The thinking mind tends to dominate our lives. Of course the ‘I that wants to understand’ is not somebody else then the ‘I that just is’. But the part of us that want to understand is just a part; it is not the whole picture. The thinking mind can take us through endless loops of similar thought patterns. It can numb us, make us feel bitter or self-righteous to name a few. When we for some reason find (through some sort of experience) or accept (because it makes sense) that the thinking mind is not boss we can start exploring outside of the thinking mind. We can experience first-hand that there are many different mind-states. I might have felt a handful, the Dalai Lama might be aware of dozens or even hundreds states of mind, I assume. As far as I know it, it feels like an endless and limitless path. It feels like a continuous unfolding, which means that what feels true is also travelling. The truth is always under way.
I am on the plane from Bali to Bangkok. In Bangkok I will take a connecting flight to Sydney. In Sydney I will enter a whole new world again. I will be on the other side of the world, further away from home than I have ever been. Or not? No, when I arrive in Sydney The Netherlands will be on the other side of the world. And I have never been so far away from The Netherlands and can’t possibly get any further away than that. But will it mean that I am further away from home than ever? What is home?
I am not saying that I don’t feel like an Amsterdammer anymore. I feel Dutch and I miss my friends. I will come back when the time is right. It is just that I am seeing that feeling at home is not a geographical thing. When I am at home in my body and my heart I am at home anywhere. And when I experience some kind of deficit, as if there is something lacking, I am not really at home (not even in my own bed).
An answer that came up today was that we have multiple realities. We have the dualistic reality of every day life and some of us have tasted from or have an intuition of the non-dual reality that appears as Oneness, silence, bliss, Divine or what ever you want to call it. My simple explanation is that the experiences of the first kind are much, much more common than experiences of the second kind. I have had enough experiences of the second kind to be completely convinced that this dimension is real and I dare to trust it. But I spend so much time in the everyday dimension that it becomes very real to me. It is the battle between the ego-state and Buddha Nature. My ego demands more attention than my Buddha Nature and is – of course – louder. I wish I could access the door to the Divine at will – if only for 10 minutes per day – as this would effortlessly shut up (and reassure) my perpetually threatened and frightened ego for the rest of the day. Actually, I wish this would be available to all of us. How easy would life become.
I have little time to write but I felt quite inspired so I should give it a try. Why do I have little time? I am in Thailand, on an island called Koh Phanghan. I chilled out at a quiet beach the first day, yesterday I arrived at the yoga school (I had my first classes today). I have a hut on the beach, there is white sand and turquoise water. And there are neighbors too. And my neighbor, who is also in the yoga school, persuaded me to with her to a Black Moon Party (in case you are not on the island during full moon). But since we are yogi’s and healthy and stuff, we are going at 05.00 in the morning. She says that all the wasted people will be gone home, it won’t be crowded, just terrific music and the sun rise. In my experience wasted people don’t even go home when you threaten with sticks and the later you go to a party, the more zombies you see but we will see.
Then I realized: it really is more about the journey than the destination. The fun and the excitement were in the finding of the way, driving on a fast scooter on the wrong side of the road (Thai drive left, like the British), feeling the freedom and a bit of adrenaline and experiencing the people. Just like taking the wrong route in the Himalayas was a great experience, even though I never reached the destination I had in mind. I feel the same way about my attempt to meet Khru Phra Ba: the experience had a different outcome then expected but everything until now has been a journey, from the moment I decided to visit him until now, in the bus to Bangkok from where I will fly to Koh Samui (and take a fast catamaran to Koh Pangan).
What I am finding is that leaving my comfort zone and going out, exploring the unknown broadens my horizons. There is always something new to discover. From going rock climbing to trying mysterious street food (I accidently chose something with chicken livers and kidneys and it actually tasted nice) to renting a scooter or visiting the temple of a remarkable monk: it all opens up new possibilities and annihilates preconceived ideas. And it is the losing of the preconceived ideas that bring the freedom.
When I am working and I experience some kind “flow” it almost as if “I” am not the one who is talking. Sometimes “I” am listening to what comes out of my mouth and I think: “hey, this sounds pretty good”. Quite schizophrenic of course but anyway: since a couple of days I have been following up my own advice and guess what? It works!
Today I was in a shopping mall and normally I am not too fond of shopping malls. I feel resistance and the tendency to get the hell out of there. My arguments are that I don’t like the hollowness, the greed, the superficiality, the sameness, the consumerism and the overwhelming amount of choice. It is not a good place for such a spiritual and sensitive being like me, you know. But today I actually tried my own recipe: when I felt the resistance come up I straightened my back, took a couple of gentle breaths and pulled my shoulders a fraction back. And my experience changed!
My naivety makes me laugh; I can feel compassion for my oh so well-meaning deluded self that really believes in miracles. Every time when I feel and witness the power of connection between the one heart and the other I am convinced we have the potential to change the world and I never get tired fantasizing about the possibilities. And it is true: the power of love is limitless. But I forget how much continuous hard work it is even for myself to stay connected to that source and I barely manage. Creating an ongoing practice is hard, creating the space for a group to grow is even harder.
When we are open to it our days are filled with all kinds of little surprises and miracles. Who would have guessed an hour ago that I would sit outside writing my blog (now with two dogs trying to play with me. Ah, the dogs kicked sand all over my precious AirBook. That’s it, Mr Adventurous is going back inside). Where was I? We have a choice. We can either try to control, manipulate, avoid or decrease our experience (as we generally do, just observe your inner commentary on everything if you don’t believe me) or we can embrace it as it is presented to us. We can open up to the moment. It is not a nuisance that the moods of your co-workers can differ every day; it is a miracle. The sun comes out: people start to undress and flirt. It rains: people become moody. Isn’t it fascinating? The world becomes a field of play.
Day three of my solo retreat: 3 hours of meditation, a hike, a swim and healthy food. I just came back from the restaurant. Everybody warns you about things that could involve tap water but by now I have found out that salads, ice coffees and fruit shakes are fine. Yes, sometimes being a warrior means you daringly try the salad in India even though the Lonely Planet tells you not to. The outcome was a relief. I ask the waiter to leave out the French fries and to double the veggies. Now I am happy.
It is interesting to see the influence of sunlight, healthy food, nature and peace and quiet on my system. Obviously, it is very good for me. Also, all these cliché thoughts come up. Like: we don’t need much or all that running around in the city is senseless. I catch myself fantasizing about which paradise island has decent Internet. With the help of Skype and PayPal I can sustain myself and be of service to others simultaneously. Why work from a rainy and chilly place if the reception is good under the coconut palms? I will roam the planet until I find the perfect place for my retreat center, all sustainable and eco-friendly of course.
A Holy Cow ate the book I wrote about yesterday today. I assume the cow attained Enlightenment instantaneously after completely devouring the collected encounters of one of the highest yogi’s with the saints and masters he met during his life. When I came back to my meditation cushion I found only the cover still intact. The other moment was when I opened my eyes because I felt something and there was an Indian guys prostrating in front of me, touching my feet and wanting my blessing. This is described many times in “The Autobiography of a Yogi” as the way one respectfully approaches his guru. Let it be clear: I didn’t see this one coming.
If this were again the Universe teaching me, what would it mean? Why can’t I finish the book I was halfway reading? And why mistook the devote Hindu me for a guru/ teacher/ something else spiritual or holy?