by E. Alan Meece
Nov.2001 (revised Dec.2010 and later; more revisions likely, and needed!)
I may not be a master of life yet. But for many years I have considered the ideas about life that have been given to me. As I seek to solve problems and realize my visions and goals, I have discovered new ideas and new ways to think about things. I believe it is wise for me to share what I have learned, even if I have much more to learn.
I have felt for many years that spiritual philosophy needs to be revised. Its words and terms can be too confusing and contradictory. I have found it hard to understand at times, and hard to accept at other times. One reason that I find myself resisting it, is because it is self-demeaning. It's purpose is to get you to deny yourself. That might seem to be a good thing, if it means we learn to be unselfish. But this language can be a put down. Religion has been for a long time a way of controlling people; to make them obedient and subservient. This legacy lives on in some of its language.
There's no question that something in us needs to change. That is why we take up the spiritual quest. At least, we talk as if we need to change. Something is going wrong within us, we say. But do we have to put ourselves down in order to change? And is our real self really the problem? Or is the problem precisely because we ARE enslaved, and ARE subject to all these efforts over the years by society to control us, and make us subservient? I think so, and so no, I don't think that the put-down language is necessary.
Words, however limited they are (and they are only symbols or labels, not the actual experiences they represent), have been given to us to help us communicate and make sense of things. So we don't have to accept the idea that spiritual language is necessarily confusing and contradictory. We have every right to expect that it should make sense to us.
In order for it to make sense to us, though, we need a wider view of "what makes sense logically." We need to be more sensible about logic, in other words. The old law of non-contradiction is not good enough. We need to recognize the inherent relation between opposites. Apparent opposites, are interdependent. That is a basic feature of our lives. Strict old-fashioned logic will not get us very far in the spiritual quest; save it for your classes with those rigid logic or math professors. Despite what they may say, sometimes paradoxical reasoning is valid too, if it seems to fit our experience.
For now, let me start with a few of the most basic tenets that I know about spirituality. I will need to do a lot more work to organize and fill out this essay; this is a rough draft of the ideas that have come to me over the decades.
For example: I am pretty sure that I can say that I am one with God, even though the word "God" has many and controversial meanings. God is the basic reality of being; and of my being, and of all beings. Nothing about me is separate from the source of all. I experience this is the most concrete way, when I consider my relation to the world. I am entirely part of that world from which I come, not separate from it. Everything that I am is a part of that larger world, and comes from it. I experience myself as conscious. But I am part of the larger world too. So everything, to some degree, must also be conscious and divine, as I am, because it is part of me. I and other conscious beings could not have arisen by accident from an unintelligent mechanism, because unconscious mechanisms do not create conscious beings. This divine consciousness I can call "God."
Therefore, God is not a supernatural dictator somewhere up in heaven and apart from me. God is right here, within and around me. I know this, because I experience something of God with me all the time. As Jesus said, "I and the Father are One." You are one with God too. You are God, and All is God. The basic mystic experience is to realize this. God is within. It doesn't need to be extremely amazing or blissful to discover this, though it can be; it is just how things are, everyday. God is here. God is Omnipresent, everywhere. Spirit is in all things, and all things are Spirit; and Spirit is creative. This means that there is an aspect of me, the purest and highest aspect, which is perfect and unchanging. Fundamentally, I am not just a human person; I am everything that is. This is the divine aspect of my reality, which partakes of the Perfection and Goodness of God.
We get hypnotized too often by our minds, our fears, etc. The universe goes on anyway, beyond the turbulence of our minds, and our conflicts and troubles in the world. It just is. Ultimately, that is what I am; the just-isness and peace of being. I am that.
I am not anything in particular. I am not what society says I am. I am not who other people say I am. I am not even who I say I am. I am just Being. Other people may look at me, and see a face and a body and a personality. They think all kinds of things about that person that they see. I am not that. I am always more than what they see. I really don't have any particular characteristics at all. I certainly can't be pigeonholed by judgements I make about myself, or that other people make about me. If other people judge me or label me a certain way, that is their problem; for one thing, they are not doing what Jesus said.
And yet, even at the same time, I do have some characteristics. How can that be? Paradoxical reasoning, that's how.
Life is growth and change; it is an adventure, it is a game. As such, life is perfect. But it does not rest in its perfection. The perfect always seeks the imperfect, the absolute seeks the relative. Thus, our "perfect" world also includes "the world of appearance," in which everything is imperfect and relative. Both are parts of the divine whole. Everything we see and experience is part of this whole. We view things from the viewpoint of the part instead of the whole, much of the time. In the midst of our daily lives and our activities, we find it necessary to focus our attention on a partial view, in order to get things done. But we can also see the whole simultaneously, if we focus on it. We need to see this. When we do, we know that all things are of one suchness, one thatness, one essence, as well as being particular and different. Thus, if we choose, or are able to, we can see the oneness and the differences, the wholes and the parts, simultaneously. I can see that all things are one, at the same time that I can see differences and changes.
It is Godís will and desire, apparently; to lose Himself in the parts, and find Himself again-- continually. So, the "world of appearance," which is the partial view, is not "evil." The world of differences and diversity is not evil. Nor is it false. To see differences is not wrong. To fully know and Be the whole, the Whole must have Parts. A whole without parts is nothing. God is not nothing, he is everything. There is no nothing without something. So God is nothing, and God is also something. There is a positive aspect to God, as well as a negative. There is a light that shines. It is our consciousness; our light within. Some call it our Christ within. It is love; it is our life. But no something that we are, is everything that we are. There are no boundaries; in that sense, there still are no somethings.
