A Message From Ms Tutz Honeychurch

This was in my work inbox this morning.

You can’t help but wonder where things like this come from.  What thought process or algorithm produces… this?   It has to be a bot, but the text itself is something to marvel.  I can imagine this on display at a modern art museum, hanging next to a disgusting, sweat-stained bed-pillow with several cigarette burns in it.  Above them both, in big spray-painted letters the artist writes “SoCieTy” in very poor handwriting.

A hipster in very big black glasses walks by with his girlfriend and laments, “Lust, rage, filth, this is neoliberal capitalism.”  She tilts her head, taking in the work, “It has a destabilizing presence.”

Happiness Is Your Nature

I want to introduce all of you to a famous Yogi sage named Ramana Maharshi.

“Happiness is your nature.  It is not wrong to desire it.  What is wrong is seeking it outside when it is inside.”

This quote goes directly against the wisdom of our age.  We’re so often told that to find happiness in life, we must experience as much as we can of the world, ever shooting for the stars, giving it all we’ve got.  The more you can experience, the deeper and richer you’ll be as a person, and the more fulfilled and happy you’ll be.  Or so it goes anyway.  If you believe that, I encourage you to read Maharshi’s books.  I think he’ll have you rethinking your entire perspective on life.  I hope this post will share some of his wisdom on happiness with all of you.

One day while Maharshi was in a cave meditating, a tax collector stopped by wondering if this recluse was truly as wise as people were saying.  The man recorded everything Maharshi told him, and this short session turned into a book entitled Who Am I,  which has subsequently been in print ever since, even a hundred years later.  I want to quote from the section ‘What is happiness?’

24. What is happiness?

“Happiness is the very nature of the Self; happiness and the Self are not different. There is no happiness in any object of the world. We imagine through our ignorance that we derive happiness from objects. When the mind goes out, it experiences misery. In truth, when its desires are fulfilled, it returns to its own place and enjoys the happiness that is the Self. Similarly, in the states of sleep, samadhi and fainting, and when the object desired is obtained or the object disliked is removed, the mind becomes inward-turned, and enjoys pure Self-Happiness. Thus the mind moves without rest alternately going out of the Self and returning to it. Under the tree the shade is pleasant; out in the open the heat is scorching. A person who has been going about in the sun feels cool when he reaches the shade. Someone who keeps on going from the shade into the sun and then back into the shade is a fool. A wise man stays permanently in the shade. Similarly, the mind of the one who knows the truth does not leave Brahman. The mind of the ignorant, on the contrary, revolves in the world, feeling miserable, and for a little time returns to Brahman to experience happiness. In fact, what is called the world is only thought. When the world disappears, i.e., when there is no thought, the mind experiences happiness; and when the world appears, it goes through misery.”

That’s profound.  I can’t believe I failed to see this before.  When you go out, pursue your dreams, and achieve something, that short burst of temporary happiness has NOTHING to do with the achievement itself.  What actually happened is your mind was temporarily satisfied, so it shut-off, and in that mental silence your true nature of happiness and bliss shined through.

But this doesn’t last long.  The deluded mind ramps back up again, dreaming and scheming, and it’s found a new goal to chase, a new circumstance perceived worthy of experience, and you bite down on that hooked bait like a fish in a pond.  Like a fisherman, the mind yanks you right out stillness and you begin suffering again.

The Buddah warned us about this.  Remember his four noble truths?  What was the first?  Suffering exists in this world.  The second?  This suffering is created by craving and desire, or in other words, chasing the impermanent, temporary objects of this world of ever-shifting forms, mistakingly believing that they hold your happiness.  And how does one end this suffering?  The third noble truth, where one must become mentally silent, free of this kind of desire, free of this seeking and chasing.  It’s not that you don’t do things in the world, it’s that your happiness doesn’t depend on the outcome.  Let your light shine, as they say.  Don’t let the false-mind’s confusion cover over your true nature, your eternal bliss which is yours, and always will be yours.

