Thursday, June 5, 2014

A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO MINDFUL LIVING



Ring bells! Blow trumpets! This is the 300th post on my blog.

I want to thank all those who have read my posts either regularly or intermittently. My only reason for blogging is to say something which may prove insightful and eye-opening to others. Well, that’s the main reason. To tell you the truth, there are also occasions when I just like to get certain things of my chest.

I have given some thought to what should be the subject-matter of this 300th post of mine, and this is what I’ve decided upon. I want to list, and discuss ever so briefly, the major themes which have been the central focus of my blog since it began in October 2010. Here they are ... in no particular order.

Theme No. 1: There is a single way of being

There is only one way of being, namely, that of occurrence in space-time. There is only one order or level of reality. All things exist on that order or level---on the same plane of observability. So, forget all about the so-called ‘supernatural.’ If it exists, it is perfectly natural. A single logic applies to all things, for all things exist in the same ‘level’ or plane of existence and observability. Not all things are one in any overall monistic sense, but every thing has some relations with some other things. There is no entity which is wholly independent of all other entities. Each 'thing' is a cause of at least one other 'thing' as well as being the effect of some other 'thing,' so every thing is explainable by reference to one or more other things. Thus, all talk of the supposed need for some 'first cause' is, well, unspeakable nonsense. Empty words. There can be no contrivance of a ‘universe’ or totality of things, because the contriver would have to be included in the totality of things. There was no first cause---and absolutely no need for one.

Theme No. 2: Truth is a moment-to-moment experience

Truth, also known as life, reality, and God, is a moment-to-moment experience. Truth is dynamic, not static. Truth is not found in any belief, doctrine, or dogma. Truth is something ‘real.’ It is not a matter of opinion. The truth or falsity of any statement or proposition always a question of---is it so? Truth is indeed a ‘pathless land,’ as J. Krishnamurti told us. There is no ‘way’ or ‘path’ to truth, and none is needed. Truth is the way. Truth is the path. Whether we know it or not, we are always in direct and immediate with reality. Direct, knowing perception of truth takes place when there is choiceless awareness of life as it really is. The so-called ‘Path’ is simply the livingness of life from one moment to the next. It leads nowhere that is not already fully present here-and-now. It is, however, everywhere.

We can only know the truth when we live mindfully, that is, with ‘bare attention’ to, and ‘choiceless awareness’ of, the action of the present moment from one such moment to the next. No person, no matter how wise or holy, is the embodiment of truth or can 'give' you truth. No one, and no group or organization, has a monopoly on the truth. No so-called ‘holy book’ contains the truth, although most such books contain some very good advice---provided they are sensibly interpreted and applied in the light of reason and sound scholarship.



Theme No. 3: Enlightenment is not a ‘thing’ at all

Enlightenment, also known as salvation, is actually a ‘no-thing.’ It is not a ‘thing’ at all. It can be found, but never searched for. If you seek it, you will miss it. You must be your own ‘saviour and lord,’ that is, your own teacher and pupil. Enlightenment occurs when we---wake up! You are ‘saved’ when you no longer engage in conditioned thinking, when you stop trying to control things and others, and when you start to live spontaneously---free from all cravings, 'sticky' attachments and aversions.

What must you do to be renewed in your mind? Well, it is not so much what you must do, rather it is a matter of ceasing to do a number of things that stand in the way of mental health. Here are a few things to avoid: judging and criticizing others, holding on to anger, resentments and ill-will as well as illusions of all kinds, not letting the past stay in the past, living mechanically as opposed to mindfully, not being satisfied and content with your lot, imitating and copying others, seeking sense-gratification, and so on. There is nothing more important than the health of your mind and your body. Make it a daily---indeed, a moment-to-moment---concern of yours ... without becoming self-obsessed in the process.

Are you seeking ‘ultimate reality’? God? Then look for it in yourself ... in the presence of each moment ... from moment to moment. Live with choiceless awareness. That means you no longer choose what you will be aware of. Whatever happens, whatever ‘comes’ into, or is, your consciousness---sorrow, joy, love, hatred, wakefulness, drowsiness, anger, affection, and so forth---of that be aware. Always remain curious, letting your awareness take note of what is going on ... in and outside of your mind. Get up close to whatever is passing through your mind, and investigate whatever arises ... with detachment and acceptance ... without judgment, condemnation or evaluation ... and without resistance or trying to control what is happening. 

Theme No. 4: Belief systems distort the truth

Beliefs of all kinds are an impenetrable barrier to truth. We are in direct and immediate contact with truth but beliefs are like a brick wall between us and things-as-they-really are. Eschew beliefs. Bugger beliefs. You don't need them. See things-as-they-really-are. ‘If you want to know and understand, don't believe,’ said Gautama Buddha. He was right. Belief systems distort the truth and our moment-to-moment perception, knowledge and understanding of it. Beliefs are thought coverings or veils. They are also like those distorting lenses or mirrors that you find in many carnivals and amusement or fun parks. Either way, they do not reveal reality, indeed they distort reality. How? Well, they prevent us from knowing and experiencing things as they really are in all their directnessimmediacy and uninterruptedness.

