The Universe is out to get me!

Thur 26th June 2014
Living to Be Happy 

I began my spiritual journey long before this physical journey travelling around Mexico and Colombia that I'm now on.

In fact I have been interested in all things 'spiritual’ for as long as I can remember, but I guess the actual spiritual journey began in 2006 when I came across the then free e-book here by Michael Anthony.

It was from this point on that I started to really investigate and thus understand the true reality of this puzzle called life.

This is Step 1 on the path to complete happiness - the process of wisdom through understanding.

My first Vipassana meditation course in England at the end of 2010 consolidated everything that I had read and learnt, and I felt a deep feeling of complete understanding as I put the final peace of the puzzle into place. I experienced my first awakening! - and then I put it to one side and did no more about it!

It is a rather big coincidence then that having recently completed my second Vipassana mediation course this May (here), I once again stopped in my tracks on the path of Self-discovery, and I haven’t been doing anything remotely spiritual since arriving on the island of San Andres on 21st June 5 full days ago.

As you know, I don’t believe in coincidences, so there has to be a reason why I have done this twice. What follows is some new insight on the path to being a buddha that I have come to realise through my own experience during this last 6 months, and it might just save your life!

It was not until almost 4 years after my first Vipassana meditation course that I finally set off on Step 2 of this spiritual journey - to know or experience my inner Self by following the 3 common teachings of spirituality: to be ever increasingly compassionate to ourselves, to others, and to live fully in the present moment now.

The story of my blog so far clearly demonstrates how profoundly positive this process of discovering our inner Self actually is, and although everybody’s personal journey will be different based on who and where they are as a person, I am positive that the journey will be just as profound for all who make the plunge and begin to take that second step.

I believe that it is a ‘non-coincidence’ that my second Vipassana course came along as I reached the end of the second step; just as the first Vipassana course came along as I reached the end of the first. Likewise, it also seems non-coincidence that my reaction was to step away from the process of Self-discovery immediately after the first Vipassana course, just as I did this time after the second.

Let me reassure you that I have in no way planned it this way. I wrote in my previous post on the Cipriano Gang (here) that my current journey of Self-discovery was coming to its end with my reintroduction into the social world and feeling comfortable being back in the centre of the social group. I thought then that I was coming to some sort of end to my present spiritual journey, but I realise now that that I was wrong.

As I have been updating my website to tie in with my current progress on the spiritual path, I see now that my current journey of Self-discovery is not coming to an end at all because once we choose to take the journey then it is constantly ongoing; it advances, but it never ends.

I would be really interested to find out if it is a common reaction to then throw up a barrier between ourselves and enlightenment the moment that we experience the awakening that comes at the end of each step, or whether it is just me.

I expect that it is a universal part of the process though, and that the reason we do so is twofold:

Firstly, it comes down to that old irrational enemy 'fear’, and I see now that there are two types of fear. There is the fear that we feel when we find ourselves in a real life-threatening situation. Let’s call that survival fear. That fear could be the difference between life and death and we should pay attention to such fear and take positive action to get ourselves out of danger. But then there is 'irrational fear’; this fear arises when we are not in danger and is less to do with survival and more to do with what we have learnt to be afraid of. Lets call this conditioned fear.

Secondly, there is what Michael Anthony calls our 'tape’. It is said that approximately six months after conception, our brain starts recording information about the world around us while we are still in the womb. From that moment on our brain then continues recording and never stops.

All our thoughts and actions, the thoughts and actions of others, and everything we are taught about right and wrong is recorded, so that we can make good decisions throughout our entire life. It is a conceptual representation of our entire history up until the present moment, and its purpose is to keep us safe. We would not know who we are, what is good for us, or our present morals on right from wrong without an internal record of everything that we have learnt so far. Our tape is our friend.

The problem is that although our tape is our friend, the information it learns from six months of age onwards is not necessarily friendly. I mention on my website the problems with society (see Step 1), and how we are taught to fear (not love) our neighbours, stay away from (not embrace) strangers, and to close and lock our doors (not open our hearts) to anything that is unknown to us because everything out there is a potential threat to our safety.