And once we reach this mental silence, what shall we perceive, according to Maharshi?  What is our ultimate nature?

16. What is the nature of the Self?

“What exists in truth is the Self alone. The world, the individual soul and God are appearances in it, like silver in mother-of-pearl; these three appear at the same time and disappear at the same time.

The Self is that where there is absolutely no ‘I’-thought. That is called ‘Silence’. The Self itself is the world; the Self itself is ‘I’; the Self itself is God; all is Siva, the Self.”

Is there any evidence that this is truly what we are?  Does this divine essence, this Holy Spirit, really dwell deep within us, masked over by some illusory mind?  From my own research, especially in near death experiences, millions of people attest to this divine state when they die and are then brought back to life by doctors in the hospital, or whatever it may be.   For example, listen to this man’s account.

He speaks of this same bliss-consciousness, uniting with some deeper essence of himself which is best described as peace, love, and joy.  He became all-knowing and time dissolved, entering a state where all happened at once.  He specifically tells you that all of this beauty and all knowledge, everything, all possibilities, “it became me.”  Sounds exactly like what Maharshi and other spiritual sages speak of.

When one quiets the mind and rids oneself of delusions, this inner reality begins to seep into you once again, and a peace and joy that isn’t dependent on external circumstances will rise within you.  Well, it’s not really rising, it’s always been there.  It’s more so you realizing it’s there and perceiving it once again because your mind is now quiet enough to perceive it.  I believe them, because the more I silence my own mental world, I can feel this inner peace.

If I Had A Time Machine

If you had a time machine, could travel far into the past, and go talk with your younger self, say when you were twenty years old or so, what would you tell him or her?

I’m nearing forty years old, so I’m getting old enough, and possibly wise enough, to have something worthwhile to say.  Thing is, I have my doubts as to whether my younger self would  be interested in hearing a middle-aged man share his insights.  I don’t think I would “get” it yet.  The same is true for just about any twenty year old asking me for advice.

There are probably two things I would tell much younger self.  The first and foremost thing would be that accomplishments, accolades, success, great wealth, even romantic relationships, are not all that important to one’s happiness.  Developing a deep spiritual life is far more important if you really want to be happy.  Find inner peace and contentment.  The second would be that I should start eating right and taking care of my physical fitness as soon and as early as possible.  Developing good eating habits, staying active, hitting the weights, etc, even when I’m young and don’t “need” to, is very important.

I don’t think my younger self would be all that impressed with what I had to say.  My twenty year old self would be thinking, “You’ve lived all these years and that’s all you have to tell me?  I already know all about that!  Can’t you give me investment advice that would make me rich?  What about romantic relationship advice?  What about deep secrets of the universe.  I’m pursuing finding out all I can now.  Isn’t there something more… interesting you could tell me?”  Then I’d reply, “I’ve just shared with you the deepest truths I’ve found.  Business, money, romance, these things are relatively unimportant in the grander scheme of things.  I’m trying to direct you to a place where your happiness and peace comes from within, not from without.  I can’t tell you how much energy I’ve wasted chasing things that even when I finally attained them were ultimately underwhelming in the end.  Most of my life story is accomplishing things and when I finally achieve the end goal, I felt cheated.  I hope to save you a lot of time and energy.  I’m trying to direct you to the only thing that’s real.”

Maybe the bigger problem is that this sort of advice isn’t exciting.   Here I am, stepping out of the time machine, and my younger self is looking up to me in awe, and I tell him, “I have a great message for you, listen closely!”  As he sits there dumbstruck, I proclaim, “I’ve traveled through time itself to tell you the deepest truths I’ve found!  If one can quiet the mind, find peace, and deeply understand the deep spiritual teachings of say Jesus in the Gospel of John, or Buddah, or great Yogi masters like Paramhansa Yogananda, you can have peace right here, right now, that is not dependent on external circumstances.  You don’t need all that you think you need to be happy with your life.  Your mind will be your biggest obstacle.  You must rid yourself of false conceptions of who and what you are, and what you believe you need to be happy.  Find happiness right here, right now, that isn’t dependent on what the world around you is doing, what other people think of you, or what anyone or anything in this world can give you.  It is possible to be happy and content in practically any job, or situation in life if you master and deeply understand these sorts of teachings and principles.  The world doesn’t give you happiness.  Happiness wells up within you, if you open yourself to the Holy Spirit.  Peace dwells deep within you.  You need to connect with that source.  Study these deep spiritual texts, spend far more time on them than business, economics, or even science.”

