Living in the Real World – Beyond A Thousand Disguises

“We meet ourselves time and time again in a thousand disguises
on the path of life.”

~ Carl Jung

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The reality we experience is not actually real, it’s an illusion. From a quantum perspective, reality is a hologram.

We humans are ingenious. Our perceiving mechanism distorts and adapts what it perceives into a virtual reality that is more like a mirage in the desert than the original. This is a process akin to flattening our world into a map. The world is not flat, although people used to believe that. Pictures from space have proven that the world is round. And, of course, millions of people have travelled around the world, ending up where they began without reversing course so that seems to confirm it.

Knowing this, it seems incredible to suggest that we still do believe the world is flat in many other ways with many other proofs, but it’s true. For instance, many believe that some humans are inherently superior to others, by virtue of their skin color or ethnicity, or gender. This is an illusion. The more we perceive a mirage like this, the more we believe it’s real. Then, all our subsequent descriptions of “reality” are false. As Carl Jung said in the opening quote, we are meeting ourselves over and over again, disguised as “others.” We don’t know this, so we behave like kittens frightened by our own reflection in a mirror!

In fact, there is no other. All of us share one essence, one life energy. If we could see truly and get beyond our illusory perceptions, we would see this hologram of one consciousness that we share. As far as other people go, are we really seeing them as they are, or are we experiencing our stories about them, the disguises of ourselves we have projected onto “them?”

As human consciousness evolves through ongoing life experience, we evolve from illusion to truth and increasingly subtle holistic awareness develops. This is a progressive change from fiction to non-fiction which proceeds on to witnessing consciousness, watching ourselves, our true selves.

These days, the term “fake news” is often employed to avoid facing facts, but we can readily understand why people fall for it. All reporting is distorted, based on the illusion of separation and the descriptions that unfold from that. Everyone is enculturated into that illusion; everything is distorted from the beginning. Perceiving separation is an adaptation of what is into what is not… then we believe it and tell stories about it. That’s the media!

The good news, not deemed worthy of reporting by media, is that there is an awakening in more and more people to the basic fact that something is fundamentally wrong. What’s making a difference now is that science is getting involved and that helps because so many people feel science validates edgy ideas. Quantum science is actually providing a gateway into a new understanding for many people. Simply becoming aware of this simple premise – that the reality we think is real is not – and that it is backed by scientific studies… well, maybe we could now consider taking the idea seriously!

So, we begin to question: “Is this reality real or is it a figment of my perceiving apparatus, the mechanism of my individual consciousness? If so, is what I perceive to be real actually an illusion? Hmn, maybe I should begin to question a whole range of my personal beliefs. Is this real, is that true, what about this other?”

The root of all mystical traditions is inquiry. We begin with our own mind and beliefs. That process is usually initiated by some sort of personal awakening, some kind of quantum leap, which I have called the awakening impulse. We suddenly have enough expanded awareness to catch a glimpse of the real reality… and it haunts us from that moment on. Now we begin questioning, looking into things, and that drives the dismantling process for our illusory constructs. In a sense, we flip that old saying, “I’ll believe it when I see it” to “I’ll see it when I believe it.”

Here’s the real question: what remains when the mind becomes still? This explains why meditation is so vital, why quieting the mind is essential. Our spiritual journey is one of expanding awareness to traverse various milestones in personal evolution of incrementally increasing awareness.

We shift out of a belief in and perception of duality into the actual experience of non-duality, the unity of all and everything, called by many names. And we begin to see beyond the disguises that present themselves to us as the illusory “other.” We are one.


Young Monk

Spiritual Leadership – Part 4 – Spiritual Mastery

“Masters today, were Starters Yesterday, so begin now.”

~ Bernard Kelvin Clive

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Spiritual masters used to live in caves in remote locations. Today, you just might find one when you look in the mirror.

Many people would agree that the Dalai Lama embodies what it means to be an authentic spiritual leader. Two qualities emerge when we analyze what it is about him that generates respect in people around the world: forgiveness and humor.

The Dalai Lama forgives the Chinese for what they have done – and continue to do – to the people of Tibet and to him personally. He is also fierce in his honest commentary about injustice, but he exudes forgiveness. At the same time, he has an infectious sense of humor and is often shown smiling and laughing. Those who have met him confirm that he is a fundamentally happy human being.

If we are inspired by his example, what changes might that trigger in our lives? How might we attain some measure of the spiritual mastery that he demonstrates? We could start by considering the two qualities we just identified and ask ourselves several important questions.

First, what about forgiveness? It can be an excellent healing exercise to create a list of people you feel have wronged you in the past. Write out their names on a piece of paper, without wasting time rehearsing (again!) the epic stories of their misdeeds. Just write down their names and then survey your list. Read each name and say, “I forgive you.”

Young Monk with Buddha Statue

What does that accomplish? Not much, usually, because it’s a superficial gesture. Words like this can be largely meaningless; what gives them value is the meaning you deliberately invest in them. So, try it again, this time reading their names and saying, “I forgive myself.”

Now, that may not accomplish anything more significant in terms of real change but it does point in the right direction. The reality of forgiveness is to confront our own judgment and release it. We aren’t condoning someone else’s behavior by doing that, we are simply shifting from hate to love.

All of us get wounded in our interactions and very few adults can honestly recall a childhood without trauma, sometimes inflicted by their own parents. How long will we carry those stories? How long will we maintain a victim identity? How long will we wish for some kind of healing resolution?

Near the end of his life, the sage Krishnamurti gave his followers the secret to his own enlightened state: “Whatever happens, I don’t mind.” Presumably his attitude encompassed past events as well as present ones. Imagine looking back on your own history and feeling free of judgment, regret, anger, and the desire for revenge. That sounds like freedom to me!

Young Monk

If we were unburdened that way, it would open up a vast expanse of space within us, room for others to feel welcomed, just as they are, because releasing judgment of others in the past simultaneously frees us from the tendency to judge others now. Why? Because we recognize, either consciously or unconsciously, that we have no interest in creating new traumatic stories to re-burden ourselves. Once free, who would voluntarily seek enslavement again?

Spiritual mastery is gained, not through inner practice alone, although that is essential. We then take our practice into the world by, literally, practicing. And every moment gives us another opportunity, not just to deal with what’s occurring in caring ways but to release more personal baggage of our own. Why? Connections. Everything happening now is connecting to something that happened before. Nothing exists in solitary isolation. That means that the content of each moment is part of a holistic reality extending across time. When we accept what’s happening now, without judgment, we are also forgiving what happened in other connected moments across the spectrum of our lifetime, without needing to make those connections conscious.

What’s more, we are connecting with the same stream in others. The unburdened presence of a spiritual master works miracles this way, often without words being spoken. The possibilities for transformation and service are unlimited and we can happily spend the rest of our lives exploring the possibilities. Remember, happiness is the second quality we identified in a true spiritual master. Fortunately, as we understand how spiritual mastery works across time, we realize that it’s never too late to have a happy childhood!