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Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Quotes about Living

A Level of Work Where Only Penetrating Intuition and Direct Perception Can be Used Effectively

Here it is not a matter of discovering new aspects of essence. It is a matter of letting go of the ego identity and living from the essence that is already present. In this phase of the work, everything becomes an object of study and understanding. It is no more an inner process. One's life, with all its situations, comes into focus. One's style of life—how one leads one's life in all its aspects—becomes understood and modified accordingly. The individual becomes aware of his environment and ascertains whether it supports or inhibits the life of essence. One's relationships to other people, intimate, sexual, social, and professional, all become clear and objective.  Everything, every part of one's life, inner or outer, becomes conscious, no longer under the sway of the unconscious. This is a very deep and involved work. It leads to responsibility and maturity. It would be almost impossible to carry out this deep work if it were not for the presence of essence, with its penetrating power. Most of the unconscious material at this phase relates to the early months of life and even before that. It is material that is considered preverbal and, in fact, pre-personality. The mind cannot function at such depth. Only penetrating intuition and direct perception can be used effectively at such a level of work. Essence does penetrate to these deep strata of the personality. It exposes them to the light of understanding. In fact, essence is the true agent of transformation; it manifests the necessary aspects corresponding to the relevant sectors of the personality, and these aspects make possible the necessary understanding.

Being Personally Fulfilled, Satisfied, Contented and Happy, Living a Personal Life that is Completely and Unselfconsciously Devoted to the Service of Humanity

The Personal Essence is the true integration of the ideals of both the man of spirit and the man of the world. It is Being, but it is also a person. It is a person that is completely spiritual, made out of spiritual substance, but at the same time living in the world a personal life. He is Being, and he is a human being. He is both the man of spirit and the man of the world. For the one who has integrated the Personal Essence there is no separation between the world and spirit. There is no separation or difference for him between the life of the spirit and the life of the world. He is spirit in the world, living the personal life of a human being. This is clearly a greater development than either living the life of the man of spirit or the life of the man of the world. The complete man lives both, as one integrated life. He can be impersonal spirit and he can be an embodied person. He is the integration of both. He is both as one. Usually, the man of spirit, because of his experience of personality, is unable to conceive the possibility of a person who is real, who is a person of Being. But this is exactly the experience of the Personal Essence. One is a person, who is Being and not a mental structure. One is not self-centered, although one is unique. One is completely selfless, loving, compassionate, real, generous and human. How else can one be? His nature is Being. He is pure consciousness. He is an integration of love, kindness, joy and all aspects of Being. And he is fully aware of all these aspects and dimensions, without much preoccupation with them. He is fulfilled but is concerned with the fulfillment of others. He is satisfied and contented, and he is concerned with the satisfaction and contentment of others. He is personally fulfilled, satisfied, contented and happy, living a personal life that is completely and unselfconsciously devoted to the service of humanity.

Being Your True Self

When you are being your true self, you are not looking for pleasure, you are not avoiding pain, you are not trying to get approval, nor trying to get someone to admire you. You are not out to criticize someone else, or to defeat someone else, and you are not out to gain fame or power. You are naturally and spontaneously living as a genuine human being who has respect and consideration for other human beings. You are not trying to love someone; you are just loving, without even thinking about it. If you are a mature person, it is second nature that you are loving, that you are giving, that you are respectful, and considerate, and that you behave and act in a refined and mature human manner. To make these values and manifestations second nature, you have to put conscious effort into them. You have to make it your work. This does not mean that you have to be solemn and grim and serious; that is not the point. The point is to act with sincerity and to put conscious effort into being aware of yourself and others in order to treat yourself and others with respect. This also does not mean giving up pleasure; it means not seeking pleasure. It does not mean creating pain; it means not avoiding pain. 

