It's Dara's long-awaited, oft-debated Subjective Reality book was just uploaded today! The ebook is now available & the paperback requires a bit more time to make it through the belly of the beast and onto Amazon, but it should be up in the next couple of days.
THE MEANING-DRIVEN LIFE
It is all about You – but not the little ego you. Rather, life is all about connecting with the bigger You – your Inner Self. This is the journey of all spiritual quests and the Ultimate Goal of all seeking: to find and unite with the larger part of your Self that has always been one with the Universe – the part of yourself unlimited by circumstances and fears.
The Inner Self is the source of all meaning and true purpose in life. Find it, and you know who you are and why you are here. Without it, you are alone and helpless in a hostile world.
The default world can give you purpose. It can give you enough mindless busywork and daily mandatory routines to spend a whole life without a free moment. But the default world cannot give you meaning. For meaning is created subjectively, inside each of us.
We all have our own unique, individual perceptions and expressions. And when we withhold those unique perceptions and expressions in conformity to the purposes of the world, we deny both the Universe and our brother and sister humans the divine expression we were created to embody.
There must be the possibility of transcendence for life to make sense to me. Without a concept of consciousness surpassing the limitations and default settings of biology, creation seems pointless and random. In other words, without meaning. If all I have to live for is the perpetuation of biological functions in myself and others, and all the simian politics that goes with our primate heritage, then I don’t want to play.
I have always felt that there was a lot more to me than is manifest here in this little fuzzy animal body, and more beauty and knowingness in me, than contained within the 3.5 pounds of grey jelly in my skull. The affairs of personal, professional and national politics and finances are not sufficient to give meaning to life. For me, happiness is impossible without meaning.
Years ago, when divorcing from my first husband, I made a conscious decision that any time there was a choice to be made that, meaning would be my primary criteria. Any time I had to choose between two or more options, I resolved to always choose the option which had the most resonance for me personally. I have never regretted that decision, although it has taken me down some very strange paths!
The conscious transcending of biology (aka Waking Up, Switching Off the Autopilot, Enlightenment, Increasing Awareness, Evolving, etc) seems to me the most important thing we can devote our lives to. While tending to family and career is often commendable, it pales in comparison to the importance of waking up.
But this awakening is tremendously difficult in our present day consumer culture, because the monkey mind (lower brain functions) are so easily distracted and entranced, and then autopilot takes over the whole mechanism, instead of being used as a vital part of a much larger and more complex system. Autopilot (habits, and entranced repetitive behaviors) is useful in its place, but when one acts from habits and entranced patterns picked up randomly and without consideration or intention, then one is at the mercy of external and circumstantial forces with no way to assert or retain conscious direction.
These habits and entranced behavior patterns are the product of the older, more “reptilian” parts of the brain. Our sense of self-consciousness is believed by researchers to be housed in the neo-cortex, the most evolutionarily recent development of our brains. These older structures in the brain (sometimes called the “Lizard Brain”) can exert considerable influence on our personal behavior and unfolding, especially if certain structures and capacities in the brain are not fully developed.
Hence, we often find ourselves “highjacked” by emotions or thoughts based on lower brain functions, such as low self-esteem, fear, perceived self-preservation or bodily desires, such as lust, hunger and obsession, which prevent us from achieving the clarity necessary for accessing our higher brain functions.
There are some researchers and commentators on the human condition who believe we have gone astray from our evolutionary path and are now going up a possible dead end. Others believe we are just ‘going through a difficult phase’ in our evolutionary development, that we will soon outgrow.
Either way, it seems clear to me that we must assert conscious intention to get us out of the current political, cultural and environmental messes we have collectively created through the unthinking following of the promptings of our lower selves.
While living in the most privileged society on the planet, many of us feel unfulfilled, frustrated and trapped in lives we did not want to have, but ended up with either by default or by mistake. We sometimes feel cheated out of an unknown life we somehow ‘should’ have had – that we are not allowed to express our true selves due to the limits placed on us by others or by our own fears.
