Extract from my upcoming book, Life, Lies, and Sex: A User’s Guide to Being in a Body
Truth and delusion
Our world is going through a huge shift in planetary awareness, moving into a new paradigm where we will think differently and experience life differently. That is presently manifesting for many of us as a pervading dissatisfaction with the way things have been. We are looking for what we might refer to as a higher purpose, trying to work out where we fit and why we are here. We want more out of life, and for some, that’s about what they call a spiritual connection. Unfortunately and understandably, a lot of people are put off by the word spiritual, so let me start by defining what I mean.
I am not talking about religions, which are institutions, and as such, can offer only limited help to seekers, since any sense of a “higher purpose” is always personal. Spirituality could be defined as a study of the nature of reality, starting from the belief that there is a force at work much greater than the individual self. Some call this “God,” a word that is regrettably loaded with irrelevant and misleading meaning. I call it life force. When we are in alignment with that greater force—the energy of life itself—our lives run more smoothly and easily, and we operate from a place of trust, knowing that we will always be in the “right” place at the “right” time, however that may manifest. We have a much broader perspective on life and death. Developing this awareness of the flow of life, which is always occurring in and around us, expands the limits of our perception, helping us to understand how to exercise the art of choice, or manifestation.
Where I differ from most spiritual belief systems is in my approach to the physical aspects of being alive in a human body. We (whoever we are, and I go into that later) have very specifically and consciously chosen to manifest this body and the personality to go with it. The idea of being human is to be absolutely present in this body, always honoring it, and always paying attention to the depths of wisdom it offers us. The body is our bridge between energetic, or spirit, form and the physical world, and as such, it is a source of information which we need to listen to. We are learning to embody different states of consciousness—in other words, bring them into the reality of our daily lives. Sex, which starts with the body and—if we are able to commit to the fullness of the experience—takes us far beyond it, is one of the easiest pathways to a state of expanded consciousness. Failing to address this amazing potential is one of the great downfalls of many spiritual practices.
I frequently hear people say they are looking for a depth that is missing in our modern world. It is sometimes called greater, higher, deeper, although those comparatives are meaningless and deceptive. We are searching for an awareness of something more than what is required in the average person’s daily life. We need to learn to sense that “something more.” In truth, what we perceive with the five senses known as sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch, is only a tiny percentage of what exists all around us in energetic form. I use the phrase “the vastness of being” to refer to this immense unseen reality. Getting in touch with it often brings a sensation of relief because the belief system that this physical world is all there is can make a person feel trapped—although trying to grasp the vastness with the mental faculties will probably produce a sense of overwhelm.
There is a tendency to believe that in the past people were more in touch with this vastness of being, and therefore ancient teachings can help us to access it. In any particular instance, that may be true and it may not. The teachings that many spiritual leaders are offering just aren’t relevant to this culture any more. They were learned and developed thousands, or at least hundreds, of years ago for very different cultures and civilizations, and nowadays they often serve only to confuse us even more about the true nature of reality. In the West, human life has changed radically in the last fifty to two hundred years. Most of us have moved out of survival mode, and we easily grasp concepts that were impossible for people who were living in serious survival mode. A planetary shift is occurring, and it is about an evolution of consciousness, a deep change in the way that we perceive reality. Any teacher must be able to reach us on that level, offering new and empowering ideas that help us all to think for ourselves beyond the box. We can no longer be fobbed off with the old trite answers. We’re ready to move on to a completely new way of being in the world. Some of us are chomping at the bit.
I spent my life looking for a teacher, someone who could explain to me what it’s all about and what I’m meant to be doing, until a few years ago when I realized (with some help) that I had to step into my own power, and take responsibility for my own experience of reality. If you do find a teacher who can help you, that’s great—and still, we all have to be willing to take individual responsibility, developing our own personal and individual points of view. There is nothing in this modern world to stop us experiencing life in depth if that is what we want; we simply need to be willing to move beyond the habitual and cultural limits that tend to prevent us being fully ourselves and fully alive. I hope this book will give some pointers on how to do that.
Because the true nature of reality is so far beyond anything that we can capture with the intellect, and we as human beings have spent many centuries content with a very shallow understanding of it, we have not developed words to discuss it—and besides, words can never adequately describe something so vast. Many of the concepts I am promoting in this book may appear difficult to grasp with the intellect. Let them float in your consciousness, trusting that you will understand what you need to for now. I have repeated some concepts in various chapters, using different words to present slightly different aspects as an aid to understanding. In the end, this book may just provide one phrase that will help you out. Don’t feel like you have to read the book from beginning to end; I encourage you to open it at random, and because nothing happens randomly, it will open at the page you need, and your eye will catch what you need to hear at that moment in time.
