The Perils and Opportunities of Reality
By Anthony De Mello © 1990
Quotes and excerpts from the book interspersed with comments by Dan Kral
Note: This book was put together by J. Francis Stroud, S.J. from a spirituality conference by Anthony De Mello, S.J. The book was published after the death of Anthony De Mello.
Quotes from the book
A good is never so good as when you have no awareness that you’re doing good.
Life is a banquet; and the tragedy is that most people are starving to death.
The most difficult thing in the world is to listen, to see. We don’t want to see.
The chances that you will wake up are in direct proportion to the amount of TRUTH you can take without running away.
You cannot fear something that you do not know. Nobody is afraid of the unknown. What you really fear is the loss of the known. That’s what you fear.
If you see through yourself, you will see through everyone.
My illusions are constantly crashing against reality.
When you’re ready to exchange your dreams for the facts, that’s the way you will find it all. That’s where life finally becomes meaningful. Life becomes beautiful.
What you judge, you cannot understand.
When there’s something within you that moves in the right direction, it creates its own discipline.
I’m an ass, you’re an ass.
You’re not okay and you’re not not okay; you’re you.
Loneliness is not cured by human company. Loneliness is cured by contact with reality.
You only change what you understand. What you do not understand and are not aware of you repress. You don’t change. But when you understand it changes.
The person who is truly non-violent, who is incapable of violence, is the person who is fearless.
What you are aware of you are in control of; what you are not aware of is in control of you.
You are always a slave to what you’re not aware of.
You’re a success in life when you wake up.
Negative feelings are in you – not in reality.
Reality is not problematic. Problems exist only in the human mind.
Page 5 – On Waking Up
Spirituality means waking up. Most people, even though they don’t know it, are asleep. They’re born asleep, they live asleep, they marry in their sleep, they breed children in their sleep, and they die in their sleep without ever waking up. They never understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing we call human existence.
Even the best psychologist will tell you that people don’t really want to be cured. What they want is relief; a cure is painful.
Page 10 – On Wanting Happiness
I challenge anyone to think of anything more practical than spirituality as I have defined it – not piety, not devotion, not religion, not worship, but spirituality – waking up, waking up! Look at the heartache everywhere, look at the loneliness, look at the fear, the confusion, the conflict in the hearts of people, inner conflict, outer conflict. Suppose somebody gave you a way of getting rid of all of that? Suppose somebody gave you a way to stop that tremendous drainage of energy, of health, of emotion that comes from these conflicts and confusion. Would you want that? Suppose somebody showed us a way whereby we would truly love one another, and be at peace, be at love. Can you think of anything more practical than that? But, instead, you have people thinking that big business is more practical, that politics is more practical, that science is more practical. What’s the earthly use of putting a man on the moon when we cannot live on the earth?
Page 12 – Are We Talking About Psychology in This Spirituality Course?
It’s only when you’re sick of your sickness that you’ll get out of it. Most people go to a psychiatrist or a psychologist to get relief. I repeat: to get relief. Not to get out of it.
That’s what the mystic is, the opposite of the lunatic. Do you know one sign that you’ve woken up? It’s when you are asking yourself, “Am I crazy, or are all of them crazy?” It really is. Because we are crazy; the whole world is crazy, certifiable lunatics. The only reason we’re not locked up in an institution is that there are so many of us.
You’re putting on a great act, and you don’t even know it. You think you’re being so loving… Ha! Whom are you loving? Even your self-sacrifice gives you a good feeling, doesn’t it? “I’m sacrificing myself! I’m living up to my ideal.” But you’re getting something out it, aren’t you? You’re always getting something out of everything you do, until you wake up.
Neither is Renunciation the Solution
Anytime you renounce something, you are tied forever to the thing you renounce.
Very well, when you renounce something, you’re stuck to it forever. When you fight something, you’re tied to it forever. As long as you’re fighting it you’re giving it power. You give it as much power as you are using to fight it.
This includes communism and everything else. So you must “receive” your demons, because when you fight them, you empower them. Has nobody ever told you this? When you renounce something, you’re tied to it. The only way to get out of this is to see through it. Don’t renounce it, see through it. Understand its true value and you won’t need to renounce it; it will just drop from your hands. But of course, if you don’t see that, if you’re hypnotized into thinking that you won’t be happy without this, that, or the other thing, you’re stuck. What we need to do for you is not what so-called spirituality attempts to do – namely, to get you to make sacrifices, to renounce things. That’s useless. You’re still asleep. What we need to do is help you understand, understand, understand. If you understood, you’d simply drop the desire for it. This is another way of saying: If you woke up, you’d simply drop the desire for it.
Awareness, awareness, awareness. We must be aware if we are going to live.
Listen and Unlearn
Believe me, it really doesn’t matter whether you agree with what I’m saying or you don’t, because agreement and disagreement have to do with words and concepts and theories. They don’t have anything to do with TRUTH. TRUTH is never expressed in words. TRUTH is sighted suddenly, as a result of a certain attitude. So you could be disagreeing with me and still sight the TRUTH. But there has to be an attitude of openness, of willingness to discover something new.
Upper case TRUTH is my way of designating real TRUTH. When I use lower case “truth” I am referring to what we believe to be true that is not really true. Thus, I have inserted the upper case TRUTH into the above paragraph.
All I can do for you is to help you unlearn. That’s what learning is all about where spirituality is concerned: unlearning, unlearning almost everything you’ve been taught. A willingness to unlearn, to listen.
Are you listening, as most people do, in order to confirm what you already think?
Why do you think Jesus told us that we have to be like children to receive the Kingdom of God? It is at least partly because we have to unlearn so much that we have taken on in order to meet God. If we try to receive the Kingdom of God without dropping all of what we have “learned” we end up with a shadow of reality, and not even a very good shadow at that. It is when we start to unlearn who we think we are that we start to understand who we really are, who God created us to be, and then we can start to get a glimpse of the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth.
Jesus proclaimed the good news yet he was rejected. Not because it was good, but because it was new. We hate the new. We hate it! And the sooner we face up to that fact, the better.
We resist change (the new). We want to stay status quo – we want to continue in our asleep and painful life – because it is our sleep and our pain and we have become friends with them.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is faith! An openness to the TRUTH, no matter what the consequences, no matter where it leads you and when you don’t even know where it’s going to lead you. That’s faith. Not belief, but faith. Your beliefs give you a lot of security, but faith is insecurity.
In the midst of trials and sufferings do we have an openness to continue our belief that God is good? That ultimately He is the lover of our soul? That when we walk with Him it is a walk of faith – that is – an openness to the TRUTH He is showing us.
When you do that, you’re listening. You’ve taken another major step toward awakening. The first step, as I said, was a readiness to admit that you don’t want to wake up, that you don’t want to be happy. There are all kinds of resistances to that within you. The second step is a readiness to understand, to listen, to challenge your whole belief system. Not just your religious beliefs, your political beliefs, your social beliefs, your psychological beliefs, but all of them. A readiness to reappraise them all, in the Buddha’s metaphor. And I’ll give you plenty of opportunity to do that here.
The Masquerade of Charity
You are never so good as when you have no consciousness that you’re good.
You can have a man go on a thirty-day retreat and come out of there all aflame with the love of Christ, yet without the slightest bit of self-awareness. None. He could be a big pain.
When we are rife with unawareness (i.e. blind spots) we don’t even know what we are doing or how we are acting. We can think that we are being “Christian” and be something altogether different – and we don’t even know.
I’m not saying there’s no such thing as pure motivation. I’m saying that ordinarily everything we do is in our self-interest; everything.
Page 26 – What’s on Your Mind?
Life is a banquet. And the tragedy is that most people are starving to death.
In the same way, we’re surrounded with joy, with happiness, with love. Most people have no idea of this whatsoever. The reason: they’re brainwashed. The reason: They’re hypnotized; they’re asleep. Imagine a stage magician who hypnotizes someone so that the person sees what is not there and does not see what is there. That’s what it’s all about. Repent and accept the good news. Repent! Wake up! Don’t weep for your sins. Why weep for sins that you committed when you were asleep? Are you going to cry because of what you did in your hypnotized state? Why do you want to identify with a person like this?
Open the eyes of my heart Lord – I want to see your creation, your beauty, your loveliness – I want to see you. And when I see you, I will follow. Satan does his best to try to divert out attention away from your presence, and he does a better job than we would probably like to admit. That is why my heart cry is to “open the eyes of my heart Lord.”
Wake up! Wake up! Repent! Put on a new mind. Take on a new way of looking at things! For “the kingdom is here!” It’s the rare Christian who takes that seriously. I said to you that the first thing you need to do is wake up. You’d much rather have all of the things which you were hypnotized into believing are so precious to you, so important to you, so important for your life and your survival. Second, understand. Understand that maybe you’ve got the wrong ideas and it is these ideas that are influencing your life and making it the mess that it is and keeping you asleep. Ideas about love, ideas about freedom, ideas about happiness, and so forth. And it isn’t easy to listen to someone who would challenge those ideas of yours which have come to be precious to you.
Lord, I give you permission (as though you need it) to put people in my life that challenge me, that challenge my ideas. My goal is to grow in you. How that happens is not for me to direct or orchestrate – my part is to recognize what is going on and to embrace what you are trying to teach me…
1. Wake up
It’s not easy to listen, especially when you get emotional about an idea. And even when you don’t get emotional about it, it’s not easy to listen; your always listening from your programming, from your conditioning, from your hypnotic state.
We listen through who we believe ourselves to be not through who we really are. We always listen through filters (we also see through filters). If you can detach… then you can listen, really listen. Detachment is not about not caring, detachment is about not letting who you think you are control a situation.
We all have our positions, don’t we? And we listen from those positions.
The most difficult thing in the world is to listen, to see. We don’t want to see.
We listen and see through our own filters, through who we believe that we are (after listening to lies). Why is it so hard to listen to the TRUTH? It is because we have listened to lies for so long, it is hard for us to discern the TRUTH.
We don’t want to look, because if we do, we may change. We don’t want to look. If you look, you lose control of the life you are so precariously holding together. And so in order to wake up, the one thing you need the most is not energy, or strength, or youthfulness, or even great intelligence. The one thing you need most of all is the readiness to learn something new. The chances that you will wake up are in direct proportion to the amount of TRUTH you can take without running away.
WOW – Lord, help me to embrace TRUTH; as hard as it is, help me to stand and not run. Lord, I want to grow, I want to be aware, I want to walk with you.
How much are you ready to take? How much of everything you’ve held dear are you ready to have shattered, without running away?
The first reaction is one of fear. It’s not that we fear the unknown. You cannot fear something that you do not know. Nobody is afraid of the unknown. What you really fear is the loss of the known. That’s what you fear.
We stay asleep in our lives because we are comfortable with our sleep. If we change, we are going to have to leave our comfort zone. Included in our “comfort zone” is pain, but it is familiar pain. We know how to deal with it. We know how to feel sorry for ourselves, we know how to see the world through our own set of tinted glasses. I have always thought that fear of the unknown was huge in keeping people in their place, not wanting to change. This is a new concept that is TRUE. You cannot fear something you do not know. You fear leaving the “comfort” of what you do know.
Page 30 – Good, Bad, or Lucky
“The lovely thing about Jesus was that he was so at home with sinners, because he understood that he wasn’t one bit better than they were.” We differ from others – from criminals, for example – only in what we do or don’t do, not in what we are. The only difference between Jesus and those others was that he was awake and they weren’t.
The Pharisee wasn’t an evil man, he was a stupid man. He was stupid, not evil. He didn’t stop to think. Someone once said, “I dare not stop to think, because if I did, I wouldn’t know how to get started again.”
