February 27, 2016
Let no [wo]man deceive you by any means
2 Thessalonians 2:3
Being culturally enframed from birth into an entirely Western culture, one might easily miss purpose found within an Eastern tradition. These writings will focus on the monk. Our Western minds shudder at the thought of the word, "homeless". Preconceptions about what reality is strain the minds about what is acceptable or even possible. Beliefs become scattered or hostile as one attempts to think of another who does not support the economy. This is not to say that a monk cannot support the economy or have a home, and in today's society it becomes difficult to exist without conforming to some degree.
Monks do indeed serve a purpose, and a very vital one for that matter. These writings will paint a picture of what a modern day Western monk might look like. It is not defining any particular man or woman and only stands as an indicator. To know the monk, we must query the monk. Monks amongst Western society do exist and it is the purpose of these writings to show how, why, and for what means. To dedicate one's life to such a great life force is an extremely rewarding involvement. Just because we are stamped as a "Westerner" does not mean this life path is unavailable to us.
Diet. A monk lives in the life force. As a result, the ethical question being what the monk should eat is raised. A monk is a free thinking individual who has investigated themselves, learning and understanding different sides of the arguments and its particulars. Only then one is best equipped to make a decision as to what one shall eat. This is an extremely important subject since we are speaking of removing the life of another sentient being. The subject of a perceived awareness is brought into question: Is it okay to go against the interest of other beings that have also been brought into existence in a similar way that we have while given a similar objective: to stay alive. To remove a life where life once was is a noteworthy decision that needs a great amount of research, prayer, thought, and reflection every time one decides to take a life. To remove from the pool of the life force is to stamp out parts of one's true self.
It is this responsibility and burden that has been given to man every day of their lives since animal meat is not an essential dietary need. The monk will know what it is that they are doing, eating or not. Any food that a monk consumes is blessed, if not by direct prayer, by the conscious knowledge of what it is that they are doing and why it is that they are doing it. They travel in the Lord, and goodness and mercy will follow them all of the days of their lives. Their light inside will shine and they will accept all trials and tribulations because they know they are extremely purposeful. At times greater insight may be given to a particular individual to assist the unveiling of the universe - for all to become, however, a monk does not want nor cling to manifestations from the physical finite world. What comes into existence will also part from it.
Growth. A monk is like a tree in the forest. Many more exist around it, but it does not use those other trees as stencils to what it should become. It becomes what it is. When one is shown a picture of a forest, all trees could be said to look the same - this is until we place ourselves in front of the tree and assess what it is that we are truly looking at. We are then given a much greater perspective to see how truly unique that tree is.
If we are to assert that one is only a product of their physical experience combined with their mental interpretations and reactions to those experiences, we are left with a shell. A machine that has been programmed to respond to conditional states. We become reduced to unthinking reaction based life-forms.
The picture that gets painted and slowly but surely makes itself known. We are able to piece together the puzzle of life intellectually, but this misses something integral. As if we are able to piece together thick borders of the puzzle in question, but a large circle in the middle remains. To expand those borders leaving its middle exposed is of little value. To solve this problem we must shine the light on the conditions of the problem. Where are the puzzle pieces to fill the whole? To find them one must jump directly into said hole.
In life and throughout all things we must grow. Good trees will produce good fruit. We are led back to the "Ideal Man".
Religion. Nietzsche claims that God is dead. What is missed by our current society is what insight his assertion had to offer. Our cultural and religious preconceptions stand in front of us holding a red flag. One is confronted by the way that they understand life. One tends to flow through their life until a red flag is waved at them, and then the defences of the ego at hand kick in.
For one to place their own judgements about the world aside while hearing out another's is a rare character trait to possess in the Western world of today. But why? Jesus' dying words on the cross explained that it was ignorance that held him to the cross. One of the main goals in Buddhism is to remove all ignorance from the soul.
How is it that one can claim to be following their religion when they quickly judge and condemn that of another? How can one preach peace and love and practice its contrary? It is like pointing ahead while walking backwards, teaching all others to do the same. Talking the talk and walking the walk seems to be few and far between in a world where the Church is just as accepting as an exclusive club.
Noticing one's reactions has been driven to a science. As lips vibrate the observer can be seen to go through many different stages. Lips start and finish all wars. All have been trained to make judgements every conscious second because they understand that what they do in the second will effect what has happened before and what they will do next will result in the conscious second that they actually live. As Kierkegaard says, "Life can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forward". Or maybe all have been trained to not truly understand this, but compartmentalise them into understood realities. For example, most I speak to understand their past to be the most true reality, but when I further probe their understanding of their past, I receive clear misunderstanding of its conceptual purpose: to orientate. Many identify with their past as if it is material and tangible, when in fact it is nowhere to be found and certainly no more real in the present as Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny. Many obsess over this "past" and focus on it like it was the now.
