just be it It’s about the work involved in establishing a dedicated practice to feelings of a bigger belonging through practices aimed at increasing feelings of compassion, gratitude and forgiveness

Under the Influence

Published on 21/10/11
by randy

We human beings are pretty complicated.  It seems neuroscientists are discovering more and more how we move between a variety of consciousness states.  I recently heard one use an analogy to the discord in our political system. He said it was like we each had a variety of political parties in our head vying for attention.  As he described why we sometimes do things which harm and other times do things which steward, I was reminded of Hawaiian Huna wisdom.  It basically speaks to a low, mid and high self.  The low self can be much like the undisciplined child, seeking ease of the restless mind through consumption and mindless actions.  The mid self is our conscious self.  It’s what we’re aware of during our waking state.  Our higher self is considered our divine nature.  Huna contends that our mid self can’t speak directly to our high self.  Also, our mid self has to send directives to the low self to make decisions which don’t harm and hopefully help.  Without the help of tapping our divine nature, we tend to be under the influence of the relative, material world.  A dedicated spiritual practice will lead us more and more under the influence of the absolute world, the Ultimate.

The relative consciousness functions from a perspective of duality.  We deepen in our sense of separateness and sense of linear time.  We tend to grow our fear and anxiety, often grasping for what was or worrying about what will be.  In the absolute there’s an easing as we cultivate an acceptance of change and our interdependence.  When in the consciousness of the Divine we’re no longer stressed about the impermanence of things.  We’re no longer filled with despair from feelings of separateness.  The divine settles us into the peace of the here and now.  A cultivation of singularity, of nonduality, brings up the illusion of birth and death, beginnings and endings.  When in the consciousness of the Ultimate, the main response is gratitude.  There’s a great fullness, a sense of peace, of having arrived.  There’s a palpable experience of ‘enough’.

In contrast, a consciousness failing to cultivate spirit will grasp for more.  As we struggle to fill our hunger in the delusion of our separateness, we grow our focus on special interests.  Our insecurities have us investing heavily in persuading others to think like us as we perceive our sense of security from others’ acceptance.  Systems become corrupt as we come under the influences of greed and fear.  The failing of our world economic systems can be credited to systems falling under the influence of greed and fear.  Functioning from the relative, material realm, we’re deluded to think winning at the other’s expense is everything.  Under the influence of the Ultimate, winning at another’s expense is nothing.  Being our best is everything.  A grounded sense of our interdependence has us cultivating generosity, compassion, moderation, listening, curiosity, open mindedness, forgiveness and kindness.  This cultivation of the nondual experience has us deepening to the feeling of sharing the same boat.  The analogy Thich Nhat Hanh uses is that of wave and water.  In the relative world, we perceive our form as wave.  As we approach the shore, we may hope to cling to our identity as wave form, yet as we crash on the shore we come to realize (from ultimate consciousness) that we always were, always have been, and always will be water.  For sure, the form changes and we can experience this each day we study our body.  Yet, the Ultimate consciousness stands outside our relative mind’s notion of time and space.  Given the now scientifically proven truth of our interdependence, wouldn’t it make more and more sense to nurture and cultivate our relationship with our higher self?  Don’t you think this is what Jesus was speaking to when he advised us to love one another, even our enemies, as ourselves?

We can’t escape our need to function in the relative world.  We need to function with one another under the laws of the material world, using our notions of time and space in stewarding ways.  Yet, when we’re more and more under the influence of the Ultimate, we take better care of one another.  The questions change from how to compete and consume without regard to others’ harm to how to help in the reduction of one another’s suffering.  Our attachment to notions of being ‘right’, ‘special’ and separate from others begins to evaporate as compassion grows.  Rather than focusing on differences and persuasion, there’s a move to common sense and deeper understanding.  The fear based need to get as much as we want at the expense of others diminishes as we make space to cultivate joy in wanting what we get.

I was taught the American Dream was owning a house, having a family and a steady job.  We’ve come to see that the house is a liability instead of an asset, and there’s nothing steady about the job.  Under the influence of the relative world it’s easy to see the growing of despair.  We wanted ‘this’, but got ‘that’ and so we fill with complaint.  When under the influence of the Ultimate, there is no complaint.  Put simply, there’s just growing awareness that ‘this is this and that is that’, ‘form is emptiness and emptiness is form’.  Our capacity to meet challenge and discomfort with a sense of spiritual security deepens us.  Our tendency to numb the discomfort deepens our suffering.

A lot has been written about life purpose.  The Dali Lama has said we’re here to live in joy.  I’ve heard others say we’re here to be kind, to love one another, and to leave a gentle wake.  I like the one that advises us to do what we can to reduce the suffering of others.  Huna Law says we should examine our thoughts, words, emotions and actions from the notion of ‘best for all with harm to none’.  Under the influence of the relative world, we may be tempted to reason an acceptance of collateral damage. Under the influence of the Ultimate, directed from the heart, there is zero tolerance for collateral damage.

Moving through our day, through our life, it’s helpful to put awareness to what we’re influenced by.  Where are we influenced by the perception of material need?  What exposures do we have to experiences that grow the restlessness from the toxins of greed, fear and ignorance?  What exposures feed us in deepening the influence of the Ultimate?  As we deepen our influence from the Ultimate, so do we find our integrity.

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