8 Paths to Developing Conciousness by Alejandro Jodorowsky

Alejandro Jodorowsky’s 8 Paths to Developing Consciousness, trans. by Alfredo A. Lopez

  1. Right Vision: Things are what they are, not what you believe they are. As you observe, let your vision unfold.
  2. Right Speech: Ideas have no owner. Nothing belongs to any “I.” Everything is from cosmic consciousness. Do not speak to exist
  3. Right Discipline: Do not live in the past, do not deceive yourself with a future. Work in the present to be what you are being now
  4. Right Intention: Awaken your sublime feelings, intellectual liberty, emotional compassion, sexual felicity, and bodily peace
  5. Right Life Means: Work without exploiting and enslaving. In whom or what you reap, will sow
  6. Right Effort: Nothing for you, that is not also for others. Rest not until all living beings reach Consciousness
  7. Right Attention: In multiplicity, find unity. Accept the constant change of the outside world, and of your own mind
  8. Right Meditation: What you are being, has no owner. Lose what you are not, what you do not own, what you do not desire, what you do not need

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The 82 Commandments of Alejandro Jodorowsky

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The 82 Commandments of Alejandro Jodorowsky, trans. by Alfredo A. Lopez

1. Fix your attention on yourself, be aware in each instant of what you think, feel, desire, and do
2. Always finish what you start
3. Do what you are doing, as best as possible
4. Do not attach yourself to anything that will destroy you in the long run
5. Develop your generosity, without witnesses
6. Treat each person as if they were a close relative
7. Bring order to what you have disordered
8. Learn to receive, and thank each blessing
9. Stop defining yourself
10. Do not lie, nor steal. If you do, you lie and steal from yourself
11. Help others without making them dependent
12. Do not wish to be imitated
13. Make plans for work, and follow through
14. Do not take up too much space
15. Do not make unnecessary noises or gestures
16. If you don’t already have it, imitate faith
17. Do not be impressed with strong personalities
18. Do not rule over anyone or anything
19. Share equally
20. Do not seduce
21. Eat and sleep what is strictly necessary
22. Do not speak about your personal problems
23. Do not judge nor criticize when you do not know the majority of the facts
24. Do not create useless friendships
25. Do not follow trends
26. Do not sell yourself
27. Honor the contracts you have signed
28. Be punctual
29. Do not be envious of the goods or successes of others
30. Speak only what is necessary
31. Think not of the benefits that will come from your works
32. Never threaten
33. Keep your promises
34. In any discussion, put yourself in the other’s place
35. Admit there is always someone better
36. Do not eliminate, but transform
37. Conquer your fears, each one of them is a camouflaged desire
38. Help others help themselves
39. Defeat your aversions and get closer to people you wish to reject
40. Do not react to whatever good or bad that people speak of you
41. Transform your pride into dignity
42. Transform your anger into creativity
43. Transform your greed into respect for beauty
44. Transform your envy into admiration for the values of others
45. Transform your hate into charity (love)
46. Neither praise nor insult yourself
47. Treat what does not belong to you, as if it belonged to you
48. Do not complain
49. Unfold your imagination
50. Do not give orders for the pleasure of being obeyed
51. Pay for the services you are given
52. Do not make propaganda of your acts or ideas
53. Do not attempt to make others feel pity, admiration, sympathy, or suggestion towards you
54. Do not attempt to distinguish yourself through your appearance
55. Never contradict, only be silent
56. Do not indebt yourself, attain and pay up
57. If you offend someone, ask forgiveness. If you offend publicly, ask forgiveness in public
58. If you discover you have said wrongly, do not insist through pride on that error, and immediately stop what you propose
59. Do not defend your old ideas just because it was you who announced them
60. Do not hold on to useless objects
61. Do not adorn yourself with foreign ideas
62. Do not take pictures with famous people
63. Be your own judge
64. Never define yourself by what you possess
65. Never speak about yourself without admitting the possibility of changing
66. Accept that nothing is yours
67. When someone asks for your opinion on someone or something, only give their qualities
68. When you are ill, instead of condemning the ill, consider it your teacher
69. Never look with slyness, look clearly
70. Never forget the dead, but grant them a limited space that prevents them from invading your life
71. In the place where you live, always reserve a space for the sacred
72. When you provide a service, do not exalt your efforts
73. If you decide to work for others, do it with pleasure
74. If you can’t decide between doing and not doing, take a risk and do
75. Do not try to be everything for your partner, let them seek in others what you cannot give them
76. When someone has an audience, do not try to contradict them and rob their audience
77. Live with money that you earned
78. Do not boast of romantic affairs
79. Do not boast of your weaknesses
80. Never visit someone just to use up time
81. Attain so you can share
82. If you are meditating and a devil appears, make him meditate


Our Mutual Deception

Howlings, wailings, lamentations caress my desire for you.

