You are still seeking outside, and you cannot get out of the seeking mode. Maybe the next workshop will have the answer… Maybe that new technique… To you I would say: Don’t look for peace; don’t look for any other state than the one you are in now. Otherwise, you will set up inner conflict and unconscious resistance. Forgive yourself for not being at peace. The moment you completely accept your non-peace, your non-peace becomes transmuted into peace. Anything you accept fully will get you there, will take you into peace. This is the miracle of surrender.
You may have heard the phrase “turn the other cheek,” which a great teacher of enlightenment used two thousand years ago. He was attempting to convey symbolically the secret of non-resistance and non-reaction. In this statement, as in all his others, he was concerned only with your inner reality, not with the outer conduct of your life.
Do you know the story of Banzan? Before he became a great Zen master, he spent many years in the pursuit of enlightenment, but it eluded him. Then one day, as he was walking in the marketplace, he overheard a conversation between a butcher and his customer. “Give me the best piece of meat you have,” said the customer. And the butcher replied, “Every piece of meat I have is the best. There is no piece of meat here that is not the best.” Upon hearing this, Banzan became enlightened.
I can see you are waiting for some explanation. When you accept what Is, every piece of meat, every moment, is the best. That is enlightenment.
Having gone beyond the mind-made opposites, you become like a deep lake. The outer situation of your life and whatever happens there, is the surface of the lake. Sometimes calm, sometimes windy and rough, according to the cycles and seasons. Deep down, however, the lake is always undisturbed. You are the whole lake, not just the surface, and you are in touch with your own depth, which remains absolutely still. You don’t resist change by mentally clinging to any situation. Your inner peace does not depend on it. You abide in Being; unchanging, timeless, deathless, and you are no longer dependent for fulfillment or happiness on the outer world of constantly fluctuating forms. You can enjoy them, play with them, create new forms, appreciate the beauty of it all. But there will be no need to attach yourself to any of it.
When you become this detached, does it not mean that you also become remote from other human beings?
On the contrary. As long as you are unaware of Being, the reality of other humans will elude you, because you have not found your own. Your mind will like or dislike their form, which is not just their body but includes their mind as well. True relationship becomes possible only when there is an awareness of Being. Coming from Being, you will perceive another person’s body and mind as just a screen, as it were, behind which you can feel their true reality, as you feel yours.
So, when confronted with someone else’s suffering or unconscious behavior, you stay present and in touch with Being, and are thus able to look beyond the form and feel the other person’s radiant and pure Being through your own. At the level of Being, all suffering is recognized as an illusion. Suffering is due to identification with form. Miracles of healing sometimes occur through this realization; by awakening Being-consciousness in others, if they are ready.
Is that what compassion is?
Yes. Compassion is the awareness of a deep bond between yourself and all creatures. But there are two sides to compassion, two sides to this bond. On the one hand, since you are still here as a physical body, you share the vulnerability and mortality of your physical form with every other human and with every living being. Next time you say “I have nothing in common with this person,” remember that you have a great deal in common: A few years from now, two years or seventy years, it doesn’t make much difference, both of you will have become rotting corpses, then piles of dust, then nothing at all. This is a sobering and humbling realization that leaves little room for pride. Is this a negative thought? No, it is a fact. Why close your eyes to it? In that sense, there is total equality between you and every other creature.
One of the most powerful spiritual practices is to meditate deeply on the mortality of physical forms, including your own. This is called: Die before you die. Go into it deeply. Your physical form is dissolving, is no more. Then a moment comes when all mind-forms or thoughts also die. Yet You are still there, the divine presence that you are. Radiant, fully awake. Nothing that was real ever died; only names, forms, and illusions.
The realization of this deathless dimension, your true nature, is the other side of compassion. On a deep feeling level, you now recognize not only your own immortality, but through your own, that of every other creature as well. On the level of form, you share mortality and the precariousness of existence. On the level of Being, you share eternal, radiant life. These are the two aspects of compassion. In compassion, the seemingly opposite feelings of sadness and joy merge into one and become transmuted into a deep inner peace, This is the peace of God. It is one of the most noble feelings that humans are capable of, and it has great healing and transformative power. But true compassion, as I have just described it, is as yet rare. To have deep empathy for the suffering of another being certainly requires a high degree of consciousness, but represents only one side of compassion. It is not complete. True compassion goes beyond empathy or sympathy. It does not happen until sadness merges with joy; the joy of Being beyond form; the joy of eternal life.
