Chapter 6 - The Cause Behind Every Cause
Learning to see, in every moment, the wondrous signs which point toward the One Cause which is behind every cause.
Viewing Our Life on Earth
In order to better understand this life on Earth, one must adopt a suitable point of view. Viewpoint is the key.
All tragedy of life, all misery and inharmony are caused by one thing and that is lack of understanding. ... The one who does not see from the point of view from which he ought to see becomes disappointed because he cannot understand.
We are in this world to be instruments of Love, but we have gone astray, and have come to believe that our excessive self-centered concern about "I", "me" and "mine" is the proper way to live. We simply need to see life differently in order to regain our rightful peace and happiness.
Similarly, on the movie screen we may see scenes of beauty and we may see scenes of suffering, but they are not as real or as important as they may seem. The scenes on the movie screen are just flickering light. Why do some people get scared or angry or happy in the movie? Simply because of their point of view. They forget that it is only a movie which they came to enjoy.
And so it is with this life. When we try to make sense of this world from a self-centered perspective, thinking about what "I" would prefer, or expecting what "I" think is right, then this world often seems confusing or even cruel. But when one adopts a different point of view, then the entire picture changes to a sublime vision of learning about the wonders of Love, Harmony and Beauty.
Our own anguish during our lifetime is caused by our own lack of understanding. As the great Persian spiritual master Sa'adi wrote:
"Every leaf is a sacred scripture to those who have learned to see."
That is, the answers to our questions are right before our eyes, if only we will learn to be still enough, calm enough, loving enough, to receive the answers.
What one sees in this world always depends on one's viewpoint. The view from the impenetrable sweltering depth of a tropical jungle is much different than the view from the pure, clear air of the mountain-top. Similarly, in order to see life differently, one must change to a different viewpoint.
The root of all suffering and misunderstanding is the excessive attachment to this "I". Due to our obsessive identification with "I", the truth is clouded, or veiled, and that covering causes us to misinterpret what is happening.
Our misunderstanding of this fleeting quality called life is often a cause for great anguish, confusion and suffering. Life does not die, it only moves on to another form. What looks like death is simply an on-going process of change, continually transforming from one form to another. Such is the mystery and the nature of life. Everything on this Earth is constantly in a state of change, being transformed from one thing into something else, much the same as a caterpillar is transformed into a butterfly. Yet life goes on. Eventually every form disappears, and some other form emerges. That's just the way this planet works. We may not always like it, but there's no use struggling against it.
The only way to truly understand something is to directly experience it for yourself. So, please ponder the following tale of a journey into another realm, the realm of the soul, and perhaps you may begin to remember something that you've forgotten. This little story is about a journey of the heart, a conversation between two souls, one of whom is on the way to Earth, and the other is on the way back into The Unknowable:
Are you coming back from a life on Earth?
Yes! I just left there.
I've heard others talking about life on Earth, but all of their stories have been entirely different. Can you tell me about that place?
Oh yes! Everyone has a different story about Earth, that is the beauty and wonder of life on Earth. It is a world of light and shadows, a place of contrasts, where each thing is known in comparison to its absence or lack. So, there is light and there is lack of light, there is happiness and there is lack of happiness, there is love and there is lack of love, there are endless emotions and senses, such a variety of fragrances and tastes, so much to see and to touch and to feel. Oh what a magnificent place it is.
What are these difficulties and death that everyone speaks of?
Well, on Earth each thing comes into being, then it exists for a while, and finally in some way or other its existence ends. It's like a circle, or a spiral... we're sent out as emissaries of the Oneness, we enter into life, we live a while, and then we move out of life and return to The Oneness. Really, life never dies, it just changes its appearance. Life on Earth is a never ending parade of forms, coming into being, existing for a while, and then amazingly changing into something else... yet Life never dies, it just changes from one form to another form.
But some people have said that they died a terrible death! Why would they do that?
It looks dreadful, but it's really not all that bad. It's like a grand play. Everyone has a part to play, and even though we know that everyone will die, we never know just exactly how it will happen. The entire planet is an ever-changing construction zone, covered with volcanoes and earthquakes and floods and all sorts of ways that people can get killed. It is, all in all, a very dangerous place, and although the dying sometimes looks quite dreadful, and everyone gets quite caught up in the drama, I really must tell you that oddly enough, death is not really a problem for those of us who die, it is only the ones who live that suffer.
What do you mean?
Well, in my own recent death, I was smashed under falling rocks. I was a monk, living in the high mountains. I was really quite surprised when my death happened. An entire hillside came down right on top of me and I was utterly smashed... or rather I should say that my body was utterly smashed. My body was in pain for a few moments, but then as I began the return to the Oneness, I realized that it was a truly wonderful adventure on Earth, and I would love to be able to go there again.
It sounds like a rather strange adventure, but you seem so full of light and happiness!
Yes it really is delightful. You'll come out of your life with whatever you have put into it. So, if you put in love and kindness and beauty, then you'll come out with love and kindness and beauty. Those who put in something less than that... well, they too will come out with whatever they put in. The more you give, the more you get! It is really wonderful!