Another touch of bliss, hope enough for the day. But still a prayer. Ever a prayer.

Memory is dumb with cold, but yet I still can remember; I can remember to be aware of our mutual deception.

And you will dance your dance; and I, weave my net; and together set motion to the world.

A Wolf in Ceremony

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Among them, perhaps of them, but still a distance.

You cannot wrap the wind; waters move.

Perhaps some day a god will tremble and weep, and we too shall know wisdom like that.

Diffused with calm, a tempest at the door knocks with the stealth of a wolf in ceremony, and I too am ever so confused.

Glimpses of the Other World: A Desert Trip With Ayahuasca

It was September, 2010, and I had recently returned to Los Angeles after a successful trip through the University of Chicago, where I did graduate studies in Psychology. I spent the first couple of weeks reconnecting with friends, and dishing out resumes to land a job.

One day, unexpectedly, my phone rings. It was my friend Vartan. He and I had been practicing Zen meditation for several years. I hadn’t heard from him in about two years and I was excited to hear from him. I answer the phone, and the first thing he says to me is, “Alfredo, let’s go take Ayahuasca in the desert with a shaman that I met.”

I thought to myself, “what a strange invitation to receive,” and quickly said yes. He gave me a few instructions. We were to take it a week from Saturday, which gave me roughly 10 days. Three days before the ceremony, I had to abstain from any meat, and was encouraged to drink plenty of water. I was also told to bring a change of white-colored clothes for the ceremony.

Ayahuasca is a powerful psychedelic, a South American brew prepared from the B. caapi vine and other DMT containing plants. Scientists are still uncertain how the natives discovered the precise combination of plants to produce the psychedelic brew. It is typically used in healing and religious ceremonies by the natives.

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We drove out to the desert in Southern California (I won’t mention the precise location, to preserve anonymity). It was a blistering hot day, our lungs inhaling the dry and warm air, and we stopped at a small sandwich shop to have breakfast (this would be our only meal of the day). We drove out in a group of seven, anxiety coupled with anticipation within us. Not long after, we reached our destination. Many of my imaginings were immediately dispelled, and the stark reality of our adventure was beginning to settle in. There was a large dome-shaped tent, with room for about twenty-five people, where we could leave our belongings.

With my scientific eye, I immediately began to observe and record any and everything I could, including any unrelated impressions. There was a vague impression of being at some form of hippy compound, and many of the people I met seemed decidedly cheery. I attempted to remain objective about the whole thing and made note of everything without too much reaction. I walked with Vartan as we moved into a small apartment (seemingly in the middle of nowhere), where he would introduce me to the Shaman. “Alfredo,” he said, “this is Dr. John.”

Before me stood a lanky, middle-aged man with thick glasses, very bad teeth, of undetermined nationality. He was accompanied by a middle-aged, and colorfully dressed woman, with the kind of make-up you would see on a teenage raver, a pony tail hanging down from either side of her head. My first impression was that if this man was a Shaman, then I was Napoleon. Once again, much of the romanticism associated with this type of experience was immediately smothered by reality. Still, I kept an open mind (I was here, after all, and it was too late to turn back). I spent the day in quiet isolation, taking in impressions and recording as much as I could about the whole experience. The sun beamed down on us with fury, and hunger crept into us with deep claws as we awaited something that remained profoundly unknown to us.

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Evening had arrived. We had all changed into our white attire and sat around in a large circle waiting for the ceremony to begin. I had a plain white T-shirt and white sweat pants that I had cut up into shorts. The sun was already setting, and the mood had correspondingly changed. The Shaman soon stood before us and gave us instructions and suggestions for our forthcoming travels through the other world. “This may seem obvious,” he said, “but it’s very important that you remember to breathe.” I would later discover how sage this advice was. He also asked that we meditate for about fifteen minutes on what we wanted from our experience with “The Medicine.” “You must be sincere in what you ask, and careful,” he mentioned, “because She will show you what you ask for.” Shreds of paper were passed around for us to write our intentions and requests from “The Medicine.”

