Friday, April 20, 2012

Money is like Food

Money is like Food

Another “real” yogi I had the good fortune to meet was at the Sivananda Yoga Center in Chicago. I had taken classes at the center for the better part of ten years from a few different teachers. I liked them all, but really liked the current teacher, a man name Mahadev and, over time, became friends with him and his wife. Mahadev and his wife, Gurudevi, were western disciples of Swami Vishnu Devananda, the head of the Sivananda Yogas Centers at the time. Mahadev was in his late twenties—about the same age as me.

I felt very comfortable with Mahadev and the way he taught his classes. He never talked about things he had no personal experience of. He never talked about spiritual experiences of powers and infinite bliss. He never told us that we were God. So, I didn’t have to filter his statements in the way I would need to if he was speaking about his beliefs and not his experience. For example, many yoga teachers during their classes would say things like, “Dwell in the divine love within you” or, “Experience the Yoga Mind’s infinite power, knowledge, and bliss.” Mahadev would just say things like, “Sense your body” or, “Watch your breath.”

After classes there was always tea and snacks for those who wished to stay around and visit. I often brought my guitar and played for the group. At the time, I played my versions of Indian ragas as well as guitar and vocal arrangements of Vedic Sanskrit chants.

It so happened, that one day Mahadev told me about a yogi who would be visiting the ashram from India. He told me that he was a Nada Brahma yogi—one who worked with sound currents in his body. He told me that the yogi was very advanced—that he had been present in India when they arranged microphones around the yogi and when the yogi stopped singing and playing his instrument the sounds still continued—picked up by the microphones arranged nearest to his spine. Mahadev told me that since I was a friend of the ashram and was so involved in sacred music that he would arrange for me to have a private interview with the yogi at the ashram. I, of course, accepted the invitation.

Thinking about it now, I find certain similarities between my meeting with this Nada Brahma yogi and my meeting with the Shaktipat yogi I spoke of in my previous blog, “If You’re Thirsty, Drink!” The yogis themselves were of similar age and build. They were both only a little over five feet tall, thin, but healthy looking. There was a unique glow to their complexions. Their faces and expressions revealed no sign of stress or fatigue. Except for the first gathering with the Shaktipat yogi, our meetings took place in small bedrooms with the yogis always sitting on their beds and me on the floor. But perhaps the most significant similarity for me was that in both cases I never sought out the meetings, I was never really interested in the yogis, and were it not for the offers from friends, I know I never would have met these men.

The Nada Brahma yogi was staying in a tiny room on the second floor of the ashram. There was barely room for me to squeeze in with my guitar—even though his bed was only the size of a small cot. The yogi had been told that I was a musician and that I played some Indian music and Vedic chants. I told him that I would be happy for any suggestions or advice on the music that he would give me—though I must say, that I was never interested in doing this music in the traditional way. As I said before, it was only my interpretations, my versions, which I did. Still, when one has the opportunity to learn, one takes it. Maybe, on some level that I was not aware of, I really was thirsty.

So, I played and sang some chants and the yogi listened, and then he made some comments and offered some corrections with regard to pronunciation of the Sanskrit words. He told me that some of the chants were special, in the fact that the pronunciation was quite critical because if they were sung wrong, the results they would give would be negative. In other words, some chants could be sung by anyone, but some should only be sung by those with specific training. He did not tell me to stop singing these chants, but he did say that I needed to work on certain things.

At that point the yogi changed the subject. He said, “Money is like food, let it in and let it out.” He went on to say, “If food stays in the body, then there is the state of disease, so, let it come in and let it go out.”

I must admit that his comments took me by surprise. At the time, I was living the life of, as they say, “a struggling artist”. I don’t think I was making more than five or six thousand dollars a year, and really had no great desire to be making more. Perhaps “struggling” is not the right word, I had a decent apartment, a car—I think it was a black Volkswagen—or maybe it was that damn Fiat (another story). Anyway, I ate healthy food and felt comfortable.

So, when the yogi brought up the subject of money, I couldn’t see how it applied to me—still, when an advanced soul tells you something, you listen—at least I do. Maybe he saw something in me that I didn’t?

