“Why? Why do things exist? Why do I exist? Why do things happen to me? This is particularly true of suffering, which encourages a deeper search for meaning. This series examines all aspects of the self, and getting in touch with the higher in ourselves.”
What am I?¶
Essentially, you are what you make yourself. You are a product of your mind. You are a product of your past. You are a product of your aspirations and desires. You are a mixture of the lower and the higher self. You are a complete composite of body, mind, intellect and light; which we call soul or spirit, that activates all the layers of consciousness you experience. You are all of this. Each moment in life, you experience the outer world, through your senses, according to the level or lens through which you are looking.
If you are looking at the physical part, then your focus is on the interaction and harmony between the different facets of the physicality that you have. If you look at the meaning in yourself, then you may find subtler aspects of yourself. If you are constantly relating what you experience now with what you did in the past, in order to make sense out of it, you will see that you are a creature who always wants to make sense out of what impinges upon it.
We are all caught in this state of trying to balance, to bring equilibrium, to relate so as to maintain ongoingness. We all move according to a certain hierarchy of needs. We want to maintain safety, security, well-being, health and so on. Until such a time that you want to maintain an inner equanimity or joy, which is really what is calling all the time from within ourselves. We are all seekers of bliss. We are all seekers of the infinite, of the Absolute, but we have to deal with the relative, because if you deny the relative, you will be denied the subtler. These levels of consciousness can be imagined as spheres within spheres.
Again, you are what you make of yourself. If you say, “I am this role or that role,” then - for that moment - you are. If you focus on the higher within you - Pure Consciousness - then you are beyond the zone of limitations associated with mind, reasoning, intellect and all the other things which ensure the continuity of this life.
Most people seem to seek meaning in material things. Why?¶
We’re all looking for the ultimate qualities: power, wealth, longevity, permanency etc. We start with the gross, material, limited side of existence because that is what we are familiar with. I want power, but this desire operates in a field where power - or its duration - is limited. This world, and my activities and interactions within it, is my kindergarten. This starting point draws me towards the source of all power, all wealth, all ability, capability, and knowledge.
The material is a transient reality - nothing lasts here. Those who love beauty try constantly to maintain it, though it is not maintainable in that particular fashion. We seek beauty in beautiful objects, but - in Reality - we are caught by the love of Beauty itself, not a beautiful thing! It is a good start, but soon you will get frustrated, disappointed and depressed. This is a key to awakening to the fact that this zone is not meant for a constant, permanent realisation of Perfect Beauty. As soon as you have the most beautiful flower, it starts wilting and recycling.
Why do people keep repeating material quests then?¶
We always go on repeating until such time that we see the futility of wanting to preserve a thing. You realise it is not the ‘thinginess’ you were after; it is the meaning behind the thing. It is not money you were after, it is the ability to satisfy all your needs and desires. You are after permanent power, ability, knowledge, beauty and majesty. You are essentially in an impermanent zone seeking the permanent. So, you are doing the right thing, but in the wrong domain. It’s not attainable in a world of change!
You get a modicum of security, and some degree of health, but there is no such thing as perfect health. The moment you are born is the moment you begin to move closer to death. The entire business is about the higher wanting to be seen and acknowledged by the lower. In other words, God loved to be known, so He created. In a fashion, all of us are worshipping at that altar of perfection. You live by the constancy of being pulled towards that perfection, without being able to attain it in any durable sense in this zone of change. This is the paradox that we need to resolve in life: that you want the permanent and boundless, yet you are constantly experiencing the bounded and limited.
So why are so many people trapped looking for features rather than the meaning?¶
It’s the mind. The mind is an incredibly important connector, because it is a gallery of my past experiences. Whenever I see, hear or touch something, the circuitry in my mind relates it to what is stored from the past so that I might make sense out of it. However, it’s all relative; it’s all about comparing, and we get used to this. Eventually, the world ends up being your mind. Yet the source of the world is more than the mind. The mind is an instrument meant to deal with the mundane, rational, basic things: what time is it, where I am going and so on.
You are not the mind! The mind is only an aspect of you. Nor are you just the intellect, or the higher reasoning, which is also just an aspect of you. In truth, you are a boundless light. It is your soul that is giving sentience and energy to all the different facets you experience. You are all of these, put together with a certain priority. That priority is boundless, infinite. This is why we love the attributes of the Garden: the boundlessness of it, being care-free, content and all the other facets of existence within the Divine Precinct. We start in this kindergarten with the limitations of the body, the senses, and the mind until we realise that all of our experiences in this world are a reflection of a permanent light within you, which is boundless.