It is Possible to Experience Ourselves as the Actual Phenomenon, the Actual Ontological Presence that We Are Rather than as Ideas and Feelings About Ourselves

Our experience of ourselves can be transformed from identifying with our mental self-images to having awareness of less contingent, more fundamentally real aspects of the self. It is possible to arrive at a place where we can experience ourselves as the actual phenomenon, the actual ontological presence that we are, rather than as ideas and feelings about ourselves. The more we are able to contact the actual presence that we are, the less we are alienated in a superficial or externally defined identity. The more we know the truth of who we are, the more we can be authentic and spontaneous, rather than merely living through concepts of ourselves. Among the many methods that shift the quality and depth of experience, those used by religious and spiritual traditions are more effective in contacting deeper dimensions of the self, with a more thoroughly developed understanding of these dimensions and their significance for living life than those used by the newer science of psychology. However, psychology has contributed powerful new knowledge about the human being that allows us to systematically work through the barriers to these deeper levels of self, especially the barriers to integrating these levels into one’s identity. In particular, the current understanding of narcissism is very useful for the process of inner realization, the process of learning to contact and appreciate the deeper levels of our nature and allowing these dimensions to actually affect our identity. 

It is Your Responsibility to Protect and Guard and Preserve Your Essence, Your True Nature

So to recapitulate, we need objective perception to understand that Essence is the answer, Essence is the fulfillment, Essence is the Ridhwan. And from that will result the true value of Essence in yourself, in others, everywhere. Then, with that understanding and valuing, there will arise the true discipline, the true protection for Essence and for the essential life. The world we live in does not support this. People around us do not support this. There are pressures everywhere against this orientation. When you experience Essence, it needs to be protected. You have to find your own citadel, your own fortress. Your citadel has to do with the true discipline; it is the true discipline. There is an actual aspect of Essence that we call the citadel, which is the protection for your essence so that it will be preserved and develop and can be used for others. This is the right way of living. It has to be there. It’s not that you’ll experience your essence and automatically get out of the swamps. You have to take action, to live your life in accordance with the truth, the truth of your essence, the truth of who you are, your situation, what your limitations are. These need to be taken into consideration in the way you live your life. It’s not going to just happen—there are too many external forces against it. It is your responsibility to protect and guard and preserve your essence, your true nature. You couldn’t do that as a child because you were totally dependent, but now you have the chance to preserve and protect your essence as you experience it. 

Life Becoming a Continual Creation Because Essence is the Creative Element in Us

The discovery of essence is the beginning of the true life. Essence, as we have seen, is not a state experienced once and then always experienced in the same way afterward. Essence is rich and endless in its aspects, qualities, dimensions, capacities, and possibilities. All of this richness starts unfolding, bringing surprise, delight, beauty, value, and fulfillment. Life stops being the life of strife and frustration, the wish for success and the fear of failure. More than anything else, life becomes a process of creative discovery. Discovery itself becomes the heart of life. Life becomes a continual creation because essence is the creative element in us. Suffering and problems become less important, and creative discovery becomes the actual process of living. The unfolding of essence becomes the process of living. Life is no longer a string of disconnected experiences of pleasure and pain but a flow, a stream of aliveness. One aspect manifests after another, one dimension after another, one capacity after another. There is a constant flow of understanding, insight, knowledge, and states of being. As this unfolding proceeds, it affects the mind, the personality, and the external life. When conflicts arise, inner or outer, it is the expression of the lack of understanding of incoming essential aspects and dimensions. It is part of the creative process of living. Every new insight or knowledge is preceded by its absence. This absence is seen from the perspective of the ego as a conflict or a problem. However, if the individual is interested in the truth, the conflict is seen for what it is, an absence of a certain understanding. The presence of this understanding is the same as the presence of a certain aspect or dimension of essence, with its qualities, capacities, insights, and mode of living. 

Life Becoming a Continuity of Being Instead of a String of Events

The inner realization and development becomes expressed in life, becomes the source of one’s life, the substance of this life. Everything in one’s life becomes a reflection of this realization, an expression and an intimate extension of it. In this way, realization becomes an actualization. It is not only an inner experience, but an actualized life. Life becomes a continuity of Being, instead of a string of events. It is as if the fullness of the Personal Essence pervades every corner of one’s life, filling it, expanding it, transforming it and authentically actualizing it. One’s Being and one’s life are one thing, inseparable and unified. One is a personal living presence. Living one’s life, doing one’s job and relating to others, are the same as being oneself in the world. Actualization involves the fusion of Being and living. One is simply being oneself, and this naturally translates into the life of Essence. One feels in direct and immediate contact with one’s life and activities. There are accomplishments, achievements, tasks, jobs and so forth, but they are not of the same quality as those activities conducted by the ego individuality. They are completely inseparable from being oneself. One does not achieve for any reason; it is the natural expression and extension of one’s Personal Essence. Achievements are not looked at as ways to gain recognition, love, self-esteem, success, fame, power and so on. They might bring such things, but they are not for such ends. They are merely the natural expression of being oneself, living and functioning authentically. One does not care about gain from success in the world; success in the world can happen, but only as a side consequence of gaining one’s authentic Being. 

