What are we really seeking for?

315Seeking, seeking, seeking… We spend almost all our lives in seeking mode. Nothing is good enough. Nothing is fulfilling enough. We always want more, want something else. Something is missing. But what is really missing? What is this seeking all about?

The whole concept of liberation or enlightenment is so overrated and mystified. There is an assumption under these words that liberation is something mystical, something special that just a very few can achieve or attain, and the majority of humanity can at best fantasize about it. But is this really the case? Is liberation something very special and new that we have never experienced before? Something completely unknown?

No, it is not.

Liberation is not new to us. We all have experienced it before. This is how we came to this world. But since liberation is so familiar and so simple, it is lost from our sight.

Before learning language and concepts, all babies experience this freedom. Without thinking and thus being lost in the content of thoughts, there are only pure sensations. There is only seeing, hearing, touching/feeling, tasting and smelling. There is nothing else – just pure being.

But as the toddler starts to acquire language, thinking develops and identification with the I-thought and body is set rampant. A supposed entity emerges, being the centre of all happenings. The pure being is gradually replaced by the movie of life which revolves around the main character of the dream – ‘me’.

From then on, the attention is almost always on thoughts, on stories. The connection with felt sensations is getting looser and looser, and we gradually end up engaging in stories while the realness of life just flows by, unnoticed.

We hardly feel the taste of melting chocolate in the mouth, the touch of the light breeze on the skin, the warmth of the sun, the pleasant tingling sensations in the feet, the aliveness of the body, the gentle stroke of the clothing. All of these are missed and lost, just because the constant compulsion and addiction of the notion of ‘me’ and my story.

But deep down we feel that something is missing, something is lost, and we crave it back. We have forgotten a long ago what it feels like just to be, just to feel… So we start to seek outside to fulfil this unfulfilled longing.

But if you stop for a moment… just look around… what a beauty…

In every moment there is a sensation arising that can be noticed and felt. Fingertips are touching the keyboard… sensation of the beating heart… whispering of the wind… breathing… sunshine filtering through the blinds… pressure under the feet… felt contraction and the release of contraction in the body… taste of tea… what a joy! Just to be…

This is what we are longing for.
This is home…
This is peace…
This is love
This is the end of ‘me’.
Ah!

Feel…

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Running away from ‘negative’ emotions

Since we experience them so often, many of us think that we know exactly what emotions are. Generally, we put emotions into different categories and label them either as ‘positive’ or ‘negative’.

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When the ‘positive’ label is applied, we try to do our best to sustain the emotion, and if we cannot sustain it permanently, then at least we try to experience it as often as we can. However, when the ‘negative’ label is attached to it, we try to push it away, numb it away in any possible ways. We just want to get rid of it.

Many seekers believe that liberation is swimming in a constant, permanent state of peace or happiness. This is a huge and unrealistic expectation. If there would be only peace all the time it would stop being peaceful! Peace does not exist without its opposite. Peace can be noticed only in comparison to something else, which is labelled as ‘un-peaceful’.

There is no constant everlasting love or happiness, because after some time bathing in love without experiencing its opposite, love would fade away. Sadness and happiness depend on each other. Without the one the other cannot be experienced. But sadness and happiness are not problematic by themselves. They do not contain any innate characteristics or attributes. What creates dissatisfaction is the wish that the so called ‘pleasant’ things should last forever and no ‘unpleasant’ emotion should arise ever again, and if it still does, it should disappear as soon as possible.

Many seekers talk about accepting everything that arises in this moment, while they are still striving for having a constant state of peace and love. So you want to accept everything, EXCEPT fear, anger, hatred, sadness, frustration, grief…

Liberation is not about stopping being human and not experiencing half of the emotions. Quite the contrary. Liberation is about encompassing ALL aspects of humanness, embracing ALL emotions.

But almost all of us are in a constant run. We are almost always in an escape-mode, hoping for evading this moment, an escape from life, an escape from humanness.

We are attaching mental labels to the experiencing; ‘this is bad’, ‘painful’, ‘sadness’, ‘I don’t want it’, and then we run.

