Wednesday, September 15, 2010


We have all heard the mystics and sages say that our most difficult times can be our most productive in terms of spiritual growth and insight. Probably, most of us don't buy it and consider such advice as a rationalization meant only to soften the blow of whatever ails us. But if instead we were to express such advice in the more practical terms of Contemporary Enlightenment as defined in the preceding postings of this website, it may have a very different meaning.

Consider this for example. The Buddha did not select suffering as the foundation for his message because his sole purpose was to fix or cure the events causing suffering as we know it. He could have selected emptiness, selflessness, non-duality, conceptual thought and other approaches. He selected the emphasis on suffering as a foundation for his teachings because everyone suffers and everyone wants suffering to stop. And when you are suffering, you may be more focused and committed and open to whatever will make it stop. The suffering the Buddha spoke of was much broader than the pain of a disease or the loss of a loved one. He spoke in terms of the dissatisfaction and unhappiness of the human experience, however it manifests. The exact nature of the suffering and the events causing it do not matter.

He essentially said you suffer, whatever the cause, because you are not awake and do not understand your true nature. When you do finally understand it, it is not that the event at issue stops, but there simply is no suffering. Like all else, it is simply an illusion, with no effect whatsoever upon what you truly are. This is not esoteric dharma babble. It is a fact.

If you believe yourself only to be a body encompassing a mind that perceives through its senses and thinks through its brain, then anything that tears at that body or causes unpleasant thoughts will hurt you. But, as explained in the dozen or so prior postings, if you know yourself to be more, that your awareness is emptiness itself, the "screen" upon which the suchness of the universe arises, then pain, pleasure, thoughts, feelings, and everything else for that matter, are just objects, arising and falling in your awareness, images projected on the screen of awareness, never affecting or changing that screen.

But wait you say. When I am sick, I hurt. When a loved one dies, I suffer. Of course you do but which "you" are we talking about, which you are you really? If you are only that mind and body, you do indeed suffer. But if you know, truly know that your awareness is so much greater, is the very "reflective ability of the universe" itself (using a term from an earlier posting), that from which everything there is or can ever be arises, whatever you thought could hurt you cannot. It cannot hurt you because it arises within what your true nature truly is, an image, a projection on the screen of emptiness.

Why is this so hard to get, so hard to believe, so seemingly impractical yet so many of us believe in religious and spiritual imagery and mythology which is far more fantastic? Read the last two postings where this is addressed directly. It is precisely growing beyond these barriers that is the goal of spiritual growth and insight.

So when you hurt, just hurt. When you dance, just dance. When you see a child, just see her. When you suffer, let its unpleasantness remind you of what you truly are, let it awaken you and know that the suffering is just a mind object like everything else. And remember, that it cannot touch what you really are.

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