|2010-12-16, by John Ringland|
Hello again everyone :)
I hope you have all been well!
I have been away for a while, maintaining abstinence
from all in-depth discussions in order to still the mind and focus
it. I'm not about to dive back into the fray of online discussions
but I have re-opened my facebook profile for now and will generally
hover on the periphery of cyberspace for a while. For those of you
who are interested, I'll share a little of what has transpired for me
over the past couple of months.
I've journeyed far and wide in a metaphorical sense, stilling the
mind to explore deeply into certain issues, as well as going beyond
the realm of ideas and emotions (the symbolic content of awareness)
to penetrate deep within consciousness itself (the stream of
awareness). Delving down through the layers, from the conscious mind,
down through the unconscious and into the psychosomatic interface
between body and mind. From this vantage point some very interesting
work has been done and will continue. However this is getting ahead
of myself, I'll back track and tell a little story, which also sheds
light on information wars, propaganda, oppression, authoritarianism,
effective resistance and other issues relevant to our times.
At first I cut-off all online communications and cutback offline
interactions to the absolute minimum. In this space of peace and
clarity I initially employed my usual method of inner exploration;
it's an active meditation mainly involving a spontaneous
synchronistic resonance between intuition and intellect. I'm not
exactly sure how it happens or if anyone else does it, but it has
served me well for over a decade and has been one of the key driving
forces behind my work.
In the midst of this I was suddenly inspired to do a vipassanā
meditation course. I didn't even know what vipassanā was about, all
I knew was the name - as often happens the idea suddenly hit me and
threw me into action. Upon looking on the net I found that a course
was starting very soon so I signed up, booked the flights and before
long found myself at a vipassanā retreat centre, still knowing
nothing about vipassanā.
For ten days there was no speaking, no eye contact, no body
language, no reading or writing, no communication whatsoever (except
with the teacher or management but only if absolutely necessary).
There was complete inward focus and a total of 10 hours sitting in
meditation each day. The facilities and environment were excellent
(although the evening discourses left much to be desired – Goenka
knows about vipassanā but he tries to talk about the broader field
of spiritual endeavour, of which he knows little, but I won't go
into that here). It was entirely by
donation too, which I respect and gave generously!
The term vipassanā means insight or "clear seeing" or
"awareness of reality as it is". As a meditation practice
it is like no other meditation style that I have practised before.
Although it is very much like a healing practice that I spontaneously
developed back in 2003 when I was in much pain and had no money for
therapy. Using that practice I have healed myself of RSI and chronic
back pains and I have been using it ever since on a regular basis.
This prior experience gave me a bit of a head start and I suspect it
is the reason why I have been able to face issues such as naïve
realism so effortlessly when so many other minds choke on it.
Vipassanā is quite similar to my healing practice but it is much
more systematic and has a different focus and purpose.
Virtually all other meditative practices fall into the category
that the Buddhists call śamatha. I'll let wikipedia explain:
"Samatha is a focusing, pacifying
and calming meditation, common to many traditions in the world,
notably yoga. It is used as a preparation for vipassanā, pacifying
the mind and strengthening the concentration in order to allow the
work of insight. In Buddhist practice it is said that, while samatha
can calm the mind, only insight can reveal how the mind was disturbed
to start with, which leads to prajñā (wisdom) and jñāna
(knowledge) and thus understanding, preventing it from being
disturbed again." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vipassanā)
This is very true! Most meditations help to stabilise awareness
and focus it, but vipassanā goes much further; it metaphorically
"ploughs the inner field", churning up impurities as it
digs deeper and deeper into the unconscious, bringing the unconscious
mind into the focus of the conscious mind and unifying them. However if one
focuses on the dredged up material and re-enacts it, one only
re-energises it and strengthens the unconscious habit patterns. Hence
total equanimity and detachment is essential for vipassanā and for
Systematically it delves towards the deepest roots of delusion and
eliminates them, purifying the mind like nothing else that I have
come across. Years old traumas and issues, many of which I had
totally forgotten about, would just float to the surface of
awareness, then without acting them out or rehashing them, they would
just dissolve and pass away, leaving me lighter and freer.
"This non-sectarian technique
aims for the total eradication of mental impurities and the resultant
highest happiness of full liberation. Healing, not merely the curing
of diseases, but the essential healing of human suffering, is its
Vipassana is a way of
self-transformation through self-observation. It focuses on the deep
interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced
directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that
form the life of the body, and that continuously interconnect and
condition the life of the mind. It is this observation-based,
self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that
dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love
and compassion." (http://www.dhamma.org/en/vipassana.shtml)
Entering back into the world after the retreat felt like "jacking
back into the matrix". I felt like I had been on another plane
of existence, outside “the world”. Upon returning home the I
Ching urged me to "cross the river to the magical landscape of
the spring festival", i.e. to undergo the paradigm shift,
destroy the root of all delusions (naïve realism) and come to 'see'
reality in its true mystic wonder.
