My eight-year-old likes to say that life is not always cupcakes and roses. In fact, there are times when it seems like our lives simply collapse. Nothing feels right, and the will to go on goes silent. We stand on a precipice – angry, sad, and isolated – and just want to give up completely.
Any normal person will attempt to avoid crises at all costs, right? But life just keeps on moving and serving us up one experience after another. When that job or loved one is gone, when we hate who we are, and when our actions do not get the results we want, a crisis sets in. There it is…. And we don’t feel any more prepared for it than the last time. Of course, all we really want is to feel good because it truly sucks to feel bad. Of course….
However, suppose you are a person who deeply yearns for transformation. Perhaps you have glimpsed your true nature beyond the personality. Maybe you met someone who embodied freedom, and this freedom moved you. Maybe you have a nagging sense that there is more – something more – to what the world appears to offer. If you wish to lift the veil of existence, then your crises seem to come in regular waves – there is a rhythm to collapsing and rising out of your own ashes until you break free to live fully.
Anyone on a spiritual path knows crises well and dreads their depth and intensity. Each crisis feels like you are dying. However, if you truly wish to transform – undergo a fundamental change – is that not a kind of dying? When the old ways of relating to life no longer work, are these ways not dead to you? A part of you knows that what no longer works must die, and it is during such critical times that you have an opportunity to realize that the true you has nothing to do with your life situations, pain, and dysfunction.
Who is suffering during a crisis? You may say that I am suffering, but that is not quite true. If you choose to believe that you are your pain, then you will be pain. If you choose to accept that you failed, then you and your perceived failure are one and same. You identify with your pain. Thus, you are your pain. If you accept that life has no value or meaning, then you have no meaning. And this belief feels so real that you buy into it hook, line, and sinker. After all, what else is there?
An alternative way to experience a crisis is as a tool for transformation. You feel your pain and know that you are not the pain. You feel fear and know that your are not this fear. You feel sadness and know that you are not your emotions or your thoughts. You are something else altogether, just having an experience.
A crisis is a special experience because it temporarily destabilized every belief you have held onto and demands that you break free from feeling like you are your beliefs. A crisis is a door opening to a new possibility of freedom. You are not dying, but your impacted beliefs are. And that is the transformation process in a nutshell.
As a spiritual practitioner matures, it becomes – paradoxically – easier to move through crises. There is, in fact, an expectation that crises will come, and come again. On the other side of a crisis, there is a deeper insight into what is really going on behind the veil. During these collapses, our awareness is free to operate unimpeded by illusion.
Crises are powerful catalysts for seeing life – and yourself – from a fresh perspective. After freedom from illusion, there is only life, and there is you. Regardless of the arising situations, you know that are not your situations or experiences. You are beyond this level of handling life. The closest word to describe you is happiness, permanent and unperturbed.
What does it mean to know who you are? The process of discovery may have very humble beginnings….
At first, you may not really care who you are, and care more about what other people think of you. The world is your mirror and you check your reflection, believing that the reflection is you. If you like what you see, you keep it up. If you hate what you see, you may still keep it up. You may also feel the need to change your behaviors and beliefs until your reflection meets your expectations. And all this time, you don’t distinguish between yourself and the reflection – while you look outward, you believe that this is you.
Because the outside looks solid, you also feel solid and real. That is comforting – for awhile….
After looking outward for some time, you may begin to wonder why you occasionally feel bleedthroughs of thoughts and feelings that bear no resemblance to your accepted sense of self. You may start to wonder whether there is more to you than can be affirmed by other people. You may even decide that others may be perceiving you through their own filters, and you filter them as well. Eventually, you become temporarily confused about where to look for yourself and which feelings to trust. This confusion births a new space for exploration. So you ask Who am I?
You follow the threads of how you relate to the apparent outer world back to yourself, studying your childhood, your parents, your friends and partners. Rather than focusing on your reflection, you are following the rays to their origin. This is the beginning of taking responsibility for your identity, which is really a form of acknowledging that you are a unique presence.