I don’t agree that the body needs to die. I am convinced that we can achieve physical immortality. We believe in death, and that’s why the body dies.
The body does not die because you believe in death. The body exists, or seems to, because you believe in death. Body and death are part of the same illusion, created by the egoic mode of consciousness, which has no awareness of the Source of life and sees itself as separate and constantly under threat. So it creates the illusion that you are a body, a dense, physical vehicle that is constantly under threat. To perceive yourself as a vulnerable body that was born and a little later dies, that’s the illusion. Body and death: one illusion. You cannot have one without the other. You want to keep one side of the illusion and get rid of the other, but that is impossible. Either you keep all of it or you relinquish all of it.
However, you cannot escape from the body, nor do you have to. The body is an incredible misperception of your true nature. But your true nature is concealed somewhere within that illusion, not outside it, so the body is still the only point of access to it.
If you saw an angel but mistook it for a stone statue, all you would have to do is adjust your vision and look more closely at the “stone statue,” not start looking somewhere else. You would then find that there never was a stone statue.
If belief in death creates the body, why does an animal have a body? An animal doesn’t have an ego, and it doesn’t believe in death…
But it still dies, or seems to. Remember that your perception of the world is a reflection of your state of consciousness. You are not separate from it, and there is no objective world out there. Every moment, your consciousness creates the world that you inhabit. One of the greatest insights that has come out of modern physics is that of the unity between the observer and the observed: the person conducting the experiment, the observing consciousness, cannot be separated from the observed phenomena, and a different way of looking, causes the observed phenomena to behave differently. If you believe, on a deep level, in separation and the struggle for survival, then you see that belief reflected all around you and your perceptions are governed by fear. You inhabit a world of death and of bodies fighting, killing, and devouring each other.
Nothing is what it seems to be. The world that you create and see through the egoic mind may seem a very imperfect place, even a vale of tears. But whatever you perceive is only a kind of symbol, like an image in a dream. It is how your consciousness interprets and interacts with the molecular energy dance of the universe. This energy is the raw material of so-called physical reality. You see it in terms of bodies and birth and death, or as a struggle for survival. An infinite number of completely different interpretations, completely different worlds, is possible and, in fact, exists, all depending on the perceiving consciousness. Every being is a focal point of consciousness, and every such focal point creates its own world, although all those worlds are interconnected. There is a human world, an ant world, a dolphin world, and so on. There are countless beings whose consciousness frequency is so different from yours, that you are probably unaware of their existence, as they are of yours. Highly conscious beings who are aware of their connectedness with the Source and with each other, would inhabit a world that to you would appear as a heavenly realm, and yet all worlds are ultimately one.
Our collective human world is largely created through the level of consciousness we call mind. Even within the collective human world there are vast differences, many different sub-worlds, depending on the perceivers or creators of their respective worlds. Since all worlds are interconnected, when collective human consciousness becomes transformed, nature and the animal kingdom will reflect that transformation. Hence the statement in the Bible that in the coming age, “The lion shall lie down with the lamb.” This points to the possibility of a completely different order of reality.
The world as it appears to us now is, as I said, largely a reflection of the egoic mind. Fear being an unavoidable consequence of egoic delusion, it is a world dominated by fear. Just as the images in a dream are symbols of inner states and feelings, so our collective reality is largely a symbolic expression of fear and of the heavy layers of negativity that have accumulated in the collective human psyche. We are not separate from our world, so when the majority of humans become free of egoic delusion, this inner change will affect all of creation. You will literally inhabit a new world. It is a shift in planetary consciousness. The strange Buddhist saying that every tree and every blade of grass will eventually become enlightened, points to the same truth. According to St. Paul, the whole of creation is waiting for humans to become enlightened. That is how I interpret his saying that “The created universe is waiting with eager expectation for God’s sons to be revealed.” St. Paul goes on to say that all of creation will become redeemed through this: “Up to the present… the whole created universe in all its parts groans as if in the pangs of childbirth.”
