“Ten Choices You Will Regret in 10 Years” – An Alternative Viewpoint.

I recently stumbled upon an article entitled: “Ten Choices You Will Regret in 10 Years”
There then followed the ten choices that ultimately lead to this phrase of regret, with various solutions on how to elude them.
The whole article can be found at: http://www.trueactivist.com/ten-choices-you-will-regret-in-10-years/

As it happens the solutions offered include many methods and courses of action which I have attempted in my quest to come to a better understanding of who I am, my role in this life and the numerous other questions that generally stump us, and for which all our reading, encounters with ‘intelligent’ people, invaluably comes to naught. Or should they happen to offer some form of respite, such medicine is only temporary. Rather like being in prison, going to sleep and dreaming of being free, then waking up in prison again. There eventually comes a point when we become tired of temporary fixes and yearn for something permanent.

Though I cannot claim to offer any answers, the reason for which should become apparent by the end, I can attempt to point out instances where, in our confusion, we find ourselves looking the wrong way for such answers. Though in my experience, and rather disconcertingly, this wrong way is often in completely the opposite direction.

Should you still be reading this, my method has been to take each of the ten choices and place my own spin on them (signified by the choice number followed by the letter ‘A’ for ‘Alternative’ I guess). For many of you, what I have written, will no doubt come across as ‘spin’ and most likely will be dismissed accordingly. However, there maybe some who find something of use, if only that means looking at age old problems with a different eye.

After all what it eventually boils down to, is ‘seeing’ from a different place – the place we term our ‘Self’, even if there is no one to know it other than our ‘Self’. Rather in the way we might observe an old decrepit looking gate which leads into a beautiful garden. Only by stepping to one side to enable us to peep through the gate can we know what wonders confront us, though in so doing we find ourselves already in the garden. We were too focussed on the gate notice this. But then, like all analogies, this is an attempt to describe something lying beyond all description.

Ten Choices with Alternative viewpoints.

1. Wearing a mask to impress others. – If the face you always show the world is a mask, someday there will be nothing beneath it. Because when you spend too much time concentrating on everyone else’s perception of you, or who everyone else wants you to be, you eventually forget who you really are. So don’t fear the judgments of others; you know in your heart who you are and what’s true to you. You don’t have to be perfect to impress and inspire people. Let them be impressed and inspired by how you deal with your imperfections.

1A. The mask we show to others is always the face they see. We never see our own face for who is there to see it except you who is looking out of it? What is looking is what you are, so there is always the real you behind the mask which does not change though it is witnessing constant change. It’s not a matter of forgetting who we really are rather remembering who we are – that which is always here now. Yes, you know in your heart who you are – not in your mind. What you are is beyond perfection and imperfection which are only relative opposites.

2. Letting someone else create your dreams for you. – The greatest challenge in life is discovering who you are; the second greatest is being happy with what you find. A big part of this is your decision to stay true to your own goals and dreams. Do you have people who disagree with you? Good. It means you’re standing your ground and walking your own path. Sometimes you’ll do things considered crazy by others, but when you catch yourself excitedly losing track of time, that’s when you’ll know you’re doing the right thing. Read The 4-Hour Workweek.

2A. The greatest challenge is discovering who you are – true. Happiness comes as a result and is not separate from the knowing of this. Goals and dreams will always be goals and dreams belonging to a fictitious future. They are a distraction from being what you are now, which is all you can be. Don’t believe anyone who tells you it will happen at some future date, even if you face criticism. Being who you really are will means losing track of time, as ‘being’ is out of time, while ‘becoming’ (future) is firmly locked in time.

3. Keeping negative company. – Don’t let someone who has a bad attitude give it to you. Don’t let them get to you. They can’t pull the trigger if you don’t hand them the gun. When you remember that keeping the company of negative people is a choice, instead of an obligation, you free yourself to keep the company of compassion instead of anger, generosity instead of greed, and patience instead of anxiety.

3A. As your ‘true’ Self you are untouchable. When you imagine you are someone other than you are, then you become vulnerable. As as supposed individual you enter into conflict with another individual. Become invisible, become one with your surroundings. Then negativity will melt, as will anger and greed. All these arise with desire. Without desires we realise happiness.

