Thursday, 9 August 2007

After the storm....the calm.....

Compared to yesterday today was largely uneventful and my mind remained relatively calm. I say relatively because my intuition told me that there was something happening around here at work. I asked my work colleague and she confirmed this but said that she was 'sworn to secrecy'.

All of a sudden what was a calm mind became turbulent. It wanted to know what this was about. I watched this agitation in my mind like I was an observer. The urge to gossip to others to try to find out what was brewing was really strong. A part of me is quite shocked that in spite of all my Buddhist training that I can still be thrown like this. I considered that I had built up a high level of detachment to things that happen in the material world and in an instant this view of myself as highly detached was shattered. In Buddhism there are five precepts which are rules for living an ethical life. One of them is not to engage in idle gossip and I was shocked at how easy it would have been for me to break that one today.

And yet when I look back at how I would have reacted had this happened on the 1st cycle of this journey (many years ago), I WOULD have gossiped and tried to find out. My mind would not have given me any rest and I would not have had the detachment to just watch it getting agitated without interfering. I would have had no objectivity and would have moved heaven and earth to find out what it was.

So there is a definite difference between cycle 1 and cycle 2 - in the levels of detachment. So what purpose is all of this serving? Every time I watch the mind get agitated about something without acting but with keen observation, so I admit the extent of my desire to know, my level of self-awareness increases. To know others is to be intelligent, to know ourselves is to be enlightened. The more we put ourselves into situations which push our buttons so we can watch ourselves and our reactions the more we increase our self-awareness. Socrates a famous philosopher said 'know yourself' why did he say this? What message did he want to put across? I believe he wanted to put across the message that a sure way to enlightenment is through the development of self-awareness.

I'm off now to the centre to confirm the booking for my workshop on 1 September. I am calling it The Royal Road to Enlightenment and I feel good about that title. It sums up what it is, a road which is narrow and steep but so royal. It requires hard work but the fruits that are possible are beyond anything that I can write.

The 1st cycle is not easy only because one is beginning and the way appears dark. There is lots of confusion. I can remember thinking when I began, 'my life will get better now', instead it seemed to get worse. I started to get into arguments with people, nothing went right. I remember being quite bewildered at this time. What I didn't realise was that the minute you commit consciously to following a spiritual path that the karmic effects of previous lifes get started up more quickly. As a result it can seem that there's nothing but 'bad luck' which is how I saw it at this time. But I kept persevering with the practice which was turning everything back on myself. When I argued with someone, it was always me who was at fault in the argument. It had nothing to do with the other person. This is a tough discipline because there were many times when I was convinced that I was in the right. I had to let this go and turn it back on myself. This I understand now is a process of purification which is necessary for spiritual progression.

I still do this but it is not as harsh as it was in the past. I consider this harsh self-criticism to be an essential part of this path - without it there is no progress because the mind is adept at justification. To break this pattern requires us to be hard on ourselves so that the mind cannot delude. Courage is a vital quality on this if you don't have courage....don't approach the path. Having said that, we all have within us the kind of courage needed to take this step and there is absolutely nothing in the inner world of spirituality to be afraid of. It is the most exciting, unpredictable, rewarding journey there is to bring it on......

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