Living One’s Life and the Work on Oneself Become One Thing

Life becomes a process of creative discovery from the moment essence is recognized and experienced as one's true being. It continues to be an endless process of creative discovery when the identity shifts to essence; however, there is now the understanding that it is so. There is now the understanding and the trust that essence will bring about whatever needs to be brought about. The ego does not need to work any more. The creative process happens on its own. Ego can only obstruct it. This is true the moment essence is discovered. Living one's life and the work on oneself become one thing: It is “His Endlessness,” unfolding as a creative discovery. The shift of identity from personality to essence is nothing but the realization of the true self, the high self of essence. This experience of timelessness, spacelessness, and no-mind is also the entrance to the Beyond, to the Universal Impersonal, the Absolute that is the ground of all existence. This is the Ultimate that is beyond personality, mind, time, and even essence. Realization then becomes more and more expressed in living, in action. Practical action becomes the action of the true being. There is efficiency, economy, simplicity, directness. One fully lives in the world but is constantly connected to the Beyond, the Supreme Reality. 

Only Living in a Way that is Natural to Us Will Free Us from Unnecessary Struggle and Strife

To live fulfilling and rewarding lives, we must live like human beings. Our problems, our conflicts, our suffering, our disappointments, and our lacks are not due to the causes we ordinarily ascribe them to; they are primarily the result of the fact that we are not living the way we are supposed to be living. If any being is not living the way it is meant to, the deviation from the inherent potential of that being will manifest as disharmony, conflict, problems, or perhaps physical or mental dysfunction. Only living in a way that is natural to us will free us from unnecessary struggle and strife, only living in a way that is truly human. A natural way of life is not determined by what some authority says; rather it is a life lived in accordance with natural laws of functioning of our beingness, of who we are. To really consider this fact necessitates a radical shift in our way of looking at ourselves and in the way we conduct our lives. We must first accept that since there is unnecessary strife, struggle, and pain in our lives, this means that we really don’t know what it’s like to live as human beings. We need to see that we really don’t know how a truly mature human being lives, or what kinds of values and principles govern the life of such a person. The first thing we need to confront, then, is the ever-present, arrogant belief that we know what a human being is, what it’s like to live as a human being, what a human being’s life is about, and how a human being is supposed to conduct herself. Let’s entertain the possibility that a person with the normal level of consciousness—composed of emotional reactions, ideas, and beliefs taken from the past and from other people—is not yet a human being. She is a reflection, an imitation, an unfinished attempt to become a human being. Her potential has not developed. Such a person is run by influences that are supposed to rule only children.

Realization of the Personal Essence Can be Understood to be the Way that Being Learns to be in the World

Our exploration in this book has shown us that ego development is part of a larger process, leading to the realization of the Personal Essence. This indicates that the process of cathecting the body (and its world), if it continues to its completion, will result in the development of the Personal Essence. The Personal Essence contains all the true learning of the individuality of ego. The Personal Essence is the essential aspect that embodies the wisdom of living in the world. When the Personal Essence is developed, however, the identity is no longer connected exclusively with the body. The body is recognized for what it is: the external and physical manifestation of the Personal Essence. Thus the process that ultimately leads to the realization of the Personal Essence begins with self-realization in childhood; i.e., with the Essential Self, and ends with the Personal essence, the essential person. Between these essential poles, the ego development makes up the rest of the process. In this way, Being acquires the wisdom of the world. It can now live in the world, although it is fundamentally not “of” it. Thus the realization of the Personal Essence can be understood to be the way that Being learns to be in the world. The Personal Essence is the aspect of Being that embodies the wisdom of the world. We have discussed the Personal Essence as the aspect of Being connected with functioning. We have seen it as an integration of the functions of primary autonomy, on the Being level. So the development of the Personal Essence is the way Being becomes functional in the world. We can see now in what way ego development is part of a larger process, a process by which Being becomes a human being. This process, which includes cathecting physical reality, is that of the realization of the Personal Essence. So it is a process of personalization of Being. 