There was an opening ceremony of music and shamanic whistling. In total, there were about forty of us that day. I had heard from someone present that it was a particularly large crowd on this occasion. Ceremonies with Dr. John usually had about a dozen people, not counting his helpers and “guardians.” Guardians were people who themselves had taken Ayahuasca in the past, but who remained sober on this occasion to help guide the rest of us through our travels. They were seasoned spiritual voyagers looking out for the rest of us.

One by one we were called up to take the Medicine. I was one of the last ones to take it. I remember walking up to the Shaman. I sat in front of him, and he asked me, “how do you feel?” “I feel good,” I responded. He then looked me in the eyes, and presumably checked my pulse from my wrist. He then offered me a very small cup of the Medicine.

I took it back with me and sat back down in the circle. I held it in my hands, smiled inside myself, and swallowed the Ayahuasca. I remember it tasting like a combination of prune juice and dirt, with dirt being the stronger flavor. Now began the wait. What would happen? What would I experience? What the hell am I doing here with these crazy people taking some unknown drug? All these thoughts, and more, traveled through my mind.

After about ten minutes, I began to see people visibly affected by the Medicine. Some began rocking back and forth anxiously as they sat cross-legged on the ground. Others began making noises, and as time went on, people were visibly wailing with discomfort. The discomfort did not seem physical, but emotional. Lamentations were heard piercing the night, and people seemed to be undergoing powerful inner turmoil and grinding. I sat there, wondering how soon it would affect me. A half hour passed, and then an hour, and I felt nothing. Nevertheless, I could see everyone else visibly affected by the Medicine. Some were laughing with great joy, seemingly deranged. Others wailed and lamented in suffering. Still others were vomiting constantly (a side effect that was to be expected). The vomiting was considered a form of cleansing, a catharsis.

About an hour and a half passed, and I still felt nothing. I was a bit disappointed, but very interested to see people’s reactions to the Ayahuasca. It was very much like a scene from Dante’s Inferno. During all of this, the shaman was performing all manner of whistling and songs, imitating the sounds of birds, and dancing as though in a trance. It was quite the scene. Soon after this, the Shaman asked that if anyone wanted to come up for seconds, now was the time. I nearly sprang from the ground, hoping that he would give me a bigger dosage this time.

I went up, and once again he asked me how I felt. “I feel normal, I don’t feel anything at all,” I responded. He seemed taken aback by my comment and looked at me with curiosity. He took my pulse with my wrist once more, and said, “I’m going to give you a special dose.” When I heard this I thought he was going to give me half a gallon of this stuff, but instead he gave me even less than the first time. I doubt this will do anything, I thought to myself. I returned to the place I was sitting, drank the second dose, and waited. Not five minutes later…I was in another world.

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The effects were very sudden, and came on with extreme subtlety. It’s a lot like how a dream works, where one moment you are in one place doing one thing, and then suddenly you are in a completely different place doing something else entirely. In dreams we don’t notice those transitions as they happen, only after the fact. It was a lot like this. One moment I was sitting down, in one particular state of mind, waiting for some form of effect, and the next I was in another state of mind altogether, except that it was unlike anything I had ever experienced or sensed before. Words do not help, but I can only say it had the sensation of being another world. Call it what you wish.

Visual hallucinations set in, especially as I looked at the stars in the sky. I had no idea how long I had been there, who I was, or what I was doing. In order for me to remember all of that information, I had to make a great effort. I had to try really hard to remember who I was, and why I was there. And when I was finally successful in doing that, that information seemed to belong to someone else. “I am Alfredo, and I….came here…to take Ayahuasca?” That information seemed to belong to someone else who was NOT me, and yet it was me.

This is difficult to explain. During this experience I had the sensation of dancing between two worlds. There was the ordinary world, where I am Alfredo, with such and such a history, such and such memories, such and such friends and family, such and such ways of thinking, feeling, and sensing. But in this state of mind, all of that seemed very inferior, and meaningless. It seemed to belong to someone else. In my present state of mind I could sense another world that was far superior, but required new abilities to grasp and understand. And so, it was confusing. It was like trying to swallow the ocean in one gulp, or trying to download everything on the internet in 5 seconds. It was simply overwhelming.

When you are experiencing visuals, they are so entrancing, so captivating, that you literally forget to breathe. So the shaman’s advice to remember to breathe was very important. I would spend an unknown amount of time completely entranced by the visuals, and then suddenly come to, and realize I had been holding my breath. It was like coming up for water, and I would take huge deep breaths, before immediately being seduced by the visuals again.