What is being born is a new consciousness and, as its inevitable reflection, a new world. This is also foretold in the New Testament Book of Revelation: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.”
But don’t confuse cause and effect. Your primary task is not to seek salvation through creating a better world, but to awaken out of identification with form. You are then no longer bound to this world, this level of reality. You can feel your roots in the Unmanifested, and so are free of attachment to the manifested world. You can still enjoy the passing pleasures of this world, but there is no fear of loss anymore, so you don’t need to cling to them. Although you can enjoy sensory pleasures, the craving for sensory experience is gone, as is the constant search for fulfillment through psychological gratification, through feeding the ego. You are in touch with something infinitely greater than any pleasure, greater than any manifested thing.
In a way, you then don’t need the world anymore. You don’t even need it to be different from the way it is.
It is only at this point that you begin to make a real contribution towards bringing about a better world, towards creating a different order of reality. It is only at this point that you are able to feel true compassion and to help others at the level of cause. Only those who have transcended the world can bring about a better world.
You may remember that we talked about the dual nature of true compassion, which is awareness of a common bond of shared mortality and immortality. At this deep level, compassion becomes healing in the widest sense. In that state, your healing influence is primarily based not on doing, but on Being. Everybody you come in contact with will be touched by your Presence and affected by the peace that you emanate, whether they are conscious of it or not. When you are fully present and people around you manifest unconscious behavior, you won’t feel the need to react to it, so you don’t give it any reality. Your peace is so vast and deep, that anything that is not peace, disappears into it as if it had never existed. This breaks the karmic cycle of action and reaction. Animals, trees, flowers will feel your peace and respond to it. You teach through being, through demonstrating the peace of God. You become the “Light of the world,” an emanation of pure consciousness, and so you eliminate suffering on the level of cause. You eliminate unconsciousness from the world.
This doesn’t mean that you may not also teach through doing, for example, by pointing out how to disidentify from the mind, recognize unconscious patterns within yourself, and so on. But who you are, is always a more vital teaching and a more powerful transformer of the world than what you say, and more essential even than what you do. Furthermore, to recognize the primacy of Being, and thus work on the level of cause, does not exclude the possibility that your compassion may simultaneously manifest on the level of doing and of effect, by alleviating suffering whenever you come across it. When a hungry person asks you for bread and you have some, you will give it. But as you give the bread, even though your interaction may only be very brief, what really matters is this moment of shared Being, of which the bread is only a symbol. A deep healing takes place within it. In that moment, there is no giver, no receiver.
But there shouldn’t be any hunger and starvation in the first place. How can we create a better world, without tackling evils such as hunger and violence first?
All evils are the effect of unconsciousness. You can alleviate the effects of unconsciousness, but you cannot eliminate them unless you eliminate their cause. True change happens within, not without.
If you feel called upon to alleviate suffering in the world, that is a very noble thing to do, but remember not to focus exclusively on the outer; otherwise, you will encounter frustration and despair. Without a profound change in human consciousness, the world’s suffering is a bottomless pit. So don’t let your compassion become one-sided. Empathy with someone else’s pain or lack, and a desire to help, need to be balanced with a deeper realization of the eternal nature of all life and the ultimate illusion of all pain. Then let your peace flow into whatever you do, and you will be working on the levels of effect and cause simultaneously.
This also applies if you are supporting a movement designed to stop deeply unconscious humans from destroying themselves, each other, and the planet, or from continuing to inflict dreadful suffering on other sentient beings. Remember: just as you cannot fight the darkness, so you cannot fight unconsciousness. If you try to do so, the polar opposites will become strengthened and more deeply entrenched. You will become identified with one of the polarities, you will create an “enemy,” and so be drawn into unconsciousness yourself. Raise awareness by disseminating information, or at the most, practice passive resistance. But make sure that you carry no resistance within, no hatred, no negativity. “Love your enemies,” said Jesus, which, of course, means “have no enemies.”
Once you get involved in working on the level of effect, it is all too easy to lose yourself in it. Stay alert and very, very present. The causal level needs to remain your primary focus, the teaching of enlightenment your main purpose, and peace your most precious gift to the world.