On Beyond The Past and Perfection
It can be harder to enjoy the clean clear air of the high mountain passes if your legs are still struggling to move through the mud of the swamp.
This is a pattern I’ve seen with myself and with friends.
I separated myself from old friends, family, moved to a new city, when I got “on the path”, as far as the “direct path” goes. I also hung out with and communicate with new friends who were what you could call “truth lovers”: a community — a loose network of those who share the same interest and orientation, possibly anchored by a living sage — of like-minded people. This break was very useful. I am breathing easier and happier now, and everyone benefits (the whole world perhaps).
It can be useful or necessary to be away from the old habit patterns of thinking and feeling while one is become more established in the peace and happiness of one’s real nature; otherwise you will get pulled back into the old unawareness: what they call “ignorance” or “avidya” in the East (an old Sanskrit word from Hinduism meaning “ignorance”, as in unawareness, or not knowing oneSelf).
It should be emphasized that this observation of changing one’s habits is not about thinking about what you don’t want or don’t like (which would keep you stuck), and it’s not about changing external conditions. Rather it is about changing “from within”, and therefore the “outer” changes; it’s keeping one’s eyes on the prize, knowing what one wants, or has already within – the pull of the absolute calling you home as it were. Heeding the call of True Nature. One’s attention is directed towards “Home”.
What we Are doesn’t need to be changed. What we are not is constantly changing.
But does one have to move away or drop old relationships in order to be “on the path”, be loving one’s true nature, be happy, be growing spiritually? Not necessarily. And for some, with family or work responsibilities or whatever, it may not be possible. To leave them behind would instead be a reaction, would be going around in circles as well, believing that one’s happiness were dependent on outward circumstances. This is why it is called “karma yoga”: to see through what seems to be going on and one’s reactions to it, by not reacting, and freeing oneself, dissolving what was never real to begin with, the old patterns or the kept-up thinking and reacting. It gets replaced by the sudden insights we call an experience of “love” or “truth” or “beauty” or “understanding” … by clarity and peace, a “new life”. Simplicity. Then things will change (since they were already one’s choice as awareness, and were always the same ultimately, paradoxically), not before.
Trying to change your life – one’s sense of true happiness – by changing outward circumstances will lead you right back to square one, only in different outward forms. You’ll be fighting the same old battles, trying to solve the same old problems, seeing the same patterns emerge.
It also helps if one is independent enough to do this. If you’re not, then there is something you need to see about love and truth before you will let go (e.g the “yoga of relationships”) — of attachments, of the past, of belief — of whatever it is “you” are holding on to as “you”.
To some this may seem “selfish”, but this is merely the programming. According to society, our upbringing, we are supposed to be outward-directed and paying attention to what others want, perceive, say, think … so there may seem to be a conflict, as we we-direct our attention to the Self. We need to become Selfish with a capital “s”. Paradoxically, this kind of Selfishness benefits the most overall, over time. But in order to see that, you have to have a different outlook about reality. So to those around us, in the swamp, who are still seeing things from a self-centered, personal perception, and are not getting what they want, it seems selfish, and they will use mechanisms and manipulation (like guilt and shame and fear, or enticements), whatever tricks they can, to get what they want, to control us, or get us to be like them and everyone else. They are used to things being a certain way, and getting something, or having something, or wanting something from you for the future.
You’re only freedom is to not react.
Have faith in the powers that be, that run the universe.
Perhaps you need to let things “fall apart”. What we are cannot be harmed in the least. What you truly are.
Do you want to be a robot, a network of mechanical reactions, or a mere animal responding to external and internal stimuli, or, do you want to taste the sweetness of freedom, of what is called the divine?
Do not expect yourself to be perfect now or ever, as a human. Rather, see the general upward path in your life. Are you more at peace and happier than you were a year ago, or 3 years ago ago? If yes, then keep on in the direction you are going. If not, time to adjust your direction in life. It may be time to see what you were not understanding, and what you really want in life, and what to do about it.