I never saw the yogi after that one time, but his comments about money stayed with me, in my consciousness if not in my everyday awareness. It was sort of always on the back burner somewhere, and over time, I began to notice something, I began to notice that, at times, around money, I, so to speak, held my breath. It wasn’t that I wanted more money, but I was afraid of losing what I had. And, by the way, I noticed that I did tend to literally hold my breath too.

I began to notice that I actually lived in a state of fear. This awareness did not come all at once; it dawned on me over time. But there was one instance where it finally really hit home. I was walking around downtown Chicago and entered an antique store that was going out of business. Most everything was very expensive, even at half or more off, things were out of my price range. But there was an Indian ceramic elephant that could be used as a plant stand, or even as a little stool. Such elephants are not uncommon; one can find them in Asian markets or stores like Pier One Imports, but this one was really nice. The original price tag was around four-hundred dollars, but they were selling it for fifty. Fifty dollars was not nothing to me, but it was definitely affordable.

Well, I stood there for a good fifteen minutes, paced around, looked at the elephant again and again; I really loved it, really wanted it, and, you guessed it, I left the store without it. I say I left the store without it, but I really took it with me, in my mind and my desires, and the further from the store I got in space and time, the more pissed off I got at myself. The yogi was right; I was holding my breath, I was afraid and did not trust life.

I was so angry with myself, so disappointed, I made a promise that I would never again worry about money—and I have to say, that since that day, I never have. Not that I go hog wild, buying anything I want, spending as much as I want to—I’m still practical; I still consider if I can afford to buy something, and if I can’t I don’t—I just don’t worry about money anymore.

What is money anyway? It is an instrument of exchange. You spend, one way or another, in the currency of energy, time, effort to get it, and then when you have it, you exchange it for something you want or need. Money is an instrument of exchange, I get that. You take it in, and you spend it out. The yogi said that money is like food; take it in and let it out. Like food, if you take it in, hold it in, there is constipation, there is disease…

So after the day at the antique store I stopped worrying about money, but I didn’t stop worrying. As a matter of fact, and it took me awhile to realize it, I was actually worrying more, was afraid more, was holding my breath more. What was going on? I had learned, and to the best of my ability, practiced all these spiritual teachings. I was a follower of Meher Baba, and didn’t Meher Baba coin the phrase, “Don’t worry, be happy.”? Yet, I was afraid, maybe more afraid than I had ever been.

What I began to see, was that life was like food and I had to learn to let it in and let it out. Money had been a metaphor for life, and life frightened me to death. Interesting, the use of the word death, because death didn’t frighten me at all, life did. I knew this…

 I had been staying in a fancy hacienda in Cuernavaca, Mexico, when a drunk and surly sheriff walked in demanding beer and whiskey. I sat across the table from him as he drank and drank and became more and more testy and aggressive, telling us that he was the Sheriff of the State of Morelos and that he could do anything to us gringos—that he could kill us.

I watched as he played with his gun in his holster. I watched as he took it out and pointed it at me and my friends. I listened to him repeat how he could kill us and that he was going to fire his gun. And then I saw him slide the gun across the table to me saying that if I was a man I would pick up the gun and shoot him. Well, I didn’t like the guy at all, I thought I just might kill him.  I picked up the gun and held it in my hand. I considered what I would do if I shot him—could I make it back to the border without getting caught? The border was a long way off. And then, I realized that I didn’t want to kill him—that he wasn’t worth it. And so, I took the gun and slid it back across the table to the drunken sheriff and told him he wasn’t worth shooting and if he wanted the damn gun fired he should pick it up and shoot me.

I was in no way frightened; I was just really pissed-off. And so I stood up from the table and walked across the room to a cabinet against which my guitar was leaning, thinking if I’m going to die, I would die playing my guitar. I levied myself up onto the cabinet and began to play. And then the gun went off. It was a little stucco room and the sound was deafening. It drowned out everything else, the sound of my guitar, and immersed me in a ringing silence that lasted a timeless moment.

