Defining Enlightenment

‘Saint Augustine’ (detail) – Philippe de Champaigne, 1645 – Wikimedia

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A thunderclap under the clear blue sky
All beings on earth open their eyes;
Everything under heaven bows together;
Mount Sumeru leaps up and dances
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~ Wumen Huikai (enlightenment poem)

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The words for the discovery of our true nature — like enlightenment, realisation, awakening, liberation, etc — are all very significant. They all point to truth and have numerous things to say. Take ‘enlightenment’ for instance. Its original signification is ‘to shine’ or ‘to make luminous’. So to enlighten means to put the light on. It means to cease being distracted by all that is objective in our experience and doesn’t define us truly, and make what is already and absolutely ours here and now apparent. It doesn’t mean to achieve, to reach, to attain, to get something new. Where did we get this idea from? But let’s be very cautious here: to make luminous — does this even require a doing? Why should we have anything to do when the light is already fully on? So to be enlightened is really more a matter of noticing what is already here, and that we have missed due to a pathological phenomenon of blindness. We are too occupied with a thousand things, worried, concerned, busy with this and that, distracted, ambitious, desiring, grasping, expecting, and god only knows what else we have in mind to so successfully avoid seeing the patently obvious. Our true reality and identity as consciousness is already present, luminous and shining in every corner of our experience and we are blind to it. That’s where the word ‘realisation’ comes in.

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An essay exploring the signification of enlightenment… (READ MORE…)

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The Riddle of Ignorance

‘Landscape’ – Sergey Vasilkovsky – WikiArt

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There is a truer, hidden reality lying just under the veneer of life. Don’t think that what you have is the real thing. It is not. This hidden reality is being covered by the thick blanket of our deceptive representation of reality, made of a whole array of thoughts, feelings, memories, worries, beliefs, conditionings, that have numbed our aliveness, blunted our sensitivity, and rendered our god-given natural endowment as if inexistant. This is why, in some religious traditions, man has been proclaimed ’ignorant’. This is a word that indicates that simple fact — the plain and unfortunate forgetting of a nature in us that has been temporarily hidden, and that craves in the background for our recognition, our remembering. This is why all men and women on this earth are seeking peace and happiness in one form or another.

This particular reality is the subject of countless religious books and spiritual traditions in the world. This was never about having many different beliefs like we sometimes think it is. It was about revealing this truer reality of ours. In the process of doing so, approaches may vary depending on the times and cultures where they arose, and misunderstandings have sprung proportionally, but the fact of our ignorance is the same for all, at all times, in all places. And the reality discovered behind its dispelling is not only the same for all, but is one whole and single reality present here and now as the rock-like experience of being in all beings — be they human or not. This is not a small affair to be pushed around and despised as being mere ‘beliefs’, but is the very core, substance, and meaning of our lives. So why is such an obvious reality being missed by so many of us? What has made it so commonly invisible, and inaccessible?

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Some reflections about how reality is being ignored by man… (READ MORE…)

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The Names of God

‘Signs of Christ’ – Nicholas Roerich, 1924 – WikiArt

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The knowing of ‘I am’
is the apparition of God’s being
in our human experience.
It is the being of all beings,
the self of all selves
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~ Rupert Spira

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יהוה               الله               ईश्वर

ब्रह्म               رحمن

אֱלֹהִים

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There is something that is very hard to understand about God. A survey of the names that have been given to god makes it unequivocally clear, but we keep missing the target: ‘Being’, ‘Mighty Being’, ‘I Am’, and so many others, refer to the fundamental equation of god with ‘being’, with our very everyday experience of plain, simple, pure being. And yet, we keep projecting the presence of god in an hypothetical outside, another ‘being’ that our very ‘being’. So it seems that a study of the different names of god will help focusing on the fundamental nature of god’s being, this mighty Being whose being rests unseen, unnoticed in our own being.

Etymologically, the word ‘god’ (Proto-Germanic ‘gudan’) finds its root meaning in the ancient ritual of sacrifice, as in ‘libation’, or ‘to pour’, or in the Sanskrit ‘hutá’, meaning ‘having been sacrificed’. So god is ‘the one to whom sacrifices are made’, which extends to the sense of calling, invoking. To whom or what do I give the primary attention in myself? Do I indulge in, or fall to any objective appearance as thoughts, sensations, perceptions? Or do I sacrifice these appearances and find rest in the stillness of the one that is aware of these, which is pure being? To whom does my pouring, my libation go?

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See how the many names of god relate to the sense of ‘being’… (READ MORE…)

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The Guard and the Prison Breaker

‘The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog’ (part) – Caspar David Friedrich, 1818 – WikiArt

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Without freedom there is no self-knowing 
and without self-knowing there is no meditation
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~ J. Krishnamurti 

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Few sensations are as boisterously exhilarating as freedom is. Freedom is something that we all love to feel. To be freed! Freed from all weights and limitations. Freed from everything that bullies us and pins us down. But most of the time, this feeling is experienced from the vantage point of the little thought in our head that thinks it runs the show. This entity thinks that its freedom comes from being separate, and from its capacity to do what it wants. This is what being free means to most people. But is this really what freedom is, where freedom lies? In expressing all that comes from the lack and desperation of a limited, vindicative little self? If that is so, then this freedom takes us nowhere but in the already known boundaries of our self. How could that account for the power and magnitude of this feeling? Freedom cannot be so small and contrived. What is it then? Where is true freedom to be found? 