When we start to realize what is “out there” (the vastness of being) we can become overwhelmed with the sensation of that vastness, realizing we know so little it’s virtually nothing. Sometimes I’m so astounded with the vastness of it all, that I am certain I know nothing at all. Yet within that knowing of nothing-ness, whether known by me or by anyone else, there is always a profound wisdom, which is available to all of us.
I tell the story of how this knowing came to me in Chapter Ten, so read that first if it’s important to you. In the end, I can sum up my method in a few words: I allow the awareness to come to me, with some prodding from AMAG1, a group of realized beings with whom I have studied for nearly twenty years; and I spend a lot of time alone in Nature. If you are reading this book, the chances are high that you can also allow this knowledge to come to you. Some of you will have the same reaction as I did when I got the information I’ve written about: Oh! Now I get it! And some of the people who are reading this book will just think I am spouting garbage. That’s life on Planet Earth. A huge diversity of being is represented here, which is a wonderful thing.
Many people in this world love to make rules about reality so that everything appears to be clearly black or white (which it very rarely is). They want to tell other people what’s what, making simplistic categorical statements about right and wrong and what we ought to be thinking and doing. Because the real truth is too complex to be grokked so easily, this leads to false and limited thinking, inevitably promoting lies, or at least half-truths. Even nowadays, individuality and original thinking are not generally encouraged, yet the way the world is changing demands that each of us find out what is true for us personally. This ongoing search for truth is a vital undertaking, made more difficult by people who are invested in maintaining the old lies or making up new ones that keep us in a state of confusion.
To help get started on this path of truth, I have listed below a few of the more standard misconceptions about the nature of reality that I hear very commonly, along with my responses. Some of these misconceptions are more recent, others are ancient. The kind of people who find these beliefs reassuring won’t want to read this book. Those of us who are disturbed that they are accepted so widely without being questioned will welcome the opportunity to examine them. Some of them have been stated as law for centuries by religious zealots who in many situations held the power of life and death over anyone who dared to question them, so their effect is very pervasive, even to those of us who have rejected them on a conscious rational level. We need to be proactive in our personal search for truth: unless we deliberately replace commonly-told lies with something else, they will continue to affect our subconscious understanding of reality. You may not agree with what I have written, but perhaps you will begin to formulate your own ideas and discuss them with others.
1. We are not spiritual, and we should be. We are all beings of spirit, existing beyond any concept of time and space. So we are all spiritual beings, whether we like it or not. From that perspective (which I refer to as all-that-we-are), we create these human bodies, and personalities to go with them, in order to have the delightful experience of being in a limited physical form. Think of it as a game. Most games have rules, but rules can always change, and new versions of games are constantly evolving. These days many of us are making new sets of rules for ourselves. That is perfectly acceptable. All-that-we-are has neither shoulds nor oughts. But one of the key aspects to this particular game here on Planet Earth is that we have physical bodies. We are learning how to be in this world from the perspective of an embodied being.
2. If we were enlightened, we wouldn’t suffer. We might define suffering as a state of being stuck. It is possible to experience intense emotions—even ones normally considered negative—without suffering. It’s a matter of learning how to let them pass quickly. We will all experience all kinds of emotions (otherwise known as feelings), and the closer one is to a true understanding of the nature of reality, then the more one allows oneself to feel them, and then the quicker they pass. Suffering, as I have defined it, only arises when we try to stop a feeling. Different people mean quite different things by the word “enlightened,” but it could be applied to anyone who doesn’t get stuck in feelings.
3. This is a terrible world and it’s getting worse all the time. I hear this one often, and it amazes me every time. Have you read any history? A hundred years ago atrocities were occurring all over the world, and they were even worse a hundred years before that, and a hundred years before that. Sure, there are some atrocities happening still now, and our very determined media is constantly searching them out to inform us. Personally, I experience the world as a much fairer, kinder, freer, safer, and more truthful place than when I was growing up, fifty years ago, and I am delighted. I meet more and more people who are waking up and choosing to live compassionately.
4. This is a world of duality and that makes everything difficult, and it’s all an illusion anyway. You will often hear Buddhists referring to this existence as an illusion, and many people therefore assume that it is not important. On the contrary, whether you think of it as an illusion or not, it is both powerful and valuable to those of us who have chosen to be here. The fact that it is a planet of duality just defines some of the ways we experience life here. Night and day, dark and light, winter and summer, war and peace, love and hate; we cannot have one without the other. They define each other. Being trapped in duality, therefore, will mean many ups and downs in life. There is nothing wrong with that, but life may be more pleasant when you learn to experience the kind of peace that exists outside of duality. I’m talking about a peace that has nothing to do with war. Peace, truth, beauty, love—outside of duality, those words mean the same thing. Bliss, Nirvana, One-ness, and Enlightenment—they are all an experience of peace that exists beyond duality. We have chosen to be born into a dualistic world, and now many of us are bringing the experience of one-ness here. We’re learning how to exist within duality without being trapped by it.