Then, out of the silence came the sound of the sheriff’s insane laughter, growing louder and louder. He had shot his gun, had his “gun orgasm”, and no one had been shot…

No, I wasn’t afraid of death, but I was afraid of life.

So was it really fear of life? And if it was fear, where did it come from? In all the pre-human forms of evolution there is a constellation of needs that consume all of the attention all of the time. These needs are, eating, sleeping, keeping from being eaten, and procreating. When consciousness makes the leap from the most last pre-human form to the most first human form, it carries with it this deeply rooted—deeply rooted in literally millions of forms of evolution—constellation of needs.

As with the pre-human forms, so with the most first human form, this constellation of needs consumes all of the attention all of the time—and this continues for literally thousands, if not millions, of lifetimes—lifetimes sometimes rich or poor, female or male, bright or dull, white, black, yellow, or brown, etc. Of course, over time there is a kind of refinement that takes place in the constellation, for example, keeping from being eaten transmutes from literally keeping from being eaten to concerns and strivings for things like insurance, monetary security, health insurance and healthy habits. The drive to procreate is another example; in the human form it expands to include things like a concern for one’s appearance, desire for money and power, and the inclusion of subtle, and not so subtle, embedding of sexuality in all forms of art and entertainment. Man’s attraction to, and need for religion, is not free from this constellation either—for does not man seek security from, and success within the constellation of needs from his religion, by attempting to be good, or obtain help or relief from some higher power, or to separate and elevate himself from others and their vulnerabilities?

Only after thousands or millions of lifetimes does the constellation’s hold on consciousness begin to weaken sufficiently for an iota of attention to become freed-up to consciously ask the question; “Who am I?” With the emergence of this question into consciousness a new dynamic is created in the form of a struggle between the pull of the constellation and the call of something beyond the constellation, because, that simple question, that apparently innocuous question, has within it the seed of a power to totally annihilate the constellation of needs and the false premise that all of life is built upon. And what is this false premise?

“How old are you?”
“I’m sixty-five.”

A simple question and a simple answer, but…

Am I really sixty-five, or is my body sixty-five? You see, assuming that I am my body is part of the false premise. When the question “Who am I?” takes deeper root in consciousness, the underlying, unchallenged assumption that I am my body begins to fall under suspicion.

“How are you today?”
“I’m sad, my friend died.”

But sadness is a state of the mind, and the failure to see oneself as something other than the mind is also part of the false premise. Of course, it may be a little awkward—a little ‘too much information’, as they say—a little too ‘Spockyin’—to respond to the question, “How old are you?” with the answer, “I am ageless and eternal but my present body is sixty-five years old.”

And really, what difference does it make what we say, because the important thing is not what we say, or even believe, but what we experience—and experiencing that we are the body and/or the mind, and therefore limited, finite, and vulnerable, constitutes the false premise upon which we build the constellation of needs described as eating, sleeping, procreating and keeping from being eaten—the successful accomplishment of which, we attempt to convince ourselves, will make us safe.

But it is a lie, and even the most deeply asleep of us know it—feel it—the difference being that in those most asleep, this knowing/feeling is unconscious, while in the less asleep, this knowing/feeling becomes conscious.  And thus, in both the sleeping and the less asleep there is a profound distrust of life.

And how can there not be, when in spite of all our striving we see suffering and death all around us? Of course, we may try to convince ourselves that if we can somehow learn to strive better, or differently, we will be safe. But then again, no matter how hard we work, no matter how much we learn, no matter how good we try to be, we still see that we are not safe, not secure, are not invulnerable to all the terrors of life. In other words, we see that ultimately, whether in the beginning, or in the middle, or in the end, our efforts fall flat. Is it any wonder that we don’t breathe freely, ingest and digest properly, let life come in and go out?

But the problem is not life; the problem is misunderstanding life, having false expectations about life, looking in the wrong place to find something that is lost.

Mullah Nasruddin is a legendary Sufi teacher whose humorous stories always reveal a deeper level of spiritual truth than first appears on the surface. One of his most well-known stories goes like this:

“A student observed the Mullah one night scouring around on his hands and knees under a streetlamp.
‘What are you doing Mullah?’ he asked, ‘Did you lose something?’
‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘I lost the key.’
‘And did you lose it here, under the streetlamp?’
‘No, I lost it back in the yard, in the dark.’
‘Then why are you looking here, under the streetlamp?’
‘Because, the light is better.’”