Thus, if there are differences, as well as unity, then there are free Individuals. My individuality still seems indissoluable to me. Wherever I go, there I am, as an individual. I see other individuals too; other individuals whom I respect as other sacred, conscious beings, as I am. At the same time, all the many Beings are connected to the One, and Are the One. The whole and the parts, the One and the Many, are interdependent. The One needs the Many, and the Many needs the One.
The One divine always expresses as individuals. God is found in God's angels, and in God's human, animal, vegetable and mineral angels. From atom to Adam, and from cell to Self; individual wholes evolve and grow within the one Whole.
The Individual is not the Ego. So, what is the ego? Popularly, the ego means pride, and inflated self-image. The ego seeks recognition from others and society. It seeks status and approval, and is dependent on these. It acts compulsively, in order to satisfy this desire. But the true, authentic self, is love. It does not need social approval, nor does it need to wear a false, inflated self-image. Follow your heart's desire, and you will be on the right track. If you are true to yourself, you can't be false to anyone. As long as you are not hiding from yourself or others, any image you put out will be real and genuine. Honesty gives you permission to be whatever you want to be.
The Trinity manifests as three in one, in the following way: There is always an inside and an outside of any Being, and these aspects of the Whole are One and Interrelated. The inside always implies the outside, and the outside implies the inside, and there is interaction. The inner and the outer are One and Many simultaneously. Giving and Receiving, are one, different, and interdependent. Self, and Other, are One, Different and Interdependent. This is the Trinity: One, Other, and Interdependence. Subject, Object, and Relationship.
I am the Whole, the Eternal one, and the Universal Mind. And yet I also experience myself as an individual, since my experience is centered as me, in this body and mind. So I must be like a hologram; I am a very fractiline being. What does that mean? That means that, as an individual, I am the whole in miniature. I replicate the entire cosmos of being within myself; I am a microcosm of the macrocosm. In a holographic picture, any part of a photograph shows the entire image. In a mathematical fractile, smaller versions of the same figure appear within the larger figure. These are modern terms for the ancient hermetic principle, as above, so below. The larger is reflected in the smaller, throughout all levels. The hermetic principle shows us how we are individuals, and at the same time, one with All. It is the meaning of today's term, "holistic." This is not an abstract idea, but something you can experience.
We live, move and have our being NOW. It is amazing to perceive, contemplate and realize that we actually exist outside of time. We live in the same NOW that existed at the time of the creation, and the same NOW that exists at the end of time, the same NOW that always exists. We exist beyond all the current problems that bother us in this "now" we call today. Being aware of this fact, we can transcend our problems, and in the midst of them dwell in the eternal NOW. All of the energy, power and imagination that went into the creation of the universe, is here now. When the creation happened, it happened now, so in that sense, the Creation is always now. It is still going on. We are not the result of events that happened yesterday. We are the free and creative moment, now. In fact, everything that happened in the most distant past, or will happen in the most remote future, is happening now. The same is true of space. We are always HERE, and yet we are one with everything everywhere. To contemplate that, can be mind-blowing, although there's no need to be intimidated or overwhelmed by this idea. At a more basic level, is can also be a very simple feeling of connection with your immediate surroundings. Most of us as individuals cannot contain the full reality of being. It would be like too much energy blowing our transformers. This is one reason we also exist as individuals.
Change is real too. It is life. When there is no change and movement, death occurs. Like the One and the Other, Eternity and Change are also interdependent, each necessary to the other, and One. Eternity must realize itself in Time; it does not merely stay eternal. The eternal is always unfolding into the temporal; the Changless Idea into the Manifest Form, the Eternal Truth into the demonstrated Reality. Thus, appearance is not illusion. It is what changes. So, while not illusion, it is not all of reality. It can change. Illusion is mistaking one thing for another. So appearance becomes illusion, when we donít see it as it is. It is an illusion to see changing appearances as permanent. It is not permanent; the only permanent and unchanging thing is the Eternal, the One Spirit of the Divine. But all the things changing in time, and all their differences, are also true aspects of this One True Being. A piece of bread, is no less Bread because it is cut from the loaf. Impermance is not untruth, and it is not illusion. It is simply impermanence. The illusion is to think it is permanent. This is a distinction that is not always made in spiritual writings.
Our perception of the impermanent is not a mistake, and is not false. We are not deceived by perceptions of impermanent things. We are deceived by our thought, if we mistake the impermanent for the permanent, without seeing that both are always present, just as with the One and the Many. There is no Many without the One, and vice-versa. There are no impermanent things without the One Unchanging Thing. So the illusion is to see the impermanent without also seeing the permanent which is implied in it. To see the outside without seeing the inside, and vice-versa. To see Self without the Other, or to see the Other without Self. To see ourselves without seeing the One Self which we also are at all times.
The past and future are real. Memory and Imagination are put down and reduced by many spiritual teachings to mere figments of our thinking. Actually, memory and imagination are perceptions. Experience shows this through the fact that people with poor memory and imagination are also people with poor vision and hearing. Memory is the perception of the past, not a thought or image of an experience held onto and retained by an insecure mind seeking permanence. Memory does not need to seek permanence; we remember automatically. Every experience within every Soul is remembered, by the Soul, and by God. Thus, in that sense, it is permanent.
