The Seeker of Peace


Working in a World of Illusion
October 20, 2008, 3:33 pm
Filed under: Non-duality, World | Tags: , , , , , ,

One thing all non-dualistic teachings share is that the world, as we perceive it, is illusory and won’t provide happiness. Sri Ramana Maharshi said, “The reality which shines fully, without misery and without a body, not only when the world is known but also when the world is not known, is your real form.” The very first lessons in the workbook of A Course in Miracles are about how we don’t see anything real, so what we see is meaningless. Not only do all the traditions share the message, but most make it one of their central and first topics for students.

I’m finding that this presents a dilemma for me. My intellectual grasp on the idea of non-duality hasn’t translated into a shift in perception yet. As a result, I find my ego complaining about the effort I put into life: “You’re living in an illusory world, yet you’re still working hard, raising kids, and dealing with paperwork! What’s the point?”

The irony is that I know I’ll still be doing those things once my perception changes. After all, one of the most famous Zen sayings is, “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” I’ll still be in the world; I’ll just realize its true nature and thus not let it get to me in the same way.

For now, I’m finding myself less engaged in parts of the world. I still carry out my work, take care of my family, and see my friends. However, I’m feeling much more detached from the vicissitudes of life. My feelings about the dilemma of goals, which I wrote about a few days ago, are another aspect of the same feeling.

I don’t feel as if I’m in any position to decide whether this detachment represents progress or a dangerous ego-led deviation. On the bright side, it does reduce both the mental clutter and time spent on major projects, leaving me in a better position to make progress on fixing my perception.

I wrote yesterday that I felt I should spend more time in spiritual practice. I know that many people have experienced God sending them messages to encourage them on their path. I have to wonder if I got one today. I met a friend for lunch at a Chinese restaurant. My fortune cookie said, “Clear your mental, emotional and psychic space and you’ll see.” I’m not normally one to go for the “fortune cookie from God” theory, but this sure seems like synchronicity.

(My fortune cookie also taught me the Chinese word for “salt,” which is apparently 盐. While the fortune itself really struck me as relevant, I’m guessing that 盐 and the six “lucky numbers” aren’t divine messages. If they are, God will have to provide some clarification!)

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