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Human Life

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Human Life

Balancing Understanding, Being and Doing

From the perspective of our Work, generally speaking, three elements need to be balanced or need to stay in balance as a person is engaged in the process of development. Basically, the three things are understanding, being, and doing. Most individuals tend to emphasize one of these over the other two. Some people are more balanced towards the understanding aspect of human experience. Some people are balanced more towards the being element, the actual felt experience part. And some people are balanced more towards the action, the doing part of human experience. This imbalance creates a disharmony that affects all three elements. Our work involves developing these three elements into a harmonious unity, and this involves balancing them. A constant balancing needs to happen again and again, whenever an imbalance appears in either the individual or in the group. Otherwise, development could happen in an imbalanced way. It is possible for a person to develop one part but not the others. Although this can be fine in itself, it does not lead to an integrated human life. It does not lead to the state of maturity.

Egoless Beingness

Thus it is possible to experience egoless beingness, to be, as a substantial Presence that is not a mental construct, and still live a human, personal life, in which love, work, knowledge, creativity and accomplishment make sense, a human sense. This true existence, this Presence, this being beyond time that makes sense of human and personal life, is the Personal Essence.

Examining Our Life

It’s possible to examine the extent to which our lives reflect the truth we know. What kinds of foods do we eat? Do we exercise? How do we manage our schedules? Do we find out what we enjoy doing and then set about doing it? Do we allow ourselves the rest and the aloneness that we need to experience the preciousness of reality? Or do we spend day after day being lazy and procrastinating, living routines that makes us miserable? What do we do in terms of our relationships? Do we try to live those relationships according to the truth that we know? Do we apply the experiences we’ve had of ourselves and others and the world or do we reserve our insights for special occasions? Do we create the kind of environment that supports the actualization of the truth? Or do we believe that it’s sufficient to experience ourselves as precious, and then expect the angels to come and clean our room every day?

Fear of Admitting Our Lostness

Our situation really is much more difficult, much more profound than we allow ourselves to see for a long time. That’s why we speak of the terror of the situation – because it is so frightening to finally realize and admit how lost we are, and how at the mercy we are of so many elements that we have no handle on. The terror of the situation has a lot to do with how much we believe what we think we know, with how much we are caught in the gravity of our planet of conventional reality, believing it to be the center of the universe – and sometimes all that exists. We usually do not realize that our experience of reality has to shift only a little bit and all will disappear, leaving us totally terrified.

Gaining the True Life

In the Christian tradition, we need to be saved through the action of Christ, through the resolution of the original sin. The action of Christ is the action of unification and union, realizing that we’re not separate. The original sin is the belief in separateness. To see through the separateness, to realize that we are not separate from the truth but an integral expression of the truth, is true service. We are not only a servant but an actual slave of the truth. When we serve the truth and become God’s slave, we don’t lose our independence, we don’t lose our life, but we gain the true life. As Christian mystics say, the true life is the life in the Divine Being, life lived as part of the Divine Being, the Cosmic Truth.

Learning that We Can’t Live Fully Without Both Dual and Nondual Experience

So primary realization—being true nature and knowing yourself as being true nature—is a necessary element for essential activation, but it is not in itself essential activation. Essential activation reveals primary realization, but it also reveals other modes of realization, other ways that enlightenment can appear—all the way to recognizing that duality is enlightenment. We can see how there can be enlightenment in duality and how duality and nonduality can coexist and interact. We learn that we can’t live life fully without both dual and nondual experience. If we stick exclusively to one or the other, we live a limited life. If our experience is only dual, our life is incomplete. If our experience is only nondual, there isn’t really life. But taken together, dual and nondual experience and their interaction make it possible to understand what it means to live a human life. If, when we are realized and established in one form of primary realization—whether that is absolute emptiness, supreme presence, the Tao, Christ consciousness, or the Brahman—we take that to be the final realization and ultimate freedom, then we exclude the other ways true nature is manifesting.

Living According to Your Understanding

So what does it mean to live according to the truth? Last time we talked about truth in terms of different levels of understanding. To live according to the truth means to live according to the level of your understanding, to live your deepest experience. In the beginning, the truth might be insights about yourself, about your personality, about your self-image. So to live according to that truth means to actually apply your will, to put your attention into living according to what you have already seen.

Living the Way We Are Supposed to Live

The point is not to be enlightened or to be God realized. Rather, we are to live the way we are supposed to live. That is all, and simply so. We are to live reality the way reality actually is. Teachings approximate, and at best express, what that means and suggest how to go about it. Ultimately, teachings have no objective validity but are conceptual tools created by well meaning individuals to help us live our life in the most natural and complete way possible. Once they have served their function, teachings are to be dropped. Otherwise, they will remain addendums to reality, a weight for us to carry. I am not saying that teachings are inaccurate, or are empty fabrications. The real ones are accurate and express reality faithfully, but they are still extra to simply living reality.

