The Hypochondria of Being

‘The Imaginary Invalid’ – Honoré Daumier, 1860-62  – Wikimedia

There may have been a time in your life when you had a glimpse or experience that you had considered to be a major event or happening, some breaking news coming from god’s mouth. And yet you were left after it with only scattered shreds of truth. You had failed to inhabit your experience and make it yours. You had stayed on its threshold and didn’t dare to visit its interior and be blessed by it. You remained where and who you always were, with the bitter taste of a failed enlightenment as a topping. So you have entertained the memory of it. You have placed this experience on a pedestal. Worshipped it as something to be attained or achieved.

So you have searched for it. You have enquired, read, experienced, shared. Slowly, almost inadvertently, you have gathered some understanding. You have sailed on the sea of existence, harvesting here a tiny piece of truth, there a hazy recognition, maybe even a glimpse of a wee realisation, which you have again locked behind closed doors. And you have sailed further. It made you push or widen your understanding even more. Silently. Surreptitiously. Until one day home is coming closer to you. You find yourself inhabiting this truth. It is making itself known as being only who you are, or that which you are. It suddenly takes you by surprise and clarity. This is what it is!


A playful interpretation of the nature of spiritual experience… (READ MORE…)


The Most Important Thing

That might be the most important thing of all. Not the meditations that leave you in a state of gratitude and wonder. Not the repeated understandings, no matter how deep and essential they are. Not the feelings of awe in front of that experience of oneness — the disappearance of yourself, and the appearance of your true, revealed, precious self. “I got it at last” were you thinking… But no. That would have been a bit too easy. None of these might do it in the final end. For these extraordinary revelations will eventually have to die down. For these experiences will have to end of their natural end. For these lack the last little remaining kick. There always seems to be another last ‘top of the mountain’. Another frontier. Another clarification. Another hope. Another deception. Another naïve expectation. And another waving hand and unwanted reminder from your sense of being a separate entity. “Hey, I’m still alive!” And back are you on your meditation cushion for another sprout of failing expectation.

That might be the most important thing of all. Not to leave a way out for yourself to escape and hide in a little corner. To grab yet another last little pleasure. To keep yet another wee sense of pride. To have yet a negligible remaining sense of being ‘me’ and enjoy the show from a distance. For these little remaining indulgences, no matter how small and inconsequential they may appear to be, will give rise once again to a fully grown sense of being a person. And this ‘person’ still has on a leash the dark beast of suffering that seems to come back with ever more strength and power. We might finally be eaten by it and be left here, a panting failure. We might never make it… The beast is barking now. Growling in the background. Waking itself up. Hungering for more and better with sharp scintillating teeth.

That might be the most important thing of all. Simply to give yourself up to just being. To not think you’re going to participate to your own banquet. You cannot be a guest of honour when you are yourself the one to be devoured. You just have to give it all up. Every thing of you. Every remaining bits or crumbs on the table of your apparent self. And it will have to be a pleasant offering. For it will never be forced on you. You are invited to die willingly. Or more precisely, to die understandably. To let go of that pestering little thought of yourself. That old haunting belief. That erroneous identity. Knowing that it’s your only chance. The last little thing left to do. That last remaining kick. The most important thing of all. So do it… That’s how you have a really joyful banquet.


You can’t both drink the cup
of the Lord and the cup of demons.
You can’t both partake of the table
of the Lord and of the table of demons
~ 1 Corinthians 10:21 (The Bible)



Text and photo by Alain Joly




Other ‘Ways of Being’ from the blog…



‘St Matthew and the Angel’ (detail) – Guido Reni, 1635 – Wikimedia

So many of my thoughts, feelings, and even sensations are here solely because they are sustained by, or dependent on, or conditioned by the representation I have of myself. In more bluntly put words, my belief in being a discrete, separate entity creates the bigger part of them. This is because I think that I am solely this me-person that I indulge in these endless thoughts about myself. This is because I think that I am only this separately existing entity that I am caught in the grip of these disturbing feelings around myself. This is because I think that I am undoubtedly this body that my world acquires a dull and solid reflection where I-myself live and am caught in.

