Thursday, April 14, 2011

Falling from Grace, Falling into Grace

"Thinking without awareness is the main dilemna of human existence," Eckhart Tolle observed in his great book, "A New Earth." Similarly, in his newest book, "Falling Into Grace," the neo-Buddhist spiritual teacher, Adyashanti, notes that "one of the greatest reasons that we suffer is because we believe the thoughts in our head."

In short, says Adyashanti, we are taught to believe that the world we create in our head is the real world, a mental error that has prompted ancient and modern teachers alike to warn us that the world we live in is 'maya' - i.e., an illusion, or a dream.

Krishnamurti (1895-1986)
In one of their many dialogues, the late, great spiritual teacher, Jiddu Krishnamurti, and the theoretical physicist, David Bohm, took up the question of just why men and women came to believe in, and then identify with, their thoughts:
"DB:   Yes. It is important to bring out this point - that rationality is limited, and, as you say, the fundamental fact is that more generally (people) cannot be rational. They may succeed in some area.

K:   That's right. That is a fact.

DB:   That is a fact, though we don't say it is inevitable, or that it can't be changed.

K:   No. It is a fact.

DB:   It is a fact that it has been, it has happened, it is happening.

K:   Yes. I, as a common human being, have been irrational. And my life has been totally contradictory, and so on, which is irrational. Now can I as a human being change that?

DB:   Let's see how we could proceed from the scientific approach. This would raise the question, why is everybody irrational?

K:   Because we have been conditioned that way. Our education, our religion, our everything.

DB:   But that won't get us anywhere, because it leads to more questions: how did we get conditioned and so on.

K:   We can go into all that.
David Bohm (1917-1992)
DB:   But I meant that line is not going to answer.

K:   Quite. Why are we conditioned that way?

DB:   For example, we were saying the other day that perhaps man took a wrong turning, established the wrong conditioning.

K:   The wrong conditioning from the beginning. Or, seeking security - security for myself, for my family, for my group, for my tribe - has brought about this division.

DB:   Even then you have to ask why man sought this security in the wrong way. You see, if there had been any intelligence, it would have been clear that this thing has no meaning.

K:   Of course, you are going back to taking the wrong turn. How will you show we have taken a wrong turning?
. . .

DB:   Also it would have to be made clear why, if thought is so important, it causes all the difficulties. There are the two main questions.

K:   Yes. I think the wrong turn was taken when thought became all important. . . . That is fairly simple. So thought has been made king, supreme. And that may be the wrong turn of human beings.

DB:   You see, I think that thought became the equivalent of truth. People took thought to give truth, to give what is always true. There is the notion that we have knowledge - which may hold in certain cases to be true. There is the notion that we have knowledge - but men generalize, because knowledge is always generalizing. When they go to the notion that it would always be so, this crystallized the thought of what is true. This gave thought supreme importance.
"Why is it that we do this?," asks Adyashanti. "Why do we believe the thoughts in our head?  We don’t believe the thoughts in someone else’s head when they speak them to us. When we read a book—which is nothing but the recording of somebody else’s thoughts—we can take them or leave them. But why is it that we are so prone to grasp at the thoughts that occur within our own mind—to hold onto them and become identified with them? We don’t seem to be able to put them down even when they cause great pain and suffering."
"The capacity to think and utilize language has a shadow side," notes Adyashanti, "that, if left unattended and used in an unwise way, can cause us to suffer and experience unnecessary conflict with one other. Because after all, that’s what thought does: It separates. It classifies. It names. It divides. It explains."

"Again, he notes, "thought and language have a very useful aspect and they are therefore very necessary things to develop. Evolution has worked very hard to make sure that we have the capacity to think coherently and rationally, or, in other words, to think in ways that will ensure our survival. But when we look back upon the world, we see that the very thing that has evolved to help us survive has also become a form of imprisonment for us. we’ve become trapped in a world of dreams, a world in which we live primarily in our minds."
Thus, through identification with our very random thinking we fall out of grace. However, through mindfulness and the sort of radical self-enquiry advocated by Krishnamurti and the long line of spiritual teachers before him, like Sri Nisargadatta and Ramana Maharshi, we have the opportunity, as Adyashanti makes so clear, to fall once more back into grace.

And, at a time when we face global warming, rampant pollution of the environment, widespread deforestation, mass extinctions, soaring population growth, energy shortages and an ever-growing threat of mass hunger, there is an urgent imperative for us to seek the answers within that will lead to answers in the world.

But, to paraphrase the great 12th-century Sufi poet, Rumi: "We may need more grace than we thought."
 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

 In the attached video, Adyashanti explores mindfulness, compulsive thinking and our relationship to thought.

No comments:

Post a Comment