Liberation is about STOPPING RUNNING and ESCAPING. Fear is not fearful. Sadness is not ‘bad’ or ‘sad’. Pain is not what we think it is. Anger is not angry, only mental labels suggest otherwise. But this cannot be seen while we are in a constant run.

‘Negative’, ‘bad’, ‘sad’ are just mental labels attached to the pure sensation.
But the sensation itself is completely neutral.

So stop running and observe what you REALLY are running away from.
The so called ‘negative’ emotions are not what you think they are.

You are running away from ‘yourself’. You are running away from all the stories that you believed ‘yourself’ to be.

But behind all stories, is there really a ‘you’ that could run away from anything, or is there only running?

Then why run?

Resisting resistance

No matter what we do, no matter what are our life circumstances, how content or happy we are, there is an almost constant underlying resistance to what is here and now, in this moment.

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I often get questions about what to do with this basic resistance, how to accept things as they are, or if we cannot accept what is here and now, then how can we accept the resistance itself.

Let’s say, I am on my way to a meeting, but I am late. Thoughts arise “I shouldn’t be late, I don’t want to be late” – so there is an arguing (meaning resistance) against what IS. (Let’s call this arguing as resistance #1.) When these arising thoughts are believed, associated emotions arise, like contraction in the body.

If the contraction in the body is labelled as ‘unpleasant’, accompanying thoughts can appear “I don’t want to feel this way” – thus another layer of resistance has just emerged (resistance #2).

Now, I want to get rid of the felt bodily sensation that is labelled as ‘unpleasant’ by all means (which is the result of resistance #1). What is missed here is that trying to manipulate the felt sensation creates a new overlay of resistance (resistance #2).

When this is seen, a thought might come up “I should accept the whole situation then” – but with a hidden, underlying expectation that by accepting the situation the discomfort of the whole resistance would go away.

However, when there is an effort to accept something, it means that what is resisted is labelled as a ‘bad thing’. Otherwise, there would be no need for accepting it. As a result, the situation has become ‘bad’, but not because it has an inherent quality of badness, but rather because the label ‘bad’ is not seen only as a mental label attached to the current experience, but rather it is believed that the mental label ‘this is bad’ has a one-to-one correspondence with ‘reality’.

So the labelling ‘this is bad’ comes first, and when it is mistaken with ‘reality’, we try to cover it up (layer over) by enforcing acceptance – which is a disguised form of resistance – on top of resistance 1. How could acceptance then be possible?

By forcing acceptance, what was intended to get rid of is reinforced because the label was BELIEVED to be ‘real’. By forcing acceptance, the resistance becomes even stronger.

But if the belief “I shouldn’t feel this way” is questioned, meaning that it is seen that the ‘thing’ itself – in this case the felt sensation in the body – is totally neutral, it does not have any innate attributes and only thought labels suggest otherwise; then the seeming ‘badness’ of the felt sensation goes away, because it is not mistaken to be ‘real’ any more.

When the label is seen through, NOTHING has to be done, not even accepting, because it has ALREADY been ACCEPTED.

Acceptance cannot be achieved.
Acceptance is not an action.
Acceptance is non-resistance.
Resisting something is an action.

Acceptance is to STOP resisting, thus to stop acting.
But even stopping resistance is not an action.
Rather it is the result of seeing thought labels only as arising thoughts and not mistaking them with ‘reality’— and then acceptance emerges naturally, by itself, without any effort.

Time – is there anything outside of the present moment?

293Most of humanity believes that time is a linear, unstoppable ‘movement’ through an ancient past, with an ungraspable present, into a hopeful, or for some, dreadful future.

But what is time? How can time be experienced? Where is time now in the here and now? Can you see it, hear it, touch it or sense it in any way, or just thoughts and stories about the supposed past and future suggest its existence?

When you look at a childhood picture of ‘you’, does this picture a proof that ‘past’ has existed? Or can the stories your parents tell about ‘you’ as a little child be the proof that it has ever happened? Of course, thoughts would suggest that they have. But have they really?

