Towards Freedom – Authenticity

It is a simple truth that you cannot have equanimity unless you are authentic. In other words, until such time as your words and deeds match there is a veil, a mask of deception. Being harsh you are in effect living a lie, you say one thing and do another. This mismatch may not be conscious or intentionally manipulative but at one level, beyond the kidding of self, one knows it. And this can produce an unease and fear of being found out. To be dramatic we might call this impostor syndrome.  To get to where the outer presentation coincides with the inner reality can take some time. This is because people like to try to impress, to attract attention, to please, not to hurt, to hurt etc… There are white lies and avoidances at every corner. Few have the confidence to stand metaphorically naked, as they are, in social situations. So, we have façade after façade after façade. Humans are not unlike a Babushka doll, there are layers of illusion hiding the core. We might call this core the true nature or the authentic self. We could draw from Sanskrit. I prefer to simply call it authenticity. Authenticity enables equanimity and freedom.

Finding this individuated authenticity is a long process, there are many blinds and layers. Just when you think you are approaching your essence another skin is encountered, to be shed as and when. To look deep, may in the fullness of time, lead to metaphysics and philosophy, towards the very nature of existence and being. Not everyone can nor is fated to go so deep. One can get more equanimity, less suffering, by peeling off layers becoming more authentic on the journey towards authenticity. It is a part of realisation, namely becoming real. Political correctness and wanting to appear ”nicer” or more “acceptable” can hinder and inhibit. In this journey one must, at a certain depth, encounter the dark side which we all possess, and which possesses some. To pierce this dark side and thereby transcend it, is to let in more light. If one denies its existence, then one is not being real and as a consequence authenticity will be lacking. Many are afraid to look. To stare direct is dangerous, to glance and observe is safer. This dark side is best approached with caution and with patience. If you own it, you can dissolve it and go beyond. If you deny it, then you are lying, and this perturbs equanimity and balance. To imagine and profess an angelic nature, where butter does not melt in the mouth, is to lie to self and others. 

From what I have said already it suggests that most do not know themselves all that well and in fact, because it takes work, the journey of discovery remains largely un-started. The majority put up with dis-ease and suffering because they are familiar. There is some fear always, associated with the unfamiliar. Whilst the level or dissatisfaction remains “tolerable” and can be borne with sufficient pass times, there is insufficient motive or motivation to look into it. People can be very dissatisfied yet able to pursue a career and appear to have social interactions, they can be a social success.  All too often this entails a “partner in crime” mentality where things go unmentioned, not discussed and to an extent, taboo. People do not challenge each other, they collude. Collusion is an emotive word, and of course there are degrees of collusion. At a low level when someone is playing the victim game it is very easy to collude with them and sympathise; “oh you poor thing, how terrible for you”. Of course, even in this simple example there may be dishonesty.

With layers of façade and a social requirement to play the façade game it is rather difficult to get to or at authentic behaviour. We have therefore the idea of relative authenticity and temporary authenticity. The latter is when you are being as authentic as you can be for the time being. Doing the best you can so to speak. This is a relative authenticity when compared to your true authentic essence. It is a stepping stone on the journey. And if you are as authentic as you can be all the time, your degree of authenticity with naturally increase. If you like, your authenticity is very much a work in progress and not the finished product. To expect perfection is to fail, to strive for perfecting is to head in the right direction. The closer you are to your true nature, the more at ease you feel in your-self and with your-self. And when you are relaxed and not tense about being found out, you are more at ease and can respond to life rather than react. Life becomes easy. In time this increases your belief in own ability which is something of a virtuous circle, provided that your head does not swell as a result.

In order to get to this authenticity, you have to get rid of the emotional detritus which hangs heavy. It does not shift all by itself, it needs conscious effort. You can’t put the bin out and expect someone to take it away. You have to press it out, little by little, you have to learn to express. The amount of stuff suppressed and bottled up in the average person is high. It is no wonder then that many are fit to bust all the time, all it takes is a simple pin and the socially acceptable balloon explodes. Take a look around you, how many people are full of pressure and therefore taut in their being? Are you a taut being?