The Pharisee’s were asleep. When Jesus appeared in their lives, they were seeing through the filters of who they thought they were. They were not open to the TRUTH, but only to the truth as they defined it. They were afraid that they might have to leave their lives as they knew them – and they were comfortable. Who is this man that is stirring the people up, influencing the people with new ideas? Whoever he is, he is bringing change and we don’t like change. We want to embrace the status quo; we always want to embrace the status quo.
Our Illusions About Others
Did you expect any better? Expect the worst, you’re dealing with selfish people. You’re the idiot – you glorified her, didn’t you? You thought she was a princess, you thought people were nice. They’re not! They’re not nice. They’re as bad as you are – bad, you understand?
Want to wake up? You want happiness? You want freedom? Here it is: Drop your false ideas. See through people. If you see through yourself, you will see through everyone. Then you will love them. Otherwise you spend the whole time grappling with your wrong notions about them, with your illusions that are constantly crashing against reality.
If you had been in touch with reality all along, you would never have been disappointed. But you chose to paint people in glowing colors; you chose not to see through human beings because you chose not to see through yourself. So you’re paying the price now.
Lord, help me to see myself for who I really am. Help me to see through my filters – to become aware of them and to identify them. My heart’s desire is to have your communicable attributes in my life… Compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness, abounding in TRUTH, covenant faithfulness, and forgiveness. When I can see through myself I get a glimpse of compassion – your compassion for people – I start to see how wretched their existence is. It is not unlike Jeff Rubinstein’s assessment of Bob Wells… When people say they don’t like Bob – Jeff says – think of Bob – he has to live with himself all the time. It is so true – the people we don’t like that we are offended by have to live with themselves all the time. What misery. Lord, spare me from this misery.
Whey you’re ready to exchange your illusions for reality, when you’re ready to exchange your dreams for facts, that’s the way you find it all. That’s where life finally becomes meaningful. Life becomes beautiful.
I don’t know how much I can take, but I want reality. I want every day to be a new and glorious day. I can’t afford to have days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months and months turn into years without living. I am not content to live in the shadow lands. I desire reality.
That’s what enlightenment is like. When someone tells you, “There is nothing you can do about it,” you say, “There is, I can wake up!” All of a sudden, life is no longer the nightmare that it has seemed. Wake up!
Wake me up Lord. You are present in all that I do – I just don’t see it because I am asleep. Wake me up Lord.
Somebody came up to me with a question. What do you think the question was? He asked me, “Are you enlightened?” What do you think my answer was? What does it matter!
You want a better answer? My answer would be: “How would I know? How would you know? What does it matter?” You know something? If you want anything too badly, you’re in big trouble.
We need to hold all things lightly. We need to check and recheck our motives. We need to check to see how we are holding outcomes. Let go, let go, let go.
You want to hope for something better than what you have right now, don’t you? Otherwise you wouldn’t be hoping. But then, you forget that you have it all right now anyway, and you don’t know it. Why not concentrate on the now instead of hoping for better times in the future? Why not understand the now instead of forgetting it and hoping for the future? Isn’t the future just another trap?
Life is about the present moment. If we can put the past behind us (it really doesn’t matter what happened yesterday) and we can drop our focus on the future (there’s not much I can do about tomorrow) then we have the opportunity to live life in the present. It is about waking up each morning with the very real possibility, not just saying this, but having the possibility be a part of who I am, of having a great day, of seeing God permeated in me and in my day. If I have that opportunity in my heart the opportunity for a great day to happen just went up exponentially.
Page 35-37 – Self Observation
The only way someone can be of help to you is in challenging your ideas. If you’re ready to listen and if you’re ready to be challenged, there’s one more thing that you can do, but no one can help you. What is this most important thing of all? It’s called self-observation. No one can help you there. No one can give you a method. No one can show you a technique. The moment you pick up a technique, you’re programmed again. But self-observation – watching yourself – is important. It is not the same as self-absorption. Self-absorption is self-preoccupation, where you’re concerned about yourself, worried about yourself. I’m talking about self-observation. What’s that? It means to watch everything in you and around you as far as possible and watch it as if it were happening to someone else. What does that last sentence mean? It means that you do not personalize what is happening to you. It means that you look at things as if you have no connection with them whatsoever.
The reason you suffer from your depression and your anxieties is that you identify with them. You say, “I’m depressed.” But that is false. You are not depressed. If you want to accurate, you might say, “I am experiencing a depression right now.” But you can hardly say, “I am depressed.” You are not your depression. That is but a strange kind of trick of the mind, a strange kind of illusion. You have deluded yourself into thinking – though you are not aware of it – that you are your depression, that you are your anxiety, that you are your joy or the thrills that you have. “I am delighted!” You certainly are not delighted. Delight may be in you right now, but wait around, it will change; it won’t last: it never lasts; it keeps changing: it’s always changing. Clouds come and go: some of them are black and some white, some of them are large, others small. If we want to follow the analogy, you would be the sky, observing the clouds. You are a passive, detached observer. That’s shocking, particularly to someone in the Western culture. You’re not interfering. Don’t interfere. Don’t “fix” anything. Watch! Observe!
The trouble with people is that they’re busy fixing things they don’t even understand. We’re always fixing things, aren’t we? It never strikes us that things don’t need to be fixed. They really don’t. This is a great illumination. They need to be understood. If you understood them, they’d change.
Who I am is much deeper than what I feel. Our search needs to be for who I am (the upper left corner of the rectangle diagram).
Page 37 – Awareness Without Evaluating Everything
Do you want to change the world? How about beginning with yourself? How about being transformed yourself first? But how do you achieve that? Through observation. Through understanding. With no interference or judgment on your part. Because what you judge you cannot understand.
We have so much baggage, so much stuff that we have taken in that influences our senses. We need to learn how to drop the baggage and walk free. Lord, help me observe. Help me see where I am interfering with who you created me to be.
No judgment, no commentary, no attitude: one simply observes, one studies, one watches, without the desire to change what is. Because if you desire to change what is into what you think should be, you no longer understand.
Sometimes I use the phrase “I don’t care” but that is a hard phrase to use because it means different things to different people. People can read into that you don’t care about what you are doing or you don’t care about them, but that is not the case at all. When you can observe an outcome and not be tied to that outcome – you are verging on freedom. It is not that I am not intentional – I have focus on what I am doing and what I am trying to accomplish. But if I can free myself from the outcome – what happens – then I am free to put my whole heart into the process and the results will be better than I ever expected because it really doesn’t matter what the results are. When you are able to hold outcomes that lightly, you are catching a glimpse of the kind of freedom that Jesus came to give us. When it doesn’t matter what the outcome is and it doesn’t matter what others think of you because of the outcome – you are making progress on your journey.
A scientist observes the behavior of ants with no further end in view than to study ants, to learn as much as possible about them. He has no other aim. He’s not attempting to train them or get anything out of them. He’s interested in ants, he wants to learn as much as possible about them. That’s his attitude. The day you attain a posture like that, you will experience a miracle. You will change – effortlessly, correctly. Change will happen, you will not have to bring it about. As the life of awareness settles on your darkness, whatever is evil will disappear. Whatever is good will be fostered. You will have to experience that for yourself.
But this calls for a disciplined mind. And when I say disciplined, I’m not talking about effort. I’m talking about something else.
When there’s something within you that moves in the right direction, it creates its own discipline. The moment you get bitten by the bug of awareness, Oh, it’s so delightful! It’s the most delightful thing in the world; the most important, the most delightful. There’s nothing so important in the world as awakening. Nothing! And, of course, discipline has its own way.
There’s nothing so delightful as being aware.
I have been growing in my awareness of how important awareness is in my life (and in all of our lives). Make me aware Lord.
I’m going to write a book someday and the title will be I’m an Ass, You’re an Ass. That’s the most liberating, wonderful thing in the world, when you openly admit you’re an ass. It’s wonderful. When people tell me, “You’re wrong.” I say, “What can you expect of an ass?”
Disarmed, everybody has to be disarmed.
How many people do you know who are unaffected by praise or blame?
Being unaffected by praise or blame is all about detachment. Being unaffected by praise or blame is what freedom is all about. It is getting at the heart of the “I don’t care” attitude.
If you find me charming, it means that right now you’re in a good mood, nothing more.
Let me tell you something: If you ever let yourself feel good when people tell you that you’re O.K. you are preparing yourself to feel bad when they tell you you’re not good.
You’re not O.K. and you’re not not O.K., you’re you.
Cut out all the O.K. stuff and the not-O.K. stuff; cut out all the judgments and simply observe, watch. You’ll make great discoveries. These discoveries will change you. You won’t have to make the slightest effort, believe me.
This is about awareness that will uncover blind spots that will allow you to change. Become aware of who you are and the rest is easy.
Psychology and spirituality (as we generally understand it) transfer the bomb from your lap to under your seat. They don’t really solve your problems. They exchange your problems for other problems. Has that ever struck you? You had a problem, now you exchange it for another one. It’s always going to be that way until we solve the problem called “you.”
This is the upper left (who we really are) versus upper right corners of the rectangle. The biggest battle we will ever face in our lives is the battle within ourselves; the battle to determine who we believe we are, and Satan is winning most of the time – because we believe lies.
The Illusion of Rewards
The greatest mystics and masters in the East will say, “Who are you?”
One sign that you’re awakened is that you don’t give a damn about what’s going to happen in the next life. You’re not bothered about it; you don’t care. You are not interested, period.
Tell somebody who cares… When you are totally detached you come to a place where it could happen and when it happens is when it will happen but until then there is a life to live and I am going to live it.
Yet the mystics tell us that eternity is right now. How’s that for good news? It is right now. People are so distressed when I tell them to forget their past. They are so proud of their past. Or they are so ashamed of their past. They’re crazy! Just drop it! When you hear, “Repent for your past,” realize it’s a great religious distraction from waking up. Wake up! That’s what repent means. Not “weep for your sins.” Wake up! Understand, stop all the crying. Understand! Wake up!
The great masters tell us that the most important question in the world is: “Who am I?” Or rather” “What is this thing I call self?” You mean you understand everything else in the world and you didn’t understand this? You mean you understand astronomy and black holes and quasars and you picked up computer science, and you don’t know who you are?
It is the battle of the ages – who am I – what is my destiny? We avoid dealing with this because it is too painful to deal with.
You mean you understand who Jesus Christ is and you don’t know who you are? How do you know that you have understood Jesus Christ? Who is the person doing the understanding? Find that out first. That’s the foundation of everything, isn’t it? It’s because we haven’t understood this that we’ve got all these stupid religious people involved in all these stupid religious wars – Muslims fighting against Jews, Protestants fighting Catholics, and all the rest of that rubbish. They don’t know who they are, because if they did, there wouldn’t be wars.
What I’d like to stress right now is self-observation.
You think you are free, but there probably isn’t a gesture, a thought, an emotion, an attitude, a belief in you that isn’t coming from someone else. Isn’t that horrible? And you don’t know it.
It’s going to take a lot of awareness for you to understand that perhaps this thing you call “I” is simply a conglomeration of your past experiences, of your conditioning and programming.
That’s painful. In fact, when you’re beginning to awaken, you experience a great deal of pain. It’s painful to see your illusions being shattered. Everything that you thought you had built up crumbles and that’s painful. That’s what repentance is all about; that’s what waking up is all about.
Dealing with yourself honestly is one of the hardest things you will do. There is pain there that we don’t want to expose, yet expose it we must. Who have I become – who have I allowed to influence the person that I define myself to be? Where have I let others define me? Am I what they say I am or am I who God says I am. Where is the TRUTH?
Be aware of your presence in this room. Say to yourself, “I’m in this room.” It’s as if you were outside yourself looking at yourself.
Stripping Down to the “I”
But notice, you’ve got “I” observing “me.” This is an interesting phenomenon that has never ceased to cause wonder to philosophers, mystics, scientists, and psychologists; that the “I” can observe “me.”
