Saturday, 31 May 2008

Random Thoughts On Spirituality From January 2007

These paragraphs were written when I first went online and took part in discussions on spirituality. Since I didn't want all of my thoughts to get lost in cyberspace, I collected them and saved them, and will give them a new home here in this blog space. Again, I have changed since this text was written, but still hope someone might get something out of my musings!

On the issue of unconditional self-love

I think that these questions are at the very core of spirituality, and therefore very confusing. Most of us are at some stage of the process of comprehending what love really means, so there are conflicting feelings and thoughts involved. We are being pulled in two directions. Most of us have spiritual maturity and insight regarding certain issues but we act child-like on other issues. I think that this site contains a lot of insight! But I wonder about the idea of "looking for what you really want". That could be misleading, I think? Children "want" things. It's an ego's request for something to be entertained by or to identify with. It's easy to get all entangled in the quest for the "real" wanting as opposed to a supposedly fake wanting. I think a lot of people get stuck on that issue however much they want to be spiritual. That's just it! You also want to be spiritual. I think it's a phase, and a very needed one. It's not something you can bypass, so really, I think it's ok if you have a lot of wanting going on in your life. But maybe it's important to also bear in mind that you will eventually have to get out of that stage. You've got to "grow up". It's maybe alluring to be engaged in all the wanting, because it's entertaining you. But you're not still there. Tricky!

Personally, I find some comfort in realizing when I'm trying to entertain myself. As one of you were saying, it's okay to have negative feelings or any feelings, for that matter. The point is to take a step back and look at it. Okay, now I was grasping. Now I'm entertaining myself. Now I was feeling hatred. Now I didn't honour my heart. Sometimes we look and we don't know what the heck is going on! But gradually we get somewhere. Slowly. I don't think it can be a fast kind of revelation. If it were, then it would mean that we were very simple beings. But we are not. So it's slow, arduous, painful, oh god it can be hell sometimes. Although sometimes you might want to think that the darker it is, the closer you are? It's really dark before dawn. But I think you will learn to love and honour yourself, because evolution has to go somewhere (and it can only go in two directions, right?). In the end, whatever "the end" means (I don't know!).

I don't know a lot of things. But maybe that's good too. "Not knowing" can be a good state, a place where you give up some of your need to control and all that wanting, and try to listen to the heart instead. I think self-love just happens. You may not even recognize it for a while, because it doesn't look like the kind of love you are used to hearing about. Putting yourself first and all that obscure nonsense that so-called experts on the soul are telling us! Sorry if I'm sounding harsh but there's a lot of advice out there that doesn't suit everybody, as it all depends where you are at in your development. I think those words by Raskin were full of insight. However, the process to get to that kind of blissful state of an egoless kind of universal love is not all so nice and guey, a lot of the time. On the other hand, it's a journey, and should the goal really be more valuable than the journey itself? At least as intellectual beings we can step back and look at the pain and think "hm, that's kinda interesting"!

On the issue of activating other people's shadow-selves

Apart from a host of other problems, I find that one is particularly painful. I seem to unintentionally activate the shadow in other people (especially those of the opposite sex). I'm always alert, perceptive, inquisitive, demanding, questioning, poking and just being me. I have been raised to be polite, but it doesn't help much when that thing in me emerges. I seem to say or do just the very thing that person doesn't want to hear or acknowledge. I'm not saying that this doesn't also help me to see my own shadow and whatever behaviour requires improvement. But to always have to play the role of an adversary or a "holy fool" is not funny, but rather depressing. Does anybody recognize this in their own lives?

Later: At a point in time, if we continue on our spiritual quest, there will most likely be equanimity. A state of mind where we are no longer reactive to other people's standpoints. I think we all agree on that? However, the road to reach such almost utopian awareness sure is a bumpy one! I know we create our own reality, but on the other hand since we are all interconnected, it would seem strange if we could fly around above all of what is going on in the world and not have to get personally involved. One of my personal challenges has been to dive into the chaos of reality as perceived by the collective mind. I navigate somehow, using my common sense, my intuition, and deep thinking. I try and observe my own patterns of behaviour and seek ways to change them. Yet during this process, I also have to live and co-operate with others. I'm not the type to piss others off, not in general. But when a person has a strong mind and some perceptiveness to see what is wrong with a lot of things, and often feels disrespected, then it's hard not to put a foot down and say no, I won't accept this. It's not always the wrong thing to do. Chögyam Trungpa also says in "Cutting through spiritual materialism" that saying yes is not always the answer, sometimes saying no is going to help the other person much more. My point is, is that it's not always bad to activate somebody's shadow-self. This is what I think. I think someone has to do it so that other people's shadow-selves can come out in from the dark and be healed by the light of consciousness. Maybe even Hitler "had" to come and do what he did so that it would get people thinking more deeply about certain moral values.