The past and future are part of Time. Time is a measurement of change. Objects "out there" are in time, but so are our experiences "in here." Since the past exists, it exists in the present, in the NOW. In that sense, there is no past or future, because everything is now. The real past and future, are not our thoughts about them. They are real experiences which we had, or will have, and they exist now, and are known now. They are not parts of a memory bank created and stored by thoughts in our brains, but are "stored" within our souls forever. Passing experiences that we remember, are part of our whole experience now. They enrich our perception of now. The past and future are extensions of now.
The past and future have to do with things that change; the present has to do with what doesn't change. The future is changeable, by being subject to our imagination, to our will, and above all, to the unfolding of Divine Intelligence as it comes to us. Perhaps also, the past is changeable; at least in how it relates to us today. Past, present and future are not very accurate terms; most words are not. There are not three separate parts of time; there is only continuous, constant change happening now..
The past is continous with the present; it is how we got to where we are now. Here on Earth, or even in "heaven," it is hard to imagine ourselves never changing. We would be static and dead. Time is the aspect of reality that gives us life. Whatever lives, as Bergson said, has a place in which time is being inscribed. Those spiritual Teachers who speak of the Eternal Now as the only reality, always end up speaking in terms of Time anyway, because it is unavoidable. The Eternal must unfold through time; life requires it. Nothing can be created, nothing new can exist, unless the old is remembered; otherwise the new will simply be the repeat of the old. In any higher spiritual dimension in which souls dwell, this is also true. The Perfect Changeless Mind continues the same forever. Nothing new need be added. But this Mind is also eternally unfolding. God includes Time and Change; they co-exist together, forever. The time is always NOW, and yet, it is always moving and flowing. As Bergson said, there is no difference between passing from one mental state to another, and staying in the same mental state. Both happen at once; that is the miracle of time within eternity.
Time thus exists in the spiritual world as well as in the so-called physical world. And yet in both "worlds," which are really one world, the time is always now. We know this is true in our everyday lives. We can experience that fact in THIS life. So there is no distinction between our experience of eternity in this life, and our experience of it in the next life; no reason to assume that our perception of NOW will change radically occur, once we go there to "the other side." We already know this. So contrariwise, in the next life, we also experience the past and the future. But we experience more clearly that they are contained in the Now. We have fewer barriers. On the other hand, it may be harder to unfold and evolve in the spirit world. It is less of a challenge. Thus, we can experience life more intensely when it has been infused with all the density, trials and tribulations of this world.
Evolution and change are real parts of God. Everyone of us is unfolding a unique, individualized expression of the divine. We have made choices and mistakes, and lost opportunities. Nothing like what is happening now will ever happen again. So when we fail to experience and grow, we lose. It matters what we do, what we think, what we know, and what we experience. Every flower is unique, and will never occur again. Let us not de-value each human being and each animal, flower, tree, rock, spirit, and angel.
But nothing is ever lost. All of our memories are in our individual and our collective soul forever. This is called the akashic record. Our lives are eternal, so we will have more opportunities to learn, experience and grow. The ultimate, infinite, eternal One remains forever, and we are THAT forever. Knowing as we do that we are growing and evolving, we can be more patient with ourselves, and with others too. It's OK then if we are not perfect now. We are still divine, here and now; we are just not finished in our evolution. It takes time to grow and evolve. Patience then, I think, really requires that we acknowledge the reality of time and change. There must be some reason we go through all these "delusions" in this life, as some teachers call the dimension of change and time. Maybe, it's for the adventure of it; see below!
In order for Music, Art and Beauty to be expressed, there must be time, and there must be the past. The note that follows has no significance without memory of the past note; without the remembered note, the music does not flow. The Phenomenologist philosophers have reported this, through their careful description of human experience. Why ignore them, and believe some other teachers instead? Why are some teachers, and not others, exclusively qualified to tell us what human experience is?
Furthermore, nothing is worthwhile without memory. If you are in bliss, but nothing of this experience lasts, it might as well have never existed, because tomorrow it will be gone. Bliss must continue to unfold and grow, in order to be bliss. It must contain relationship to the past and future, before it has any beauty. Time is part of what makes it beautiful. The meaning of life, its value and worthiness, is the permanence of the impermanent. The more the impermanent can be made permanent, the more value it has. Thus also, we see the fallacy of "eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die." This is the path of the consumer society, which does not care for future generations, but consumes and destroys everything that exists today in exchange for transitory pleasure.
There is the changing and evolving aspect of the divine, and there is the eternal and unchanging aspect. Everything that ever was, or will be, is now. There is no other time in which anything happens. Every moment is now, whether we are in heaven, or on earth. There was no moment of first creation. The big bang is happening now. Creation happens now, and everything created, is created now. That is the first cause; it happens now. To think yesterday caused today, is to put the cart before the horse, to make the tail wag the dog, and the wake to move the ship. That is why both mechanistic and creationist explanations of events are false. There is no moment when God started the world, or when a big bang began the world. The only time anything can begin, is now. And the now that we experienced yesterday, is still now, because it was now-- then. It was real, and so it still is real.
Some spiritual teachers say that everything is Good, and that evil is an illusion. Well, yes and no. It is hard to say that everything is Good. It doesn't match our experience very well, which as the Buddha pointed out, consists mostly of suffering. But at bottom, we know itís true that everything is good. We know this, because at bottom, we know that everything is part of the One divine Being that we are.