Reification Constitutes a Powerful Barrier to Our Capacity to Experience Reality with No Concepts, to Experience the Dimension of the Nonconceptual

So noetic forms are independent of our personal orientation, independent of our history of learning to name and discriminate things. As we have discussed, the process of conceptualizing the elements of our experience and reifying the concepts in our minds creates a world made up of opaque and separate entities. This reification constitutes a powerful barrier to our capacity to experience reality with no concepts, to experience the dimension of the nonconceptual. It also prevents us from seeing the level of oneness. Two elements of perception must shift to make a transition from living in the world of mental objects to perceiving the world of actual noetic forms: First, the perception of forms as separated, discrete objects must shift, so that there is a perception of oneness where there are discriminated perceptions but without separating boundaries. In this level of perception, forms and concepts are seen as transparent. Second, the capacity to be conscious and aware of reality without any conceptualization at all is needed. This is perception in the nonconceptual realm—what some call the “ground of awareness.” These capacities do not necessarily develop in a particular order; they each have many issues and barriers associated with them, which we have begun to address in the past few meetings. 

Seeing that One is Living, Not Only His Own Life, but Also the Life of His Mother and His Father, to Some Extent

Thus during the time of symbiosis, much of the mother’s personality is imbibed, so to speak. This has great significance for ego development, as Sullivan saw. When the mother is happy the infant will feel happy, even if she is not interacting with him. When the mother is suffering, the infant will suffer, even if the mother is not expressing her inner state in her interaction with him. For instance, the mother might be angry at her husband. She knows this and is not directing her anger towards the baby. She holds the baby gently. However, the baby feels her anger completely, and the resulting experience is negative merging. This point becomes painfully clear in the deeper stages of essential development, when the student begins to deal with the merged representations. He will realize that many of his traits, conflicts and emotional proclivities are not his own at all. He will see that he is living not only his own life, but also the life of his mother (and his father to some extent), and her mother before her, and so on. One will realize, with horror or perhaps with humor, that he has literally inherited the deeper layers of his personality. One lives, to a greater extent than one cares to face, the emotional lives of people long forgotten. One is reminded of the character of Alia, in Frank Herbert’s science fiction book, Children of Dune, where the persons in her memory of the immemorial past vie with each other to dominate her consciousness: 

The Attempt to Be as Fully Aware and as Fully Present as Possible is Your Task, is the Necessary Effort Needed

Student: Could you say something about how to use the Work as a way of bringing Being and understanding into action?

Almaas: Well, we already know that our physical work session is set up for that to happen. In those sessions, people are engaged in various tasks, the actual practice of doing something. But they are ideally supposed to do this practice in a state of awareness and presence. The attempt to be as fully aware and as fully present as possible in your task, is the necessary effort needed. Of course, as you are doing that, there might arise many kinds of things that you can look at, understand, let go of, and so on. In time, all of your experience, all of your understanding, should be integrated, should manifest in action. Manifestation does not come about merely by thinking about it, because one person has millions of insights. You cannot just use your mind to figure out how all these insights and realizations relate to living life. You cannot integrate them into living by thinking about them, or by merely having more insights. They will be the insights of a couch potato. You cannot do it that way. However, when you put forth the effort to be present, to be aware, to be essentially in action, the awareness becomes the understanding part, and the presence, the Being part of action. You will encounter difficulties and barriers to being present and aware in action. Learning how to deal with these barriers is the actual Work. From this come observations and issues that you might have to work on for some time afterwards. Overcoming these barriers, through continual practice of presence and understanding, will integrate your realization into action. You might not be able to actually do it in one Sunday afternoon, but you might start becoming aware of the difficulties, the barriers, your preferences, and your prejudices, and of how your imbalance shows and presents itself.