But this apparent suffering reality of our life is only as disturbing, dull, or solid as is the reality of our separate self. This is where our life finds its solace: in the defeating of this illusion; in this looking within to discover the reality of our self, and the truth of our being. This is where the promise of spirituality comes in with its many gifts of release. This is where the ‘good news’ of religion finds its full meaning and effectiveness. And it says something like:


A meditation on the ‘Good News’ advocated by Christianity… (READ MORE…)


The Surreptitious Thief

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


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


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. 


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


Love Remains

‘Harlequin’ (part) – by Paul Cezanne, 1890 – WikiArt

O my self, why do you stand in the way? For the living of these many experiences, you are not necessary. The pure consciousness that is present in all of us here and now is perfectly equipped. So don’t worry and please move away. This pure being has held effortlessly the millions of billions of beings and experiences generated so far, and has allowed for ever more choices and decisions to be made, so it need not being chaperoned by you. I thank you for your good will, but your work has been too laborious. Come again if you really want to, but your presence here is not welcome anymore. 

Haven’t you noticed, by now, how your participation has been an unnecessary feature in the unfolding of experience, in the many activities of our human company? Haven’t you seen how all your unnecessary thoughts and feelings have been a perturbing element among the team work that is generated here? And has cost us dear in our expenses and plannings? We understand that you want to participate, that all this is important to you, is dear to your heart, and we have accommodated you so far the best we could. But now we gently ask you to revise your presence here. […]

A humorous divagation where the self is being confronted… (READ MORE…)


The Chariot and the Charioteer

‘Pantheon’ – Odilon Redon, 1910 – WikiArt


The mental and the material are really here, 
But here there is no human being to be found. 
For it is void and merely fashioned like a doll, 
Just suffering piled up like grass and sticks
~ Visuddhimagga (The Path of Purification)


Free will is a tentacular issue. It permeates our life in a very intimate way, like very few things do. Any action that we might engage in, any decision we take, any thought we think, bear at their core the question of their ownership. If we believe in free will and don’t exercise it for all sorts of psychological reason, then the road is open to guilt, shame, regret, self-loathing. Could things have been any different? What if I had not made that choice? What if I had taken a different decision, if I had been more courageous, if I had followed my heart? Well, it is not any different if I feel I have exercised my free will; I could be left with the same regrets. Is it even possible to not exercise our free will, if we leave aside the unchangeable circumstances we are in? Is not free will our nature no matter what? Or conversely, can we ever, at all, exercise our free will? Maybe there is no such thing. Who is here, deep down, to exercise free will? Is there not only a flow of life on which we superimpose a continuous stream of hectic, frantic thinking? What is it?

I was watching a mountain torrent the other day during one of my walks. How miraculous to see the water flow down unquestionably, directed left or right, split up by a stone. If you had been a water drop placed here, it is left, but more there and it is right. Who could imagine such a droplet having any kind of choice? The river would sometimes divide itself in three little currents, forming islands. Sometimes you could be dragged sideways in a stagnant little pool, or rushed about in a forceful cascade. What struck me was the absence of resistance, and the fact that no matter the direction, no matter where you were dragged into, how slow or fast, smooth or jumpy, water was water and you would find yourself downstream at exactly the same place than any other drop of water that you might have judged as having a more harmonious or lucky course. Are we not such a drop carried, or literally swept along, in the stream of life? […]

An exploration into the nature and reality of free will… (READ MORE…)


Variations on the Separate Self

Who am I, and in what really do I consist of?
What is this cage of suffering?

~ Jayakhya Samhita, Verse 5.7


Why is it so difficult to recognise something that’s staring us in the face? The distance is always so short between our worse moments of separation and the full recognition of the truth of our being. The tiniest, softest change of focus can either show you a world made of infinite space or throw you into an abyss of tortured thinking. When we stand in the apparent coziness of our false beliefs, we seem to be ages away from any kind of understanding. We feel that no amount of effort will ever bring us into the light. We might as well give up. This is the road towards self-indulgence and sorrow. We think that the burden is too big, the effort required out of reach. No. It’s never like that. We are an infinitesimal move away from the light. No effort is even required. Something of a relaxation. A so slight change of focus that it seems no move at all. It’s here already, waiting for our humbleness. …

Continue finding out about these variations on separation… (READ MORE…)