Things, thoughts, thinker. What we’re really searching for is the thinker. Can the thinker know himself? Can I know what “I” is? Some of these mystics reply, “Can the knife cut itself? Can the tooth bite itself? Can the eye see itself? Can the “I” know itself?”
We use the same name for ever changing reality.
Could we say that “I” is none of the labels we attach to it? Labels belong to “me.” What constantly changes is “me.” Does “I” ever change? Does the observer ever change?
This could be the difference between our role (what we do at various times) and our identity (who we are). My sense is that it is much deeper than that, but the difference between our roles and our identity is just a scratch on the surface of the answer. If “I” never changes then “I” has to be what is left of our true self; the one that was there before the foundation of the world, the one that was there when the Lord knew us before our conception. The “I” is who God created us to be and it is always the same. What changes is how we move around that constant in our lives. We can move from total ignorance, to catching a glimpse, to understanding there is something there, to walking on a journey to discover what is there.
When “I” does not identify with money, or name, or nationality, or persons, or friends, or any quality, the “I” is never threatened. It can be very active, but it isn’t threatened.
The “I” operates without fear because who we are is from God and he has given us a destiny which is ours and ours alone to fulfill.
All suffering is caused by my identifying myself with something, whether that something is within me or outside of me.
Negative Feelings Towards Others.
Anytime you have a negative feeling toward anyone, you’re living in an illusion. There’s something seriously wrong with you. You’re not seeing reality. Something inside of you has to change. But what do we generally do when we have a negative feeling? “He’s to blame, she is to blame. She’s got to change.” No! The world’s all right. The one who has to change is you.
But the “I” is never threatened’ it’s only the “me” that is threatened.
Living in the “I” is living in your God-definition. Living in the “I” is living in God-confidence.
I said that if you didn’t have negative feelings you’d be much more effective, much more effective. Because when negative feelings come in, you go blind. “Me” steps into the picture, and everything gets fouled up. Where we had one problem on our hands before, now we have two problems. Many wrongly assume that not having negative feelings like anger and resentment and hate means that you do nothing about a situation. Oh no, oh no! You are not affected emotionally but you spring into action. You become very sensitive to things and people around you.
This is the paradox of “I don’t care.” Not caring, being detached, does not mean or even imply passivity. It is having 100% focus on what your goal is and 100% detachment from the outcome. Because we are detached from the outcome, we are also detached from the roadblocks along the path. This reminds me of the line from The Princess Bride where Wesley says to Count Rogan (the six fingered man), “We are men of action – lies do not become us.” Being aware enhances action – we become men of action when we are honest with ourselves and can see ourselves for who we really are.
It is very important that when you swing into action, you be able to see things with detachment. But negative emotions prevent that.
What, then, would we call the kind of passion that motivates or activates energy into doing something about objective evils? Whatever it is, it is not reaction; it is action.
That is a good way to restate the line from the Princess Bride – “We are not men of reaction – we are men of action.”
We never feel grief when we lose something that we have allowed to be free, that we have never attempted to possess. Grief is a sign that I made my happiness dependent on this thing or person, at least to some extent.
We all depend on one another for all kinds of things, don’t we? We depend on the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. Interdependence; that’s fine! We set up society this way and we allot different functions to different people for the welfare of everyone, so that we will function better and live more effectively – at least we hope so. But to depend on another psychologically – to depend on another emotionally – what does that imply? It means to depend on another human being for my happiness.
We need to be aware that our interdependence for societal or business purposes is different than our interdependence psychologically. We need to depend on others in certain areas in our lives. But for happiness, we do not need to depend on anyone, because if we do, we will be disappointed.
Where there is love there are no demands, no expectations, no dependency. I do not demand that you make me happy; my happiness does not lie in you. If you were to leave me, I will not feel sorry for myself. I enjoy your company immensely, but I do not cling.
I enjoy it on a non-clinging basis. What I really enjoy is not you; it’s something that’s greater than both you and me. It is something that I discovered, a kind of symphony, a kind of orchestra that plays one melody in your presence, but when you depart, the orchestra doesn’t stop. When I meet someone else, it plays another melody, which is also very delightful. And when I’m alone, it continues to play. There’s a great repertoire and it never ceases to play.
That’s what awakening is all about. That’s also why we’re hypnotized, brainwashed, asleep.
When you begin to read these things in the scriptures, you begin to wonder. Is this man crazy? [referring to Jesus] But after a while you begin to think everyone else is crazy. “Unless you hate your father and mother, brothers and sisters, unless you renounce and give up everything you possess, you cannot be my disciple.” You must drop it all. Not physical renunciation, you understand; that’s easy. When your illusions drop, you’re in touch with reality at last, and believe me, you will never again be lonely, never again. Loneliness is not cured by human company. Loneliness is cured by contact with reality. Oh, I have so much to say about that. Contact with reality, dropping one’s illusions, making contact with the real. Whatever it is, it has no name. We can only know it by dropping what is unreal.
When we live in the shadow lands, we can feel all alone. When we touch reality, our loneliness drops and we come closer to freedom; we are on a journey to become freedom.
Page 56 – How Happiness Happens
Come home to yourself. Observe yourself. That’s why I said earlier that self-observation is such a delightful and extraordinary thing. After a while you don’t have to make any effort, because, as illusions begin to crumble, you begin to know things that cannot be described. It’s called happiness. Everything changes and you become addicted to awareness.
That’s what it is to watch yourself. No one can show you how to do it, because he would be giving you a technique, he would be programming you.
There are no formulas. There is God. There is reality. There is only a journey.
When you got angry with somebody were you aware that you were angry or were you simply identifying with your anger? Later, when you had the time, did you study your experience and attempt to understand it? Where did it come from? What brought it on? I don’t know of any other way to awareness. You only change what you understand. What you do not understand and are not aware of, you repress. You don’t change. But when you understand it, it changes.
You can’t change anything you’re not aware of; I’m not sure you can change things even when you’re aware – but things do change when you’re aware.
If you’re lucky and the gods are gracious or if you are gifted with divine grace (use any theological expression you want), you might suddenly understand who “I” is, and you’ll never be the same again, never. Nothing will ever be able to touch you again and no one will ever be able to hurt you again.
You will fear no one and you will fear nothing. Isn’t that extraordinary?
The difference between “me” and “I” is the difference between living in the shadow lands and living in reality. Once you’ve tasted reality – how can you go back to the shadow lands?And the amazing thing is – reality is here now – The Kingdom of Heaven is within – reality is there if we just open our eyes – Open the eyes of my heart Lord – I want to see you.
You fear no one because you are perfectly content to be nobody.
When you can come to the place of “not caring” (tell someone who cares) in the way of detachment from all of the things that we think matter – but that don’t really matter.
But I’ll promise you this: I have not known a single person who gave time to being aware who didn’t see a difference in a matter of weeks. The quality of their life changes, so they don’t have to take it on faith anymore. They see it; they’re different. They react differently. In fact, they react less and act more. You see things you’ve never seen before.
Open the eyes of my heart Lord.
You’re much more energetic, much more alive. People think that if they had no cravings, they’d be like deadwood. But in fact they’d lose their tension. Get rid of your fear of failure, your tensions about succeeding, you will be yourself. Relaxed; you wouldn’t be driving with your brakes on. That’s what would happen.
When we are not content to be nobody, that is, when we try to be somebody we start down the path of getting messed up. If we can be content to be nobody – an amazing transformation takes place. When we are 100% focused on what we are doing and 100% detached from the results (okay to be a nobody) we are walking on the path of freedom.
Page 58/59 The story of the archer…
There’s a lovely saying of Tranxu, a great Chinese sage, that I took the trouble to learn by heart. It goes: “When the archer shoots for no particular prize, he has all his skills; when he shoots to win a brass buckle, he is already nervous; when he shoots for a gold prize, he goes blind, sees two targets, and is out of his mind. His skill has not changed, but the prize divides him. He cares! He thinks more of winning than of shooting, and the need to win drains him of power.” Isn’t that an image of what most people are? When you’re living for nothing you’ve got all your skills, you’ve got all your energy, you’re relaxed, you don’t care, it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose.
This is a story of focus and detachment. Trying to be somebody (i.e. winning the prize) gets in our way of being who we truly are (a great archer who can hit the target). We need to detach. Detachment, detachment, detachment – it is a crucial step in life. Detachment is not an easy step, but it is a crucial step.
And in awareness you will understand that honor doesn’t mean a thing. It’s a social convention, that’s all. That’s why the mystics and the prophets didn’t bother one bit about it. Honor or disgrace meant nothing to them. They were living in another world, in the world of the awakened. Success or failure meant nothing to them. They had the attitude: “I’m an ass, you’re an ass, so where’s the problem?
Someone once said “The three most difficult things for a human being are not physical feats or intellectual achievement. They are, first, returning love for hate; second, including the excluded; third, admitting that you are wrong.” But these are the easiest things in the world if you haven’t identified with the “me.” You can say things like “I’m wrong! If you knew me better, you’d see how often I’m wrong. What would you expect from an ass?”
This is the key to disarming a volatile situation – take the blame. It is my fault, It is one of the keys to a husband’s role in marriage. We, as husbands, are suppose to love our wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. One of the ways Christ loved the church was He took the blame for us on the cross. If we take the blame (i.e. what do you expect from an ass?) it disarms people and it disarms situations.
You step outside of yourself and look at that depression [anger, bitterness, fear, etc.], and don’t identify with it. You don’t do a thing to make it go away; you are perfectly willing to go on with your life while it passes through you and disappears.
Isn’t that a paradox? And you’re willing to let this cloud come in, because the more you fight it, the more power you give it. You’re willing to observe it as it passes by.
It is all about observation and awareness.
Page 61 (about love)
Is it possible for the rose to say, “I will give my fragrance to the good people who smell me, but I will withhold it from the bad?” Or is it possible for the lamp to say, “I will give my light to the good people in this room, but I will withhold it from the evil people?” Or can a tree say, “I’ll give my shade to the good people who rest under me, but I will withhold it from the bad?” These are images of what love is about.
It’s been there all along, staring us in the face in the scriptures, though we never cared to see it because we were so drowned in what our culture calls love with its love songs and poems – that isn’t love at all, that’s the opposite of love. That’s desire and control and possessiveness. That’s manipulation, and fear, and anxiety – that’s not love.
There’s only one reason why you’re not experiencing bliss at this present moment, and it’s because you’re thinking or focusing on what you don’t have. Otherwise you would be experiencing bliss. You’re focusing on what you don’t have. But, right now you have everything you need to be in bliss.
Jesus was talking horse sense to lay people, to starving people, to poor people. He was telling them the good news: It’s yours for the taking. But who listens? No one’s interested, they’d rather be asleep.
Wake me up. It’s time to get up and live.
Page 62 – Fear – The Root of Violence
And there’s not a single evil in the world that you cannot trace to fear. Not one.
The person who is truly nonviolent, who is incapable of violence, is the person who is fearless.
Ultimately, there are only two things, love and fear.
If we are not loving then we must ask the question – what am I afraid of?
I’ve got different themes, but they are all about the same thing. Call it awareness, call it love, call it spirituality or freedom or awakening or whatever. It really is the same thing.
Awareness and Contact with Reality
How would it be if God gave me grace not to call these things mine? I’d be detached; I’d be disidentified. That’s what it means to lose the self, to deny the self, to die to self.
We die to self when things truly don’t matter any more. Not that we will ever be brazen in our carelessness, but that what people say to us or what happens to us really doesn’t matter. When we can die to ourselves, we are on the road to freedom.
Good Religion – The Antithesis of Unawareness
It’s infinitely more important that you be waking up. That’s spirituality, that’s everything. If you have that, you have God. Then you worship “in spirit and in truth.” When you become love, when you are transformed into love…
You know there are times like that when the Blessed Sacrament becomes more important than Jesus Christ; when worship becomes more important than love, when the Church becomes more important than life; when God becomes more important than neighbor. And so it goes on. That’s the danger.
