After the wedding last June depression came to call. After all these years it came with it’s friend anxiety. As I adjusted to this new condition, putting it in context with the new things I had been learning I put aside my usual routine of enquiry and just went from day to day for a number of months. On reflection what I think happened was the last remnants of my ‘seeking’ came to an end. A ‘seeking’ that started in earnest back in 1981 leading me into Charismatic Christianity for thirty odd years, and out again into a new area of spirituality and metaphysics, has ceased. Christmas was fast approaching and a new perspective was forming.
Now it’s January 2017 and a new contentment is solidifying, frequent sensations of gratitude arrive during the day. Most of my ‘meditation’ is carried out whilst I walk around my urban environment every day. What had I been ‘seeking’? My identity I suppose. I had arrived at a place where I accepted I was not a ‘mind body’ thing, even thinking of my self as ‘no thing’, and ‘everything’ seemed inadequate. I had accepted that my ‘reality’ was just that which I experiences at any given moment, that was all there was to it. As I concentrated on that and examined it more closely I asked. “What is there ‘beyond mind'”. Mind tries to tell us who we are, it interprets our perceptions according to our social conditioning, but it is a dream, what is beyond mind?
I sat down one morning, got comfortable and entered a place of ‘no mind’. Quietly I asked the question. “Who am I?” Not allowing my mind to answer I was left with silence. So the only answers left to mind were, ‘I don’t know who I am’, and ‘I am a mystery’. If we discount all written books and documents, all conferences, TV programmes and everything that purports to telling us who we are we are left only with mystery. Many names have been given to this mystery, but that is another mind ploy. If we are honest we accept the Mystery.
Yes we interact with others and our society in a flesh suit, we all experience the same things as each other we have to navigate this temporary span on earth, and that’s alright. Knowing we are not this insular body mind person with a name but mystery is not scary it is at last comforting. I realise many folk are not ‘seeking’ but many thousands if not millions are, and spending a lot of money in the process. If I could encourage one person to give up ‘seeking’ and become comfortable in the knowledge that their true identity is Mystery then maybe after all these years it may have been worthwhile.
These days it’s difficult to know where I am. I know on one level I Am. stationary, but one a journey level, that’s another story. After the family wedding in early June I began to experience anxiety. With all my years of depression I had never experience this level of anxiety, unless I have forgotten. No apparent reason but before too long as the anxiety increased I went to the doctor who re-prescribed me medication.
I was tempted to see this condition as an ‘obstacle’ but as my present reality it is here present and to be accepted. All of my life has been associated with negative emotions and I am exploring the connection between thoughts and emotions. But if I experience negative emotions without being conscious of negative thinking is there something else producing the emotions? I am not ‘depressed’ in my mind, I am not identifying depression as part of my false self identity, but I am experiencing anxiety. It is a mystery. To ask ourselves who we are and come up with no better answer than, it is a mystery, is fine.
So here I am on a human level vulnerable, weak, and confused. But on a deeper level it is not important and everything is fine.
If Ancient wisdom contained the concept that ‘duality’ was at the root of our problems, why did the Christian church try to expunge it from its teachings? Duality of thought is a shift from unity of thought that produces the concept of subject and object, of you and me, light and dark. It basically believes that there is separation within reality that accepts division and apparent discourse. This occurs in our minds, individually and collectively and builds up according to the cultural conditioning we grow up in getting us to believe we are individuals separate from others and creation itself. A great anxious ache grows within us all to find something ‘out there’ to relieve our frustration.
The Gnostics and teachers before them came to the conclusion that the answer lay within us, hence Know Thyself was the key to breakthrough. But the Catholic Church in its ruthless drive to egoic supremacy eliminated all alternatives to it’s proscribed narrative. God was ‘up there’, Jesus was the only way to salvation, you are damned unless you agree to our literalist teaching and the commands of the Pope, and the many layered divisions of the church heir achy. The church drove the masses into the dark ages and put Western civilisation back by two thousand years.
Just as Western civilisation is beginning to shed its dependence on religion along comes an emergence of another strain of the same virus, Islam. Islam is once again threatening the West, as it did hundreds of years ago. But this time it is not meeting Christians who will defend themselves with arms, but a politically correct liberal establishment who have welcomed the invasion with open arms. The secular mind and the religious mind are one and the same. But it is not the mind that is the problem per se but it’s ability to construct an identity for us, in which we believe. This is our ‘problem’ we believe in a ‘self’ that does not in fact exist. Forgetting our true essence and believing something our mind has constructed for us causes us to behave in a way that has illuminated history for millenia. Why should there be wars, death, illness, poverty, rape, theft etc unless we believe in it. We give energy to all the woes of life because be believe the lies the egoic mind presents to us.
So the remedy? Herein is the question that has promoted an industry that many can benefit from. The start of the next phase is to see through the illusion of mind. To be aware of all that is happening in the present and accepting that what you see is not real.
‘So you’ve turned up again, any particular reason?’
‘Thought you may fancy a chat.’
‘To be honest I’m a bit stuck. Seems I’m thinking about truth and reality quite a bit but I can’t seem to work it out.’
‘Tricky isn’t it?’
‘Sure is. I expect you to have some answers though.’
‘All your beliefs about anything are just perceptions. You made them up and chose to believe them or not. Added to that is the difficulty with language, that we all need to communicate. Be still and experience a moment without thought, without mind, what is is like.’
