the ground of sorrow

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This is another phase of my on-going exploration of how it is that I continually sabotage myself, trip myself up and throw myself back into old programs, seemingly not able to exit this virtual reality once and for all. Those of you who share this interest may find the following useful; for others it will most likely prove to be tedious and less than entertaining.

The ground of sorrow is the holding on. I know that all of this manifest reality is dynamic, meaning that it is in continual flux. My initial awakening from the deep trance at 18 was to ‘see’ without the mind’s filters and without the center as a ‘me’. For the duration of the effect of the chemical on my system (about 6 – 7 hours) I was seeing with the eyes of God.

I saw how all forms were in a fluid state. I was immersed in, and was also an integral part of a sea of energy. Every atom of this sea was seeing and intelligent. Every part was in complete connection with every other part and with the whole. To say ‘connection’ even implies some kind of separation that needed to be bridged, but that was not the case: all was OF the same beingness.

It was clear that our concepts, our impressions of the movement of this energy which we call ‘memory’, held the forms in place. Back through the sequences of events that we call ‘time’ we hold the memory of the seed having been a tiny seed and then sprouting, growing and becoming the tree. The tree then becomes lumber, a table and a house. All of these forms are ‘kept in place’ by our concepts, which are the composite impressions of past events fed by our memory. Now, to say ‘our’ memory is misleading, because actually the entire sea of energy is one vast, amazing memory when seen from a certain perspective. This depiction of how I perceived things is very primitive but it may serve as the basis for further statements on this topic.

After having explored this view ‘through the keyhole’, so to speak, of Reality free of the veil we all live behind with the help of psychedelics for an extended period, I realized that it must be possible to perceive Reality directly, without the use of chemicals to shift my perception. I wanted to BE in that Reality 24/7 and not just visit temporarily. That is when my interest shifted to the wisdom teachings of men and women who described the state I had been in which they seemed to live in perpetually. I met up with Rajo, my first teacher, a yogi from India who lived a secular life in Germany for half the year and ran a yoga school. He introduced me to the writings of several modern sages (Krishnamurti, Ramana) and also, mainly, to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

The Yoga Sutras immediately captured me and I dove with great passion into the world of deeper understanding of how our world works. The core of this understanding centers on the Sanskrit term ‘vrtti’. We find this root in our word ‘vortex’ and also in the German word ‘Wirbel’ (whirl, eddy, vortex). In the context of the Yoga Sutras it designates the so-called modifications of the mind that are attracted to and grab on to what promises pleasure (or ‘no pain’) and repelled by and reject what promises to cause pain or discomfort and, ultimately, is seen as a threat to survival. This grabbing onto/attraction and rejecting/pushing away dynamic of these modifications of the mind creates a whirling movement much like an eddy on the side of a smoothly flowing stream. This eddy or vortex creates a kind of entity that sees itself as separate from the river. This is the root of all fragmentation and the resulting sorrow.

In this way the mind feels that it will be able to prolong and maintain a pleasurable state and avoid a painful one. What it doesn’t realize is that both of these movements (grasping/repelling) feed the whirling dynamic of the vortex that it IS and lead to the vortex gaining more and more consistency – just like an eddy on the side of the stream gathers small twigs and other material.

The definition of Yoga is, according to the Sutras, ‘citta-vrrti-nirodha’, which in the short version means that this vortex dynamic subsides due to the mind itself ceasing to choose and so perpetuate the dynamic. You might say, the mind disengages the clutch from its own ideational movement and thus it subsides on its own. (more here – link-) This is akin to Krishnamurti’s statement, “See what happens when the brain is completely still. See what happens.”

In the following I am tracking this dynamic of the vrttis using the example of the concept “freedom”.

Freedom

Caught in problems, in pain, thought breeds an idea or feeling, which is the opposite of pain, of constraints and I call this idea or feeling “FREEDOM”. So there is the idea of ‘freedom’ over there, somewhere, and I must get there by doing many things over here, in the field of bondage. Freedom is then the result, the reward that lies at the end of the process.

