Photographer and writer Paul Rezendes has an unusual take on realization, formed from his experience outdoors as a wildlife tracker. The preface from his book, The Wild Within, gives a brilliant example of his realization, and a perfect description of the listening attention as well:
This book is an inner and outer journey into one’s self and into the wild. The journey through these pages brings us into intimate contact with the lives of wild animals and begs us to look more deeply in order to come into intimate contact with ourselves and the “wild within.” The “wild within” is not a place in space and time; it is an awareness that is unconditioned, or is uncultivated, untouched by the human hand or mind.
These pages open the door to who we are by taking us first into the forest where, through tracking and sometimes direct contact with the animals, we are able to experience and appreciate the lives of wild beings. It gives us the opportunity to see that these lives are none other than our own lives, and that no being is separate from another; that mountain, river, forest, stone, coyote, and humans are the same movement.
I have taken and opened the doors and windows to my own life, so that the reader can look in and see his or her own life in mine. This story is not just about me and the wild animals that I have tracked. It is meant to be a mirror to your own life. For instance, when I share with you my persona as a gang leader, I am hoping that you look at your persona, whether it be an identification as lawyer, doctor, artist, or academic. Most of us have an idea about who we are … it doesn’t matter what that idea is. It has the same basic effect of dividing us within and out there in the forest, as well as socially. Being the president of a motorcycle gang may not be much different than being the president of a nation when it comes to feelings of pride, fear, and power.
This book opens the door to nature, where we come face to face with love, fear, life and death. It takes you into the woodlands, and as you wander through the trees, you may suddenly and unexpectedly find yourself looking inwardly at something you never expected to see – something fresh, alive, and new about yourself that you never knew was there. That is my hope in writing this book, that you wake up to a whole new world, one that is not fragmented, but whole, open, and without fear. Ultimately, that is what The Wild Within is about. It is about what some cultures call waking up, enlightenment, self-understanding, wholeness, or realization.
What I mean by realization is living, being energy that is aware or awake to what is, or to what is arriving in the moment. An awareness that is at rest and has no intention for anything to be other than what it is. Although it is at rest and has no intention, it can have a dramatic action on the movement of thought in a person’s life. This action takes place out of time, and without a doer. It is an action that does not come from a center, nor is it linear. In other words, it is not a reaction. When a person is realized, this awareness is the unresisted perspective in a person’s life, a perspective without a center, and without fear or pride.
Before realization, a person’s perspective is coming from the center of where we believe our self to exist, or at least, that is where we “think” we exist, feel, and think from. This center, this self, this doer that we perceive ourselves to be, is what keeps us divided from nature out there in the world and our true nature within. This results in a sense of being at odds with nature, within ourselves and with others. The center, or the who we think we are, also creates divisions within our own species. I’m talking here about religious, political, sociological and ideological divisions. These divisions can easily develop into hate crimes, wars, etc. Living from this center causes conflict between what is, and what should be – who we think we are, and who we think we should be.
Self-understanding opens the door to the possibility of living without a center, fear, and the need to control nature and others. This book is about that door opening for one human being. It may be about that door opening for you as well.
– Paul Rezendes
for Paul’s books and to see his excellent photos, go to http://www.paulrezendes.com/
To see myself in everybody and everybody
in myself most certainly is love.
—Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
What are we devoted to? Where does longing pull us? What is love and what is Love? What prevents opening? What prevents sinking deeper within?
A Story of Love: TAT’s 2013 June Gathering provides an opportunity for those interested in remembering our primary problem and finding love on the spiritual path.
A Story of Love
The registration deadline for the June Gathering is Friday, June 7th.
Dance along with me in the Nothing Dance, celebrating Nothing at all:
“The path to Truth begins with the self. We cannot properly isolate, identify, or analyze the self, because it is the subject about which we know the least.” – Richard Rose
The conscious attention, or ego, sits on the doorstep between two worlds: that of the outer country of our senses commonly called reality, and the world of the mind, our inner realm, the undiscovered country. While much can be said of the outer world of the senses, little is known by most of us of our inner country, a world of automatic responses and unquestioned beliefs, hidden in darkness, projected onto our hapless neighbors.
Even those of us on the spiritual path, professed seekers of truth, rarely enough venture into the unknown country behind our eyelids. We tend to avoid this inner space, side stepping it in favor of imagination. We create a conceptual idea of ourselves in our head, one which fits our needs and fears, and then believe in it. The true state of our mind and emotions is avoided and exiled, an active but unconscious shadow in the darkness within.
This refusal to look at our inner state is not only because we are cowards, ignorant, and/or blind. It is necessary. The mind could not go on about its business in day-to-day affairs in the hustle of modern life if it questioned itself. Things could come to a halt.
One of the ways we avoid the inner realm is through what I call the game of ‘stay away’. We refuse to look at anything about ourselves that doesn’t fit the script. An extreme example of this is found today in neo-advaita types, while a generation or two ago it was seen in the radical side of Hare Krishna’s, and even earlier with ‘Jesus freaks’. The game is played by having a tight 5-10 minute circle of unbreakable logic which is repeated over and over, both to oneself as well as others. This is a very effective form of self-hypnosis which enables it’s practitioner to stay away from all consciousness of any inner emotional turmoil.
