inner peace

Unraveling The Human Condition

  Who knows why the human condition is the way it is? It seems that no matter how many people contemplate, pontificate, philosophize, and analyze, it is still what it is. And much of the time what it is translates to challenging. In addition to the adversity we all face as humans experiencing life on planet Earth, we also have a shared experience of feeling alone or separate from one another on our paths to peace, and freedom from our suffering.

Many of the great spiritual practices all nod to this shared experience, and in many ways it is in dissolving this feeling of separateness that becomes the central focus of these practices. For in the spiritual realm there is ultimately no separation, and it is the individual journey to realizing this truth that is the aim of the spiritual path. In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali the teaching that speaks to this aspect of our human condition, yoga sutra 1:4 “At other times (The Self) appears to assume the forms of the mental modifications” clarifies that it is our mental mind stuff, which formulates our perception of the feeling of separateness. This sutra simply states that ones perception of separation from the greater unifying consciousness (The Self) becomes that which one identifies themselves with. It is in learning to recognize that in our identifications with the experiences of our lives, or in the “I am” statements we make, that we create the impression of being alone. Therefor, in practicing self-awareness, or mindfulness, we can become attentive to the mind chatter that creates these experiences of separation and see them for what they are, self-imposed beliefs that are formed as thoughts. However, learning to identify these thoughts is not an easy task. This is why "the quieting of the mental modifications" has to be practiced, over and over. It is in our practice that we become more self-aware and more capable of dissolving the impressions of separation before they even arise.

It is the hope of a spiritual practitioner, much like a philosopher, and even a life scientist to garner more meaning in this often-confusing landscape of human experience. Who’s to say if this is the way to unravel the human condition and truly know peace? It is definitely one way, and of course there are as many ways as there are humans having experiences.

To knowing peace and joy, with love, always, in all ways, for giving,

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Genevieve

Questions Worth Answering

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I once read that the greatest teachers are not those who give the most profound answers, but rather those who ask the most compelling questions. Over the years, since reading this I have found in my own experience the statement to be absolutely true. Not to say that great insight cannot come from someone elses answer to a difficult question taken from a position you had not been able to garner before. But, when we find our own way to the answers, there is a deeper value gained not only in the answer, but in the journey we had to take to get there. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are threads of teachings dating back centuries. The teachings in themselves are not only answers, but also questions. Sutra 1:3 Tada drastuh svarupe avasthanam is a teaching linked to the question “What is my true nature?” Sri Swami Satchidananda has translated it as “Then the seer (Self) abides in his own nature.” Which is to say, that when the mind has been cleared of the clutter that creates an idea of separation, lack, individuation, an so on, the quality of the mind that wants to witness has the opportunity to witness itself in it’s most pure state. This pure state of the mind is fundamentally never absent.

Another way of perceiving this is to contemplate a reflection on water. If the water is turbulent the reflection is muddled. If the water is still the reflection is clear. One slight interference on the surface of the water in any location will have a ripple effect upon the entirety of the body of water eventually. Such is the nature of our thoughts. One turbulent or disturbing thought will have a ripple effect on our overall state of peace.

There is the potential that when we answer the question “What is my true nature?” we come to know that quality of Self that is always at peace, always perfect, always still. It is here that we look into the reflection and see that there is no separation, no lack, no individuation, and so on. All great schools of philosophy and spirituality, no matter their fundamental aims and pursuits, offer questions worth answering. How we choose to approach the answers is where we gain in their rewards. If we can permit ourselves the freedom to approach them always with a beginner’s mind, no matter how many times we have contemplated them in the past, we might find ourselves pleasantly surprised when we arrive at an answer. And so, these great questions, sometimes as simple as “What am I doing here?” maintain a quality that is compelling to every mind even after centuries of being asked.

With Love, Always, In All Ways, For Giving, In Joy,

Genevieve