Monday, 21 April 2014

Vipassana, the art of living.

I was awake, but suddenly found myself alone in the dark.

Then I was in a cinema, again completely alone, a unique show just for me; a few lights and colors flashed in front of me and behind me somewhere I was aware of a twisted projectionist who took great delight in playing mind games on its audience. Me. At first just a few memories passed by the window, like old cine film, black and white, in sillohette, forgotten actors of the past morphed into paysley purple beneath fractal skies said hello and then waved goodbye, responsibilities, thoughts, the ebb and flow of time past present and future. Hello, goodbye, hello, goodbye, goodbye godbye. God by. Good boy. Was I a good boy?

Clinging, aversion, pain, suffering, pleasure, laughter. Gone.

For a moment I was gone.

I was awake but suddenly alone in the dark.

A prisoner!

I was a prisoner.

A wave of anxiety washed over my soul, a dog barked, a baby cried and somewhere, somewhere........ I was alone in the dark.

I was a prisoner of my own mind and a slave to its manifestations and subsequent sensations, the tide of emotions quickly gained momentum. I was in a storm at sea trying to sail, tying knots, setting down the anchor, takking wildly from side to side, wasting so much time and energy just to stay in one place. No map, no charts, my compass pointing all directions. I was at the mercy of the elements, the ferocious, unpredictable nature of mind, myself, struggling to stay afloat.

Mind, my intimate friend, my jail mate, judge, jury and executioner.

I love you, I hate you. These waves became big and powerfull.

There was no where to go, no where to run, no where to hide. Dropped in the middle of an infinite ocean, my instincts automatically told me to fight, to survive, to swim, but even if I could swim where would I swim to and anyway at some point my energy would run out and I would sink to the bottom and drown.

The fight quickly dissipated, as I quickly realised and saw the truth of the moment, it was so obvious, fighting was useless; I can only surrender to the situation, to accept it. This is Vipassana to see and accept the actual reality of things, not to try to change what is out there but to live with it, adapt, not fight. If I want to change what is out there then I need to change what is in here, the root of the problem, treat the cause not the symptom.

I saw the infinite horizon of my mind, this ocean, this potential storm, this potential paradise, and accepted it, that there is no where to go, I cannot swim away. If I struggle too much the ripples and waves I create will eventually be what will drown me. There is only one solution, it is obvious, and you only see that when your mind is calm. I can only hope to learn to float, keep still, keep calm, do not create any ripples, keep my head above water for now is good enough, and I will save precious time and energy.

It is beautiful to see, so simple, so obvious, that is why it works so well. Through actual experience and observation that can only be done when the mind is still enough and has the opportunity to look long and hard. Very quickly you realise this is a universal truth, does not matter who or what you are, black, green, yellow, man woman.......our subtle mechanics are exactly the same, a universal law. We all love and suffer the same cause and effect. Simply to observe its basic functions of mind and matter, the very act of observing your own breath, in and out, a sensation then a reaction, and use that as a reference to all of what we react to, because all the body is like that and all the mind is like that and all of nature is like that. Cause and effect, effect and cause. Desire and adversion, attract and repel.

We go out there looking for our desires, we want, we need, we hope, we grasp, we cling, we fear to lose it.....we consequently suffer.

If we are lucky we find some of our desires and find solitude in them, want them to last forever, but if we cling to them, we become fearful of losing them, or having to repeat them time and time again to keep feeling good, to replace them, to repair them, whatever its all relentless madness.

It is that universal law that one sees within the framework of our mind and body, nothing is permanent, everything ends, is born, it dies. The sub atomic particles of our being that make up who we are, are constantly in a dance of creation and annihilation, we are a sum total of an intricate tapestry of vibrating packets of energy, existing then de-existing. We own nothing not even ourselves, we can never keep anything, this is the reality, this reality, all of material existence is temporary. If we get attached to any of it then at some point we will suffer its loss. To know this, to observe this within the frame work of the body, is the freedom from ignorance and to understand the actual cause of all suffering. We desire and we want to keep things. We have to stop repeating things that cause our suffering, frustration, anger, desire, knowing that there is nothing to get attached to, it will all come and then go.

