January 02nd, 2010

The Joy of Simply Being: Happy Two Thousand Zen!

Let no one imagine that it is a mere fancy, the attaching of importance to the birth of the year. The earth passes through its definite phases and man with it; and as a day can be coloured so can a year. The astral life of the earth is young and strong between Christmas and Easter. Those who form their wishes now will have added strength to fulfil them consistently.
–H.P. Blavatsky


“It’s not the job of the mind to tell us who we are.” –A.H. Almaas

I like how Blavatsky uses the word ‘wish’ when she describes the opportunity that awaits each of us at the start of a new year. A wish is different from a desire, or an idea in the mind about what we think we want. The word wish connotes a blending — not exactly a desire, not exactly a prayer — but something in-between. A silent ceremony that occurs between one’s soul (the personal experience of presence) and one’s Being (one’s existence and presence as the divine).

The fascinating fact about Being is that Being is not intrinsically involved with wanting, desiring or wishing. It’s much more immediate, beyond the confines of time and space. It is simply Being. As presence that is fully present, Being is simply being. Although our soul can register Being as being involved in the process of thinking about the past, registering the present and looking towards the future — objectively, Being is only about being. All the beauty, fulfillment and freedom that the ego dreams about ‘someday achieving’ is all contained, now, within the present-time experience of Being. So there’s nowhere to venture, nothing to get. This is very disturbing to the usual, conventional, ego-based sense of self.

The start of a new year is often a trap for us, because there are such high expectations for experiencing opportunities to do or be something new and different. Resolutions are made, lists are written. The habits we want to lose are noted, the skills we want to develop are highlighted. But within all of that resolving and planning we miss the most important part of what the new year symbolizes — what it is really about. Namely, the opportunity to partake of another cycle of the earth moving around the sun, from solstice to solstice. Another year to experience the mystery of Being.

The new year is when I usually receive a cloud burst of calls and emails, to study transits and progressions, to try and suss out what and where one might be headed. As I’ve explained, I’m not a prognosticative astrologer. Astrology can not tell the future. For me, astrology lends itself to forecasting. And engaging inquiry with the subject of forecasts can open the client to a dynamic dialogue about what her heart is longing for, which, ultimately, is about giving personal expression to Being. Allowing Being to express itself, unfettered — free from the ego’s demands, ideas, schemes and plans. This is the most secret desire within our heart, to experience the complete freedom to simply be. Everyone wants to talk about it, they just don’t know how to begin.

The catch is that our ego, our false sense of self, maintains control by having plans and dreams that it believes will — once achieved — allow us to experience the freedom that Being actually (already) is. It’s sort of crazy-making when you think about it. But, alas, this is the human predicament. As spiritual students on this path or that, we’ve heard this over and over from ancient teachers to modern day pundits: That each of us is already residing in the enlightened state, that we already are free — but that we aren’t able to perceive it, to experience it in a way that is true and visceral and beyond the intellectual understanding of this truth. Why is this so?

Because, well, we are disconnected from the conscious expression of Being.

And round and round it goes.

Genuine spiritual work, work that isn’t based on fancy or imaginings or magical thinking, will eventually bring a student to the place where he or she will confront all of the hopes, dreams and schemes that his or her ego is attached to. Imaginings and hopes that cloud one’s expression of Being and generate a false sense of support for the ego. To reside in Being is to be free of these self-constructs, but it also connotes living on the edge with Being, which means one doesn’t know where she is going. The ego interprets this as a kind of rudderless existence, without potential, a kind of deficiency within the self, a movement away from everything that is familiar and safe — a disaster in the making. Living one’s life from Being doesn’t give us a sense of meaning, per se, as much as it gives us freedom from the concern, worry and fretting about existence. That is what could be considered genuine support from Being, the support to live freely without worry about how one will survive.

As A.H. Almaas explains in his pioneering book The Point of Existence:

“The most important insight needed for a student to move from the deficient lack of support to the actual state of support is the recognition that the feeling of helplessness, of not knowing what to do to be oneself, is not an actual deficiency, nor a personal failing. It is rather, the recognition of a fundamental truth about the self, which is that we cannot do anything in order to be, for to be is not an activity. We can come to this understanding only through the cessation of intentional inner activity. At this point, not to know what to do is a matter of recognizing the natural state of affairs, for since there is nothing that we can do to be, then it is natural that we cannot know what to do. There is nothing to know because such knowledge is impossible. Nobody knows what to do to be, and the sooner we recognize this, the easier is our work on self-realization. In fact, feeling that we don’t know what to do to be ourselves is the beginning of the insight that we don’t need to do anything.”

So this is the best gift we can offer ourselves at the start of the new year, to align ourselves with whatever practice and inquiry we can sustain to allow ourselves to be. And then see where we are at. And then watch where it all goes, how it all unfolds.

I remember once the head of my spiritual school was asked about the importance of teaching children about having goals, and about how those goals should be achieved. He responded by asking: why not simply teach the child to value the beauty of their Beingness — of who they intrinsically are, of their true worth, of the wonder of their Being? And to value and support that above the ceaseless grind of reaching goals and achieving dreams.

I thought this was excellent advice. And was something we all wished we might have been taught. He wasn’t denying the importance of having to have awareness and attention in place to maneuver living in the physical world, but that those capacities were not what was most important.

Being is doing Being, whether we are aware of it or not. It is when we make the conscious connection, alignment and then transparent expression of Being that we are completely in the flow and truth of our personal expression of Being. And having the opportunity to do this, in a new year, in a new cycle, is a wonderful acknowledgment to welcome the new decade with.

Blessings to all of my readers, friends, family and clients!


Opening painting. The Assembly of the Gods, 1575-76. By Jacopo Zucchi.

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