It does seem silly on the face of it, but the deeper truth is that things are not found where they are lost, things are always found in the light. The question, “Who am I?” is lost in life, but the answer is found in the light. The mistake is thinking that life holds the answers. It is not life’s fault.

Some months ago I wrote a blog about the four yogas as described by Meher Baba in the Intelligence Notebooks:
These four yogas define four approaches to life—they represent four ways to orient oneself to life. Using our original comparison that life is like food, the four yogas teach us how different types of foods effect our health and how different eating habits, as well as the processes of digestion and elimination, effect the overall state of the body, energy, and mind. Careful study of these yogas shows that they all employ highly technical and difficult techniques and procedures and that one needs help with them from one who knows.

Jesus is quoted in the New Testament as saying; “Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, give to God that which is God’s.” The four yogas help us to discriminate which are which.

Life, like God, is never to be feared; but while life is to be respected, God is to be loved.

Eating, sleeping, procreating, and keeping from being eaten; this is the legacy, cultivated over millions of pre-human forms from stones to plants, insects to reptiles, fish to birds, and animals of all shapes and sizes, that we carry into the human form.

This legacy, in the form of impressions—sanskaras—is seated in our mental bodies, and as human beings, we live through, exchange, and ultimately free our consciousness from these impressions. In the final stages, generally after millions of lifetimes, sometimes as men or women, poor or rich, Christian or Muslim, etc. etc., we free-up enough energy to ask the question “Who am I?” This question has been working in us since our souls first entered creation and it has been this question that has been the driving force behind all of evolution, reincarnation, and involution of consciousness. But it is only in the later stages that the question becomes conscious. But this question doesn’t become conscious all at once, it dawns, like the first rays of sunlight in the night sky, like the first day in winter that feels like spring, or like the innocence of childhood that begins to fade into the realization of self-consciousness. With the dawning of this question comes the search for answers and with the search for answers comes the question “To whom should I turn?” Who knows?

Most people have heard of The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Written in the eighth century, English translations began to appear in the 1920’s as a result of the Chinese invasion of Tibet and the subsequent flight of many Tibetans, along with their teachings, to the western world. The book is generally understood as an exposition on what happens after death, and a teaching regarding how to assist the dying and the dead with their transition to the next incarnation. But, as the great Tibetan teacher, Chogyam Trungpa, points out in his commentary on The Tibetan Book of the Dead, translated by himself and Francesca Fremantle, “The book is not based on death as such, but on a completely different concept of death. It is a ‘Book of Space’. Space contains birth and death; space creates the environment in which to behave, breathe, and act, it is the fundamental environment which provides the inspiration for this book.”

Next, I will explore Chogyam Trungpa’s commentary seeking insight into the yogi’s statement that “money is like food; let it in and let it go out”, and how this dynamic expresses itself in life.

Of course, life does come in and goes out no matter what we think or do; there is no refuge from it, no magic mantra to avoid it, no secret doctrine that teaches us how to experience pleasure without pain, happiness without suffering. Choice exists, but that choice is more about response to life than control of life, and even this response to life is not an act of free will. This response to life is programmed into our nature by the matrices of impressions stored in our mental bodies. In his commentary on The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Chogyam Trungpa speaks about “the six realms of the world from the point of view of different instinct.”

Chogyam Trungpa says that the teachings—these are not his teachings, but the teachings common to Tibetan Buddhism—tell us that at all times, in every moment, enlightenment exists and enlightenment’s luminosity is present and accessible. To experience this ultimate experience, this awakened state of mind, a certain kind of “intelligence is necessary to connect with it”. But this intelligence of which he speaks is not the intelligence we measure through I.Q. tests, it is not the intelligence of how smart or clever we are, it is something else, something much more profound, something transcendental. When this intelligence connects to the awakened state of mind, it leads to “a sudden glimpse of meditative experience or Buddha nature, which could also be called the dharmakaya,” the experience of the unmanifest, inconceivable aspect of the Buddha nature, or what Meher Baba calls the Beyond Beyond State of God. Of course, this experience is only possible if we have the means to connect with that basic intelligence. If we can’t connect with this basic intelligence “and confused energy still dominates our process of mind, then the energy builds up blindly and finally falls down into different levels of diluted energy, so to speak, from the absolute energy of the luminosity.”