We learn to live in fear, and yet our common-sense tells us that this just does not add up and cannot be right some how!

Michael Anthony says “It’s not your tape’s fault that you and your social conditioning have allowed it to accumulate negative thoughts and actions that are holding you back and affecting your happiness.”

Conditioned fear and our tape are therefore not really the reasons that we put up barriers to positive behavioural change; we are the reason, our tape is the information we store, and conditioned fear is the result.

In order to make it through any step on the path to enlightenment, we have to ignore all the tape’s negative conditioning and take that step into the unknown anyway. Once the tape has learnt that everything that you just did was good for you, it gets added to its databank we call ‘comfort zone’.

But then as we travel to, through, and beyond each step (in my case, step 2 which was to just give the teachings of spirituality a temporary bash to see if they work), an even greater commitment to life-style change takes us yet further into the unknown; and as we take the next step (in my case, to now make compassionate living my new permanent way of life), we travel yet further away from the life-long conditioning our tape has recorded as 'safe'.

Our tape knows this, and this is why conditioned fear kicks in to push us far away from the path to enlightenment, and it does this each time we reach the end of a step and face advancement onto the next one.

I call this rejection of what we know is good for us a ‘karma crash’. It is that moment when we stop giving up smoking, or stop going to the gym, or stop our healthy diet, or stop any compassionate new behaviour, and we suddenly step out of our zen (that ‘zone’ when everything is going so well for us). We soon notice that we are stepping back onto a less compassionate path.

We know deep inside that we are not doing the right thing, and we feel bad inside because of it. The good news is that although each step asks a greater commitment to behaviour change from us than the last, the feeling that we feel as we 'fall’ at the end of each step does not get any stronger; probably because we have become internally stronger along the way.

The bad news is that, to compensate, the whole universe therefore gives us a much stronger kick up the bum to remind us to get back on the path.

Since arriving in San Andres, I have had an ear infection in both ears (one then the other), and I think I now have a small outbreak of hives on my hand and arm, as well as two little lumps on my lips - possibly also hives? I have also had my towel disappear, my earphones disappear, and the new pair of earphones I bought to replace them disappear in a matter of just days. They all disappeared from in my hostel, too. I haven’t had such a ridiculous amount of bad luck since I left on this journey!

During the last 6 months whenever I have had some doubts as to whether following the teachings of spirituality is a good idea, ever greater non-coincidences have come along to remind me that I am doing the right thing.

Likewise, as I continue on the path and advanced now to Step 3 - wisdom through making spirituality your ongoing way of life - the non-coincidences that come along to remind me to get back on the path are getting bigger too!

On my website, I call the 8 areas that we need to work on in order to live the wisdom of spirituality ‘the 8 branches’ of one holistic happiness tree. The first one is ‘thoughts’ and I have already completed the information about that one for my site.

I think it is cool how the website is shaping along with my own experiences! And as I grab hold of the other branches more firmly, I will add more information about each one.

For now, I have enough to do as I jump back on the spiritual journey and commit to making the teachings of spirituality a way of life. As well as continuing to increase my understanding of the reality of things through the wisdom of others (that’s step 1), and listening to my Higher Self whilst living in the moment now (that’s step 2), I will now also make Vipassana mediation a daily practice - at the same time every morning and evening - and for one hour each time!

That my friends is beginning on Step 3 of the path. Tomorrow morning I head back off the grid to a more remote island called Providencia where I will do some wild camping and go diving with sharks, so it probably is a very good idea that I am choosing to get back on the path again now.

Because if I don't, and the universe really is coming after me, it is likely that one of those killer snakes I saw in San Cipriano is gonna creep into my tent or one of those sharks I'm gonna go diving with is gonna eat me up otherwise, and ain't nobody got time for that!


Be inspired ♥

 

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