As I see it, if everything is good, this doesnít mean that there is no evil. Individual acts can be evil; or, in other words, mistakes can be made; relatively speaking. As mystics who know we are God, we can take God's point of view. So, pretend you are God. From His view, you can see that everything is good. You can see that all "evil" is necessary for Godís growth and unfoldment. He wants challenges, mysteries, surprises. How can God express strength, without obstacles and challenges? He does not have to do this; He does not have to do anything. There are no have-tos in God, or in life. Nothing has to be done. But life is boring without a good story, a good game, or a bold adventure. So that's how God wants it. God wants a challenge and a good story. And there are few good stories that donít have a villain, or a problem. I bet you'd find it hard to think of one. There is no light without darkness; no discovery without mystery. So, light is wonderful, but darkness is OK too. Don't be afraid of the dark. "Evil" is the challenges through which we grow and develop. This means we have the freedom to screw up, and we have the freedom to love. Only if our love is freely given, is our love real.
One cannot get physically stronger, for example, without exercise. This means overcoming obstacles. The weights must be heavy; gravity must pull on your body. The heavier the weight you can lift, the stronger you are. Greater good comes from greater evil, in this sense. So it is too in relationships with our fellow God-expressions as individuals. We grow in love through dealing with the challenges of relating to other Beings who are just as free and powerful as ourselves. There are few if any challenges harder than this one. As hard as it can be, we need to respect others, as ourselves.
Socrates said that evil is ignorance. So our greatest challenge is to grow in consciousness and awareness. The more we become aware, the less ignorant we are. Thus we are less likely to commit evil. A good story frequently involves a mystery; an unknown. We donít know how things will come out. IN that sense, we are ignorant. In the course of a good story, we become more aware, and if the story has a happy ending-- which most stories do-- the mystery is solved. So all "evil" is good, in this sense. This does not mean there is no evil, or that "everything is permitted." It means that, through the possibility of evil, we grow in our awareness of good. Knowing this, we may not actually look upon every situation in our lives as good; though we might do this more often. But we will know that, in the whole picture, it is good. Without evil, there is no story, no game, no growth, and no expression. Without evil, in short, there is no good. We donít know good, without evil. They are relational. That does not mean that we seek evil for its own sake. We donít have to create evil for ourselves in order to experience good. We seek the good, we seek challenges, we seek a good adventure, and the evil presents itself to us as the challenges and lessons we face on the journey. The road to heaven is paved with good intentions, but it goes through hell. Thus, we may hate a turn in the road, but we love the journey. Knowing this, we donít have to force on ourselves the difficult, dishonest, hypocritical and wearing task of believing that "everything is good," because we can still believe that the play itself, the journey itself, is good. It is what we want. We want the journey, because if everything is just handed to us, we have no sense of our godliness. Nothing is asked of us in that case, or of our fellows. We would just live in luxury, getting complacent and weak. If everything is obvious, and everything is easy, then there is no mystery, and nothing to discover. The ultimate divine welfare state. No, we want a more interesting game than that. So, even when we finally achieve heaven on earth, some of us will go off in search of the next hell. That may be why utopias fail. They donít satisfy our restless urge for life-- for growth, adventure and mystery.
Faith is only necessary because we live in the world where there is mystery. We don't know how the story will come out, or who will win the game. If we already know who will win, then we don't play the game. We like a surprise, an unknown. But this means we need faith, because we don't know everything. We don't know how things will turn out in the world, and with other free people. But we know the basic things. We know the eternal and the infinite. So on that basis, we can have faith. Faith is to go for it, to go forward, even though we don't know the outcome. It is non-attachment, combined with willingness and joy. And just maybe, we know more than we think we know. If we are guided by our higher intelligence, we may know a lot of what's going to happen, and we may win the game.
Strictly speaking, there is no good or evil in the world. Noone is good, and noone is evil, inherently. That is judgement; that is a partial view of things; a label. Beings and situations just are, and that is "good" enough. Good is a principle of the divine. It describes all there is; it describes the divine. From one point of view, we may call someone good, but as Jesus said, why would we call him or her good? There is only one that is good, and that is God. We know from our experience that there is such a thing as good and bad. We just need to know the limits of our judgements about it. The only true and complete good is the divine.
Good and Evil also play into the great controversy of absolute versus relative. Today this is often linked to what today is called post-modernism which says "everything is relative and arbitrary." I dissent from this view. Good is absolute, and so are Beauty and Truth, just as Plato said. They describe the divine. They are principles of the One. It is our perception of them which is relative. It is their manifestation in temporal form which is limited, for no one object can be separated from the whole and singled out as "Good" or "Beautiful." The same thing may be good or bad depending on the context, or how we look at it. But we do experience a difference between good and bad, or beautiful and ugly. So there is always the Absolute Good which is inherent in these partial or apparent goods. The Eternal is manifest in the Changing, the Many in the One. Unless there is a Good, our experience that something in particular is "good" has no meaning or reference. If everything is always the same, and there are no differences, the words Good and Evil, Beauty and Ugliness, Truth and Falsehood, refer to nothing at all. We deny our own experiences. In the manifest world, there are differences, and we do experience them. Some are better than others. Only in the Absolute aspect of Oneness is everything the same, meaning of the same substance or thatness. But this Absolute is always expressed through the Relative, and the two are interdependent. That the Good is absolute, and not relative, does not mean there is nothing good in the relative. So when someone says "this painting is beautiful," this is not just something in the eye of the beholder. It is a real experience. The beautiful is therefore in the object, as well as in the beholder. The beholder has a real experience of a beautiful object, and his/her experience is the truth, as far as (s)he knows. On the other hand, seeing a beautiful object, is not to see the whole of Beauty. So we see the object, each from our own point of view. Thus, differences of opinion. But partial views are not false; merely partial. We each see a part of the "elephant." We can thus be tolerant of differences of opinion, because we know that our own perceptions are limited. We can admit these limitations, without being reduced to saying that beauty is arbitrary. Otherwise, we devalue anyoneís experience of Beauty. Each of us may learn and grow in our appreciation of Beauty from new experiences. No one object or experience can be the standard for all beauty, and no authority can require us to accept any standard of beauty. Thus, to be open-minded is correct, even if good and beauty really exist. We don't have to be post-modernists in order to be open-minded and tolerant. We may be right, or we may be wrong. But our perception of a beautiful object, IS our perception of it, to the best of our ability. We know it through our sensitivity. Its beauty, or lack thereof, is not an illusion. Our experience is real, and so we put the label of "beautiful" on it to describe it. The description, however, is not the experience itself, which goes beyond our words and judgements, and can't be encompassed within them.