But how could you enjoy a place where you got crushed under a pile of rocks?? Are you insane?
Clearly you haven't been there yet! Even a few moments of life on Earth are worth all of the annoyance and pain. Oh just to feel love.. to give love and to receive love, even for just a moment... oh that is so amazing... it is beyond words! The sights and sounds and feelings and fragrances of life are so amazing that it is worth any pain or catastrophe to go there!
As you can tell, I've not been harmed at all by the whole experience, even after being smashed to death by a whole mountainside... and in fact, rather than being harmed, the whole experience on Earth was a glorious blessing. If you get caught up in the drama and start to suffer, then just recall our conversation and recall how happy and whole I am after my adventure on Earth... it is so wonderful!! Even just a few moments of love, kindness and beauty on Earth are so exquisite that they are worth any price.
Truly speaking, you are a unique Divine creation, made from the very soil of this Earth in order to serve a Divine purpose. You have been sent on a Divine mission, a Divine journey, a journey of the Heart. You will live some number of days, you will have some number of worldly experiences, opportunities and obstacles. And then, your body will gradually be returned to the soil from which it was borrowed, and your soul will soar back into the vastness of the unknowable, carrying with it a message from this life. And what is that message? It is the story of the loving-kindness, generosity and compassion which you experienced, it is the story of your heart!
The Foundation of Spiritual Progress
To begin to make progress on the spiritual path, there is no specific sacred name nor any specific cosmology or mythology which is crucial, but rather what is truly crucial is one's trust in, and dedicated involvement with, a moral code of high ideals such as loving-kindness, compassion and generosity, ideals which are deeply recognized as being greater and more important than one's own self. It is this change of viewpoint and act of ego-submission to a greater good which is the very foundation of spiritual progress.
That is not to say that one should not believe in, and have loving devotion to, a Supreme Deity. But rather, this means that the most pressing need of those who are beginning a journey on this spiritual path is to directly experience the pure calm depths of one's own heart and thereby discover one's own capacity to bring beautiful traits such as loving-kindness, compassion and generosity into every moment of life. Without loving-kindness, compassion and generosity in one's life, and without a sense of full submission to something greater than one's own self, one has still not yet progressed beyond mere animal consciousness.
It is not enough to chant a sacred name, or recite prayers, or perform sacred rituals if one then turns around and becomes involved in unwholesome acts or unwholesome thoughts such as anger, hatred or unkindness. Millions and millions of people say prayers and recite sacred verses every day, yet all too many of them still go out and selfishly cause harm to other people. That's not the way. They've missed the point. If one's life is not filled with loving-kindness, compassion and generosity in every moment, consistently working for a greater good, one is merely an animal, and is not yet truly human.
Whenever one's life is not filled with loving-kindness, compassion and generosity, that unfortunate condition indicates that something is obscuring or blocking the flow of Divine Presence.... and that something is the ego. Whenever something obscures the sunlight we see darkness. And similarly, whenever something obscures or blocks the flow of a divine attribute such as loving-kindness, then one sees another kind of darkness, which might for example be recognized as anger. The darkness is not some fundamental quality, but rather it is merely what happens when the light is obscured. The very foundation of spiritual progress is to get the ego out of the way so that we can experience life from a new viewpoint, a viewpoint which is not obscured by the ego, and thereby allow Divine Presence to flow freely through us without obstruction.
The Cause Behind the Cause
From somewhere beyond the beyond, a place which is unknowable to us, the gentle breeze of Divine Presence is sent to comfort, guide and nourish us all. Where does it come from? Mankind has offered many names for the Source, but no matter what the name, the wise ones of all ages and all religions have told us that there is an ultimate Cause of all the worlds, a Cause upon which our very existence depends, a primordial Cause which remains beyond our senses and far beyond our complete understanding.
Everywhere around us are the signs which point toward the Cause, and it is by means of these signs that we find our most positive proof that there is indeed an ultimate Cause which has brought all of creation into being, and upon Whom all of the worlds depend.
Rainer Maria Rilke, Ahead of All Parting, tr Stephen Mitchell
Secret of Secrets, 'abd al-qadir al-jilani, tr by Tosun Bayrak
Embracing the Unknowable One
The human mind, the brain, is largely controlled by the ego, and as such, it's job is to make distinctions, create boundaries, and divide things into pieces. The ego is that part of the human mind which divides and separates.
When the separating power of the ego is used to help maintain the well-being and safety of the human body, then the ego is performing a useful role. But unfortunately that same ego, if left uncontrolled, tries to divide and separate everything, even those things which are not inherently separate. All that you can see, all that you can touch, and even the person who is viewing them, are all contained within the same Great Mystery!
Are there not many people interested in the
mahatmas of the Himalayas, are there not many interested in the
holy souls in remote places of Persia, many who look for a
master in the center of Australia? Perhaps next year an article
will appear declaring that a great soul has been born in
Siberia. What is it all about? It is all the love of complexity,
queer notions, strange ideas which do not lead souls any
Wishing you love, harmony and beauty,
Oct 27, 2008