The trick for most of is is surely to know when it's better not to be assertive or offensive or just whatever that could bring about bad blood, to have discernment enough to see that the person in question is not at a point where they can actually get the message. I'm thinking that there has to be some balance between our own personal-self control and a spontaneous way of being. I personally feel that both ends of the stick are detrimental. So what about the "middle way"?

I think that when you actually do know a little bit more about the deeper meaning of life and where we are heading to than a lot of people around you, then it's a really tough place to be, because more awareness kind of also implies more responsibility for your actions. No? You can't put yourself above others, because evolution is not about ego-tripping. So one has to try and tune oneself down, check the ego-issue all the time, be careful, and as one of you said, think a moment before we react. (In my case I've needed to learn to be less cautious, and actually show anger when it's appropriate and not later when I can no longer make a stand!). Still, we cannot excerpt ourselves from the humdrum and chaos of life with other people. We will be activating other people's shadow-selves, whether we like it or not. I hope I'm not just making excuses for myself but I guess this is what I meant. That there's also a mission in the fact that we influence others and help them become aware of their issues. I mean that it just happens, it's not something you can decide and say something like "well somebody had to tell you what you're doing". That would be arrogant. It's best to just be whatever you are in this moment and fix yourself as much as you can but also accept that you're playing a certain role in the game called human life. Am I making any sense ? :-)

I totally agree that we have our own reality with our own personal sets of beliefs. It's good to keep in mind that it's all relative. But we have to live in this world somehow and what often happens to good little girls (like myself) that we are being used as a doormat. That's hardly conducive to spritiual growth. So we have to make clear to ourselves what we really stand for and then actually stand for it, if under attack.

However, not all situations in life are confrontational so the activating of other people's shadow-selves can happen in a subtle way. Maybe you invested a lot of energy in a relationship and then you get dumped because you wanted to grow but the other one didn't. It hurts. But maybe the other person did learn something from the experience in the end. Who knows. All we can do is play along. But the deeper you go into opening your own heart up, the more it also hurts when you meet resistance or have to back off because you're not dealing with a situation correctly. Learning through the difficult experience of being said "no" to or being rejected even though you're doing things right (or so you think at least), or having to say "no" when somebody is manipulating you, is part of "growing up" and it hurts.

Later: It would be good to get away from the constant need of acknowledgement and positive feedback from other people. So many of us have not been seen enough as children to have a strong sense of self. Or then we are struggling for recognition for some other reason. One of my favourite quotes from a transpersonal psychologist has been "you have to be somebody before you can be nobody". No point in dreaming away about enlightenment (meaning liberation and no more ego-bonds) before we have become real persons, that is people with a sense of self. I risk sounding bookish but what I remember from Sartre's philosophy was the idea that we become somebody only in the eye of the other. I've carried that idea with me all these 20 odd years, and it helps to justify the pain that goes on in the interaction with other people. And as someone here was pointing out, it's probably a never-ending story! Or at least it is a really long story. Some of us are working a bit harder than others. I believe we made that choice on some other level of existence, but anyway, the point is that we probably need to make clear to ourselves by whatever means necessary that we have to respect each other and the level of being and understanding that the other person seems to be at. I'ts pretty obvious that without that respect the planet will go under, isn't it? I have a relationship with a person who gets very angry at some things that unassumingly jump out of my mouth. This person defends the outburst by saying that I shouldn't have said that thing in the first place. Obviously I cannot be controlling everything I say. Gee, some pardon please! Obviously this guy also cannot help that I touched on some sensitive area in his mind. We both end up feeling wronged. This is just to show how hard it can be to get out of a pattern with someone. Yes sure, I believe I should fix myself first then maybe others follow, rather than the other way around. But how can I do this? Surely I also deserve to be respected as someone who still has issues to work with. If I care about the person who acts this way in my company then the solution may not be to just walk away. I wouldn't want for people to walk out of my life just because I have a stubborn behavioural pattern.Later: I guess sometimes we are challenged in cruel ways so that our subconscious crap will really rise to the surface. Many of us have to learn to stand up for ourselves and not accpet all the shadows that other people project on us. That is maybe one way towards a greater sense of self-respect. But what is all this anyway, self-respect, self-love, self-esteem...? I think you can have a sense of self-esteem yet still be challenged in ways that are far more complicated than you could ever have dreamt of or found in a book. Very often there is a hole in the whole, a piece missing from the puzzle that makes it hard to deal with life from a standpoint of equanimity even if the elements conducive to such a viewpoint seem to be there. It would be easy to fix if you could pinpoint exactly what it is. But sometimes it's very hard to get the clues because maybe it's about really deep issues of what Truth really is.

