Day to day we interact with people, places, spaces and feelings. All that becomes apparent to us due to chemicals in our body that interact with our brain to provide a subjective view of the world in which we exist. An existence that our mind tells us that is real without any empirical proof that what our mind says to us is as it is.
Our consciousness observes this parade of images as it plays out as the soap opera of our life. Our relationships, our inspirations, our pain and our joy as they filter through the lens of our perceptions.
To have that lens clear of stain, to know our mind and our perception as things truthfully are rather than we perceive them to be is a joy to aspire.
Day by day we are exposed to messages from modern mass media that implies, directs and judges us on what we should or should not value. What we wear, what we have, what we drink, consume and do for entertainment is, if we are to believe the doyens of judgement, the values by which we can take our place on this earth.
This smoke screen of ludicrous social white noise distracts us from the values that underlie the way in which we walk upon this earth and this current existence. My value of a person is based on which phone I use? How does this stand up to the value of a child in Ghana that is sold into slavery for the total value of $400. Or a girl in Nepal is taken into prostitution to pay off a relatives debt. How does this relate to the social value of a mobile phone?
Our values reflect whether we walk heavily or softly on this earth and this existence. The accumulation of values that we carry and that influence our behaviour are not hard wired or carved into our psyche but are fluttering in front of the lens of our perception like butterflies or transient dust that we can cleanse at any time once we realise that what we are, in fact, seeing/perceiving is not truth but our version of truth.
The premise of our existence is that we are all in this fish bowl of breathable air together. The breath that I take as I write this has passed through the lungs of many sentient beings before me just as my DNA has been passed down to me from my ancestors long buried and forgotten. Also, we have this one earth that sustains this biological transportation vessel for this consciousness/soul that we all share and that if we walk heavily on this earth then the consequences reverberate in ways that we can not conceive.
Our values in order to promote a life worth living should be, I believe, premised on giving thanks for our ancestors, this land on which we tread, those that are the traditional carers of this earth and the realisation that our breath and blood are common to all.
Sitting in contemplation
Incense smoke rising
My eyes closed
Thoughts of things that matter
That had no meaning
Come to mind – clarity
The hawk drifting
In circles in front
The past gone
The present now
The hawk and I are one
Through its eyes I see
The wings feel as part
When the mind is troubled the breeze is broken
When the I is calm the wind is smooth
When the me is as one the smoke drifts in a steady line
Keeping my guide with me brings me to now
Today I wish for all of us to make friends with our own set of aggregates.
In a visualisation of yourself, wish to you that you are well, that you are happy, that you are free from suffering and that you live at ease. Then give yourself a hug.
Being nice to yourself is a step in the right direction towards all that is good.
The norms of my society and culture emphasise that we must focus on the we and the I to know our place in the world. The view of us and our view of our opinion on religion, food, books, education, etc and by doing so being able to see that the we is different to the other and that the other is either: interesting and worthy of study, wrong and worthy of educating, or deviant and in need of changing.
However, it is only by looking outside of ourself and to see us with respect to the world and our very small place within it that we can truly see our place as an ant on an elephant. In this way our ego reduces the we and other to a collective “WE” and in that we way truly see our place in the world and not just our very very small concept of our world.
Day to day we wake and ponder
Moving through the cloud of reality
With the clarity of a fast moving train
Rushing towards the next thing
To move and process and create
Our aggregates harnessed and supressed
We forget to see the context
Existing outside of our self
Forging a living removed from all
Wake up, wake up
The dreamer tells the soul
Wake up, the wanderer looks around.
The procession towards gaining a pure understanding of the reality of existence while minimising the influence of ego and perception is a task that takes dedication and motivation on behalf of the seeker. Most seekers start out by realising that, to borrow a line from a fibre advertisement, there is a “better kind of normal”. This can be due to a large number of individual reasons which prompts the seeker to initiate the search.
The search can be the self inspection/introspection in order to “find oneself” or to shop around the well known, and not so well known, spiritual and religious traditions. This often brings people back to the teachings of their culture and/or parents or to experiment with more non-traditional teachings. At this stage the seekers are prime targets for cults and destructive teachings that isolate the seeker from the community for the betterment of the cult or its leaders.
But how do you know when a cult is a cult? Most belief systems have three elements: The Example/Teacher, The Method/Teaching, and The Community.
The Example/Teacher. Is the person that delivered the teaching and showed the efficacy of the teaching as a living example of the effectiveness of the teaching. There are specific qualities that make for a good teacher – certainly how they live their life is an example. Their life should not be at odds with their teachings. They should not be claiming a higher status than that of a teacher or coach for the seeker. This includes those that claim that they are incarnations of Jesus, Living Buddha’s, the next coming, etc.
The Method/Teaching. The method/teaching that is espoused should be logical and provide more than just “have faith” by providing a daily practice that provides a base of behaviour that is conducive to spiritual development that is based on service to others, reduction of ego and the stripping of learned behaviours and criticism. It should not be based on indulgence or damage to self or others. The teaching is more important than the teacher and the teaching and the behaviour of the teacher will provide the proof of the teaching.
The Community. The Community is the community of seekers that support the journey. The identification of the community can be difficult in that there is a community of seekers, of teachers, of practitioners and of people outside of the community. All of them need to work together and be accepting of all and the teaching should provide guidance for those that are outside or critical of the community of seekers. The key to this guidance is that ultimately we are all connected in some way and therefore to be discriminatory of others is to foster discrimination of self.
The journey of reduction of the Ego Hound to allow the Spirit Dog to thrive is not easy and very threatening to some who value their own perception of “self” in that the journey results in the destruction of what they perceive and value.
Which dog will you feed today?