I think we have all had this experience in one form or another. One goes to a meditation retreat, or is in the presence of a Perfect Master, or even an advanced yogi on the higher planes of consciousness, and we experience a kind of lucid bliss, a profound dynamic peace, a clarity of mind. In that moment we understand life, we understand our own life, everything makes sense. But then the moment somehow passes, we can’t hold on to it. We can remember it, but it is not the experience anymore, it is the memory of an experience, and in fact, the clarity is no longer there, nor the bliss or the peace. The energy falls down, goes to a lower level in accordance with our own sanskaric nature/instinct represented by what Chogyam Trungpa calls “the six realms of the world”.

For the individual experiencing the enlightened state—the dharmakaya— life, expressed through the activities of eating, sleeping, procreating, and keeping from being eaten, continues but takes cares of itself—effortlessly.  It is only when the individual’s consciousness cannot connect with the enlightened state, or maintain connection to it, that life becomes, well, a burden. This burden is experienced differently by every individual according to each individual’s sanskaras. This means that each individual’s response to life is wholly and solely unique to himself, yet, as Chogyam Trungpa teaches, these individual responses can be grouped into what he calls, “the six realms of the world from the point of view of different types of energy.”

The first realm that Chogyam Trungpa describes is called “The Realm of Hell”. It is not the hell of the famous “heaven and hell” described by the practitioners of some religions. It is not some place at all; it is a state of mind that one gets into in the waking state of consciousness. It is a sanskaric response to life evoked by fear and characterized by an impulse to fight, to strike out at something with aggression. It is an angry response to one’s own fear. But, as Chogyam Trungpa says in his commentary of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, “You are angry with something and try to destroy it, but at the same time the process becomes self-destructive, it turns inward and you would like to run away from it; but then it seems too late, and you are (become) the anger itself, so there is nowhere to run away to. You are haunting yourself constantly, and that is the development of hell.”

It is no wonder that hell is described as burning hot and permeated with fire. But again, this hell is not a place, but a state, and we are all too familiar with the look of an angry red face. In hell we burn, the fire comes from within; it burns us from the inside out. The enlightened response to it should be compassion, but often the sanskaric response to it is aggression.  Many years ago, I read My Land and My People, the autobiography of the Dalai Lama. I remember how angry I became as I read his descriptions of the atrocities committed against the Tibetan people by the Chinese. But the Dalai Lama was never angry at the Chinese, neither, did he ever concede that they were anything other than wrong and that they should immediately desist from their invasion of Tibet and the slaughter of the Tibetan people and their religion. But his response was always compassionate towards the Chinese, perhaps because he realized the hell that they must endure as a result of their own aggression—when, as it must, it would turn inward against them and burn them from within.

And there is another type of hell that Chogyam Trungpa describes and that is “the experience of intense cold and snow, an icy world in which everything is completely frozen. This is another type of aggression, the aggression that refuses to communicate at all. It is (manifests) a kind of indignation which usually comes from intense pride, and the pride turns into an ice-cold environment which…does not allow us to dance or smile or hear music.”

“What’s wrong Uncle Matt?”
“But is something wrong?”

Beginning with the comment from the Nada Brahma yogi and his suggestion, “Let it (money) come in and let it go out,” I’ve traced the impact of his words, not only on my relationship with money, but also on my relationships with breathing and all of life itself…

I have focused on commentary by Chogyam Trungpa on The Tibetan Book of the Dead. It seems like we’ve come full circle with his explanation of the second realm of the world, The Hungry Ghost Realm, well, because hungry seems to imply appetite, and appetite seems to imply food. Of course, there are many kinds of foods that we need and crave…

To review, these realms are not places, but states of consciousness that are experienced in both the states of life and death. They occur all the time, constantly, and continually, as the result of intelligence’s (consciousness’) inability to connect, and remain connected to, the ever-present, ever-existing, awakened state of mind called the dharmakaya.

