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Being Real

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Being Real

A Risk and an Adventure

Being real is a risk and an adventure. What will be left when all of the concepts are gone? Who will we be? How will we see the world? What kind of feelings will we have? How will we see other people? We do not really know, and there is no way to find out until we do. We can see it as a movement toward ontological independence or autonomy. However, even these are approximations, familiar concepts from the past that we are now applying to something that we still do not know. It is difficult to talk without creating another boat. We destroy one boat, and the moment that we say another word, we create a new boat. It is difficult to be and not think of being, to really forget our entire mind, to take our mind and put it into one of our pockets and zip it up for a while. But this is precisely what we need to do if we are going to find out the truth for ourselves. Such freedom and such boldness are not easy. The boats cannot be sunk all at once. Usually we sink a few boats at a time; otherwise, we may get overwhelmed, flooded, totally disoriented. To sink all of our boats we have to confront all possibilities. We are completely and absolutely at sea then: nothing above, nothing below, nothing to hold us from any side. At this juncture, we cannot expect anyone or anything to help us. It is useless even to think that Christ will be your guide, or an angel will descend, or a bodhisattva will help. These are some of the boats that we need to abandon. Work schools have been created to help us reach this juncture. They are useful for most of the way, for almost the totality of the inner journey. We need the boat to traverse the course, but not to finish it. We have to be completely alone at some point, absolutely independent, not simply from other people’s minds but also our own.

Being Real Happens when the Noise has Subsided and the Complexities Dissolve

Being real happens when the noise has subsided and the complexities dissolve and we are experiencing ourselves just as we are in our true condition. Not the reflection, not the picture, not the echo, not the memory, not the thought, not the reaction, but the thing itself. Usually, we assume that reality is full of all kinds of sounds and noise, and we believe most of what we
hear. We focus on what the noise is saying or else we are busy responding to it—defending, justifying, reacting, explaining, judging, thinking, planning, remembering. But those activities are just the reflections of what is real. Being real is what we are, what we truly are, and we experience it in the moment. And being real doesn’t require that we experience anything in
particular. It is more about the way we are being, rather than what we are being. It is like the difference between hearing one thousand loud noises and hearing one single note, simple and gentle, which makes us feel closer to who and what we are. Closer to our heart. At that moment, we feel that our heart is alive and tender. Our heart has its tenderness when we are feeling ourselves. We recognize ourselves in that tenderness, in that nearness to what is real.

Being Real Means that We can Experience and Express Our Spiritual Nature

You have probably noticed that we have taken somewhat of a detour in our exploration of divine eros. It becomes important for our inquiry into divine eros to also inquire into relationships. That is why we have spent the time learning something about true or real relationship—what it is and how we can open it up so that it develops and becomes even more real. In this teaching, real relationship both expresses our spiritual nature and helps us be more open to it. That is what “real” means. It doesn’t mean that if I’m mad at my wife, I tell her I’m mad. This feeling can be true, and expressing it can be authentic, but that is not what being real is. For us, it is only the beginning. Many people think that if you feel and express your feelings, you are being real. We need to be able to do that, but more than anything else, being real means that we can experience and express our spiritual nature. In this understanding, true relationship supports both people to access their spiritual nature more easily, and it is also a place to express it, to live it. You can definitely express your spiritual nature freely with your dog or your parrot. But it is more satisfying to express it with another human being, in the sense that what you express will be more complete, more total. And it can be reciprocated in kind.

Being Real, Learning to be Real, is Our Practice in Every Moment

It means learning how to recognize our agitated activity, our noise, and how not to go along with it. Instead we learn to simply settle, relax, and be. And I don’t mean that when you relax and be, you just sit and meditate. Meditation is something we practice, but ultimately, engaging inner practice and living life are not two things. Being real, learning to be real, is our practice in every moment; it becomes the living of our real life. And being real transcends any dimension, any experience, any perception—regardless of the content. It is just the experience of feeling no distance from yourself—no dissociation, no scattering, no dispersion, no distraction. And the more you recognize this collectedness, this presence, this hereness, this settledness, the more you have a sense of being real, of reality. So at some point, we see that spiritual practice is a matter of learning reality, learning to recognize realness, learning to be real, and learning to be ourselves in our realness. And we see that we are only interested in learning these things if we have the appreciation and love of being real. We have to love being genuine to go through the trouble and the discipline of inner work. It is because we are being authentic, because we are approaching reality, because we are being touched by reality, that we love it and are willing to go through the various processes of acknowledging and seeing the truth—whether painful or scary or pleasurable.

