True nature? I hope you are curious about this phrase. Does it mean that you are doing something that offends others but you cannot control it? That something etched into your character is unchangeable but others wished you would change it? Is it a kind of get-out clause when the going gets rough….’Ah well, it’s in my nature, etc?’
The word nature has many connotations:
- something natural and therefore wholesome?
- being at ease in any situation, staying calm and always being in control?
- showing your shortcomings in public and feeling overwhelming disapproval?
- Good natured? Bad natured?
- Mother Nature and the Universe?
And so on……
But in this case I am talking about something quite magical. So let me start off by telling you a little story. Stories always help because you become a child when you listen and the story magic works on your unconscious mind in a subtle and often long-lasting way.
Once upon a time there was a poor man with a big family who had to work so hard to earn so little money. It got to the point where he couldn’t feed his children or plan for the future of his two beautiful daughters which as the custom went he would have to provide a dowry for when they married. So, reluctantly, he and his wife decided that they had no choice but to leave and go to a distant land where he could find ways of increasing is earnings and send money home. He packed a few possessions and set off for the long walk which would take him across mountains and deserts to reach this land.
Once he arrived there because he was quite young and willing he quickly found work and began to earn more money. In time, his employers liked his work so much that they increased his wages and gave him more and more responsibility.
Eventually, he became a manager and was able to buy a big house and land, and live like a Lord. At this point, he had been away so long that he forgot about his wife and children in his distant homeland, and met and married another woman. His life was so changed. He could relax and start to enjoy it a little.
His employers gave him more and more responsibility but then he got in with the wrong type and started to drink excessively and to gamble. One day, he realized he had lost everything he had earned and acquired. So, finding he had lost even his fine clothes, he put on his tattered traveller’s outfit and set out wearily on the long journey home.
When finally he arrived his family was very glad o see him to his surprise because he had let them down so badly. So, he settled back into family life with deep gratitude even though he was still poor. In his absence, his mother had died and he was called to her house to attend to her affairs. She had left a letter for him which he opened sadly because he had not been able to say goodbye to her.
The letter read, “My dear son, I am sad when I think about your life of back-breaking work for so little reward. I was sure you would return to us a rich man, but that was not to be.
However, please now look inside the lining of your traveling coat. Before you left, I repaired this coat but in fact I sewed the family jewel inside to keep it safe. All you needed was with you all the time but you thought you could find it outside. Please learn from my final wisdom to you. My son, you have all you need to be completely happy inside your own heart.”
He gently felt along the seam of his coat and sure enough he could feel something. He took a knife and gently cut the stitching and a large ruby fell out. He cried large tears which were a mixture of joy and sadness: joy that he and his family had a secure future and sad that he had been so blind and caused such suffering for his loved ones.
So, your true nature is just like the poor man’s ruby sewn into the lining of his traveling coat. We all have a powerful gemstone inside us but because it is hidden and we neglect it, it steadily loses its shine and eventually becomes encrusted with dirt so that we cannot recognize its power.
Like the poor man in the story, he had given up on his own uniqueness, his treasure mind, his divine spark because he was forced to suffer in poverty and frustration. But if he had respected and gazed at the remarkable spirit he came into human life with, he could have polished his talents and changed his destiny.
This unique spirit, this talent to embody all love and light is something we can see so clearly in new creatures and babies. If they are healthy, their spirit is potent and gleaming, their curiosity and energy is joyful and their love unconditional. The world is new to them and the dominance of their culture and conditioning not yet exerting a strong influence.
If we watch children at play, we can see from the way they use their bodies that they are at ease, their spine and joins supple and open. They move around without effort delighting in or perhaps fearing the stimuli they find in their new environment. They are one with everything around them because they have not yet learned how to use thought to separate themselves away, to assert themselves, to develop their ego and personality. But most important of all, they do not wear any social masks.
If they feel anger, they usually show it spontaneously. If they feel joy, then their laughter in infectious. They live for love, crave the constant attention of their closest parent and seem not to have a care in the world. This lack of care shows in their bodies – free moving, balanced, no blocked energy, because they have not yet learned how to worry or compare themselves with others except at a superficial level.
We can also see this freedom especially in movement in animals. One of the most exciting sites I have ever witnessed was watching a cheetah hunting a gazelle on the African savannah. It totally embodies its instincts and its survival needs as it runs at lighting speed, flowing like a rapid stream of muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Most modern human beings have drifted far away from any sacred connections, far away from a sense of awe of the mighty powers of the universe. They have replaced the sacred in a material world with the gods of Pepsi-Cola and Football, Levis and Luis Vuitton. It is as if they have turned their back entirely on their origins and on the natural world which has allowed humans to survive this far.
Let me paint a picture of what life was like before the mass-media took over our lives and directed us about what to wear, what to eat, how to think and even how to love.
Once in the western Christian world, and nowadays in Islam and Buddhist faiths which guide people in which way to live, the sacred was a way of life. We Europeans did not know how to be without it. Thoughts of sin and paradise, of unconditional love and blessings, were dominant in the same way that advertising jingles, chart hits and attention-catching words uttered by great stars in films are on the tips of our tongues today.
The secular world has nudged away the sacred. It seems that there is something shameful about it to many people. You may still have the urge to consecrate or make sacred something or someone, but because the visible world has become the be-all and the end-all of our existences, and our fears of natural forces have been intensified, we resort to glorifying impermanent materials and short-lived notions.
In short, many of us have re-invented ourselves, taking all the credit for everything we achieve in our status-driven lives. Perhaps we have looked to tangible powers which we can take control of exactly out of colossal fear and confusion.
The sacred world is filled with so much we can never understand, and nor were we meant to. Our tolerance of accepting unconditionally, of trusting and believing in something we cannot see or control, has led us to turn away wholesale from the planet and the universe. We have allowed ourselves to be led into the pleasure gardens of lives of sensual pleasure and convenience where we can easily suppress our divine origins.
Love has turned to lust, to another kind of power over other beings whom we desire to manipulate to our own ends. Love has been transformed into a commodity which we can negotiate for, make choices about and ultimately take possession of the object of our strange and narrow rumblings of ‘love.’ In fact, we have become separated from love so that we often project our feelings on to others by exploring it. This modern consumerist ‘love’ comes with many conditions.
But love is not a commodity or something separate from human beings. Our unique higher consciousness with special abilities has evolved exactly so that the glories of a greater love can fill the world. Evolved so that the survival instincts of animals which we view as cruel and savage and have risen above, can be replaced with peace and sharing of the precious produce of our green planet.
Love is not a material or object, but a sacred energy which we have been given these special skills to express in the world. We do not ‘have’ or ‘make’ or ‘do’ love. We are love. We embody it as children and animals in the wild do to nurture their species, and we must use our gifts to express it in glorious artistic ways.
Unconditional love is our ‘true nature.’ We are not separate from animals at all, just the next stage of evolution. We have to make the choice to destroy or preserve, to respect or detest, to embody love for all other beings or to love in a self-serving way. And we have had many models in the great spiritual leaders that have persistently tried to wake us up to our incredible potential. But as a race it seems we prefer to take everything into our hands and snub all the desperate messages we have been given. We have not listened deeply, unconditionally, so far!
Your True Nature consists of not only a dazzling gem stone which is capable of illuminating the entire world, but also the energy of unconditional love and unconditional light which, in the world of form, the visual world, you have the unique opportunity to embody.
You can ‘be’ love at every moment if you choose to. It is entirely your choice. You can also choose to be a consumer of worldly love and be consumed by it, as you can choose to live your True Nature or not.
First, definitions: Secular – the world as opposed to the church or generation/age. It has many other meanings such as – in astronomy, the slow changes in the movements of planets, the sun or moon; in economics, a fluctuation or trend in the economy which is indefinite; but the main meaning today is not being bound by religious laws or connected in any way to spiritual or religious matters. Sacred – connected with God or a god or connected to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration. The other modern coinage is – regarded as too valuable to be interfered with. Secular and sacred are, as you can see, opposite in meaning, but the fierce grip of religious organizations and their power over all of society in the past is clear in this contrast.
As the ‘protesting’ secular mind appeared and overtook the sacred, we started to move away from the power of the invisible and the mystical to follow our self-made pathway. We gradually needed intermediaries in the form of priests and shamans, master and gurus, to communicate with that invisible world that we had lost touch with. We were compelled to build mighty churches and cathedrals, temples and citadels, compose glorious music, literature and art, to create a pure and sanctified field in which to be able to reach the gods and buddhas. This is a significant moment our spiritual deterioration when we started to turn away from our True Nature.
Originally, before the secular developed, we were pure and spiritually evolved. The gods and buddhas walked among us in the world of form and we were each a potential god or Buddha; we still have this potential today. But, because we have moved so far away from all that is sacred, our potential is limited, diminished, and so spiritual training and deep change is much more difficult. We have to work persistently to be able to connect with the purity that once came so naturally to us, and today, very few people choose this life. We prefer the easy convenient way – the flick of a switch, the comfort of a variety of portable screens always on standby available to us sitting in a comfortable armchair.
So, organized religion has become the norm because individuals have lost their unique connection with the spiritual world and with their true nature. But such religious groups with huge memberships, are oppressive, some say masterful indoctrinators, rife with negative energies and corruption. Due to their existence and their role in developed societies, what was once awe of the mystical and spiritual has turned to fear and benefit seeking; buying amulets and blessings, following teachings to the letter and being distracted by achieving holiness and admiration. Such distractions could be seen as red herrings when we consider all the riches we have inside us and when each unique spirit must have faith in its own way. It has also led to the detestation of anything remotely ‘religious’ in many people; and those who are innately respectful of the sacred have been shunned or even exterminated.
A plethora of symbols and rituals, of metaphors and parables, is irresistible to the intellectual mind. But are we not then interpreting reality with our own interpretation of an interpretation? There are layers upon layers of interpretation creating a thick film of dirt on our precious diamond, burying our true nature even more deeply. We can no longer feel what we truly feel, never mind express it to others. It is like following a map and seeing it as the place we want to go; seeing a representation as a territory.
Added to this is the composition of large urban societies and the pressures they exert to conform, to fit in and be successful. In order to live peacefully and in harmony, we have to suppress most of our natural urges and wear masks because we lay so much store by the approval of others. Wearing such masks so we can carry out our roles to the satisfaction of our peers often means that we are dishonest with ourselves, and once that happens, it follows that we can perhaps inadvertently be dishonest with others. There are such incongruences in modern society – in other words, people behaving in a different way in private to the image they publically project. The thoughts we have which will give birth words and actions are often flawed due to resentment, to frustration, and other negative emotions like envy or greed, lust for power, hatred or idleness.
But there have been several visionaries in 20th century who worked tirelessly to coax out people’s True Nature in the secular realm, away from religious sentiments. They were truly light-workers incognito, their self-honesty and vision of how humans could realize their full potential while strapped into the seats society insisted they sat in, impressive. I will write about their incredible individuality and their insights into embodiment and our living as gods and buddhas once more in time. It was with their inspiration that I realized my own True Nature, but none of them were willing to become great charismatic leaders, or to have a massive following. They were adamant that they could re-educate or encourage true nature without creating a dependence. In other words, they wanted all humans to be free and to sing their own songs not those of others.
The great spiritual leaders, Jesus Christ, Buddha, Allah, Mahaveer, and many others, manifested in the world of form to wake us up from worldly distractions, but eventually they died as all matter must. If we were touched by their teachings or their model lives, our direct contact with the mystical perhaps became slimmer and slimmer after their death. The disciples of these great leaders in their desperation to keep the teachings alive, were forced to make decisions and divisions, to draw the line, to insist that their interpretation was correct. Out of devotion to their blessed gurus, the disciples put all their energy into conveying the teachings, but gradually, the signal became fainter and fainter for the masses, though still crystal clear for the sincere.
This weakening of the human aspiration to recognize its potential after a great leader or master dies, remembering that we only use 10% of it even though our physical state is 100% evolved, is highly significant in respect of True Nature. Some say that we are either followers or leaders according to our natural character, and that may be so, but our tendency to depend on others, to be passive rather than active, to abdicate and defer to other stronger personalities, is one of the main reasons we lose contact with our True Nature. A person of charisma comes into our lives and we defer or abdicate completely seemingly longing for the direction they give which we lack ourselves.
So, this precious wisdom bequeathed from these great enlightened beings became distorted, separated away, calling for membership to be affirmed, rituals to be performed to the letter, and the wiping away of the human ego and all traces of individuality.
In the next episode, I will describe what happened at the time of the death of the Buddha, known as the truly awakened one, approximately 2600 years ago in India. His death was imminent, so he revealed truths he had never touched upon before, and one of them concerned Buddha Nature, which I refer to as True Nature so that we can step outside the boundaries imposed by a religion or philosophy into the field of human awareness.
What happens after a great spiritual leader dies? How do people proceed and how can they avoid becoming attached to rituals, memories, and the raft of what they have learned? How can they apply their intense spiritual training to real life on their own terms? How can they avoid relinquishing their True Nature and just obey, follow? And how can you embody your own unique nature if you become so dependent on your guru?
Surely you will become dull, able only to chant mantras or mutter prayers and confessions. In other words, you are only able to reiterate what you have been taught and then inflict that on others in the name of bringing them into the sacred. It is no wonder that we can’t we let go of the raft constructed from finite wood and wire or rope! We have actually become that raft and will not give up our identity!
But you are spirit. You are energy. And like the Buddha, Jesus, Allah et al, your spirit is eternal and indestructible. You have an innate nature which is essentially good and you have power which you only use 10% of. In other words, you are a potential Buddha, Jesus, Allah, so what will you leave behind after your passing?
Chunda, a local blacksmith, so impressed the Buddha as he lay on his deathbed because he was spontaneous, bright, sincere. His True Nature was shining through unlike the assembled dignitaries and enlightened monastics. He had not been taught or initiated into intense spiritual training. He was not even a follower accepting everything without question, confusing devotion for slavery and indoctrination. So, Buddha, having refused all the other opulent offerings to take with him into the invisible world, accepted humble Chunda’s simple offering of home-cooked food.
Intensive spiritual training can easily bury your True Nature, extinguish your bright spark. We can all be Chunda embodying our love and sincerity: our complete lack of hidden agendas. You are Chunda in your natural state.
You may aspire to higher things, but you have no initiative, no creativity, to step forward and to be original, be unique, or to shed new light on the mundane and habitual. It is indeed wonderful to have the will to train spiritually, but if you become attached to that and consider yourself to be separate from and superior to everyone around you, then you have missed the whole point. All the great spiritual adepts passionately wanted to liberate all beings from their prisons, to wake them from their deep slumber, to allow their potential to shine out into the world.
The Buddha revealed exactly this sentiment to the congregation waiting for him to die to the chagrin of the arrogant monks and the enlightened.
Illumination is a useful word in this respect. We can use the great teachings and the compassion of our gurus to illuminate us, to light up our natural talents. Later I will introduce 4 Visionaries Incognito who devoted their lives to exactly this illumination. They worked tirelessly without seeking any rewards or glory.
After the Buddha’s death, his bereaved disciples were lost without him. They had come to depend on him entirely and so they immersed themselves in his doctrine and ritual to imitate him, to hold on to him by a thread. And in so doing, they became separate from each other, from other Buddhist communities, and from those outside Buddhism. This was not the Buddha’s intention. As a great Bodhisattva, an enlightened being devoted to freeing others from their self-made prisons, he was exclusively concerned with the happiness and evolution of all sentient beings, of all life.
We so easily confuse devotion and dedication with being passive, submissive, living in some kind of neutral state. Yes, we can be devoted to something or someone sacred, but we also have to make our own True Nature shine, to make our contribution to life in its short span and so to realize our potential beyond a meagre 10%
If we are viewing the advice our spiritual guide gives us from an intellectual point of view, or from an emotional point of view, then there is a danger we become dependent and neglect or block our True Nature. Everything concerning the spiritual is about the unknowable – we can never know the mystical or the universe, and so we must accept it and merge with it. There is nothing more to do because everything is already in its place.
Like a young child or animal we do not need to interfere, but instead just listen, breathe and play joyfully on our green planet.
So, how can we grind or polish away all the detritus and conditioning that accumulates covering over our True Nature on a daily basis. If we become monastics or recluses and withdraw from the world, then we can avoid the ups and downs of everyday life, but there is a great danger that we create our own view of reality and cease to experience directly, or become attached to gurus and teachings as mentioned in Episode 4. Having had many opportunities to withdraw in such a way, I am now certain that living in the full torrent of daily life among so-called ordinary people, is the only way to uncover our True Nature.
Daily life is not easy for many people. There are ups and downs, and in modern life, increasing external pressure. External fluctuations combined with our repression of our inner urges and True Nature can create turmoil. We lose control and are thrown around on stormy seas or marooned due to becalming, and we suffer from scorching emotions and obsessive intellectual analysis. All of these conditions which we see as external and over which we eventually conclude that we have no power, are a series of tests of our True Nature.
In the vast invisible world which envelops us but of which most of us are unaware because we are marooned in the visible dimension and our intellects convince us that only what we see actually exists, there are millions of messages for us. They are spiritual eddies and currents, but if we notice them, they will guide us away from our doubts and fears. Reading this, you may already be skeptical. Let me explain.
Humans are basically social creatures. We are surrounded in our daily lives by many people we know to various degrees: loved ones, family, neighbours, community and colleagues, celebrities, and strangers, etc. Those people either irritate us or appeal to us: we are either repelled by them or drawn to them. This is already the invisible world at work. We have no way to explain these two opposing states in a rational provable way. Such whimsical irritations and attractions can greatly unsettle our lives either negatively or positively. They can create the stormy waves or an airless becalming.
Most of us, exactly because we have lost touch with our True Nature, believe we are victims of other people’s behaviour, that we are somehow the target. This is how egocentric we can become without our strong natural core, and as a result, we react to everything impulsively. We are at either war or at peace. We react like chemicals almost unconsciously.
But if we are riled by one particular person, it is certain that they are a wonderful teacher for us because they have found a way to touch some vulnerability deep inside. Modern psychology suggests they are perhaps projecting their own emotions on to us. But what if they are messengers come to teach us how to put an end to reacting blindly, or to detaching from our anger or self-cherishing? (Later the notion of teaching will be dismantled by the way).
The image to the right is obviously significant to this book so it keeps appearing. It represents your True Nature, your inner gem, the diamond sewn into your coat lining that you are completely unaware of. Imagine that it is tarnished by the trials and tribulations of everyday life, by the blows you have suffered, the dishonesty with yourself and others you have become habituated to, and so on. It has perhaps lost its sparkle and shine, is jaded, dissipated.
With a moment’s inhibition, before you react to your torturer who you perceive is determined to make you suffer as much as possible, you can use the abrasion, the friction, being created to grind away some of that accumulated tarnish. If you let go of your pride and your arrogance or indignity that you are being treated in such a way, then you will find a place of humility and acceptance. And this awareness, this sharp awakening from deep slumbering, will move you on, move you up. In other words, you will accept that you are not perfect, even though you thought you were.
It is this self-cherishing, this blindness to ourselves, that we need to change if we want to step into reality. We spend a lot of time over-protecting ourselves which blurs our grasp of reality and living directly. So, by not reacting to this catalyst, we are changed, transformed, and we return little by little the more often it happens, to our original divine state, a state of universal love and compassion.
This process will gradually clean away all the accretions on our inner gem from our conditioning, our inheritance, our karma, to use a Buddhist term, and we will eventually return to our bright shining original state. A state unhindered by the negativity and limitations of the intellectual mind and the scorching heat of consuming and distorting emotions.
Finally, we can listen to the universe and all the beings around us with our totality. We can step into reality and accept what we are. And so we learn to detach from everything and everyone and play out our particular human mission
Modern developed societies have forgotten how to listen. Instead, they are besieged by an endless inner dialogue created by multiple voices from mass conditioning and mass media. Added to this is the obsession with wearing earphones to listen to something of their choice so that external interferences and influences can be blotted out.
As we go about our daily life, we can observe people listening to something other than reality most of the time. It is very difficult to wake them up or make contact. In fact, there is so much radiation emanating from societies across the globe which is constantly echoed by the mass media that we are inundated, and that may be the reason that so many people retreat into bland pop culture or broadcasters’ egocentric prattle seeking a ‘mindless’ distraction – over-stimulation.
Today, looking and visual consumerism have taken the place of sincere listening almost completely. The allure of visual images grips modern developed peoples because they are instantaneously gratifying : they haunt and beg to be acquired. The sparkle of a gem on a wedding finger, the designer emblem on an accessory, the message shouting from a fashionable t shirt, a shopping mall beckoning with its million choices, hundreds of TV channels……not many people can resist such fancies. Disturbingly, most of us think this is reality. It is most certainly not where we can connect with our true nature because it is external, and it is eminently measurable, calculable, judgeable, subject to a million conditions and whims of the mind – the dead, limited repository of thousands of years of knowledge, culture, conditioning and socialization. All of the above are abstract and interpretable. Mind can only supply the known: it is apprehensive of the unknown.
The consciousness or greater awareness on the other hand, is concrete because it is composed of energy, and energy is indestructible. In fact, the energy of sound is concrete and not up for interpretation. It touches us directly and we embrace it or reject it according to our own energy. This is the main way into our true nature.
Indian philosophy says there are 3 dimensions of listening: the first, is intellectual, listening with reason so we are always ready to either attack (criticize) or embrace (accept); the second, is through the heart and feelings – emotional listening if you will – no analysis is needed, and no analysis of sound is actually possible because it is whole, total, flowing, so it is impossible to be an observer – we have to participate; and third, through our existence or being – body, mind and spirit – and the unknown so we must trust or have faith because it is impossible to make a relationship with what we are hearing.
The first two are partial listening, but the third is total and demands a surrender, a dissolving of all dualities. We become one with what we are listening to: there is no ‘me’ or ‘self’ engaged in an act. If we listen with reason there is conflict. If we listen with emotions there is sympathy and vulnerability. But with total deep listening there is no duality, only an amalgamation. This is our True Nature. And so music and sound are known for their qualities of healing.
The greater awareness out in the boundless field of consciousness is where we can learn to listen and look without separation, without interrupting or interfering with our natural disposition. But it is the mind that we can use as a bridge to walk out into that field. However, the mind must be integrated with consciousness to create such a walkway and this is only possible with sincere meditation and reflection. So, contacting our true nature entails clearing away a lot of obstacles and clutter from that bridge so that it is possible to move.
The way we listen to the world and consciousness will help to clear away the detritus concealing our diamond, our true nature. By closing down the dominant visual sense and avoiding over-stimulation, we can gradually move from the outside to the inside which is the universe. Listening is a way of centering, sound being attracted to our core or not, to our essence or not, to the nucleus of our energy or not.
To get a glimpse of our True Nature, we can experiment with listening. Maybe we are listening to contrived music, or natural sounds, or even to the voice of someone close to us talking. But if we remain aware, we can check what the mind does. It may be tempted to criticize or to have the last word – this is intellectual. Or it may well up with emotion – anger or passion – this is emotional. But both of these modes of listening separate us into the receiver and the transmitter. When we listen existentially, we become one with the sound and the ‘I’ or ‘me’ vanishes: we are neither spectator nor participant. This is non-duality at its best. And this gives us a glimpse of our True Nature and the way we are integrated into the Universe.
We can utilize the teachings and methods of the great adepts to re-contact our True Nature which we have become separated from by the dominance of wild Mind. But, a warning is needed: you may become attached to such methods or teachings. So, know well that they are only a raft to get to the other shore. As Buddha always advised, it is dangerous to pick up that raft and carry it on your head once you are on dry land! But we can thoroughly enjoy the raft during our crossing and be intensively grateful for it, then stand up and let it go. It is simply a means to an end.
Atisha, an Indian sage propagating the teachings of Buddha founded Tibetan Buddhism. He is unusual because he was mentored by 3 outstanding masters and is famous for his precious 7 Points of Mind Training which will take you straight to your True Nature if you trust in them. They are fingers pointing to a beautiful Moon: the fingers are not the Moon but may easily be mistaken for it. They will give you a taste of what it is like to sing your own song and dance your own dance. They are essential experiential so why not allow yourself to experience here and now.
1 : LEARN THE PRELIMINARIES
a) Truth is being – we are already immersed in it. Humans are truth
b) Mind is a Barrier – the perpetual film playing out in the world distracts us from what we actually are
c) No-mind is the door. Atisha called this Bodhicitta (to be explained later) – by putting aside the mechanism of your mind, you will attain the unattainable.
2 : THINK THAT ALL PHENOMENA ARE LIKE DREAMS
The seer is never seen, the experiencer never experienced, the witness never witnessed because we are always looking outwards. What truth can there be in a dream?
3 : EXAMINE THE NATURE OF UNBORN AWARENESS
We were not born and we will not die. We are pure energy. We are pure awareness. We can use this awareness as a crystal mirror.
4 : LET THE REMEDY ITSELF GO FREE ON ITS OWN
It is our habit to cling to what cures us, but for what reason. Once your are cured be in full health. You can forget the remedy and be grateful in every moment of your perfect existence.
5 : SETTLE IN THE NATURE OF BASIC COGNITION, THE ESSENCE
Do nothing. Relax into your True Nature, your Buddha moments. There is nothing to do.
6 : BETWEEN SESSIONS CONSIDER PHENOMENA AS PHANTOMS
If you have to move away from your meditation, your True Nature, remember that you are walking into a dream and participating in it with phantoms.
7 : TRAIN IN JOINING, SENDING AND TAKING TOGETHER; DO THIS BY RIDING THE BREATH: THREE POISONS = THREE BASES OF VIRTUE
Breathing is being so breathe each borrowed breath carefully. First, breathe in the suffering, ignorance and darkness of all humanity. Hold them in your heart to transform them with compassion. Then breathe out the pure joy contributing it to the whole of existence.
We can convert the 3 poisons – greed, hatred and ignorance – into the 3 virtues by overcoming Aversion, Attachment and Indifference. The 3 poisons will be converted into 3 nectars with this simple technique. This is No-Mind – Bodhicitta – the Mahayana ideal of liberating all beings.
The above is not philosophy or religion, but sheer science. So, experiment. Try it for yourself. In this way, you can experience your True Nature. At first, you may only get a passing glimpse, a faint scent of something. This is the energy of your true beauty and fragrance. The fragrance of your unique Truth!
Visionaries Incognito is a collection of what were originally stand-alone articles featuring four visionaries who activated my own True Nature. The term ‘visionary’ is defined, for the purposes of this work, as not only someone of vision for the good future of humanity, but also an exceptional being with their fingers on the pulse of the Universe.
The visionaries are ‘incognito’ because their influence has not made the headlines or major entries in history books. Instead, they have worked altruistically for the sake of human beings with total conviction in their vision. They work mostly behind the scenes of the trending world at large.
In each of the 4 cases, they have gone beyond the limits of the subject matter they presented, or any expertise in order to touch the unconscious mind, to influence the mass of the iceberg beneath the surface or conscious mind, in a subtle way and yet profoundly. This going below or beyond the surface has the potential to bring realizations of the True Self or True Nature into view and new ways of being if we grasp the opportunity and can listen deeply. This access to knowing as opposed to knowledge reconnects us to our original, some say divine, spark.
Most humans make sense of the world with the aid of words. In developed nations we are actually taught to wrap certain words around objects and as a result, thoughts are born. But thoughts are dead the moment they are thought! And unfortunately, we have come to depend on them so totally in the name of civilization. Words then are either potential bombs or breathtaking miracles. They either pass through us like vapour or become etched into our heart with a rusty nail.
Visionaries who have their ears pressed to the heartbeat of the human race are so skilful with words that each one they utter is a miracle which slaps us in the face, waking us from our deep sleep. The 4 Visionaries Incognito in my collection were masters with words. They used them sparingly, often inventing their own phrases or special often esoteric usages. They knew without special training that human beings are so vulnerable to language, so over-sensitive and over-cherished in general. They could use them to allay all fears and presences, and plough beneath them to eradicate the weeds and use them as fertiliser.
In each case, their unusual view of the world – one a professional recitalist and actor from Tasmania, one a Jewish microbiologist, another an Indian Brahmin recused world teacher and the other the greatest and most infamous spiritual teacher and philosopher of the 20th century – and their perception of freedom was magnetic. All their visions focused on re-education and self-education and above all awakening or realization, and what shall, for the purposes of this work, be called the True Nature of each human being they came upon.
They were experts and yet they preferred to pass on their knowledge and skills freely to others and were not interested in self-aggrandizement so you may never have heard of them. Above all they were determined that each being would simply re-learn inside how to be one with the universe in their natural state, instead of to have, to want, to acquire, to regret, etc. which all concern the outside world and duality – the feeler and the emotion felt.
As a background to this, human beings have at their disposal a legacy or blueprint from their ancestral lineage. This determines how we look and act, our predispositions, our imprints and our self-image. Social, cultural and educational conditioning is then applied to this blueprint so that the only aspect of ourselves that we can realistically change is through self-education. In other words, to know exactly how our imprints and pre-dispositions can best lead us to edify and develop ourselves.
It is this self-motivated aspect of change or growth that the four visionaries ingeniously and silently addressed. They believed above all in uncovering the True Nature of the individual behind the various masks which were worn to enable them to fit in and to secure approval from their societies and communities, their families and partners. They worked tirelessly to empower the individual to learn for themselves, to develop their own voice, and to step forward and use it.
They did not set themselves up as gurus or masters, although others tried to bring them into the world spotlight, but instead, as free-lance facilitators and enablers motivated by nothing other than the altruistic commitment to help people to know themselves inside. They remained neutral in terms of allegiance to specific spiritual or religious traditions, their honesty often estranging them from organizations and the public at large.
Why did they refuse to step into leader positions? This is exactly because they believed their messages would be diluted, generalised, systematised. They knew the individual nature of humans intimately and that each person needs to be empowered differently so as to free them from the pressure of damaging conditioning and to push out their limitations. They also knew how societies, communities and relationships functioned in developed nations.
They knew only too well that it was hopelessly impossible for the individual excellence of people who came to them to transform the mediocre majority. They were also realistic that so few people were actually ready to hear them and to act upon what they heard in the now and here.
Here are some examples of what my 4 Visionaries Incognito showed to me indirectly.
F.M.Alexander – Body re-education technique in stillness and sitting/standing.
Alexander lost his voice which led to him losing his livelihood as he was a professional reciter, especially of Shakespeare. Medical experts could not offer any solutions so he was determined to find out what he was doing to cause this as there was apparently no disease present. This technique is now well-known internationally by musicians and performers in general. However, at the time I started to study this technique and learn how to re-educate the way I used my own body as a musician, it was not commonly accessible.
One of Alexander’s greatest insights for me was something he termed ‘non-doing.’ By lying on the floor just breathing and being, I could re-learn how to use my body in the gravitational field. This is body meditation in stillness which takes one deeply inside and so re-establishes bonds with the universe. We become disconnected from our True Nature because the Mind dominates us with its conditioning and controlling. Non-doing released me from this and led me to freedom with no mention of religious practice or symbols. It is entirely secular but penetrates the unconscious mind over which we have little control in the same way as meditation.
Moshe Feldenkrais – Body-awareness and re-education in movement
Moshe Feldenkrais was an engineer and Jujitsu exponent who created a whole system of exercises and postures to bring about a new awareness of the way we use our bodies and our minds, on the body-mind continuum. Feldenkrais inspired my confidence in my unique spirit and my own brand of wisdom. In fact, put me back in touch with my True Nature which was hidden beneath conditioning, culture and education. He taught that the only changes human beings can make to their existing form and their attitude to life are through self-education. He set himself up to facilitate this process which would suit the individual: in other words, he taught how to teach ourselves and to get back in touch with our origin the natural world and our True Nature. He coined the term ‘dis-eased’ to describe small interferences that our inherited self and conditioning, our DNA in fact, caused. His whole approach helps students to become ‘eased’ and truly happy.
Jiddu Krishnamurti – Indian philosopher, mystic, and educator
Krishnamurti’s main message is to resist singing with the crowd and instead sing our own unique song. To avoid indoctrination by the mediocre leaders of society and step away from groups, even from the family, to find true freedom. As a young man, he was recognized by theosophists as the next Buddha, Maitreya, others, the modern Messiah.! But he refused to be singled out in that way, insisting that there are no barriers or boundaries except in the dream of the mind.
The greatest insight this visionary stimulated in me was that we must live now-and-here our individual truth as he did. But first, we have to find it, not in our thoughts or opinions, but in our souls. He wanted to break all beings free of imitation and unearth their original truth and then have the courage to live it. So many of us are not honest: we have an inside view which we keep hidden while projecting a certain image to the world. Like Alexander and Feldenkrais, he knew that we were actually the only people who can ‘educate’ ourselves, not external teachers or gurus. That our lives should be spent in unearthing our True Nature and so connecting with our divine origin.
Shree Rajneesh (Osho) – Indian mystic, guru and spiritual teacher
Osho’s life was devoted to his millions of followers and equal numbers of detractors as a spiritual leader, but he did not teach any doctrine except his own. He grew up questioning existing religions, cultures and social norms and became enlightened at the age of 21 as a result. He became a world teacher by focusing on the necessity for meditation, awareness, love, celebration, courage, creativity and humour, all of which he knew to be suppressed by traditional belief systems, religions and socialisation. Although he was born into a Jain background, he eventually rejected any organised religions and revolutionised the spiritual condition
Along with Krishnamurti, Osho touched my tendency to defer to so-called leaders and experts and my self-honesty. He was himself shockingly honest which led to his being discredited as a spiritual teacher. But his sheer breadth of knowledge, reading of all traditions and depth of insight and wisdom have always dazzled me while at the same time reflecting that I too, potentially, have broad knowledge and deep insight and wisdom which the world needs to become balanced. His millions of talks and battery of books continue to inspire me and always will. He departed from the visible world in 1990 but he goes on facilitating and leading people to find their True Nature in the invisible.
Many spiritual leaders have elevated to their position because the nature of reality has been revealed to them or they have unearthed it in themselves by coming to know their own True Nature. But most human beings have become trapped in a groove of habits and familiarity, their comfort zone, and the strong light of the sun, the cool luminescence of the Moon, and the eternal blue sky are all obscured by grey clouds. The clouds contain endless worries, regrets and speculations and they have become obsessed with the idea that we are of little worth because our delusions grip us firmly by the throat. They cannot know themselves directly because the film loop they have created is set to play endlessly.
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of human life to accept is that we die, we all die. There are no exceptions. We may have advanced technology and great comfort in the way we live, but all the money or human power in the world cannot buy an exception to death. So, we live our lives in a luxurious bubble of denial of this most human of all rites of passage, but we are afraid to look back into the shadows to find our demise lurking. Indeed, we become attached at the hip to our bubbles and cannot visualize any other existence for us or our loved ones.
Buddha Shakyamuni was born as Prince Siddharta in the wealthy and powerful clan of the Shakas. He was adored by his family who gave him everything a human being could ever desire, and as he became a young man they searched for the most beautiful woman in the kingdom to marry. The secluded palace surrounded by beautiful grounds provided a heaven on Earth for this beautiful young man and yet he was disturbed deep in his heart. Beneath each moment of his blissful days, he knew there was something more to life and that he must confront it.
He secretly plotted to leave the Palace to see what life was like outside the high walls, and one day with the help of a trusted servant he slipped into the streets surrounding the palace. What he saw there in the everyday lives of ‘ordinary’ people shocked him to the core because he had never known them inside the insulation of the palace.
First, he saw a bent old man who struggled to walk, his skin like old leather and his eyes lacking any flicker of life in them. He had never seen anyone so advanced in years because he had been protected from the reality of this by his family. He could not believe the fragility and the suffering that the human body was capable of, and he was especially shocked because he was told it would happen to him and his loved ones. Imagine the shock he must have felt because of his delusion that all beings lived as he did, forever young in a garden of pleasure.
Then, he saw a sick man who cried out in pain from his bed. He was forced to have his every need looked after by someone else because he was unable to do anything for himself. Prince Siddharta had never experienced sickness because his health was carefully monitored by the Court physician and all his food was scrupulously prepared and tasted before it entered his mouth. The possibility of sickness was terrifying to him; he was haunted by the agonised cries of this poor man.
Next, he was stunned by the sight of a dead emaciated body, its skin like ash, being taken to the cremation field near the river. He could not understand why this human being could not wake up from a deep sleep, but he was told that it would never wake up. Death was a phenomenon he had been totally unaware of until now and it also terrified him. He asked himself what the point of human existence was if this was how it ended.
Finally, after all these shocks, he came upon a monk who was happy and calm. These extreme stages that human beings passed through intrigued him and he vowed from that moment that he must leave behind his privileged life to discover how to end all this suffering and find a way for all sentient beings to find true and lasting happiness. This departure was to lead to an extended period of austerities, the way to liberation most fashionable in India at that time, during which time he became so thin and sick himself that he almost died. Then, he awoke to sit deeply in his world changing meditation under the Bodhi Tree and reality was revealed to him along with his own Ture Nature.
Perhaps the first thing we all have to do if we want to activate or uncover our True Nature is to face the reality of our death. We will die which is perhaps the only truth in the whole universe. But if we can fully accept that we are impermanent like all appearances in the visible world and that the materials we are made from will definitively and steadily deteriorate, and eventually our mechanism will stop and we will take our very last breath, then we can step away from the shadows and put aside the pomander of denial. If we can smell the reality of death then we can also smell the fragrance of life.
People in the developed world have developed diverse forms of spiritual and psychological training to come to terms with this reality which is frightening because it is the unknown and the intellectual mind will do all it can to stay in the zone of what they know, as mentioned above. The unknown is mostly scary because we cannot see it and the intellectual mind has come to demand visual proof and stimulation. We cannot see what happens after the demise of our human body with our physical eyes, a highly-sophisticated tool designed for looking out into the dream of the world, but if we learn how to open our inner spiritual eyes and connect with the invisible world, we can accept that our human existence is just one small stage in the larger complex process of humanity.
Indigenous tribes in traditional life live in a constant spiritual awareness strongly connected to the natural and invisible world. I witnessed this with my own eyes some years ago when I lived with the remains of a tribe of Australian Pydjinjarra in the South Australian Desert some years ago. I was part of a project to help the elderly and mothers with young children to move away from settlements created by white Australians back deep into the desert, into ‘the Lands’ as they call it, back to traditional life. I learned so much from the wise tribal leader or Traditional Landowner, Ninija.
Their attitude to death was perhaps one of the most illuminating and releasing thing I learned. These intriguing and beautiful people are actually in love with the glories of death: they long for it from being quite young children. This is possible because they live in full awareness most of the time without the interference of the intellectual mind and synthetic reality. I saw this in action. They do not have thoughts or concepts as we developed people do, and their life’s mission is not to acquire and achieve, but instead to protect and curate the planet and all its species. Their individual spiritual missions, trainings and initiations lie in the specific tasks they are assigned within their totem group, and if they are successful they will become great Landowners in the sky.
The Djang is the final and most glorious of all their ceremonies because it is the culmination of their life. This is the precious moment that the spirit is released from its shell and ascends to go on travelling to the next stage of their spiritual evolution. This is accompanied by ritual dancing and feasting, bonfires larded with kangaroo grease and the presence of their Creation Heroes who oversee this significant rite of passage.
In conclusion, if we can realize that humans are a process, no longer animals and not yet gods, then we can live life in a very different way. If we can accept that our life in the world of form is a golden opportunity to elevate spiritually and embody our true nature, then physical death is not frightening at all. If we can ‘see’ our death as something glorious in terms of love and light, then we can also ‘see’ our life as a glorious event.
This is the final episode in the introduction to my latest book True Nature: our Supreme Inheritance before I start delving into more detail on some of the topics I have touched here. Episode 10 will convince you that you do not have to rush off to shave your head and take vows as a religious of some kind to realise your True Nature. In fact, I am not advocating organized religion as the be all and end all of our spiritual blossoming but I recommend it as a means whereby, as a raft to help you to cross the human ocean of suffering and fear. We can value and enjoy this vessel during the crossing, but when we reach the other shore it is important to recognize that we no longer need the raft. Religions can separate us and generate arrogance and imperialism, and they only exist because we have got so far away from our innate True Natures. Remember, in the golden age of humans the gods walked among us and we lived in a sacred relationship with the universe. We had no need to spiritual mediators, gurus or teachers then, and if we can wipe away the dust and detritus concealing our own inner diamonds, we can live and die gloriously while making a fantastic contribution to humanity.
I have utilised the wonderful teachings of many of our model spiritual teachers, rubbed shoulders with adepts, Traditional Landowners and shamans, and I am so grateful for the raft they provided for my safe crossing. But now, I sing my own song not that of others. I am no longer a follower but instead standing in the shoes of my True Nature making my contribution before moving on to the next stage. In writing this book, I wish to share my raft with you and sow a seed or two in your ground.
Goodness is a universal principal, either on its own terms or in contrast to what is not goodness; in other words, human beings need both the positive and the negative so that we can clearly see the universal appeal of goodness and its great truth and strive towards living by its codes. Goodness is and has been the supreme aspiration of most religious and spiritual traditions throughout the history of humanity.
It could be said that everything and everyone we encounter throughout our lives bears crucial messages for our spiritual progress if only we know how to notice them, interpret them and then choose to apply them. Imagine a comprehensive curriculum devised for your spiritual development throughout the whole of your life, laid out before you. It is a blueprint, and if we follow its dimensions, we have the opportunity to become a strong enlightened being who has transformed human shortcomings, learned from our mistakes and so returned to our original innocence or goodness. It would seem that many of us have lost sight of the flawless loving nature we are endowed with for our term as human beings.
The Church of Love laid down the dimensions of such a blueprint in 1244 in medieval Europe. Its creed is a masterpiece of balance and harmony all resting on the foundation of pure goodness. The Cathars, known as Les Bons or Les Parfaits, took absolute refuge in the pure and positive light of God, a spiritual God. Their creed has great relevance to life today, an era beleaguered by social decline, war and natural calamities, and estrangement from the great truth.
To summarise that creed, the participants needed no physical church because understanding was their venue. Membership came down to simply knowing they belonged there. They had no ambition, only an unconditional wish to serve. Boundaries and nationalisms were deemed unloving; no walk of life, no race, colour, creed, religion, or class was a barrier. All teachers of all ages were revered if they had shown the truth of love. The principal practice was to live the truth of love in all their being.
‘Those who are, know.’ This is perhaps the cornerstone of their manifesto. In other words, if they allowed themselves to simply be, they would know everything they needed to know. This was amplified by the Cathar commitment to not teaching or instructing intellectually in order to enrich or edify, but simply allowing a return to a natural flawless state of being. There were no teachers or hierarchies in the Church of Love because there is equality between all people. There was no discrimination between lay and clergy, member or non-member, because they believed that every life constituted the way to return to God.
In the wake of environmental deterioration in today’s world, we modern people have turned to ecology and prevention measures. But 700 years ago, the Cathars were fully aware of their responsibility to the planet Earth, seeing it as an organism of which humans were part, along the lines of the Gaia hypothesis. So, they called for a supreme transmutation, or the conscious change of the self-serving ego, into a reintegration with the whole, in other words, the universe.
Cathars recognised each other only by their good deeds, and by their eyes, which were filled with love. They loved everyone and everything in silence while living normally in their communities. There were no rewards to offer in exchange for practice or good works, except the condition of full joy in simply being and loving. They listened to everyone around them and the planet, and never felt fear or shame. Neither did they have any secrets or mysteries. The only initiation was a true understanding of the power of love, and the recognition that if humans changed, then the world would change because humans are the world.
This blueprint is fundamentally over-flowing with goodness. There is no doubt at all that the Cathars took refuge in the pure positive light of God, while immersed in the human world of suffering. They worked tirelessly to extricate those ensnared by the so-called devil’s tricks and delusions.
Almost twenty years ago, I had the great privilege to live for several years in a tiny village in the remote eastern Pyrenees, on the Mediterranean side of this gigantic mountain frontier between France and Spain, in western Europe. This region is known as Languedoc-Roussillon. It was a simple life, mostly sequestered away from the media and other such worldly distractions. I was travelling on the Buddhist raft at the time, but entirely on my own, ironically without either sangha or teacher.
It was a heavenly location, with unhindered views of untouched primeval forests and stunning peaks. The village was medieval, largely abandoned by young people who had moved to the cities to make a living, and mostly in ruins.
My long days were spent restoring and cultivating a sizeable medieval garden to try to provide all the food we needed and making the carcass of an old farmhouse more habitable. Early mornings were spent exercising on the sandy roads once trodden by Les Bons or Les Parfaits (the Cathars), nowadays used as shortcuts by shepherds and their flocks and vineyard workers.
I would go as far as to say that my personal spiritual blueprint had designated that I was transported to these mountains to tread the footsteps of the Cathars as they fled from the relentless hounding of the Church of Rome, or ‘of wolves’ as they saw it. They were pronounced heretics because of their creed and their refusal to be dictated to by the Catholic Church.
I dreamed many Cathar dreams, both subtle and gross, during my time there, and came firmly to believe that my ancestors had been Cathars. To my absolute delight, this was later confirmed in the conditions of their promised revival.
The history of the Cathars remains mostly unknown. They left little trace of their existence until the time they were finally rounded up and eradicated, because their presence was mostly unnoticed as they were not a visible religious group. To grasp their definition of goodness, we must understand their legacy from the Essenes, the first generation of Christians of the Dead Sea, which viewed the world of humans as a battleground between heaven and hell. This struggle was represented in each human being. In other words, the spirits of truth and falsehood were in constant conflict inside the human heart: Good versus Evil, and good triumphed. I believe this struggle is universal and timeless.
As I reached deeply into the lives of Les Bons (the Good) each of my own days became a triumph of good over evil. The thin veil of my death, which they believed was the sole thing separating beings of flesh from the spiritual world, the visible from the invisible, threatened to blow away at any moment. I found that my life lived in this belief was light and joyful, and that indeed I had everything I needed to realize such joy inside me.
Life is glorious if we have the courage to live out our True Nature. If we can see the True Nature of each being around us glinting beneath the front they project or behind the masks they wear, then each human does embody the creed of the Church of Love and they walk graciously on the surface of our foundation, the Planet of Love.
In conclusion, this will lead us to reality and self-knowledge: The embodiment of True Nature and the return to our origins, the sacred; Starting to sing our own song instead of imitating the songs of others; Using every human encounter positively as a grinding wheel to polish our inner diamond; Listening to the sacred beings around us with our totality; Taming the wild elephant of the intellectual mind with the help of visionaries and the wise but remembering to leave their support behind so that we can go deeper into our own precious resources; Accepting our impermanence and physical death to reveal our authentic motivation in glorious life; Living in the world of suffering knowing that it is only a dream and a spiritual testing ground to lead us to live altruistically to spread our natural goodness as the Cathars did.