Freedom can never be fully felt within the conglomerate of our thoughts, feelings and perceptions, between the four walls of our prison cell. We may feel some occasional bursts of pleasure but this is not the real deal. If you search for freedom through that portion of yourself that is fleeting, fragile, untrue, you will by definition prevent the advent of any meaningful freedom. You will have limited freedom, something to be achieved, something to be added that becomes just another object, another aim in view. And don’t forget that this limited freedom can never be achieved anyway, for we in truth can never do what we want. And of what advantage would it be to follow the clumsy, limited, fanciful ideas of a mind that stands on false premises. Because of this impossible claim, we feel bitter, sad, violent, jealous, regretful. Let’s move away from such dangerous idea. 

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An inquiry into the question of freedom… (READ MORE…)

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The Surreptitious Thief

‘A Great Tree’ – J.M.W. Turner, 1796 – WikiArt

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Follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought
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~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson (from ‘Ulysses’)

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What better way is there to realise the illusory nature of something than to study its existence? So a study of the ego is really the most interesting and valuable thing to engage in. For two reasons. One, because you are attempting to describe, evaluate, and understand something that simply doesn’t exist in the form you had imagined. Therefore such a study will naturally push you to discover what lies in the place left vacant. Two, because the presence of the ego has been responsible for the near totality of man’s suffering and the mischief he has done in his desperate attempt to alleviate this suffering or cover it up. Only imagine the beneficial consequences when it is found illusory and therefore impotent. 

But what truly is the ego? This word has been used in a variety of ways, and with various understanding. In psychology, it is understood to mean a sense of being a self, a ‘person’ that is real as such and is the foundation for a healthy personality, and its subsequent functioning. In the spiritual realm, and more specifically in non-duality circles, it is often named by the general term of ‘separate self’. The ego or the separate self is the ‘person’ or ‘entity’ that we feel is present inside ourself, but whose presence is not real, but only assumed. It is a belief that we have ceased to question. Simply a derivative, a bundle of thoughts, feelings, and memories that we have shaped into a form, and from which we derive the existence of a particular being, or person, in command inside the skull. 

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An exploration into the nature of the ego or separate self… (READ MORE…)

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A Frame for Life

‘Sunset’ – Claude Monet, 1880 – WikiArt

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The Soul, which is eternal Spirit,
Standeth above Time’s sovranty:
Already in this present world
She liveth in Eternity
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~ Angelus Silesisius

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There seems to be an inescapable canvas that allows our life to take place and unfold in the world. This is the concept of time and space. It is the frame in which our seeming existence can spread its tentacles in every directions of our four dimensional reality. At least this is what thought tells us. This is our representation of reality. But is that truly so? 

Time seems to work vertically, allowing experiences and events to unfold one after the other, in sequences, allowing for birth and death, progress and becoming. It is intimately related to space, which works more horizontally, allowing objects and selves to move in different directions and places. And of course, time and space require that things and selves in the world are made out of matter and have all a separate, independent existence. Things and selves are like the set and actors on the stage of life, the never ending search for happiness being the script or the story, space being the place of the representation, and time the duration of the play that allows the story to unfold before the audience. As for the latter, it is composed of us all. We are all watching the representation of our existence.

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An inquiring journey into the concepts of time and space… (READ MORE…)

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The Price of Immortality

‘Evening’ – Caspar David Friedrich, 1824 – WikiArt

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Death doth not trouble me. 
‘Tis through that door I come
Unto the place which long 
hath been my spirit’s home
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~ Angelus Silesius 

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There is one thing in life that is haunting us. This is the fact of our certain death. And yet, considering that we all know that we are going to die, most people don’t actually worry that much about it. How come that people who believe that they are solely their body can stay so cool when waiting for a certain death? They should be terrified. This should come as some unbearable news. But it’s not. Even though we don’t look forward to dying, we nevertheless take the news with a remarkable composure. We don’t mind that much if you ask me. Why is that? 

Is it that we have deep down the intuition of our immortality? If I say ‘I’m going to die’, how does it feel? Am I saying the truth? Do I really know this for certain? Or am I casually repeating something that I have learned and has now become a deeply ingrained belief? But this being said, don’t let us be mistaken. Most of the time, we push death far away and numb ourself to its dreadful reality. And the fear of death is conditioning and bending our lives in the most ruthless manner. What a paradox it all is! But in that paradox lies the whole riddle of life and death, of suffering and happiness, of love and God. Death is a portal to our true nature. One that is inescapable. Who is it that is going to die? Or rather what is it? Let’s have a look at it…

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An exploration of the nature and meaning of death… (READ MORE…)

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