Thus also with good and evil objects. We may have differing apprehensions of what is good. No one statement in words can encompass the good. But what we DO know of the Good is correct. Good is not an arbitrary standard, merely the result of one societyís changing beliefs and customs. Killing is wrong, for example; and if another society in another time and place claims otherwise, it is incorrect. If this statement is inadequate, it is because of faulty or inadequate perceptions of the Good on our part, and not due to any lack of an Absolute Good, available to our potential perception and expression at any time and place. So also with Beauty, and with Truth. Just as God is everywhere, so the Good is everywhere, because God is the essence of Goodness and Perfection. Truth, is true everywhere, and is not determined by passing fashions or different localities. If something is true on Earth, it is true on Jupiter, or in Andromeda; in Heaven as well as on Earth. So also with Beauty. What changes and grows are our own realizations and expressions of these Eternal aspects of God. No one single object can fully express the Absolute; all are approximations. None can be divided from the One. So, the goodness of God is everywhere, and so is Its beauty and truth. But without the Absolute existing, neither does the relative or the single beautiful, good or true object exist. Reduction to lowest common denominator means destruction.
I think, in fact, that post-modern relativism is a cop out. It is an easy escape from the fact that we have a responsibility and a challenge: to create the true, good and beautiful in all aspects of our lives. To say they are arbitrary, absolves us of that challenge, and we can just accept "things as they are" without accepting that the way things are depends on what we perceive and do about them. We can create objects of great beauty, or we can create junk. We can do right, and we can do wrong. We can know the truth, or we can be mistaken. And we have the responsibility to seek and create beauty, goodness and truth to the best of our ability.
To find God, and all its beauties, we need to meditate. There is a demon within us, or perhaps demons. It is the parts of ourselves, not subject to the Whole. It is social and family authority. Or perhaps, we have become literally possessed by other spirits. In any case, we must reclaim our own Being. We need to recover our freedom, if we are to be free. It is said by Divine Science that all evil and error, all sin, is separation from God. This is true. Through meditation, we may become more aware. Then we see that there is no separation. We know our identity with all that is. We know our divinity.
If you try to seek your separate self, you find it has no location in space. It canít be pinned down anywhere. Thus, your separate self is not an object. But then, how can it be separate? Only objects are separate. Only objects have borders, within which the object is the object, and outside of which the object is not the object. Through awareness, we see that everything interpenetrates, in cyclic movements in and out. This is apparent even in the most obvious experiences we have. We cannot exist unless we breathe. When we do so, we are connected to the air around us, the same air everyone breathes and has breathed since the Earthís beginnings. We take in air from outside, and we exhale air from within us. Our skins divide us, but are porous too. We sweat; we absorb. We also must eat to live. We take in food and excrete its remains, which fertilize the soil, from which more food grows. Our very perception and consciousness, which is what we are, depends on objects to perceive. Without objects to be conscious of, we are not conscious. Conversely, without consciousness, noone has ever perceived an object. In this most basic way we are connected. When you seek yourself, you find that you are the environment. When you seek the environment, denying its relationship to yourself, you find that it depends on you.
Contrary to religious language of self-denial, the cause of sin is denial of yourself. Salvation from "sin" is reclaiming and recovering yourself. Sin is being sucked up, carried away or taken in by what is not really you. But God wants a real Self to unite to. Thus we must reclaim ourselves, and not be the puppet on the string of our demons. These demons control us through our appetites, our desires, our emotions, and most immediately and ruthlessly, through our thoughts.
There is no other power but the divine power. As Thomas Moore pointed out, fundamentally there is only the holy, and the demonic; and the demonic is a shadow of the holy. Sin and error have no power in themselves; they happen when the power goes out. So we need to turn the power back on and reclaim it. Our power is our awareness, our consciousness. It can be turned up higher, or lower. We need to turn up the light of consciousness; turn the dimmer switch up higher. We need to reclaim our true and authentic selves, which is power, and when it is authentic and truly ours, then it is automatically aligned with the divine power. There is no other power to fight against, or surrender to. There is nothing to give up, or give in to.
Matter is only a deficit, a lack of spirit. Spirit is the only power; matter has none in itself-- it is a lack of power. In the great adventure of life, we spiritual beings seek out the situations in the universe where there seems to be no power, just so we can turn it back on. We go to sleep so we can wake up again. We have darkness, so we can have the light more intensely, and know ot more deeply. So darkness and light go together; they are necessary to each other. Both are a part of the one whole; both are necessary to the fullness of life. Spirit to matter is a continuum, from heaven to manifestation. The currents emanate and flow continually between them. Matter is just a downshift, or step-down transformer of the Spirit. There is no separation or dualism. All is Spirit.