I remember looking up at the stars and feeling complete confidence and certainty that it was I who was controlling them. This was later proved when I pointed my finger in the air, and swirled it around. When I did this, the stars followed my finger’s motions. I then said aloud, “When will the sun come up?” The shaman was nearby and said to me, “When do you want it to come up? Now or later?” I sensed what he was saying, that it was I who was fashioning my experience, and that if I so desired, I could make the sun come up now. I smiled, and said, “later.”

All of this was very pleasant and profound. But moments later, approximately forty-five minutes after my second dose, I became extremely alarmed. After floundering with the visuals, I came to again. This time I had a greater sensation of my body, and realized that I was still sitting on the ground. I had to move. I got up, completely terrified, and started walking around. Some of the guardians noticed this, and kept a close eye on me. I looked at them with great suspicion. I started walking around the desert, much like Homer Simpson during his chili hallucination, except that I kept stumbling. I must have looked much like Frankenstein when he walks, with no coordination. It was like I had to learn to walk once again, like I had forgotten.

I stumbled through the desert, and I began to see some of the guardians following me. I was already terrified enough, and I know not why, but I was convinced that I was going to die. I was so scared, I thought the guardians were trying to hurt me, that I was in trouble, that I had gotten mixed up with the wrong people, and that what we really drank was poison. Death was certain, I felt it in my being.

I was so terrified that I almost stole my friend’s car, hoping to make a getaway. I was trying to break into his car when one of the guardian’s approached me and asked me if I was ok. I pretended to be ok, even though I was visibly not. The next thing I did was go into the dome-shaped tent to grab my phone. I decided to call my family, if for no other reason, than to say goodbye because I was soon going to die. I spoke to my parents, who were drastically concerned (how else would someone react when you receive a call and that person says they are going to die?). I hung up on them abruptly.

All was nearly lost when I was found by the woman with the raver makeup and pony tails. Through her great efforts, she managed to calm me down, and massaged my shoulders. After a few minutes, I felt more or less composed again, as composed as someone on Ayahuasca can be, anyway. I realized then, I had peaked. I was now beginning to come down.

Coming down takes about another 3-4 hours, but those hours were perhaps the most unbelievably peaceful I have ever experienced. I felt a new courage, a new love for life, and a redoubled energy to transform both myself and those around me. I was, in the very essence of the world, inspired. I felt that I had survived something profound and life-changing, and was returning to my previous life with a new insight, a new wisdom.

The next day we gathered and talked about our experience. A few days later, I still felt inspired. But after about a week, all semblance of this experience seemed to have disappeared. I had reverted back to my old self, and all I was left with, was the memory of once having seen and felt, in all its profundity, another world.

How to Change Bad Habits

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A paper published by Duke University in 2006 found that more than 40 percent of the actions we perform aren’t actual decisions, but habits. 40%! Meanwhile, researchers at MIT have done us all a huge favor in identifying a simple neurological loop that makes up a habit. It has three parts and it looks like this:

It starts with the CUE, or some kind of trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode. The trigger can be an object, a song, a person, etc. The ROUTINE is the actual habit, whether it’s smoking, working out, worrying too much, cleaning impulsively, or saving money. There must be a REWARD for the habit, otherwise, why would we perform the habit over and over?

“To understand your own habits,” writes Charles Duhigg in The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business, “you need to identify the components of your loops. Once you have diagnosed the habit loop of a particular behavior, you can look for ways to supplant old vices with new routines.” This is basic substitution. You are not, in fact, eliminating a habit. Instead, you are substituting a new habit, preferably a more positive one, in its place. But in order to do this successfully you have to really look into the habit, and examine the roots of that behavior in yourself.

Some years ago I had unexpectedly put on 12 lbs, seemingly overnight. The problem was that I was eating more than usual and eating at irregular times without noticing. I began to examine why I was doing this, keeping tabs on myself with a notebook. After some time, I realized that I was eating more, simply out of boredom. It wasn’t that I was hungry, or needed more fuel, I was simply bored! In other words, boredom was my CUE. The ROUTINE was eating, and my REWARD was a temporary elimination of my boredom.

So what did I do? I wrote down in my notebook that the next time I felt bored I would read a book, even if only 5 minutes. Simple, right? Just read. The CUE stayed the same: boredom. And the REWARD remained the same as well: an alleviation of boredom. But the ROUTINE changed dramatically! Not only did I lose the 12 lbs, but I began reading tons of books and learned new skills!

Duhigg identifies a simple framework for making new habits, which I highly recommend.