The biggest attachment is the big 'I am'
Our ego.
I am this, I am not that, I worship this, I worship that. Who is this 'I am' this identity that needs to be something, this ego that wants to exist, to love, to have, to hate, to hold, to touch, to keep.

I attended a spiritual gathering here in India thousands of devotees gathered, headed by Sri Tatata, and one thing stood out that he said, looking at everyone he pointed and said:
"I recognize each and every one of you, but do you recognize me"
Something which instantly resonated with me as I had a similar experience in which I saw the same, in everyone around me I saw myself it was a very disturbing experience at first but now I understand it much more, and in myself I saw (the one) behind all our masks, our ego our identity is exactly the same, our true identity.......hence his question:

"Do you recognize me?"

Or do you just see yourself as unique detached from everything? 

"He who sees just a grain of sand that is in his hand sees only himself, he who sees the infinity in all things sees God." William Blake.

We are that universal truth within, not what our parents named us, our real true identity at the core of our being, the seed that created us that we really are, we are much more than what we think we are....and the ego knows it, it is frightened of us finding out the truth, it exists simply to keep your attention away from it, to look at 'me' its all about me, look here, don't look there. It knows if you see the light, if you see the truth...... it will not exist....the ego is very scared of not existing and it will create so many traps and illusions to keep your attention where it wants you to be, to be focused on itself. I exist I am me.

To see the light you must first die, the ego must die. You must surrender.
Like a monkey it grappled through the jungle, swinging from tree to tree, branch to branch, place to place. This thought, that thought, always in motion.
Here and then there, forwards and backwards so far into the depths of the jungle it forgot where it had started from, where it had originated from, who he was? it paused to take a breath, in that moment suddenly became aware "I am here" it thought, where am I going, why do I need to go anywhere, why am I always moving from place to place never resting. For a moment nothing moved, there was an infinite stillness, calm, peaceful, satisfaction. Like the surface of water, suddenly as the ripples dissapeared it caught sight of itself in the reflection of truth, of what it was, of what it was doing and why? for the first time within the reflection of its own mind, this jungle, it knew itself...... this monkey. It began to find comfort in this truthful place no(where) that it realised was now(here), happiness. It clung to it like a tree trunk with all its various attachments, long enough for familiarity to mature and desire seeded itself deep within the fertile soil of potential fear, where within thin threads of attachment grew, until finally sweet fruit ripened, then fell, then rotted on the floor of the jungle. Disappointment of how temporary everything was swept over him and the monkey cried oceans of misery, wailing to himself: nothing lasts, everything dies, I cannot keep the good things that I find, the fruit is rotting and falling to the floor. I cannot keep anything, whats the point to stay here I must just keep moving again. The jungle floor became enriched with a new input of organic matter, as the rotting pulp, and the nutrients within blessed the ground and became fertile; the seeds from the fruit were now so well moistened from the tears of the monkey, they quickly gestated, cells divided and particles bonded forming new complex structures, the seed suddenly split open and a new generation of life ascended up towards the heavens once more. Not one tree but several now grew.
The monkey saw all this, and as the final piece of the puzzle fell into place he stopped crying, realisation and truth swept over him, instantly cleansing him of his ignorance and therefore seeing the cause of his suffering, everything is like this he thought, there is no where to run, things come and things go, even my suffering and tears have gone whereby a few moments ago I thought it would never end this terrible suffering and sadness. There is nothing to get attached to not even sadness, it is all temporary.

Now in a terribly cheerful mood, he set off again swinging from tree to tree, singing:

Hello, nice to meet you. Hello, nice to meet you. It was nice wasn't it but now I must go and see what is further ahead, this exciting infinite jungle of change.

......All problems, all suffering has a root cause, just as with nursing there is no point to treat the symptom, it will keep coming back....find the cause and treat that.

Vipassana is a deep operation into the core of our being to reach the truth, the cause of any suffering and you wont believe how deep it goes, because with the passing of time they get buried by layers and layers of scar tissue layers of consciousness, it is like surgery to cut deep into the wound, surely it will hurt and puss will ooze out of it, but keep squeezing until it all comes out then the wound will heal.

Why do we suffer?
Why do we injure ourselves?
Why do we get angry?
What is the cause of misery?