Another trick is that of placing the ego in an intangible form so that it cannot be attacked. These folks have no practical ego to speak of, meaning they have no real skills, no career, no interest which is actually carried out in the world. But to function the ego has to have an object, so if they are unwilling or incapable of identifying with a practical aspect of life, they find a concept, an archetype, or an image with which to identify. These images are invisible and intangible, so there is no risk of failure or success associated with believing in them. The trap is almost fool proof and extremely hard to break free of. Examples are seen often in New Age archetypes, such as the ‘goddess’, the ‘warrior’, the ‘sage’, etc. Even political and religious concepts can be effective shields against our personal truth, such as being politically correct or morally self-righteous. The common thread is an inability to handle tension or resistance. There can be no failure or questioning of an inner goddess, it can’t be seen or corroborated, so the person has an excuse not to face themselves, no matter what.
The trick of transference is seen in those who avoid their inner country by projecting it onto others. They have nothing to work on in themselves (being perfect, the ego’s main characteristic) so they spend their time helping others less fortunate (the rest of us). In this manner, they never have to see themselves as they are, for all imperfection surely lies in others, out there. They feel they are fortunate to be able to spend their time in helping, while their victims, their unlucky friends and acquaintances, must bear the burden of the ‘helpers’ unresolved inner conflicts.
An example of this was driven home to me when I worked at a ski resort. A group of blind cross country skiers came for a week, from the wonderful organization Ski for Light. There were over a hundred of the blind skiers, along with their guides and coaches. I assumed that the skiers, being blind, would be in need of much help, and their guides must be selfless saints to volunteer for such an undertaking. I had it exactly backwards. The skiers were the ones with the greater being, and needed no help traveling freely about their inner country. The guides on the other hand, while sighted in the outer world, were, perhaps unknowingly, being taught humility, faith, patience and wisdom by their unsighted charges.
I’ll never forget this surprising contrast: the guide bragging at dinner how she had been blessed not to have to work so she could give her time to ‘helping’ the less fortunate. The resort staff soon became fully aware of who was helping who. Her blind student was easy to wait on, not at all demanding, while the guide required constant attention, everything had to be prepared to her individual specifications, running us ragged for no real reason other than her inability to act in any way other than self-centered. The blind skier (the true guide) spent the week in infinite patience, a shining example of courage and wisdom, expecting nothing in return.
While these examples may illustrate our ignorance of our own psychology, it also serves to show how our values are reversed by life and its demands. The inner country, the basis for our character, is undiscovered and lacking in meaning, while our outer life of body and ego is given first priority and the highest value. The soul, with its connection to our inner self, is discarded in favor of saving face and ego. Only when the inner atmosphere is clear and quiet can we hear the true message from our Self. A long and hard journey within to clear the air and underbrush may be arduous, but in the long run, worth any price.
” I’d come to realize that if a man is ever going to grasp anything it won’t be by learning. His being has to change. You are what you do, not what you know. A man never learns, he becomes. To become, you must find ways and means to change your entire state-of-mind. This in turn will lead to a change of being.” – Richard Rose
Take meditation into the world of action, rather than just imagination. It will then lead to a change of being, rather than just new patterns of isolated thoughts. For meditation to help us, to bring about a change in being, we need more than just thought. We need to put our lives on the line. We need energy as well as concept, transmutation as much as conviction.
Does this scare you? It should. Do you still feel a longing? Good, you’re not just in your head.
If a fear of death, and a longing/remembrance for something better are within you, you’re heading in the right direction. If not, for you think you’ve solved the problem and are at Heaven’s doorstep, you’ve become too clever. Are you heading farther into the head and the imagination, playing it safe, sleeping in the superior position of your dream?
On the other hand, are you wallowing in your fear and self-pity? The inferior position of the dreaming ego isn’t the right direction either, is it?
Sensitivity and cleverness can become enablers to our self-love, just as much as laziness and self-complacency. This can happen when we ignore our guts, not realizing that transmutation, and the resultant change in being, depends on generating and saving energy. Meditation shouldn’t happen just in the imagination. We transmute energy through exercise, from doing what we say, not being afraid to sweat and be uncomfortable, from facing our faults and mistakes: going against ourselves. Action as well as thought. This can’t happen if we remain soft and secure, yet collapse like a house of cards when push comes to shove. If every time things get rough, we copout to distraction and escape instead of standing tall and clear, we’ll never generate and save enough energy for real change.
Transmutation through meditation also needs a vector, a direction. It needs applied wisdom, a will, to direct the saved energy. Saving and directing our generated energy can transmute our cleverness into insight, our sensitivity into self-awareness, our self-indulgence into strength. This is the result of a change in the direction of our love, from love of self to a new found love for our higher potential. A faith in things unseen but felt, insight and intuition: allowed, carefully reasoned, and acted upon.
– Bob Fergeson