I go to therapy to free myself from anger; I earn much money to move to a better neighborhood; I do yoga to make my body more flexible; I eat special foods and take supplements to be healthier, to live longer. I do many things to change the way I live so that I can do what I want to do: live in quieter surroundings, move my body more easily, live longer and live with less fear of illness and death because of all the health-promoting things I do for my body. I have responsibility and find it a burden, a constraint: I resist the state I am in and push responsibility aside and seek to escape from it.

My idea of freedom says to resist everything that I feel as a constraint and to seek relief from it. The question here is whether freedom is the opposite of constraint or bondage. Is freedom perhaps simply a fancy of thought, a construct that has no basis in reality? In other words, can I question the entire validity of that concept, of that feeling, in order to look with fresh eyes at the actuality of my situation?

Then I can ask “What do I really know? What is in my life, what is the ‘what is’?

I then see that it is bondage and attachment: to outward things, the house, the family, the job; inwardly to habits, traditions, the pleasures of domination and of possession, of power and achievement, of reputation, bondage to fear, to my comfort and to many other things.

When the holding on to and the addiction to these things brings pleasure I don’t think about freedom from them. I think about and desire freedom only when there is pain. I am bound to all of this inwardly and outwardly and the bondage is ‘what is’. The resistance to what is, is what we call ‘freedom’. I resist, or escape from, or try to suppress what is, hoping thereby to come to some form of freedom.

”We know inwardly only two things – bondage and resistance; and resistance creates the bondage” says Krishnamurti. I have ideas and concepts, one might say fantasies about a state free of constraints, but what I actually KNOW is constraints, bondage and my resistance to them. Then he says resistance creates bondage. It took me a while to take that statement in, to really feel the truth of it. The understanding that I am becoming absorbed into brings me back to the dynamic of the vrttis. Whether I feed the movement of attraction to that which is desirable or I feed the movement of repulsion away from that which is deemed undesirable, I am in both cases feeding the vortex movement of energy, thevrtti dynamic, which is the root of suffering.

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In the following excerpt from “The Only Revolution” several ways in which we resist ‘what is’ are pointed out that I generally do not recognize as resistance, but looking more deeply I see how all of this conduct feeds the energy nodes of the vrttis and this creates separation. In this sense it is resistance to ‘what is’ because it is conduct that aims at engaging with the vortex-nodes so as to change something about them and to make them more to my liking.

Just to see the vortex movement of my system without engaging in any way is to LET IT BE and thus it can run its course without me meddling in its movement. This is what K calls “letting it flower”, no matter what it is – whether I evaluate it as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘pleasant’ or ‘unpleasant’. Then it will pass, as all is in constant flux, and then something new can appear. The more I meddle with its intrinsic dynamic as a vortex the more I create impediments to its flowering and natural changing. I cement it into its current form by engaging with it. I call this action of seeing without ‘meddling’ in the event “Non-Engagement” or “Abeyance”.

Krishnamurti:

“The river was alive, deep and full, always in movement; and the little pools beside the bank were always stagnant.

Each human being isolates himself in the little pool (like an eddy, a vrtti t.q.), and there decays; he never enters into the full current of the river. Somehow that river, made so filthy by human beings higher up, was clean in the middle, blue-green and deep. It was a splendid river, especially in the early morning before the sun came up; it was so still, motionless, of the color of molten silver. And, as the sun came up over the trees, it became golden, and then turned again into a silvery path; and the water came alive.”

He said: ‘Man can never be free; he is tied to his family, to his children, to his job. Until he dies he has responsibilities. Unless, of course,” he added, “he becomes a sannyasi, a monk.’

What is freedom? Is it an idea, or a feeling that thought breeds because it is caught in a series of problems, anxieties, and so on? Is freedom a result, a reward, a thing that lies at the end of a process? Is it freedom when you free yourself from anger? Or is it being able to do what you want to do? Is it freedom when you find responsibility a burden and push it aside? Is it freedom when you resist, or when you yield? Can thought give this freedom, can any action give it?

“I’m afraid you will have to go a little bit slower.”