In spiritual or psychological contexts people often recommend that you walk away from people who, as someone suggested, act as robots to certain stimuli. Sometimes it's easy to do that. But sometimes it's really hard to go, because it feels like betrayal. Maybe because we are also repeating a pattern of sticking by our parents as children, or some such incident. Or maybe because we are not really sure if we already got the lesson in its entirety. I often find that when I think I'm clear about one issue, something new and surprising pops up from the subconscious mind. So I have, seemingly at least, a choice of dealing with all that subconscious content or then turning away from the process and taking the easy road which is to look for a more pleasurable way of existance. However then I wouldn't have much to give to the world. And I think I want to contribute, after all. Try and put up with all the shadows in this "valley of the shadow of death". Continue to be strong and stand by those who are also unfortunate and in need of support. I can't leave a fellow soldier to die in the warzone. I wonder if it's really bad to be a martyr? To want so much to help that you are willing to risk your own wellbeing and comfort?

On the issue of sacrifice
How can we always know what our highest moral values are? It's not always so easy to be in touch with Truth. Our judgment is being clouded by so many emotions, not least personal traumas from the past. I'd love to be able to say "thus spoke my heart". But I'm not sure it's my heart that's speaking. How can I be 100% sure? A lot of maniacs are preaching all kinds of things based on what they think their heart or their God is telling them, but it doesn't mean it's of any practical value or conducive to a positive evolution. The same with sacrifice. How exactly are we supposed to define sacrifice? Sometimes I don't get what I want, I get what my soul needs instead. But at the moment when I feel distraught that I'm not getting something, it may feel like sacrifice. It of course doesn't mean that on the basis of that experience I will go out into the world and preach that sacrifice is a virtue either :-/.

My boyfriend has to take care of his traumatized kid. In fact he has to sacrifice his personal life because it's against his moral values to put the kid in a foster home. Thus he has to sacrifice his care for me. He has nowhere to put the kid for even a few days, so he cannot leave his home and pursue other interests, such as seeing me. Then there is me. The future is not known. I have no guarantees that I will ever get what I feel that I need with this guy, because he happened to put a child into this world. Should he be "punished" for having been so "stupid" as to make a baby with his ex-wife who turned out to be a luney? Should I so easily turn my back because right now the times are bad and our shadows are emerging due the stress? Who knows, maybe it's a one in a lifetime chance to fix some old trauma such as co-dependency? When can we ever ask for guarantees? Maybe it's all the wanting and the asking for guarantees that make us truly unhappy, not just the lack of the physcial prescence of someone we care about? Sometimes when we suffer the reward actually comes later. How are we supposed to know? It cannot always be there, in the here and now. The mutual exchange is not always equal to equal in the present moment either.

Should we always abandon people because they make our lives more uncomfortable? What if your loved one is suddenly in a wheelchair. How easily would you abandon them? Or if they go into a coma that can last for god knows how long. Will you be unfaithful during that time?

I just don't see these things as simple choices at all. Maybe my mind is too screwed up. Or maybe my heart is telling me to wait, don't follow your immediate urges. Stay and listen... and in time you may see things that you were not able to anticipate. They could be good things? I've had to put up with discomfort all my life so I know what it is like. I cannot kill my body so there's not much to do about it, but to accept. It is bloody hard. But I don't know if it makes me a more stubborn person in a good or a bad way? Maybe I'm too used to it to understand anything else. On the issue of envy

I think I can say that I am not an envious person. And that is in a country with a people noted for that particular vice. Well, I don't think I ever wanted to swap minds with anybody else. Maybe that's what helped. I felt I was doing enough, working enough, being more or less smart enough. However. As I'm getting older I find myself having traces of envious thoughts. Weird residue from my shadow-self comes up. That's because I'm feeling pressure to fit in with society. More so than ever. And I've struggled with my physical ailments for so long. I'm getting tired of seeing such fit and radiant people all over the place! I'm starting to wish that I could have some of all that success... I've worked so hard, I've earned it! To think that the reward will come later and will be so much more satifsfying for being deep and spiritual, well, when is that day ever to come? A person is happy in relation to his or her environment. If you're gloomy and everybody else is, too, then it's not so bad. If you're gloomy (or sick or poor) but those around you are not, then it's like being in hell! The same with envy; you may not be envious because you are bad in some way, but because others seem better. it's all relative. Maybe it helps to bear that in mind? And maybe to try and stick to people who don't activate a feeling in you that life is unfair and you are less succesful than they are. Or ask yourself if you would really like to be them? Brrrr! At least it's a thought that puts me off altogether, regardless my physical appearance and lack of health.