To live in the past is to bring about failure. To bask in what once was is to miss what is in front of you. To identify with a past you, possession, or/and environment is directly placing limits on you as the individual. One is induced to, as Kant says, a "self-incurred tutelage". We are hypnotised by a sequence in which the function has been overlooked. We escape the concept of the now by identifying ourselves by our past. One watches a television show or a movie not living in the conscious second, but obsessing about the past seconds that added up to the complete picture that the piece of entertainment wished to communicate.
Drug addictions can also work in this manner, where one is always pushing to feel better than they did before, entirely missing what they are presented with in the now. Any time that we identify with the past results in us, missing what we have been presented with right now, and now, and now...
We often find those who obsess over the past to be extremely thorough in their actions. Each conscious action is geared towards topping some past conceived result, thus rituals become important to this individual. The rituals intent is to have better and more than in the past, and every conscious action somehow reflects this.
We also find those who hypnotise themselves with the seducing sound of the future. Those who obsess over what will become. Many of these individuals could be highly motivated and appear as extremely successful in life, but in fact are induced by their own self-incurred tutelage. To create the most in the future while suffering today so that one can avoid suffering in the future, but unfortunately that future never comes. It remains an ideal that forever changes because the ego always searches for more. To be content with one's place is not the ego's function. This results in the grass always being greener on the other side.
When one objective is achieved, that objective is forgotten and taken for granted while another objective has been put in place. It is like we are walking with a hat that mounts a stick with a carrot on the end. We always reach out trying to grab, but are just out of reach. So we keep walking, desiring to get closer to the carrot instead of sitting down and taking the hat off.
Within today's Western enframing, we are discouraged to ask difficult questions. When a child comes to his parent and asks, "Why?", we shy away from them and mark the topic off as infinite regress. To fill the gap we have formed religions that act as a system of beliefs that one can trust, to whatever extent one needs to overcome their fear of that froth on the beer - the wash of the ocean.
And this religious enframing gets stamped into our heads, to whatever extent. And one's current beliefs about what they think is real and imaginary are at least a good portion inherited. One might be seen to finding "different" God's and even fighting, "Holy Wars" over who believes in the same manner. Where God was once love, cultural understandings corrupted and made God a bloody weapon. As long as diversity was like a football game, all stands happy in the Church. When we misinterpret the meaning of the word we have been given, we assert, "I am right and you are wrong". We have identified our very souls within a certain doctrine who adhere in a particular way, that have been translated by one of many ways. As if in a busy train station picking which train will get them home, but only having one ticket to use your entire life. Possibly a little pin the tail on the donkey being played.
We must turn our attention to the conceptual purpose for religion: to fill the gap that nothing human can explain. One is required to, as Kierkegaard would say, take that leap of faith into all that which is unexplainable, for both the conceptual and phenomenological misapprehensions that we possess. Like if we were to stand on a cliff, we would not only be fearful of falling off, but also if we were to throw ourselves off, because we could indeed choose to do that. That force stopping us from jumping becomes the haze of that which could or might be, but that which is not. Every second that we spend on the tip of that cliff, we choose to not jump.
Faith is asserted as spiritually taking that leap, accepting all the paradoxes which it involves. If we spiritually take this leap of faith we become something outstanding. A being that once existed in its froth is now transmuted to a more perceptually aware entity. And as we spiritually grow, we can learn to ride through life in the spirit while utilising our bodies and minds as Godly tools: not to identify directly with them.
Unfortunately "The Word" gets translated from the words by which have been written by spiritually inspired individuals, who lived in a particular culture with a particular series of events that have allowed for that person to be the given certain insight to perform the writings which then get interpreted, misinterpreted, corrupted, forced upon, and made into what it is all together not. The syntax and/or semantics are identified with and argued over, while the true message gets overlooked. Because of our enframing, we are taught to bobble our heads when anything is presented to us, unless it opposes what we have ourselves been taught to value. Our perceptions and values change as we move through life, and as they do, if we are observant, we can realise that investing too heavily in the finite (what is one day may not be another) is worth infinitely more when invested into the infinite.
One might now bring into question what this "spirit" thing is and how does it work? What substances can we truly rely on in this world? Descartes gave us the pictures of two worlds, an internal one (res cogitans) and an external one (res extensa). We then dive into what is known as a theory of knowledge. What can we truly know? What are the implications of what I truly know in comparison to what another truly knows? Subjectivity becomes an enemy to those who refuse to be contented with that leap of faith, to accept what is for what they understand it to be. Science kicks in and gives us great benefits, but still cannot break the subjective barrier because everything that is ever perceived is perceived by a subjective being. Science can never bake its cake and eat it too because its primary intent: to skip the subject.
Each are unique individuals who were born from two forms of DNA, raised in particular environments and are suggested a certain way to live life depending on our external influence. Aquinas asserted that our rituals will be a direct product of our past experiences and influences. This is our enframing which we are held captive. This is the misapprehension: a direct misinterpretation of the real world resulting in quick judgements about a topic one might know little about. The ego kicks in, wanting to be more than it is. Upon understanding, we are enlightened and no longer held captive by its powerful grip. The light bulb brightens our room and the ego is shown to be a sheet draped over a chair.