You explore what you like and don’t like, who you spend time with, and what you believe. You may wonder what you value and what inspires you. As you explore, you also define and redefine yourself – like trying on different outfits. You keep the one that looks good to you, and change into another one later. You are creating your identity and experience through its eyes. Unlike other reflection, you engage in self reflection – but reflection nonetheless.
Eventually, you may decide that the ability to define yourself feels incomplete. You get the feeling that something or someone is watching you create – and that watcher is the real you. More and more, you identify with that anonymous observer, always looking through your eyes. Then, an amazing shift occurs and you let go of the need to define yourself altogether.
You revel in the direct experience of this nameless presence that is pure awareness and your awareness shifts to being that. Then, you rest as bliss.
But even that feels incomplete. After you realize yourself, you yearn to express and manifest from the vastness of that realization. Now you are but a newborn, learning how to relate to the world as you. Everything is new and, unlike before, you do not assume to know or have the answers. You are innocent, but not naive. There is no fear, nor any hesitation. You move spontaneously, directly, and simply to build a new bridge to the world as pure awareness. And the world – well, it no longer feels separate from you.
Everyday human interactions often fall short of building strong relationships that are based on happiness, positivity, and mutual respect. Why is that?
The world is an ocean of dueling perspectives, as people take the actions that are most likely to assert their self image and world view. There is an overwhelming drive to feel real, and people will do, think, and feel whatever brings them closer to experiencing their own flesh and blood, a sense of power or powerlessness, and a belief of having it all, something, or nothing. “Feeling real” is the equivalent of having the world continuously affirm one’s self- and world view, while feeling “nothing” is a crisis to be avoided or battled at all costs. “Feeling real” is one and the same as feeling loved, but most people experience neither and look for their world to prove love to them.
One’s perception of how real one is forms the undertoe that churns and shapeshifts our dynamics. A person may feel real in being an agressor or a victim – the polarity of the worldview does not matter. So much effort is expended on this “feeling real loved” game that the true nature of existence is veiled. So, conflict is sure to arise among and within those whose self perception must be endlessly reinforced.
Agendas swirl around in eddies at all scales – from individual to intercontinental. Individuals, families, friends, communities, and countries interlock in intricate patterns of compatible world views – either allied or at war. Politics – at all levels – is the dance that takes place among those who feel like they are always lacking something vital. Dominance, manipulation, and inappropriate boundaries ebb and flow, generating reactions and further conflict.
Beyond this chaotic soup of self-affirmation is a way of being where you feel connected and whole, nothing is missing, and it is unnecessary to use the world for self validation. Instead, the world becomes an extension of pure awareness exploring all possibilities. All games and machinations become transparent.
Now, how does someone who is firmly and unconditionally grounded in feeling and being real and loved relate to those who believe they are shadows? Sadly, it is difficult for an awake being to relate to illusion. The process of communicating with someone caught up in doubt is a work of compassion – confronting debilitating beliefs and supporting deeper insights and gestures.
While many envision enlightened beings as softspoken and gentle individuals, this view is incomplete. One who is awake will adjust their energy output to whatever is coming in. Often, direct and strong confrontation arises naturally to neutralize illusion. Strong, precise words. Volume. Fire to break up impacted delusions and soften receptivity to the fact that one is already complete and completely loved at the very core of one’s being. The person who receives this kind of confrontation will likely go into a temporary and powerful crisis, during which time they are available to new awareness.
An awakened being shouts or laughs with only the energy needed to shatter strong patterns of illusion without ever feeling any emotional drive. There is no anger and no malice. There is no retaliation or the need to control. The idea of manipulation is foreign. Such confrontation is just a simple response to restore peace and open a space for healing.
Spontaneous and grounded in love, enlightened beings turn “complicated” into “simple.” Our core nature is simple, but self doubt creates a complex webwork of illusion that binds anyone who is susceptible to its pull. Awake confrontation is not conflict – it is peace and a gesture of love.
We may picture enlightened beings living in the mountains, sitting in lotus posture for days, or walking pilgrimages to holy lands. However, there are enlightened beings living in everyday world – both the East and the West. You may not recognize their state if you see them on the street, in the grocery store, or in the restaurant. Unless they feel drawn to teaching others that unconditional happiness is possible, it is unlikely that they want others to know about their transformed awareness.