Can we love people through all situations, even if we disapprove of them? I don’t really know how to love – but my heart’s desire is to be love – to come to a place where compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness, abounding in truth, covenant faithfulness, and forgiveness are a part of the essence of my being.
The human being is much more important than the Sabbath.
Jesus, was, is, and will be always more concerned about the hearts of people and restoring relationships with him than with the Sabbath (the spirit of the law versus the letter of the law).
So that’s what we have been talking about; spirituality; waking up. And as I told you, it is extremely important if you want to wake up to go in for what I call “self-observation.” Be aware of what you’re saying, be aware of what you’re doing, be aware of what you’re thinking, be aware of how you’re acting. Be aware of where you’re coming from, what your motives are. The unaware life is not worth living.
People go through life with fixed ideas; they never change.
Lord, help me to embrace change.
What you are aware of you are in control of; what you are not aware of is in control of you. You are always a slave to what you’re not aware of. When you’re aware of it, you’re free from it. It’s there, but you’re not affected by it. You’re not controlled by it; you’re not enslaved by it. That’s the difference.
How can you change anything you are not aware of? Blind spots are present in all of our lives. As we become aware of our blind spots we will change. As long as we are unaware of them – how can we possibly change?
Awareness, awareness, awareness, awareness. What they trained us to do in that course was to become participant observers. To put it somewhat graphically, I’d be talking to you and at the same time I’d be out there watching you and watching me. When I’m listening to you, it’s infinitely more important for me to listen to me than to listen to you. Of course, it’s important to listen to you, but it’s more important that I listen to me. Otherwise I won’t be hearing you. Or I’ll be distorting everything you say. I’ll be coming at you from my own conditioning. I’ll be reacting to you in all kinds of ways from my insecurities, from my need to manipulate you, from my desire to succeed, from irritations and feelings that I might not be aware of. So it’s frightfully important that I listen to me when I’m listening to you. That’s what they were training us to do, obtaining awareness.
What I’m advocating here is not concentration. That’s not important. Many meditative techniques inculcate concentration, but I’m leery of that. They involve violence and frequently they involve further programming and conditioning. What I would advocate is awareness, which is not the same as concentration at all. Concentration is a spotlight, a floodlight. You’re open to anything that comes within the scope of your consciousness. You can be distracted from that, but when you’re practicing awareness, you’re never distracted. When awareness is turned on, there’s never any distraction, because you’re always aware of whatever happens to be.
Awareness allows you to focus on what is in front of you. Detachment allows you to put your whole effort into the task without expectations and without caring about what happens along the way. The word passion is associated with suffering. If being passionate means that you are willing to suffer and you have come to a place where it doesn’t matter, then you are passionate.
Mystics feel that way. They have disidentified from themselves and they are at peace.
Drop your theories; don’t seek the truth. Truth isn’t something you search for. If you stop being opinionated, you would know.
Drop your theories; don’t seek the TRUTH. TRUTH isn’t something you search for. If you stop being opinionated, you would KNOW. Jesus told us that if we KNOW the TRUTH, the TRUTH will set us free.
That is what I meant earlier when I said to you, “If you’re suffering, you’re asleep.” Do you want a sign that you’re asleep? Here it is: You’re suffering. Suffering is a sign that you’re out of touch with the truth. Suffering is given to you that you might open your eyes to the truth; that you might understand that there’s falsehood somewhere just as physical pain is given to you so you will understand that there is disease or illness somewhere. Suffering points out that there is falsehood somewhere. Suffering occurs when you clash with reality. When your illusions clash with reality, when your falsehoods clash with TRUTH, then you have suffering. Otherwise there is no suffering.
Obstacles to Happiness
It’s like when you throw black paint in the air; the air remains uncontaminated. You never color the air black. No matter what happens to you, you remain uncontaminated. You remain at peace. There are human beings who have attained this, what I call being human. Not this nonsense of being a puppet, jerked about this way and that way, letting events or other people tell you how you feel.
This is the paradox of “I don’t care.” If you can let things roll off you and not take them in – you are on the road to freedom.
Who determines what it means to be a success? This stupid society! The main preoccupation of society is to keep society sick! And the sooner you realize that, the better.
Being president of a corporation has nothing to do with being a success in life. Having a lot of money has nothing to do with being a success in life. You’re a success in life when you wake up!
O Lord, wake me up.
Then you don’t have to apologize to anyone, you don’t have to explain anything to anyone, you don’t give a damn what anybody things about you or what anybody says about you. You have no worries, you’re happy.
They are constantly tense and anxious. Do you call that human? And do you know why that happens? Only one response: They identified with some label. They identified the “I” with their money or their job or their profession. That was their error.
You could be a plumber or a lawyer or a businessman or a priest, but that does not affect the essential “I”. It doesn’t affect you. If I change my profession tomorrow, it’s just like changing my clothes. I am untouched. Are you your clothes? Are you your name? Are you your profession? Stop identifying with them. They come and go.
When you really understand this, no criticism can affect you. No flattery or praise can affect you either. When someone says, “You’re a great guy,” what is he talking about? He’s talking about “me,” he’s not talking about “I.” “I” is neither great nor small. “I” is neither successful nor a failure. It is none of these labels. These things come and go.
“I” is none of these labels. “Me” is generally selfish, foolish, childish – a great big ass. So when you say, “You’re an ass,” I’ve known it for years!
Do you want to be happy? Uninterrupted happiness is uncaused. True happiness is uncaused. You cannot make me happy. You are not my happiness. You say to the awakened person, “Why are you happy?” and the awakened person replies, “Why not?”
Happiness is our natural state.
To acquire happiness you don’t have to do anything, because happiness cannot be acquired. Does anybody know why? Because, we have it already. How can you acquire what you already have? Then why don’t you experience it? Because you’ve got to drop something; you’ve got to drop illusions.
Becoming detached is a step (or two) on the road of happiness, a part of our journey of life.
Four Steps to Wisdom
The first thing you need to do is get in touch with negative feelings that you’re not even aware of.
We all have blind spots – you can’t change anything you’re not aware of. Lord, wake me up, increase my awareness.
The second step (this is a four step program) is to understand that the feeling is in you, not in reality.
That’s what spirituality is all about, you know: unlearning. Unlearning all the rubbish they taught you.
If we can recognize and then drop the interference we put or allow to be put into our lives – we are on the road to freedom.
Negative feelings are in you, not in reality. So stop trying to change reality.
We don’t have to change anything. Negative feelings are in you. No person on earth has the power to make you unhappy. There is no event on earth that has the power to disturb you or hurt you; no event, condition, situation, or person. Nobody told you this; they told you the opposite. That’s why you’re in the mess you’re in right now. That is why you’re asleep. They never told you this. But it is self-evident.
The only thing I have come up with that we have to do, is make decisions, because not making a decision is making a decision to stay status quo. This is all about decision making and choices. We live in the shadow lands – in our own illusions. My desire is for reality and the depth of reality is never ending. Lord, I am on a journey, let me journey with you further in and higher up into reality.
The mystics keep trying to tell us that reality is all right. Reality is not problematic. Problems exist only in the human mind. We might add: in the stupid, sleeping human mind. Reality is not problematic.
You created the problem. You are the problem. You identified with “me” and that is the problem. The feeling is in you, not in reality.
Your depression and your thrills have nothing to do with happiness. Those are the swings of the pendulum. If you seek kicks or thrills, get ready for depression.
The third step: Never identify with that feeling. It has nothing to do with the “I.”
This has nothing to do with “I”; it has nothing to do with happiness; it is the “me.” If you remember this, if you say it to yourself a thousand times, if you try these steps a thousand times, you will get it.
Dan Kral – Summary of the three steps…
1. Get in touch with negative feelings you’re not even aware of.
2. Understand that the feeling is in you, not in reality.
3. Never identify with that feeling. It has nothing to do with the “I.”
If you’re not happy you can’t live. So you found gold. What does that matter? You’re a king; you’re a princess. You’re free; you don’t care anymore about being accepted or rejected, that makes no difference.
But you don’t need to belong to anybody, to anything, or any group. You don’t even need to be in love. Who told you you do? What you need is to be free! What you need is to love. That’s it; that’s your nature.
I see it – when I love; when I am love – I don’t need to be “in love” because to love is to be fulfilled…
Freedom – Lord I want to be free in you. I want your TRUTH in my heart – so I will KNOW your TRUTH and your TRUTH will bring me in to freedom.
Your society is not going to be happy to hear this, because you become terrifying when you open your eyes and understand this.
You don’t have to do anything to acquire happiness. The great Meister Eckhart said very beautifully, “God is not attained by a process of addition to anything in the soul, but by a process of subtraction.” You don’t do anything to be free, you drop something. Then you’re free.
This brings to mind some of Henri Nouwen’s thoughts in the fourth chapter of his book “Clowning in Rome.” I offer you those thoughts here…
“There was once a sculptor working hard with his hammer and chisel on a large block of marble. A little boy who was watching him saw nothing more than large and small pieces of stone falling away left and right. He had no idea what was happening. But when the boy returned to the studio a few weeks later, he saw to his great surprise a large powerful lion sitting in the place where the marble had stood. With great excitement the boy ran to the sculptor and said “Sir, tell me, how did you know there was a lion in the marble?”
“There is an answer to the boy’s question and it is an answer that irritates and inspires. The answer to the boy is: “I knew there was a lion in the marble because before I saw the lion in the marble I saw it in my own heart. There is a deep secret here that I want to share with you. It was the lion in my own heart who recognized the lion in the marble.”
“I conclude with the hope that we courageously choose the life that removes the blindfolds and reveals our true identity as beloved sons and daughters of a loving Father God. And I pray that we will become God’s presence to one another in this valley of tears, knowing the truth and the joy of our response to the question “Please tell me, how did you know there was a lion in the marble?”
Dan Kral (continued)
How do we know God is around us? We know God is around us when we can say “I know that God is in the reality around me because I recognized God in my own heart – and it was God in my own heart who recognized God in all that I do.
You are the one who needs to change, who needs to take medicine. You keep insisting, “I feel good because the world is right.” Wrong! The world is right because I feel good. That’s what all the mystics are saying.
Perceptions become reality. Change your perceptions and you change your reality. God’s reality – real reality is not changeable but we can start to enter in by dropping our illusions, by allowing our perceptions to be changed, and not really changed, but dropped.
Page 84 – All’s Right with the World
When you awaken, when you understand, when you see, the world becomes right.
There is no explanation you can give that would explain away all the sufferings and evil and torture and destruction and hunger in the world! You’ll never explain it. You try gamely with your formulas, religious and otherwise, but you’ll never explain it. Because life is a mystery, which means your thinking mind cannot make sense out of it. For that you’ve got to wake up and then you’ll suddenly realize that reality is not problematic, you are the problem.
We can’t answer all the questions – or even very many of them. All we can do is seek after TRUTH and live the life that we have in the present.
You’ve got to wake up to make sense out of the scriptures. When you do wake up, they make sense. So does reality. But you’ll never be able to put it into words. You’d rather do something?
You’ve got to make sure of your “being” before you swing into action. You have to make sure of who you are before you act.
If you don’t know who you are (upper left corner) then how can you have actions that have pure motives? You can’t. You must work on who you are – your “being” before you can let the “doing” flow from who you are.
Unfortunately, when sleeping people swing into action, they simply substitute one cruelty for another, one injustice for another. And so it goes. Meister Eckhart says, “It is not by your actions that you will be saved” (or awakened; call it any word you want), but by your being. It is not by what you do but by what you are that you will be judged.”
