go to the actual moment where he is signing the legal documents of bankruptcy again we see he doesn’t have any problems. The only problems that exist are the ones he projects onto the present moment in time. This projection is an illusion and does not exist. During the Wall Street crash where thousands of people in America lost everything overnight there are poignant photographs, taken at that time, of people committing suicide. Ram Dass commenting on that period states that people were so afraid of the consequences of losing everything that the fear led them to give up their lives. If we look at the ‘seemingly’ devastating events of our lives, from the view of the absolute present moment, we see that there can be no fear so why create something that might not exist. Now, I say might not exist but in truth, fear is a human invention, it is a premeditated judgement. If we trust the process of life we see that everything that happens in our lives does so for a reason and that also, and more importantly, we also see that we are completely safe.
Now lets look at things we tell ourselves that we want, be honest now, did not getting what you want actually present you with a problem? No the only problem was the emotional one you created yourself. There might be reoccurring negative events in your life and arn’t they exhausting! Why? Quite simply life experiences will keep repeating themselves until you finally have that ah ha moment and let go of that attachment to how you want things to be as opposed to how they really are. Not everything in your life is meant for you and if you cling to your idea of the world, all you will succeed in doing is getting more of what you don’t want…. More misery and yes ….. more suffering.
If I look back honestly at my life I can see that everything has happened for a reason, these events have become my lessons for life and often the more disastrous moments have been my greatest teachers, which served to change the course of my life. At the time they were unpleasant, but they served as periods of great inner reflection and re-routed my life that perhaps would not have changed. You could ask, why did your life need to change, if it seemed OK? Well, clearly it wasn’t and there had to be an energetic shift to let out out-moded behaviours and to allow and make space for newer more and expansive ways of relating to myself and the world based on the creation of inner peace and harmony. Like a child from a very early age, he/she watches intently the actions of the significant others in his/her life, these observations become the motivating force that enable us to make sense of the world around us AND, also the veil that keeps us separate because they give us a personality driven by an ego and so our illusions begin. As Ram Dass says, fortunate is the child born of the Yogi because that child will grow up without the attachments that you and I hold in the view of how we want our world to be.
It is a difficult concept to grasp and yes everything we experience is an illusion, it doesn’t exist and yet we behave as though it is real. To finish this essay I want to relate my ideas here to the photograph a friend pasted on Facebook: the child stating that his fear is that nothing in the world will change and the consequence that he will continue to starve like millions of other children in the world today. No one wants to see inequality exist, no one in their right mind and indeed as The Secret says, in the world there are enough resources for everyone to have a good life and be well fed. So why this hunger? The answer is simple, because we hold fear. If we replace this fear with love we can move mountains. The other significant thing, which links back to the 4 Nobel Truths is that we see ourselves as separate from everything around us and that we identify with the image we see of ourselves in the mirror. This is possibly why I was thinking this having my hair cut, the intensity of looking at my reflection in the mirror and seeing it change with each snip, the question arises who am I? Once we lose this identification with the self, we begin to the lose the fear we hold, we begin to see the magic that exists in our lives, every single moment of every day and we start to appreciate everything from the food on our table to even the smallest things we have, even down to really looking at and appreciating the flowers, the songs of the birds, the evening breeze in our hair and for these things we give thanks and rest in eternal gratitude, we see how everything is linked and through this the law of Karma unfolding in the world and in our lives, the law of cause and effect. So I will leave you with these thoughts as I now want to go for a swim. Namaste.