I have introduced various concepts and given a partial description, but I have not said much about how to go about doing. In this I am being general and not adhering to any school of thought. What should be clear is that until dissatisfaction has reached a sufficient level there is no motivation for change. The longer one leaves dissatisfaction to fester the more likely a “cataclysmic” explosion is. In this respect early and prophylactic action is wise. Otherwise the debris of explosion can set you back. There is a tension between dissatisfaction and fear of the unknown, fear of action. It is for each individual to decide how and if, they start the journey towards authenticity, the walk to freedom. It is best to start and if you do, it is best to go all the way, should you be fated so to do.

Towards Freedom – Talking

Previously I have held up two ideas; a growing sense of freedom and a growing equanimity or balance. If for whatever reason you must have goals, then these two are not so bad. Moreover, they are personal and do not directly impinge on any other being, of course they will impinge indirectly because people like dependency and may not like your growing independence. These “goals” have no power over others inherent, they do to take nor inflict in any way. In this sense they are almost neutral. I have held them up for you to consider and should you find them beckon, then it is up to you.

Be aware though that the single biggest barrier is talking. By this I mean both your own talking, your own internal dialogue and the talking of others. It is by this talking that a world version is upheld in the semi-consciousness of man. I have used the preface semi as full consciousness implies full freedom, something which is extremely rare. It is very difficult to be conscious fully when one is busy talking. With an inevitability the act of speaking is detrimental to hearing and overrides much other sensory input. Yet the world is full of talking and the minds of most are overrun by incessant internal dialogue. All this makes a world version as it is held, roughly by many. Almost without exception these world versions are limiting and unless one is a psychopath they are beset by a set of conditional societal norms, to which one is supposed to adhere, support, agree with and comply. To a very large extent an imagined ideal of life is presented and nobody, not anyone, lives the glossy ideal of the advertiser. Many have tried, and all have failed. In that failure there is suffering. Idealised forms and imaginary picket fence narratives simply do not exist for real. This supposition of what life entails is endemic and any failure to buy into such a supposition can render one outcast. Not sharing the illusion is a suspicious activity.

That reel to reel nature of the internal dialogue plays, minute after minute, hour after hour and decade after decade; it loops. These “thought” forms construct a pseudo-reality, based in selective perception seen only through the coloured lens of whatever world version is favoured. There is a large and innate tendency only to select those perceptions which coincide with world version. This is both “convenient” and lazy. In fact, anything which strays too far from the parameters of world version is, for the time being, beyond perceptual capacity and cognitive assimilation. Restricted to a world version lens there are many parts of the reality spectrum which cannot yet be accessed. It follows that because the internal dialogue says that they don’t or can’t exist, then they must not or cannot be. It is with the talking that the world version lens is constructed, polished and its material defines which part of the reality spectrum it can transmit. Many world version lenses have a very small aperture, and this limits the world version to a tiny subset of all available realities. We might call this narrow minded, for example. Or we could say bigoted, dogmatic and closed. A more polite way of saying this is confirmation bias, which can be found on all sides.

This world version is the basis of how an individual makes sense of where they are in the world and society. Without it people feel afraid and at sea. For most there has to be at least some framework; a kind of belief system whether developed and broad or otherwise. For some these frameworks are very basic and revolve around corporeal need and pass time supply. For others these are more nuanced and extensive.  To ask big questions is terrifying for some and beyond capacity for others. The extent of world version varies with capacity and courage.  Straying more than a little from what is acceptable to peers is fraught. Not everyone is fated to be Avant Garde.

Until one is willing, at least as a hypothesis, to accept that world version is not omniscient or all encompassing, then it is justified by talking as a means of self-defence. For should the world version start to crumble then all sense of certainty is at risk. If you listen to talking you can hear that so much of it is of a pseudo-rational justificatory nature. It is with bricks of justification and the planks of reasons and excuses that the fabric of world version is constructed. In addition, world version is plastered with supposition and sealed with assumption, many of which are dogmatically inviolate and never actually tested. The loop says it must be so.