The Events and Activities of Your Personal Life Become as Much an Expression of True Nature as the Inner Process of Self-Realization

The understanding of inquiry we are discussing highlights the integration of true nature and everyday life through finding your thread—being where you are, moment to moment, and following your immediate experience. As this luminous thread, which is the center of your life, manifests and unfolds, your daily life becomes an appreciation and celebration of the continuing manifestation of true nature in its various qualities, colors, and forms. This flow of experience, of manifestations, is what we call living the essential personal life, in which the various situations of personal life become the context for Being to manifest its many possibilities. For example, if you go off to court because you have been sued, Being manifests in a specific form for you to be able to deal with this situation. It will be a different form from the one that will manifest when you go to bed or sit down to talk to a friend. And even in the latter case, Being will manifest differently when your friend is suffering from a relationship breakup than when your friend is putting you down and arousing your anger. Thus the events and activities of your personal life become as much an expression of true nature as the inner process of self-realization. It is natural, then, that certain questions and conflicts will arise in our attempts to understand what it means to follow our thread. These are important and relevant questions for inquiry in general, and thus worth looking into more deeply. 

The Usual Way of Living Life, the Undeveloped Way, Operates from the Perspective of the Personality, of the Ego-Self

Human values can generally be understood by looking clearly at the personality, or the ego, from a simple perspective. The usual way of living life, the undeveloped way, operates from the perspective of the personality, of the ego-self. If you envision it as a circle, it can be divided into two primary elements: the circumference or periphery of the circle, and the center of that circle. This is a good metaphor for the nature of the ego-self: The center is what we call the sense of self, the “I” that you take yourself to be. When you say, “I will do that,” or “I want this,” that is the center of the personality, not the whole of the personality, only its identity. The other element of the personality, the circumference, is the individuality, the sense of being an individual. So the center is the identity, and the circumference is the individuality. If you look at your experience of yourself and the way you live your life, you notice that usually it can be seen from these two perspectives. Either you are concerned about who you are, your sense of identity, the feeling of self, the center of operation, your center; or you are thinking of yourself in terms of boundaries, in terms of being an individual, separate from other individuals. You notice that you are an individual, and as an individual you have a certain quality which is your identity. The fact that you are an individual does not affect what quality the self is. So the personality is like an individuality with a certain color, a certain quality that defines it, and a name. At the most superficial level of these two elements, the shape of a human being gives you a sense of individuality, and your name gives a sense of identity. You are usually willing to fight for your name, and for your sense of individuality. These two elements are the major ego structures which pattern the flow of your experience, pattern your soul, and they are, of course, intertwined. 

The Work Simply Guides Us About How to Go About Living Life in a Real Way

As far as I know, we can’t become real, can’t become truthful embodiments of reality, unless we take the risks to live that way. We must make the necessary sacrifices to be and to live that reality. It’s not likely to happen that you sit there meditating, have wonderful experiences, and then suddenly you’re a real human being. Living according to the truth requires sacrifices and risks. The work is a self-confrontation, an attempt to be more and more truthful and sincere with yourself. We gain integrity and value by living according to the truth. The work is not separate from being real, from living our life. The work simply guides us about how to go about living life in a real way. For me, it’s sometimes much more satisfying to say one real word to somebody than to go on a vacation and have fun. Pleasure and relaxation are necessary and important, but it’s much more valuable to me if I can confront a situation squarely, and be what I can be in that moment. 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. 

There is an Interaction, an Interrelationship, an Inseparability Between Understanding the Truth and Living Life

Truth is an element in all our experience; it pervades all parts of our life, in all situations. It is much bigger than just saying the truth. It is a matter of living the truth and ultimately being the truth. Telling the truth is often a part of living the truth, but sometimes it runs counter to living a life of truth. The truth is much bigger than just a true statement. So living a life of truth is a lot more than just being honest or speaking truthfully. To be truthful means to be truthful to yourself, to what you know, and to who and what you are. To live the life of truth means first to value the truth, and to value knowing the truth. It also means to value the truth such that you make it the center of your life, which means learning to be genuine, authentic, and sincere. At its heart, living the truth is a matter of integrity and respect—for oneself, for others, and for truth itself. The more our life respects and reflects the truth that we know, the more it will take us to ever deeper dimensions of truth, of true nature. There is an interaction, an interrelationship, and an inseparability between understanding the truth and living life. We cannot separate the two. We cannot be ivory tower philosophers and expect to discover truth. It doesn’t work that way, because inquiry is a journey of truth-finding that constantly reveals the oneness of Being and life. Our spiritual philosophy must become an action philosophy. We have to let our souls become a manifestation of each truth we discover. 