Simply remembering the ‘past’ and imagining the ‘future’ is not a proof that past or future exists. The act of remembering of the so called past does not point to anything real. The ‘past’ is just a current thought-image-emotion construct appearing in the here and now.

When a memory of the ‘past’ with a ‘negative’ label on it is projected into the ‘future’, fear and anxiety can arise. Future is nothing more than a projected ‘past’ memory appearing now.

And yet, how many thoughts and stories emerge in a day or just in an hour lamenting on past regrets: “he shouldn’t have talked to me like that”, “my whole life could have been totally different than it is, if I hadn’t made that stupid decision 20 years ago” or “how much happier I was when I was only 20”. And how many worrying thoughts arise just in an hour about tomorrow, or fantasies about a better and happier life?

But what about the present moment, the only ‘time’ that ever is?

“If I could get enough money, had a beautiful body, the best lover, loving children, then I will be happy” – this is a story, a fantasy. It is only a dream because it is rooted in the belief that happiness is coming from outside and from a future state, and it is not accessible here and now. The ‘I’ wants to get completion in the seeming future, because of the conviction that ‘I am not whole here and now’. But is this really true?

Does the ‘me’ really live through time?

The continuity of ‘me’ is created from memories of the seeming past and then it is projected into an illusory future. There is no solid entity living in the body, neither a continuous, progressing time.

There is nothing at the end of the road in the seeming future.
Everything is ever desired is here, in the present moment.
There is nothing else, but the present moment.

The only past or future there can ever be is a conceptual one that arises as a current thought right now.

The illusion of time is ‘created’ by thinking.
Past and future are mere conceptual constructs, nothing more.

The present moment is all there is.
There is nothing outside of this moment.

What is love?

Romantic love is often depicted in moves as a beautiful fairy tale. After many years of lonely nights and bad relationships, finally the beautiful girl finds her ‘soul mate’, who is perfect and special and loves her unconditionally. These stories promise a happy, fulfilling life, where love conquers all. But is this our everyday experience in our relationships?

118“I want you to love me. I need your love. I need you to accept me as I am.” This is what we think what we need. But these words can be translated into these: “I need you to reflect back a positive self-image to fill the hole in me. I need you to accept in me what I cannot accept.”

Relationships are mirrors. They mirror back our ‘selves’. Relationships reflect back our self-image. I am looking in others that seems to be missing in ‘me’.

The feeling that something is lacking is part of the life of almost all humans. We lack love. We lack acceptance. Therefore, we are constantly searching outside, seeking approval to fill the lack and to be complete and whole.

When ‘you’ and ‘me’ fall in love, it seems that we love each other. But actually, I love the story of ‘you’ I have about you, and similarly, you just love your story about ‘me’. We only love the images we have of each other. So we have an unwritten pact that we mutually fortify each others’ self-image; and if you dare to break these rules, I either try to carve you to fit into the image I have of you so I can feel loved again, or I withdraw my love because you have diminished my already frail self-image. The pact is about inflation, not about deflation.

My love is conditional. I love you only when you make me feel happy, whole and secure. My love can easily turn into hatred if you stop fulfilling your designated role. So, I need you to change in order to feel happy again… This is what we normally call love.

But can love be conditional? Is it really love or just a form of attachment? Of course, this is one of last things the ‘egoic mind’ wants to hear, because it shakes its illusory foundation.

Is love an emotion at all, or a state of being?
Can any state be permanent?

Love cannot be found in the seemingly outside world or in the apparent others; love is here and now, in this moment. When there is no resistance to what IS, so called ‘pleasant emotions’ can arise. But love arising from non-resistance is ‘different’ from the love we conventionally refer to. In this sense, love is not something that can be achieved by doing.

Love cannot be gained.
Love is not doing.
Love is non-action.
Love is non-resistance.

Love is acceptance.
Love is peace with what IS.

When there is no resistance, love naturally arises.
Without resistance, love is all there is.

Are annoying people really annoying?