A magic spark occurs and two become three (or more). The addition is then nourished and kept healthy almost involuntarily. A baby is born and forced upon its carer. From that moment on, the physical aspects of the child begins to develop. For healthy terms, the carer is expected to love and cherish that child as it grows to form a healthy adult. They develop highly tuned skills in the things that they do most often. After some time the child develops intellect and allows the physical self to go on auto pilot while exploring their mental self. They will then explore their mental self through their physical self. The child orientates itself within the world, affirming through repetition the realities of it. Feet go on the ground, hat goes on the head, sky is up, can't breathe under water, what music to listen to, what doctor to go to, what to worship, how to love, how to hate, how to fit in, what to do to fit in. And ones place is generally handed to them by where they get the most encouragement, usually being because of their exceptional abilities in said duties. We become a result of physical and mental conditioning, produced by our environment and the choices that we make.
We see the results of the mysterious subject of love. We at least at some point in our lives remember being loved: paternal, friendships, partners, lovers, animals, nature, and humanity. The cliches about life being a journey or life being a road that one must walk ring true in and out because of our balance that we choose to utilise between our physical and mental, and how much we have identified ourselves with each one. But what gets overlooked in this entire picture is the entity behind the wheel of this dualistic enframing we are given and practiced as a matter of habit. We are now in a clearer (or messier) fog that can point to the presence that the spirit consists of and we are directly presented the question: Why? The last words of Jesus prayed, "forgive them father for they know not what they do", one must ask themselves, "Why do I do what I do?" To remove fear we must learn, to resume control one must live. To truly live is to be awakened as to what it is we are talking about, to know why it is we do the things we do. We have broken from our shackles when we live in the spirit: knowing that those shackles were only created by the mind and if one learns how to use their physical and mental as mere tools, without attaching itself too tightly to any which one but only using them to broaden understandings of what it is that we are truly doing throughout our day to day lives.
Just as Jesus died for the insanity that each human is capable of, putting a man to death when he did only right. His blood was shed to gift us with the ability to transcend suffering. An ability to ride the wave of consciousness and that is through the spirit: the headquarters to line up the planets and become what you truly are. To become the being that is your spirit trying to shine out from you every single second.
As far as investment into something more than the finite comes to great value when preconceptions and taboos are lifted. We realise that one can only ever see what is directly in front of them; a limited confinement of what it is and what everything else is. As Descartes suggest, our senses do in fact deceive us, again and again. So what can we truly rely on? One just might need to take that spiritual leap of faith to find out - to experience and know what it is that you are dealing with. When dis-identification occurs, and one turns around to paddle down stream, one is able to recognise the spirit behind what is being said and by whom. The interactions one makes within society become soft and particular. We are not speaking to just a person but something much more. We are dealing with a grand part of the universe that each and every subject of query has an important purpose and will fulfil whether one swims up or downstream.
One can choose to be a servant to its cause and become something grand, or remain dormant and closed. Either way one looks at it, the interaction between two spirits is a much different conversation between two commoners. Their value is treasured for exactly who they are because they do serve a purpose. Whether the other recognises the master crafting that spiritual conversation has, and what joy it brings. We are able to break the chain of identifying people with numbers as soon as we shine the light to the magic that is really involved. To serve God is to serve people, and to serve people is serving God. In serving people we serve that grandness that God has sparked and connected us with. To most efficiently serve the people one must learn how to first become masters of themselves, to rule over their physical and mental so that they achieve understanding to live in this exact manner, consciously evaluating how you feel about my words, how you are going to interpret them, and what, if anything, are you going to do about it? To become thinking individuals who seek out answers for ourselves. To control the path that is walked. One can choose to do nothing, but in doing nothing one is still doing something. To take responsibility for yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually, in each 'now' moment that passes. To embrace subjectivity for its utility while striving for objectivity, that realm of the spirit.
To shine to the world we must have a fuel to burn. Fuel within the physical wears out, disappears, decays, breaks, and dies. Fuel within the mental can act as an ongoing battle believing one thing one day and another the next, based on greater understandings of the subject at hand. To worship this physical is to misunderstand the nature of the physical. To worship the mental is to rely on the intellect to get through the ever changing maze. When one worships the spirit and its ramifications, one's values begin to shift - align with their true nature. When we learn and live in the spirit we not only study to improve our physical and mental understandings, but place ourselves in the position where we can be of most use in every single situation. To not expect anything out of anyone or anything while welcoming all encounters as God's beautiful plan unfolding, places us in a position of responsibility and power. To take off one's rose tinted glasses to see the world for what we truly perceive it to be empowers us to truly be ourselves so that we can shine as the unique and wonderful individuals that we are, and not the mundane that society tells us to be. Through the spirit, all things are possible.