|Dante in exile|
Means, a change in direction...
In order to establish some form of lasting security, the ego must produce solid or unchanging ground, as the very existence of “self” is dependent upon constant validation from “other.” To achieve this end ego attempts to freeze experience, but once we take a moment to consider the truth of impermanence, this proves to be an impossible task.
There is no hope, whatsoever, to be found in trying to suspend the continual stream of change that is life. Since the very existence of ego is dependent upon pausing life, and freezing life is not an option, it should follow that the whole of ego’s enterprise is hopeless. It is a useless idea, or a bridge to nowhere. We will never know genuine happiness, the simple joy that spontaneously emerges upon true surrender, until we give up trying to arrange life in such a way that it revolves around this old bag of hopes & fears that we call the self.
If we are ever to know deep peace & contentment we must distance ourselves from this chaotic operation. We have to move beyond the delusional and self-centered projects of ego. In the book of Matthew, Jesus says to us, “Repent; for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Repentance simply means to change direction, and is a necessary prerequisite for realizing the Kingdom of Heaven. A drastic change in the way that we see and experience the world we live in is in order. This sort of shift in focus begins with our resignation, with becoming a refugee.
A refugee is someone who flees their familiar environment in order to escape the destructive dictates of an oppressive regime. For someone to pick up and leave everything they have ever known, things need to have become pretty corrupt. This is probably the reason why just after Jesus calls on us to change direction he says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”. There has to be a real sense of despair, we must be poor in spirit. Oddly enough, this air of desperation is our ticket to freedom; it is a powerful and direct message from original intelligence pleading with us to look inward. Desperation of this sort only comes about with the total recognition of the hopelessness embedded in any situation that is dependent upon impossible measures.
Everything thing that we do, we do in order to create happiness. “I” cannot “do” some “thing” for any other reason. We may go about trying to avoid pain or discomfort, but even this is in some way connected with trying to be happy. As Fr. Thomas Keating puts it, “We are programmed for happiness”.
The confused mind interprets this to mean that we must go out and invent our own unique brand of personal happiness. This interpretation transforms the world into nothing more than some-thing we must control or manipulate in order to establish some degree of security. Ego saw the world and everyone in it as little more than a variety of ingredients that it must properly arrange in order to create the perfect dish, personal happiness.
Fortunately, there is such a land. There is a world which goes beyond the world with which we are so accustomed to. A state of simplicity, which transcends all of our neurotic fears, outrageous dreams, and petty squabbles. A place where the world is not some thing revolving around us. Where life is not some-thing that is happening to us. In such a place happiness is not some-thing that we have to produce. It is a world where we are not the administrator or foreman. We are not charged with the task of overseeing or managing every single little detail. One where everything is useless, as there is no one there assigned with the task of assigning it some purpose. The purpose of such a Life is Life itself. We get to retire from the burdensome task of playing God. We get to take the day off every day. This world is constantly being made new, so every moment is a fresh start. The name of this world is reality!
Luckily, this new land is not some far off or distant place. In fact, it is closer to us than we can possibly imagine. We do not have to trek across high mountain passes or set sail on a small piece of plywood across rough shark infested waters in order to reach it. No such journey is required. All we have to do is come back to this moment, to the eternal-now. All we have to do is wake-up!
For the sake of this discussion remaining sensible, lets call this new found land a room, an inner-room. This inner-room has three doorways, and these doors serve as our refuge. In truth it is this inner room that it is the ground of being, the very thread that runs through the whole of existence. It is through these three doorways that we are able to gain access to the inner-room. From the outside, these doors appear to be separate and distinct, but from within it is discovered that all three doors converge on the same point. In fact, it is realized that it is not really an inner-room, because there is no way to be on the outside of it! This point of convergence is naturalness, the ultimate ground of being. The three doorways or refuges are: Organic Mind, Suchness, and Being.
Everybody, without exception, has the capacity to discover genuine happiness. This capacity is present because, Organic Mind is present. It is organic mind which serves as the very seed of enlightenment. This inherent state of sanity is the very basis of meditation practice. It is because this natural form of intelligence is present and fully operational that the possibility of enlightenment even exists. Beating within each and every one of us is the heart of enlightenment, the very spirit of humanity. Taking refuge in organic mind is not about becoming a better or more perfect human being. It is about radically accepting the totality Humanness.
Organic Mind is mind without the unnecessary additive of confusion. It is not a created, contrived, or produced mind. It is simply Mind without all the pollutants. It is all natural. Organic Mind is complete openness, spaciousness. It is without division, and as a result there is no-thing to fuel friction or conflict. Organic Mind is free of elaboration. It is complete or whole, needing no-thing, and as a result beyond discontentment. It is eternal; without beginning or end, and therefore it is without a center or self to revolve around. There is no need to build or construct such a mind, it was there before the beginning, and will be there long after the end. Original Mind is never entirely infected with the epidemic of insanity that is constantly plaguing our relative state of health. Taking refuge in Organic Mind is not about developing some new state of the art enlightened mind, it is a process of discovering Original Mind. We just have to excavate it from the rubble of ego’s insanity.
Organic Mind and Suchness are uniquely blended together in the eternal song of Life, Being. This being is utter simplicity, naked awareness. It is a vibrant dance in which spaciousness and possibilities co-emerge as a single unit, primordial experience. Since Original Mind is pure, it has the capacity to reflect reality in its infinite manifestations. One teaching says, “Existence and emptiness are of the same nature, space. Are the water and its waves separate?” This ceaseless play between emptiness and appearance is alive or energetic. In fact, it is the unified stream of energy we have been calling Life. We are not some-body cut-off and separate from life, we are Life. To quote Yoda, “The force is all around us, it flows through us”.
These three refuges: Organic Mind, Suchness, and Being, are simply three aspects of one thing, Human Nature. Furthermore, they are viable refuges. They are practical, accessible, and consistent. They are three doorways that lead to who we were before we had a name, naturalness. In the famous words of Benjamin Rand, “Chauncey Gardner, you have the gift of being natural.” Everyone has the gift of being natural, and this gift of being natural is often called grace.
Grace is not some-thing we can will around through prayer or somehow manipulate to our advantage. It is the effortless nature of our natural being in its utter simplicity. It is something to be accepted. Grace is a gift which belongs to no-one. The type of radical acceptance required is surrender, completely letting go of the need to control or seize life. It is relinquishing the desire to be some-one or some-thing. All we have to do is make the journey back to our home, back to the here-&-now. This journey is a bit of an odd journey, as we have to traverse backwards through the whole network of ego’s programs; shedding off layer upon layer of self-deception, only to arrive where we actually are. Meister Eckhart described this type of journey, “As growth by subtraction.”
This is the path of a refugee.