The purpose of the spiritual life PART TWO

Please read PART ONE first.

Having established that reality consists entirely of the moment-to-moment experiences of conscious beings, the filters on those experiences merit a good long look. "Filters" is just a metaphor, "modulators" would be closer to the case. The modulators of individual experience are vikalpas, "stories", thought constructs, interpretations of reality. They are what separate you from the whole, because they are unique to each person. They are what define individuality!  No wonder humans fight and argue all the damn time because 99.99999% of them are experiencing a different reality from the others, having different modulators; and each person's experience seems totally true to them, so they expend great effort in trying to get the other person to "see it from their point of view" — which means tweaking the other's vikalpas until there is something that looks vaguely like a shared experience. Why do we do this? Cuz it's fuckin' lonely when no one else shares your experience. So, like I said, you can work really hard and get yourself a super functional set of vikalpas, and get others in line with your set (like most "spiritual" teachers are trying to do), and you can be decently happy and not entirely lonely and if you're lucky you'll barely glimpse the terrifying truth that it's all completely made up, that you're living a highly functional lie. Seriously, and I am not kidding here, if you can make that work for you, DO. I envy you.

The struggle to wake up completely, and be truly nirvikalpano interpretation of reality needed at any time, including the interpretation "me" or "mine"is at times a bitter, difficult, painful struggle, punctuated by hard-won realizations that become irrelevant mere days after you've had them . . . at least, it's like that all the way up until it's not. The "reward" of the process is that you eventually enter into a state of not struggling ever again (since we only struggle against reality on the basis of vikalpas)and, since you are outside the realm of vikalpas, you get to share the whole world with all beings (their vikalpas don't inhibit your connection to their essence, since those constructs are just part of the Whole that you're now seeing clearly). But this "reward", while an enormous relief, while ushering in a life of flow and ease, is not unending peace and love and bliss and so on. It's not happiness. In fact, it's simpler than the simplest thing you can possibly imagine, totally undramatic (except when it occasionally is) and totally "meaningless". Without all your thought constructs, nothing means anything, see? Nothing signifies. That's what these enlightened guys are talking about when they say "everything just is." Everything means what it is. And there is nothing to do but be with the is-ness of everything. From the mind's perspective, this is a complete and total BORE, which is why it's a good thing the mind has been left in the dust by this point (i.e., is no longer the center of your identity).

So, one more thing. The mind, when it tries to imagine "no interpretation of reality needed at any time, including the interpretation 'me'", imagines chaos. "How would I decide how to do anything, or whether to do anything?" it thinks. But when you look at it clearly, this is just silly. The objection arises because the mind believes that there is no innate pattern to reality but what it imposes (and is simultaneously terrified by that notion). But wake up and take a look around — everything is happening according to pattern. Rain falls. Trees grow. Animals raise their young. Do any of them have an interpretation that allows them to do so? Do squirrels have to go to "squirrel school" to learn how to store up acorns for the winter? Of course not, and you too are an animal! Or did you forget that, with your super-clever mind and all? You're an animal that gets itself into trouble by thinking so well, it can make a whole world for itself in its head and then live in it and project it onto everything it sees! What an amazing thing. But without all your vikalpas, you see clearly that there is a nonconceptual patterned flow to reality, and it is *completely* available to you when the veil of the vikalpas has fallen away. 

"But," the objection comes, "we live in modern society, not the stone age, so unlike other animals, we need vikalpas to navigate this crazy world we've made, this world of externalized vikalpas!"  Well, yes and no. In the modern world, you need vikalpas as tools, but you don't need to live in them, and you don't need to see the world through their lens. And waking up out of the dream-state of living IN the vikalpas doesn't mean they vanish (well, some do and some don't). You still have full access to the useful ones as a carpenter does to the tools at his belt. Imagine that: as soon as the thought is not needed anymore, you dismiss it and it vanishes. Gone. Including even the experience of "me" as separate being, which, as it turns out, has never been anything but a deep-seated and persistent thought (it is usually the last vikalpa to be seen through).

Reality is what doesn't go away once you stop believing in it.  So obviously, the only way to be sure what is real is to disbelieve *everything* the mind tells you about the nature of reality, and then be awake and aware and notice what doesn't go away. The reason this is not so easy, and becomes such a bloody struggle at some point, is because of the subconscious, which has to go on believing things without letting the conscious mind know it's doing so. So things get a bit messy before they get all Zen-like clean and clear.  But if it's too late, if you're already in this process, trust me, there is no way out but through. Believe me, I've been practicing for 25 years, and studying this stuff full-time for 20 years, with clarity dawning in the last five of those. When it comes to this waking up thing, you can't get off the ride until it's done, so just as with any other life experience and any challenging emotion, There's no way out but through.

Good luck, god bless, may all see they're free.

सर्वेषां मुक्तिर्भवतु ||  हरिः तत् सत्