Feeling Guilty for Not Being Real

Ultimately, all self-blame comes down to blaming oneself for not being enlightened. Universally, there is a core place within all ego structures where one feels guilty for not being a realized Being. The guilt, as we have seen, has to do with the fact that (in Christian terms) you have been thrown out of paradise—yet you don’t blame God for this; you blame yourself. The deeper
you go into understanding the sense of guilt, the more you realize that you feel guilty for not being real. This is particularly relevant when you have realized the essential aspect of the Point, the Essential Identity (see The Point of Existence, Almaas 1996). Here you see that you have carried within you a profound sense of guilt for losing contact with your true nature. A sense of
great betrayal arises, not just because your parents didn’t see your real nature, but that you stopped seeing it. You abandoned what is real in you; you abandoned yourself. Each ennea-type will experience this guilt in a slightly different way, as it is filtered through the lens of each one’s specific delusion, but this guilt and self-blame for the loss of contact with Being is universal to all egoic experience.

Facets of Unity, pg. 94

Learning what it Means to be a Real Person is a Process of Unfoldment and Transformation

To be real means that we need to be able to live in a way that reflects the reality of what we truly are. It is important to recognize, however, that being real doesn’t happen in a moment. Learning what it means to be a real person is a process of unfoldment and transformation. It is not something you fall into or recognize all of a sudden, as it sometimes can be in the discovery of or awakening to true nature. It is a maturational process. And it begins with being honest, truthful, and real about where you are and investigating that. Every moment holds the possibility of more realness and more in-touchness with the presence of essential Being. We want to be human and we want to be real. Real humans are magical creatures, but they are rare. In fact, we are magical creatures beyond our wildest imagination. Hameed once said, “We are actually elephants trying to be butterflies.” And right after that, he said, “We are actually butterflies trying to be elephants.” The first statement reflects our belief that our earthbound self is a heavy, solid mass rather than the luminous colorful beauty of the liberated lightness of Being that we long to be. The second describes our forgotten lightness, as we become a worldly creature and take a more substantial form. Sadly, both statements reflect the unsatisfying existence of most human beings. Our actual situation is even stranger than that. We are not creatures of this world even though we live here. We are not born here and we don’t die here. Being emerges into time and space, creating time and space as it emerges into and as this world. Being arises in forms, birthing itself into existence. One of those forms is the human one, that of you and me, and that form changes all throughout life until it is shed, perhaps for other forms.

Living a Real Life is Not Kid’s Play

As I’ve said before, the work of living a real life is not kid’s play. People sometimes tell me we should have more fun, more pleasure. Fun and pleasure are little things, by-products when compared with being real and living a true life. Sometimes I have a good time; sometimes I have a bad time. Sometimes I’m heavy; sometimes I’m light. Sometimes I’m joyful; sometimes I’m sad. So what’s the big deal? What matters ultimately is that I’m honest with myself, that I am sincere. When I’m sincere, I am satisfied within myself. All the other things are ornaments. It doesn’t matter a bit if people think of you as wonderful or horrible. It doesn’t matter a bit if they think you are the most realized human being or think you are a creep. What matters is whether you are honest with yourself, whether you know the truth and are living it. This is integrity in relation to yourself. So the joy in the work is a celebration of the truth. It’s not a celebration of something superficial or transitory or fake. When I’m working with someone, I don’t necessarily feel joy about their successes in life. Joy comes when I see the person being truthful, being sincere with himself. Joy comes when I see the person turning toward the truth, regardless of how painful it is, regardless of how much he is suffering. Seeing the person suffering makes me feel compassion, but what brings me joy is when I see the person confronting the truth and wanting to live according to it. That’s what I enjoy seeing in people. That’s what I enjoy seeing in myself.

Sometimes Being Real Means Allowing Pain or Accepting a Painful Truth

But it would be missing the point to want to be real so that we will feel satisfied or happy or accomplished. No, we want to be real because in fact we love being real. We love reality and we love to feel it, to see it, and to be it as much as possible. Only when we can slow down and rest in the simple, precious moments of living, can we recognize that we love this quality of realness for its own sake and not because of what it does for us. We don’t love it because it makes us feel good or is good for us, or because it means an attainment of one kind or another, or because it represents some kind of enlightenment or advancement. We love it because we know that when we are real, we are home—no matter the sensation or the flavor. Sometimes being real means allowing pain or accepting a painful truth. Yet something in us aligns with an inner ground of authenticity when we are real. We love it because of its inherent rightness in our soul, the sense of “Aha, here I am and there is nothing to do but be.”

The Best Approach to Being Real is to Learn to be Where We Are

The best approach to being real is to learn to be where we are, because where we are is what is already happening. Whatever we are experiencing at any time is part of True Nature, part
of our presence, part of our consciousness, part of our awareness. True Nature is unable to resist anything. It is not in our True Nature to separate something out and fight it off. It is not designed to do that. True Nature manifests its freedom by being inherently spacious and light. It is a spaciousness that feels weightless and functions as an invitation for things to arise and to be themselves and in that way to reveal themselves fully and completely. We don’t need to go along with the tendency to resist our experience. We can learn to be spacious by being aware of the resistance, being present with the resistance, feeling what it is like, and being curious about it. If we are able to allow our experience—to embrace it, hold it, and feel it fully, rather than rejecting it or trying to change it—we give it the space to be itself. Then it will naturally unfold because that is the nature of our True Nature. As our experience illuminates itself and reveals what it is about, it will at some point reveal our True Nature, because each experience we have is somehow related to our True Nature. By understanding and seeing the truth in our experience and following the thread of that truth, we are following the path to our True Nature.

