Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Dangerous Book

Thanks to Ant for recommending this excellent work by Roger Stephens, "A Dangerous Book," which covers almost every subject I delve into on this website:

Read or Download "A Dangerous Book" Here Free

Ego

Since we take our own egos so seriously, we take everyone else's seriously as well. We have become convinced that these egos are real and are who and what we really are. We learn to take things personally: we get angry whenever our egos are questioned or misunderstood, and we get disappointed when other egos turn out to be something other than what our egos thought they were. Based on a false understanding of the players, the dynamics of human interaction quickly become bewildering and frustrating, giving rise to whole generations of psychologists, counselors, and advisors to provide our egos with excuses for why things are not right in our lives. (12)


Consciousness


With my index finger, I can touch lots of things--the keys on my computer, my nose, and so on. I can do this only because these things are not the tip of my finger. The one thing I cannot touch with the tip of my finger is the tip of my finger. In the same way, I can touch, look at, or perceive many things with my consciousness: I can objectify my surroundings, my fingertip, my thoughts, even who I think I am (my ego). I can do all this because these things are not my consciousness. I cannot, however, objectify that same consciousness which is aware of these things. It is, as Alan Watts once remarked, like trying to bite your own teeth or sniff your own nose. We can't be aware of consciousness in the same way we are aware of the objects of consciousness, just like we can't be aware of our fingertips in the same way as we are aware of the things we touch with our fingertips. Consciousness can never be made the object of its own inquiry because it is beyond the polarity of objectivity and subjectivity. (20)


Spirituality


Here's a parable, an analogy, which comes from India, from the Upanishads, and is thousands of years old. It presents a parabolic answer to the root question of all religion and philosophy (Who am I and what is this?), and does so in a way which everyone can relate to. In the beginning of the world (and though it probably had no ultimate "beginning" as we think of them, you have to start somewhere), there was only Brahma. Being all there was, and therefore totally known to himself, Brahma soon realized that this totality of awareness would eventually become extremely boring . . . after all, when you know everything there is to know, then there's no surprise, nothing to keep you interested. It's like reading the same book for the seventy-eight millionth time. Anyway, since he was omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and omnipresent (all-everywhere), Brahma decided to create a diversion for himself, a way of introducing the elements of surprise, intrigue and drama into his experience. He thought, "What would it be like to forget who I really am?" So, he invented the game of cosmic hide-and-seek. According to the rules of this game, Brahma would pretend to break pieces of himself off from the whole so that to all appearances they would seem separate. That's the "hide" part. Then, as the apparently separate consciousness at the center of each of those apparently separate pieces, and through their apparently separate and unique perspectives, he would "seek" to rediscover who he really was, which was, of course, everything. Imagine seeing yourself from an infinite number of different perspectives, each one initially ignorant of its relationship to all the rest. Imagine going to sleep and dreaming a different lifetime each night, each lasting for more or less years, each complete with the full range and variety of emotional life and death details. Imagine having the same dream but playing a different role in it each night, seeing it through different eyes each time. Well, guess who those apparently separate pieces are? Since there is only one I Am in the universe, one consciousness, it's all a game of hide-and-seek, and each one of us is in the same state: I'm IT AND You're IT! (22-23)


After I shook the dust of organized religion from my sandals, I learned that the link between big 'ol God and little 'ol me was no more and no less than consciousness. And each of us, at and as the very center of us, have this same feeling of I Am, for the not-so-obvious reason that each one of us is really God (Brahma) pretending to be each one of us. There is only one I Am, there is only one God, one Brahma, one Tao, one beingness ... we both see the same world, because we both are the same world. But we have so cleverly and convincingly hidden ourselves from ourselves that we really believe that we are separate entities. That's the hide part of hide-and-seek. Humanity has become hide-bound. (56)



Happiness


The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

-Henry David Thoreau


Most adults suffer a dull, indistinct unhappiness which is so habitual that it has become inseparable from their daily lives, however they may smile to mask it. They have been talked out of themselves. From the earliest age they have been brainwashed into the belief that as they were born, and as who they were born, they aren't good enough, that they must continually prove their worth, that their bodies are fallible and liable to disease, that their passions are unnaturally sinful and must be harnessed and suppressed, that their duty is to serve the aims of the majority. Down deep, they are convinced that they aren't good enough. Their consciousness started out cosmic, attuned to the oneness of all existence, but has since been pared down to a strictly utilitarian fraction of its totality. That naturally universal attunement has been filtered and reduced to a trickle, which is then called normal or ordinary consciousness. After decades of propaganda and worldly and/or other worldly teachings, the vast majority of adults have resigned themselves to trying endlessly to be what they are not, and the frustration they quite naturally feel is expressed as fear, hatred, intolerance, greed, and all of the other social maladies we see around us. Look at almost anyone when they don't know they are being watched, when they are not performing . . . what sort of a face are they wearing, what does their expression convey about their prevailing thoughts? Their faces cannot help but mirror how they feel about themselves. Even professional actors cannot maintain a false persona indefinitely, and habitual worry lines are telling. (32)


We all want to be happy. We all want to recreate the state we existed in when we first arrived here, we all remember the feel of it, even though we may not be able to recall the details. Having been kicked out of the garden, we spend the rest of our lives trying to get back in, and having been talked out of our true purposes in life, we have little alternative but to try our best to recreate that happiness from the paltry tools available through religion, or power, or worldly possessions. But happiness is not a commodity, it is not a noun. Neither is real happiness a state of mind, because happiness is, eternally, while the mind can deal only with things temporal. The words "happy" and "happen" both come from the same root, and for a good reason: happiness happens when we have gotten out from behind the yearnings and frustrations of the mind, which keeps it hidden from us. Happiness is not conditional on circumstance, because happiness eternally is, while circumstances come and go. When you base your happiness on the right job, or the right mate, or having lots of money, then you are as much as saying that your happiness depends on things you once didn't have and which you one day will again not have. That may be called pleasure, but it is not happiness. Nothing that can be taken away from you is yours, including your possessions, your reputation, your body, even your mind. None of these is the source of true happiness. (82)


Meditation


Meditation, as both a practice and a way of life, has emerged in recent times to offer a workable, if not vital alternative to people who are fed up with living frantic, anxious lives, and who have found no solace in the worn out mantras of organized religion. Meditation is a way to get reconnected with who you really are and what you are really here to do and be. Meditation is like catching a glimpse of the backstage props to remind you that the play is really a play, that the so-called worldly realities are also part of the play, and that you are really the actor, not the role. For only then will you be able to play your role, to dance it instead of working it to death. (57)


Therefore, meditation, as a practice, presents us with a very curious problem. It is not an end in itself, but more of a means, a reconditioning which allows us to really live, sort of a process of retuning ourselves. An orchestra in which all the players are out of tune is a cacophony, not a symphony; being in tune is essential to harmony. But neither would we think much of an orchestra in which the players spent all their time just tuning up; they are tuning up so that they can play in tune. If you practice meditation for its own sake, as an end in itself, and unless your meditation serves merely to clear the screens, then you never end up playing anything. You become a meditation junkie. Meditation doesn't get you anywhere; it shows you where you are. And in this sense, meditation is medicinal, not dietary. Its only purpose is to get you back in tune when you are out of tune. When you are stressed out, and can remember that being stressed out is not what you are here to experience, then meditation is very helpful in getting you back to your center, back to the point where you realize that you are not your thoughts, you are not your ego; you are that which is conscious of these things. (60)


Entheogens


Although you won't hear it in public very often, and certainly not from organized religions, recreational medicines make available certain perspectives and descriptions of life behind the veil which are uncannily similar to those recorded by mystics and prophets from all cultures, from the Tibetans and the Taoists to the early Christian mystics and nearly all indigenous cultures, descriptions which are far too similar to be dismissed out of hand. The mystical state is the direct experience of reality without the filtering and objectifying processes of the socialized mind getting in the way. While this state seems to be available to the devotees only after years of meditation and/or other rigorous ascetic practices, it is becoming clear that there are other paths up that particular mountain. How do we get beyond the curtain of maya ? What might we find if ever we should momentarily slip into an altered state of awareness. (104)


Read or Download "A Dangerous Book" Here Free

4 comments:

Ta Wan said...

good stuff. a collection of some of the major points and written in a way many can grasp.

Erdogan family said...

awesome post dude!!!

i totally agree with every word ~ very well written

thanks :)

PEACE AND LOVE from canada

Chris said...

I'm reading this and thinking: 'yeah, yeah, that's the stuff' and then I'm in a queue the next day going: 'come on!! you're taking too long!! ARGH!'

Damn, gone back to sleep again.

deepika said...

this is one of the best and the most wholesome book i have come across... a must read for all who want to know the self and the world beyond...