‘That’s because you are not attached to the false self and the false world you have created. Your thoughts are not personal nor true, they are just thoughts. You are being, everything is being. You are not the false self that has been created and that for so many years you believed you were. You are not an isolated little self alone in a big bad world. You may ‘think’ you are but can you look past the false, look into an awareness of being. Everything is being, and that’s just fine.’
‘Should I give up the thoughts of truth and reality.?
‘Sure. It is meaningless.
Guilt can be experienced on many levels, but I expect we can all recognise its symptoms and effects. Thinking I had got it pretty much under control it resurfaced again this week to remind me to keep learning. Most of us can relate to the feelings of guilt, sometimes to the degree we call shame, but underlying all guilt is the belief that we are bad, or not good enough if we do something ‘wrong’. All feelings are permissible as they are part of us but beneath feelings lie beliefs. When it comes to believing we are ‘bad’ there has to be a choice to believe something else.
Social conditioning does what it says on the tin. It conditions us to believe and behave in a certain way. Parents, Authority figures, Government, Educationalists, the Media, and yes our peer group all have a hand in deciding, and telling us what is good or bad behaviour. So if we behave according to that which is expected of us we are good, and conversely if we don’t we are bad. But who decides? Well we are all conditioned along the line so our parents were too. They followed along like everyone else uncritically accepting social conditioning and passing that on to their children who then built up their own world view and hard core belief systems.
Different cultures have different world views but ‘good’ and ‘bad’, ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ will be found in most cultures. We can see the differences in cultural world views as immigrants enter Western Europe, but I digress. What is right or what is wrong, what is good, what is bad. Interpretations, judgements, decisions are made by the mind. Our minds have learnt over millenia in our culture to judge and decide what is good or bad. No the mind is not bad, it’s just doing its job. You could say it’s evolutionary. But it can have devastating consequences. Because nothing is good or bad until our minds interpret and judge.
Being raised with copious amounts of criticism, idolising a Father I could never match up to meant I was a very timid, over sensitive, and emotionally retarded. I suffered from extreme guild, shame and depression. But you know what? It wasn’t my fault. I could only deal with my upbringing the way I could cope with it. I’m not a victim anymore but I must recognise that I still judge myself by my behaviour. I must reiterate time after time that all things are neutral, I judge them good or bad. I am neither good or bad, I am higher. My behaviour does not determine who I am, and to live a more fulfilling life I must illuminate guilt.
You must too.
We may find happiness, we may find joy, but finding it in accomplishments, achievements, or goal reaching it will be short lived. So will the happiness found in relationships, prosperity, celebrity status or anything else the ‘world’ recognises as worthy of happiness. For our ‘world view’ has been created by our minds and whatever is collectively seen as bringing us joy our minds have joined in with. Should we find ourselves rich and successful our minds tell us we should be happy. But don’t we know by experience that many rich successful people are deeply unhappy, and many poor people can be seen as being extremely happy. But to seek happiness is a false quest.
What we deeply seek cannot be found outside of us. It has taken me many years to reach this milestone. Contentment or shalom can only be experienced by a belief in ourselves. Us, just as we are right now is all we have. There is no past, there is no future, but our minds long for us to believe in both. Here we are right this moment, this is our reality everything else is something we may have believed about from someone else. No more searching for salvation from any source no more regrets about what has happened or a hope for better times ahead, just the reality of us here in this present presence.
“There must be more.” screams the mind. But it is a haunting cry. There is only this present reality and us. Being open to what is now without judging is a learned experience. Accepting ourselves just as we are right now is healthy and we can chose to do that. We can choose to see ourselves as good enough, successful, and important. We can choose to be content with who we are. Who says we can’t, who says we are not what we want to see ourselves as? Other people? Other people’s minds, and ours. There is the impediment. But we are in charge of our minds not the other way round. We can diligently work at retraining the mind to believe what we want it to believe, we have done it before.
Feeling good about ourselves right now just as we are is healthy and its up to us to cultivate this shalom. Does it mean we have to accept our circumstances without query? No. If things need to change, then change them, but nothing can alter the basic reality of us being here right now irrespective of our behaviour or performance. Non judgemental, guilt free belief in the innate goodness of who we are is therapeutic and needs to be embraced. The more we believe in our own goodness, the more we experience the shalom of personal contentment others will benefit from it too.
“Conjectural consideration of a matter; conjecture or surmise: a report based on speculation rather than facts.”
A dictionary definition of speculation. Everyone of us can speculate, and we all do, but most of what is presented to us in the MSM is speculation. Before the EU referendum most of what was pushed out to the electorate was speculation, and most of what is being talked about is again, speculation. The talking heads on the television have to keep their jobs so look for ‘pundits’ and ‘experts’ to answer questions and appear sensible in front of the camera. The newspaper editors have to fill pages with print and their experts and columnists have a field day earning their salaries, and not a lot of it is factual.
Why is this important. Well to remain balanced and at ease, speculation must be ignored. Our minds enjoy being involved in speculation, the mind interprets the data and judges. Next the emotions are in play again and we can be lead away so easily from our objective of a blessed life. If it is our desire to discipline our minds we need to be objective with regard to the information we receive. I have stopped watching newscasts, political programmes and I never watched early morning ‘magazine’ type shows. But I enjoy social media, and a couple of newspapers which gives me more opportunity to glean facts and figures rather than speculation. I admit I am learning and still find it difficult, but I have determined that the blessed life is possible. To observe without interpretation is indeed difficult and takes application, but I encourage us to perciviere. Not to take things on face value is a good maxim in these exciting days.