And so, with The Hungry Ghost Realm, we return, so to speak, to “food” and the letting it in and letting it out that the yogi advised. If the Realm of Hell can be characterized by aggression, The Hungry Ghost Realm is characterized by intense greed.  In his commentary, Chogyam Trungpa states that The Hungry Ghost Realm is symbolized by the image of a person with a gigantic belly and extremely thin neck and mouth. There are different stages of this experience, depending on the intensity of the hunger. Some people can pick food up, but then it dissolves or they cannot eat it; some people can pick food up and put it in their mouth, but they cannot swallow it; and some people can swallow it but once it gets into their stomach it begins to burn. There are all sorts of levels of that hunger, which constantly happen in everyday life.”

This hunger is all about one’s relationship to possessions—to things, to people, to accolades, outside of oneself. It is a state of wanting what we can or cannot have, and it is simultaneously a state in which even having leaves us unsatisfied. It is “a love-hate relationship to projections,” as Chogyam Trungpa says.

Think about all the digestive problems people have with food. Think about all the people trapped in the poverty of wanting, as well as those people who, seemingly having everything, are never happy, who always want more. What is the enlightened response? Compassion—the ability to put oneself in another’s place and feel their suffering as one’s own. How would you speak to people who are suffering in The Hell or The Hungry Ghost Realm? Would you yell or lecture? Would you ignore, or pretend you don’t see—cannot feel? The Tibetan Book of the Dead continually counsels us to speak clearly and honestly, in an open and caring way, to remind the other of the luminosity that shines in our darkness, and the enlightened state of mind that can realize it, and to describe the journey as a journey of one’s own mind—one’s own projections—in which there is no need for apprehension or fear, just certainty that, in the end, love alone prevails.

So, we all know people like this; they just always seem to have it together. They are competent, successful, even happy, most of the time, and when problems do occur, they know just where to go and what to do to fix them. Such people are often respected and admired, even envied by others. Chogyam Trungpa calls their realm, The Animal Realm.

The Animal Realm seems safe and solid. It makes total sense and is secure—at least most of the time—but when an inhabitant of this realm is confronted by anything or anyone  unpredictable, his state invariably becomes paranoid and his mind begins a methodical process of rationalization which leads to the demeaning and marginalizing of the cause of his paranoia. Unlike the inhabitants of The Hell Realm, his response is not aggression, but something much more subtle; the mind of an inhabitant of The Animal Realm quietly and methodically constructs a response which denies all value, or rightness, or even existence, to the cause of his paranoia. This process is automatic and mechanical; it is in the very nature, instinct, of the inhabitants of this realm and even the inhabitant himself is not aware of his mind’s objective. If you were to ask him he would tell you that he is trying to learn about this “something”, get to the truth of it, that he really wants to know. But his mind is deceiving himself.   

Chogyam Trungpa ascribes one other characteristic of The Animal Realm—the absence of a sense of humor. Irony is lost on the inhabitants of this realm; they do not tell jokes, laugh only to be polite, don’t sing in the shower, and don’t experience the joy of intoxication either grossly or spiritually.

As I said before, we all know people like this… Sometimes you are looking at an album of old photos and there is this picture of Uncle John. Even when he was a little boy, he looked the same as he did when he was an adult. Indeed, even as a little boy he looked like a little miniature man; and he talked and acted that way as well. Uncle John just “came out” fully developed and never changed after that.

Summarizing, if The Hell Realm is characterized by aggression, The Hungry Ghost Realm by greed, and The Animal Realm by surviving and living, the next realm, The Human Realm, is characterized by passion—passion for learning and exploring, passion motivated by a desire for enrichment and happiness. It shares the quality of striving that is found in the greed of The Hungry Ghost Realm and it also shares the characteristic of predictability and order found in The Animal Realm.