281Imagine that you have a boss who is really annoying; the way he goes through the office, how he moves his hands, the tone of his voice, the way how he wants to persuade everybody that he is right. Every time you talk to him you become upset and feel tense. You even get irritated when you just spot his laptop on the desk, because it means that he is around and going to pick on you and give a lecture about how things should be.

He is really annoying. But is he truly?

Does he annoy me or have I become annoyed of him? Does his tone of voice have a power over my feelings and bodily sensations or do I get upset when I hear his voice? What does really irritate me, his voice or ‘my’ interpretation about his voice? He or ‘my’ story about him?

The whole world is just a projection. An intricately detailed web of beliefs is projected ‘outward’ to the seeming ‘others’, which is reflected back to ‘me’.

So when he starts to criticise me, it is not his words that hurt me; the ‘hurtful feelings’ come because his words have been interpreted through these beliefs. ‘I’ project ‘my’ fragile self-image onto his words, and if it hurts, it just means that there is a belief in action, a belief in a deficient, not-good-enough self.

The ‘annoying boss’ is just a reflection in the mirror.

And as long as there is a belief that my opinions, beliefs and thoughts are true and actual facts, there is also a belief in the seeming others’ opinions. But others’ opinions do not exist independently from ‘my’ interpretation. Both ‘my’ and others’ opinions are nothing more than concepts and they are not referring to anything real.

My boss’ opinions seem to ‘originate’ from him, but actually, his words are just the reflections of the belief in the deficient self.

Projection ‘fills’ the words by meaning.

When this apparent not-good-enough self is activated, “I feel little and inferior”. In order to compensate these feelings, the need for criticism arises. Every time I judge somebody, I feel better and superior because the fragile self-image is strengthened a bit, believing to be better than the apparent other. But all judgement comes from judging ‘myself’.

So, as long as the belief in the separate self is intact, there is a need for a constant reinforcement. “I need to feel superior, otherwise I am inferior”. But this reinforcement works only in comparison to something or somebody else, with an illusory separation, a division between ‘me’ and the rest of the world.

But in reality, none of them are real.
There is no separation, only thoughts suggest otherwise.
The world is nothing more than a reflection.
The other is just an image in the mirror.

Waking up in the dream is seeing that there has never been a self.
There is no ‘me’, no ‘you’, just life flowing freely as it IS.

There are as many worlds as humans on the planet

When you are sitting in a cinema surrounded by a hundred other people to see the latest movie, what do you think how many movies are seen in that same room? Or, when you read a bestseller book which has been sold in one million copies, how many stories have actually been read? The general assumption would be that there was only one movie screened that had been watched by a hundred people, and just one book read by millions. But is this really the case?

025This assumption is based on the core belief that there is a stand-alone, independent world out there, which is totally separate from ‘me’. But when the apparent world is examined in direct experience, it turns out that this is cannot be further from the truth.

The whole world is a mirror.
We see the world through ‘our own’ beliefs.
The whole world reflects back ‘our selves’.

Because the ‘human mind’ cannot help but project.
The ‘human mind’ is literally a projector.

This is how it works, and this is completely ‘normal’. Projection is part of the functioning of the ‘mind’. Similarly to the digestive tract that digests, the ‘mind’ projects. All the sensory inputs are filtered through a huge and intricate web of beliefs and all happenings are interpreted according to them.

So going back to the cinema and book analogies, there are as many movies being watched as people sitting in the cinema, and as many books being read as readers who read them. There is no objective reality ‘out there’.

Nothing is independent from ‘me’. The biggest ‘enlightened’ guru who seems to emanate only peace and love IS ‘me’. He is my projection, my creation. I project peace and love onto him. I cannot feel others emotions, it is impossible. It only feels real, because ‘my own’ peace that is currently felt in the body is projected onto him. I cannot feel his emanation; I can only feel the sensations arising in this body that are labelled as peace.

Or, a ruthless killer is also ‘me’, but this is probably a bit harder to let in. ‘My own’ set of beliefs are projected onto him interpreting his actions through my convictions about sin, good or bad, life and death, what should or should not happen and how things suppose to be.

