Anything worth being you already are*.

 

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“Inner being” –The ‘spiritual’ art of Freydoon Rassouli

 

In my last blog I ended with this sentence, “Is being empty of yourself being full of yourself?”

That wasn’t just a play on words. There are a number of “selves” of which I speak. There’s the “self” that you have named and allocated thoughts and beliefs to. Then there’s the self that each of us presents to the world. There’s also the self we would like to be and the self that we think we are.

But there’s more. There’s the self that your parents projected onto you with their “you’re always” or “you never” or “you can’t” or “why can’t you be more like…” statements. And then there are the limits that society places on you with its can and can-nots, shoulds and shouldn’ts that also come attached to and are often held in place by our religious beliefs all of which together define your social-self.

As you can see we are already full of “selves”, ourselves, and all of these make up what is known as the “ego-self”. While wearing this ego-self there’s no room for our real self to be expressed. We spend every moment of every day that we are here on this earth developing and filling our life with the “untrue self”. We spend so much time doing this that the real self is barely if ever visible to us.

“If you do nothing, truly nothing, God cannot help but to come into you.”

“If you leave, God can enter.”

–Meister Eckhart

Basically he’s saying that when you are full of yourself i.e. focused on the development and maintenance of your ego-self there’s no room for the Other.

When we try to be “something” rather than nothing i.e. when we think of ourselves as being objects e.g. body, emotions, beliefs, personality we shut out our true nature. When we think of ourselves as being all these selves the real us can’t come into our awareness. This odd way of being is pure ignorance and illusion and robs us of our true inheritance.

So the act of emptying yourself of all these selves allows for your cup to be full of what you really, and already, are.

In conclusion and as I quoted from the Tao Te Ching in the last blog, If you want to become full, let yourself be empty”.

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*The title of a supplementary meditation manual that I authored in 1979 as part of a Title VI-B Federal Grant supporting the identification of and curriculum development for adjudicated youth with special education needs. https://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/5393374

 

The all knowing knows nothing until he knows he knows nothing and becomes all knowing.

coffee_spilling_out_of_a_cup_ie357-008.jpgWe all act as though we know what is real and what is not real. We act as though we know what is fantasy from what is real but are we right? Many think that to be knowledgeable is to be wise, but is this so? If we acquire enough knowledge will we then gain enlightenment and wisdom?

Fantasy, illusion, myth, intuition, the subjective, imaginal, real, sensory, rational, or objective are always seen as opposites of what is considered reality when in all possibility they are just aspects of the whole. There’s an objective reality that each of us interact with subjectively i.e. the subjective creates the objective that in turn creates the subjective. We project onto everything our image of it. Basically the reality that we see is imaginal even what we call ‘rational’ is imaginal and subjective. Yes, it’s all real, but what real and whose real?

All the so-called opposites i.e. the real and not real things are actually compliments that support each other. They are facets of the whole each contributing to the whole and without them there is no whole and without the whole we do not exist.

Get it? No?

Let me try a few quotes from people who are smarter than I am.

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge”

–Daniel Boorstin (also attributed to Stephen Hawking)

So you think you know? In short,

“It’s hard to fill a cup that is already full”

–Tao Te Ching– Lao Tzu

“Your cup is only useful when it’s empty”

–RJ Cole

Have you emptied your cup today?

“If you want to become full, let yourself be empty”

–Tao Te Ching

They all seem to be saying, ‘Be less so as to be more’. But aren’t these opposites? Try living that for a while and you’ll see the truth in it. Maybe more and less define and complement one another and are not in opposition.

So if being more knowledgeable or ‘all knowing’ doesn’t gain wisdom, how do we gain wisdom? In order to find wisdom we might need to open our hearts and minds. Perhaps knowing a lot or thinking that we know cannot help because they fill us up and close us off, but an innocent and curious mind might open us to see what’s really there. This is what Buddhists call the “Beginners Mind”. It’s the mind of a child that is open until we fill it with all kinds of sense and nonsense.

“Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

–Jesus of Nazereth

So whadda ya think? Is being empty of yourself being full of yourself?

A “Hidden Music” dream

 

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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”

 This is a quote oft attributable to Frederick Nietzsche that I ran across while searching for aphorisms. It stuck with me all week mainly because it seemed to be speaking directly to me.

Two other quotes that seemed to apply came to mind as well, though I don’t recall from where I first saw them and Google didn’t help at all. My apologies to those who first spoke them.

 

“People who don’t understand things tend to reject them.”

 And

 “Let your heart lead and your mind follow”.

(I can imagine the corollary to that might be “let your mind lead and heart will get lost in the dust”.)

 

Not all that long ago I had a dream that seemed to reinforce this notion of some inner voice, or song that few others can hear. The dream seemed to be an extension of the dream I had even earlier that I had labeled The Blue Fresco. This dream could also be interpreted as what I’m now calling a “Hidden Music” dream.

It’s only when I’m quiet, when I’ve stilled the incessant chatter of my ego-voice that I can hear the music. When ruled by pride, fear, desire, worry, anger, distrust, greed, or when I imagine myself better than others I cannot hear the music. When I judge others or myself, I cannot hear the music. When I surround myself with distractions (TV, Facebook, Twitter, video games) I cannot hear the music.