Many spiritual teachers and traditions tell us that it is not our failures that we fear, rather, it is our greatness which we are frightened to let show. But this need not be our fate. We can choose to allow our Deeper Self to inject meaning and purpose into our existence. But it takes time and patience to undo a lifetime of unconscious habits and decisions.
Like with developing our physical muscles, we can develop the capacities and strengths of our conscious minds to resist the tendency to live on autopilot, instead of using it judiciously to achieve our intentions and goals.
As G.I. Gurdjieff noted, a certain amount of psychic momentum is required in order to break the entrancement of the lower brain structures. This momentum is built through the use of positive, intentional habits (in the philosophical field of Virtue Ethics, these are called virtuous habits) because human will power is insufficient when undeveloped. Will power is a limited resource that requires frequent re-charging (somewhat like my cell phone!). Good habits can often carry us even when our will power is weak. But the question then arises: what kinds of habits are necessary to transcendence?
In order for consciousness to transcend biology, we must attain the habits of expanded consciousness: regular meditation and contemplation (two different things), intentional creative pursuits and the regular exposure to what Gurjieff called “conscious material,” that is, literature and art created consciously in a space of intentionally increased awareness.
So what is this consciousness and what is it’s goal?
Consciousness is that within you that knows and knows that it knows. It is that continuity of awareness that remains untouched through all of the many phases, changes and circumstances of our lives.
If we are truly embodied spiritual creatures (as I believe we are), then why did we come here? Surely it was not merely to consume, reproduce and die. The ecology of nature would argue against such a cosmic waste of potential. If we are truly aspects of divinity, then in order for our existence to have meaning, we must have come here to this plane of existence in order to fulfill a divine mission.
So, as spirits embodied, it seems our mission is to recognize our position and to attain the habit of identifying with the eternal aspects of ourselves, rather than limiting our awareness to the ephemeral aspects associated with biological survival and reproduction.
But this is difficult to accomplish, because our minds are unaccustomed to holding fixed thoughts and perceptions for very long. The ephemeral conditioning of biology entrances us with an ever-changing set of variables we must navigate. I call this being “Velcro-ed™.”
It is very easy to forget about the option of seeing life from a larger (divine) context. It is easy to get sucked into two-dimensional thinking of established neural patterns (i.e. paths of least resistance) rather than to look for the broadest perspective you can handle. It is much easier to be self-protective, rather than inclusive.
Our brains are biologically conditioned to run on autopilot (i.e. the path of least resistance), as well as genetically pre-disposed towards certain habits and configurations. But just because our autopilot has certain default settings that we may not like, that does not mean we are doomed forever by biological determinism – unless we refuse to claim the power of our consciousness to rise above and re-set the defaults on our autopilot to more agreeable settings.
Again, this is not a quick or easy task, but it appears to be necessary for humanity to move forward as a species, as well as for individuals to move forwards in their own personal journeys.
Without transcending our biological drives, humanity is locked into a zero-sum game of dwindling resources and expanding populations. Only the expansion of consciousness can get us out of inevitable conflict and suffering. Expanded horizons and vision can help us to navigate the turmoil of embodiment, avoiding foreseeable crashes and enabling unimpeded progress. Unleashed divine creativity imagines new solutions and inspired combinations to our problems. Third and even fourth dimensional thinking lifts us up out of duality and gives us wider understanding – imparts the vision to encompass both divinity and biology simultaneously.
We are conditioned by biology from the get-go – our sex, the efficiency and completeness of our organs and bodily systems all impact the quality and content of our lived experience. If we are born into a severely malfunctioning or handicapped body, our existence will primarily focus on surviving that handicap or dysfunction. If we become injured, diseased or aged, our lives often become focused on dealing with the consequences of these conditions.
But despite the narrowing of focus to the biological, we still have Free Will in how to understand our conditioned life – we can choose to see our physical conditions as a blessing or a curse. I am reminded of the grace and spirituality with which actor Christopher Reeve embodied after his severe spinal cord injury, which paralyzed him from the chest down and eventually ended his life after several years of brave struggle. He truly was a super-man, although he could no longer even walk or breathe unassisted, much less fly.
