Creators of Experience (Steering the Dream)
A few months ago I received an email from a A (a FB friend and fellow reader of this blog) and I thought for a long time about how to respond. Along the way I received more messages than I could keep up with and just didn’t get around to responding. So today I pulled my finger out and wrote a response back to A. After sending it off I decided I would post it here (without personal details) because I’ll be away for two months after today and I thought this might provide some benefit to other people (A has given his consent to do this). And if not, I wanted to share it because A’s experience highlights how we are all struggling with the same issues, the same frustration and the same uncertainty. A is one of those people who is teaching me how to live, by reminding me that we are all fundamentally in the same place.
Thank you A for the reminder and the lesson !
I am not someone who is free of problems. I am human being and I suffer just like you. What I do have is lots of experience with suffering and an ability to reflect honestly on who I am and the mistakes I have made.
May this be of help to some one !
Dear A :
You wrote a profound email to me that touches on many of the issues that face all of us – fear and uncertainty about how we should move through life, doubt about what we are doing and have done, wonder at possibility, pain and the sense that there is more within and without and that life is but a dream. These are things that effect all of us at different periods of our life and sometimes they are themes that return again and again. I think maybe the best way to respond to you is to address some of the key things that you said.
Thank you for what you have shared with me. It took a lot of courage to send these words to the other side of the world, without knowing how they would be interpreted.
Let me begin my response by saying this. Everyone of us tries to do our best in life – be it the most developed person in the world or the asshole or tyrant. We are all trying in one way or another. And none of us knows the one best way that we should be. There are no shoulds, only countless experiments with what seems right at the time. Sometimes we are aware of what we are doing but mostly we are not. We are all prey to the mind, as it moves between stillness/silence and mental activity/noise. We experience the inner and outer world and we like and dislike and react accordingly. Thoughts and feelings arise and we either witness them and let them go or we engage with them and get pulled along for the ride and have to endure the consequences – be they further thoughts, feelings or actions. We experience all manner of things and some are good and some are not. And along the way we suffer. Mostly we suffer because we wish things were other than how they are – the old like and dislike issue again. Real happiness, real contentment, real peace – arises when we sit with what is and there is acceptance in our hearts. And how do we do that ? By seeing all that arises in each and every moment. But that is hard work to maintain awareness 24/7. So the best that we can do is to notice whenever we remember to notice. And in these moments we see what we are experiencing within and without. And as we do, we just experience without judgement. And if we judge, we see that too and accept that it’s there.
It is OK to suffer. I don’t agree with the Buddhist doctrine that I once followed that says we should aim to be free of suffering. Because suffering is a great teacher. A teacher that transforms us and leads us towards a greater understanding of who we are and how things are. So please, don’t ever deny your suffering or see futility in it. It has enormous value to you, to all those you love, to your descendants and those effected by your life’s work.
If I have learnt one thing from Dude it is this. We are here to experience everything completely. We should love as best as we can, we should hurt as best as we can, we should suffer as best as we can, we should feel peace as best as we can, we should be kind as best as we can, we should be wild as best as we can, we should enjoy our desires and their fulfillment as best as we can and we should be who we truly are as best as we can. There is no liberation, only seeing things as they really are and being true to what we are. No becoming, just fully being. No better out there in some distant future, just this perfect moment – no matter whether it is full of pain and suffering or perfect bliss.
The problem with many entheogens, drugs, ceremonies or rituals is that they create temporary states. States in which we maybe able to see from the top of the mountain but states that are ephemeral and largely artificial. Eventually we have to come down and return to ordinary life. No higher state can last forever. Only the state of being can last forever. And sometimes being has great awareness and sometimes it has little awareness. In Buddhism there is the idea that once one reaches enlightenment and loses all sense of self, of I – that one must return to the market place with gift bearing arms (alms also). (See the Ten Ox Herding Pictures for an explanation of this journey.) What this means is that once we free ourselves from the things that bind us, we are obliged to return to normal life and to bring the gifts of what we have learned – love, awareness, compassion and so on. Because that is real enlightenment. To be able to live in the world with how things are, not on some lofty mountain or in a cave, where we are free of all problems and all agitations.
We are the main creators of the experience in some strange and fantastic way.