There is nothing wrong with thought. The place of reason in our lives is a whole topic in itself. There is nothing wrong with our appetites, or our emotions (even negative ones, in the right context). There is nothing wrong with desire. "The source of suffering is desire," the Buddha is supposed to have said. This is a mis-translation. What is wrong, is what is called attachment. So, Buddha was correct, but this is what he meant. Compulsion, unconscious habit, automatic reactions and indulgent cravings; this is what he meant. Thinking we have to get our desires fulfilled, is perhaps the biggest craving. Attachment is the part, taking over our whole being; dominating it and dictating our actions to us. It is being possessed, instead of self-possession. This is the source of suffering, and of evil. Our demons. The devil made us do it. So, we need to tell Satan, get thee behind me. This is the temptation of Christ, which we face every day. Do we succumb to our temptations, or do we take our lives in our own hands?
This is the work of meditation. We learn to focus on one thought. When our eye is single, our whole Being is filled with Light. I like to focus on the one thought, of focusing on one thought. I am focusing on focusing. Or, I might say: I am listening; I am aware. Any other thought, such as a chant repeated in my mind, or a thought about God, which I might use to focus with, is really two thoughts (the chant, and the intention to focus), and thus is less powerful. To train our mind to be free, we need to focus on one thought. If we wander from the one thought, then we are being led astray from our intention. To be free, we must be able to hold to our intention, not be taken in and controlled like puppets, reacting to thoughts, feelings or sensations.We need to be mindful, to know what we are thinking, feeling, sensing and intuiting.
Thus, the next step, is to say "I am here; I am not carried away." And then to know what that means. Our goal in meditating, is to be here, rather than be carried away by, or caught up in, our reactive compulsions; what Buddha called cravings. To possess ourselves again. To be present, to be mindful, to be awake. I don't see meditation as going off into some other realm. If we meditate correctly, we will be even more here and more aware of ourselves and the world than before we started. To meditate is to be "with it," not lost in meandering fantasies. It is not to be lost in discussions-- such as rehearsing what we are going to say in our next argument, or planning what to do for our next project, or even discussing metaphysical philosophy; or how well my meditation is going, or what Iím going to do after I meditate, etc.
In a larger sense, we are always here. There is nothing wrong with going somewhere else, even in fantasy- provided you are there as you go. But to "be here" means, to be truly present, conscious and possessed within ourselves; not carried off by our compulsions, which are not ourselves, and not really conscious. By knowing when we are carried away, we become aware of being here. Then we can stay here.
We don't have to be completely silent right away. We are on the right track if we are aware of our thoughts, so that they do not lead us into unconscious fantasy or daydreams. Our automatic self, our habitual self, is not our real self. It is not who we are. Possession or craving is being dominated by others, or by only a part of ourselves. It is all these others-- whom we are arguing with, proving ourselves to, answering to-- that we need to be free from. We need to tell them to just go away! Iím going to be myself now. I donít have to answer to you. I donít have to do anything.
How much meditation is enough, and how successful does it need to be? Opinions differ. To be truly meditating successfully, I don't think we can let our thoughts stray for even a second. But at first, it will happen. When it happens, I often start over until I have done at least 12 minutes. If I can promise myself to do just that much, though, I feel like I can make the time for meditation, rather than insisting and imposing on myself the requirement of 20 minutes, twice a day; although, if I can DO it for that much time, it would be better. But it is far better to get it done once a day, than to put it off because I feel I have to do it for 20 minutes, twice a day, and when it comes time to do it, it seems like too long to do.
Some people go into meditation by chanting, or by first saying words and thoughts of the divine. That works sometimes. But if these thoughts end up as daydreams or discussions; then we have been carried away. I also like to be a spiritual scientist, and not program what I am going to experience beforehand, so the truth will speak to me as it is. Sometimes thoughts of God are controversial, and I don't want to get caught up in arguments about God while meditating. God is indeed a controversial subject. You don't have to use the word; it is only a human word.
When we are just ourselves, as we are, then we are loving; because that is who we really are. We know who we are in our heart chakra. That is the center of our being. By focusing there we tap our ability to be authentic, and follow our heart's desire, not the desires of others forced on us. And our authentic self is also loving.
All these words are false. So is the last sentence. Words can be good guides, or pointers. But they are not the reality they point at. If I point my finger to the Moon, the Moon is not my finger. We know the truth in the silence beyond the words, including these words, or the words in any book or essay or speech or conversation. Meditation brings us into the silence where the truth can speak to us, and where the light can be brighter. In meditation we can reclaim our power; that is also the One power, the one Presence that IS. When we are present, we can be silent; when we are present, we are ourselves, not what possesses us. We are conscious.
The goal of the spiritual quest, quite simply, is to be free; liberation. The opposite of liberty, is slavery. That is the only problem. To speak in other terms, is a put down and a misdirection. And when we allow others to be free too, we are giving to others what we also seek for ourselves. That is our ethical duty; that is being democratic. We only force others to do what we want, when we are not free ourselves. Forcing others, is to be enslaved ourselves. It is only people who are enslaved to their own demons, who enslave or force things on others.