The boundless can only be fathomed, experienced, known through the bounded. You can never know the sun simply by glaring right at it. However, you can see its effect by observing the stars and the moon and the earth and its dependency on the sun. Yet the sun is not affected by all these things. Neither is God. He is not affected by my cursing, or my being happy or unhappy, yet He is the cause of all that appears. The moon does not know that the sun is the origin of its light, but it responds to it.
If I respond fully, I have the added capacity (unlike the moon, which lacks sentience) to know what is making me desire. Hence the great hadith that God was a hidden treasure and loved to be known, therefore He created. We are all created to know that so-called Unknown, by its effects. These effects are multi-layered, and one of them is this box of the mind which traps so many, driving them to illicit means to go beyond its causal limits, which give us no lasting joy.
Is that then the design - that most people will be trapped in this limited existence?¶
The design is layered with infinite levels and I am according to which design I follow. The Divine decrees, or patterns, are already set. If I follow a certain pattern, I will come to that particular end. If I follow another pattern, I will come to another end. My life and experiences are a mixture of my own movement and actions, and the decrees that determine the final event. I have freedom to act at a certain level, but I am not free to determine my destiny.
If I act with the intention of moving toward higher knowledge, then I will eventually reach it, by It, through exclusion of other knowledge and information. It is a question of displacement. Most people get used to the habit of the familiar and so remain with their mind. The design, or the map of existence, is that each moment seeks its stability. If I am used to a certain pattern of thought, action, or transaction then I find comfort in it. This is a small reflection of the pattern of the soul, which is forever at ease and in comfort. The soul is forever, so it has the routine of foreverness, which I try to duplicate in everyday life. This is why we love repetitive routines; they mimic ongoingness.
There are two paradoxical issues constantly: we have an aspect which is worldly and limited and - within it, behind it, before it, and after it - there is the energising source which is limitless. Once I realise that these two zones are in me, then I am reconciled. Without that full and constant realisation, I am confused by my position between limiting reason and limitless desire. Whatever desire I have - good or bad - will be brought to an end in a worldly setting due to time and space. Yet, if it is joy or love, I want it to be limitless, whereas worldly love or beautiful objects or whatever we pursue is limited, as is my life. In truth, Life itself is limitless, but the way I experience it in a conscious, limited, worldly way gives me the illusion of imprisonment.
What about fate?¶
It’s the natural outcome of what you have done and what is around you. If you look at the pattern of existence, there are infinite layers - a kind of endless web - of patterns, which all impinge on each other. Some of them are very gross: if I kick the table, I see it, hear it, and my toe may get injured. If I say something that is hurtful or disrespectful, I also know its effect and can see it generate a response.
The same applies to thoughts, and subtler thoughts, and those most secret thoughts until the ultimate: what is in my heart? There are infinite layers of natural laws which govern the entirety of this existence. I may take a certain action, but the ultimate outcome or destiny I experience is not in my hand; only the action is. Therefore, we say that you are as good as your intentions. If your intention is to rediscover that zone within you which gives you the constancy and reliability of perfection, then you will be led to it, by It; by slowly suffering and turning away from the zone of imperfection and chaos.
If I want to see the essence of order, I will see it even in the middle of the most chaotic disorder. However, I have no control over the timing of when I will reach that consciousness. I have certain control over what I am doing now, why I am doing it, and what my purpose is. It starts with reasoning, but ends up beyond me. I can’t control the ultimate outcome.
People who are not endowed with this understanding become fatalistic. They say, “It’s not in my hands, it’s in God’s hands.” Yet, certainly, there is something in my hands - my intention and immediate action is in my hands, though the ultimate outcome - which is the result of multiple factors impinging on each other - is not. I may want to cross the road, but a car coming round the corner could be moving faster than expected… I am not in control of the final outcome of my destiny.
If we can have no expectation of an outcome, why act at all?¶
This is where the muddle occurs. Essentially, I want happiness. Happiness means contentment. Contentment means access to a zone in me that is constantly reliable and available and which gives me the thrill and the joy of being alive. What goes wrong is that my mind - because of my past experiences - tells me that my happiness depends on being an executive, with a fancy car, and briefcase, and five secretaries to do my bidding. It is that image which enslaves me, not the love of happiness and contentment and bliss.
I have become a prisoner of my mind by mixing up a mental issue with something which is far deeper, in my heart. We all want happiness, but we look for it in a zone which we assume will be the door to it. This is where we go wrong. We assume that a certain kind of relationship will bring us happiness, and so we end up blaming others all the time. I ought to blame myself for having caused this chaos by mixing up an image in my mind with a desire in my heart.