We get to decide whether life is something we endure or something we enjoy. Our consciousness orients our emotional and intellectual and spiritual responses to the limitations imposed by embodiment.
All religion points away from embodiment to identification with spirit (consciousness). Many religions tend towards asceticism – the rejection and chastising of the body, in the belief that mortification of the flesh automatically leads to identification with consciousness – but this is not necessarily true.
Asceticism can succeed if the aspirant can let go of his identification with the body and shift his sense of self to include his own Inner Self. But all too often, instead what is engendered is a hatred and rejection of the biological element of our being, setting up the conditions vibrationally for obsession, future disease and accidents.
Culture further deepens our disdain of the biological in numerous ways: by holding up unachievable images of beauty and physical configurations; by over-sexualizing advertising; through the healthcare and insurance industry’s stranglehold on mainstream conceptions of health and illness… These are just a few of the ways our culture forces us to identify with our bodies, but then sets up barriers to our acceptance of our bodily beingness.
We fear our bodies’ power to shape our experiences because we do not understand what we are existentially and how our consciousness relates to our bodies. On one hand, we are taught by culture that we ARE our bodies and this one is all we get. But our predominant religions tell us we are NOT our bodies and must seek salvation. With the decline in religion as a real live spiritual power (not merely a political power) in most postmodern Westerners’ lives, we have come to focus on our bodies as much more than a game avatar, rather, we have come to believe that the body is our Self. Nowadays, we are taught that we as a species are limited and conditioned by our bodies.
Yet how we interpret and express inside those conditions is entirely up to us. Biology may “throw” us into unchosen circumstances, but how we orient and respond is an expression of our consciousness. We may be born into a failing and feeble body, such as physicist Stephen Hawking was, but, like Hawking, we can choose to transcend the conditions imposed by biology through the exercise of consciousness.
Consciousness is always a choice – never a default.
It’s all about what part/image of yourself you identify with. If you believe you ARE a body, then your identity is bound by biology. If you identify with an eternal/divine aspect, you transcend genetic predisposition, disease and accident. Choice of destiny then becomes possible, but as long as we identify with our bodies, we are fated to be limited by them.
It’s easy to get caught up in the roller coaster ride of physical embodiment: it’s so distracting, so entertaining, so exasperatingly PRESENT.
It is easy to lose your perspective amidst the constant swirling of postmodern life. But it is precisely this constant busy-ness that keeps us from identifying with the larger context of the Deep Self. Depth of self-knowing requires both conscious choice and stillness. The busy distracted monkey mind cannot tune into the higher frequencies of the Expanded Self.
We must still our minds and allow the swirling conceptual dust to settle down in order to establish contact with the Larger Self. But once the mind IS trained to settle down, the Larger Self is readily available to access at any and all times. So, it’s a matter of both techniques (such as the meditations and exercises in this book) plus remembering to use your techniques while in the thick of the bio-swirling.
From an existential point of view, we exist in a profound state of ignorance – we know very little about the origins and possible purpose of the universe, of life and of ourselves. We don’t know why we are born or what happens after we die. We don’t know if this is an intended or random universe.
Religion was created to deal with the psychological pain and isolation of this ignorance. Religion is learned, although the religious/spiritual impulse is innate and seems to be hardwired in. (See: Newberg, Why God Won’t Go Away) How that spiritual impulse is interpreted is both subjective and cultural. We interpret our own spiritual impulses according to our social conditioning – both inherited and chosen. (“Once a Catholic, always a Catholic/recovering Catholic.”)
We become fixated and distracted by the external world because it is loud and explicit. The internal world is subtle and silent. Some fear the silence, for they fear confronting themselves without dilution. They fear discovering inadequacy, hypocrisy or cruelty. So they choose to remain in ignorance, rather than risk learning something about themselves and the universe that they may not like. Instead, they cling to age-old, worn out beliefs in the hopes of getting some real mileage from the old forms before they collapse. It is often much easier emotionally to look outside, rather than inside.
But inside is where all the miracles take place.
Province Of The Mind
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