4. Being selfish and egotistical. – A life filled with loving deeds and good character is the best tombstone. Those who you inspired and shared your love with will remember how you made them feel long after your time has expired. So carve your name on hearts, not stone. What you have done for yourself alone dies with you; what you have done for others and the world remains.

4A. First learn to love yourself for what you really are. Once you know your true Self you will not impose it upon anyone. It is rare to meet someone who truly doesn’t demand anything in return, but is simply there to give you their full attention. It is as if they have disappeared just for you. In the reflection of the nobody you too will discover what you are at centre – which is no centre. Most people are obsessed with ‘doing’. But ‘being’ is where it is really at.

5. Avoiding change and growth. – If you want to know your past look into your present conditions. If you want to know your future look into your present actions. You must let go of the old to make way for the new; the old way is gone, never to come back. If you acknowledge this right now and take steps to address it, you will position yourself for lasting success. Read The Power of Habit.

5A. The only steps you can take are no steps. For stepping anywhere is leaving the place where you are – Now – the only place you can be. By all means step into the past or future, you will anyway, for they are just thoughts appearing. The (thoughts of) future can only appear in the present, the (thoughts of) past can only appear in the present. So yes, allow yourself to let go, it is the only way the ‘new’ can appear. But the ‘new’ is not ‘new’, it is ‘you’ who are, have always been, but all this time have remained absent.

6. Giving up when the going gets tough. – There are no failures, just results. Even if things don’t unfold the way you had expected, don’t be disheartened or give up. Learn what you can and move on. The one who continues to advance one step at a time will win in the end. Because the battle is always won far away and long before the final victory. It’s a process that occurs with small steps, decisions, and actions that gradually build upon each other and eventually lead to that glorious moment of triumph.

6A. Once again where is there to go? What is this goal you seek on some distant horizon. So distant that the attempt to reach it will invariably result in failure. And should one be successful, what then? Success and failure are two opposites, they share a relationship as in a marriage. Leave them alone. Just as expectations are desires unfulfilled. Desires will continue to gnaw away at your heart. Leave them alone too. The battle is always won right now – where there is peace; not at some future time amidst the noise of uncertainty. When the moment of triumph does arrive it endures for a short while. While what you are now is timeless.

7. Trying to micromanage every little thing. – Life should be touched, not strangled. Sometimes you’ve got to relax and let life happen without incessant worry and micromanagement. Learn to let go a little before you squeeze too tight. Take a deep breath. When the dust settles and you can once again see the forest for the trees, take the next step forward. You don’t have to know exactly where you’re going to be headed somewhere great. Everything in life is in perfect order whether you understand it yet or not. It just takes some time to connect all the dots.

7A. Again, stay where you are and let life come to you. Just as in the phrase, “take life as it comes”. If we are present to it, we will know what action to take. If we try to predict, micromanage, anticipate we will most likely tie ourselves into knots – more than we already are. Enjoy life as it is and don’t waste energy trying to connect all the dots. No human mind has ever succeeded – will ever succeed.

8. Settling for less than you deserve. – Be strong enough to let go and wise enough to wait for what you deserve. Sometimes you have to get knocked down lower than you have ever been to stand up taller than you ever were before. Sometimes your eyes need to be washed by your tears so you can see the possibilities in front of you with a clearer vision again. Don’t settle.

8A. Find a place where you can watch all this. Who is perceiving all that happens to us? Knowing this truth will help us see through clear eyes. The eye of the beholder, that disappears in the beholding.

9. Endlessly waiting until tomorrow. – The trouble is, you always think you have more time than you do. But one day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to work on the things you’ve always wanted to do. And at that point you either will have achieved the goals you set for yourself, or you will have a list of excuses for why you haven’t.

9A. Ask yourself sincerely what are these things you really want to do? Where do these thoughts stem from? Isn’t it best to wake up now to understand that this moment is the only time free from the desire to be other than you are – which are essentially thoughts based on various memories. If you ‘are’ here’ and not somewhere else, any excuses (regrets) will evaporate.