But Chogyam Trungpa also ascribes another quality to The Human Realm that he describes as “a very strange kind of suspicion which comes of passion and which makes human beings more cunning, shifty, and slippery.” What is this strange kind of suspicion? Where does it come from? Why does it characterize The Human Realm?

Chogyam Trungpa says that a human being “can invent all sorts of tools and accentuate them in all sorts of sophisticated ways so as to catch the other slippery person and (while) the other slippery person develops his or her own equipment of anti-tools.” Of course, we are talking here about psychological tools, defense mechanisms, which fence us in and fence others out. And, what is this “us” that we are fencing, that we are protecting? In The Human Realm, this “us” is the total of our accomplishments, both internal and external, our achievements, our possessions. And why do we need to protect them—protect “us” at all? It is because deep down inside, we all know, we all sense, that they—that us—are impermanent and temporary.

It is in The Human Realm that we first become consciously aware of the fact that we will die, and no longer be able to possess and claim as our own, as ourselves, any and all of our accomplishments, achievements, and possessions.  It is at this stage that we begin to become unable to trust life; that we begin to hold our breath; that we become constipated.

The Realm of the Jealous Gods develops the theme of intrigue that was introduced in The Human Realm. In this realm, the instinct is to regard every experience in life as something threatening. Chogyam Trungpa says that this realm “is the highest realm as far as communication goes, it is a very intelligent situation.” He goes on to say, “When you are suddenly separated from the luminosity there is a feeling of bewilderment, as though someone has dropped you in the middle of a wilderness; there is a tendency to look back and suspect your shadow, whether it is a real shadow or someone’s strategy.”

“…suddenly separated from the luminosity…”  This is what happens when we are about to be born. The “wilderness” is life, and life, from the perspective of The Realm of the Jealous Gods, can never be trusted, because life can never be controlled, or won—no matter how much power or money, or possessions one amasses; no matter how well one eats or takes care of one’s body. There are never any guarantees, or security, or stability. The only thing that is predictable is unpredictability.

 I find it interesting that Chogyam Trungpa calls this instinct “a very intelligent situation,” because we often consider suspicion—Chogyam Trungpa even uses the term “paranoia”—and shadows, and threats, hidden or otherwise, as the domain of conspiracy theorists and “black helicopter people.” But unlike them, and maybe even driving them at a subconscious level, is the deeper realization that “the world; it never was, it never is, and it never will be, anyone’s Beloved.” – Meher Baba

We all know people like this; intrigue fills their lives; intrigue is the cornerstone of all their thoughts, their feelings, their activities, and their relationships. Theirs is a world of trench-coats and shadows. They are always looking over their shoulders, always holding their breath. What is the way out? How can we help? Kitty Davy said it best in the title of her book about Meher Baba; “Love Alone Prevails”.  For it is love shining that dispels the shadows; for it is love alone that prevails in the end; and it is love itself that in the end experiences itself as the creator of the dreams, of the shadows, and the intrigue in order to awaken and realize Itself to be what in Reality it always was, is, and will be—Love alone prevailing.

It is said that the best of literature, the best of art, leaves us with more questions than answers—more questions than we began with. We want answers, we want to know what to do, how to live—how to live in life—so we look for answers. But answers are a way of killing things—ways of killing questions—yet questions are most transformational when they are alive.

The last realm Chogyam Trungpa describes in his commentary on The Tibetan Book of the Dead is called The Realm of the Gods. He calls this realm the final stage, deva-loka. The gods of this realm are one and the same as the Greek and Roman gods and the Hindu gods also. Their “home”, deva-loka is a state of higher consciousness, specifically, a section of the heaven of the third plane of consciousness. (For more context, please review my blog, The Divine Theme of Meher Baba, As explained in The Divine Theme, pilgrims experiencing the higher realms (planes) do so in their gross human forms (bodies) and therefore, other gross-conscious human beings see them—but don’t “see” their higher states. In other words, your neighbor could be experiencing life as a god in deva-loka and you would never know it—just as he could be experiencing life in any of the other realms previously discussed.

