Monthly Archives: May 2013
I am working through a book by a spiritual teacher called Gangaji, in this book she tells of how she went to India to study under a guru as she was desperate to find peace. She asked the guru what she should do and he asked her if she was ready to do nothing, this perplexed her and she again asked what she should do, again he said “nothing”. She was to let go of all of her strategies and plans and just face herself in the rawest way possible. I must admit, this stumped me for a while, and like so many spiritual lessons it was something I just had to catch for myself. What strategies? What plans? And then it occurred to, how much do I do in order to hide from naked reality and raw emotion, and how much time do I spend doing it? The answer to both questions is “A lot.”
Let me define what I mean by “hiding”, in this context it means anything you do to numb or distract yourself from the present moment. Why would you want to hide from the present moment? Well here is where it gets a bit crazy, it is when you have nothing to do that you start to think about all the things that scare you silly; bills that need to be paid, conflict that is looming, kids that need new shoes, etc. So you get busy doing something, anything you can do that will get your mind off these things. Hiding. What you have yet to realise is that it is only when you do nothing and simply face reality as it is, and accept it as it is, that it starts to change. Another way to look at it is that your reality is nothing more than a mirror image of what is going on inside of you, so if you ignore reality then reality will ignore you and remain unchanged. To continue with this mirror analogy, does it feel like your circumstances are your enemy? That is because you treat them so by hiding from them, what would happen if you accepted your circumstances with a feeling of love and gratitude? You would experience love and gratitude in your reality.
I will be the first to admit that all of this seems incredibly counter-intuitive. If there is a bear in my garden my instinct is to run like mad, not to put on a pot of tea and ask it about its day, so it is understandable that you want to just get busy hiding from all the pain in your life. Until you realise that the bear is in your garden because you put it there! I think of it as being like going to a restaurant, if the waiter asked you what you wanted and you said “anything”, then there would be an excellent chance that you would be upset with what he brings and the next time you would simply ignore him and then simply go hungry. Until you learn to smile at the waiter and find new and better ways to find out what you really want and then ask for it, you will go hungry.
It is pain than causes you to hide, as the saying goes, “Once bitten, twice shy”. So if reality bites you find increasingly more effective ways to hide, after all, if it bites once it can bite again. When reality bites though, it uses your teeth.
So what does hiding look like? What are some of the things people do to hide? Is it a coincidence that hiding behaviours are also “addictive” behaviours? Lets see: TV, internet (social media), pornography, drinking, drugs, work (that’s right, I said work), shopping, sleeping, charity work – and that’s just to name a few. What can you add to this list? You will note that seemingly “good” deeds can be used to help you hide, and that makes it all the more easier, after all, you are doing a good deed.
Thinking about it, it occurred to me that I couldn’t name one successful and happy person who got there by spending all of his/her time hiding from reality. They all seemed to be fully present in their lives and faced up to their realities, but with an almost insane optimism. This is not to say that they didn’t face challenges, I am sure they did, but they faced them, they didn’t hide from them.
Stress is what we call the fear response that makes us want to run and hide, but accepting reality as it is and allowing it to simply unfold as it will is a tremendously peaceful thing to do. As Peter O’Toole said in the classic “Lawrence of Arabia”, “The trick is not minding that it hurts.” So learning to be fully present in the moment, accepting reality as it is, and not minding that it sometimes hurts, is the key to life transformation. The question is, will you come out of hiding long enough to realise that? Do you even realise that you are in fact hiding? While it may feel better to be in hiding, and downright terrifying to face reality, you need to realise that hiding only serves to perpetuate the circumstances you are running from. Standing in the sun beats freezing in the shadows any day, so recognize your hiding strategies and start making the shift today!!!
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Did you know that the part of you that causes all the trouble is not the real you? The majority of the western population is having an identity crisis. All those bad behaviours, that troubling personality, those habits and those things you wished you could change are not the real you.
Would you like to meet the real you? It’s easy, take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Do it again, and focus on the feeling of the air flowing in and out of your nose. Do it a few more times and this time also notice the rising and falling of your chest and belly while you breathe. Carry on like this for a few more breaths and this time also notice what is going on in the rest of your body. Very soon you will reach a place of “no thought” (which is actually the meaning of the word “meditate”), in this silence you meet the real you. The real you IS the silence.
You are the flame, not the candle or the glass behind which it sits, but the flame. People will judge the flame by the glass through which they view it, but if the glass is scratched or dirty, or even the “wrong” colour, it still isn’t the flame. So you get judged from the outside by people who don’t like the glass, and then you judge yourself from the inside for the same reason. A flame’s purpose is to glow, to illuminate and give warmth; the glass’s purpose is to let the flame do just that. When you live as the glass and not the flame, you block its fire.
So what is the flame and what is the glass? The flame is the eternal energy that is the real you, your higher self, your divine spark, your “I am”ness. The glass is that part of you that experiences “reality” (the reality you have created for yourself) – in other words, your body and your ego. In truth, even though we have made it all that matters, it doesn’t matter what you look like, if you are big or small, if you are perfect or flawed, or if you are a certain colour – your body is merely a container. The real you is none of these things, but when you are living from fear and judgement (afraid of what people think of you and in turn judging others), then you are living as the container and not the flame within. You can never be happy living as the container, the container will never be perfect, and more than this, it is impermanent – it will grow old and eventually reach the end of its usefulness. Entire industries have grown to trillion dollar status by getting us to be obsessed with containers, but the grand irony is that containers are best served by living as the flame and not the container. As one client put it, “I forgot about losing weight, and discovered one day that it had gone.”
Then there is the ego. It’s quite something to find out one day that you are indeed NOT your ego. Ego shifts and changes, and you are not the person you were when you were five, nor are you the person you will be when you are ninety. The ego is no more “you” than the operating system is the computer. Your current ego is just the latest version of Windows, the glass that either allows or blocks the real you. In truth, your personality is just a complex mix of judgements and prejudices and just like the body, it is impermanent. When the body dies, the ego goes with it.
People who live from their egos need a lot of coping skills if they are to survive. The ego is always fighting for survival, and as long as you are afraid and feeling bad, then it is alive and well. If you live as your ego then yours will be a world where you fight for acceptance and deal with self image issues. The ego is always trying to fix things, but the flame just lets things unfold as they will. The ego wants to be right, the flame is peace. The ego sees everything as a potential threat and drives you to be on the defensive, the flame just sees the natural flow of things.
You can choose to let your doing flow from your ego or your flame, and that will be the difference between reacting in fear and responding in love. The amazing thing is that the more you live from the flame, the easier it becomes to do so. The trick is to find out what will work for you – the goal is “no thought” but the route is up to you. There are a myriad of tools and techniques out there – one of which is my very own meditation program (which I will give you access to if you ask). A simple pointer – if it is fear then it is the ego, if it is love (and peace) then it is the flame.
Tune in to Zeronaughts Radio for some life changing advice – http://www.blogtalkradio.com/zeronaughts