Is freedom the opposite of slavery? Is it freedom when, being in a prison and knowing you are in prison and being aware of all the restraints of the prison, you imagine freedom? Can imagination ever give freedom or is it a fancy of thought? What we actually know, and what actually is, is bondage – not only to outward things, to the house, to the family, to the job – but also inwardly, to traditions, to habits, to the pleasure of domination and possession, to fear, to achievement and to so many other things. When success brings great pleasure one never talks about freedom from it, or thinks about it. We talk of freedom only when there is pain. We are bound to all these things, both inwardly and outwardly, and this bondage is what is. And the resistance to what is, is what we call freedom. One resists, or escapes from, or tries to suppress what is, hoping thereby to come to some form of freedom. We know inwardly only two things – bondage and resistance; and resistance creates the bondage.

“Sorry, I don’t understand at all.”

When you resist anger or hatred, what has actually taken place? You build a wall against hatred, but it is still there; the wall merely hides it from you. Or you determine not to be angry, but this determination is part of the anger, and the very resistance strengthens the anger. You can see it in yourself if you observe this fact. When you resist, control, suppress, or try to transcend – which are all the same thing for they are all acts of the will – you have thickened the wall of resistance, and so you become more and more enslaved, narrow, petty. And it is from this pettiness, this narrowness, that you want to be free, and that very want is the reaction which is going to create another barrier, more pettiness. So we move from one resistance, one barrier, to another – sometimes giving to the wall of resistance a different coloring, a different quality, or some word of nobility. But resistance is bondage, and bondage is pain.

“Does this mean that, outwardly, one should let anybody kick one around as they will, and that, inwardly, one`s anger, etc, should be given free rein?”

It seems that you have not listened to what has been said. When it is a matter of pleasure you don’t mind the kick of it, the feeling of delight; but when that kick becomes painful, then you resist. You want to be free from the pain and yet hold on to the pleasure. The holding on to the pleasure is the resistance.

It is natural to respond; if you do not respond physically to the prick of a pin it means you are numbed. Inwardly, too, if you do not respond, something is wrong. But the way in which you respond and the nature of the response is important, not the response itself. When somebody flatters you, you respond, and you respond when somebody insults you. Both are resistances – one of pleasure and the other of pain. The one you keep and the other you either disregard or wish to retaliate against. But both are resistances. BOTH THE KEEPING AND THE REJECTING ARE FORMS OF RESISTANCE; AND FREEDOM IS NOT RESISTANCE.

“Is it possible for me to respond without the resistance of either pleasure or pain?”

What do you think, sir? What do you feel? Are you putting the question to me or to yourself? If an outsider, an outside agency, answers that question for you, then you rely on it, then that reliance becomes the authority, which is a resistance. Then again you want to be free of that authority! So how can you ask this question of another?

“You might point it out to me, and if I then see it, authority is not involved, is it?”

But we have pointed out to you what actually is. See what actually is, without responding to it with pleasure or with pain. Freedom is seeing. Seeing is freedom. You can see only in freedom.

“This seeing may be an act of freedom, but what effect has it on my bondage which is the what is, which is the thing seen?”

When you say the seeing may be an act of freedom, it is a supposition, so your seeing is also a supposition. Then you don’t actually see what is.

“I don’t know sir. I see my mother-in-law bullying me; does she stop it because I see it?”

See the action of your mother-in-law, and see your responses, without the further responses of pleasure and pain. See it in freedom. Your action may then be to ignore what she says completely, or to walk out. But the walking out or the disregarding her is not a resistance. This choiceless awareness is freedom. The action from that freedom cannot be predicted, systematized, or put into the framework of social morality. This choiceless awareness is nonpolitical, it does not belong to any “ism; it is not the product of thought.

K – The Only Revolution, pp. 55- 58

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2 thoughts on “the ground of sorrow

  1. sometimes we go by instinct when the fogs of life shroud our way.. and other times we think too much and lose focus from that inner clarity that guided us as if by magic… of course, when we reach those calm waters and reflect on the turbulent seas, we realize that we became better mariners, but wow, that journey can be a challenge. sometimes we have earned the right to shut it all down and just bask in stillness, especially after enduring those rough waters… don’t forget there’s an undertow at work as well, and it’s subtle yet steady, and if you kick against it for too long, it will exhaust you. sometimes we justlet the current take us, spit us out, and we recover, bow to the lessons, then move on….

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