Our Present Reality

It takes a lot of willpower to develop the activity of our consciousness, because our consciousness is asleep. It may feel exhausting to bring the consciousness to present awareness and to direct it: to consciously observe. In the beginning, this requires a very rigorous, strong, tiring effort. If your spirituality is flaccid, weak, ephemeral—you just sort of float along through life—then you are working in the wrong way. Real spiritual development does not occur by just being on autopilot. All the myths that describe this path emphasize the unbelievable heroic efforts that the heroes have to make in order to save the maiden, to dominate the monster or dragon—real spirituality requires incredible sacrifice, work, and is dangerous. Those are not just pretty fairy tales; they reflect a living, vibrating truth: our consciousness is asleep and in danger, and to awaken it requires every ounce of strength we have.

For that effort we need an enormous amount of energy. That is why all genuine religions have harnessed the power of the sexual energy to fuel spiritual awakening. Beginners in every religion were required to conserve their sexual energy, so that energy could be converted into spiritual power.

Awakening does not come through concepts in the intellect, or beliefs in the heart, or repeated actions in the body. Awakening comes through energizing and activating the consciousness.

Liberation from suffering does not come through intentions, the way we dress, the way we talk or the books we read. Liberation comes as a result of—right now—paying attention, being awake and aware of the consciousness itself, and freeing ourselves from the causes of suffering. Those who awaken the consciousness without freeing themselves from pride, anger, lust, envy, gluttony and all those selfish desires become terrible sources of suffering for themselves and others.

In order to empower the consciousness, it is necessary to save our energy and to give it to the consciousness; then, we must learn to direct it towards the goal of liberation from the causes of suffering. As Buddha Shakyamuni explained in the Four Noble Truths, suffering is caused by desire. Thus, we learn to pay attention to desire in all its forms, to learn how it functions, and to see the results of its activity.

Our consciousness in its original, natural state, is free, happy, wise, and capable of seeing the Divine. Yet, over the centuries, we have trapped that consciousness in pride, lust, envy, fear, greed, laziness, etc., thus our consciousness is modified by those qualities. We can no longer see the Divine. That is why we have so many theories and beliefs. We no longer have conscious knowledge of the Divine. To restore the natural state of the consciousness, we have to remove the obscurations. We cannot remove them if we cannot see them.

It is one thing to pay attention to what is going on outside of us, and this is good; we have to pay attention to our environment. Yet it is another thing to pay attention to what is happening in the intellect. This is also important—to watch our thoughts. It is something else to consciously watch our feelings, our emotions. And it is something else again to observe the sensations and impulses of the body and how we react to them. Observing all of these elements is fundamental to the process of developing conscious self-observation. But really, to awaken consciousness and reach freedom from suffering, we need to be aware of the consciousness itself—how we perceive. How—not just the fact of perception, but how we are perceiving. This is a super-critical action for us to observe, because every action of body, speech, and mind requires consciousness.

Then, once we learn to be aware of the activity of consciousness, we have to also see: is our consciousness modified by desires, or is it free, unrestricted? Most of the time we have no idea what the motivations for our actions are, because we are not paying attention. We are usually so overwhelmed with the surging chaos of thoughts, worries, concerns, fears, and desires that we have no self-cognizance in the midst of it. We are like a log tossed on a stormy sea. That stormy sea is our mind, and we are tossed about by all the surging wills in our minds. Inside, we are experiencing a surging, psychological chaos. Even when it subsides, we remain in psychological darkness, without any real sense of why we are alive.

To just go along with the circumstances of life, to just be tossed around by the competing desires within us, is to allow oneself to go down the drain, because really, everything on this planet—all of the energy, all of the forces—are going down the drain. It is not hard to see it. Unfortunately, we do not want to see it; we prefer to avoid seeing the truth of what is happening in the world.

If you want to be free from suffering and develop your fullest capacities, you cannot just sit back and relax, and tell yourself that you are “spiritual” or “okay,” and let the current of life take you. If you want to do that, it is your choice, but are you sure of where the current of life is going? When you consider the basic aspects of karma which we have spoken about and apply them to the world as a whole, you can see that all of the actions of humanity have set in motion a huge storm of energy, driven by anger, greed, lust, jealousy, fear, gluttony, and more, whose results will be an unimaginable deepening of the suffering we are already enduring. It would be wise to learn how to escape this situation, and to help others do the same.