This noise, caused by talking inner and outer, inhibits extent of experience and whilst that might seem cosy and safe, it isn’t really. The world does not comply with how it says it ought to be and when this happens, because the world version does not contain everything, we become unsettled and fearful. Our contextual framework of reality differs from the actual. In this respect many are almost completely unaware of where “their” thoughts and ideas have come from. Many are picked up and borrowed from others or deemed consensually accurate if acquired from peers. Let me say that consensus is not the same as truth or reality. Consensus is a socio-political creation arrived at only in the minds of man. The universe does not care one jot about what man thinks and says. The planet does, in a sense, care about what man does; for man does impact on planet, as yet the universe is relatively safe from our actions. 

One thing is for sure and that is you cannot run away from your own mind, you can dull it and anaesthetise it, but it keeps on coming back. I don’t know for certain what goes on in the minds of others, but I think it fair to guess that they are not by and large at ease and in bliss. Human mind does not rest well and what we say to ourselves is often unhelpful. The dark recesses of the human mind can indeed be dark, despite any outer appearance. There is a lot of fear and anger. There are many unpleasant thoughts and motives. Humanity is not calm and measured. It is often petty and vengeful.

Having said all of the above; are you as a reader bothered by internal dialogue? Does it cause you grief and suffering? Chances are that it does. Now the corollary of this is; do you like this state of affairs and if not, are you willing to do something about it? If you are, then at least in principle if not yet in practice, ready to start to work at the biggest barrier to freedom, talking.

Some people like conversation, it is a major party of life for them. The idea of falling dumb is unattractive and social interaction is valued. I am not advocating that you find a cave and become a yogi. What you can do with relatively little initial disruption is to work at the cessation of your own internal dialogue. Internal dialogue is quite the most tiring thing and takes up vast tracts of time. If you calm and eventually stop the internal dialogue you will have so much more energy and quite a bit more time. Sales pitch over it is really up to you, but if you want to do this you will need some meditative practice or other to help you begin. Be aware though that there are many purveyors of snake oil and it easy to simply swap one world version for another and end up out of pocket in the process.

Once you have instilled a measure of control over your internal dialogue you will find that the aperture of mind opens, how far it opens is in proportion to your control or cessation of internal dialogue. There is a potential drawback in that a fertile mind is relatively easily populated so care should be taken and discernment practised.

Unless you can control and eventually stop at will your internal dialogue you will not be free of it or from it. As a consequence, equanimity will be fleeting as the next storm front of internal dialogue gathers and passes over. If you can’t control your own mind, you are not free. Rather you are plagued by internal noise which both limits and colours your perceptions of the world. In this sense internal dialogue is by way of an enemy that is both persistent and full of guile. It does not surrender willingly or easily. It likes the control that it has over you.

Towards Freedom – Why?

About the Author

Alan holds a Ph.D. in Chemical Physics which he gained whilst studying at The Royal Institution of Great Britain. For over a decade he was a Lecturer / Senior Lecturer in Physical Chemistry at Imperial College London.  He has more than twenty years’ experience of lasers, optics and spectroscopy. He currently exists in a geek / yogi superposition state and jokes that he is a kind of quantum yogi.

He has been exposed to Budō, shamanism, Buddhist literature, Toltec teachings, I Ching and esoteric philosophy. He has meditated extensively doing Rāja yoga and dreaming practice. He has studied widely using his experience as a researcher to guide him.

He lives with his wife in a farm worker’s cottage in the Surrey / Hampshire borders.

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“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms…”

Henry David Thoreau

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Why

This is not for those who are happy, nor is it for those who are sad. It is for those who, despite all the shiny screens in the world, all that social interaction on line or otherwise, have a sense of something missing. Quite what that is, is difficult to say, yet that gap, that vacuum, that hole looms unspoken and somehow large. Because it is missing it is intangible but somehow near. It is not always present though its presence always lurks. 

One might imagine that an elixir of happiness could quench it or a bucket list of things to do and see. Maybe it is to be found in social and career success, a new house, a shiny car? Perhaps all one needs is a panacea for stress, a brief glimpse of serenity from time to time. The ideal of a deep font of eternal joy beckons unattainable, a bliss never to be consummated. But such as this must lie forever beyond reach, it in itself is an illusory goal, a yardstick by which to measure failure and breed discontent at non-attainment thereof. The advertised nirvana or heaven fall short of the copywriter’s brief. All that awaits is a hell of sorts and a lumpy dissatisfaction to be the eternal source of complaint and gripe. 

