The Flow of Soul

1371 Relax and Succeed - Do not be afraid

If we want to see the course of how our thoughts impact reality, the quote above is a good example. The vast majority of people would chain their thoughts together in a habitual way and then conclude that this statement to be about our biological death. In fact, it applies just as neatly to the death of our ego.

Rephrased it could read,

Do not be afraid

We are all part of an infinite collection of beings whose existence is to flow from one state to another, so we need not fear our next unknown. 

Everyone before you has died

You cannot stay

Any more than a baby can stay forever in the womb

Our births define the beginning of a phase of experiences, and it is only the course of our individual thoughts that lead us to feel separate from each other, this flow, and all that is. 

Leave behind all you know

All you love

Leave behind pain and suffering

Whenever we cease our flow of thoughts, and all of the attachments, expectations and desires they bring, we can access our sensations of connection, flow and all that is.

This is what death is

With no personal thoughts to create our illusion of separateness, we are left in a state of connection to the larger flow of being. This is what it is to live in the gap of life with wisdom, clarity and purpose.

1371 Relax and Succeed - Our egos darkness

We are infinite beings with infinite possibilities. Yet each morning we each rise to fill our minds with memories of our pasts, resurrections of belief, and ideas about our future. It is as though we are are a patient with amnesia; a blank slate on which external sources can rewrite our old and painful identity.

We do that repetition despite knowing that we have seen others –and we ourselves have at times– had moments of awakening in which we suddenly saw a small glimmer of our freedom. A new job, a proposal, a divorce, a new place to live, a willingness to move past some event, or even some simple change in our habits, or in how we choose to view our Selves.

It is our nature to develop this ego. For we cannot enjoy the pleasure of being found –or of coming home– if we are not first lost and away. And every path can only be defined by where the path is not.

This is the natural yin and yang of life. This is why our wisdom is a practice, as all lives will ebb and flow between our thoughts of being lost, isolated and separate, to a state of being, wherein we thoughtlessly return to a state of knowing, connection and meaning.

We are never wrong. We are never lost. Our only purpose is our journey. And through our experiences of both wants and needs, we can come to appreciate the vastness of what we represent. And once our appreciation is full and complete, we are free from the bonds of resistant thought, leaving us to naturally flow back into the greater whole.

My own task is simple. I am here for only one purpose. I am here to help others move from the separateness of thought, to the wholeness of being, but they light they see is always theirs.

peace. s

Films About Reality

 

1361 Relax and Succeed - Before enlightenment I chopped wood

This post includes a video analysis of The Truman Show that is used for teaching film themes. There’s also a clip from The Matrix and I reference Arrival too. Fortunately, they are not only good films, but collectively they are also very useful for a discussion about the nature of reality as well.

(Beware, there are some spoilers relating to each of the three films discussed, so if you haven’t seen them, you might want to do so before reading this.)

Movies that question reality are not new. And films that deal with the value of real life are also common. But they aren’t often recognized as a group of films that all make essentially the same statement despite having wildly different mechanisms for telling their stories.

The film The Matrix sees the protagonist offered a choice between two pills. One is easy and smooth and it represents a largely pleasant illusion tailored to our tastes. It’s thin and fleeting, it’s pleasures can always be easily taken away, and it always depends on others. That pill represents our ego.

Meanwhile, the other choice involves pain and suffering and battles and bad odds. But it also hints at some undefinable reward that will come to the protagonist once he surrenders his previous beliefs completely –once he becomes a more unlimited self.

By letting his limiting beliefs go, the character of Neo becomes in some way, superhuman. He is like an advanced being, yet still himself. His shift is like a visible form of enlightenment, where he handles bullets the way enlightened people handle limited thinking.

And when we see him in action, we note that he does not escape his previous reality. He faces it on a new level –one where others can’t reach him with their attacks and one where he can respond with peaceful effectiveness. But he spends most of the film just realizing how to be that way. It’s the final act and climax that proves that he has mastered his new awareness.

In that film, Morpheus presents the simple act of living in reality as having preeminent value because in that reality we are all presented as all-powerful. This is the headspace in which we gain control over our lives. This is the positive spin on the enlightenment idea. It’s how it feels on the inside a lot of the time.

But of course, if there is an inside then there must be an outside. How enlightenment feels on the inside is one thing, but the reason people have trouble finding it in their lives is that the other two films present the enlightenment story much more ‘realistically’ from the outside. (Which is saying something because they too have very fantastic storylines.)

In some ways The Matrix could be seen to be glorifying this state of being. In our reality most of us wouldn’t be fighting Samurai style with some universe-controlling villain. Our lives are more like the Zen saying about chopping wood and carrying water, or Shunryu Suzuki’s note about, “Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on your usual everyday routine.”

By contrast, Truman represents how we often stumble less consciously towards enlightenment. While most people are earnest and want answers, they don’t really see themselves as being on an advancing path that may one day lead them to a form of freedom. They don’t perceive their progress.

Nevertheless, if they continue to ask questions of themselves and their world, they can eventually punch their way through the illusions that confine their spirit. In The Truman Show the film ends with the beginning of Truman’s future, free of his ego. It is shrouded in mystery, but he enters this new world boldly, for on the inside he now maintains a greater, brighter vision for his life.

By contrast, Arrival demonstrates the value of suffering within reality by having a character reach a climax wherein aliens offer her the chance at a strange form of reincarnation where she can re-live her existing life.

Like Neo in The Matrix and Truman in The Truman Show, the entire point of the film is that the scientist chooses the harder path through life, with the implication being that reality with pain is better than non-reality without it.

This matches Buddhist beliefs nicely. In Arrival the simple fact that she happily chooses to relive a life filled with the painful loss of loved ones hints at the value that those loved ones bring to life with even their temporary presence. This is quite profound.