To incarnate wisdom, to become truly wise, we have to change, and change does not come by sitting back. Change comes through work, and not merely a little bit of effort, not just a few minutes a day, but a continual effort. Think about this example: you are shipwrecked, holding on to your log — that log is your life, your circumstances in life, that which keeps you afloat, your family, job, and situation. All of us, at any instant, right now, could lose everything, because nothing in this world is stable. At any instant, everything we have could be taken away. If you do not believe me, ask somebody in the any of the countries that has recently experienced a disaster or war. They will tell you that suddenly, from one moment to the next, everything you have relied upon is gone. None of us have any assurance that what we have now will be here tomorrow. Thus, we need to be serious about developing something we can rely upon. That will not be outside of us, but inside of us.

We are on the little raft of our life, and the current is taking us; how are we going to swim out of the whirlpool that is sucking the world into chaos? With all of that energy that is pulling all of us, how will you get out of it? Are you truly going to sit on your log and read a book and expect that you will avoid pain and suffering? Do you sincerely expect that a religious belief will free you from suffering? Have you not seen all the believers who suffer as much as non-believers? Do you know anyone who has been saved from suffering by a theory?

Only action can save us from destruction. To escape the destructive current of life, you have to swim with all of your might, with every ounce of energy that you have. You have to fight the current of life. That current is outside of you, and it is inside of you. The way to fight the current is to analyze yourself, and change. It sounds desperate, because it is. Our situation truly is desperate.

Some say that we must rely on God or the Divine to help us. While there is truth in this statement, it is equally true that unless we do our part, there is nothing the Divine can do for us. For centuries, people have been praying for God to save them, yet they continue to suffer as always. Those who have transcended suffering had to work hard.

As painful as it is to look at our life and feel the uncertainty and fear of losing what we have, it really is not a beneficial perspective, because it is very selfish. Let us all open our eyes. Instead of looking at the little log that we are clutching onto with so much attachment and fear, open your eyes and look around, and you will see that you are surrounded by millions upon millions of people in the same situation. This is what is truly terrifying, horrifying! If you are really sincere, you will burst into tears, because all of the people around you in the world are the people you have loved, and who have loved you. They are your mothers and fathers, your sons and daughters, your brothers and sisters, your wives and husbands. They are all suffering, and headed for more suffering. This is what true spirituality exists for: as a way to change that.

We put our situation into stark terms because that is our reality. We put it into stark terms not to encourage fear, nor to make us feel desperate, afraid, and worried, but because they are the facts, and we must see the facts in order to have a chance to change them.

It is not hard to see that the world is getting worse, and civilization is on the edge of complete failure. All the energy humanity has been putting in motion for centuries is cascading into a whirlpool of degeneration and pain.

Because of this, there are many people who give up on spirituality, because they become hypnotized by fear, shame, terror. They become overwhelmed; they defeat themselves; they feel, “It is too much for me; I can’t handle it. It’s too hard; I can’t do it.” Self-defeatism is a challenging opponent. Many use the words of spirituality to defeat themselves, saying that the state of the world demonstrates that God does not exist or does not care. All of this is due to grave misunderstandings of religion and scripture, and a profound lack of genuine knowledge.

What people do not realize is that in the midst of the greatest adversity is the greatest potential for positive change. The energy that is in motion can be a powerful catalyst for deep and lasting change.

What those who give up on spirituality need is to develop a genuine understanding of the law of karma. When you really understand the law of karma, then you will have great faith.

When you work seriously in your spiritual life, you will prove to yourself that it is possible to reach complete liberation. It can be done, but you have to invest energy into it. It cannot be a temporary or part-time job. It has to be full time.

Each little investment of energy we make results in a consequence that is greater than the energy invested. Each time that we meditate, each time that we restrain a harmful action and we turn it into something beneficial, we create a huge impact, not just for ourselves, but for others.

Tthrough training, we can abandon the illusions that cause us to suffer, and instead get to know the source of true happiness and fulfillment.

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