How Peace is Revealed
The public speaking phobia continued through different jobs and roles. I scraped through the presentations I had to do feeling absolutely sick.
At the same time, I continued exploring what the mind is, what reality is, what the idea of ourselves is.
One day, I knew I was going to do a talk in my house for a small group of friends. The thought came in with dreadful inevitability. I felt sick at the idea of it and yet I knew it was going to happen. The same tensions arose but this time something was different.
The tension, fear and apprehension were there but this time the experience of them was almost irrelevant. The same future projections crowded in - me losing my voice, shaking so much I couldn’t stand up, walking out, being sick - but this time even if they came true there was a sense that it wouldn’t matter.
The life and death nature of the phobia had gone.
And the only reason for the fear no longer looking like survival is that it had become obvious that it wasn’t, actually, about survival.
The ‘I’ identified with self image, control, resistance and seeking was dissolving. And its dissolution was revealing what couldn’t be touched no matter what the experience.
Understanding stress or discomfort isn’t as simple as telling ourselves ‘it’s just my thinking’. It is not the case that we can just paint over experience with clever spiritual words and have the whole thing sorted out as if by magic.
There are stressors that are humanity-wide (eg. violence, poverty, captivity, discrimination, hunger, thirst, sleep, temperature…). There are variables that which, when not right for the individual, can also create stress (eg. noise, stimulation, contact, pressure…).
We must not use a conversation about reality to deny the drive (and right) of the ‘body-mind system’ to find its optimum, nourished, thriving and balanced status.
And yet, this conversation about reality, self, the mind and experience, presents a conundrum when it comes to Peace…
Because the human mind, in all its infinite creativity, has a capacity, tendency even, to project its own insecurities, shame and fears and then react to this projection with stress and tension as though the projection is reality.
We see this in ourselves all the time. When we are low or tired, tasks seem harder. When we are insecure, other people seem more indifferent or superior. When we are anxious, our environment seems harsher and more dangerous. When we are ashamed, the world seems to judge us.
And this of course is a vicious circle.
The harder the tasks appear, the more tired we feel and the harder the tasks look.
The more superior others appear, the more insecure we feel and the more confident others appear.
And so on…
What this reveals is that the self is not separate from the tasks, other people, environment or the world. It is all made of understanding, belief, thought in that moment.
What do we do about that?
How do we make sure we acknowledge the ‘real’ stressors that will not disappear no matter how settled the mind?
How do we know what to honour and orientate towards or away from in a reality that, to a great extent, is mind created?
It is quite a conundrum.
And one which cannot be adequately addressed by either taking reality at unquestioned face value or, alternatively, denying all reality.
So where to begin?
It begins with what question we are asking ourselves.
‘How can I get rid of stress and find Peace?’ does not take us even slightly far enough. It leaves us at the level of addressing symptoms without understanding what gave rise to them.
We need a question that creates the space for both current experience, for exploration of what is true and for the system to find its right way to be.
A more powerful question therefore might be…
‘Where is freedom?’
This question takes us to the freedom of the body to express its ‘dis-ease’…
the freedom to honour the current experience…
the freedom that is veiled by the limited believed idea of what we are, of what we have to do, of how we have to live and which is revealed as that idea loses its grip…
the freedom for changes to be made, ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to be said, harm to be prevented, desire and needs to be expressed…
the freedom of life aligned, expressed, balanced and nourished in that individual…
And, ultimately, the freedom to bring this about for all seven billion of us humans, plus the rest of the planet.
How is that freedom revealed? How does the body-mind system align to its ultimate truth of Peace to end the cycle of creating and fighting projections.
There are several ways back in. One of them, which is not necessary by any means is hitting rock bottom. Many teachers have described a feeling of being at their absolute lowest, where there’s nowhere else to go, when there’s the realisation of the absolute futility of what the mind had been trying to do, that literally there are no answers in that struggle.
There is not the slightest hope, or glimpse of truth, in that desperation, in that self-loathing, in that helplessness. There is nothing there. Someone hits rock bottom and in that space, there is nothing left. It is as if everything has gone and all that remains in that space is Aliveness, is Consciousness, is Intelligence. That is it. Everything else has gone and it becomes, in that moment, the only thing that we are.
So that does happen. It makes total sense that that happens. And… it is not necessary. It is not necessary for everything to collapse around us, because that same orientation that happens when there’s nothing left can happen at any time. It simply comes from a different understanding of what is true.
Earlier in HOME we considered the significance of a glimpse, or a moment of realisation. It might not come as an insight, or a clearing or a space. It might be that there’s just a moment of engagement in a task for example. Or a moment looking up at a night sky or the sunset or sunrise or a mountain range or an animal – that sense of wonder or marvel.
These are the things we can start to see are true. These are the things that get so overlooked: that sense of flow, that opening to marvel, that space of just pure presence. That is what we are.
While the search for Peace, the search for control, the search for a different experience of what we are, that is the ‘un-truth’. That is the insanity.
Before it looked as though the search would secure Peace. Now it becomes clear that it is the very thing that hides the Peace that we are.
The whole body now, the whole mind, everything in the brain, is starting to orientate now to this moment-by-moment response. Intelligence is meeting reality.
And the body-mind, the response and the external reality that is being responded to, have less and less gaps between them. Living is one seamless fluidity. That is the mind settling back into its truth.