After decades of being guided by spirit, integrating intuition and
intellect, realising the nature of reality and of the self, realising
the goal and the path to realisation, slowly and falteringly
awakening from the dream of “normal life”, finally I had a
vehicle to carry me across “the river” – the greatest of all
paradigm shifts. That journey has now become my primary focus! There
is nothing more important in life than to overcome delusion and
connect with reality, anything else is just playing with the shadows
cast by one's ignorance, craving and aversion. Chasing these shadows
only creates suffering, regardless of one's intentions, which are
just more shadows in the mind.
I restructured my life to closely resemble the retreat conditions,
waking early, meditating at least 4-6 hours a day, eating simple
vegetarian meals early in the day and no food for the latter part,
minimal social contact, limited reading and writing, etc. I also
augmented this with about 5-10 kms of walking meditation each day,
where I would inwardly observe the subtle bodily sensations and
outwardly observe the objects of the senses (i.e. objects, people,
places, events, etc), knowing them all to be sunyata (features of the
world illusion as it plays out within the mind). For example, when I see
something the visual object is not directly grasped, there are billions
of subtle sensations, which could be described as photons striking
retinal cells, nerves firing, neural networks processing, subconscious
mind interpreting, memory associations activating, conscious mind apprehending
and so on, which produce subtle signs throughout the body. Only once the visual object has been manufactured within
the mind can it be experienced as a object that is believed to exist in
some external world (which is also entirely manufactured by the mind).
Awareness itself is the universal reality whilst the contents of awareness
are ephemeral forms, constantly changing and dependent upon ones state of mind.
Everything looked ready for “making the crossing”, however
things were not to be so simple. The I Ching warned me that there
were powerful obstructions, most notably my entanglements with an ex
partner who was still a close friend. She had been becoming more and
more aggressive over time and I had been withdrawing further and
further from her, but our final showdown was yet to come.
I will very briefly narrate some of this personal story because it is a
microcosm of the global information war that is being waged for
control of our minds and can shed a little light on that important
issue, which I will discuss afterwards. Bare with me, it is a good
metaphor for many social dysfunctions that have plagued the world
throughout history and are becoming critical at the present time.
I had been aware for some time of how dysfunctional the
relationship had been, but from the clarified perspective that I was
beginning to attain I could see it so much clearer. She would subtly
try to disempower me by accentuating what she perceived to be my
weaknesses, and this she would do in the name of 'love', a very
twisted kind of love. She was totally unconscious of this, she simply
craved to possess and control me. By trying to weaken me and then
offering her love and care she unconsciously hoped to manipulate me
into being the kind of partner that she wanted. Much of this was
driven by her fear of being alone in the future, without someone to
care for her. Over time she grew to resent the fact that I remained
free and she tried to make me feel guilty about that. She didn't
understand how loyal I could be whilst remaining free.
Furthermore, for some time I had been trying
to explain to her that the John that she experienced was an image in
her mind, fabricated from many past experiences, expectations of the
future, egoic agendas and so on. This image was drifting further and
further from the reality of who I was and thus she was losing sight
of me and drifting into a delusional relationship with her own warped
image of me. However she insisted that she knew me better than I knew
myself, essentially declaring that her image was the real me and I
was the illusion. Hence another form of attack that she would
unconsciously use was to try to force me and others to adopt her
image of me. This strategy called a le différend is a common
method of oppression.
All of this was unconscious and based on ignorance, she was not
deliberately malicious and she genuinely believed herself to be
loving and kind towards me. However her love had been corrupted by
her ego's agendas.
In the “clear light of day” I could see her as a puppet
dancing on the strings of her unconscious habits, and I could see
myself as a puppet dancing on my own strings, which had become
hopelessly entangled with hers.
In the end there was no way to get through to her, all
communication was obstructed. Anything that I said got distorted as
she assimilated it into her delusional understanding of the situation
(I'm sure that she would say the same about me). I eventually
realised the futility of trying to resolve things and reluctantly
accepted the advice of the I Ching, which was telling me that
communication was blocked and deceptive. There was no plan that I
could formulate that would benefit the situation. All I could do was
leave things to the past, move on and focus on clarifying my own
mind. There is important work ahead.
Those who focus on emotions and neglect the mind too often
fail to realise when their good intentions have be subverted and
co-opted by egoic agendas. Love isn't about telling people how much
you love them, as part of a manipulative propaganda stream aimed to
increase one's power over them. It is about being loving and doing
the right thing by people, even at great personal cost. True love
empowers and frees! That is how I loved her. Although when I refused
to dominate her she tried to dominate me. When I tolerated this for
some time she mistook it as weakness and became more brazen and
arrogant. She couldn't understand that we could both be free and that
the flow of events is meaningful as it is and doesn't need to be
Now that that's over, my attention is no longer distracted away
from the meditations, although feelings of sadness occasionally arise
and pass away, dredged up as I “plough the inner field”. I did
love her once, and still have great compassion for her. She can be a
beacon of love and wisdom at times, it is sad to see this corrupted
by her unconscious craving for control.