Ephesians 2:8,9 – We are saved by grace, not of works lest any man should boast. It is about who we are – not about what we do. Our doing has to flow out of who we are to make any sense at all.
It’s not your actions, it’s your being that counts. Then you might swing into action. You might or might not. You can’t decide until you’re awake. Unfortunately, all the emphasis is concentrated on changing the world and very little emphasis is given to waking up. When you wake up, you will know what to do or what not to do.
Focus and be aware – If you are not aware – how can you change. If you are aware how can you prevent change from happening?
Some mystics go silent. Mysteriously some of them sing songs. Some of them are into service. We’re really never sure. They’re a law unto themselves; they know exactly what is to be done.
We see people and things not as they are, but as we are.
We see things and people not as they are, but as we are.
Remember that sentence from scripture about everything turning into good for those who love God [Romans 8:28]? When you finally awake, you don’t try to make good things happen; they just happen. You understand suddenly that everything that happens to you is good.
I have come to a place in my life to embrace (to call “good”) any and everything that comes my way. I no longer shy away from suffering or pain – I have been through too much and have seen God’s hand in it all. When something happens to me now – I know the Lord has something to teach me and my attitude is “teach me, Lord” – sometimes it is “teach me quickly, Lord” and then there is a reminder – “and Lord… Don’t let me forget what you teach me” – there is too much to learn to have to go back and learn lessons over and over again. Embrace life. Live life! Know what day it is; walk up to every golf ball with the very real possibility of hitting a great golf shot; wake up every morning with the very real possibility of having a great day – because every day is a great day – it’s your choice. Are you going to sleep through life or are you going to live life?
But when you are different, they’ll be different [people you want to change]. That’s an infallible and miraculous cure. The day you are different, they will become different.
No one has the power to put pressure on you. It’s something like this: You leave a book on the table and I pick it up and say, “You’re pressing this book on me. I have to pick it up or not pick it up.” People are so busy accusing everyone else, blaming everyone else, blaming life, blaming society, blaming their neighbor. You’ll never change that way; you’ll continue in your nightmare, you’ll never wake up.
Put this program into action, a thousand times:
1. identify the negative feelings in you
2. understand that they are in you, not in the world, not in external reality
3. do not see them as an essential part of “I”; these things come and go
4. understand that when you change, everything changes
Page 90 – Change as Greed
That still leaves the big question: Do I do anything to change myself?
I’ve got a big surprise for you, lots of good news! You don’t have to do anything. The more you do, the worse it gets. All you have to do is understand.
This is such a paradox – how can it be? We are taught that we need to work at changing ourselves – but it is a lie. It is not about doing – it is about being. You don’t need to worry about change because if you start to understand who you are – you will start to change and the more you understand who you are the more you will change.
The first thing you need to understand is that the negative feeling is inside of you. You are responsible for the negative feelings, not the other person.
Page 91 – I want to tell you exactly how you’re expected to be and how you’re expected to behave, and you’d better behave as I have decided or I shall punish myself by having negative feelings. Remember what I told you, everybody’s a lunatic.
People get a good feeling on the basis of somebody getting a bad feeling; you win over somebody else. Isn’t that terrible? Taken for granted in a lunatic asylum!
To say no to people – that’s wonderful; that’s part of waking up. Part of waking up is that you live your life as you see fit. And understand: That is not selfish. The selfish thing is to demand that someone else live their life as YOU see fit. That’s selfish. It is not selfish to live your life as you see fit. The selfishness lies in demanding that someone else live their life to suit your tastes, or your pride, or your profit, or your pleasure. That is truly selfish.
Awakening should be a surprise.
Simple awareness is happiness compared with trying to react all the time. People react so quickly because they are not aware.
Calm down Dan – take a deep breath and search out understanding. Don’t get upset – what reason is there to be upset? Ask the Lord – “Lord what are you teaching me – what do you want me to be aware of?
So begin to be aware of your present condition whatever that condition is. Stop being a dictator. Stop trying to push yourself somewhere. Then someday you will understand that simply by awareness you have already attained what you were pushing yourself toward.
Hold all things lightly. The tighter you grab, the harder you try, the more elusive your goals become. The lighter you can hold the outcome in a situation (what happens, happens) – the more successful you will be in attaining your goal. It is having 100% focus on what you want to have happen and truly 100% detachment from the results (what happens, happens). When you can honestly say “I don’t care” you are on the path to freedom. There is such a strength in freedom and freedom comes by not caring. If the archer is not aware of the prize, he hits the target with no effort.
A Changed Person
In your pursuit of awareness, don’t make demands.
You can’t imitate Christ by imitating his external behavior. You’ve got to be Christ. Then you’ll know exactly what to do in a particular situation, given your temperament, your character, and the character and temperament of the person you’re dealing with. No one has to tell you. But to do that, you must be what Christ was. An external imitation will get you nowhere.
O Lord – let me find you in who I am. Not as someone outside of me, but someone who not only resides in me but is the very fiber of my being. Open the eyes of my heart Lord.
It’s only when you become love – in other words, when you have dropped your illusions and attachments – that you will “know.”
As you identify less and less with the “I.” you will be more at ease with everybody and with everything. Do you know why? Because you are no longer afraid of being hurt or not liked, you no longer desire to impress anyone. Can you imagine the relief when you don’t have to impress anybody anymore?
When you can truly embrace the “I don’t care” attitude or the “tell somebody who cares” attitude you are making progress. If you don’t like me – tell somebody that cares. If you are not impressed by me – tell somebody that cares. When you start to KNOW who you are – the rest falls by the wayside.
I’d much rather hear you say to me, “I’ve come awake since we last met; what I did to you won’t happen again,” than to hear you say, “I’m so sorry for what I did to you.”
Nobody was mean to you. Somebody was mean to what he or she thought was you, but not to you. Nobody ever rejects you; they’re only rejecting what they think you are. But that cuts both ways. Nobody ever accepts you either. Until people come awake, they are simply accepting or rejecting their image of you. They’ve fashioned an image of you, and they’re rejecting or accepting that. See how devastating it is to go deeply into that. It’s a bit too liberating. But how easy it is to love people when you understand this; how easy it is to love everyone when you don’t identify with what they imagine you are or they are. It becomes easy to love them, to love everybody.
I can see this. It is amazing. I have an image of certain people and I have based my acceptance or rejection on my own image, my own perceptions. My perceptions have become my reality. I need to change my perceptions, but what that ultimately means is I need to drop my perceptions – I need to allow them to drop to the ground as I am walking and I will walk in a freedom and a love that is TRUE.
One cannot say anything about the awakened state; one can only talk about the sleeping state.
We want to find out what the awakened person is like. But you’ll know only when you get there.
When I talk about not having expectations of others, or not making demands on them, I mean expectations and demands for my well-being.
Page 99 – Arriving at Silence
Everyone asks me about what will happen when they finally arrive.
Get started and you will know; it cannot be described. It is said widely in the East, “Those who know do not say; those who say, do not know.” It cannot be said, only the opposite can be said.
Truth cannot be put into words, into a formula. That isn’t truth. That isn’t reality. Reality cannot be put into a formula.
There are no formulas. God is creative enough to create each of us uniquely. If he is that creative, He is also creative enough to give each of us a unique path to walk on. If we each have a unique path to walk on, then, by definition, there cannot be formulas. We can be there for each other to give encouragement along the way, but we cannot live the life of someone else and they cannot live our life. There are markers along our journey, but my markers are not necessarily your markers.
The guru can only point out your errors. When you drop your errors, you will know the truth. And even then you cannot say.
We have developed so much interference in our lives that we cannot see clearly. What we think, what we see, what we hear, what we do are all influenced by what we have been taught. In order to see clearly, hear clearly, think clearly, and do clearly we must shed the interference. When the disciples saw Jesus on the mount of transfiguration was Jesus transformed or were their eyes opened to see Him as He really is? Open the eyes of my heart Lord… I want to see Jesus.
Most people aren’t very wise; they seize upon the word – upon the words of scripture, for example – and they get it all wrong.
The highest form of talking about the Trinity is to know that one does not know.
Reality, God, divinity, truth, love are unknowable; that means they cannot be comprehended by the thinking mind. That would set at rest so many questions people have because we’re always living under the illusion that we know. We don’t. We cannot know.
What is scripture then? It’s a hint, a clue, not a description. The fanaticism of one sincere believer who thinks he knows causes more evil than the united efforts of two hundred rogues. It’s terrifying to see what sincere believers will do because they think they know.
Woe is me. How little I know; how can I know the unfathomable? For now I know in part – and I will always know in part.
The fact is that you’re surrounded by God and you don’t see God, because you “know” about God. The final barrier to the vision of God is your God concept. You miss God because you think you know. That’s the terrible think about religion. That’s what the gospels were saying, that religious people “knew” so they got rid of Jesus. The highest knowledge of God is to know God as unknowable.
Open the eyes of my heart Lord, open the eyes of my heart. I want to see Jesus. Lord, embody in me – help me to be – compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness, abounding in truth, help me to have covenant faithfulness, and forgiveness. I see it! When we think we “know” we are dangerous. Oh Lord, help me to see my ignorance of you and your ways. You say that your thoughts and your ways are higher than ours. Of course; how can we expect to be able to comprehend your thoughts and walk in your ways unless we have died to ourselves and live in you? It is the only way. I cannot strive – I can only die. Real life is not about living – it is about dying – and once I die – I am free to be who God created me to be. Oh God, wake me up – don’t let me think that I have the answers – I only have a glimpse of the TRUTH – and the glimpse that I have seen and experienced is enough to cause me to be willing to die to gain a greater vision and experience your ways of TRUTH.
There’s too little dropping of illusions, dropping of errors, dropping of attachments and cruelty, too little awareness.
Lord, help me to see how asleep I am in life. Help me to see the illusions I am carrying. Help me to see the errors I have about you, about others, and about myself. Help me to drop attachments. Help me to be more aware. My goal is to get people on a journey – to help them to wake up, and at the same time, to wake up myself. Open the eyes of my heart – help me to see with your eyes. I want to see reality – I want to be aware.
Awareness, awareness, awareness! In awareness is healing; in awareness is truth; in awareness is salvation; in awareness is spirituality; in awareness is growth; in awareness is love; in awareness is awakening. Awareness.
Lord, help me. Lord, I am asleep. Lord, wake me up. My heart’s desire is to be alive, awake, and aware.
I need to talk about words and concepts because I must explain to you why it is, when we look at a tree, we really don’t see. We think we do, but we don’t. When we look at a person, we really don’t see that person, we only think we do. What we’re seeing is something that we fixed in our mind. We get an impression and we hold on to that impression, and we keep looking at a person through that impression. And we do this with almost everything. If you understand that, you will understand the loveliness and beauty of being aware of everything around you. Because reality is there; “God” whatever that is, is there. It’s all there.
Lord, help me to see myself as I really am so that I can see others as they really are. Lord give me a glimpse of your compassion towards me and let that flow through me to others.
If we would just open our eyes and see, then we would understand.
Losing The Rat Race
How does one lose oneself? Did you ever try to lose something? That’s right, the harder you try, the harder it gets. It’s when you’re not trying that you lose things. You lose something when you’re not aware.
You’re never so ready to forgive yourself as when you are happy. Happiness releases you from self. It is suffering and pain and misery and depression that tie you to the self.
When you come to a place where you can embrace sorrow and suffering because you know that God is good and that He loves and cares about you, you are tasting the freedom that God has for each of us. You are coming into a taste of reality.
So it’s quite false, quite erroneous, to think that the way to deny the self is to cause pain to the self, to go in for abnegation, mortification, as these were traditionally understood. To deny the self, to die to it, to lose it, is to understand its true nature. When you do that, it will disappear; it will vanish.
By this point I’m wondering who is crazier, this guy [the guy who thinks he is Napoleon Bonaparte] or me. But I go along with this lunatic. That’s what the wise guru does with you in the beginning. He goes along with you; he takes your troubles seriously. He’ll wipe a tear or two from your eye. You’re crazy, but you don’t know it yet.
So when the man comes to his senses and realizes he is not Napoleon, he does not cease to be. He continues to be, but he suddenly realizes that he is something other than what he thought he was.
To lose the self is to suddenly realize that you are something other than what you thought you were.
I do certain things in life. I have different roles in life at different times, but what I do and the roles that I take on are not who I am. Who I am is separate from all of that. It is who I am that has to be the focus of my life. The rest is just stuff.
These are just analogies, images, so you cannot take them literally. They just give you a clue, a hint, they’re only pointers, don’t forget.
Personal worth doesn’t mean self-worth.
Self –worth; what I think of myself is superfluous. It doesn’t matter what I think of myself. God-worth; what God thinks of me is reality. How do I shed self-worth and understand and be aware of my God-worth?
One understands one’s personal worth when one no longer identifies or defines one’s self in terms of transient things. I’m not beautiful because everyone says I’m beautiful. I’m really neither beautiful nor ugly. These are things that come and go.
You need to give a lot of time to reflect on these things. I’ve thrown them at you in rapid succession, but if you would take the time to understand what I have been saying, to dwell on it, you’ll have a gold mine there. I know, because when I stumbled upon these things for the first time, what a treasure I discovered.
Pleasant experiences make life delightful. Painful experiences lead to growth. Pleasant experiences make life delightful, but they don’t lead to growth in themselves. What leads to growth is painful experiences. Suffering points up an area in you where you have not yet grown, where you need to grow and be transformed and change. If you knew how to use that suffering, oh how you would grow.
I have come to a place in my life when suffering and trials come I can embrace them. I can truly say “Thank you, Lord. Now Lord, teach me the lesson you have for me. Teach me quickly – and don’t let me forget.” When you come to a place where you can embrace the suffering, you will be on a journey of freedom.
The disappointment you experience when things don’t turn out as you wanted them to, watch that!
Look at what it says about you. I say this without condemnation (otherwise you’re going to get caught up in self-hatred). Observe it as you would observe it in another person. Look at that disappointment, that depression you experience when you are criticized.
Negative Feelings, every negative feeling is useful for awareness, for understanding. They give you the opportunity to feel it, to watch it from the outside.
Desire, Not Preference
Desire in the healthy sense of the word is energy, and the more energy we have, the better. But don’t suppress desire, understand it. Understand it. Don’t seek to fulfill desire so much as to understand desire.
It is focus and detachment. When we have 100% focus on what we want to do and 100% detachment from what happens – it frees us up to put all of our energy into it. It is the archer – shooting for the prize and losing his focus – being divided by the results of the outcome – being tied in some way (emotionally??) to the results will take away energy that was meant to be focused on what we are doing (hitting the target).
And don’t just renounce the objects of your desire, understand them; see them in their true light. See them for what they are really worth; because if you just suppress your desire, and you attempt to renounce the object of your desire, you are likely to be tied to it. Whereas if you look at it and see it for what it is really worth, if you understand how you are preparing the grounds for misery and disappointment and depression, your desire will then be transformed into what I call a preference.
This is the difference between HAVING to have something and saying “its nice if I have that but whether or not I have that doesn’t affect my life or who I am. I am not what I have – I am who God created me to be – a unique individual – made in His image.
When you go through life with preferences but don’t let your happiness depend on any one of them, then you’re awake. You’re moving toward wakefulness. Wakefulness, happiness – call it what you wish – is the state of nondelusion, where you see things not as you are but as they are, insofar as this is possible for a human being; to drop the illusions, to see things, to see reality.
We have lived our lives looking, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling through who we think we are. We experience life through filters – filters that have nothing to do with reality – they are filters we have picked up along the way. The life we live, through our filters, is not life at all, it is just going through the motions. It is sleeping through life. Lord, I don’t want to sleep through life – I want to experience life. I want to wake up every morning with the possibility of having a great day – and seeing – really seeing – being aware – really being aware. Oh how we sleep through life.
Every time you are unhappy, you have added something to reality. It is that addition that makes you unhappy. I repeat: You have added something… a negative reaction in you. Reality provides the stimulus, you provide the reaction. You have added something by your reaction. And if you examine what you have added, there is always an illusion there, there’s a demand, an expectation, a craving. Always.
So if you want to live, you must have no permanent abode. You must have no place to rest your head. You have to flow with it.
Life is happening all the time. I need to be aware. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are. We need to be like Paul when he writes in the book of Philippians that he has learned to be content in all circumstances. That is a key to life: learning to be content in all circumstances. Oh Lord, make me aware when I am not content.
Do you want to enjoy a symphony? Don’t hold on to a few bars of the music. Don’t hold on to a couple of notes. Let them pass, let them flow. The whole enjoyment of a symphony lies in your readiness to allow notes to pass.
Life is passing by – it is okay. There are good times and there are not so good times – but can we be content in all of them? Oh Lord, help me to be content in all circumstances.
Page 111 – Clinging to Illusions
When you cling, life is destroyed; when you hold on to anything, you cease to live. It’s all over the gospel pages. And one attains this by understanding. Understand. Understand another illusion, too, that happiness is not the same as excitement; it’s not the same as thrills.
We need to learn to hold things lightly. We cannot cling to anything. When we are able to hold things lightly, we are on the road to freedom. The tighter we grasp at things, the more they tend to slip through our fingers – we cannot grasp tightly – it drains too much energy. When we do our best and let the results happen – the results happen. How do you tell someone (or how do you learn yourself) that focusing too much on the results makes the results more fleeting – but if you hold the results lightly – you are free to attain the results. You can observe this in athletics on a regular basis. When the big game comes, when the big race comes – you can watch people take their eye off the target (100% focus) and look at the prize (which divides their attention). One of the reasons that seasoned athletes that have already won – that have experienced the championship – have an advantage is because they are not as focused on the prize… If you cannot have fun, then what’s the point? Let go of the results – do your best and let the rest of it happen.
Another illusion is that someone else can do this for you, that some savior or guru or teacher can do this for you. Not even the greatest guru in the world can take a single step for you.
It is you who have to do it. No one else can help you. It is you who has to digest your food, it is you who have to understand. No one can understand for you. It is you who have to seek. Nobody can seek for you.
I am on a journey. My heart’s desire is to get others to be on a journey also. But, my journey is different than your journey, which is different than their journey. Let us journey with Jesus. I have a unique path to walk on, as do you, but we can meet along the way and encourage each other and share with each other as we journey together.
There is yet another illusion, that is it important to be respectable, to be loved and appreciated, to be important. Many say we have a natural urge to be loved and appreciated, to belong. That’s false. Drop this illusion and you will find happiness. We have a natural urge to be free, a natural urge to love, but not to be loved.
You become happy by contact with reality. That’s what brings happiness, a moment-by-moment contact with reality. That’s where you’ll find God; that’s where you’ll find happiness.
Let’s be real. Let’s be on a journey to find reality together, and when we get a glimpse of it, we will never be the same.
Another illusion: You are all those labels that people have put on you, or that you have put on yourself. You’re not, you’re not!
So what you need to do is smash the label! Smash it, and you’re free!
We can’t smash anything we are not aware of. We need to ask the Lord to show us the labels we have taken on that are nothing more than labels. Once we are aware of them – we can walk away from them.
Don’t identify with those labels. That’s what someone else thinks.
We need to be able to allow labels to slide off. It is the “tell somebody who cares” attitude. We can be put in boxes by others and we can put ourselves in boxes because of labels. When we free ourselves from the labels, we are free to be who we really are. Oh freedom, come to me. I am on a path to freedom.
What does it really matter? Provided you continue to be aware, to live life from moment to moment.
Why bother about tomorrow? Get into today.
Live in the present moment. This is one of the things you will notice happening to you as you come awake. You will find yourself living in the present, tasting every moment as you live it. Another fairly good sign is when you hear the symphony one note after the other without wanting to stop it.
Learning from the past, looking forward to the future, and living in the present. Oh Lord, keep me alive in the present.
You need understanding, not condemnation. That is how you bring about change in yourself. Not by condemnation, not by calling yourself names, but by understanding what’s going on. Not by calling yourself a dirty old sinner. No, no, no, no!
In order to get awareness, you’ve got to see, and you can’t see if you’re prejudiced.
You always do when there’s an inner change. It always registers in your face, in your eyes, in your body.
Perception has devastating consequences in the matter of love and human relationships.
Whatever a relationship may be, it certainly entails two things: clarity of perception and accuracy of response.
Perceptions have devastating effects because our perceptions become our reality. We need to understand that what we perceive is not necessarily real, and in most cases it is not real. That is where awareness comes in. We need to be on the path of awareness because only true awareness will bring clarity to our perceptions. It is only with clear perceptions that we have an opportunity to give an accurate response. The clearer our perceptions the more accurate our responses can be. Most of our lives are involved in clouded perceptions and devastating responses. Oh Lord, pull me out of the clouds – let me see, let me be aware.
You’re more likely to respond accurately when you perceive clearly. When your perception is distorted, you’re not likely to respond accurately. How can you love someone whom you do not even see?
When true love enters, you no longer like or even dislike people in the ordinary sense of the word. You see them clearly and you respond accurately. But at this human level, your likes and dislikes and preferences and attractions, etc. continue to get in the way. So you have to be aware of your prejudices, your likes, your dislikes, your attractions.
Help me Lord to see people with your eyes. Help me to see them with compassion, graciousness, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness, abounding in truth, covenant faithfulness, and forgiveness.
But falling in love has nothing to do with love at all. It isn’t love, it’s desire, burning desire.
They say that love is blind. Believe me, there’s nothing so clear-sighted as true love, nothing.
True love is seeing a person as they really are and loving them anyway. That is God’s love toward us – He sees us for who we really are and loves us so much that He sent His son to die for us so that He could spend eternity with us.
Believe it or not, every concept that was meant to help us get in touch with reality ends up by being a barrier to getting in touch with reality, because sooner or later we forget that the words are not the same thing. The concept is not the same as reality. They’re different.
How do we separate concepts from reality? Oh Lord, make me more aware.
So your concept points, but it is never entirely accurate; it misses uniqueness, concreteness. The concept is universal.
Take me away from generalities and bring me to specifics.
You really don’t know the person. The concept always misses or omits something extremely important, something precious that is only found in reality, which is concrete uniqueness.
“The day you teach the child the name of the bird, the child will never see that bird again.”
If you don’t look at things through concepts, you’ll never be bored. Every single thing is unique.
If all you experience is your concept, you’re not experiencing reality, because reality is concrete. The concept is a help, to lead you to reality, but when you get there, you’ve got to intuit or experience it directly.
A second quality of a concept is that it is static whereas reality is in flux.
The moment you put things into a concept, they stop flowing; they become static, dead. A frozen wave is not a wave. A wave is essentially movement, action, when you freeze it, it is not a wave. Concepts are always frozen. Reality flows. Finally, if we are to believe the mystics (and it doesn’t take too much of an effort to understand this, or even believe it, but no one can see it at once), reality is whole, but words and concepts fragment reality. That is why it is so difficult to translate from one language to another, because each language cuts reality up differently.
Open the eyes of my heart Lord – I want to see you and in seeing you, I desire to see reality. My heart’s desire is to live and to be awake. I want to be a part of the flow.
Reality is a whole and we cut it up to make concepts and we use words to indicate different parts.
Ideas actually fragment the vision, intuition, or experience of reality as a whole. This is what the mystics are perpetually telling us. Words cannot give you reality. They only point, they only indicate. You use them as pointers to get to reality. But once you get there, your concepts are useless.