It may be time to look at the total sum of all your habits, all your actions, and see how each one feels. Everything from what you eat, drink, ingest, to exercise, how one treats others, the people you hang out with, how you spend free time, the work you do, the friends you keep, … everything. How does it feel in the body: does it have a sense of expansiveness, lightness freedom, a tingle of joy and possibility, of connection and warmth? Or does it feel contracted, small, tight, serious, fearful, complicated? Only you know. There are no judgements or rules, only the honesty of looking, noticing. Am I trying to cover over unpleasant feelings with this habit? Am I trying to escape something I don’t want to face or feel? Or am I opening out and being courageous enough to stand firm, knowing what I truly am is not going anywhere and can stand the entire universe turning over once and forever.
And in regards to our reactions, I said to a friend regarding the “sticks and carrots” from our relations, friends, family, work, culture…
S: I have gotten some of sticks from my loved ones. They are me. So stick are felt by me. I do not know if these are sticks or not. Definitely no carrots.
E: I am writing an article about this. Will send the link when I have edited a bit more.
S: You are so thoughtful. I know my non-duality teacher has just talked about it too. If I remember, SJ asked questions related to this closely…. maybe one of the things what I see is “weakness being more cruel then even straight forward cruelty”.
E: I also write about that recently – for a friend in Bulgaria who was experiencing an abusive husband, and her response!
S: Also to clarify. My family and friends in [my home country] were not violated against. There was lots of violence gestapo style done by police there though.
E: But never mind their perceived weakness out there. Find your loving compassionate response, if t’s real, not just behavior.
Leave the world alone, leave people alone, leave yourself alone.
Yes, as your sagacious Advaita teacher always says, it’s where one is reacting from that matters, that is response-able
– from freedom and peace, not reaction –
doing the best you can in the moment. 🙂
S: I see the truth of it so well. It is right in my face. The energy of anger or fear or whatever to virtual event will manifest right in your home if you are serious about it…
You said “leave the world alone, leave people alone, leave yourself alone.” Yes, this is 🔑
E: Yes exactly.
S: I “get into it “ like a novice” 😀
Thank you so much for also posting Robert Adams talks [to an online Robert Adams group]. And I do not know if you remember the times when ignorance was thick… but they used to make me furious. I also thought Advaita people were a bit too cold and an attached to “my liking”.
I know you transcribe them. It is a powerful work. Also writing in your own expression channeling through unique experience is powerful for others and keeps it fresh and truly relevant
E: My pleasure.
Of course I remember times like that when the I was in reaction. And how I wanted others to feel the same or “understand” – seemed serious or important to me haha.
What’s important is the overall trend in your life — greater peace, harmony, love, clarity, ease etc. — not any particular time. We all have times when we are having some old reactions coming up – even your spiritual teacher.
E: And it’s an art to relax in the midst 🙂 Are there any perfect artists?
S: True. So nice to watch my teacher get aggravated and ranting…
E: I’m certainly not perfect. Just ask my ex-girlfriend. 😇😂🤣
S: There are “perfect” artists though 😊 Velasquez? Or too perfect everyone hates like Bouguereau.
One can only find perfection in true art! This is why I gave up on people 🌝
I bet she is a saint :))
E: You know how it goes with the family we grew up with and with intimates: they are perfectly matched to push our buttons, to show us where we need to grow, were unconscious, do our karma yoga, hahaha
and to show us their imperfections too! hahaha
No I’ve never seen a perfect art or artist. And especially the artist!
I don’t think anything in this world can be perfect. That is only for “the divine”
Even the most mind-blowingly beautiful natural scene, has some imperfections if you look – the perfection and beauty are coming “from within”. In the next moment, the same exact scene will look different when you’re tired or not open to it.
Don’t be a perfection Nazi. Nothing in this world is perfect. If you don’t see where perfection comes from — that it’s not personal — then you will expect it from others or from objects or situations or actions. And you will be eternally frustrated.
This does not mean accepting what should not be tolerated, such as mean, ignorant behavior that hurts others. It means having understanding of what’s real.
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t aim to make beautiful art, but rather to know where the best art is coming from: it’s not personal but coming from an impersonal, universal intelligence, an inspiration from the vertical dimension as it were. This can be a blow to the ego, since we want to take credit for it. (Although we may certainly want to take credit for it as a practical matter, if it’s needed to make a living, and will want to sign a work! Just know that that is all a game…).
What honestly, is the most important to you? What do you think and feel about the most in a given day?