Thing is, young people want adventure.  They want exciting experiences that titillate the emotions.  However, I’ve found that sort of thing to be a huge waste of energy, possibly even a form of slavery.  The deeper I get into my own spiritual journey, the more simple my life becomes.  I need less and less “experience” to feel happy and content.  I don’t have to be looking into the eyes of a beautiful woman, enamored with me, to feel that emotion of, “There’s no place I’d rather be.”  When you live in communion with the Holy Spirit, you can have that same emotional experience while eating a gas-station hotdog alone, in one of those little uncomfortable booths, watching other people pump gas into their cars.  When the mind is silent, without all the “fake” narration, commenting and comparing everything to all the other experiences you’ve had, you’re just fine, wherever you are.

Then I can see my younger self toward me saying, “I don’t get it.”  And I’d have to say, “I know you don’t.  Right now, at this young age, you already have all you need.  You are so blessed.  You’re earning enough money to have your independence and freedom, but you’re not satisfied.  You think you need more.  More money, more excitement, more of everything.  So you’re going to give up your current job, and you’re going to go off chasing an adventure.  First you’re going to get involved in all these business plans, and work and work and work, twelve hours a day, all because you believe that great thing you’re working for is coming, it’s coming, any day now.  The sad thing is, this universe reflects back to you whatever’s in your heart, and that greed in your heart right now is going to draw some nasty people in your life, so much so that you’ll become very cynical of humans and human nature.  Those people will be reflections of yourself. It’ll be your own doing, and the pain you’re going to experience will be entirely your own fault. ”

“As for ‘success’, you’ll find some degree of success, but you’re going to wear yourself out, and the accomplishments won’t mean anything to you by the time you get there.  You’ll feel you’re surrounded by filth, untrustworthy, disgusting people, who don’t care about you at all, and that pretty much will be true, though they’re not quite as bad as you’ll come to think.  The second those people can screw you over, they will, and you’ll experience that several times.  It’ll be for your own good though.  I say this looking back from it all at a distance.  God will be doing you a big favor.”

“You’re going to spend so much energy thinking about people you don’t need to be thinking about, whether it be some girl you wish you did things differently with, or some person who did you wrong, or daydreaming about things that don’t matter, and it will all be because of an erroneous belief that these people, these things, these outward circumstances hold various aspects of your happiness; they don’t hold anything.  It’s all illusions.  A big dream.  A crazy firework display, bright, colorful and intense, all of which is here today and gone tomorrow.”

“Oh, but you have a big ‘plan’ for it all.  You’re going to try to direct the firework show like you’re the Steven Spielberg of your own life or something.  You’re wasting your time and energy.  This universe couldn’t care less about your plans.  You’ll set off this way, and this world will have you running in circles, this way and that, and before it’s over you’ll end up who knows where.  You’ll worry about things you don’t need to worry about, and that anxiety will zap you of all your joy and peace.  Then you’re going to get fed up with it all, and go chase something else, thinking that’s the answer.  Once again, you’re wasting time and energy.”

“You’ll end up going to college, waste a ton of money there, and work your tail end off studying for exams, memorizing things you’ll quickly forget, and exhaust yourself.  Why?  Just like before, that great thing is coming, it’s coming, any day now!  But is it?  Nope.  You’ll invest great sums of energy, then go to collect your reward and poof, nothing’s there.  I’m telling you that you don’t need to suffer through all that, if you just find the peace and contentment I’m telling you about right now.”