Later: If you consider that all of us have limitless amounts of potential, then it's really hard to be envious and greedy! I have everything I need to succeed with whatever I'm meant to succeed with, and anyway all that is not really always just up to what I want or what I think about myself as an individual living a certain life. I always think well, the challenges I have is my karma and all I can do is try to fix it. Why bother with craving for something other people have? I might get those things in the end or I might not. I think believing that we create our own reality can be misleading because yes, I think we do create it, but there's also so much in our subconscious mind that direct us. No way can we control our life. Best let go of the control and let life take it's course, and rely on our higher self and intuition to keep us from more trouble. Life just is, life creates itself, hop in the carriage and try to keep your horse on the road, but don't obsess. Well, that's just some of my thoughts anyway.

The idea about getting taxes is probably based in greed and envy like a lot of other things in society. Like the idea that the state shouldn't give too much to the poor because then they would get lazy and not fix their own situation. This is not an assumption, it really is how the authorities (and other people) usually think. Actually some new research proves the opposite. When you feel that people are generous towards you, you feel happier and more motivated to get going with your own life. The barrier of greed and envy can be very very daunting and have a paralyzing effect on those who are less fortunate.

Later: Nothing new under the sun... The age-old issues are always coming out in new versions by new generations. Hopefully we're starting to get somewhere, though! :-/

Well, my ailments are purely physical and the rest is hypersensitivity about the ways of the world, but if I could rely on my mind only I would be a happy person indeed. However, my body has taught me to respect boundaries, and how boundaries actually make us more creative beings. To work with a limited amount of tools is truly challenging, and usually produces more creative results than limitless capacity and access to "everything" (I used to do research on creativity). There is hardly any sense in anything if there are no boundaries? At least from the human perspective?
Boundaries are interesting also from the point of view of greed and envy. Personally, I'm a lover of abundance (or rather, opulence) and don't believe in ascetism. Still, in my own life the kind of abundance that I would appreciate is lacking. I feel like an idiot because I cannot figure out why. I must be missing something glaringly obvious. Is it again a lesson of boundaries? That sometimes people cannot have it all. That even if we have limitless amounts of know-how in a deeper and "higher" sense, then on the physical level it's not always possible to manifest all that. For any number of reasons such as karma, environment, collective issues, and so on. I guess I feel that not only should we respect our higher selves and believe in its power, but also respect the lower self with its scary and chaotic sub consciousness and limiting effect on our lives (including our bodies and our physical environment, of course). To learn to work with the lower level can be as big a challenge as learning to work with the higher levels. On the issue of fearI would normally have bypassed a thread dealing with aliens or whatever the "Others" may be called, but am glad I read it after all. The level of the discussion was really high. It's a tricky thing to grasp the idea of oneness, but my own experience is that once it becomes clear, then it explains a lot, a lot, a lot... maybe everything.

I agree that we shouldn't be bashful about presenting the real person behind the words. After all, we all have a personality for the very sake of expressing it, don't we? And all we have really are subjective points of view that we can agree or disagree on. Discussions for and against can become clinical without a touch of humanness in them... I learned early on to suppress my feelings but I felt quite clear on a mental and spiritual level. It was weird because I didn't feel grounded, yet I had no fears. The fears came when I opened up my emotional deposits and was pretty much swamped by them. There is enormous power in the content of the subconscious mind. Yet by suppressing it we can never become whole, as it won't disappear. Most of the time it's about the beliefs that have arisen from the perceptions which have become distorted beyond recognition. My suggestion would be to keep the beliefs fairly simple, because then you are less likely to get lost in them and be overwhelmed by all kinds of irrational fears.

We don't have to look far to see the "devil". The more you open up your heart, the more perceptive you become. This is anyway how I see it. There's a very fearful time when it's very difficult to tell what fears are real and what are not. I think most people try to avoid getting themselves into that kind of a state. But personally, I felt I had to go through all that, it just had to be done, like springcleaning. Let us try to stick to Earth and mostly deal with fears that are close to us on the physical level. Things we can see and that are easy to agree on. To give power to fears about abstract things is in my opinion a hazard. It is so hard to have a good frame of reference. I'd like to say "reliable" frame of reference, but I guess it's hard to find anything really reliable in this world! Try to stay grounded and always in touch with your own inner self, with your heart and your common sense in conjunction. That would be my advice to anyone who feels insecure (I still do, but I survive!). Ok. Phew, that was it. Hopefully enough for a while. I'm sorry I had eliminated all the great comments that were made by other zaadster during the process of writing these things, but I tried to compress this text to my own views only. God, I take myself too seriously and I think way too much. I should loosen up a bit! :-)

Artwork: Abstract Digital photograph by author, all rights reserved, copyright 2007

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