5. True saints, saviors, and gurus sacrifice themselves to come back again and again in human form to help those of us who are trapped in ignorance. Once again—we are all beings of light choosing different manifestations on this planet. I can assure you that Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammed all led many lives in other human forms, and plenty of them were not pretty. From the perspective of all-that-we-are, nothing and nobody needs rescuing. Lives pass. Life is forever and always. The choice to manifest in human form is never a sacrifice. This world is one huge playground of life. If things get very out of balance, it is a simple thing for this planet to stop what is going on by destroying the relevant civilizations, and starting again. That has already happened many times in the history of the Earth. It’s a natural cycle. What we see as eons of time is merely a blink of an eye to our planet.
6. If we’re not happy, it’s because we are doing something wrong. In the very broad perspective from which we make choices, we don’t intend to be happy all the time and it is impossible to do anything wrong. We can prolong an experience of suffering by choice, or by default, which means lack of choice—in other words, being stuck in suffering is usually a result of lack of understanding about how to stop it. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it certainly doesn’t mean we are bad people. We just are in a process of learning. One of the reasons I am writing this book is to help people to understand how to stop suffering, but I know that some people will continue to suffer. This is Planet Earth.
7. There is an energy source outside of ourselves (often called God) that is constantly judging us, and if we don’t do things right, it will surely catch up with us and condemn us to a future life of misery. So watch out, because your karma will always come to get you! There is nothing and no one to judge us except ourselves, all-that-we-are. In any particular lifetime we may feel that we have done something that goes against the intentions we have set for ourselves, and we may give ourselves a really hard time because of that. The intentions we set for ourselves vary enormously from individual to individual and from life to life. One person may experience tremendous remorse because she told a lie, when she had set the intention of being absolutely truthful in this life. Another person might tell lies all her life without suffering any remorse, because she didn’t make any commitment to being truthful. We will always choose to experience all sides of life. Once having been a guard at Auschwitz, we will most certainly choose to be a Jew. It’s not a punishment; from the perspective of all-that-we-are, neither is worse than the other. Both are lifetimes you might want to gloss over. And when you choose to wake up (which means, to perceive the nature of reality from a very broad perspective), you will look back on them both with compassion. On Planet Earth, a being would not choose to live a life of joy without having the experience of a life that is lived without joy, because there is deep desire to experience both sides of the coin. You choose those experiences. You want them. The question is not how to avoid such lives, it is, “Who are you? Who or what is choosing these experiences?” Ideally we can develop the ability to choose compassion without first having to get stuck in lack of compassion.
8. The ego is universally bad, keeping us trapped in a sense of self that will always prevent us from being truly fulfilled. A great deal of nonsense is talked about the ego. We chose to be borne here with this ego, and this character that goes with it. A necessary part of the game is differentiating into individuals, apparently separate. In order to be in human form, we must have enough of a sense of self and its attendant personality to develop our own ideas, and not be carried along in the masses. I must have a strong enough sense of myself that I can feel what is right or wrong for me. That sense of right or wrong varies widely from person to person. Just because something is wrong for me doesn’t mean to say it is wrong for someone else. If I don’t have enough of a sense of myself, how do I decide what’s right? Do I just believe what others tell me? Plenty of people operate that way right now, and if they are soldiers in the army, when someone tells them to go kill another person, they do it. I personally find that alarming and unfortunate. Doing things to glorify one’s image as perceived by others is different, see Chapter Six.
9. If we aren’t succeeding in choosing joy, we are not trying hard enough. Trying is often the problem. Making an effort to do something is like swimming towards something we want. The agitation of the water created by our movement actually pushes it away from us. As we perceive what we want nearby, we need to learn to be still, to allow the current to bring it to us. This being still is an art and I will write more on it later.
10. If we knew what the future held, we would be able to avoid the bad things. Think of life like a game of football. If you always knew who was going to win, who was going to score the goals, and exactly how many goals, it would spoil the game. As the fully evolved beings of spirit that we truly are, we know everything that is going to happen. We’ve set things up intentionally in this life so that we forget that knowing. We’ve forgotten who and what we are. That is an amazing thing, and it makes for a remarkable play. OK, sometimes people get very unpleasant injuries in football. Sometimes a team gets on a losing streak. But people still play. A lot of people still play, and they love it.