The world is ‘my’ face looking back from the mirror.
Others are who ‘I’ believe them to be.
There are as many worlds as humans on the planet.
Therefore, individuals can never really meet.

The ‘mind’ projects its ‘internal’ world, its worldview to the seemingly outside world, and thus twists and overrides what IS with its story about it.

The whole world is ‘my’ making.
Seeing this is freedom.
Without the story the world is not a dangerous place anymore.
Reality is neutral.

Fear is not fearful

249In order to better understand what fear is, we have to make a distinction between instinctual fear, which is genetically coded into the human organism, and the projection of fear, when a fearful story is projected into the future about what might happen.

Examples for instinctual fear could be a fear of falling from the edge of a cliff, or being frightened by a sudden loud noise. However, humans experience instinctual fear rarely. When it happens, there is an instant adrenalin rush in the body which signals the organism to move away from the danger. Still, the adrenalin surge is not the result of thinking processes. Although, a few seconds later, thoughts may come up interpreting what happened, saying that ‘I am afraid because I almost fell off the cliff’. But the surge of adrenaline works perfectly without thinking, and by itself it does not imply fear.

The same adrenaline rush could be tagged as ‘excitement,’ if I jumped out of an airplane with a parachute fastened to my back. Or, it could be labelled as a ‘sign of love’ when I unexpectedly spot my new lover at the other side of the street. Fear, excitement, love – the sensation is the same, only the label varies.

Even though instinctual fear is rare in our everyday life, we still experience fear quite often, due to mind-made stories being projected into the future: ‘I fear growing old’, ‘I’m afraid of being ridiculed in front of all my colleagues’ or ‘what if she leaves me’; the list is endless.

When my friend tells me that their company decided outsourcing a whole department, thoughts might come up: ‘What if my company will do the same? My job is definitely not indispensable, what if they will fire me? What would I do? I am too old to get a new job. How am I going to pay the mortgage?’ And the fear is set in motion.

But this fear is not caused by an adrenalin rush; it is caused only by believing the story – the story of ‘my’ life. It has no reality, except as a string of thoughts. It is real only as an appearing thought-story, but never its content. Only believing the story creates the emotional response.

When fear arises, is it really fear that is experienced, or is fear just another cover story? When I think ‘I fear that I might lose my job’, would not it be more appropriate to say that ‘there is a resistance to this story’? Do I really feel fear or I just resist what was made up about what might happen?

And what is fear anyway? How is it experienced? When the fear as emotion arises, it is nothing more than felt sensations in the body with the added thought tag ‘fear’. In direct experience, most of the emotions that are labelled as ‘negative’ are experienced quite similarly, as felt contractions in one or more parts of the body.

What is the difference in direct experience between fear, shame, guilt or anger? Is there any apart from the labels as ‘fear’ and ‘shame’? Does the felt sensation contain by itself any innate fearness or angriness?

Is fear real at all? Or is it just a resistance…?
With or without the story, reality is the same – neutral.

Fear is just an artefact, a fabrication. It is nothing more than a sensation in the body plus an attached ‘fear’ label. This is the case with all emotions. The sensations by themselves are not negative, positive, pleasant or unpleasant. They are totally neutral. Only the attached tags differentiate between them.

When this is seen, fear evaporates. It becomes an empty word.
Because fear is NOT real.
There is just a sensation.

Memory is not ‘me’

Visual illusion - Akiyoshi Kitaoka

Visual illusion – Akiyoshi Kitaoka

We were taught since early childhood that there is a solid, separate entity, a ‘me’ in the body, looking out to the world through the eyes. But this is just an assumption that has never been questioned before.

When the curiosity arises to look closer and challenge this strongly held belief, it turns out to our surprise that the ‘me’ is nowhere to be found. It is simply not there. Similar to visual illusions, where it seems that there is an animation in the picture, but it is just a trick of the mind.

