There is an old Hindu saying that goes something like this:
“The world is illusion,
Brahman alone is real,
The World is Brahman.
Wait a fucking minute.
My toast burned…AGAIN!”

Or something like that.

This is apropos of my experience these past two weeks. Well, all the time, actually, but these past two weeks has brought the paradoxical nature of this life to the forefront of my awareness.

In the last post I wrote about a very distinct pattern that I observed in myself, and how it seemed to dominate my experience. Last week I was able to untangle a very convoluted and persistent family pattern that had been haunting me for much of my life. This family pattern was responsible for the cynical, skeptical and pessimistic world view that seemed to dominate my thoughts. I also removed, and continue to monitor, the cords that had me carrying an emotional and physical load for a specific member of my family.

This work has opened up my life in a way I hadn’t dared to believe possible. Things that used to push buttons automatically and predictably don’t seem to do that now. I have more physical energy than ever before, my mind-chatter has become more recognizable as just that, and I find myself filled with an eagerness to see what comes next.

Here’s the paradox, and it is never far from my conscious awareness: None of this is real. If you try to find the wounded part of yourself, or the strong part, or any part for that matter, you can’t. All you will find are more thoughts, emotions and sensations. There is no actual person here typing on these keys right now. But all the same, I am typing on these keys. How can both these “facts” be true?

I don’t know how I can be 99.99% empty space and still have my fingers type on these keys. But I am. It shows me that I don’t know much of anything. If I wait until my understanding of life is complete before I do anything, well, you can see where that leads. The work I did these past two weeks has profoundly changed my experience of the present moment, and yet, I still don’t know who is actually having this experience of  an altered life.

As more and more of these knots are unraveled, the mystery only deepens. But what also deepens is my appreciation for life itself, as well as the desire to live it fully. I look forward to the rest of my life now, as opposed to just playing out the string. I also look forward to the continued exploration of the paradox of our seeming existence and non-existence, but now, without seeing the answer as some kind of escape from feeling my feelings. I can enjoy the exploration for its own sake, and not as an excuse to escape from participating in life’s many adventures.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some burnt toast to tend to.

Anatomy of a Pattern

I recently became aware of a pattern that was prominent in my life.

This pattern was so prominent that I wasn’t even aware that it was a pattern; I just thought that this was the way I was.

This essence of this pattern, in short, is that life is to be endured, not lived, and that I’m basically just putting in time before I leave this ridiculous planet; a place where people kill, maim and starve each other; where certain people think they have the right to dominate, spy on and rob others of whatever meagre power they may possess; where cures for various illnesses are withheld for the sake of greed; where the beauty of the planet’s flora and fauna is simply there to be exploited as opposed to appreciated, protected and loved.

The manifestation of this pattern is that I would often be quite sullen, depressed and hopeless; that cynical and skeptical thoughts would constantly be echoing through my mind; that judgement was my constant companion.

However, often this pattern would be operating in the background of my awareness, and therefore it was woven into the fabric of my everyday experience. This made it difficult to identify, and I was was constantly judging myself for these thoughts, which added insult to injury, so to speak.

At the bottom of it all was an immense sense of shame.

There are three factors that have allowed me to identify this behavior as a pattern.

First, I have been diligently been watching my thoughts for the past, well, long time. I have identified the major theme of my thoughts as, “The Search,” which means that nothing is ever right in the moment. I have seen that the point of these thoughts is not to ever find anything, but simply to continue the search itself. This search is the glue that holds our idea of a separate self together.

Second, I had the experience of “seeing” my entire personality, this person I have always known as Paul, roll itself up into a ball and move out of the way, revealing…….??? There was just an emptiness, without definition or any words to describe it. But something was still there, since I was  aware that this was happening. (The pronoun “I” loses some of its meaning here.)

The experience was brief, though it gave me many insights. I was left wondering what that empty space was, if it was possible to live from there instead of my personality, and who or what was left that was aware of this experience.

Third, my wife was able to point out this pattern to me, and voiced it in a way that was indisputable. I have once again been plagued by headaches, and she was able to look into wherever it is she looks to see the “causes” on all levels. Her insight and inspiration has been invaluable to me, and my appreciation for her is profound.

The next day, I was marveling at how much of this character “Paul” was composed of this pattern. I can’t possibly be precise about these things, but I would say, clearly over half of “Paul” was composed of this pattern. I had been given a glimpse of the truth that I was not “Paul,” and now I had been shown one of the major, if not THE major component of his personality. Believe me, it wasn’t a pretty picture, as this pattern is capable of generating a wealth of heinous, judgmental, cynical and skeptical thoughts. These thoughts had been my constant companions for a very long time.

What happened next is the really interesting part. Once I saw the true nature of this pattern, I dove deep into my being to take a really good look at it. And I found nothing. Nothing! It simply wasn’t there! I saw that this pattern had been a sort of mold of thoughts and emotions, which were on an automatic response mechanism, but that the substance of this pattern, well, it had no substance.

I wish I had words that could truly describe what I mean by this, but the best I can do is to say that this pattern simply did and does not exist.

I feel on the verge of something, but not knowing what that is, I will end this here. Really, I’m out of words.