10. Being lazy and wishy-washy. – The world doesn’t owe you anything, you owe the world something. So stop daydreaming and start DOING. Develop a backbone, not a wishbone. Take full responsibility for your life – take control. You are important and you are needed. It’s too late to sit around and wait for somebody to do something someday. Someday is now; the somebody the world needs is YOU.

10A. The world doesn’t owe you anything. You don’t owe the world anything. In order to owe someone you have to be separate. We are not separate from our surroundings, we are one with it. Just as we share the air, without which their would be no life as we know it. Man needs to stop ‘doing’ and start ‘being’. Just as we are not called human ‘doings’ but human ‘beings’. Only then can we listen to what is required and work in harmony; instead we trample over everything before us with our incessant need to quench desires, mostly born from fear – the root being the death of the ‘individual’, with who we identify.
Only those who are sincere will try seeking for this individual we believe to be ourselves. Then perhaps, if they are honest, they might discover it to be an illusion – a bundle of concepts acquired, sustained by memories. The leads to the most important question of all, “Who is perceiving this?” The question that cannot be answered. Not only is there nobody to answer that question for you, but You who is asking is at the same time the answer you are seeking.

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Buried treasure for no one.

All we can do is is witness. But the question arises, “Who is witnessing the witnessing?” No one! That simple. There cannot be another without separation and we are dealing with wholeness as in Self/God/Consciousness is all, entirety, 100%. What can appear outside wholeness? Where is the 1% outside 100%?

Witness appears with Consciousness. No consciousness, no witnessing. When does consciousness arise? No idea. Then who is there to know it? Only Consciousness. Consciousness knowing itself as it were.

Like buried treasure of great worth it appears. One is tempted to say one stumbled across it, for it has been here all along – yet how it became noticed remains a mystery. Even so, it is being held gratefully in these arms, in it lies true wealth. At the same time it is utterly worthless. It cannot be sold. It cannot even be shown it to anyone.

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Douglas Harding

Here is a wonderful film about a wonderful man. I am particularly grateful to Douglas Harding for providing a means to by pass the conundrum of “Who am I?” which had entered an intellectual loop with no apparent way out – at least through the mind. His direct pointing cut straight through all that – to the space in which all appears – which in essence is ‘oneness’ not ‘two-ness’ or any other ‘ness’ – simply pure ‘Being’.

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Who is experiencing what?

There is a Zen story which goes as follows:
Keiji, a long-time Zen student, approached his master and said: “I don’t see how there can be any enlightenment that sets you free once and for all. I think we just get ever greater glimpses of Buddha-nature, the vastness that is our true Reality. It’s an ever-expanding process.”

The master, looking penetratingly at Keiji, replied. “That may be what you think. But what is your experience, your experience right now?” Keiji looked momentarily confused. “My experience right now, Master?” “Yes. Do you know yourself as Keiji, having ever-expanding experiences of Buddha-nature? Or do you know yourself as Buddha-nature, having the experience of Keiji?”

The Master hits the nail on the head by asking Keiji the question, “Right now who is experiencing what?”

If we see ourselves as lone individuals (defined by our names) experiencing this daunting and confusing world outside, ever changing before our eyes, then truly we will be overwhelmed with fear and doubt.

But if we can ‘Know’ our unified centre and look out from that. See that we are ‘Oneness’ manifesting all that appears – which includes ourselves – how can we then feel separate, alone, confused and all those qualities we attribute to pain of a separate individual?

The irony is that we once knew this. Not even knew it – we lived it. Somewhere along the way we forgot our true place – stepped out from our Garden of Eden.

But we haven’t gone anywhere, everything is just as it is waiting to be recognised once more. So open your eyes – now!

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A life of searching for…

Surely all that searching and seeking over so many years for answers and reasons must amount to something. But the question arises: to what?

For where I am is where I have always been. Which implies there was no need to search and seek elsewhere. The only conclusion is that it must have happened in some form of dream. I envisaged I was somewhere else – on a journey – then awoke to discover it was all taking place in my imagination.

At centre – being who one is – is unlike anything that has gone before or will come. That is because nothing has gone before or will arrive. Being is ‘now’ – not even that – for time too belongs to the imagination and ‘now’ only has relevance in relation to a past and a future.

