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Apply, Practise & Live It!

What is the point of attending umpteen workshops and not apply it?

What is the point of sharing what you have learned with others and not practise it?

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Many work through the doors of the centre I work with, and many attend workshops or even seek private sessions of counselling on their endeavours of their journey. Yet strangely, the moment they walk out the door, it is as if everything is forgotten and given back to those who had imparted their sharing. Of course, I am not saying that all are of the same. In fact, there are some who are pretty vigilant in their practice and it is not hard to tell when lots of queries are posted afterwards as if hungry—hungry for more. Yet, is the practise all about just questioning and pondering and listening to others’ talk and occasionally joining in the conversation? Lots of techniques and information has been given, and I have observed that most only ‘apply’ when they are in great distress or pain over a certain issue and such attitude usually has much to do with wanting to ‘get rid of’, ‘get away from’ and ‘fix it’ as motivation. Other than that, for those matters that don’t trigger enough, they let those bypass them as if those matters are too trivial. Of course, I am not saying that we dwell in ‘smaller’ issues, but we seldom see the potential of ‘smaller’ issues as bringing us deeper insights that could very well prepare for us for a potential ‘bigger’ issue. We fail to see that those smaller issues are actually accumulated causes that end up as a ‘big’ overwhelming issue later on as effect when not addressed earlier. Having said that, I am also not saying that we don’t practise discernment in the things we question in the mind although the journey can be very much accelerated if the wheel has started turning. Why stop?

I have come across beginner practitioners who practise often enough that the little, little realisations that they gain from their little, little issues are overwhelmingly mind-blowing to the extent that when they are faced with a bigger issue in life, they find that they were already naturally calmer in addressing the big issue rather than having to try to be calm and start being mindful or to initiate the inquiry process. That to me, is a result of practice leading to natural transformation. It is when you have nothing to fix, the attitude is appropriate for mindfulness and inquiry is wholesome for the practice to be fruitful. The ‘wanting to fix it’ attitude already comes from a mental of wanting something out of it from not wanting the situation instead of genuine inquisitiveness and curiosity; where there lies your wholesome motivation for the practice? Yet paradoxically, isn’t it a daunting issue that propels us on the journey?

I invite those who came on the journey from a past hurt to see the issue as only a catalyst for you to come into your own journey of understanding yourself fully and not only for this one incident. There are many areas in life which could potentially lead you to inner peace and inner freedom. And I invite those already on the journey to be diligent enough in your practice rather than again and again succumbing to the patterns of self judgement. The final frontier is always, always towards yourself and if you have stopped there, it is as good as not starting the journey in the first place. You have come to equip yourself with skills sufficient to carry out the practice on your own; also being assured again and again that support is just around the corner though not for you to depend on. Make full use of it. Don’t let anything stop you from your immense potential.

5 Responses to “Apply, Practise & Live It!”

  1. bullshitter says:

    Even the most committed spiritual aspirants are seldom more than amateurs and hobbyists, as dedicated to their spiritual practices and ideals as others might be to their model trains or needlework. They’re not seeking truth or answers; they’re seeking relief from Spiritual Dissonance. Providing this relief is the lifeblood of the religious and spiritual marketplace. It has nothing to do with truth or awakening. In fact, just the opposite.

    Peace of mind — Spiritual Consonance — is what virtually all seekers of all places and all times are really seeking. It all makes perfect sense when you look at it that way. Why is everyone seeking and no one finding? Because they not seeking truth or growth or change, they’re seeking peace of mind. The rest is just dressing.

    Spiritual Consonance is what all seekers seek: an end to discomfort, not delusion.

    Spiritual Dissonance is what occurs where our inner world meets our outer world: where what we think is true butts up against what appears to be true: where internal belief collides with external reality. It’s the discomfort that occurs where self and not-self come into contact.

    Ego is like the thin sheath of atmosphere between the earth of self and the infinite space of not-self, holding one in and the other out. We live out our lives in this narrow band, never digging too far down or testing our upper limits. This is where our emotional energy is spent, pumped into this gap between two incompatible surfaces, keeping them from grinding against each other and jolting us out of our slumber.

    That grinding, when it does occur, is Spiritual Dissonance.

    Spiritual Dissonance is the mental/emotional counterpart of negative physical drives like hunger and pain. We experience physical discontent because we are hungry, so we eat. We experience physical pain because our finger is in a flame, so we pull it out. Similarly, when we experience the discomfort of Spiritual Dissonance, we seek relief, though it’s not likely to be as simple and direct as pulling a finger out of a flame.