About The Realm of the Gods Chogyam Trungpa writes, “Again, when the person awakes from or steps out of the luminosity, there is some kind of unexpected pleasure, and one wants to maintain that pleasure.” That pleasure is experienced as a state of absorption and peace, and the individual wishing it to continue, thus begins to build a life that can preserve that pleasure by “building one’s own centralized body, preserving one’s health; in other words, it is intoxication with the existence of ego.”  Of course, there is pride connected to this realm, because one feels that he or she really is something—something special.

Concluding his discussion of the six realms of instinct he writes, “These six realms of the world are the source of the whole theme of living in samsara (illusion), and also of stepping into the dharmakaya realm (reality). This will help us to understand the significance of the visions described in the book of the bardo of becoming which is another kind of world.” Chogyam Trungpa explains that “there is a confrontation of these two worlds: the experience of the six realms from the point of view of ego, and from the point of view of transcending ego. These visions could be seen as expressions of neutral energy, rather than as gods to save you from samsara or demons to haunt you.”

Of course, “the book of the bardo of becoming” is a reference to The Tibetan Book of the Dead which is a kind of manual that describes what one experiences as they pass from one matrix of experience to another—be those the experiences of what is commonly called birth and death, or the sometimes moment by moment, breath to breath changes we experience as gain and loss, or change from something to something, or anything to anything. And the book also tells us how we can counsel those who are going through these changes, the essence of the teaching being compassion, honesty, clarity, and impartiality.

And so, after fifteen posts and a narrative that has rambled from a simple comment made to me decades ago by a Nada Brahma yogi, “money is like food,” to the story of its transformation in me to “life is like food; life is like breath; life is a series of moments of living and dying;” to the commentaries by Chogyam Trungpa on The Tibetan Book of the Dead; the question perhaps comes down to this, how to be in the world without being of the world?

G. I Gurdjieff commenting on why it was that he was given entrance into the repositories of the deepest, most esoteric teachings of the most sacred knowledge known to the planet, quoted an initiate of a sacred school who told him, “We have given you access that is almost always denied to others because you embody the quality of impartiality.” Gurdjieff later taught the difference between internal and external considering. The connection is this; one cannot be impartial unless they cease to internally consider and begin to externally consider.

Internal considering is generally the way of the world. It is about me in relationship to others. It is all about my needs and my desires. “How can he do that to me?” “Why can’t she see my pain—my suffering?” “Why are they doing this to me?”  The best that can be hoped for from one who internally considers is their pity. But external considering is very different. It is the ability to put oneself in another’s place—to stand in another’s shoes. It is all about feeling their needs, their desires, their suffering. This external considering leads not to pity for others, but to compassion.

Internal considering, at its best, can lead to patience—the ability to put up with situations that one feels are unnecessary, unfair, or wrong. Patience is always a response to a sense of the unfairness or un-rightness of a situation and this patience is no virtue. It is a rejection of what is, and without first accepting a situation as what is, nothing can be done to change it—to do. Whereas internal considering leads to patience, external considering leads to tolerance—to that state the Perfect Master Upasani Maharaj called the most powerful state in life, the state of be as it may. Be as it may is an active state of acceptance; it is the embodiment of external consideration, tolerance, and compassion; it is the diametrically opposed opposite of the current mantra “whatever”.

Meher Baba, when speaking about God, about love for God, left us a very practical solution to living in the world, to letting life come in and out, like money, like food, like breath. He said,

“To love God in the most practical way is to love our fellow beings.
 If we feel for others in the same way as we feel for our own dear ones, we love God.
If, instead of seeing faults in others we look within ourselves we are loving God.
If, instead of robbing others to help ourselves, we rob ourselves to help others, we are loving God.
If we suffer in the suffering of others and feel happy in the happiness of others, we are loving God.
If, instead of worrying over our own misfortunes, we think of ourselves more fortunate than many, many others, we are loving God.
If we endure our lot with patience and contentment, accepting it as His Will, we are loving God.
If we understand and feel that the greatest act of devotion and worship to God is not to hurt or harm any of His beings, we are loving God.
To love God as He ought to be loved, we must live for God and die for God, knowing that the goal of all life is to love God, and find Him as our own Self."

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