There is No Conflict Between Living the Essential Life and Getting What You Want in the World

Many of us prefer not to believe the principle that preferring anything over Essence leads to suffering. We can try to change this fact, to get around it, but it won’t change. It’s a law of nature, as basic as the law that rain falls downward. We may try to cheat this law, convincing ourselves that we are living for Essence when our real motivations are different. But you cannot cheat Essence; it will not work. One reason we don’t want to see this truth is that we often believe that if we choose to live in accordance with the truth of Essence, we will lose all the goodies of life that we’re attached to. We are so accustomed to looking at our lives from the perspective of getting things from the outside, we believe that if we cease to count on this pattern, we will lose them all. This is not so. In fact, if all your actions and desires, all the aspects of your life are subordinated to the truth of Essence, you can have what you want in your life. You can be famous, rich, sexy, have a family, a career, all these things. And you can enjoy them in the fullness of Essence, rather than always trying to get more and fearing the loss of what you have. There is no conflict between living the essential life and getting what you want in the world. In fact, when we are living according to our essence, it is possible finally to love our lives and the things in our lives. But if we value external things over our essence, then we shut off the part that can enjoy these things. The heart of joy, what we call the yellow heart or the bright sun, becomes sunny when it is turned toward Essence. When it is turned somewhere else, it is dark. It’s that simple. 

To Live for the Truth is in Some Sense Living for the Self, but Not what We Think of as the Self, which is the Worldly Self

Two factors contribute to our ability to live according to the truth: Perception of the truth, and willingness to sacrifice when we are aware that we do not yet perceive the whole truth. First of all, to see the truth about the self is to recognize that the self as we know it, is not as fundamental, is not as real, is not as important, as we take it to be. The self, the way we think of it, is ultimately a construct. It is a self-image based fundamentally on the body. The self-image is the most superficial part of us, the skin of who we are. When we see the truth, we recognize that our nature, the depth of our reality, is the truth itself. So to live for the truth is in some sense living for the self, but not what we think of as the self, which is the worldly self. If you see the truth, to live for self and for the truth is not two things, but one. My true self is not separate from the nature of the universe and also is not separate from your true self. It is the nature of existence. If I take an action that is real, it will serve me and you at the same time without my thinking about me or you, because the reality is the reality of all of us. So to sacrifice your life means to take real action, to do what is correct and objective. It is to do the right thing at the moment, which has nothing to do with serving you or me. It is to serve the truth that is the nature of you and me and beyond. 

To Live Life Well Means Being Completely and Authentically Ourselves

At a certain point, you realize that what you are is not different from recognizing the nature of your awareness, the nature of your consciousness. It is what you are. It is the essence of your Being. And the essence or nature of what we are can express itself in what we call spiritual qualities, or spiritual forms, or different kinds of subtle energies. In this seminar, we are going to focus on a particular way that our nature can be experienced—a specific subtle energy that we will call divine eros. Divine eros refers to a particular quality, a particular energy, a particular way of experiencing the nature of our consciousness. At the same time, it is a way of experiencing, feeling, and knowing our consciousness that becomes significant for being open to the depth of our nature. All of these modalities are useful in the realization of our nature, which means that understanding divine eros is very important for our enlightenment. We chose divine eros as our subject matter because it is a support for enlightenment; but our focus in this seminar, our orientation, is not only directed toward discovering the nature of consciousness and how to be present as that consciousness. More important, what we will learn and experience here is useful for living life—and it is particularly helpful in our relationships with other human beings. In other words, it brings our realization into the situations of our life. We want to live as fully and as completely as possible. We are living life anyway, and we might as well live it well. To live it well means more than just eating well or exercising well. It means being completely and authentically ourselves, whether we are eating or riding our bicycle or interacting with another human being. 