  1. Identify the Routine
  2. Experiment With Rewards
  3. Isolate the Cue
  4. Have a Plan

Want to change that bad habit? Or add a new one? Experiment. Devise a plan, stick with it, and you’ll see the benefits in no time. And don’t forget the importance of small wins. Most of us won’t lose weight overnight, or quit smoking in two days, or stop yelling at our kids in half a week. But if we can do it even for a day, three days, a week, it’s important to congratulate ourselves with some kind of treat. This gives your brain a small reward, which will motivate you to keep coming back to the new habit. “For every time I go jogging, I will eat a small piece of candy.” This may not seem like much, but soon your brain will keep sending you signals to go jogging because it wants that candy. Try it!

The “New Unconscious” and Memory

What if I told you that most of what we remember (do we even remember that much?) is inaccurate? That we reconstruct our memories; that we reconstruct even what we see with our eyes?

That’s precisely what Leonard Mlodinow describes in his “Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior.” He writes that “no matter what you are doing with your conscious mind, it is your unconscious that dominates your mental activity–and therefore uses up most of the energy consumed by the brain. Regardless of whether your conscious mind is idle or engaged, your unconscious mind is hard at work doing the mental equivalent of push-ups, squats, and wind sprints.”

In describing the physics of what we see, Mlodinow says that the eye senses only a small portion of the environment. Let’s say you’re looking at a picture you took.

Mlodinow and physics tell us that the raw eye can only see a small portion of that picture of the lake, mountains, clouds, and trees from the image. The rest we are literally blind to. And yet, we see the full picture because your mind FILLS IN the rest of the image with a mental concept, an idea, of what more or less matches what is being seen. This is why eyewitness testimony is pretty unreliable. Everyone sees different things. He writes that “because of all that processing, when we say, ‘I see a chair,’ what we really mean is that our brain has created a mental model of a chair.” The world we know then, is only a mental model that our brains create.

When it comes to memory it is even more difficult because memory is not like your computer’s storage space where everything can be summoned at will. Memory changes over time. That’s right. It changes over…what was I saying? This is probably useful when it comes to remembering that time you took that one not-so-hot person home with you. But if you’re at work trying to remember something from last week, this is very inconvenient.

Memory mistakes have a common origin: “they are all artifacts of the techniques our minds employ to fill in the inevitable gaps. Those techniques include relying on our expectations and, more generally, on our belief systems and our prior knowledge. As a result, when our expectations, beliefs, and prior knowledge are at odds with the actual events, our brains can be fooled.”

This is very important. Your memory, even what you see, is constructed based on your expectations, and your beliefs. Is this even science? Indeed it is.

Remember this video?

I already forgot what I was writing about.

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Money

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Money

Do you remember the Great Depression? Probably not, but you at least know what I’m talking about. One day people went to work, and everything was business as usual. The next day, suddenly, there was no more work because apparently there was no more money. Let me explain how that thought is actually insane.

What happened during the Great Depression? Or even now during our Great Recession? Did our resources cease to exist? Did the cows, fish, and plants of the land disappear? Did the sun go out? DId workers become lazier, dumber, or just lose interest? No, of course not. We have more or less the same amount of resources as before the Great Recession, and workers still have the energy and desire to go to work. So what does it mean that there is no more money?

This is the problem with confusing money (symbol) with wealth (physical reality). We all do this. You go to the store and load your cart with goodies, and then you run up to the checker and he says to you, “that’ll be 40 dollars please.” And then everyone gets depressed. “Damn, I just lost 40 dollars,” you think. But all you did was part with the paper! Your real wealth is in the cart, but nobody thinks of this. We only think about the paper we lost. This is insane folks.

What happened during the Great Depression and the Great Recession is a slump in money. But we tend to be so naive that we do not realize that money is just a measurement of wealth, in the same way that inches are a measurement of length. It would be like working a construction job, going to work, and the foreman telling you, “Sorry, you’re out of a job Peter. We ran out of inches.” Because of this, we get into unbelievable trouble. In order to have the possibility of a better life, a change has to occur inside. One way to start might be to not mistake symbols for reality. But let’s not forget, every stick has two ends.

The Nature of Consciousness Part 4: Language and Illusion

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Language affects our consciousness. And that rabbit hole can quickly become a problem because your reality will begin to be affected by the language you use. Language based on sentences composed of subject and predicate contains the hidden belief system that events or actions are caused by nouns or things. This is the beginning of your “I,” otherwise known as your ego. For example: Johnny walked to school.