So empty and changeless one is open to everything and all change. One without the other could not exist. They are One – appearing otherwise. At heart a unified boundless reality – a phantasmagoria in appearance.

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Luminous texts.

Now and again one runs across texts which in the words of the Advaita masters point luminously at ‘that’. Although ‘that’ is beyond description or definition for ‘that’ is ‘this’ which is trying to describe ‘that’. ‘Oneness’ is merely revealing itself in its appearance as the many, which originate from that ‘Oneness’.

This perceived by itself, as itself is the end of all seeking. Nothing more can be said, needs to be said. All is as is. And while it is true that once this truth is seen through nothing will remain the same for illusion has lost it’s power to deceive. At the same time we succumb to a life of conditioning which if we are not careful drags us into ingrained habits – even if we know these habits to be nothing but ripples upon the surface of our being.

So when we read or listen to these luminous texts by the great non-dual sages who are the embodiment of “Know Thyself” we are led back to the place where we are – which had been temporarily veiled from us – just as the sun is obscured by clouds – (which were originally formed from the sun’s heat).

Recently a friend brought my attention to such a text by Ibn al-‘Arabi called: A Treatise in Being. It is one of the clearest examples of that pointing.

Another such text is the Hsin-hsin Ming by the Third Patriach of Ch’an Seng-ts’an.

The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu begins with the memorable lines:

The Tao that can be spoken of is not the eternal Tao;
The Name that can be named is not the eternal Name.

Then there is the Ashtavakra Gita, the Heart Sutra and many more.

So many jewels, lying on the table right before your very eyes. Open books, their secrets waiting to be uncovered. But are they withholding any secrets? Or just pointing to that which is already here.

Is it not for this reason this everyday miracle is often referred to as the Open Secret?

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It all comes down to Knowing.

Yet no one is knowing this Knowing. It just is that. The Knowing that, without thought or anything arising, wholeness remains intact. A wholeness free from shape or form or substance. The Knowing itself or itself.

This Knowing is of a type that cannot be sought out, nor even thought about. For any thoughts or conceptualisation only introduces separation – even if it is a false separation for wholeness cannot be divided. However the imagined separate entity – a pseudo subject (object posing as subject) lives out the story of separation and all the intricacy, change, nonsense that this entails.

Within this fictitious separation lies doubt, fear, reasoning and all the other factors that complicate what essentially is pure. For it was the Zen masters who referred to that Whole state as Pure Mind – One Mind – Empty Mind – to differentiate if from the ordinary mind which is constantly vying with random thoughts, life’s injustices, all that is now appearing in its seemingly random and unfathomable complexity before us. Even if in actuality this too is the ‘living energy’ expressing itself.

Dare I say it. Though it is not I, but the Knowing. The Knowing that ‘I am’ – and subsequently have fulfilled what is required – the recognition that I never was other than this. From the place of stillness, where is there to go? What is there to do or achieve? Just watch as it all unfolds – appears. Participate not merely for the fun, but because there is no other choice. Now is now and One is inseparably part of it – is it. That to be otherwise would imply being outside of it – just as 1% over 100% is totally without substance.

That is not to say there is some thing, some entity that frequently arises trying to claim this ‘Knowing’ as its own. Whereas at one time this imposter succeeded – has succeeded for many years – with Knowing came Truth invested with a power to dispel this masquerading energy appearing in all it’s varying disguises. Like a magician, whose secrets have been exposed, he has little option but to sidle of stage to avoid being heaped with further humiliation.

Once you give up thinking about it, Knowing is so incredibly simple. It is basically what is left.

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The true knowing that lays all knowledge bare.

There is a well known analogy whereby a thorn is used to remove another thorn and then both are discarded. The obvious question is: to what is this referring? I would suggest knowledge. More specifically knowledge in its various forms. Just as many words we encounter have various levels of meaning.

Knowledge can refer to the generic facts we are all fed from childhood. Facts which clutter our minds, are used to pass exams and are quickly forgotten. People are revered for their ability to remember countless details and facts, they form the basis of quiz shows and there are many who are keen to correct you should you mix up your Ps and Qs.