11. We must struggle against evil. What you resist persists. What you focus on is what you get. If you fight against something, you are putting energy into it, and unless there are some other influences at work, it will get stronger as you become more and more embroiled in it. You may get stronger too, or you may get very tired. Struggling is a choice. Most of us get tired of it after a while. Stepping back and getting a broader perspective is part of the art of being human. You can’t create peace through struggle. You may be able to create a temporary improvement, but it won’t last. If you want to stop fighting, then stop fighting.
12. Desire (especially sexual desire) is a lowly emotion and truly spiritual people are not bothered by it. They feel calm and happy all the time. If we want to experience life fully (and that is usually what we came into the world to do), we need to learn to allow the sensation of desire to course through our bodies. Our physical bodies are incredible vessels, and when we allow them to feel fully, and let go of any emotion that we have been storing from the past, we find that they inform us of everything we need to know. Knowing becomes a body sensation, not something isolated in the rational brain (a phrase I am using to include the workings of the intellect and the mental thought processes, which are useful tools, but limited ones). Allowing ourselves to feel desire is what enables us to make changes in our lives. Constant outward calmness is often a sign of someone who has quelled the experience of emotion moving through them. There is nothing wrong with that, but they will most certainly want to live other lives where they allow themselves to fully feel their feelings. Personally I enjoy people who are enthusiastic and energetic. Sexual desire, and orgasm in particular, is one of the quickest ways for a human to have the experience of spiritual bliss. That’s why so many religions preach against it: some people don’t want you to find out that it’s easy to have an orgasmic life. I have included a chapter on sex in this book because we need to start talking about it and learning what it has to teach us.
13. The Day of Judgment is about to arrive, the world is coming to an end, and we had better hurry up and get our shit together. Many of us are concerned about the state of the world, especially as we keep hearing prophecies about its end. A lot of people are afraid. While that’s understandable, it’s important to realize that we can’t change what is happening on a global scale, we can only change our own attitudes to it. I personally am very excited and delighted about the future of this world. I feel we are moving into a very positive phase, where our currency will be compassion rather than money. It may be true that there will be lots of natural disasters. Maybe I will die in one. Maybe I won’t. Whichever of those is to happen, I can be sure that I will be in the right place at the right time, so that what is right will manifest. I’m very sure of that because I know that nothing is accidental or incidental. I’m certainly not going to waste my time trying to avoid the right destiny. That is a ludicrous concept. In any case, dying is a fine thing to do, and we all do it.
14. All spiritual people are good. There is a regrettably common assumption that human beings who are clearly spiritually inclined and any beings who are not in physical form must all be innately good, except perhaps for a few who are clearly demonic. I’ve already explained that we are all spiritual people. Being good or not has nothing to do with how aware we may be of our spiritual origins. It is very possible for a spiritually powerful person (that is, someone who can communicate and work with unseen energies) to be completely lacking in integrity. As for beings who are not currently in any physical form—they are just like those of us in human form: some are bad, some are good, some are stupid, some are wise, and there is a great span in between. Only a fool would trust any of them willy-nilly.
15. We are the only sentient, intelligent beings in this Universe. This has got to be the most amazing example of limited, arrogant thinking. We are surrounded by beings far more evolved than us. Humans are just moving out of kindergarten. Some of the other beings around us are not a whole lot more advanced than us, and some of them don’t have the best intentions. In comparison to us, some of them are sages and crones, tuned into depths of wisdom and knowledge that are light years beyond our comprehension. For whatever reason, many of them are very interested in this planet and are very happy to offer us help. More on how to access that help, and why we can’t see these beings later.
16. If you really want to believe something, then it is suspect and you definitely should not believe it. My brother told me this when we were talking about life after death. He’s a lawyer, with a world view very different from mine. If a thought or a concept intrigues you, my advice is to investigate it. There is probably some kind of truth there for you, even if it’s not what’s immediately apparent on the surface. You might decide to believe it just for fun, just because you want to. There is no need to stick with beliefs that can be grasped by the rational brain. That’s very limiting. What harm can it do to try out a new and different belief? You are in charge of your own life and you can always change your mind.
17. If we are truly compassionate and good people then we will spend all our time working to alleviate other people’s suffering. People need to go through what they need to go through, and it is not anyone’s job to try and stop the process. We won’t be doing them any favors if we do stop a process that needs to carry on to completion, and we won’t succeed anyway. Very often, needing to help others stems from an egotistical need to be seen as a good person. This is one case where the ego should be thrown out of the window. Good is frequently an unhelpful label that motivates us to do things because we need other people’s approval, rather than because we really want to do them. Sometimes the best thing we can do for someone is to leave him or her to his or her own devices. And the best thing we can do for the world is to do what brings us joy. The more joy we bring into the world, the more joy there is going around. Knowing the right time to step in and help another person is a vital aspect of the art of being human.