This is for those with questions and for those who are sufficiently dissatisfied with being dissatisfied all the time to actually feel an urge to do something about. It starts with a question; surely there must be more to life than this?

This is a dawn question, a question that comes from deep within, perhaps from that still small voice so often drowned in pass times. It is question of stirring, a ripple however feint that can be silenced temporarily with booze or drugs or sex. But after it is still there, nagging. One can try to run from the question and pretend.

This is for those who have had enough of pretending and of lying. It is a book for those who are sick of being fake and living by façade and stories about their façade told to other façades at endless encounters. It is for those keen to go past the face value, the social chit chat, to find a sense of at least some reality.  It is there with reality that a sense of equanimity can be found. It does not sound so tempting as bliss, but I’ll wager that as a target it is more realistic. This equanimity is a state less perturbed, more centred and far less oscillatory. It is not coloured by judging others nor emotive when the world isn’t how it is supposed to be. It demands nothing and asks very little, as such it does not want for much and whatever need arises is more readily met. It is not a state of desire or greed and as such is seldom thirsty and hungry. Equanimity is a sense of satisfaction, though in no way smug. This calm in the storm, this eye of the hurricane, is the non-material centre that eludes. It does not beckon, yet it, in its near nothingness is the filler of holes, the plugger of gaps and voids.

With such a sense of balance there is nothing missing any longer, because whatever you need is already with you. One sees clearly and real.

Equanimity is not an absolute, a perfection. It is a relative and with increasing equanimity dissatisfaction or suffering fades; it does not vanish at the waving of a wand or a signing of a therapy cheque. It is hard won and with each increasing measure it carries with it a bounty of peace and occasional serenity. There is no fanfare of trumpets simply a growing into. Like a new set of clothes, it fits and with each growth a skin is shed for further expansion. It cannot be rushed for rush and equanimity do not correlate, rush is dissatisfaction after all.

At first there are only glimpses, ephemeral and passing. In time these extend and blend. One cannot sustain equanimity indefinitely, but one can increase its longevity and relative permanence. Like a recovering addict one has to leave behind, anger, jealousy, lust, desire and ambition. There remains an addict’s itch for these non-temperate states.  What will life be like without my soap opera friends? How will I know that I am still alive? The personal climate will remain stormy and turbulent for a long time with only brief interludes, in time these coalesce.

In order to seek this state one must be genuinely ready for change and radical change at that. Even a tiny episode of equanimity enhances the quality of life. It is a state that makes sense. To be permeated with it is the destination and such permeation is a marathon endeavour; one that can only be done one step at a time. And of course, by the time one has a modicum of equanimity one ascertains with clarity that there is in fact no destination, only journey. And like all good journeys into the unknown, there is plenty to see and learn along the way.

So, if you have had enough of where you are at and are fed up of the pendant ghost of something missing, perhaps this is for you. Reading alone will only go so far, this is not theory it is practice.


The Difference Between Should Not Be and Is

It is my estimation that many people suffer and find it difficult to come to terms with, when things are not how they are supposed to be. People can tend to have a view of how things should be and when they aren’t it can be difficult to accept.

When someone dies young, perhaps a well-liked and popular father of two, it is a tragedy in some people’s eyes. {Why is it never an anti-social loner?}

It should not happen like that. But life is life. As John Lennon said, “life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” Is it tragic to get cancer? No not really, it is a fact of life that some people get cancer. Yet if we frame it as a tragedy, with a bit of it is not fair sauce, does that make it any easier to handle? I doubt it. Feeling hard done by does not exactly enhance the quality of life.

I am due my first Covid PCR test in about four weeks’ time. If it is negative, I get to drink four litres of industrial grade laxative and then have a colonoscopy. If it is positive, I will develop covid symptoms and the colonoscopy will be put off until such time as I am no longer an infectious being.  If I die of Covid I won’t get a colonoscopy nor have to drink the laxative of doom. I am not entirely sure which is preferrable.

There is no should here. There are simply a few different event trajectories.

