This is the time of year, where humanity experiences the transformative power, when light and darkness meet and become unified, leading up to what my teachers called, “The Twelve Nights of Transformation”.
Welcoming pain and sadness might seem counter-intuitive for some of us, but it should become part of our spiritual practice, if we ever want to be free from the control such experiences might seem to have over our lives.
When we begin to welcome those things we associate or perceive as “negative” into our lives, we begin to open ourselves to the lessons they bring. Welcome pain with the same openness with which you open pleasure… sadness with the heart the welcomes joy… and soon you will become more aware of how these phenomena come and go very quickly in our lives. You begin to become more deeply present, and live takes on a richer, fuller texture, which is PURE AWARENESS and LOVE itself.
This spaciousness… what we call Pure Awareness… actually raises our vibrational level, allowing us to recognise that all phenomena, including pain and sadness, are our teachers. We slowly begin to cease striving after that which we perceive as “pleasant”, or running from that which we perceive as “unpleasant”. And in the learning to simply abide calmly in the moment, we experience everything that we missed before.
In any given situation, there are always what we call “two witnesses”, or as I prefer, “two perspectives”: the perspective others have of you, and your own perspective of yourself.
Your principle witness is always your own insight.
What others think of you is irrelevant and none of your business.
Instead, start watching your thoughts, desires, dreams, motivations and agendas. Create a new kind of awareness within yourself. Become a Silent Centre, which goes on watching whatever is happening.
If you become angry, you simply watch it. Suddenly, you are no longer just angry… a new element has been introduced into the equation: you are watching it. And the miracle is that if you can watch that anger, the anger disappears without being repressed.
We call this witnessing the witness itself.
From this place of deeper awareness, we can begin to quiet the mind, and return to a place where we exist as Pure Awareness. In this deep state of awareness, the external world dissolves and the monkey mind of the ego ceases to be.
You realise that truth… the Dharma… is not something outside of you, waiting to be discovered. It’s something within you, to be awakened.
I like how Noah Levine puts it, when he says:
“Waking up is not a selfish pursuit of happiness, it is a revolutionary stance, from the inside out, for the benefit of all beings in existence.”
A few years ago, I posted a question on Facebook, and asked how many people believed that Horus, one of the oldest gods of the ancient Egyptian religion — the Falcon-headed Avenger, was a real being. Fifty people commented saying, “Of course not.”
Speaking at a workshop after the film, “The Avengers”, I asked how many people there believed that Odin, Thor and Loki actually exist, 47 out of 49 people said they did not.
But there is a vast disconnect in the intelligence, rationality and spiritual maturity here in the West, where we are all too quick to suspend reason, and demand that the whole world believe a legend that has been shown time and time again, with empirical evidence sociologically, historically and anthropologically to have been an adaptation of the ancient legends of the “man-god” mythos.
When I made the decision, a few weeks back, to limit my public teaching, and return my focus upon those who are dedicating their lives to the pursuit of the contemplative practice, one of the things that I was forced to do was to dismantle Western Buddhist University, principally because I was unable to gain the support and assistance of Buddhist clergy and teachers from other traditions, to help make the curriculum at WBU an inclusive, open and uniquely relevant, Western expression of the Dharma. And with no administrative assistance, no financial support, and no community involvement, that which was not valued was lost forever.
This journal is intended to serve both as a means of teaching those who are interested, as well as providing the almost daily tutelage that students in our monastic formation program require, as they prepare for ordination. It will be a simpler teaching on the surface, but will stir and awaken much deeper understanding for the student who applies herself or himself.