You don’t need to be a mystic to understand that reality is something that cannot be captured by words or concepts. To know reality you have know beyond knowing.
It may be something like coming to a crossroads in your life where you have to make a decision about God. Is God good? Does God care? Is God real? When you come to that crossroad and you can from the very depths of your being declare that God is good, no matter what happens – then you are touching reality. When you can adopt the “I don’t care” or the “tell somebody that cares” attitude – when awareness and detachment become a part of who you are – then you are walking with Jesus.
There is no word for reality; because as soon as I put a word to it, we’re back to concepts again.
Words are pointers, they’re not descriptions.
Point me in the right direction…
What I’m leading you to is the following: awareness of reality around you. Awareness means to watch, to observe what is going on within you and around you. “Going on” is pretty accurate: Trees, grass, flowers, animals, rock, all of reality is moving.
Are you imprisoned by your concepts? Do you want to break out of your prison? Then look; observe; spend hours observing. Watching what? Anything. The faces of people, the shapes of trees, a bird in flight, a pile of stones, watch the grass grow. Get in touch with things, look at them. Hopefully you will then break out of these rigid patterns we have all developed, out of what our thoughts and our words have imposed on us. Hopefully we will see. What will we see? This thing that we chose to call reality, whatever is beyond words and concepts.
I want to experience reality. I don’t know how to do that except to be more aware. Lord, make me more aware. Lord, open the eyes of my heart. I want to see with my heart.
Though we begin without them, concepts have a very positive function. Thanks to them we develop our intelligence. We’re invited not to become children, but to become like children. We do have to fall from a stage of innocence and be thrown out of paradise; we do have to develop an “I” and a “me” through these concepts. But then we need to return to paradise.
When we start off in life, we look at reality with wonder, but it isn’t the intelligent wonder of the mystics; it’s the formless wonder of the child. Then wonder dies and is replaced by boredom, as we develop language and words and concepts. Then hopefully, if we’re lucky, we’ll return to wonder again.
At A Loss For Words
Dag Hammarskjold, the former UN Secretary General, put it so beautifully: “God does not die on the day we cease to believe in a personal deity. But we die on the day when our lives cease to be illumined by the steady radiance of wonder renewed daily, the source of which is beyond all reason.”
This is what is ultimate in our human knowledge of God, to know that we do not know. Our great tragedy is that we know too much. We think we know, that is our tragedy; so we never discover.
Open the eyes of my heart Lord – I want to discover you. I want to see you. I want to be aware of your presence. My desire is to have every day be a new day – a day of discovery. You are too deep to comprehend, but if I can learn a little – if I can discover a little part each day – then I am starting to live.
Flags are in the heads of people. In any case, there are thousands of words in our vocabulary that do not correspond to reality at all. But do they trigger emotions in us! So we begin to see things that are not there.
The beauty of an action comes not from its having become a habit but from its sensitivity, consciousness, clarity of perception, and accuracy of response.
You need to be liberated from that. Don’t carry over experiences from the past. In fact, don’t carry over good experiences from the past either. Learn what it means to experience something fully, then drop it and move on to the next moment, uninfluenced by the previous one. You’d be traveling with such little baggage that you could pass through the eye of a needle. You’d know what eternal life is, because eternal life is now, in the timeless now.
Lord, help me to experience life each day, each hour, each minute, each second, and help me to bring others along on the journey.
Page 133 – Filtered Reality
Now, this is what’s happening to us. From every pore or living cell of our bodies and from all our senses we are getting feedback from reality. But we are filtering things out constantly.
But there’s another demon, too, who’s doing the filtering. It’s called attachment, desire, craving. The root of sorrow is craving. Craving distorts and destroys perception.
In many ways we were drugged when we were young. We were brought up to need people. For what? For acceptance, approval, appreciation, applause – for what they call success. Those are words that do not correspond to reality. They are conventions, things that are invented, but we don’t realize that they don’t correspond to reality.
When we were young, we were programmed to unhappiness. They taught us that in order to be happy you need money, success, a beautiful or handsome partner in life, a good job, friendship, spirituality, God – you name it. Unless you get these things, you’re not going to be happy, we were told. Now, that is what I call an attachment. An attachment is a belief that without something you are not going to be happy.
Useless to exhort the first person about what to do; he needs understanding. Exhortations are of no great help.
Your whole life has been empty and soulless. There is nothing there. There’s only one way out and that is to get deprogrammed. How do you do that? You become aware of the programming. You cannot change by an effort of the will; you cannot change through ideals; you cannot change through building up new habits. Your behavior may change, but you don’t. You only change through awareness and understanding.
Awareness is a key to change. You can’t change anything you’re not aware of. Awareness, awareness, awareness. The more aware you are the more you change without even knowing it.
When you see, you change. There’s no violence anymore in your attempt to change yourself. Otherwise, what you call change is simply moving the furniture around. Your behavior is changed, but not you.
Page 137 – Detachment
The only way to change is by changing your understanding.
I don’t need anybody’s love; I just need to get in touch with reality. I need to break out of this prison of mine, this programming, this conditioning, these false beliefs, these fantasies; I need to break out into reality. Reality is lovely; it is an absolute delight. Eternal life is now. We’re surrounded by it, like the fish in the ocean, but we have no notion about it at all.
Happiness is a state of nonillusion, of dropping the illusion.
That should have taught you, but we never learn. We’re programmed; we’re conditioned.
Sometimes you have to get rid of “God” in order to find God. Lots of mystics tell us that.
We’ve been blinded by everything that we have not discovered the basic truth that attachments hurt rather than help relationships.
If you’re attached to appreciation and praise, you’re going to view people in terms of their threat to your attachment or their fostering of your attachment.
Tell somebody who cares.
An attachment destroys your capacity to love. What is love? Love is sensitivity, love is consciousness.
What is a loving heart? A loving heart is sensitive to the whole of life, to all persons; a loving heart doesn’t harden itself to any person or thing. But the moment you become attached in my sense of the word, then you’re blocking out many other things.
Love entails clarity of perception, objectivity; there is nothing so clear-sighted as love.
I can only love people when I have emptied my life of people. When I die to the need for people, then I’m right in the desert. In the beginning it feels awful, it feels lonely, but if you can take it for a while, you’ll suddenly discover that it isn’t lonely at all. It is solitude, it is aloneness, and the desert begins to flower. Then at last you’ll know what love is, what God is, what reality is.
You can make use of suffering to end suffering.
Spirituality is awareness, awareness, awareness, awareness, awareness, awareness.
Whether there’s something wrong with me or not, I’ll examine that independently of your anger. I’m not going to be influenced by your anger.
Well, if I did wrong, it was in unawareness. Nobody does wrong in awareness. That’s why theologians tell us very beautifully that Jesus could do no wrong. That makes very good sense to me, because the enlightened person can do no wrong. The enlightened person is free. Jesus was free and because he was free, he couldn’t do any wrong. But since you can do wrong, you’re not free.
Russia and Finland are only words, concepts, but not for human beings, not for crazy human beings. We’re almost never looking at reality.
Words, words, words, how imprisoning they are if they’re not used properly.
Page 144 – Hidden Agendas
There is a difference between knowledge and awareness, between information and awareness. I just said to you that one cannot do evil in knowledge or information, when you know something is bad.
Or if they had been aware that they were crucifying the Lord of Glory, they would have never done so.
They aren’t aware. They’re caught up in information and knowledge.
Oh, Lord, don’t let us get caught up in the letter of the law. Don’t let us get caught up in dissecting words and concepts and miss your heart. Oh, Lord, show us your heart. We have to be so aware of information – that stuff we have in our heads – that leads us in the wrong direction – because we are deceived into thinking that information is TRUTH and it is not. It is just information – nothing more, nothing less. Bagger Vance said it – Trust your hands – don’t listen to your head – your hands know better than your mind. Die to your thoughts and follow your heart.
If one is tense, one simply observes one’s tension. You will never understand yourself if you seek to change yourself. The harder you try to change yourself, the worse it gets. You are called upon to be aware. Get the feel of that jangling telephone; get the feel of jarred nerves; get the sensation of the steering wheel in the car. In other words, come to reality, and let tension or the calmness take care of itself.
Step by step, let whatever happens happen. Real change will come when it is brought about, not by your ego, but by reality. Awareness releases reality to change you.
It sounds strange in a culture where we’ve been trained to achieve goals, to get somewhere, but in fact there’s nowhere to go because you’re there already.
Your attitude should be: “I want to be aware. I want to be in touch with whatever is and let whatever happens happen; if I’m awake, fine, and if I’m asleep, fine.”
Charity is never so lovely as when one has lost consciousness that one is practicing charity.
Let’s come awake, it’s going to be wonderful. After a while, it doesn’t matter; one is aware because one lives. The unaware life is not worth living. And you will leave pain to take care of itself.
Page 147 – Giving In
You always empower the demons you fight.
But if you flow with the enemy, you overcome the enemy. How does one cope with evil? Not by fighting it but by understanding it. In understanding, it disappears.
The more you fight darkness, the more real it becomes to you, and the more you exhaust yourself.
When you renounce something, you’re tied to it. But if, instead of renouncing it, I look at it and say, “Hey, this isn’t a billion-dollar check, this is a scrap of paper,” there is nothing to fight, nothing to renounce.
Page 148 – Assorted Landmines
There is no salvation till they have seen their basic prejudice.
As soon as you look at the world through an ideology you are finished. No reality fits an ideology. Life is beyond that. That is why people are always searching for a meaning to life. But life has no meaning; it cannot have meaning because meaning is a formula; meaning is something that makes sense to the mind.
Meaning is only found when you go beyond meaning. Life only makes sense when you perceive it as mystery and it makes no sense to the conceptualizing mind.
There’s no clinging, no anxiety, no fear, no hangover, no possessiveness, no demands. Free people form community, not slaves. This is such simple truth, but it has been drowned out by a whole culture, including religious culture. Religious culture can be very manipulative if you don’t watch out.
But with true awareness there’s nowhere to go, nothing to achieve. How do we get to this awareness? Through awareness.
You don’t want to experience awareness; you do or you don’t.
Try? There is no try. There is only do or not do.
How many people spend their lives not eating food but eating the menu? A menu is only an indication of something that’s available.
That’s a good analogy. The menu is not the food. The menu is there only to give you an indication of reality – it is not reality.
The Death of Me
If you would die to the past, if you would die to every minute, you would be the person who is fully alive, because a fully alive person is one who is full of death. We’re always trying to do things. We’re always shedding everything in order to be fully alive and to be resurrected at every moment. The mystics, saints, and others make great efforts to wake people up.
The greatest evil is sleeping people, ignorant people.
A system is about as good or bad as the people who use it.
Don’t ask the world to change – you change first.
Till you are aware of yourself, you have no right to interfere with anyone else or with the world. Now, the danger of attempting to change others or change things when you yourself are not aware is that you may be changing things for your own convenience, your pride, your dogmatic convictions and beliefs, or just to relieve your negative feelings.
Page 152 – Insight and Understanding
But what does self-change entail?
First, insight. Not effort, not cultivating habits, not having an ideal. Ideals do a lot of damage. The whole time you’re focusing on what should be instead of what is.
Making him use his willpower, effort, doesn’t last very long. His behavior may change, but he does not.
The feeling got transferred. No one could make sense of why this charming man was doing this, but the moment he saw that, there was never any trouble again, never.
Not Pushing It
Meditating on and imitating externally the behavior of Jesus is no help. It’s not a question of imitating Christ, it’s a question of becoming what Jesus was. It’s a question of becoming Christ, becoming aware, understanding what’s going on within you.
You need the expert – you need understanding, insight, awareness – you don’t need pushing. You don’t need effort.
Page 157 – Getting Real
Awareness, insight. When you become an expert (and you’ll soon become an expert) you don’t need to take a course in psychology. As you begin to observe yourself, to watch yourself, to pick up those negative feelings, you’ll find your own way of explaining it. And you’ll notice the change. But then you’ll have to deal with the big villain, and that villain is self-condemnation, self-hatred, self-dissatisfaction.
Page 159 – Assorted Images
Let’s talk more about effortlessness in change. I thought of a nice image for that, a sailboat. When a sailboat has a mighty wind to its sail, it glides along so effortlessly that the boatsman has nothing to do but steer. He makes no effort, he doesn’t push the boat. That’s an image of what happens when change comes about through awareness, through understanding.
There is nothing so cruel as nature. In the whole universe there is no escape from it, and yet it is not nature that does the injury, but the person’s own heart.
You’ve got solid attitudes inside you; you’ve got solid illusions inside you; that’s what bumps against nature, that’s where you get hurt, that’s where the pain comes from.
If the eye is unobstructed, it results in sight; if the ear is unobstructed the result is hearing.; if the nose is unobstructed, the result is a sense of smell; if the mouth is unobstructed, the result is a sense of taste; if the mind is unobstructed, the result is wisdom
Wisdom occurs when you drop barriers you have erected through your concepts and conditioning.
Wisdom is to be sensitive to this situation, to this person, uninfluenced by any carryover from the past, without reside from the experience of the past.
If the heart is unobstructed, the result is love.
Page 161 – Saying Nothing About Love
One cannot make a slave of a free person, for a free person is free even in prison.
Freedom lies not in external circumstances; freedom resides in the heart. When you have attained wisdom, who can enslave you?
What does it mean to love? It means to see a person, a situation, a thing as it really is, not as you imagine it to be; and to give it the response it deserves. You can hardly be said to love what you do not even see. And what prevents us from seeing? Our conditioning. Our concepts, our categories, our prejudices, our projections, the labels that we have drawn from our cultures and our past experiences.
Seeing is the most arduous thing that a human can undertake, for it calls for a disciplined, alert mind. But most people would much rather lapse into mental laziness than to take the trouble to see each person, each thing in its present moment of freshness.
The healthy child has no interest in persons, he is interested in things. When a child is sure of his mother’s love, he forgets his mother, he goes out to explore the world; he is curious. He looks for a frog to put in his mouth, that kind of thing.
So we were given a taste of various drug addictions: approval, attention, success, making it to the top, prestige, getting your name in the paper, power, being the boss. We were given a taste of things like being the captain of the team, leading the band, etc. Having a taste for these drugs, we become addicted and dread losing them. Recall the lack of control you felt, the terror at the prospect of failure or making mistakes, at the prospect of criticism by others. So you became cravenly dependent on others and you lost your freedom. Others now have the power to make you happy or miserable. You crave your drugs, but as much as you hate the suffering that this involves, you find yourself completely helpless.
A nice definition of an awakened person: a person who no longer marches to the drums of society, a person who dances to the tune of the music that springs up from within.
To be with people is to live in tension. To be without them brings the agony of loneliness, because you miss them. You have lost your capacity to see them exactly as they are and to respond to them accurately, because your perceptions of them is clouded by the need to get your drugs.
Listening to Life
Now, you need awareness and you need nourishment. You need good, healthy nourishment. Learn to enjoy the solid food of life: good food, good wine, good water. Taste them. Lose your mind and come to your senses. That’s good healthy nourishment; the pleasures of the senses and the pleasures of the mind; good reading, when you enjoy a good book, or a really good discussion, or thinking. It’s marvelous. Unfortunately, people have gone crazy, and their getting more and more addicted because they do not know how to enjoy the lovely things of life.
I really believe that most people in affluent countries have lost that capacity; they’ve got to have more and more expensive gadgets; they can’t enjoy the simple things of life.
We’re lost in our minds, in our ideas, in our ideals, and so on, and it’s always go, go, go. And we’ve got an inner self-conflict which animals don’t have; and we’re always condemning ourselves and making ourselves feel guilty.
That was true of me, too; I lost my freedom in front of all kinds of things, but no more! I’m satisfied with very little and I enjoy it intensely. When you have enjoyed something intensely, you need very little.
Slow down and taste and smell and hear, and let your senses come alive.
The End of Analysis
I want to give you a taste of the difference between analysis and awareness, or information on one hand and insight on the other. Information is not insight, analysis is not awareness, knowledge is not awareness.
You don’t change yourself; it’s not me changing me. Change takes place through you, in you. That’s about the most adequate way I can express it. You see change take place in you, through you; in your awareness, it happens. You don’t do it. When your doing it, it’s a bad sign; it won’t last.
That is the upper right corner of the rectangle. If you are going to do it without it becoming a part of who you are – the change will not last.
But in awareness, you keep your softness, your subtleness, your gentleness, your openness, your flexibility, and you don’t push, change occurs.
The founder of my religious order, St. Ignatius, has a nice expression for that. He calls it tasting and feeling the truth – not knowing it, but tasting and feeling it, getting a feel for it. When you get a feel for it you change. When you know it in your head, you don’t.
That is the difference between KNOWING in your heart and knowing in your head. Tasting and feeling the TRUTH is knowing it in your heart, and when you KNOW it in your heart you will be set free.
Page 169 – Dead Ahead
You’re not living until it doesn’t matter a tinker’s damn to you whether you live or die. At that point you live. When you’re ready to lose your life, you live it. But if you’re protecting your life, you’re dead.
This is one of the paradoxes of life. In order to live you must die. In order to live you must hold on to life lightly. When you are able to hold life lightly and it really doesn’t matter, it is wonderfully freeing. When you can truly say about life that you don’t care – the possibilities are endless.
Life is for the gambler, it really is. That’s what Jesus was saying. Are you ready to risk it? Do you know when you’re ready to risk it? When you’ve discovered that, when you know that this thing that people call life is not really life.
If you can take an attitude of passion about what you do but hold loosely the outcomes – you will take risk and when the outcome doesn’t matter, the outcomes will more than not go your way – but who cares?
An Italian poet said, “We live in a flash of light, evening comes, and it is night forever.” Its only a flash and we waste it. We waste it with our anxiety, our worries, our concerns, our burdens. Now, as you make that meditation, you can just end up with information; but you may end up with awareness. And in that moment of awareness, you are new.
So you can pick all this up as cold fact (and that’s information). Or suddenly, you get another perspective on life – what are we, what’s this universe, what’s human life? When you get that feel, that’s what I mean when I speak of awareness.
Page 172 – The Land of Love
If we dropped illusions for what they can give us or deprive us of, we would be alert.
If you wish to love, you must learn to see again. And if you wish to see, you must learn to give up your drug. It’s as simple as that. Give up your dependency. Tear away the tentacles of society that have enveloped and suffocated your being. You must drop them. Externally, everything will go on as before, but though you will continue to be in the world, you will no longer be of it. In your heart you will now be free at last, if utterly alone. Your dependency on your drug will die. You don’t have to go to the desert; you’re right in the middle of people, you’re enjoying them immensely; but they no longer have the power to make you happy or miserable. That’s what aloneness means. In this solitude, your dependence dies. The capacity to love is born.
The birds of the air have their nests and the foxes their holes, but you will have nowhere to rest your head in the journey through life. If you ever get to this state, you will at last know what it means to see with a vision that is clear and unclouded by fear or desire. Every word there is measured. To see at last with a vision that is clear and unclouded by fear or desire. You will know what it means to love. But to come to the land of love, you must pass through the pains of death, for to love persons means to die to the need for persons, and to be utterly alone.
How would you ever get there? By a ceaseless awareness, by the infinite patience and compassion you would have for a drug addict; by developing a taste for the good things in life to counter the craving of your drug. What good things? The love of work which you enjoy doing for the love of itself; the love of laughter and intimacy with people to whom you do not cling and on whom you do not depend emotionally but whose company you enjoy. It will also help if you take on activities that you can do with your whole being, activities that you so love to do that while you’re engaged in them success, recognition, and approval simply do not mean a thing to you. It will help, too, if you return to nature. Send the crowds away, go up to the mountains, and silently commune with trees and flowers and animals and birds, with sea and clouds and sky and stars.
I’ve told you what a spiritual experience it is to gaze at things, to be aware of things around you. Hopefully, the words will drop, the concepts will drop, and you will see, you will make contact with reality. That is the cure for loneliness.
Where’s the fire? And if worship is not leading to the fire, if adoration isn’t leading to love, if the liturgy isn’t leading to a clearer perception of reality, If God isn’t leading to life, of what use is religion except to create more division, more fanaticism, more antagonism? It is not from a lack of religion in the ordinary sense of the word that the world is suffering, it is from a lack of love, lack of awareness.
And love is generated through awareness and through no other way, no other way. Understand the obstructions you are putting in the way of love, freedom, and happiness and they will drop. Turn on the light of awareness and the darkness will disappear. Happiness is not something you acquire; love is not something you produce; love is not something that you have; love is something that has you. You do not have the wind, the stars, and the rain. You don’t possess these things, you surrender to them. And surrender occurs when you are aware of your illusions, when you are aware of your addictions, when you are aware of your desires and fears.
It’s the “Aha” experience that counts.
Alas, so much time that is given to worship and singing praise and singing songs could so fruitfully be employed in self-understanding.
Community is created by understanding the blocks that we put in the way of community, by understanding the conflicts that arise from our fears and desires.
We must always be aware of making worship just another distraction from the important business of living.
Living is to have dropped all the impediments and to live in the present moment with freshness.
And increasingly – you know this and so do I – we’re losing the youth everywhere. They hate us; they’re not interested in having more fears and more guilts laid on them. They’re not interested in more sermons and exhortations. But they are interested in learning about love. How can I be happy? How can I live? How can I taste of the marvelous things the mystics speak of? So that’s the second thing – understanding. Third, don’t identify.
First step: I don’t identify.
I understand I’m feeling depressed, disappointed, or whatever. Second step: I admit the feeling is in me, not in the other person.
Because as long as I think it’s outside me, I feel justified in holding on to my feelings. I can’t say everybody would feel this way; in fact, only idiotic people would feel this way, only sleeping people. Third step: I don’t identify with the feeling. “I” is not that feeling. “I” am not lonely, “I” am not depressed. “I” am not disappointed. Disappointment is there, one watches it.
Anything you’re aware of keeps changing; clouds keep changing.
I began to see miracles. I began to see the self-dissatisfaction that had been ingrained in me, the competition, the comparisons, the that’s-not-good-enough, etc. You might object that if they hadn’t pushed me, I wouldn’t have become what I am. Did I need all that pushing? And anyway, who wants to be what I am? I want to be happy, I want to be holy, I want to be loving, I want to be at peace, I want to be free, I want to be human.
The religion that makes people good makes people bad, but the religion known as freedom makes all people good, for it destroys the inner conflict that makes people devils.
You don’t need conscience when you have consciousness; you don’t need conscience when you have sensitivity.
The root of evil is within you. As you begin to understand this, you stop making demands on yourself, you stop having expectations of yourself, you stop pushing yourself and you understand.
Nourish yourself on wholesome food, good wholesome food. I’m not taking about actual food. I’m talking about sunsets, about nature, about a good movie, about a good book, about enjoyable work, about good company, and hopefully you will break your addiction to those other feelings.
Lots of people gain the world and lose their soul. Lots of people live empty, soulless lives because they’re feeding themselves on popularity, appreciation, and praise, on “I’m OK, you’re OK,” look at me, attend to me, support me, value me, on being the boss, on having power, on winning the race. Do you feed yourself on that? If you do you’re dead. You’ve lost your soul. Feed yourself on other, more nourishing material. Then you’ll see the transformation.
 Monks and Scholars must not accept my words out of respect, but must analyze them the way a goldsmith analyzes gold – by cutting, scraping, rubbing, melting.