However, reading these lines and believing that there is no self, is not sufficient to see through this illusion. In this case, just another belief would be placed on top of the idea of the self. The belief of the mirage of the ‘me’ needs to be deconstructed and dissolved, and not covered up with another layer of beliefs.

The ‘I’ seemingly lives in memories and beliefs. But in the present moment, where is this ‘I’? Not in a memory, not in a future image, but here and now? Is it in the body? Exactly where?

A memory is nothing else than simultaneously arising mental images, thoughts and bodily sensations, which are firmly welded together and appear as a coherent and real depiction about the assumed past. But this mental construct of a seeming past experience arises in the present moment. There are no little shelves in the mind holding small segments of the past as memories. All memory is constructed again and again in the here and now every time ‘we’ think about it.

The image of me playing in the garden as a five-year old is not ‘me’. Although, the thought label of ‘this is me, playing in the garden’ is fused with the picture of the five-year old body and the bodily sensations of the associated emotions. But thoughts, mental pictures and emotions arise in this body, here and now. The emotions and the remembrance of warmth of the sun on the skin are felt now.

There is nothing outside of the present moment. The ‘I’-thought that emerges as part of the memory is nothing more than a thought.

There is no ‘me’ looking out of the eyes, who is separate from the rest of the world. The idea of separation is created by thought. Only thoughts separate.

Between two thoughts there is no ‘me’.
The sense of me emerges when an ‘I’-thought label is put on the felt aliveness in the body. But the sense of self is NOT the self.

When a memory is dismantled into its components – thoughts, images, emotions, bodily sensations and beliefs – and each piece is examined closely looking for the existence of ‘me’, the glue that hold the memory together creating the sense of self, releases and dissolves. What is left is just the pure experience of thoughts, images, sensations and emotions, without a ‘me’ who could own the experience. There is no individual person.

This is what ‘we’ are seeking.
This is peace.

Matrix is the movie of ‘my’ life

You don’t have to go to the cinema in order to see a good movie. It is enough just to watch ‘your’ thoughts. This is the best movie ever. It’s real entertainment.

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The matrix is not just a science fiction movie, depicting a dystopian future where people ‘live’ their lives in an artificially stimulated reality. The matrix is what we live in; and it seems pretty real for almost all humans. Of course, it does not mean that human bodies are kept in containers outside of the matrix or in some another dimension.

There is nothing outside of the matrix.
The story of ‘my’ life IS the matrix.

Therefore there is no escape from it. The story of ‘my’ life is not something that needs to be getting rid of; ultimately, it is for entertainment. To break the spell, all is needed is just to wake up from its mesmerisation, then lay back and watch all the happenings.

Although, getting lost in the story of ‘my’ life is also part of the flow of the existence. But no matter what happens in the story, no matter how unpleasant it seems sometimes, while it is seen for what it is, the peace underneath is unconcealed.

But life is not about being in a constant happy or blissful state. States can never exist without their opposites. There is no happiness without sorrow and no pain without pleasure, because they are the flip sides of the same coin. Pain and pleasure depend on each other.

Arguing with what IS is the cause of suffering.

Waking up in the dream is not about being free from all unwanted emotions, but encompassing all experiences, openly, fully. Regardless of the mental labels the mind puts onto the happenings of the play of life, everything is allowed to be as it is. Without believing mental concepts, all experiences are perfect the way they are, even those happenings that are labelled as ‘dreadful’.

Reality is benign.
When we don’t argue with what IS, that is freedom.

Things happen in the movie without any director whatsoever, as the part of the ever changing motion of life. Freedom comes from giving up trying to control what cannot be controlled. Freedom is giving up struggling and arguing with what IS. There is no controller. Life just flows like an endless movement of energy, without a centre, a ‘me’, who could own or govern life.

It is fascinating how the matrix is orchestrated without a conductor. Thoughts, images, sounds, bodily sensations, emotions are welded together – creating an intricately detailed, enchanting, three-dimensional virtual reality, with a seemingly existing main character at the centre of all happenings. It’s beautiful…

So, lay back and enjoy the matrix.