Nothing is by chance, there is a pattern to all things. These
events have triggered many inner shifts, which have cascaded into
subtle realisations, which are converging with other realisations.
Furthermore, the WikiLeaks events have been a timely reminded that we
are in the midst of a global information war, a ruthless battle for
dominance of our minds, lives and worlds.
The personal battle just described is a microcosm of the global
battle. The elite's and authorities are not comic book forces of
evil, they are just unconsciously craving to possess and control
society – it is a twisted kind of love. They use the same kind of
propaganda of love and care that my ex-friend was using on me –
they claim to be trying to protect society from itself. They are
driven by the same distrust of the natural situation and the need to
control things. They impose their own warped image of society onto
society, and try to disempower us so that they can be our protector
and thereby dominate the situation. When the people tolerate growing
abuses this is misinterpreted as weakness. When the people stand up
and say 'enough' this is met with derision and suppression. When the
people finally revolt this is met with shock and unbridled hostility.
At no point does the ego / regime see through its delusions and see
the other / society as they really are, a free and dignified entity
standing up for its rights.
The twisted “love propaganda”, although it is ultimately based
on fear, is very persuasive to most, who misunderstand it as love.
However to the few who are aware of these tactics it is a
manipulative grab for power. Of course the majority of those within
the power structures don't realise this and are shocked when people
revolt against them – only the inner circle of the regime knows the
true deceptive manipulations that are at play – the rest simply
believe the regime's propaganda. Likewise with my ex-friend, the
majority of her mind was genuinely shocked and confused when I
accused her of attacking me and I pushed her away – her hurt was
genuine. Only the inner core of her ego knows the true deceptive
manipulations that were at play - the rest of her mind simply
believed the ego's propaganda.
An unbalanced ego is a fascist regime within the mind, that
manipulates and distorts the mind and subjugates the organism,
deceiving it so that it enacts the ego's manipulative agendas, which
aim to subjugate and control others. From this unconscious egoic
habit all the authoritarian and totalitarian regimes of the world
have arisen. The root of evil exists within each of us to some degree
and it grows into a tangled thorny hedge that chokes whole
civilisations. To strike out at particular issues in the world is to
simply prune the hedge. To strike at the root of evil one must first
dig deep within one's own mind!
In situations of power struggle and competing propaganda streams
there is no way for one side to talk sense into the other. Each has
their own fixed view of things and everything that is said by one is
distorted as it is interpreted by the other, so each simply
experiences only their own distorted image of the other. Compare the
authoritarian and alternative propaganda streams, neither is ever
going to convince the other! Communication becomes so twisted and
obstructed that truth becomes a lie as it passes from one to the
other, even without any attempt at deception, of which there are
usually many. Reasoned debate becomes impossible hence things so
often devolve into violence. Thus information war is too often just a
lead up to forceful oppression and violent conflict.
In such cases, rather than persist in futile arguments or escalate
into violence, one of the most subversive things that one can do is
to withdraw from direct conflict in order to purify one's mind, and
to entice others to do the same. A mind free of delusion cannot be
enslaved and does not seek to enslave others! From a clarified
perspective, beyond all propaganda streams, a new level of awareness
emerges, which supersedes the previous ways of thinking and feeling.
A deep, clear and unshakable knowing arises (jñāna), which is not
tied to any particular perspective, but is the natural 'shape' of the
mind once it is stripped of delusion.
I now spend each day meditating, walking and contemplating. A flow
of new inspiration has begun to gently well up from the intuition, I
will say more on this at a later date; it is growing and forming into
something, I'm not exactly sure what. It encompasses everything that
has flowed from the intuition over the past decade but it is
different, deeper, integrated, whole, organic, more imaginative and
less intellectual, more persuasive and less technical. This will be a
long and steady process, at least as far as I can tell from this
current vantage point.
There is still a lot of 'ploughing' to be done. Layer after layer
of delusion is falling away, leaving me lighter, freer and clearer.
The roots of delusion are gradually being uncovered and eventually,
God willing, I will dig them out and be free at last, whatever that
will mean I will find out when it happens. Only then will I truly be
able to act to benefit others.
That's the basic story of my last couple of months. Everything has
changed. I hope you have had an equally fruitful time as well.
All the best for now, I will say more at some point in the future,
I'm not sure when that will be. My facebook
profile is back online so comments can be exchanged, but I will
not be engaging in any real discussions for some time.
May you all be well, may we all attain peace and liberation. May
we cut the strings of unconscious habits and no longer be helpless
puppets, but free and aware agents of the divine!
Some related writings from my website, blog and Quora:
Purifying ones mind:
Understanding oppression and effective resistance:
Miscellaneous related articles: