(by Ninja) We are born into a body and conditioned to believe that our identity is connected to this body. But the great sages and scriptures all tell us that the body is an illusion, a dream, a partiality, and actually is an obscuration that prevents us from seeing who and what we really are. We are an essence, a beginningless and endless light that has incarnated into a body, into a mind, and into a world that we try to make sense of, sometimes without much success. As very small children we are fluid, aware, and not yet identified with the body. But eventually the conditioning from parents, society, and from our own past life tendencies kick in and we “become” the body, the emotions, and the mind – the sensations transmitted by the five sense perceptions, our emotional response to those perceptions, our ideas, and our memories become who we are. Life’s purpose, we are told, is to experience as much pleasure from the five senses, happiness and joy from the emotions, and intellectual development in the mind as we possibly can in the space of a lifetime before old age, decay, and death take everything away we have worked towards. Everything is temporary, and even if our life works out smoothly, ultimately everything is lost in the physical plane which leads to frustration and pain.
We are ruled by desire and aversion. In our quest for more pleasurable experiences from the five senses, more happy and joyful emotions, and more intellectual development we closely follow that which we desire and shun that which we dislike, fear, or are unfamiliar with. For those of us who have elected to look into this more deeply, we may have encountered a spiritual teacher or scripture which instructs us to meditate, to still the mind, and to go back to the flux of fluid awareness that is the stuff we are made of. If we can reach this exalted state, known as samadhi, then the body goes away, desire is stilled, the illusion of this world and its furious reality fades and we become unified with life itself. We come back from such an experience purified, and those who are able to continue their spiritual quest beyond samadhi may even become fully enlightened, a condition that is always referred to as indescribable, because it is not a condition and cannot be understood from the perspective of limited awareness. Suffice to say that it is perfected consciousness that is no longer aware of itself as being perfected consciousness. One who has attained enlightenment is not affected by the body, by its desires or its aversions. While they still may have a body and experience these things, they remain unaffected and innocent – in other words the day-to-day experiences of the enlightened do not bind them to future outcomes that would otherwise bind a person caught in the karmic world of cause-and-effect.
Even a person on the spiritual path who is trying to become more connected to their essential nature through meditation and various practices still identifies with the body and is trapped by desire and aversion until they can reach the perfect stillness of samadhi. I wake up in the morning and I meditate because I want to avoid the pain of entering the world without the protective bubble of enhanced spiritual awareness. I go to work because I’m afraid of poverty and the pain of not having the things I need for physical comfort. I pick up a cup of coffee and a Danish because I know the pleasure of these things as I’ve experienced them before. At work I look to converse with friends who smile and laugh and share a feeling of connection with me because it is enjoyable to feel their affection. On my way home, I stop for ice cream because it always gives me joy to experience my favorite flavor. At home, maybe I work out because I want to feel the pleasure of endorphins rushing through my body after aerobic exercise, or maybe I work on a special project because I want the satisfaction of getting ahead in my career and being the best I can be. Am I really different from anyone else out there who doesn’t meditate? Well, that depends on whether I have set up my life as a field of power, or whether I’m oblivious to the effects of life and the world on my state of attention.
We have a choice, those of us stuck in the net of physicality, sense perception, desire and aversion, joy followed by suffering, pleasure followed by pain. Most of us will not enter into samadhi in this lifetime, we will not completely escape the illusion that we are the body, and we will be subject to the winds of desire that seek to pull us in different directions from that which we may have initially intended. But we still have a choice about how we live, and how we experience this limited world that we are seemingly stuck in. The first choice we have is whether or not to seek out an enlightened teacher. In the presence of enlightenment it is possible to experience a fraction of what the enlightened teacher is experiencing via transmission of awareness from teacher to student. This experience of elevated consciousness gives us a brief but ecstatic view into the world of unlimited awareness, where desire and aversion no longer rule the day. If we have never had such an experience it is difficult to believe that it is possible, that it would be possible for us to become that unlimited expanse of perfection. Those of us fortunate enough to have found Rama in our spiritual quest, or who are finding him now, understand this, as do people who have found other enlightened teachers in their quest for truth.
The other choice we have is whether or not to live our life as a warrior, with impeccability. What exactly does this mean? It means that we see every minute of our life, every event, every choice as meaningful and capable of increasing our power, our awareness, and our connection to infinite consciousness – or decreasing them. This sounds difficult but it really isn’t. It’s just a matter of choice. That same cup of coffee and Danish for an impeccable warrior would never be the same twice, because they would not be seeking to just repeat the experience that was pleasurable before but rather to feel the energy of this day under their feet and to pick the breakfast snack that is going to fill them with energy and light – maybe today they will pick up the Jamba Juice instead, or maybe the coffee and Danish is still working! During their workout in the evening they will focus on the perfection of their motions and on working out just a little bit harder than they did the day before, pushing it, pushing themselves towards perfection. These are the tiny but absolutely significant differences between being on the path, and falling from it. And each day is a struggle, each day we have to apply self effort, but the advancement of consciousness is well worth it as we feel more joy and ecstasy each day.
How do we know which choices to make as we go through our day? How do we differentiate that which is going to bring us into greater light from simple desires? Here I will quote Rama as he explains this in the “Solstices and Equinoxes” talk from the Tantric Buddhism collection.
“…occultists don’t do things because of desire. I might have a desire to do something, but I won’t do it because desire means nothing to me. Everything an occultist does, if they’re more advanced, comes from the world of seeing. We can stop our thoughts and stop our desires and see past them and see what is appropriate, what will lead to more power, more enlightenment. We only do things that empower us and enlighten us and we avoid things that drain our power and bring us into lower sentient mind states of confusion, delusion, hate, anger, psychosis, neurosis, whatever it might be. We become completely psychically whole and we hook ourselves to higher and higher bands of auric light until eventually we hook ourselves to enlightenment itself.”