“I’m not telling you to just sit on the couch and do nothing.  I’m telling you that none of it matters, but even when I say that, I don’t think you get what I mean.  You can go out and do things in this world, but even if things don’t go as planned, you can be happy regardless, if you understand the deep spiritual teachings and principles I’m hoping, HOPING, you’ll take time to look into and think about.  Life is far simpler than you currently think it is.  It’s your mind that’s currently draining you of life, making everything complicated, and this mind isn’t even your own.  It too is another illusion.  Illusions aren’t inherently bad though.  It’s all no different than the fictions you experience in say a video game, with fictional characters, their fictional thoughts, and the fictional events that happen to them.  ‘Jason’ is such a character, and you’re far too immersed in him.  In actuality you’re a much greater being that you need to learn about!  This place is a sort of matrix, a grand illusion, and much of it doesn’t seem well thought out in my opinion.  Poorly designed and implemented.  A lot of the people in here are crazy, and those who run this place are even crazier.  Don’t let it control you.  Disconnect from it and stand beyond it.”

By this point, I know my younger self would be totally lost.  I was once having dinner with an old friend of mine, and we got to talking about how when you’ve gone down a road long enough, eventually you’ve traveled so far, there is no easy way to replace “you”.  That journey itself has molded you into something that cannot be summarized, or even taught in lessons.  Someone may tell you these same truths, but to me, they’re living truths that I experience and feel deep within.  I’ve went down these crazy roads, have saw what they have to offer, tasted it and felt it for myself, and I can say, with certainty, “I don’t want this.”  But to someone else, that may be a real temptation for them.  For many of us, those illusions have to be shattered firsthand.  It’s different for everyone, but eventually people grow tired of going back to their own vomit, tired of chasing things that aren’t real, tired of staying in situations that don’t work.

Of course it’s not like all I have to teach my younger self is ways to suffer or avoid this suffering.  I’ve found amazing things in these spiritual teachings, things that transform my entire life, mind, and emotions, and I want to go around and scream it from the rooftops, but like many commentators on this blog have written to me, “Why are you obsessed with this spirituality stuff?”  Then they leave and quit reading this blog.  I find the greatest truths I’ve ever found, that totally transform me in ways I can’t even describe, but when I go to share it, I’m so far down the road that other people have no idea what I’m even excited about.  They’re not interested.

Sometimes I don’t even know how to describe it.  Everywhere I look, people are just caught up in useless things.  Others are just caught up in chasing things, always busy.  Busy, busy, busy.  Just so busy, and not present at all to enjoy what’s there around them.  The true joy is always, ALWAYS, somewhere off, someplace else, or in the future.  The joy will come when they travel the world.  The real experience worth having will happen when they finish their education, or land some new career, or will come from a new relationship, or a big new home, or whatever it may be.  And off they go, chasing some alternate configuration of forms in their perception.  This will save me!

And the thing is, in this crazy matrix we’re in, one must expend huge sums of energy to even chase this or that.  Things have to, to some extent, be earned, but more realistically, there’s no rhyme or reason to who ends up getting what.  There’s certainly little justice or sense to it all.  It may take you years and years of hard work to change your career, or save up for that new home, or save up for those lavish vacations.  In the end, it’ll all be for some fleeting experience, some alternative firework display of color and emotion that you won’t be able to hold onto.  These forms will drift into view as opposed to some other forms that would’ve been there before.

It’s like watching a slideshow, and instead of just enjoying the slides that are going to pass by in your life, you have to jump up out of your seat, start digging in some big box, and dig and dig and dig, finding a new set of slides which match your desires; by jove, you’re going to reload the projector with an experience of your own design!  Take control of your fate! But in this matrix we’re in, many of the slides in the big “free” box are boring, and all the “good” slides are locked away in special drawers, requiring a great deal of toil and sacrifice to earn the right to certain experiences in this illusory realm; if you slave away for the projection company, sometimes, though often not, you’ll earn the right to load a few slides of your own into the projector and have an experience you “want”.  That payment is made in suffering.  Hopefully it was worth the all the work you put in.