Ultimately, Engaging Inner Practice and Living Life are Not Two Things

Wanting to be real indicates having a measure of self-love, some kind of love of what we are. So when we want to move toward being real, we are already expressing a lovingness and an appreciation that is essential to spiritual work. If that lovingness is not there, our practice is done for the wrong reason; it is part of the noise. What I’m pointing to is not a selfish kind of self-love; it is not possessiveness or self-centeredness. This heart attitude toward realness—this feeling that our consciousness, our soul, our awareness, has about being real—is very subtle and difficult to explain. To recognize this appreciation for the real in ourselves indicates that we have already developed a certain level of maturity and a specific guidance for our practice. It is a precious moment when we recognize this love, this appreciation—when we know that we are not practicing to accomplish something. I am not meditating, praying, chanting, or working on myself to make myself better. I am not doing this work so that I will be as good as the next person or because I have an idea or some ideal I developed or heard about and decided was a good thing to go after. It is not a matter of going after anything. It is just a matter of settling down with myself. 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. 

Understanding Becoming the Same Thing as the Process of Actually Living Your Unfoldment

However, our deepest nature is not that of a person. We can manifest as a person, but at the deepest level, we are something that is the source of the person. When we come to the understanding that reveals the truth rather than the falsehood, then it is functioning more as a process of unfoldment. Then understanding, which has seemed to be the equivalent of looking at something objectively, is no longer separate from the process of unfoldment itself. Seeing one layer of our reality and understanding it, is the same thing as that layer coming out, unfolding like a flower opening up. Understanding becomes the same thing as the process of actually living your unfoldment. Because you understand your experience of joy, for instance, you experience yourself as joy. You become light, happy and joyous; you start joking and become bubbly and can’t stop laughing. What does understanding mean then? Part of it, which is revealing the falsehood, sees whatever barrier stopped you from being joy. Then you understand what it is to be joy. To understand what it is to be joy means to be joy consciously, means to actually feel it as your very atoms. At that level, understanding becomes clear, or you begin seeing what it is: Being and awareness of Being at the same time. Being is our true nature, right? Essence is Being. So you’re being whatever aspect of Essence is arising, like joy. There is awareness, there is consciousness of that Being, which is different from the way a child perceives. A child doesn’t have understanding. A child has Being, but a child isn’t conscious of that Being. The child is happy, but doesn’t know that it’s happy, doesn’t consciously feel it. Happiness is expressed, but not consciously experienced. You can tell that the child is happy, or the child is contented or peaceful, but the child’s mind is not conscious of it.

We Need to Start Living the Truth that We Find

We move to deeper dimensions of truth only if understanding expands and deepens. And, for the truth to go deeper, for understanding to reveal the greater dimensions of truth, the truth we discover needs to be integrated into the rest of our life. We need to start living the truth that we find. We can’t just discover it, experience it, understand it, and then go on living our life as if our discovery were an isolated experience. If we do that, truth won’t keep revealing itself. In other words, if we do not include—if we do not integrate into our actions and choices—the truth that we have found through our understanding, the process of deepening revelation will stop. Why? It’s very obvious. If we take action and make choices without taking into consideration the truth that we have discovered, then we are holding on to and fixating on the obscurations that were blocking that truth. It means we believe in this ignorance more than the truth, which amounts to the same as not recognizing the truth as the truth. Then we are living a life of lies when we already know the truth. And how is the truth going to reveal more of itself when we are disowning the truth we have discovered? How is that truth going to expand to deeper and deeper dimensions? It isn’t. Our consciousness is going to go back to the surface, to the place it was before we discovered that truth. So, if we want to cooperate with the process of revelation of truth, we need to live the truth that we know. Every time we discover truth, we need to put it into action. We have to change our life according to that truth. 

What We Are Doing – the Task of Life – is Developing Being into a Human Being

Well, it is not exactly like that. Being knows how to do things with grace, with beauty, with power, with effectiveness, with precision. However, Being does not know about how to fix a window. Your true self has nothing to do with windows; it does not know about windows. It does not know how to water plants. That is where your consciousness, your personality, comes in. But when you are watering plants, Being certainly knows how to do it the best way, in terms of the sense, of how to hold yourself, how much effort to exert, how to do things in such a way that you feel integrated within yourself. Being shows you how to manifest the beauty outside. There has to be a coordination and a working together, and ultimately a harmonization, a balance, because we are not just talking about a state of being; we are talking about living. That is the Work we have in our life. We are already beings. Before we are born, we are beings. The story then is how to bring this Being into living. That is the task we have in this life: to learn how to live on earth in physical bodies, do things and enjoy things that the inner being is usually not concerned with. In other words, how can essential Being manifest as a human being? What we are doing—the task of life—is developing Being into a human being. That is the stage of evolution we are engaged in. Being is already here; you come as Being. It is true that you forget, and you forget because you still learning how to bring this Being into life. However, in the case of conventional life, the necessary knowledge and guidance are absent, so a split develops. After the splitting occurs, a part of the consciousness goes on doing and living life, separate from Being. As a result, we need to regain access to our being, and then harmonize that being with living. Regaining of Being, which is enlightenment, is not the end; it is the beginning, which is how we started anyway. But we need to grow up, and learn how to be as mature human beings. 