All our fears reduce to this compulsion; that I have to do something. I must survive. Have to and must is compulsion. It is not me. I am free consciousness. So also, any clutching, any grabbing, any holding on, any pretension, any use of force, any so-called control which is forced (and not true control or will) is this same compulsion. Dissolve this, and you dissolve all of our problems. This is my working assumption. And that, by meditating more, I can learn to be here more often, even while Iím not meditating. That is not easy. It takes practice. This is essential Buddhism.
We don't need to change any of our beliefs or ideas, or stifle any of our desires, in order to be free from fear. Fear is a compulsion; it is a demon possessing us. We can just turn off the fear. Fear is an instinct left over from our time in the wilderness, back when we were animals fighting for survival. It is a panic button given to us by evolution. Fear is not necessary, if it has performed its function to awaken us to danger. After that, or if we are awake anyway because our consciousness is high enough, we don't need fear. It may be hard, or we may not be used to this. But we can learn to turn off the panic button more often. We can be careful; we can be concerned and compassionate. But we don't have to be dominated by the fear demon. We can be ourselves again.
When freed in greater measure from compulsion, we can go ahead and have thoughts. The problem about thinking is, not being there while you're thinking; not the thinking itself. This is normally difficult though. We usually get caught up in our thoughts easily, and they run away with us. It is important to be able to switch thinking off entirely; otherwise you donít have the freedom to think, or not to think. We are not thinking correctly, if we are thinking unconsciously and compulsively. There's not much use to having thoughts, if we are not there to perceive them.
As the Zen Buddhists said, donít wobble. Thinking per se is not the problem; it is the wobble that is the problem. The wobble is being carried away by thinking and feeling, instead of coming back to oneself and being here. Thus, being afraid, anxious, reactive, escapist, dishonest, indolent, clutching, are all just different words for the same thing: slavery; lack of freedom. Attachment, is what the Hindus called it. Freedom, vs. compulsion. Not being here. Being out to lunch. Use whatever phrase works for you.
I don't have to believe, or not believe, in anything, in order to free myself of compulsions. All that is extraneous. I don't have to believe that I am an Individual. I don't have to believe that I am NOT an individual. I don't have to believe or disbelieve anything. I don't have to believe in God, or disbelieve in my problems. I don't have to dissolve my individual identity. Here I disagree with many Zen Buddhists and other mystics. Whether the I exists or not, is irrelevant. If it doesn't exist, there is nothing to hang onto. If it does exist, there is no need to hang on to it. The point is, the hanging on. This is the only thing that creates separation from God, or the illusion of separate identity, as it's called. If I am being myself, I don't have to hang on to myself. I'm just here. The clutching, the anxiety, the compulsion; these are legs on a snake. They are not necessary to my success. It may be understandable; that I fall into their domination. It may be understandable that I feel the need to hang on and cling to life. I may have compassion for myself and others who fall under the spell of compulsions. But I don't have to fall under their spell. I don't have to survive, I don't have to have my desires fulfilled; I don't have to live forever. I'm just here; that's enough. I don't have to believe that I am something. I don't have to believe that I am nothing either. This makes it easier, perhaps, to let go. I don't have to "surrender" or give up anything. There is nothing to surrender. Nothing disappears, when I let go of it. There is noone to surrender it to either. I just need to let go. Any philosophy on top of that, however illuminating in other contexts, is superfluous, and not necessary to this task. This is the critical part of our unfolding: to be with ourselves-- the silent observer. Just, let go, and Be here.
That is a bit more than "just being," as some critics call it. It is not complacency, or laziness, or just gooding off. It is taking the responsibility to pay attention. At first, it takes will. I need to deliberately decide, knowingly, to be here, to listen. That means using my Human will; which is not something to be disparaged, or gotten rid of. It is my capacity, just like any other capacity I have. It is my gift from the divine. With practice, I learn not to force my will. I let go and I will all at once. I receive, as well as will. As my will becomes effortless, with practice, it becomes the divine will. There is no other separate will than this. My will is aligned with Thy Will. See my ethical issues paper.
I don't relate too well to the phrase, "thy will, not my will, be done." God does not do anything to impose on, violate, or contradict our own will. The universal Spirit does not restrict our freedom or our power. It MAY contradict our fears, our anger, our indulgence, our impulsive reactions, etc.; but these are not our will, and they are not an exercize of our own powers. The Divine will IS my will; there is no separation. Since there is only one power, my power does not need to be set aside to access the divine power. On the contrary, it is quite necessary.
Spiritual philosophy advises against the use of divine or magical power to manipulate or impose our will on others. We learn to respect their freedom and dignity. We do not go "beyond freedom and dignity," as B.F. Skinner recommended. We disagree with him in every respect. We learn to observe the golden rule, the basic ethical principle upheld by all religions and mystical practices. We learn to put ourselves in the other's shoes in our dealings with all other beings. We remember that all relationships are between I and Thou, not I and it. Every Being is an expression of the divine Spirit.
At the same time, I am not in favor of imposing things on myself. This is a repricrocal form of the golden rule: don't do anything to yourself that you would not have others do to you. Saying to myself that I must, should, have to do thus and so, is not ethical, and not helpful. It adds stress and creates forced attitudes in ourselves. These are just another form of reaction. In this case, it is internalizing the demands of others within your own mind. We do not need to accept others' demands, or let them force us to do what they demand; either in reality, or in our thoughts. On the contrary, the goal is to be free-- both from others, and from the internalized others in our own minds. This also means that I am not too much in favor of "fake it to you make it." That is imposing something on myself; trying to force things. I would rather learn to be genuine, honest and free, and learn to let the spirit and high principles guide me to the best way to act. When others dominate and force things on us, it is because they themselves are not free. This is true in every case. Those who dominate others, do not themselves yet have power over their own fears and reactive compulsions. They are not free. Our best behavior towards them is not to accept their domination, yet at the same time to be mindful that "they know not what they do." Spiritual teachers have advised us to forgive them, on that basis. At least we can recognize this fact about such people, those who dominate or otherwise betray or abuse us. This is not always easy for me.