Yes, what you have said is true. We create reality and experience at two levels. We create reality via external perception (the 5 senses) and internal perception (mirrors of the 5 senses, thoughts, feelings, felt sense in the body, memories, values and beliefs) and through our expression of being (thoughts, feelings, behaviours and actions). We have so much more awareness and control than we ALLOW ourselves to realise. We set up so many patterns that create experience but we do not see them. Often we create incredible complexity and stress by bringing too many variables into our life. The key here is to simplify, simplify, simplify. The fewer variables in our life, the less stress we experience and the greater opportunity to be ourselves and to experience what we wish to experience.
Somehow the image stuck in my mind of our prison standing there like something that was formed by the limitations of our mind and now the limiting prison bars are not there anymore because we realized that they were created by us.
Yes you are correct. We create the limitations. It’s not that the mind is limited, it’s how we use it and experience it that is limited. Dude has the same mind as us but he differs in how he uses it.
Maybe we are not the little me running through this big world exploring this reality, maybe we are this universe that is dreaming itself.
So what are we going to dream???
Yes totally true – at one level. God and/or the universe is experiencing itself through us. But we are both the small self (little me) and the greater self (everything) together as one. There is both separation and no separation. And everything depends on how we ALLOW OURSELVES TO PERCEIVE AND TO FEEL. When we allow ourselves to regularly make the shift from small self to greater self and back again and we see that both co-exist at once, then we are free, then we OK with what is, then we are truly creators and explorers of reality.
I do have a lot of pain in my life around this so I wanted to use that.
Never let it go to waste my friend. It will utterly transform you and help you to become a guide and a teacher in your own way. And it will help you to make healthier choices in the future and to accept the choices that others make. Sometimes that is the hardest thing wanting to save others from making bad choices. Take it from someone who who has made many bad choices and sees family members make bad choices ! Learning to let go and accept the choices that others make is invaluable. I fought against accepting the choices of others for so long, wanting to prevent their suffering but by doing so I caused myself and them more stress and discomfort. If we take away others bad choices, we take away their opportunities to learn. And there is no greater teacher than pain and suffering. There is of course natural pain – changes to the body and the suffering that arises from wishing it was otherwise. And there is created pain – which is the pain that arises from situations and the suffering that arises from the like and dislike and wishing it was otherwise. But it is all unpleasant. What matters is not that it is not experienced but how we react to the experience. Can we see value in it ? Obviously you can and that makes all the difference !
Is there a way to steer the dream? How did I create this knot in my life?
How can I untie it?
I think there are a couple of interesting points here. Is what you want really what you want ? And what is at the core of this dream ? Sometimes what we really want is what is at the core of the dream and not what is on the outside. And yes, there is a way to steer the dream. First we should let go of all expectation and learn to accept what is. Be satisfied with what we have experienced because maybe that is what we really needed. Second, we can choose to react less and to make better choices by thinking through the consequences of all of our actions. We can think about what we want in our life and what steps would be required to reach it/achieve it, what good and what bad will arise as a result of these steps and to take action in this direction. Third, we can constantly evaluate – is this the direction wish to go in ? Why, why not ? What can I do about it ? What do I control and what don’t I control ? We can visualise aspects of our life that we wish to come to fruition and imagine how it feels to experience them – to see them as we wish them to be and bring that feeling into our day to day experience, rather than letting doubt sabotage our experience. Or we can throw away all anchors related to a future destination and just experience what life brings us, being satisfied that this is where we need to be. As to how you created this knot. It was created by causes and effects – one thing led to another. Much of it the result of your thinking and feeling and dwelling on certain beliefs, ideas and images. Much of it influenced by many different layers of conditioning. What may look like a knot may really be a puzzle or series of paths. The knot maybe an illusion or a mis-perception. How you got to that point, was by making choices in thinking, feeling and action, that may have sometimes been done from a place with little awareness. So don’t untie what may not exist. See what is and choose to function in a way that leads to healthier choices – thoughts, feelings and actions.
Maybe the ETs see a certain sacredness around what we believe and do not want to point out that we could believe something different, because it is our “ god given right to believe whatever the fuck we want and they love us no matter what…?
Spot on A ! They respect how we are and will only guide us or teach us when we ask for help and only if they feel we truly need it.
You said sacredness and I interpret that as holiness or beauty or uniqueness and I think they see that. Our belief is our belief and they do not believe they have any right to interfere with that. Sure they want to see us grow up but we have to get there the hard way – by growing though suffering – not by having someone wave a wand and fixing everything.