It turns out that living a typical life is very challenging for an enlightened being – mostly for the other people. That presence has a strong effect on people, which can be either positive or negative. While such a being is grounded in surrender to the infinite, others can experience fear, discomfort, or anger in their presence. Most people are unsure why they feel what they feel, and their reactions can be quite intense. Without saying a word, an enlightened being will either be adored or hated, crises and dysfunction will come out of hiding, and people’s true colors will become clear and visible without any apparent overt triggers.
So, an enlightened being who lives a life in society and works within societal structures may have a hard time “blending in,” as the surrounding people experience that energy. Many do not want to awaken yet, and that presence is an irritant to them – especially with long-term exposure. People may have strong resistance to the innocent being and want to hurt them – either physically, verbally, or on other levels. In the West, there is not much talk about the possibility of being around someone who has the ability to see right through them, and no talk about the change and instability such an energy may bring about as it naturally inspires deeper healing.
At this time, Western culture is not really set up for having enlightened beings work mainstream jobs. However, it is not necessarily the case that such beings should hide in secluded communities that are immersed in spiritual life. In fact, more are now being called to walk amidst everyday life on the frontlines, holding regular jobs and having families. However, it is often necessary for such beings to manage their own businesses, rather than work for someone else, and to have more flexibility to do what they feel is needed.
To the enlightened being, it is just a part of their life to continue to be who they are, do what creatively expresses who they are, and respond to events as they come. Such a life is interesting, for sure, and primarily in constant flux at this time in Earth’s history. These nomads are in this world but are no longer of it. They have no agenda and they don’t ask for recognition or gratitude. Being steeped in the infinite is all there is, and they are learning how to be in the world. There is always more to learn….
Many have said that it is the nature of this world to be in a state of continuous tension – polar opposites dance and tug and no utopia or dystopia is ever meant to be reached. However, it is one thing to read about this concept in a book and something altogether different to live as continuous change.
I began my life seeking “good” in the world and within myself. When I was about 13 years old, I briefly spent time with a spiritual teacher who never called himself that. He asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I quickly answered “Fix the world.” He then asked me, “What is broken?” There was something about the way he asked the question that made me pause for years to come. I knew life often felt uncomfortable and even painful – to me and to others – but the root cause was not obvious.
I wrestled with life scenarios that resulted in no pain or suffering of any kind for anyone. This problem held my interest because I was in pain and also was very sensitive to the pain of others – I wanted the discomfort to stop for everyone. At the time, I had defined the problem with my mind, in absence of real feeling or understanding, and also tried to solve the problem with the mind. But the mind was limited by the kinds of solutions it was capable of producing – logic could only lead to a conclusion that to stop feeling pain, one would need to stop feeling everything.
A number of years passed until I met someone who practiced acupuncture. I watched her work and saw that she helped many people feel better. I thought that, maybe, I could help others by taking away their pain through some healing modality. I studied yoga, Reiki, and even enrolled in acupuncture school for awhile. But it didn’t make sense to me why people would have suffering in the first place, only to make it necessary for someone else to try to heal it. If the goal was to heal all disease and end all dysfunction and destitute, then happiness is nothing more than the result of life working out. Such conditional happiness is destined to stop and go in this plane of existence where conditions are ever in flux. I gave up looking to “heal” or “fix” anything and turned toward the possibility that unconditional happiness was the only freedom in a world of conditions.
At first, the idea seemed rediculous – how could one be happy unless everything in life was just right? Why would one choose to be happy when one is alone, poor, hungry, overworked, or sick? The breakthrough comes when life situations cease to define how you feel. While the mind has trouble grasping this possibility, the heart yearns for it naturally. Once the illusion of defining oneself through “life success” dissolves, a deeper realization about life takes hold – a freedom from the tension of opposites and an appreciation of its wisdom for our evolution.
Suffering is there when there is either something to gain or lose. Freedom is the feeling of “having it all” in any situation because “I” am no longer defined by the situation.
So, this world moans in anguish and laughs with abandon, drinks and eats, and thirsts and starves. There is no permanent “fix” for the tension of opposites, but there appears to be a way to stop playing the game altogether that surprisingly ignites an ever deepening and unconditional appreciation of the life process. It is through the futility of trying to change the changing reality that we are free to simply revel in our true nature that is bliss. From this perspective, helping others takes on a meaning that is very different from “fixing.”