When the Integration Progresses to the Essential Level One’s Accomplishments and Attainments Become One’s Contribution to Humanity

In normal ego development, the mother’s image is internalized, and this provides some basis for a certain kind of satisfaction and connectedness, but only on a superficial level. For true integrated development the Merging Essence must be realized, creating the possibility of the development of the Personal Essence and the sense of being intimately connected to one’s life and achievements. In fact, the Personal Essence is the factor responsible for actualization. When the integration progresses to the essential level one’s accomplishments and attainments become one’s contribution to humanity. It is not only for oneself, and it is not only for humanity. On this level of experience the two are inseparable. One then knows and actualizes one’s true contributions, by the mere fact of living one’s personal life. One’s personal history is now seen as the way one has been able to actualize one’s personal realization and contribution. Personal history finally becomes metabolized in the realization and the development of the Personal Essence. Its fruit is one’s life and the attainments of this life, as one and the same thing.

With a Devastating Loss of Perspective the Individual No More Knows the Point of Life, of Being, of Existence

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. This loss of perspective and orientation leads to the loss of reality. The individual sees only illusions, follows only illusions, for he takes these illusions to be the reality. We are not talking here only about the neurotic or the pathological individual. Such a person, it is true, does not see the reality of the average and adjusted citizen of society. But this means he does not see the reality of the personality; his personality is incomplete, distorted, or too rigid.

You End Up Being a Ghost Living in a Ghost World

So your mind and personality develop, and you end up being the personality, the ego-self, living in the world of the mind. The personality is the creation of the mind. The representational mind is itself a mental creation. So you end up being a ghost, living in a ghost world. That ghost world is dark compared to reality—not only dark, but dank and old. It is merely a repeat of previous thoughts. We forget reality so thoroughly that we live our lives completely seeking the values of our conditioned mind, one conditioned goal after another, whether we call it goodness, love, success, or happiness. All these are creations of our minds. They do not exist; they never existed. They exist only in our minds. They are mirages. We seek them all our lives, and when we find them, we find that there is nothing there. They do not quench our thirst, because they are not really there. When you believe you have found one of these elusive conditioned goals, all you can do is attempt to perpetuate it in your mind, to solidify and support it, which means to perpetuate the dank, old world that we believe exists. We can never think of reality as it is. We can never imagine it; we will never know it. The moment you know it, you kill it. The moment you know it, what you end up with is an idea in your mind, an old, dank idea that you will perpetuate. You are preoccupied with the various creations of your mind. Of course, your mind is interacting with lots of other minds, and the creations of other minds in our society; mind begets mind. And you are trying to live according to the contents of this mind, your mind in conjunction with the collective one. But it is a dream life, a ghost life. It isn’t really there. 

You Need to Do Whatever in Your Life Will Support Your Essence

I don’t mean that we shouldn’t want anything besides Essence. Not at all. If that’s what I meant, then we would be somewhere in the desert, being monks and nuns, wearing white robes and long strings of beads. That is not what I mean. What is meant is that Essence should be the primary concern in our lives. Everything else should come second and should function in the service of Essence. You need to do whatever in your life will enhance and support your essence. Whatever it is, absolutely. That is the true source of rules, the source of morality and right conduct. It is the rule for nobility in living. Sometimes it looks like the person living this way is suffering, not going after the satisfactions that most people associate with happiness. The reality is that when life is lived in this way, there is a satisfaction and joy beyond anything the personality can experience. Most people say they want to feel good; they want to feel happy and have a good time. They go after illusory satisfactions that only increase their suffering. If a person really wants to be happy, then she should go about it in the right way—which is to value Essence over everything else. If you do that, you are happy. If you don’t, you are not. It’s that simple. 

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