Extract from my upcoming book, Life, Lies, and Sex: A User’s Guide to Being in a Body
To start with, here are a few of the common misconceptions about the nature of reality that I see all the time, along with my responses:
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 even those rules can 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 no shoulds or oughts.
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, and the closer one is to a true understanding of the nature of reality, then the more one allows oneself to feel them. And the quicker they pass. Suffering, as I have defined it, only arises when we try to stop a feeling.
This is a terrible world and it’s getting worse all the time.
I hear this one really often, and it amazes me every time. Haven’t any of 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 constantly meet more and more people who are waking up and choosing to live compassionately.
This is a world of duality: night and day, dark and light, winter and summer, war and peace, love and hate, etc. We cannot experience 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, enlightenment, one-ness—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.
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.
If we’re not happy, it’s because we are doing something wrong.
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, which might appear to be lack of understanding about how to stop suffering. 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.
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. In other words, 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, you will look back on them both with both horror and compassion. On Planet Earth, it is impossible to choose to live a life of compassion without having the experience of a life that is lived without compassion. 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 them?