The assumption here is that Johnny, an ego, a person, is causing an event (the walking). But who or what is Johnny? Is he a body? If so, what part of the body? A hand? Arms and legs? Organs? But then you realize that you cannot describe Johnny only as a body, because a body must have an environment. But the environment is also filled with innumerable things.

What I want you to consider is that in the real world, there are no ‘things’ at all! Alfred North Whitehead called this the principle of misplaced concreteness. “There is an error,” he writes, “but it is merely the accidental error of mistaking the abstract for the concrete.” This confuses people because most of us think the world is some kind of space inhabited by ‘things,’ when often those ‘things’ are merely abstractions in the mind.  A ‘thing’ is only a system of measurement, like pounds, miles per hour, clicks, etc. But in nature, there are no ‘things.’ We break down the unknown world into a system of measurements to try to make sense of it. This has many uses. We can catch a fish, for example, if we assemble a net. So and so many knots this way, and so and so many knots that way, and we have a net. It can be measure and weighed. But this is also the birth of anxiety, because you will always question whether you calculated properly, or enough. But in any decision, the variables are infinite, and so you can never truly know if you’ve calculated enough.

Anxiety is born from your ego. Your ego is basically a troubleshooting mechanism, in cooperation with your senses, that detects possible threats in nature. So no wonder everyone is riddled with anxiety! But because there are no ‘things’ in nature (that is to say, separate events), this also means there is no ‘You’ or ‘I.’ It is an image that you created, aided by your education, environment, family, religion, and experience, which your whole life told you who you were. It exists only in our mind, and we fell for it.

In connection with this, there is a story about a man who came to a Zen Master that illustrates this point precisely. He says to the Zen master, “I want to pacify my mind.” The Master then replies, “Show me your mind,” to which the student replies, “Well when I look for my mind it is not there.” “There!” said the Master, “your mind is pacified.”

You are playing a game. And the game is in your mind. And that game tells you, that ‘you’ exist as a separate ‘thing.’ And because you believe that ‘you’ are separate from everything else, you develop alienation and anxiety, never sensing your relationship to your world. Our language is partly responsible for this, but we must not get trapped by words, or you will go further down a rabbit hole that has no end.

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The Nature of Consciousness Part 3: Language and Reality

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The Nature of Consciousness 3: Language and Reality

Do you ever feel like there is a gap, or a disconnect, between what goes on in your mind and what happens out in the real world? Do you see yourself and the world one way, but then realize others see you and the world completely different? Of course you do. There is a game being played here, and guess what, you are playing it. You play it every time you substitute a symbol for a reality.

What does it mean to substitute a symbol for a reality? Reality apparently is not as exciting as symbols. Take an example: you’re at a party and everyone is having a good time. And yet it is somehow spoiled unless someone takes 300 pictures at the party (a video would be even better). But that’s not enough unless the pictures are posted on Facebook for others to see. And yet that too is not as exciting as people’s comments on the pictures. See where I’m going with this? In our minds, the symbol has greater importance than the reality. In this case, the posts, pictures, and comments mean more to us than actually being present at the party.

We mistake symbols for our reality, so it is no wonder everyone is completely confused. Why? Because everyone sees symbols differently. What we often do not see is that this exact thing happens with the language that we speak. In this case, we substitute words and images for our reality. Can you get wet in the word ‘water?’ Of course not. Can you buy your new iPhone 5 with the word ‘money?’ That would be great, but it’s not going to happen. Can you have sex with a fake woman? Ok don’t answer that one.

We often use a word or an idea to substitute for real understanding, and this is far more common than you think. Take a word like ‘nationalism.’ This word means many things to many people, but it is only a word; a sound. And while you might think that it’s harmless that everyone should see it in a different way, keep in mind people have died for such things as ‘nationalism.’ Worth it?

Take any word you’d like, and take 100 people, and you will have 100 understandings for that word. But the attempt to explain a reality with words is actually non-sense! We use words to describe patterns in nature (mysteries), but there are no ‘things’ in nature. We do not understand a thing just by labeling it with a word, that is only a placeholder for understanding. For example, do you know who you are, really, just by saying your name? Do you know what a mountain really is, its inner and outer natures, just by saying the word ‘mountain?’ Of course not, and yet so much of our behavior is taken for granted in this regard.

We cannot say what reality is, because it isn’t words. The pictures are not the party, you can’t live it through images and comments. You must be there, fully, and breathe in your own mystery, even if no one takes a picture of it. The ‘real world’ people always seem to summon when they have something heavy to say, is not what goes on in your mind, but something different entirely. You have to look again, in a different way. A new way.