The film states a common truth –on their deathbeds, many people would choose to relive even an unhappy life all over again. We would be good to wonder why while we’re alive.

When I first speak with many students I can sense that their concerns revolve around a calculation they do. Considering the idea that they are already suffering from low levels of spiritual energy, the idea of them taking on more responsibility can seem understandably daunting.

Fortunately, what I’m describing might initially seem like another form of onerous responsibility, but in reality it is a form of responsibility to ourselves. This is a healthy kind of selfishness that means we care for ourselves first. This form of responsibility gives us a large degree of control over our minds.

Each film tries to realize the value of living in that responsible reality in different ways, but each one underlines that there is a very profound reason for choosing what appears to be a harder path.

In the film’s The Matrix, Arrival, or The Truman Show, reality is not given value by its shiny surfaces, its ease of passage, or its slick results. In each of those what the character’s seeks isn’t comfort, it is the authenticity of being alive –even if that also means accepting great suffering. The gains of an enlightened life explain why.

In the training I do I can teach people to ‘see the matrix.’ I can help them see the value in their existing life. And I can help them build and launch their spiritual boat. But if people want to punch through and break out of the limitations of their ego, before they even contact me to begin, they’ll will have been the ones who started the process internally, by setting their own horizons as their destination.

peace, s

Personal Reality

Ha! Last week’s blog was about being over-tired and I accidentally posted an early draft instead of the finished blog. It’s fixed now, but that’s how life goes sometimes. The lesson is that it’s possible to still be okay even with a total screw-up. I’m wise enough to know that mistakes are inevitable so…. found one!

Okay. To my knowledge, the piece below is the one I mean to post today. I guess time will tell….

If you don’t think reality is personal or flexible consider this: It was my Dad’s 93rd on Sunday. I had had a productive but scattered week and ended it by shifting many Saturday tasks to Friday to give me time to prep a big birthday dinner. Those events got stored in my brain in a variety of ways, including linking to my sense of accomplishment (I was energized by my productivity), and my sense of time and scheduling.

Everything inter-wires in our minds. Anything related connects to anything related through our neural network. It’s why it’s often easier to remember things you hand write in your unique script vs. things you typed, where your hand doesn’t move down the line with the words. Wiring in those motions is another cross-wired memory with our physical sense of the world.

What my productivity meant was that I woke up with the knowledge that much of my Saturday work was done, so my brain turned Saturday morning into Sunday. See how powerful we all are? I bent reality without even meaning to. I worked for two-thirds of the day before I realized that, to a lot of the rest of the world, it was Saturday.

Of course, to someone on the other side of the Date Line it could be a day later, or to remote islanders untouched by civilization it was no day of the week at all. It was simply daytime, and a season for the foods they eat, because that’s what shapes their reality, not a calendar that their mind adopted from some ancient Romans. As it stands, it’s curious that we use that.

Look at the months for example. Augustus Caesar was mad that Julius Caesar had more days, so Augustus stole two from February so he got 31 days too. Is jealousy any basis for a calendar?

Our life is what we feel and experience. And within my personal reality –which is the only one that is ‘real’ to us– I enjoyed the same feeling you would get if someone told you they were adding an 8th day to your week. I felt as though I had been given a day because, to me, I had been. That’s how reality works. People can say we’re ‘wrong’ but that idea is irrelevant to us until we believe we’re wrong. And even then, if they’re wrong too, they could have convinced us of  the wrong thing again!

Once, when my ex wife and I couldn’t remember the word shuttlecock her mind came up with the invented term, birdmonton baddy. We worked on accepting that until our pre-internet brains stumbled into remembering that it was actually badminton birdy. It’s still funny today and I’m glad it happened. It was even useful here. See? Wrong thing converted by time into a right thing.

This is an aspect of comprehending reality that many struggle with. They’ll say to me, “But it’s not Sunday, it’s Saturday. You were wrong!” But by whose measure? I live in my reality, not yours or some abstraction. And when we say it’s ‘wrong’ are we saying the person on the other side of the Date Line, or the remote islander who has it being forever today is wrong? Why is a bizarre ancient Roman system better than that tribe’s?

At least the tribe’s is called today and that is, after all, the only day we are able to do anything at all. We can’t act yesterday nor tomorrow, so today is the only real day we’re alive. Meanwhile, our day names are rather arbitrary, created by the whims of the various people that formed them. Look at the months for example. Augustus Caesar was mad that Julius Caesar had more days, so Augustus stole two from February so he got 31 days too. Is jealousy any basis for a calendar?

Whichever of the umpteen calendars we choose to use, their only purpose is to coordinate activity between realities. It’s like the number two again. There’s no where where anyone can go show a child a number two (well, okay, maybe a number two, but you know what I mean.) Arabic numbers are representations of facts, they are not things in and of themselves. I can’t bring two twos to your house. Months are likewise, as is time.

Of course, we’re doing this all the time. We live like many things that aren’t real are real. So let’s take the rest of our day and consider some common language we use. Ask ourselves if those are actually things, or just ideas. Because we can’t get wet from the word water, so it’s important to draw the distinction between the two. (Just don’t step in a number two while walking your dog. That smell will not be an abstraction.)

People want to get healthy. They want to heal. They want to stop thinking. But all you really need to do is look at reality closely. Because the more you inspect it, the less substantial it will be. And if you can reach past your own mind, you begin to enter the realm of flexibility that Jill Bolte Taylor accidentally fell through while having a stroke. While that’s a weird way to have it, just visiting there for a few moments left her permanently changed. Which proves that we don’t really have to fix reality. We just have to understand it.

Enjoy your day.

peace. s