How can I find perfection or meaning in moments of severe trauma?¶
We are always seeking within a hierarchy of wellness: at the physical level (to do with actions); the mental and emotional level (to do with meaning and harmony); and the higher level (to do with the essence). Ultimately, we want to be able - at all times - to see through the eye of the essence how everything has got its perfection, even though it may appear as imperfect. This question arises from a state in which you thought your happiness lies in going to a particular place, without reading the total situation to the best of your ability.
It is a question of human ignorance, not Divine punishment. You have punished yourself, by your wrong action. We are always punished by what we are doing ourselves. Not because of what we are doing, it is by what we are doing. It is through your own action that you receive the reward or lack of it. At all times, we are trying to maintain equanimity and balance at all these levels.
If you believe in one, encompassing Creator, if you believe in God, if you believe in the one-and-only Absoluteness of Reality, then you will see how - from that Essence - the meanings and perfections of the attributes are emitted, manifesting as actions. Actions are only a manifestation of meanings: the chair has only one aspect for people of meaning, which is to do with comfort or ease. Its physicality has a meaning and that meaning also has a higher meaning, in that I want to be comfortable so that I am not nagged by my body or mind so that I can dwell within the zone of the permanent in me. We all love that zone of oblivion, away from limitation. We are all seekers of that permanent, Absolute essence, because it is within us and it is beaming all the time, beckoning us to it.
But how do we find this meaning in our shatteredness!?¶
Nature has designed us to grow through appropriate stages and we are driven along the path from the gross to the subtler. This shatteredness you are talking about is a result of me not yielding to the natural program. I have not yielded and have not grown enough: emotionally I am arrested, or spiritually I have not yet evolved enough to realise that anything that happens occurs according to a pattern. I may have inadvertently put myself in that pattern, which is my own ignorance. Every failure is an opportunity for me to realise where I have gone wrong: that is, I have followed my own desires relentlessly without weighing them, without taking counsel, without due consideration. I went into it headlong, so it is my fault. That fault is additional knowledge, but because I am bent on getting an “end product”, which I do not have, I become angry.
Anger arises because I have misplaced, or miscalculated, and now I wish to blame everyone else rather than my own miscalculations. In other words, the more I am concerned with an ultimate outcome of simple contentment, the less I will be disappointed. The more I have desires, the more likely it is I will be disappointed.
What are the roots of some key aspects of existence: love, hate, knowledge, action, success and failure?¶
Life is entirely based on the energy that we are given to attain desirables, and the desirables change all the time. From a child wanting a sweet, to an artist wanting to create a piece that shows a lot of meaning in one instant. We are driven by the love for attaining such desirables; ending up with passion. To begin with, it is love of this and that in a gross sense, until it becomes all-consuming passion.
This implies that there are things that I want to attract to myself and things I want to repel from myself. So, using the example of a highway code or map, life is first based on the ways of nature which I must be able to read correctly. If I constantly use this road, then I am likely to have repeated accidents. If I am going to the marketplace, where there is so much competition for money, I ought to see that there will be more cheating, more lies and a greater reduction of human value, because it is all after some abstract entity called money which opens doors in people’s minds to power.
If I am driving on these roads and don’t know the map properly then - even if I have a good driving license and am a good driver - I will cause a lot of accidents by making mistakes. So, you need to know the map well! Read the atlas and its codes. Then, you need to be a good driver and follow the code, which is where religions and the prophetic teachings come in. You want to follow within the boundaries, because you don’t want to cause additional uncertainties in an already-uncertain situation. Once you know the map, have become a skilled driver, and have a roadworthy car, you need awareness of the overall conditions around you: is there a hurricane predicted? All this so we might maintain different levels of safety.
We want basic health, then a clear mind, and a pure heart. Essentially, your soul is housed in your heart, which is why we say that you need to purify your heart so that you have access to the essence.
Is that self knowledge?¶
The soul emits an infinite array of patterns or programs into you. Autonomically, you will pull your finger away from a candle if it is burning you. It is beyond you; it’s not even mind. It bypasses the circuitry of the conscious mind. Self-knowledge is to know that the higher self does everything, in its own sequence. If you maintain your attention on the lower, then you remain mentally arrested or emotionally childish.
You have a certain measure of choice in obstructing the program, not in the program itself. It is already there. That’s why we talk about submission. Submission is not an inert or a negative approach to any situation. It has to do with the fact that you must not allow your own diversions and distractions to stop this magnificent program from unfolding in you. The purpose of your existence is to know the Source of existence, and that Source is in you. Your access to the Divine, to God, is through your soul.
So it’s not so much seeking as it is being found?¶
Precisely! You have already been founded by that foundation. You have to let go and yield to it, rather than obstruct it by your own desires, which may be quite legitimate. However, it may be that the timing is wrong, or the arena in which you are looking is wrong.
We are all looking for the right thing, but often in the wrong way.