I grew up believing that life was a battle, from birth until death. Perhaps because I knew poverty and thought I had everything to gain. Or, perhaps because I also knew some financial strength and felt like I had something to lose. At my core was the feeling that I am fragile, and already broken. I had to survive, make do, provide for my family. And I didn’t quite know how…..
I put on a strong face, tightened my lips, lifted my chin, and threw on a garb of overconfidence. It was a false armor, forged in the pits of self-doubt and anguish, and polished by a keen intellect. A fake posture emerged that shone custom-fit for my battle, honed over the years, and carried as one would drag a burden. I believed that I would eventually fail at “life”, be seen for the weakness that I am, and chewed up by the grinders of existence that hummed in wait for the likes of me – antisocial introvert, clinging to the mental distractions of solving mathematical puzzles, and never stopping to smell the flowers.
There was no peace in inevitable failure. There was no ultimate reward or even occasional enjoyment. Only the sense of dread drove me forward so that I could stall what felt to be worse than death – utter resignation. To everyone else, there was no mystery that I was mostly flammable – despite being occasionally useful. I was a liability, and mostly to myself. To me, it was simply the way it was.
Over time, the facade of competence became exhausting. I needed to realize that “I” wasn’t working and had to become completely drained to turn away from my career and even my health. Then, a door began to open – a new possibility that can only be described as peace. I had to face my fear of failure by…failing.
I simmered in my worst nightmare for several years, unsure of what I believed about life anymore. Was it still a battle if I had already lost? Was there some way to give my life new purpose, besides not failing? And why was failure such a threat? It had happened, and I was still here. I let go into it. Had anything really changed?
Eventually, the core belief that I had carried had finally run its course – like a bad flu. Finally, there was no need to believe something specific about life – just living and connecting was complete. I no longer needed to succeed or to expect failure. I had nothing to prove or to achieve. Nothing felt “locked in” or “set in stone”, and certainty felt unnecessary. The armor dissolved, and I stood vulnerable in a vista of possibilities. It had become so easy to rest – just rest, and any previous delimma was clearly unnecessary.
A few paragraphs cannot sum up this journey, or possibly any journey that frees one from an illusion. Maybe it doesn’t matter how or why we eventually become at peace with the simple, the quiet, and the humble – only that we do. We know when that moment arrives because it never leaves.
It is so much easier to do things when there is no fear nipping at my heels, and there is no need to control anything. I traded in armour for genuine curiosity. It had never occurred to me that the need to control life to feel safe could color my perception so completely until the need to protect had dissolved.
Reality is so much more interesting than any illusion I could have contrived, and so much more relaxing. Peace is real, while fear and doubt are not. Who would have thought?
Enlightenment is not a single event, but a continuous evolution, and there are some myths about the “benefits” It brings. One such myth is the health of the body. While abounding health is certainly possible, it’s lack does not indicate a lag in evolution.
Ramana Maharshi died of cancer. Baba Mukhtananda died of heart failure. Both broke through into a permanent awakened state, and Maharshi reached an even deeper level of surrender to the Infinite. Why doesn’t enlightenment mean perfect health? If not initially, does it eventually?
The state of awakening is just that. The sense of identity permanently shifts to the perspective of the Infinite from feeling like an “I” with a body. Rather than reaching for the Infinite in meditation, one starts to be the mediation and reaches through the body. The transformation of perspective and consciousness is a complete one-eighty.
Meanwhile, the body is now carrying the awareness of the Infinite and serving as its conduit to manifestation and expression.The intensity of what the body carries inspires the body to purify anything that holds or blocks deeper surrender. Many call this state “burning.” This burning is an ongoing process of the charged nervous system adjusting to consciousness, and expressing its presence to the world. Enlightened beings carry their own karma that must be processed and balanced, but this process intensifies and adds stress to the body – it can only be tempered so much.
Many enlightened beings also tend to take on the energy of others, when that karma can be taken on from others. Diligent discernment is required about when it is appropriate to help, and when an individual needs to continue to undergo certain experiences. Any energies taken on willingly from others add a load to the body system and tax its function.