Maybe that’s too abstract.  I’ll make it concrete.  You want an amazing body.  Well you can have that, but you’ll need to spend two hours a day, five days a week in the gym, doing repetitive, sometimes even painful, exercises, over and over and over.  Then you’ll need to eat a diet of food that you don’t really want to eat, each and every meal.  Chug down those protein shakes!  Mmm mmm, chalky nastiness!

Then it’s like, crap, look at those guys in the movies.  They’re so muscular and the girls are going crazy over them.  But no matter how hard I train in the gym, I can never look like that.  I’ve been lifting for years, hours everyday, and I still don’t look anything like these guy.  Why is that?  How do they get so big and muscular, over 200 lbs totally ripped?  Well, now we get into steroids!  Are you willing take it to the next level?  You want another 40-50 lbs of muscle in six months?  Well here’s the devil’s offer!  You can sacrifice your health and life expectancy for a temporary experience of that body you’ve always dreamed of!  So, do you take the deal?  Just think of that body put into your imagination from photoshopped super-hunks on magazine covers and highly edited, fake, Hollywood movies!  What if you had that!  Think of the happiness you’d experience!  The glorious attention you’d get!  All kinds of women commenting on your shirtless pics on Instagram and Facebook.  Think how jealous your ex-girlfriend would be, and how much she’d regret dumping you for that other guy!  Yeah babeh, time for some juice!

Even if you make this sacrifice, your health is going to fail you.  And who can forget, you’ll eventually get old.  Getting old!  Hunk today, a wrinkly grandpa tomorrow.  And it all goes by so fast.  So you can suffer and suffer and suffer, lifting those weights, juicing up, all for those handful of moments where you get the attention of the pretty girl, some respect from the meatheads, or whatever it is you’re after.  Then ten years later you’ll start having heart trouble, you’ll be in and out of the hospital, the doctor will tell you to get off the juice, your testosterone levels are shot, can’t even produce it on your own anymore, so you shrivel down to a tiny, skinny nothing.  So much for the muscles.  Medical bills stacking up from the shoulder injuries, the knee surgeries from those heavy squats, the torn pecs from those crazy bench presses.  Oh and those big deadlifts you were pulling?  Yeah, your lower-back is shot.  All kinds of pain everyday, too bad.  But man, for five to ten years, you were really jacked man.  The guys in the gym kinda noticed, and maybe a few girls.  Hope it was worth it.

And the strangest thing?  The peace, joy, and contentment they’re after is hiding right there in the present, right there with them, but their mind is so busy, constantly chattering away, judging everything and everyone, locked in some past misery, plotting how to get revenge on somebody, chasing things, being angry, bitter, fuming over this, thinking about nonsense, daydreaming, and they just can’t experience the things around them, right here, right now.  Almost everyone I meet is busy in this way.  You wake up, and you clearly see all this self-imposed misery everyone is putting on themselves.

It’s frustrating because people are not interested in spiritual truths.  As one graduate student I was with the the other day told me, “That stuff is for the weak.”  Meanwhile, when we went out to lunch together, he spent the entire time talking about how depressed he is, how unmotivated he is to do his research, and how angry he is about his girlfriend who left him two years ago.  He just kept going on and on about his ex-girlfriend.  He was so angry with her.  Was jealous of the guy she’s now with.  Was talking about how they’ll be at some campus event, and how he couldn’t stomach going, seeing them together.  It’s so strange, watching this poor guy’s mind beat him to a pulp, and then watch him call those who have learned how to avoid this “weak”.   These kinds of people act as if they’ve found some deep enlightenment or something, when clearly they haven’t.  But in their minds, somehow it’s a virtue.  Only those as strong and capable as them have the inner fortitude to look at reality as it is, not as you wish it to be!  It’s like, what are you even going on about?