Attachment, because we want to keep things, even our lives we want to not get old and live forever, keep everything we worked hard for, not ever have anything break, or become slow, or out dated, we want to keep enjoying it all, but that is impossible madness, illusion, delusional.....nothing in this material world lasts, it is all temporary and is always in flux of change, that is why we get disappointed, frustrated and angry, we suffer, we are too attached to it all, but the core of our being is eternal, that is where paradise exists, to be centered in oneself, centered in the truth is freedom, transcend material suffering, we are infinite beings and to realise that to know that, that is the real gold, the treasure, the alchemical process of purifying (the crucible, our mind....within all the raw materials that need to be purified) then we truly transcend this temporary frustrating material waiting room.

Surely if you believe this is the only life we will have, then surely you will suffer as you watch the time pass by everyday, see the wrinkles increase, even more so if you are not achieving what your heart desires then it will feel the time is lost, missing opportunities and not getting what you want before time runs out, this causes our suffering.

It is the journey that is important that teaches us who we really are, all the good and all the bad happens very perfectly, we learn that we are all connected, the universe is observing itself through the eyes of us. We are the universe, eternal, perfect, truthful.

and then there were six

Ecole Roue Libre

We are a group of 7 people embarking on an experimental journey which will involve cycling 850km from Kochin to Auroville.

We would like to share these experiences and describe the challenges and insights that this type of journey will reveal.

Travelling on your own is challenging enough and sometimes hard to make decisions, this time we were challenged further with 7 different minds, 7 different abilities and 7 personalities on an uncertain road, with uncertainty feeding many fires of fear. I believe that there is only one way to survive such uncertainty and that is to surrender to it, and that is the gift of India, the test, to live in the present overcome the problems as they present themselves, these are the daily challenges that often becomes a revelation, paradise or a problem.

Initially at the beginning I enjoyed the few days we had together going through a process of learning about each other revealing our abilities both good and bad, this I thought was a good place to start to make some sort of framework that would be suitable for us to function as a group. To survive, to grow. I could see the value of doing such work on these foundations.

The reality of cycling through India though with a group of people with mixed abilities and experiences proved to be something which needed to be re evaluated each day, as each person built up new experiences day by day and therefore realised there own capabilities. Decisions taken by the group that sometimes worked and sometimes did not. I had hoped that it would be an evolution where finally life and the road would teach us individually that we did need each other, that we all had our various abilities if we could harness them and integrate them into a single functioning entity then collective power would shine brighter than any individual light. When we were able to go beyond our own personal dramas, this quality did surface from time to time, changing the thinking from how am 'I' going to feel better, to how are 'we' going to feel and function better, if the 'we' is resolved then normally the 'I' feels safe and happy.

3 weeks was not enough really but did reveal a pattern:

1) The first week was easy enough for personalities to be kept hidden, as it is easy to survive a few days without really revealing you true feelings.

2) The second week it becomes too difficult to contain such feelings as the challenges of travelling soon brings to the surface all issues, and so conflicts start to arise.

3) The third week then becomes a period of truth, do or die, sink or swim, either resolve things or it all falls apart.

It bought to the surface various individual personality problems and conflicts, so instead of focusing on a group intention and adhesion, any spare energy was used to resolve personal issues.

It was an experimental journey though which proves that people are still not able to fully surrender, let go of ego, let go of fear, and to focus on a bigger picture which was the whole point of this journey to try to learn to work together.

We survived the experience, but just survived nothing more.

It did not fail, it was perfect in every way a truthful mirror to look at ourselves, what is our true intention? I don't believe we were meant to live alone, to travel alone, to experience alone, to love alone, but we seem to have created many blockages, maybe through education, culture, society, various selfish attitudes we struggle to break through this conditioning, only in times of real crisis do we forget ourselves and look towards our brothers and sisters for assistance and comfort, I need help please! is it really these people that we want to exclude from out of our lives, to judge, to gossip about, to fight?

I have been in Auroville now since 3 days, the group has gone its various ways relieved to have their own personal space again, but rich with memories of our experience cycling through some amazing places in India, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.

Auroville seems to be a reflection of our own small dream of unity, that seems also to be fragmented, separate people doing their own thing but with the potential of great union. I hope one day this place ad all of humanity will come together the heart, the soul, still resonating strong a golden globe which resides at the center of all things and all beings.

Aum Shanti Shanti.