Missing the Point of it All

The loss of essence, the repression of the subtle organs and capacities, the shutting off and distortion of the subtle and energetic centers, and the overall resulting insensitivity, all lead to a general but devastating loss of perspective. The individual no more knows the point of life, of being, of existence. He no longer knows why he is living, what he is supposed to do, where he is going, let alone who he is. He is in fact completely lost. He can only look at his personality, at the environment that created it, and live according to the standards of his particular society, trying all the time to uphold and strengthen his ego identity. He believes he is not lost because he is always attempting to live up to certain standards of success or performance, trying to actualize the dreams of his personality—yet all the time he is missing the point of it all. It is no more the life of being; it is only the life of the personality, and in its very nature it is false and full of suffering. There is tension, contraction, restriction. There is no freedom to be and to enjoy. The true orientation toward the life of essence, the orientation that will bring about the life of the harmonious human being, is absent or distorted.

One’s Life Becomes the Natural Expression and Extension of One’s Personal Realization

The more the Personal Essence is realized and developed, the more one experiences one’s life as integrated with who one is. One’s life becomes the natural expression and extension of one’s personal realization. One literally fills one’s life with one’s integrated qualities and capacities. Defensive, superficial and unnecessary activities, interests and engagements drop away. One’s interests and activities become a direct reflection of one’s essential attainment. Life becomes rich, profound, significant and fulfilling. This does not happen through planning or premeditation. The mind does not and cannot know what needs to happen. The Personal Essence exerts the influence of all its qualities and dimensions on the consciousness of the individual. One becomes naturally and spontaneously interested and involved in the activities, interests and situations that are in harmony with one’s realization. This realization determines one’s life, and one’s life leads to a greater development of the realization. One begins to feel that everything that happens in one’s life is meaningful and necessary. It’s as if nothing wrong can happen, or that whatever is perceived to be wrong turns out to be ultimately in the service of one’s development.

One’s Life is a Current of Experience, a Current of Perception, a Current of Impressions

However, you can also look at your life and reality in general as a series of changes in perception, and this perception includes the body and its movements. We ordinarily think that perception and experience are secondary to the physical space and the physical body that’s in it, but can you ever experience the physical body in physical space without perception? Can there be any life at all without perception, and specifically, without changing perception? No. Therefore, we can say that one’s life is a current of experience, a current of perception, a current of impressions. Experience includes all the modalities: vision, hearing, feeling, sensing, thinking, imaging, all together as one unified current. If you close your eyes, the current continues; only the patterns and colors change. Certain things are not there, other things are there. Certain things appear, others have disappeared. You may say that you closed your eyes, which is the familiar way of expressing this experience, but what happens is that the current is presenting different perceptions. At least, this way of viewing it is just as valid as the notion that your eyes open and close. In fact, if you investigate it philosophically, or completely scientifically, you will find no proof that you have closed your eyes. All you can assert without
further assumptions about reality is that impressions changed and perception changed, because the explanation that you closed your eyes is itself an impression that is part of the current.
This is an interesting shift in our way of looking at things. Things continue to be the same, but we can look at them slightly differently, which can bring in a different perspective. Usually we think that reality is out there and that we’re here interacting with it, and that this interaction creates our experience. In this view, experience comes and goes, sometimes occurring inside, sometimes outside, but always in fragments and pieces: “I had this experience . . . I had that experience.” It is external reality that appears to be continuous, not our experience. What we don’t see is that everything that’s happening is simply a change in the stream of our perception. The continuity, the current, of experience is constant and includes everything—there’s really no inside or outside.

Putting Ourselves on the Line to Be Real

To be real, we need to put ourselves on the line, to take the necessary risks. We need to decide that we’re going to be real even if it means everyone we know will abandon us. We’re going to be real even if it means we won’t eat for days. We’re going to be real even if it means we’re going to get sick. If we don't take that kind of risk, we're just not going to be real. How else could it be? If we don't feel that our truth and our integrity are valuable, then we won’t take that risk. We will stay a shell, a hypocrite pretending to seek the truth. How will we find rest if we know we’re a coward who prefers a little bit of comfort to the integrity of who we are? We can't lie to ourselves about these things.

The Requirement for Courage

Living according to the truth requires courage, boldness, and a willingness to sacrifice. We're sacrificing what is false in us. In the beginning, it will appear as if we are sacrificing our security, safety, and comfort, sacrificing the possibilities of pleasure and love. But these seem small sacrifices once we have a taste of what it’s like to be real, once we have a taste of the satisfaction and freedom of really living as a human being.

The Seed of Understanding that All of this Life, Including the Universal and Divine, is for Us

People who are oriented toward the impersonal, universal spiritual life have a certain misunderstanding. It’s true that to forget about your personal life, to forget about yourself and become a monk or nun, can lead to liberation and enlightenment. But is that why we have a life? Are we supposed to abandon our life on earth to go somewhere else? The majority of humanity rejects this path, and continues to seek happiness and fulfillment here, in this life. So even though it’s not possible to have a fulfilled life the way most people try to get it, there is something very deep and true in that striving for personal fulfillment. In that yearning there is a seed of understanding that all of this life, including the universal and divine, is for us. Why are we here if the abundance is not our lot in a personal life, if we are not going to enjoy it? The way the ego goes about it doesn’t work, but the original impulse is not false. This is a mystery that is rarely understood.