I saw a video of Oprah talking about this.  Eventually she grew tired of salacious interviews, celebrity gossip, and relationship advice, and went further and further down her own spiritual journey.  It totally transformed her own life, and then she wanted to share it with everyone.  So she left her super popular talk-show and goes to start an entire TV network, hoping to focus it all on spirituality and how these great teachings can transform your life.  What happens?  The network bombs.  A total failure.  Nobody’s interested.   Her audience is like, “No Oprah, go back to talking about celebrity gossip.”

You can’t take people there.  I can’t take any of you there.  I can’t take my family there.  I can’t even take my younger self there.  Whatever you choose to do with your life, that’ll take you down some road.  And whatever you learn and gain from that experience, good or bad, you can’t give it to anyone else.  You’ll reap what you sow, and the things you reap, they’re yours.  You can try to talk about these things with others, but they’ll only understand to the degree that they’ve experienced it themselves.  But if they haven’t experienced what you’re talking about, they’ll never get it.

There’s no greater reward than mastering the principles and teachings of the greatest masters, like Jesus.  Not that I’ve ever found.  When I reflect on my life, if I’d only learned all this sooner, I can’t help but think how my life could’ve been different.  It’s what I would love to share with my younger self, and save myself so much headache.  But if I could do that, maybe I’d never have learned these great mysteries?  I don’t know.   I’ve even come to a place where I see that sometimes, not always, but sometimes, the pain and suffering we go through can awaken us to great truths.

Technical Issues

I’d like to apologize for all the technical problems that have been happening with the blog.   The website became infected with a virus and it took me months to figure out how to get rid of it.   Viagra ads were appearing on my front page, some bit-coin farmer was inserting weird code into my site, and other things.  It was a mess. I’m not exactly an expert on web programming, which is part of why it took so long.  I ended up having to remove the entire site, a friend of mine restored all of my posts from a backup, and everything has been reinstalled from scratch.  It was a real pain, but I think things are sorted out now.

“I” Can’t…

Yesterday I commented on how the mind is untrustworthy, often lying to you about who you are.  It likes to barge into your awareness, often while yelling out “I” this, and “I” that, making bold claims about who and what you are.  A common example would be to hear, “I can’t do this…” while attempting to do something that is difficult.

I’d like to challenge all of you to try something.  When you hear that thought inside your mind, immediately pause, then stare back “inwardly” and say, “Who is this ‘I’ that can’t understand?  How do you know whether this ‘I’ can or cannot accomplish this?”  Call it out.  Make it show itself.  Drag it out of the shadows and put the light on it.  Who are you?  Where do you come from?  Why are you saying this?  How do you know this?

In life we have these thoughts in our minds, going all over the place, and half of the time they don’t know what they’re talking about.  This is what I’ve been learning in meditation.  I hear this chatter inside my skull and I observe it in awe.  Every time I hear some sort of “I” statement floating around in my mind, I drag it out into the open, in self-awareness, and I shine a giant spot-light on it, then I grill it like a police interrogator.  Put it up on the witness stand and make it accountable.  Nine times out of ten, this phantom imposter will vanish into dust after the first few questions.

If you go to understand something difficult, say some complicated physics concept, and you hear that thought, “I can’t understand this…”, who is this “I”?  It doesn’t exist.  How do I know this?  I can pretty much guarantee you, within a few weeks, you’ll keep studying it, and keep at it, and eventually something will give way and you’ll get “it”, whatever it was.  I hear this from a student, I know they can get it.  Why?  Because I was able to get it, and there’s nothing inherently special about me.  I just spent some time with it, that’s all.   So I will ask all of you, who was this “I” that couldn’t understand?  Did it exist?  Was it real?  Obviously not.  So what was it?

It’s a belief that comes from who knows where.  Maybe you took some exam way back when and didn’t do so well, and from then on you told yourself you weren’t good at physics.  Maybe it was some comment a teacher, your parents, or someone you respect made to you years ago.  Maybe a friend cracked some joke and it destroyed your confidence in this area.  I have no idea where it came from, but it sunk deep into you, and it’s nothing but poison.  Become self-aware of it, call it out, and then let it go.  Don’t let it keep you under its bondage any longer.