We are not our thoughts, or our desires, emotions or sensations. We need not be dominated by them. Knowing this, and not being carried away by them, we can have all of these without undue concern. We are the Whole; we are Individual Selves, expressing the One Self. Often, acting from the Whole is called acting from the Heart. Our Heart Center (or chakra), by being aware of it, can help us act from our Whole Self, without denying any parts of ourselves, including our thoughts. When functioning freely, our thoughts give us truth. When we have greater presence, our thoughts have more power, and we have more power to think the thoughts we want. Thus, and only thus, is "positive thinking" or mental visualization possible.
The power of thought can help us, though I donít believe it is all powerful. There is much to say about the doctrine that human beings can create their lives with their thoughts. Some people exaggerate and say everything in our lives is our creation. Really? So I created the sun and the moon and the stars? I, E. Alan Meece did that? Did I create all the wars and suffering in the world, or all the great works of art and science? That's taking too much credit, and too much blame. No, I as an individual do not create everything in my life. Where do you draw the line between what's "in my life" and what's not? There IS no line. No, only God can be said to create everything, if we want to put it that way. Only in so far as I am God, do I create everything. But that applies to everyone. It is better to say that we all help to create everything together. We co-create everything, with everyone else.
In that sense then, yes I agree. Ultimately, everything comes out of consciousness; yours, mine and God's. We are all part of this process, because each of us is connected to it all, and it's all inside of us. Only when I recognize everyone else's contribution, as well as mine, can I feel connected to everyone.
But the people that I consider to be "in my life" are not there solely because I "attracted" them. This is an exaggeration, and I think an abuse, of the so-called "law of attraction," and its main effect is to either bloat our egos or make us feel bad. People come and go in the world as their mind, heart and divine guidance direct them, not because I direct them. If I radiate the divine spirit in a very positive and joyful way, I may attract this in other people. Or I may attract angry or depressing people because of my own inner state. So I have some influence on who comes into my life. But it is by no means an exclusive influence. For example, the others who also belong to a group I belong to, or who are in some other relationship with me, are not there solely because I attracted them; nor are they a complete reflection of me. Usually they are quite different from me in most ways. We may share a common interest. They may have decided to enter the same place that I decided to enter, for their own reasons, and so we meet. Or the other person may have "attracted" me! Or the divine will and purpose may have set up our meeting, so that we each may learn something, contribute something to the other, or to better fulfill a higher purpose together. It is not just because of my good or bad personality, or my attractive or unattractive vibrations, or my own lessons I need to learn, etc.
Some teachers say that the way to create is to vizualize, or make an affirmation; then release it, understanding that what we want to create and prayed about is "already done" and completed. I can't quite go with them that far, because it seems better to admit that I don't know how things will come out, or whether they will go as I wish. I pointed this out above in connection with the problem of evil. If we already know it's already done, and how things will turn out, then there's no game, no adventure, no surprise. I wonder if you are really "letting go" and releasing your vision, if you assume its result is already done. Are you fully un-attached, then, and accepting that it might not turn out as you wish? Perhaps, I think, such a prayer or affirmation or vision might "work" if my thoughts are pure enough, free from fear and expection or demand. But I can't assume that about myself. I am not sufficiently capable at this sort of practice to be confident of the result. All I can do is my best, and be as unattached and unafraid of failure as I can be at the moment, and accept that the results are uncertain. That is the way life is, after all. We are evolving and growing, not complete, and life is not already done. It is not certain how it will turn out, so why assume so?
Visualizations work best for me, the less I force them, or think that I alone can do them and expect success. It is better to let God do it. If I have a vision, then I know it is true if it comes from God. I can ask and pray for the vision, and then be open to receive what comes. If the vision comes from my mind, then I don't know if it is true, or just something I am making up. I may be trying to use my mind power to dominate conditions or people. But if it comes from God's mind, then I know that it is true, in the mind of God-- invisible and unmanifest as yet; uncertain in this world; but already true in the sense that it is a vision of what can be true potentially, and is meant to be true if I can fully receive it. It already exists in the mind of God, the higher Self. That is what "already done" or "pray as if you have received it" means. It is what God wants for me; what my Higher Self knows is right for me. I know it won't just be what I want, regardless of what others want. If it comes from God, it will also be good for everyone; for the whole. It won't be good for me, at the expense of others.
The key is to be open, and then to ask and seek for the vision. Look for it, and receive it. That is my working hypothesis, and it needs lots of practice and meditation as yet. In order to have this openness, I need to dissolve the fears and the compulsive reactions; the attachments, and so on. The alchemical slogan applies to this kind of work. Dissolve, and then create. Solve et coagula. Clear your mind; then look to the divine. Dissolve what is false first, the compulsive reactions, as much as I can, and then I am ready and pure enough to receive the idea from the mind of infinite Spirit; the highest that I can be. And it applies to what you or I see for others as well, when we pray for them. This is alchemical or transformative prayer.