Friday, January 22, 2010

THE MYTH OF PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT. CONCLUSION: – SITE CO-HOST: LOUISE STERLING

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On the planet, all living things function effortlessly and naturally – except humans. Why is this? Bound by false identification with the personal / individual mind-body-personality construct, most humans are ego-intoxicated and driven by a fluctuating array of imaginary personas. In the natural world, the cannas in the garden, the baboons in the Nature Reserve, and the deer (an often used Advaitan benchmark) all function spontaneously and efficiently – all without a highly developed analytical and self-reflective mind.

When the consciousness is uncorrupted, as in the case of the baboon or the deer, there is no drive to improve, accumulate, outlive, or outsmart nature or biology. There is no impulse to graze on foods that are inappropriate for the physiological functioning of that species; and seldom is there an attempt to adopt addictive or destructive habits and behaviours that are not part of the natural, spontaneous choices that respect life, rather than eroding it. In humans, the consciousness is usually so corrupted that there is little or no understanding of what natural functioning may mean. So humans routinely:
  • engage in destructive habits ... and develop addictions;
  • eat foods that are chemically suspect and unhealthy....and develop chronic illnesses;
  • act unconsciously based on the fears and desires of imaginary personas ... and live in the chaos that ego-driven reactivity produces.

Is it any wonder that this unnatural situation has resulted in people feeling that they are “not okay” and searching within a personal development movement that promises a solution?

(Note: However, even animals in the wild are exposed to the consequences of the corrupted consciousness in humans – which can have far reaching effects. In the book, A Primate’s Memoir: Love, Death and Baboons in East Africa, neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky describes how members of a baboon troop attracted to a rubbish dump outside of a tourist camp begin to eat food that is not part of their natural diet in the wild and suffer the consequences of this unnatural behaviour. Why are the baboons exposed to unnatural food choices? Through the carelessness and greed of human beings driven by a desire to accumulate without a sense of integrity for the natural environment in which they are located.

A similar scenario is the recent shark attacks along the Cape Town coast. Cape Town has one of the highest Great White shark populations in the world – but there were very few shark attacks until recently. Environmentalists argue that the tourist shark cage diving industry uses chumming to attract sharks to give tourists their “wild in Africa” experience – and the chumming has affected the natural functioning of the sharks who normally feed on the abundant seal population. Again, people driven by the desire to accumulate behave in unnatural ways with the resulting chaos in the natural environment.)

When a person seeks to improve, develop, evolve, heal and fix, it is because he or she feels incomplete or not whole. Other words which often describe this feeling are: fragmented, splintered, shattered, not fulfilling one's full potential, unresolved, unfinished, becoming. There are wounds to heal, traumas to resolve, skills to acquire. There are chakras to open, loving kindness to develop, third eyes to open, auras of white light to project. Can You see these descriptions focus on the limitations of the separate individual. Can You intuit the underlying longing for wholeness? All humans intuitively sense the Oneness, the functioning of the totality, yet their faulty programming and conditioning prevents them from being it. As Maharaj says: “The real world is beyond the mind's ken; we see it through the net of our desires, divided into pleasure and pain, right and wrong, inner and outer. To see the universe as it is, you must step beyond the net. It is not hard to do so, for the net is full of holes."

So – those seekers using the filter of the fictional mind to perceive the world dualistically will continue to seek to improve, develop, evolve, heal and fix. Usually, when these seekers believe they are successfully improved, developed, evolved, healed and fixed and have become personal development veterans, they will launch into the personal development movement themselves with their various trademarked products and seminars to improve, develop, evolve, heal and fix others.

For the Advaitan seeker then, the personal development movement is a myth – it cannot offer the freedom of true understanding. Rather than providing wholeness, it represents a net that binds – by entrenching the concepts that reinforce dualism and separation (often while pretending to do the opposite). “The net is full of holes”, says Maharaj. He points the way to the “hole-less” beyond with these words:

"Now, the perception of this truth [of no separate individuals/ no doers] must happen suddenly with the deepest conviction and the most urgent immediacy. It is not a matter of developing understanding through reasoning over a period of time, but it is a sudden shock of timeless apprehension, an instantaneous cessation of the mind process in which thinking is suspended and intuitive awareness dawns. Then, after this seed of apprehension has been planted and has taken root, the deliverance from the imagined bondage will proceed on its own course, in its own time. Once you are thoroughly convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that the object with which you had identified yourself all this time is really only a phenomenon, having neither independence nor autonomy... that it is merely a dreamed figure, an appearance without substance, seen as a phenomenal object through the dualistic minds of other sentient objects regarding themselves as subjects... and that this shadow can have neither bondage nor liberation... then you as consciousness have become liberated from the mistaken identification you had been making. But if the least vestige of entity-hood hangs on, and you still think of yourself as a being seeking liberation, then you will not find it. As long as you think you are this apparatus and assume the burden of bondage and seek liberation, then liberation will be meaningless. Is it the apparatus that is to be liberated? Find out who it is that is seeking liberation. Discover the true identity of the seeker. It is not liberation but the seeker who is being sought. Find him and liberation will be waiting for you, for it was always there... it has never left you."

Please enter the silence of contemplation.

(For extending teaching on the Advaitan Understanding – that guide You from the temporary fluctuating relative stance to abidance as Your Real Nature, see the links on the right hand side of this blog.)

Comments / clarifications may be sent to louise.advaita@gmail.com

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