    A common example of Spiritual Dissonance would be: If God loves us, why does He allow so much suffering? The certainty of God’s love is the internal belief. The obviousness of human suffering is the external reality. Is God unable to end suffering? No, we must answer, because He can do whatever He wants. Therefore, He must allow or even cause suffering. But how can that be if He loves us? Something somewhere has to give or, preferably, we avoid asking the question in the first place.

    An ad hoc hypothesis is one way of dealing with messy problems such as this. We come up with a new belief to stuff into the gap between two existing beliefs, like plugging a chink in the wall of our prison cell where a discomforting light is getting through and disturbing our repose. Such a hypothesis in this situation might be, “Because God loves us. He gave us free will and we use it to create our own suffering.” This is like a belief patch: we discover a bug in our belief programming, so we install a belief patch and all is well. The walls that enclose us are made of belief, so a belief patch is likely to blend in well and last as long as the wall does, if we don’t tamper with it.

    Another way we can respond to this problem is to recuse ourselves from such weighty deliberations altogether. “The Lord works in mysterious ways,” we can say, and be happily done with it. Similarly, we might relieve our discomfort by deferring to specialists. “It’s the job of the clergy to grapple with such imponderable issues,” we might tell ourselves, “it’s for the shepherds to worry about such things, not the flock.” Or, we might redouble our emotional investment in God and simply dismiss logical inconsistencies with haughty contempt or mocking disdain. Or, we might go the other way and dismiss God altogether, citing conundrums such as this to bolster our case. Or, best and most common, we can go the ignorance-is-bliss route. We can ignore the question altogether, or deny it, or simply stay occupied and distracted so this question and countless others like it can never gain a foothold in our awareness.

    Or any number of other scenarios. The main thing is to stop the discomfort, like removing the battery from a blaring smoke detector so we can go back to sleep.

    Meanwhile, somewhere, a fire burns.

  2. Stella says:

    I find this well written. Thanks, Geraldine (:

  3. bullshitter says:

    “Cognitive Dissonance is a term used in psychology to describe the discomfort we feel when our thoughts and beliefs come into conflict with each other. Okay, say for instance that I’m opposed to the slaughter of innocent animals, but I also like to eat meat. See what I mean?”

    “So you’re doing something that goes against what you believe?”

    “Right, which is okay as long as I’m not very aware of it, like if it stays in the shadowy outskirts of my awareness. If it doesn’t bother me, it’s not a problem. What’s an itch if it doesn’t itch?”

    “If it doesn’t itch.” she says logically, “then it’s not an itch”

    “Then what is it?”

    “Nothing?”

    “Right.”

    “But then, if it does itch—?”

    “Right, if it does itch, then it becomes a problem, and I’ll have to do something about it.”

    “Like scratch it?”

    “That’s one possibility. What’s another?”

    “You could ignore it.”

    “You could try. What else?”

    “I don’t know, put something on it?”

    “Right,” I tell her, “or maybe just remove the cause, as in pulling a splinter or flicking off a bug.”

    “Yeah.” she says.

    Other answers I would have accepted include painkillers, as in drugs or alcohol; amputation, as in cutting off the afflicted area; and suicide, as in jumping out a window.

    “So what do you do,” she asks, “if you eat meat but don’t want the animals hurt?”

    “That doesn’t seem like the right question. I might have gone my whole life eating meat and not wanting to see animals hurt.”

    “So that’s not the problem,” she works it, “the problem is—”

    I wait.

    “— that it started to itch?”

    “That sounds right, doesn’t it? It’s not a problem until it starts to itch.

    If circumstances force me to become acutely aware of this dissonance in my cognitions, my thoughts, then it will cause me discomfort, and that discomfort will require relief. The most obvious way for me to relieve my discomfort would be to stop eating meat. But beliefs are much easier to change than behavior, and I really don’t want to stop eating meat, so I’d probably just change my views on the slaughter of innocent animals, and keep eating them.”

    “Like how would you change your views?”

    “Maybe by deciding that if they weren’t raised for food, they would never have had life at all. Then, instead of being responsible for the killing of animals, I’d be responsible for giving them life. Problem solved.”

    “But is that really true?”

    “I don’t think it has to be true,” I reply, “it just has to stop the itch.”

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