The Practice of Peace (an EsotEric* Approach)
To see if I could help or address the concerns, and for the joy of writing, I jotted down these notes (an imperfect article) in response to a client that asked a question. They felt they’d had an awakening, then lost it – they felt they’d lost the peace and happiness somehow. They seemed to be seeking a feeling.
Though admittedly a step up from seeking objects such as persons, places or things to supply happiness, seeking a feeling was my mistake as well for many years – an essentially psychological approach – and I occasionally find myself giving too much importance to feelings as guides to truth. Of course you don’t want to repress or deny or bypass feelings, and maybe a gut feeling may be a temporary guide, but this is a slippery slope to illusion again. The fact is, thoughts and feelings are lies, to put it rather bluntly. But that’s the ultimate truth.
Her question was ‘how did I find peace, what was my process?’ (I am talking of a degree of peace many quantum levels higher than years ago; not Absolute Peace of being “dead” to the world).
The fact is, it’s not so important what my history or process was. I know we all like a good story but it won’t help your unique way home. What’s important is an understanding, one that’s universal, now.
We are looking for impersonal truth, not feelings – that’s what will guide you home. Freedom from the person, and Truth are synonymous.
“In the ‘direct’ approach, a teacher straightaway directs a reflective enquiry, from a disciple’s current view of world and personality. On the disciple’s part, the enquiry depends upon a genuine interest in truth, sufficient to go through with a deeply skeptical and unsettling questioning of habitual beliefs on which the disciple’s sense of self and view of world depends. This calls for an independent attitude – not taking things on trust, but rather asking questions and finding things out for oneself.” – Sri Ananda Wood
The approach is simple, two-pronged, but not always easy: first, see what is not you – the false belief in separation, the thoughts and feelings that support the assumption of being a body, mind and senses – and second, be open to a glimpse, an intuition of what you truly are (being inspired won’t hurt!).
That is the “direct path” in a nutshell. In the meantime, the following are some “tips” to help re-orient you along your way.
How to find peace within yourself:
You could call the following a meditation; they are a call to look within, not without.
1. Know it is there already. Or, at least be open to the possibility – *if* you can find it, uncover it. It is in your nature.
2. The Simplest is the Hardest. It is the simplest thing in the universe but also the hardest thing: you are That, peace itself, happiness, divine being, presence, love, boundless limitless freedom, intelligence – all the same, one Be-ing, now – yet it seems to be shrouded by unknown layers of habit from a seeming past, picked up as a baba, child, adolescent, young adult, reinforced by others, oneself, the culture. The mind becomes a loop: projecting what it thinks it knows, confirming with a world seen through filters of the assumptions. We are trained to be doers, have a future, try and change, fix, control… Can you simply Be? If not, see what’s in the way, inside (see #3, 4).
3. Divine Ignorance. Stop thinking you know anything. If you come to something with the knowledge you have, all you will see is that knowledge, which is past, is memory. This re-membering is an automatic, mechanical process in the sense that it has become unconscious; yet it takes energy to maintain what you are not: a false idea of what you are. What you truly are is effortless, free, the totality, infinite.
Do you really know what you are, what a tree is, what a dog or a rock is? What you know is your memory, and words, sounds, meaning you project to make a collection of perceptions, sensations, into a supposed discrete object which you have named and attached information and meaning and personal memories to (including the person and human you think you are). That’s all you usually “know”. Be like a newborn babe. Drop memory. See in wonder. Be like an alien visitor to the planet, on vacation, doing research into the human being and the human doing.
4. Stop focusing. Open the attention. See what these words suggest: relaxed, free, welcoming, open, simply notice, observe, just see, be curious, benevolent indifference, watch disinterestedly, without trying to stop, judge, fix, control, improve, change. Leave the world alone. Let everything alone. This means allow: thoughts (images and sounds in the mind), bodily sensations, perceptions (feelings are a mix of bodily sensations and thoughts in a feedback loop). That covers everything in experience: direct experience in the present. Accepting is not a doing, it’s what you are. Accepting is not a human doing, it’s natural, global, inherent, free.
5. Perception is effortless. You have no personal control; Trust; Allow. Theses are all pointing to the same thing: when you have a dream at night, does it take any effort to perceive things in the dream? When you wake up in the morning, there is perception going on: the fact is we don’t have to take see-ing lessons or hearing lessons to see or hear. We may take lessons in how to think better, try and shape thinking habits some, or add information or data, but we never took lessons in order to think in the first place. It just happens, now. In fact, everything happens by itself, spontaneously. Ponder this fact. You may not understand, see or realize there is no personal doer, no personal will-er, no separate decider, so for now simply be open to consider looking into this and seeing what you see; see if you can find the separate will-er, controller: a fixed, permanent, cut off entity that is not just a concept or a feeling of contraction in the body (added on after the fact of being perceiving).
Feelings aren’t reality, they are a pattern of energy, fed by thought. Thoughts and feelings feed each other. They add seeming reality to ignorance, to the false perception of a “me” making things happen. But if you look into it, where does “you” and the rest of the universe start and end? No neurosurgeon will ever open up your skull and find a little will-er there or do-er there. It’s just an idea.
6. Seek Understanding, not just Good Feelings. The nature of the world experience seems to be duality: good/bad, love/hate, attraction/aversion, fear/accept, up/down, light/dark, pleasure/pain, contract/expand. What you are is beyond all those, in reality. It’s the mind that makes ten thousand things, when there is only One thing (which isn’t a thing, it is you, the ultimate perceiver). Understanding will help set you free. Nothing wrong with good feelings, and a felt intuition can sometimes be a guide, but what you are is as free as a bird, yet unchanging, freedom itself. You don’t need thoughts or feelings to Be. Finding yourself means finding what it eternal now. But don’t look too hard. Be gentle and loving with yourself, kind to all. Have no goal other than to see clearly, and know Love is hiding right behind appearances.
7. There are no others. Realizing this fact, and reminding oneself of it, can be a major watershed, if you are fortunate to be graced with this understanding. For any experience with supposed others, or people, whatever seeming other person shows up in your experience, know that it’s literally You, consciousness, an appearance of yourself. That homeless man you want to ignore? You created him, it’s you. What response from the heart, beneath the automatic, old learned reactions of fear and judgement (simply don’t hold on and they will drop away), are at a deeper level: compassion? Action? That yelling CEO or politician, that is you. You are experiencing it, a free choice of consciousness. There is no blame, criticism, only understanding: do you really want to judge, criticize, blame yourself? That wouldn’t feel too good. So stop it if you want (unless you enjoy punishing yourself!)
8. Perfection is Inherent.There is a deep, inherent, indissoluble connection between Truth, Love, Beauty, and Perfection. Have you ever had a moment, perhaps with a loved one, out in nature, and it was still, and it was so stunning and perfect that you felt it couldn’t possible be real, or that it was super-real, that it was divine somehow – of another order of being…it was so alive, the order of beauty so sparkling and perfect it “blew your mind”? If you can keep in mind that in fact all moments are perfect Now, but they are shrouded, in this dream life, by veils of ignorance, it may help you. You can start to get glimpses behind the curtain. This may take a bit of what we call “faith”. It may take some reinforcement, some practice
* EsotEric: meaning, I don’t start from phenomenon (outward appearances an assumed knowledge of objects) and try to manipulate things, such as the mind or body. I start from facts: the inherent substratum of reality and unity that is not visible or so obvious to the ordinary or normal mind, as it is commonly conditioned by culture.