It is only when I seek the sound of silence that I can hear the music of the spirit. It is from this deep venue that my soul waits to be expressed by as Rumi said, “It’s most beautiful face”. To dwell in this place is to dance to the music that few will ever hear, not that they cannot but that they will not and herein lies the cause of our deafness, the “Will” of will not, the be-all and know-all of the human consciousness that hides the beauty of what we all are beneath its suffocating self-centeredness.

It is this self-centeredness of the will that has us search the world for some treasure when the treasure is in us all the time. It’s what Lao Tzu called the Tao, “the origin of all things” the heart of all our being, the essence of what we are. It’s what lies between each of our words and the thoughts that create them. It’s what is beyond our personal and collective motives.

When we become self-centered the music cannot be heard. As Lao Tzu said “the quest for outer acquisition closes the door on the Tao” and it is the needy self-centered ego-self that is always projecting outside itself its unreality because it knows that it is hollow and empty within. No matter how hard it tries, no matter how many self-help programs it takes it cannot fill the void of itself for here there is no music within the void. It is not in the personally created ego that we can find the music of our true self.

As with that dream of several years back (The Blue Fresco) one needs to leave the empty world behind it and follow the intuition of the child into the mountains beyond where the music lies. Therein lies the connection with the spirit, the real self.

A spiritual path

 

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I’ve used a number of Christian references in my Blogs over the last four plus years and have been asked if I am a Christian.

I never really understood Christianity until I studied the Tao. That’s a hell of a statement! But the way that Christianity seemed to be preached, taught, and presented was all unintelligible, nonsensical, flawed and depended on a mindless acceptance of someone else’s interpretation. There seemed to be no soul in it, no spirit, just a lot of meaningless words signifying nothing, shame and punishment all punctuated with the phrase, “Thanks be to God”. And most of all, none of it matched my personal experience. So I ignored it for over thirty years. I continued a spiritual search, but without a clue as to what I was searching for. All I had was the irrational inner knowledge that I would know what it was when I saw it.

As I wandered down this meandering path I met many teachers, some religious, some spiritual, some fitting neither category such as my Marine Corps Drill Instructor. Hell, I didn’t even know where the path was sometimes, but I always managed to stumble back on after tramping through the brambles for a while.

Slowly I put together an image of reality, an inner map if you will, that would help me to make decisions when I encountered crossroads, forks, or dead ends. Slowly I began to see through the veil of misunderstanding propagated by most of the religious leaders and followers I’d encountered along the way. Slowly I began to trust my own internal guide, my own intuition, and my own sense of meaning. And though from time to time I continue to wander off the road feeling stupid and emotionally shut down my process of soul-making (now there’s a Jungian concept if ever there was one) goes on.

One night back in the 70’s while trying to decipher a section of Lao Tzu’s the Tao Te Ching and comparing it to H.B. Sharman’s Jesus as Teacher it dawned on me how much traditional Western thinking had screwed up the meaning and significance of Jesus’ words and how certain Christian mystics (read as Augustine) had sent the whole shebang running off in the wrong direction.

After that realization the teachers came rushing into my life, literally stumbling over each other to walk with me e.g. Thich Nhat Hanh, Krishnamurti, Deepak Chopra, Hermann Hesse, The Course in Miracles, Carlos Castaneda, Paolo Coelho, Carl Jung, Thomas Moore, the Gnostic Gospels, Marcus Borg, Thomas Merton, James Hillman, Ram Dass, Joseph Campbell, and Bishop Spong to name a very, very few. As I read and pondered, the words of the New Testament of the Christian bible started to make some sense. Through this growing filter of reality I began to see the path I was on and had an inkling of where it was taking me and the best part was that I now wanted to go. I now had a relationship with the God-of-the-path, walking side-by-side discovering as we went; It in I and I in it.

I attend a church because it’s a place in which to give of myself and it’s a place full of teachers when I’m open to them. It’s a place with a soul and it allows me to walk my path without shame. It’s also a place where I can plumb the depths of my own unconscious and find the gems of my being. For me the light that shines through the Mandala-like stained glass window embedded high in the stone wall above the altar is a metaphor for the light that’s growing in me.

My understanding of the life and meaning of Jesus may be quite different from most due to the influence of the path I’ve been trodding, but these folks seem not to care, content to walk a different path yet still willing to hold my hand as we go. For many, the dogma isn’t the purpose, nor is the history, ritual, or tradition the point. Like me they’re here to discover who they are, why they’re here and what to do about it.

And what about the Tao? The Tao loosely means “The Way,” not a specific way, not as in a rigid exclusivity, but as, in essence, the way of “what is”– the natural order. The Tao Te Ching is translated as “to become one with the Tao.” When I walk with God, I walk in the Tao. It is an experience, not to be found in words, or prescribed belief, or in translation by another other than through your own experience. It cannot be taught, though there are those who can point you into places where you might discover it and using tools that have been found by others to ready yourself for the discovery.

I can hear Jesus talking to me through the words of Lao Tzu. To me they are one in the same and they are leading me home. Thanks be to God.