A conversation I recently had with a reader of this page that touches upon several relevant questions:
P: I read it (the post entitled DEPRESSION AND ENLIGHTENMENT) twice but I still don’t get what one then does … just let it all be?
AA: Be open be observant. Understanding the dynamic clearly is the first step. Misunderstanding leads to doing all kinds of things that turn counterproductive.
P: Oh yeah.. been there🙃 Ok.. be open and observant.. I actually like that answer very much.
AA: All the insight that I provide in my posts has not resulted from me doing anything in particular. Constant openness and being observant has allowed my mind to naturally arrive at its own understanding organically over time.
P: Ok.. but are insights enough for everything?
AA: A necessary first step. Until you are aware that you are actively harming yourself you will feel no motivation to stop that behaviour. Until you know how and why that harm is being caused you won’t have any recourse to do anything about it. Naturally over time you will simply stop that behaviour.
In my youth I used to be quite addictive as a personality. Gambling was one of those addictions. Of course I knew it was “bad” intellectually. But it’s only after I suffered through its consequences and saw how it affected myself and those around me first hand did I naturally shift away from that need.
Just a rudimentary example.
So the insight I’m talking about is not intellectual. It wouldn’t be called “IN “sight if it was only intellectual. Insight is fundamental.
P: No short-cut..? Did u really have to suffer consequences before it became an insight?
AA: Yes I did. Doesn’t mean someone else will. Tons of people have no draw towards gambling. I did. That was my brand of suffering.
Everyone has their own brand. And there is no shortcut to it Only way out is through. But the speed with which we move through depends on the degree of openness and curiosity we display.
Of course I could fake the insight based on what someone else has told me. Most of spiritual literature today is that. That’s why everyone “sounds like” everyone else.
P: True… very boring. And then there are many who go back to their addictions like drugs/drinks despite knowing it is harming them.. repeatedly.. So the insights you speak of are not guaranteed by mere sufferings
AA: No, the going back is part of it. Going back is part of “going through”.
AA: lol do you think the first time I suffered a loss gambling, I had this massive insight and quit cold turkey?
You suffer over and over….that’s what suffering is. Otherwise it’s not really suffering.
But you can’t force insight either. It comes in and of itself.
P: But why not… why don’t we get it insightfully enough the first time?
AA: Did you learn to ride a bicycle on your first try? Repetitively losing your balance taught you balance.
I’m assuming you know how to ride a bike here lol.
P: 😁.. yeah I used to fall every single time I turned a bend. But that can be questioned.. that suffering needs be repeated…
AA: Its not suffering that needs to be repeated…..suffering is what results FROM the repetition.
I can have a negative thought…..but if it only occurs once in my mind I’m not going to suffer. But if that thought repeats over and over…..then I suffer.
P: Yes.. tiresome.. get tired of it.. like “enough already”.. feels like I was born tired
AA: Yes, world weariness is the mark of a seeker. Without it no spiritual journey can begin. Everything that feels wrong about any of this is actually what’s right about it …. If you know what I mean.
P: So you are saying it will all pan out only when it is ready to and nothing that can be done…
AA: Everything one can do is already being done.
Nothing MORE can be done.
P: I wish my faith in that was 100%…
AA: Faith comes with insight. Seeing is believing.
P: It wavers…
AA: It wavers because it is reaching to stabilize. Like wobbling on a bicycle. The wavering is also necessary.
P: And falling at the bends?.. a lot more acute than mere wobbles…
AA: Everyone falls at some point or another. Even those so called experts among us.
P: So I can chill?
AA: That’s up to you…
AA; Meaning that’s something you have to decide for yourself
P: I guess… can’t have intellectually contrived “chills”
AA: Whatever you “do” is going to impede the process not one bit. If you resist it, the pressure will continue to build. Eventually it all flows whether we like it or not.
P: Feels kinda sadistic at times🙃.. this thing we call life or the never-ending journey of enlightenment.
AA: It can be seen that way if one is opposed to the natural frustration that is part and parcel of the learning process.
P: Yes.. I am so done with frustrations.. wanna be over with it and its friends
AA: My 5 year old never believed she’d ever be able to take the training wheels off her bike. But I helped her see the frustration as character-building and that shift in her perspective allowed her to get to that point last summer.
What “feels good” and what “is good” are from two different dimensions. Of course, frustration doesn’t feel good. It’s not supposed to. But it develops us in a way that we couldn’t if we were just complacent and comfortable.
P: Do you think accepting her frustration made her get there faster.. or just in a happier state?
AA: If she hadn’t accepted the frustration she would have given up on the bicycle.
P: And yet you say we can’t help it even if we were complacent?
AA: No, complacency maintains the status quo. It doesn’t help one progress.
P: So she had a choice?
AA: Apparent choice, yes. It was also in her nature not to give up easily.
Without frustration and inner conflict all our experiences are only superficial. That was essentially what i was pointing to in the “love” post. The love in spiritual circles is all about complacency and comfort zones. It is about keeping each other safe.
But that sort of love only goes skin deep.
P: So the pep talk you gave her.. Perhaps just a reminder of what was in her nature?.. and if she was not receptive to it nothing you could have said to make it happen…
AA: Wasn’t so much a pep talk….more of telling her that its ok if she wants to give up on the bicycle as long as she understands that means not being able to ride it without trainers.
The realization that she wouldn’t be able to ride was too much of an indignation for her.