But there is also the rarer form of knowledge known as Truth. As a great teacher once exhorted “know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.” In our above analogy this translates as: find the thorn that removes the thorn. The understanding that our over preoccupation with the contents of our mind is the cause of our confusion and ignorance and inevitably suffering. This is most apparent at times of uncertainty, for life has an inconvenient habit of tossing up, often quite unexpectedly, challenging situations forcing us to have to ask honest, often difficult, questions of ourselves.

The Truth underpinning this healing / relieving thorn is the knowledge that we are not who we imagine ourselves to be. The part of us which suffers is the product of our conceptual thinking. In other words that which we believe we are, have been told we are, though with absolutely no foundation when viewed from who we recognise ourselves to be right now – on present evidence.

Seeing through – or having an insight – into this self-delusion, is the second thorn working out the one that is lodged. The process can be painful, but the relief is worth every twinge. With its removal we are clear and empty within – no longer ignorant of the source of our pain.

It is at this point both thorns can be discarded for we are in no doubt of our true nature – who we are.

thorn

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Seeking what?

It only requires a little thought to realise how ludicrous is the idea of seeking something other than what we are.

The problem arises because we begin from a faulty premise. We believe we are imperfect, separate, incomplete, in need of something to make us happy, content, whole. It as if we are trying to view a landscape with blinkered vision.

Instead let us start with the assumption we are complete, whole, not lacking anything. Fulfilment is ours, as is the panorama we now behold with our single open eye wide open.

Herein lies the truth. We are not lacking, we have everything. We just don’t realise this. It is the belief that we are poor which is causing us to live in poverty.

So what is preventing us from realising our true, whole nature? The simple fact that we cannot realise it. Not from the viewpoint of this poor individual – who feels him or herself  separate, alone, divided – brought about by erroneous thoughts. For the imagined individual is destined to live out its squandered existence unaware of the its true nature. Even if we should think about an alternative existence, it would only be small mind trying to conceive the universal mind or which it can have no conception – as it truly is a case of the lower not being able to see (conceive) the higher.

Vision has to begin from ‘here’ – the source. Everything appears in that ‘seeing’. No separation – no duality. Any seeking of it assumes there is something other to be sought. But that which is being sought is the seeker. It is One erroneously divided into two. Chasing its own tail.

So start from wholeness. Unspoken wholeness.

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Subject – Object Dilemma

The question often arises ‘Who’ is seeing? ‘Who’ is hearing? ‘Who’ is tasting, touching, smelling?

We look around us only to see a variety of objects. Man made objects in the form of furniture, vehicles etc. Nature’s objects taking the appearance of trees, puddles and clouds. Then anything that can be pointed to is an object in relation to us – ‘we’ who are subject.

But now point to your own body. Try it. Point to your foot or leg. Hang on! Who is pointing at what? Who is perceiving this leg I’m presently pointing at? The senses of course. But are not our senses a part of the body? Can body observe body?

It is similar to saying can object observe object? Of course not. An object is an object simply because it is acted upon by a subject. But if our body is an object and not the subject, where is the origin of the awareness? For that is what we are indicating when we speak of the subject.

We are the subject. Our true nature is subject. I Am. From this subject arises the notion of object – but it is an object manifesting from the one subject – which ‘I am’; and that so termed one subject is only called a subject providing there is an object to give it validity. But if the object has no substance per se, without the subject, then it cannot be said to exist as an independent entity.

In reality there is no object, just as there is no subject – at least nothing we can conceive of with the mind. Then this would imply duality and as we are told: there is no duality in non duality.

So you see the problem – the conundrum. We can only speak about subject as an object i.e. in duality. What we are describing is a representation of the subject which is not ‘it’. We can only at most point to ‘it’. The rest is Knowing. Not ‘you’ or any body knowing. Who is there to know? It’s nearer to an ‘impersonal’ knowing. Though not impersonal in the way we normally conceive of it. This Knowing embraces all there is to know – personal and impersonal, which are after all mere opposites. Knowing rises above all distinctions, then as with all opposites they as they are seen to arise following the division brought about by so-called split-mind. Whereas as ‘knowing’ is whole Mind – undivided.

Which is what these words amount to. Split mind trying to get a handle on whole mind. It never will. Why? Because split-mind is the object of whole mind, which is subject. At which point, we’re back to the beginning.

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