All belief is conditioning, but knowledge is experiential. We need to safely 'navigate' our way through life, but beliefs actually stand in the way and hold us back. What we really need is knowledge and understanding. There is so much we can know that, well, there is simply no need to believe anything at all. In any event, the very act of formulating a 'belief' causes an otherwise present reality to die away, because the very nature of a belief is a mental construct based on an already past reality. That is, by the time a particular belief has been formulated, the reality upon which that belief is purportedly based is no longer a present reality. It is now the past. Beliefs lock us into the past. Beliefs imprison. They do not liberate. They are chains that bind us. Set yourself free---today! Give up your beliefs---yes, all of them!


Theme 5: Self can’t change self

How can ‘I’ change ‘me’? Both have no reality in themselves. Both are brought about through thought. There is no actual ‘self’ at the centre of our conscious---or even unconscious---awareness. The ‘self’ does not exist---at least not exist in the sense of possessing a separate, independent, unchangeable, material existence of its own. What you are is a person-among-persons. You are not the hundreds and thousands of ‘I's’ and 'me's' (likes, dislikes, beliefs, opinions, attachments, cravings, and so on) that your mind generates from one moment to the next. These 'selves' are ‘false selves.’ They are illusory, being no more than mere images in your mind. They are not who you really are. Indeed, almost all of our problems and difficulties arise because we mistakenly believe that those ‘I's’ and ‘me's’ are us, the person each of us is. You are a person, that is, an ontological entity that takes form and shape as a dynamic human body-mind system. Yes, a person, which is not identical with a body or a mind or even an embodied mind. A person---something which is not reducible to any more basic kind of entities. A person among persons. Something which is identical with nothing other than a person. In order to fully function as an integrated person, we need to undergo a process of personalization, that is, we must move from a sense of self to a sense of being. Only then will the dual nature of our being (body and mind) function in a unified as opposed to a dualistic manner. Only then will we be truly alive.

So-called ‘consciousness’---not an entity in its own right but a dynamic, ever-changing process---emerges when the mind and the body cohere. The physical body is essential for the emergence of the mental, but having said that, the body and the mind are not separate. Mind ‘extends’ into the body, and the body also ‘extends’ into the mind. Also, our consciousness goes through continuous fluctuations from one moment to the next. As such, there is nothing to constitute, let alone sustain, a separate, transcendent ‘I’ structure or entity. We ‘die’ and are ‘born’ (or ‘reborn’) from one moment to the next. In short, there is no ‘self.’ It is an illusion.

The bottom line? Self can't change self, but the person that you are is a power-not-oneself. Yes, you, the person, can change---totally and fully---provided you really want change more than anything else and are prepared to go to any length to get it. The power-not-oneself may takes various forms (eg God, Jesus, Buddha, or the person that you are). It doesn't really matter what you call this power. It simply needs to be 'not-self.' Why? Because self has no power, and is no power. End of story.

This metaphysical and psychological principle is the cornerstone of all psychological and spiritual healing.

Theme No. 6: Only an inner psychological mutation can ‘save’ you

Self-observation leads to self-knowledge and insight. A complete, inner psychological transformation can happen instantaneously or incrementally. In either case, the experience can be ‘revolutionary.’ This revolutionary change in you is one which you bring about yourself. It is not something that others can do for you. Only you can effect this change within yourself, and it is a change which affects the conscious mind as well as the unconscious. The change comes from finding a way of living where you ‘come into reality.’ It is an awakening, that is, you wake up and then learn to stay awake. This revolutionary change in you can only happen when you want it more than anything else. Yes, so great is the power of change that if you want it---that is, really want it---you will have it! But first you must see the ‘danger’ inherent in the way you’re living now. Revolutionary change produces freedom---freedom from fear, greed, envy, jealousy, dependency. But remember---only you, the person that you are, can set you free.


Theme No. 7: Acceptance of what is, is the only way to live

Acceptance is the answer to all our problems. ‘On the acknowledgement of what is there is the cessation of all conflict,’ said J. Krishnamurti. Let go of all expectations. However, before you can let go, you must let be. The latter is an act of acceptance---and a choice. Receive each event or happening in your life with a mind-set which neither likes nor dislikes. This is sometimes referred to as having an 'equal' mind. ‘Reality is a question of realizing how real the world is already,’ wrote Allen Ginsberg. Life is hard at the best of times, and bad things often happen to good people. There is no sensible explanation for this. It is one of life’s mysteries. Forget about what others think of you. They don’t even need to think of you at all. What others think of you is none of your business. Others will react to you as they will. Accept yourself, the person that you are. 

Stop looking for the supposed ‘purpose’ of human existence. There is no intrinsic, built-in purpose or underlying meaning to life. Things just are. Things do not change; we change. Things go wrong because we are wrong. However, your life can be extremely meaningful if you give it meaning. The best way of doing that is to start living mindfully. Start living with a purposively open mind---and, most importantly, a mind that is curious and receptive to whatever is happening in your moment-to-moment experience of daily life. After all, is it not self-evident that it helps to be purposefully alert, receptive, and attentive to what is going on in and about us? Go about your daily, everyday life with your eyes wide open and your mind open, curious and engaged. Got that? Then please never forget it---and pass the word around.