I dont really have a recipe yet for changing my belief etc. above but think that for me realizing this is a good and probably the biggest start. Maybe its BS but for some reason I have been leaning this way.
Yes, that is good A. Start with where you’re at. Don’t try to be anything other than what you are. In time your beliefs will change according to your feelings and your perceptions of your experiences. But I think its best to let them change naturally, organically – rather than forcing them to change – especially because someone tells you to. That’s why you should take everything I say and check how you feel about it and then throw it all out. If it has any value, it will come back to you, after you live and see if it’s true.
I have been in fear around finances most of my life actually and am ready for something new. All my spiritual search and ayahuasca ceremonies has not helped with it yet though.
I understand the fear around finances A. I too experienced a great deal of fear regarding money. But financial poverty has also partly been a choice in my own life. I have been rich in time and relationships and experiences. If I learned one thing, it is to accept the fear and let it go. Money comes and goes. If you want permanently good finances, you have to be willing to give up other things. For most people it is time. I value time and so I have an old ratty house and little money for other things. In much of Australia Affluenza is killing people. They have perfect cars and houses and miserable lives, stress, anxiety and sickness. What they need is time and opportunities to discover what else they are, apart from their work roles. They lack the willingness to give up so called security and step into the unknown. Your being ready for something new is a wonderful place to be. You can build on that by seeing where you are and by focusing on what you have. With that behind you, step into the unknown. Take risks regarding your future and see where it takes you. Focus on enjoyment and gratitude and not on the difficulty and wishing things were different.
As to the spiritual search and Ayahuasca ceremonies – seeking is not the way. Living and trusting are the way. LIVE FULLY. FEEL EVERYTHING. TRUST IN YOU AND WHERE YOU ARE GOING. There is no better place than here ! Seeking becomes an obstacle because it implies that what I need is out there in the future somewhere. The seeking mind – that aspect of your mind that seeks – cannot stop seeking because that is what it does. It’s role is to seek. So there will always be something more to find. Something else with all the answers. Something else to help you see, to help you experience, to provide you with lasting peace and fulfilment. Enjoy learning about new things but do not allow your total being to be driven by the seeking mind. See how it functions and let it go. Picture if you will a man in a cave who cannot see out. There is a voice on the outside saying, “I know the way out of the cave. I have all the answers. Follow me.” Only when the man ignores the voice, trusts in himself and his own perception, does he see that the cave is just an illusion. Turn to no one to help you find the way. Turn only to yourself and trust in what you learn.
I think we believe a certain believe until it falls away in a way.
Yes, yes, yes. Growth is all about letting go. The more we let go, the more that what is always inside of us comes through. We shed away beliefs like layers of skin. At the core of our being is a great luminosity upon which all belief has been created. I think that one of the important functions of ageing (and I include here growing old, sick and dying) is learning to see how things are and learning to let go of everything – especially our beliefs. Because beliefs get in the way of what is. And what is fluctuates in every moment. Life is eternal fluctuation without any certainty or permanence – only the illusion of certainty and permanence.
The image you attached of the sheep all crowding in to get through the fence and then moving outwards, is a very powerful image. We are like that, bound by the limitations we create within our minds and by the way we add complexity to our lives. One one side of the fence are those who are bound by complexity, stress, worry, obligation, responsibility, becoming and on the other side of the fence are those who recognise choice, simplicity, the flux of mental states, cause and effect, acceptance, mature responsibility and being. We can choose to recognise where we are and to make changes to how we function, in such a way as to exist on the other side of the fence. It does not always depend on favourable conditions. They can help but the greatest benefit arises from seeing how we function.
Thank you A for reaching out to me ! I do not know much of anything and you should check everything I have said with your own heart and mind. But I do understand how suffering feels from my own experiences. If I am a master of anything, it is a master of suffering. My life has not turned out at all the way I had thought it would be or the way that I wished it would be. But it is perfect and I am grateful for all my suffering, all my mistakes, all my stuff ups, all the poverty and all the connections I have made with other human beings, who have also found themselves trying to swim to the other shore. As I have said many times before, we are like children placing our big toe into an endless sea, uncertain of what to do. We know nothing but everything that we need is inside of us. We are the countless small children afraid to enter the sea but we are also the sea. The difference between humans and ETs, is that they know their true nature.
Trust my friend that that aspect of you that is luminous and eternal knows exactly what you need to do and what is best for you. Who knows what the tide may bring ?