Values that Lead to a Refined Human Life

You will have problems, issues, conflicts, and misunderstandings in your life, and in your work here. These are to be seen as only part of the picture, not the focus and center of our Work. These things need to be looked at when they present a barrier. Even when you are looking at an issue, it is more to the point to focus on the mechanisms of the mind with an attitude of appreciation for the process of understanding. This focuses on the truth in the issue, rather than on getting rid of the problem. This may seem to be an insignificant or subtle distinction, but it makes a big difference in the outcome of the work. One perspective is alive and dynamic; the other remains boring and static. If you want to live a more fulfilling life, you have to develop a taste for certain values, a taste for truth and understanding, depth and profundity, precision and exquisiteness, dignity and integrity. These refined values are subtle rather than gross. They will lead to a refined human life, infused with natural beauty, colorful and rich. All of these things are present all the time—you don’t have to achieve them, you just need to appreciate them. You need to begin to love them and orient yourself towards them so that you allow yourself the time and opportunity for them to emerge.

Valuing Our True Essential Nature

If we don't bring to bear in our life our true qualities—our strength, our will, our intelligence, our compassion—we won't recognize the preciousness, integrity, and beauty of being human. We won't respect ourselves if we don't act in a self-respectful way. We won't value ourselves if we don't conduct our life in a way that recognizes the value of our true essential nature. We won't have confidence in ourselves if we don't grapple with difficulties. Conducting our life with confidence, value, and respect is connected to loving truth for its own sake. What is truth, ultimately, but the nature of the human being? Truth is essentially what we are, who we are, what we are capable of, our very substance, our nature, our reality. So to love truth for its own sake is not separate from valuing what you are as a human being.

When the Movement toward Spirituality becomes Innate and Doesn’t have a Cause

I am not implying that spirituality is different or divorced from everyday life. Spiritual life means experiencing and living life in its completeness, which includes its hidden truths. When our turn to being comes from the purity of reality—what we call true nature—the movement toward spirituality is innate and doesn’t have a cause. We are simply driven to know reality and to see the truth. It is like being in love. We can’t help it. We have to be close to reality, to see reality, to be one with reality. Most of us are motivated by all these reasons at one time or another. But if we don’t have the drive that comes from the purity of being—meaning that the enlightenment drive is activated and working—we can’t penetrate the delusions that obstruct the life of realization.

When We Simply Live Our, Minds Teem with Insight and Our Being Brims with Life

We see that any experience, regardless of how simple or mundane, is a finding of reality. Any experience is freedom, as long as we do not need to mentally elaborate on its meaning or make associations about its significance. We simply live it. We simply live. Living is in all situations but does not depend on any of them. That is to say, even though living completely pervades all situations and experiences, it is neither defined by nor does it need any of them. When we simply live, our minds teem with insight and our being brims with life. This continual bursting is the red sulfur, the ongoing generation of novelty in a way that is an enhancement of one’s life, and the life of all. No true freedom is self-centered or only for oneself. In its abundance of love and joy, freedom naturally opens to the freedom of any and all.

Without True Nature We are Lost in an Intractable Sort of Way

When we first have a close encounter with true nature—where we directly experience its radical otherness—we recognize that it is something miraculous. Even in this beginning experience of true nature as a something among other things, we sense in the experience an inherent purity, an inherent goodness, an inherent magic and power. And the more we learn about it, the more we encounter it, the more we experience the realization and the freedom of true nature, the more we are awestruck by its majesty and beauty. We see that the self-expression of true nature is what makes it possible for us to have any spiritual experience. It is what makes it possible for us to have any insight or understanding. Without true nature, we are hopeless as human beings; we are lost in an intractable sort of way. Without the light or the guidance or the presence of true nature, we are unconscious and asleep—“fodder for the moon” as Gurdjieff put it. That is to say, without true nature, we are basically serving the perpetuation of life, the perpetuation of the universe. Instead of being the universe that is self-manifesting—what he called “the trogoautoegocrat”—we become food for evolution and don’t actively participate in the actual creative effulgence of life.

Your Life is a Variation on Two Themes: Protection and Acquisition

Another implication of this ego point of view is that there is a restriction, a boundedness to your experience. You are walled in. You are in jail! You might entertain yourself with all kinds of things in that jail, but you’re still in a jail. You can’t leave the island. You don’t want to leave it. You can’t imagine leaving it! You believe that leaving the island means that you will drown. So you’re always going over the same terrain in different ways—sometimes on a bicycle, sometimes in a car, sometimes in a balloon. But it’s always the same terrain. Another aspect of this point of view is its separateness from other islands. If you have your own island, don’t you need to be on guard, alert? Don’t you need to protect it from threat? You are always afraid something may happen to it, so you need a strong army, and you put a lot of your energy and resources into defense. When you’re not trying to defend your island, you’re busy trying to get things for your island. Your life is a variation on two themes: protection and acquisition. You want more approval, more success, more money, more recognition, more knowledge, more experience, more pleasure. You make your island stronger, more enduring, richer and more valuable. Then you have all the more reason to protect your island.

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