The Practice of Being Real is the Same as the Practice of Being Oneself

So what is the practice of being real? It is the same as the practice of being oneself. To be real means, “I am not an idea of myself. I am not pretending to be myself. I am not being in reaction to something or someone or their image of me. I am being what I actually am.” But it is not as though one can just stop being unreal and start being oneself. After all, who knows what that actually means? How are you going to try to be yourself? It is not as though you have many selves on a shelf, and you can take the real one down and put it on. The good news is that no matter how distant you are from yourself, something in your experience in any given moment expresses who you really are. You can wander far from your realness—you can even become disconnected from it—but who is it that is far away or is disconnected? It’s still you. Whatever your experience, wherever you are, whatever you are perceiving, is connected to what and who you really are.

The Work is the Lifeline to Your Real Life

Most people do not like to hear this. They might have all kinds of thoughts and opinions about the Work, but they don’t want to see this fundamental fact. It is frightening because acknowledging the true importance of the Work threatens your whole life. It threatens the false life by leading you to your real life. The Work is the lifeline to your real life because the Work is actually the lifeline to your essence, your being, your true nature. Not only is the Work the lifeline to your essence, the Work and your essence cannot be separated. So your relationship to the Work, to the teaching, must be the same as your relationship to your essence because the teaching and Essence are the same as the Work. If you observe yourself closely, you will see that your relationship to the teaching is always the same as your relationship to your essence at that time. Often people will look at their relationship to the teaching from the perspective of authority. Whether they like to be “followers,” or resist being “followers,” they want to deal with the teacher as an authority. They must, therefore, go through all their judgments and emotional issues about authority. But it is not a question of authority here, of somebody who knows and somebody who doesn’t know, nor a matter of following somebody else. All these issues are irrelevant when it comes to realizing the existence of your essence, to being real and actually existing as a human being.

We are Attracted to the Condition of Being Real

As we go along, you will see that we can learn to be real, to connect with and become aware of our realness. And you will notice that something about this attracts us. We are attracted to the condition of being real. We like being real. And this is because we know the difference between being real and so much of what our usual experience is. Most of these things are not what is real; they are just reflections and distortions. Many people get caught up in spiritual experiences and perceptions and all kinds of interesting, subtle impressions, some of which can be exciting and uplifting. But there is nothing like the simplicity of being oneself—settling into yourself, just being there, recognizing what you are, and feeling the sense of intimacy and realness of that. All of the inner journey, all of spiritual practice, ultimately comes down to this: that we are able to be genuinely what we are. If you want to do inner practice in order to develop certain powers or go to other dimensions or have special experiences, you still don’t know what spiritual work is. And this is because you are not yet recognizing what reality is or what being real means. On the other hand, you already appreciate being real if you genuinely want to do inner work for its own sake. Being real means being the way you are when you are by yourself and quiet: “I know this is me and I know what that is like and I am comfortable being it. I have no conflict about it. And when I am interacting with someone, it is that reality of who I am that is interacting.” People don’t generally make the effort to do inner work if they don’t want to be real, if they don’t feel that being real is something good, something they want, something they appreciate. There is something precious about being real in an interaction, something that cannot be analyzed. Being real has nothing to do with getting something or giving something, being seen or making the other feel seen—none of that. It is just me, as what I am, actually being the one who is doing or saying something.

We Experience Our Ontological Ground When Our Experience of Ourselves is Completely Unmediated

What is self? The soul, as we have discussed, is an organism of consciousness that contains and cognizes all of our experience. Although we have said that self-realization is a matter of being ourselves, this is not a completely accurate description. We have used the phrase “being ourselves” to refer to the sense of being real or authentic. But actually, the soul is always being itself. It cannot be anything other than itself, for it is the very experiencing consciousness. This consciousness—which is the self—has a fundamental existence, an ontological mode of being. And it can be directly aware of this fundamental existence. This is possible only when we are simply being, not conceptualizing our identity, not reacting, and not manipulating. In other words, we experience our ontological ground when our experience of ourselves is completely unmediated. Although the self is always being itself, the experience of the self is incomplete until a certain development occurs: self-recognition. In self-realization, the soul recognizes its own nature, the presence of Being. It is this immediate, intrinsic self-recognition that gives the state of self-realization the sense of exquisite intimacy.

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