Similarly for me. The suffering was unbearable. But the prospect that I would have to spend my whole life not truly knowing myself was way more frightening.
In comparison, the suffering was a piece of cake.
P: Ok wait… that is kinda contradicting yourself…If one can only do what is in their nature to do, then how is love a way of making people complacent. If anything love holds our hand reassuringly for living to the full without self-doubt
AA: I never said love makes people complacent.
P: You said that is what spiritual community does…
AA: I said the kind of love that spiritual communities promote is a superficial kind.
P: Oh… well we don’t know…Same with intimate relationships…
AA: Of course….most relationships are superficial for that reason. A human being can only love to the extent that they know themselves.
If their self awareness is limited so is their love.
Like art. A layman can look at a painting and find it beautiful. But an art connoisseur will see many more layers of beauty in it.
P: So what did you do.. when the prospect of wanting to know yourself became too scary… Was it when you sat with it… Is that why I am not knowing how to “sit with it”.. cause I am complacent? For me it feels like i am already doing it.. albeit in my own quiet way.
AA: Yeah if you’re doing it then you’re doing it…i haven’t said there is anything wrong with what you are doing or not.
Btw, I said : the prospect of NOT KNOWING myself had become too scary…
P: Yes that is wat I meant too😅
AA: ok good.
P: Wrongly worded it.
AA: It’s like being caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.
At some point the devil of ignorance is just too terrifying and we take the plunge…
P: I remember someone telling me similar stuff.. to sit with my grief and be genuinely okay with it. I said that is what I do.. but they said if I was it would have morphed into something else.. that nothing remains the same with that kind of attention. So have always felt I was missing something.. that I didn’t get it…
AA: I would say the first part of their advice was good…the sitting with the grief….being genuinely okay with it is not something you can do…..that’s what happens at the end when it morphs…
P: Makes sense
AA: Its not grief if its ok lol. That just becomes a repression mechanism
Pretending to be ok in order to live in some safe space of denial parading as transcendence.
Grief has to feel like your heart being torn to pieces.
P: True… But I do feel a kind of intimacy with my grief.. being ok in the sense I see it as a friend…But anxiety feels like a foreigner…Not sure if either matters
AA: That’s ok….grief is a “friend” because it is related to the loss of something familiar…..Your anxiety on the other hand is related to something unseen and therefore alien.
P: Yes!!! Exactly!
AA: Every stranger is a forgotten friend…
AA: So anxiety gives the opportunity to get reacquainted.
P: Nice😊😊.. I like that!
AA: That is the part of the article that talks about the subconscious/unconscious becoming conscious.
P: I see… and grief plays no part?
AA: of course it does. Everything plays a part.
P: A trigger?
AA: An opportunity.
P: So the movement is from grief to anxiety? Is that the direction?
AA: They needn’t be related.
P: Yes.. I do see that.
AA: In the end they are all flavors of the same. Some form of ignorance making itself apparent and tormenting us with its darkness.
P: But I mean which comes first… though they repeat.
AA: Depends from person to person. Its not a linear thing.
AA: Yes, that’s why it’s called “spiralling into darkness”. Grief may trigger an unrelated anxiety even….or vice versa
P: Yes have seen that…
Once I was literally spiralling into the void… scary.. the effects lasted 3 days
And then I had phases where I was merging with inanimate objects that caught my fancy… pen, yoga mat, matchbox, white silk… it was fun but weird
I wish I could have taken the leap when it happened so viscerally.. it was many years ago… hope it comes back now that I understand it better.
And there were nicer experiences too… where breathing stops but there us no gasping for air.. before one can make sense of it mind also gets knocked off.. then there is nothing… but when I come off it there is only ecstasy.. I know there is a space of extreme joy…
AA: What leap? And what’s the point? Your problems would still be here.
P: I guess I would no longer care about the problems… that 100% faith?
AA: Yes but you would still act those problems out.
That’s why these so called enlightened guru types cause so much suffering to their followers.
P: Hmmm… so no spontaneous integration I guess. Though, that is what is peddled…
AA; hahah WELLLLL there is this magic red button in a secret cave somewhere in the pacific that will do all of it for you when you press it.
But you have to find it first.
P: Oh.. really or sarcasm?😅
P: 😁… okay!
AA: Never heard of the red button?
P: See now you making fun of me🙃🙃🙃🤣 Oh dear.. I actually fell for it
AA: Yes, just messing with you. You can see how absurd it sounds….yet if I say “mahasamadhi” instead of “red button” suddenly it sounds more believable for some reason.
P: Spiritual development and mundane development.. neither better than the other.. just that spirituality seems a novelty to most.. only reason it feels a bit more special
AA: They aren’t two things….to me they are one and the same.
P: True. But one is more carefree than the other.. feels lighter…
AA: Only if you make them two things
P: Interesting…How to see them as one… One feels expansive… the other pierces you
AA: You may have two legs but the process of walking is one.
You can’t say one leg is walking more than the other. Each propels the other….they operate in tandem.
P: I like that….So no special synergizing required? The polarities are already working together perfectly?
AA; Wellll, if you are hell bent on hopping on one leg I would say that’s a waste of energy.
P: 😂 😂
AA: Polarities have to work perfectly otherwise they would cease to exist
P: I mean nothing one needs to do.. like balancing or creating a magical 3rd out of the 2
AA: Having a third leg doesn’t make you more human. It makes you a stool.
P: 😂 😂 😂 😂