The likelihood of Covid is small given a lack of human encounters and my double vaccination. I have to take my Covid passport to the meeting with the anaesthetist in two weeks’ time. I don’t see what the fuss is all about, I have been showing proof of vaccination on and off for nearly fifty years. We had to prove we did not have tuberculosis to get let into Australia in 1970. I can still remember having the X-rays taken at Llwynypia Hospital where my grandfather later died. This hospital is now called Ysbyty Cwm Rhondda. They were excited that we were going to Australia. I foresee as the years go by that I will be visiting the hospital more regularly.

People can spend, and this is the correct word, a great deal of time bemoaning about how things should be and how things should not be.

It is the difference between supposition and reality which causes mental angst.

I can sit here this afternoon and say with a high degree of confidence that for the foreseeable future my life will be gardening, DIY, cooking and the occasional walkies. The only imminent caveat is what happens with the colonoscopy. I have no plans to try to change my circumstance any time soon. This is how it is.

I personally do not see why anyone else might have a problem with that.

There is a vague possibility that others may think that this should not be the case.

To re-sate the hypothesis then.

The difference between supposition, conditional preconception, and reality causes suffering. It is a root cause of suffering.

The Karma of Secrets

The first thing to say abouts secrets is that they all in some way itch, they itch at being. The second thing to say is that secrets bind. Secrets also have a tendency to infect and cause fear in their purveyors. They nearly always generate new Karma to be worked with and sometimes, though not always, have a habit of surfacing at the most inconvenient of times. Some secrets are carried to the grave. Organisations, governments and people use secrets when they think it expedient. Avoiding a problem today often stores it up for tomorrow.

People are fascinated by secrets. Fascination binds.

This fascination is by way of a glamour and an attachment. Because most know that secrets are “naughty” they come with a certain salaciousness and a sense of privilege. Some how the possessors and purveyors of secrets are better than others, they are in the know, others are in the dark.

Exactly who is in the dark and who is in the light, is a moot point, often unconsidered.

From a point of liberation what is most germane is their binding conspiratorial nature. If you share a secret, you share the breath of that secret, you conspire and breathe it together. Whispers in the dark, keep you in the dark, for fear of light.

The two major causes of secrets are lack of impeccability and lack of courage. If you are impeccable there is never any need for secrets.

Anything, any act, which binds you, is not good for liberation.

I suspect that there is not a being alive who has never lied nor never held a secret, at some stage or another. It is the Karma, the Dharma, of holding a secret that needs learned from. There is nothing quite like real life experience to teach.

The cure for secrets is impeccability.

It is as simple as this. If you are utterly impeccable you will never feel the need to lie or hold secrets. You may not feel the urge to spill the beans on everything you know, yet if the time to speak on it comes, there is no secret, no attachment.

People are attached to secrets. Beings often cannot move past a secret. They are log jams in evolution.

Often the secret, held deep and hidden, is no way near as bad as people have built it up to be. Its revelation seldom causes a tsunami nor the explosion of the sun. Some secrets are bad and these eat and itch at the being all of their lives.

Secrets cause suffering!

It is a matter for each individual as to which secrets they keep. One could try airing a few of these to see if God strikes you down. Theory has it He knows in any case. Much of the suffering associated with secrets is SELF generated for the SELF is what keeps or shares secrets, so as to bolster its SELF IMAGE.

As I have mentioned before, Karma is for learning by and from.

Have I ever kept a secret? Have I shared secrets about others? What have I learned through this? What am I still learning from this?

Impermanence and Value

For a long while I was resistant to many of the ideas of Buddhism such as non-attachment and suffering. It struck me that this was one miserable philosophy of life always focussing on suffering. Then one day I had a Tango moment. I saw dukkha translated as dissatisfaction. Now, it all made sense. Many people are perennially dissatisfied with their lot and love a good old whinge, complain, and moan. It could become an Olympic sport.

It was a truth, the truth of dissatisfaction.

How then to live in a world without being attached to anything and yet not having anhedonia or being nihilistic?

It requires only a subtle shift. Instead of resenting being born, which many appear to do, why not accept with joy the gift of life. In which one is merely borrowing the things which the universe supplies. Why not value these gifts without grasping, without clinging, because they just like you are impermanent. On the scale of the universe a human being is mightily impermanent, you exist for around 10-8 of the age of the current universe!! That is pretty fleeting.

But hey we can tend to see ourselves as mightily important.

The trick is to value without coveting, to enjoy without indulging, to take only so much as you need from life and to be thankful for the loan. Know that the universe does not owe us anything whatsoever, so we have no right to feel in anyway entitled.

If we are such fleeting beings time is precious and is a gift that is not to be wasted. You cannot hang on to a second, a minute or an hour.

Value is the middle way. Not clinging and attached, not nihilistic and uncaring, valuing with humility.

Attaining the meaning of impermanence, a being turns from dissatisfaction with a growing sense of equanimity and balance, and places value on the gift of life. Its chance to learn and evolve, here on this beautiful blue planet for but one fleeting moment of now.

Karma and Self Importance

Every being has to confront and hopefully eventually overcome, Self-Importance. This dukkha or burden is common to all of mankind to a greater or lesser extent. Whilst it is current, it induces a myopia and self-centred orientation towards the world; some call this EGO. Under its influence the being imagines incorrectly that the whole world revolves around its wants, desires and convenience. When the evidential circumstance of the world is inconsistent with this, the being “suffers”. This suffering is self induced and is also inflicted upon others.

Caught up in SELF IMPORTANCE the being progresses through life trying to get its own way and exert its will over others. Unfortunately, most only come to have insight or understanding about this quality in manifestation, towards the end of life. It is only then that they can even begin to acknowledge how much harm their self importance has done both to their life and the lives around them. Many of the lessons associated with self importance are therefore autumnal.

As the leaves of a lifetime start to fall and the mind and body age, the bare tree of life starts to show through. It is in this stage of life that many self-important beings first get any sight of and start to own, how their behaviour has manifested. This realization is not possible or evident amidst a busy and hectic life. Yet as the engine starts to rev. more slowly the effects of self importance emerge from under the carpet.

Being an autumnal realisation there is little time to redress that which it is they have done. The slow appearance of understanding can lead to old age melancholy and bitterness. These are not pleasant to experience yet are by way of necessary learning in preparation for upcoming lives. Lifetime after lifetime are beings born to struggle with their own EGO and self importance. It is a lesson which is very long in the learning and because of the nature of self importance, one which so many adamantly resist to learn. They are way too self important to even begin to learn what it does and how to undo it.

The antidote is a realistic humility, and not a faux self important or “put on”, humility. Though many try to play humble, false piety is eventually transparent and God is not gullible.

If you don’t start to address self importance and that which it causes, according to Karma you will be shown some of the effects it has brought in the Autumn of your life.

It makes sense to do the work on self importance whilst you are of relatively sound body and mind. Leaving it to the last minutes in the hope that it will disappear all on its own, is not a wise strategy.

When two self-importances rub up against each other there is conflict. I mean this both at a personal level and in much wider circumstances. At the root of many world or national conflicts, there are opinions and EGOS.

Many of the major Karmic Challenges facing humanity have their root in EGO and Self Importance.

It is not possible to achieve liberation whilst one has SELF importance. This is the law.

Having said this few realize the total debilitation and self slavery, that is slavery by and to the self, with which they are encumbered. Self importance is the master of self deception. It parades as a friend and saviour, whilst in reality it is anything but!

Does my self importance bring me a sense of freedom or am I eternally busy trying to satisfy its whims?

Somebody Else’s Karma

One of the most difficult things in respect of Karma is figuring out when not to interfere. This is because interfering can stop people from learning the lesson which is due them. Altruism however, points at trying to mitigate the suffering of others; yet all too often a “helping hand” simply delays what a being needs to learn. By apparently preventing the suffering in the moment, it can actually be prolonging it.

It is not easy to ascertain when someone has Karmic learning to do. The only reliable pointer is recurrence. If a person keeps on doing the same thing and does not learn from it because others “help out”, rather than acting as a salve, that assistance, prolongs. A recurring pattern is more likely than not something Karmic and is by way of unfinished business.

It is never easy watching someone get “punched in the head” by life, yet sometimes this is exactly what is needed. Putting a glove on can appear to soften the blow yet this means that more blows are needed for the same lesson to be learned.

The desire to assist or ameliorate somebody else’s experience often comes about because of a “but for the grace of God there go I” feeling. There is something about the situation which strikes a chord of recognition. Deep down the lesson being learned is one which the being seeking to help knows is awaiting them, unless they change their ways. So they seek to mitigate the outcome of something which the world is mirroring for them. The experience which they are observing is a little too close for comfort.

Watching somebody else’s Karma can inform as to the causal consequence of one’s own actions. One can see mirrored the effect of similar causes currently being played out in one’s own life. Sometimes it is a reminder of lessons which one has already, sometimes painfully, learned; perhaps echoes of a past behaviour are surfacing again and one is given a timely reminder. Things in the mirror often reflect that which is too close for comfort for us. This is a good thing and should a situation cause discomfort, then it is a sure sign that there is some learning in and around such circumstance.

If one is serious about working with Karma, no matter how tempting it might be, Karmic challenges must be seized and not put off, nor should “help” always be accepted. If the situation is beyond current capacity, then help is OK. If laziness is at work, then help simply puts off the scheduled learning.

The motivations for interfering are many and manifold. Some of these are pure, others are not. When a situation unfolds in which one is able to assist it is always wise to be honest about the motive, for so doing. Many like to be painted hero. This in itself is a cause for subsequent effect.

In many but not all cases, people have to learn the hard way. Interfering actually prevents learning. It in effect “steals” someone’s lesson away from them!

Which is more compassionate allowing someone to learn naturally or interfering and mitigating?

The Twelve Principles of Buddhism

by Christmas Humphreys QC

    1. Self-salvation is for any man the immediate task. If a man lay wounded by a poisoned arrow he would not delay extraction by demanding details of the man who shot it, or the length and make of the arrow. There will be time for ever-increasing understanding of the Teaching during the treading of the Way. Meanwhile, begin now by facing life as it is, learning always by direct and personal experience.

    2. The first fact of existence is the law of change or impermanence. All that exists, from a mole to a mountain, from a thought to an empire, passes through the same cycle of existence – i.e., birth, growth, decay and death. Life alone is continuous, ever seeking self-expression in new forms. ‘Life is a bridge; therefore build no house on it.’ Life is a process of flow, and he who clings to any form, however splendid, will suffer by resisting the flow.

    3. The law of change applies equally to the ‘soul’. There is no principle in an individual which is immortal and unchanging. Only the ‘Namelessness’, the ultimate Reality, is beyond change, and all forms of life, including man, are manifestations of this Reality. No one owns the life which flows in him any more than the electric light bulb owns the current which gives it light.

    4. The universe is the expression of law. All effects have causes, and man’s soul or character is the sum total of his previous thoughts and acts. Karma, meaning action-reaction, governs all reaction to them, his future condition, and his final destiny. By right thought and action he can gradually purify his inner nature, and so by self-realisation attain in time liberation from rebirth. The process covers great periods of time, involving life after life on earth, but ultimately every form of life will reach Enlightenment.

    5. Life is one and indivisible, though its everchanging forms are innumerable and perishable. There is, in truth, no death, though every form must die. From an understanding of life’s unity arises compassion, a sense of identity with the life in other forms. Compassion is described as ‘the Law of laws – eternal harmony’, and he who breaks this harmony of life will suffer accordingly and delay his own Enlightenment.

    6. Life being One, the interests of the part should be those of the whole. In his ignorance man thinks he can successfully strive for his own interests, and this wrongly directed energy of selfishness produces suffering. He learns from his suffering to reduce and finally eliminate its cause. The Buddha taught Four Noble Truths:

    (a) The omnipresence of suffering;

    (b) its cause, wrongly directed desire;

    (c) its cure, the removal of the cause; and

    (d) Noble Eightfold Path of self-development which leads to the end of suffering.

    7. The Eightfold Path consists in Right (or perfect) Views or preliminary understanding, Right Aims or Motive, Right Speech, Right Acts, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Concentration or mind development, and finally, Right Samadhi, leading to Full Enlightenment. As Buddhism is a way of living, not merely a theory of life, the treading of this Path is essential to self-deliverance. ‘Cease to do evil, learn to do good, cleanse your own heart: this is the Teaching of the Buddhas.’

    8. Reality is indescribable, and a God with attributes is not the final Reality. But the Buddha, a human being, became the All-Enlightened One, and the purpose of life is the attainment of Enlightenment. This state of Consciousness, Nirvana, the extinction of the limitations of self-hood, is attainable on earth. All men and all other forms of life contain the potentiality of Enlightenment, and the process therefore consists in becoming what you are. ‘Look within: thou art Buddha.’

    9. From potential to actual Enlightenment there lies the Middle Way, the Eightfold Way ‘from desire to peace’, a process of self-development between the ‘opposites’, avoiding all extremes. The Buddha trod this Way to the end, and the only faith required in Buddhism is the reasonable belief that where a Guide has trodden it is worth our while to tread. The Way must be trodden by the whole man, not merely the best of him, and heart and mind must be developed equally. The Buddha was the All-Compassionate as well as the All-Enlightened One.

    10. Buddhism lays great stress on the need of inward concentration and meditation, which leads in time to the development of the inner spiritual faculties. The subjective life is as important as the daily round, and periods of quietude for inner activity are essential for a balanced life. The Buddhist should at all times be ‘mindful and self-possessed’, refraining from mental and emotional attachment to ‘the passing show’. This increasingly watchful attitude to circumstances, which he knows to be his own creation, helps him to keep his reaction to it always under control.

    11. The Buddha said: ‘Work out your own salvation with diligence.’ Buddhism knows no authority for truth save the intuition of the individual, and that is authority for himself alone. Each man suffers the consequences of his own acts, and learns thereby, while helping his fellow men to the same deliverance; nor will prayer to the Buddha or to any God prevent an effect from following its cause. Buddhist monks are teachers and exemplars, and in no sense intermediates between Reality and the individual. The utmost tolerance is practised towards all other religions and philosophies, for no man has the right to interfere in his neighbour’s journey to the Goal.

    12. Buddhism is neither pessimistic nor ‘escapist’, nor does it deny the existence of God or soul, though it places its own meaning on these terms. It is, on the contrary, a system of thought, a religion, a spiritual science and a way of life, which is reasonable, practical, and all-embracing. For over two thousand years it has satisfied the spiritual needs of nearly one-third of mankind. It appeals to the West because it has no dogmas, satisfies the reason and the heart alike, insists on self-reliance coupled with tolerance for other points of view, embraces science, religion, philosophy, psychology, ethics and art, and points to man alone, as the creator of his present life and sole designer of his destiny.

    Drafted by Christmas Humphreys, The Buddhist Society, London, in 1945

Comparison Mind is a Root Cause of Suffering

Rational thinking, in other words, ratioing one thing against another is considered sensible in some circles. It can be called reasonable. It is a basis of modern scientific thinking, where one compares hypothesis against experimental data, it is however also reductionist. We are encouraged to weigh things up, to compare one set of data against another. There is a whole bunch of this going on at the moment. For some bizarre reason people are comparing national COVID-19 responses, playing a game of who is better.

In school we are taught to compare things, even in literature. We are ranked according to grade averages. Schools which get their students through exams with a higher grade average are considered better than. Universities who do well in research excellence frameworks are better than, whilst others are worse than. People may even be prettier than or fatter than, uglier than or size zero. Someone might have a nicer more expensive car. This whole notion of comparison is in many cases a rod for our own backs. A rod of judgement, a rod with which we judge our own success and failure. A rod which on occasion we beat ourselves up with.

Comparison mind has permeated out of the theatre of appropriate use and into a mainstream.  It is so widespread, and I’ll wager that it does not bring happiness, peace and acceptance. Because of this abomination the word enough can never be sated. It, comparison, is a part of the gross illusion on the mental plane. People devote and inordinate amount of time to comparing. Who has the nicest arse, the biggest cock, the most plastic surgery? It is more than a little bizarre.

I sometimes refer to comparison mind as top trumps thinking. People look to have one metric with which they can somehow be better than someone else. If you so wish you might even be so bizarre as to call it a unique selling point an USP.

My hypothesis is this:

Comparison Mind is a Root Cause of Suffering

How much time do you spend / waste in comparison?

See I have asked you compare how much time you waste comparing, it is fucking groundhog mind!!