Theme No. 8: Live in the eternal now

Well, there is a state of mind or consciousness that is timeless in the sense of being beyond time. This timeless state is more than a state of mind for in a very real sense it is a state of ‘no-mind’ or ‘no-mindedness.’ The mind dwells on nothing, stops on nothing. It just is. The mind has even gone beyond awareness---that is, awareness of ‘things’ as such---although there is an awareness of awareness itself. It is the self-knowing mind out of which all things came, that which fashioned and brought matter into existence. It still does. The mind that is aware that it is aware is the self-knowing, creative mind. It observes, explores, but never stays or stops. Some call this ‘Presence’ the eternal now, and that is not a bad turn of phrase at all.

Time is a scale we have created to ‘divide’ the occurrence of happenings into so-called past, present, and future. At best it is not a thing in itself (like a flower or a bus is a thing) but rather a medium in which all things exist and have their being. Space and time---they're really one---are largely 'tools' of the mind, with time in particular being a most ‘relative’ construct. The truth is we live both in time and eternity. We are ‘in’ (that is, immersed) in eternity right now. In a sense, we live out our existence in both time and eternity. For the most part, the difference lies in the quality of life being experienced by us. For example, when we are anxiously waiting for the expected occurrence of some future event we are existing---note, I didn’t say living---in time. When we are bound up in attachments and addictions we are also existing in time. But when we are truly and fully present in the Now, then we are living---yes, living---in eternity. Wow! What a difference there is!

Life is ceaseless movement and constant flux even though in and of itself life is timeless andspaceless and unchanging. Unchanging, yet forever changing. Nothing moves yet nothing stands still. What a paradox! Everything---and I mean every thing---is contained within ‘the now.’ All time is total and complete---that is, has its fulfilment---in the now. There is an eternal quality about the now, for the now is forever new. What we somewhat ambiguously call ‘the present’ is simply that content---occurrences, both internal and external, in space-time---which presents itself before us in consciousness in and as the now. The eternal now is that ‘present’---yes, it's a problematic word---which is forever renewing and re-presenting itself in and as each new moment. This eternity supersedes time itself. In other words, there is a ‘present’ beyond the ‘present,’ but if you try to 'chase' the next present you will fail. Everything is---here now! Life is eternal, and we are in eternity now. Few people know that. Few people are truly alive. Are you truly alive? Few are, you know.


Theme No. 9: Life is consciousness

If quantum mechanics has shown us anything---and it has shown us plenty---it has shown that consciousness or mind is fundamental, eternal and all-creative. That which we call mass, together with what we refer to as matter, is derivative, being constructed wholly from the interactions between massless---yes, that’s right, massless---elementary particles. Those massless elementary particles constitute the ‘innerness’ of all physical things, even so-called inert matter. I am not referring to some supposedly omnipotent creator God prior to and 'above' time, whatever that word 'above' means in this context (which is nothing in fact). Quantum mechanics appears to provide no support for any such hypothesis or religious belief, but it does provide enormous support for the proposition that mind or consciousness is both fundamental and all-pervasive, that is, that mind or consciousness constitutes the fundamental undifferentiated nature of reality. What emerges from that quantum field depends to a very large degree upon---consciousness! Yes, mind or consciousness is primary and fundamental, the creator and governor of matter. Consciousness is an essential quality or characteristic—if not the defining one---of the quantum field … at least in potentiality.

There is an eternal motion---the Now---of which each of us is a part, that never stops … not even for a nanosecond. Each of us, at the quantum level, is a frequency of consciousness, and there is something very timeless yet veridical about that. The timeless in one person is the timeless in every other person and thing. It was ‘there’ even before the beginning of time, it was ‘there’ when it scattered the stars into space, and it will be ‘there’ long after you and I have ceased to exist as conscious centres of life’s self-awareness.

What does all this mean for you? Well, a number of things, but perhaps the most important one is this---the quality of your life is to a very large extent determined by your state of consciousness, that is, your thinking. Renew your mind. Renew your thinking. No amount of positive thinking will change hard facts, but nothing is to be gained by negative thinking.

Theme No. 10: Get your mind off yourself

Get your mind off yourself. Set yourself---that is, the person that you are---free from all your false selves. You need to be taken out of yourself. Detach mentally from your ‘selves’ by living mindfully. Most of our problems and difficulties occur because we are self-absorbed, self-centred, and self-obsessed. One of the best ways of moving from a sense of self to a sense of non-self (being), is to help other people. Lose yourself in others. Experience a ‘Copernican revolution.’ The world does not revolve around you. Selfishness is the essential problem of your life---and mine. Love is the solution.


So, dear readers, go forth and live mindfully. Think less of yourself, and more of others. Give your life meaning by living meaningfully … from one moment to the next. Angels---if there are any (which I strongly doubt)---can do no better.



The photos in this post (other than the '300' image)
were taken by the author while on trips to Japan.




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