Not all disease is necessary to carry, and medicine and treatments of various kinds can help. However, for some conditions, there are no treatments. The body must simply exist in that condition until it can no longer function, as it continues to evolve as an extension of the infinite.
So, if enlightenment does not bring a guarantee of health, why bother? This is a good question that arises because, in this realm, most people want a happy, fulfilled life. They are rightfully learning how to bring more and more happiness into their existence and build relationships. From this perspective, striving for health, good food, strong relationships, fulfillment in creativity, and relaxation are the primary. Desire for complete transformation out of the ego state is still very rare.
From the enlightened perspective, happiness is already there unconditionally. The primary becomes to express that happiness more and more through the body, as if playing an instrument. Sickness or health, while real, do not perturb the primary state. The ups and downs of any life are simply waves to be surfed, and emotions come and pass. There is also a longing to serve that is on 24/7.
Prior to consciousness, the body is often a dumping ground for emotions, and a sponge for surrounding energies – often unbalanced. After consciousness, the body is tool that extends the relationship of the infinite to this realm.
The body is necessary – without the body, enlightenment would not be possible. However, the body is temporary; it does wither and eventually die. The more the body can withstand and grow through – with the greatest possible care, the cleaner the conduit. The only difference enlightenment brings is that one learns to celebrate all aspects of existence – even the simplest of movements can elicit profound bliss.
The World we see is only a small fraction of what is actually happening all around us.
I find it very interesting that it is this “hidden” part of our reality that seems to move and shape everything we experience – from physical objects, to emotions, to thoughts. Whatever this hidden network is, it provides the energy for changing our perceptions and awareness of our world. What is this hidden grid? It is light? Is it a different kind of matter? As a scientist, I cannot explain it. However, my experience of how we all affect one another through our intentions, thoughts, and actions, is very real.
In the New Age circles, this effect is ascribed to “energies.” However, that doesn’t really explain anything – it’s only a label. But I do understand that there is a fabric that interconnects us all. Depending on how attuned we are to this influence, we experience more or less of information continuously streaming to us from life.
One way life energy moves beyond our direct senses has been called the Astral Plane. I experience this plane, in part, as a collection our emotions, mental processing, and sexual energy. As we move about our day and generate these energies, they flow through this unseen vista.
I do not feel the Astral Plane as something separate from us, or being in some other place. It is all around us. The Astral Plane is just a lump name for how we exchange some of our life experiences on a daily basis.
I sketched a picture (above) of what I can see going on with these different emotional, mental, and sexual energies. These energies funnel into the Astral Plane as part of our natural daily life – from us! Because these energies are primarily generated by our Egos, they become a kind of collective Ego Hive – the combined result of all our joy, sadness, happiness, anger, confusion, lust, and mental processing of our life situations.
The energy we dump does not stay in the Astral Plane, but flows back into and through the various people. Just as we are continuously exposed to the unseen radiation of our power generators, cell phones, and transmitted signals all around us (and we don’t consciously feel them), we are continuously surrounded by the Ego Hive energy.
Astral Plane energies can come back into any person who is open and susceptible to receiving them. It is true what they say – sometimes when we feel something, it did not necessarily start with us, nor is it our responsibility to take it on. Part of spiritual practice is learning to discern these energies and block the destructive types from joining with our awareness.
What’s even more interesting is that the energies on the Astral Plane can self-organize and form Entities. Essentially, some of our feelings and intentions take on a life of their own, although they are not alive in a body, and begin to move with purpose and direction to find living people who will channel them. I’ve shown these emerging Entities as red vortexes that arise out of the Ego Hive and enter some person or group, who then begins to act out this energy.
The vortex energies that form naturally in the Astral Plane will move around and gather strength – like winds moving on the earth and becoming storms. Some vortexes become very powerful and seek “hosts” that are powerful – whether financially, physically, or in terms of their ability to influence a large number of people.
From the Infinite’s perspective, there is no good or evil. However, in our everyday lives, we clearly see events and people that are destructive to the welfare of others. Some of the influences behind destruction seem “intelligent” and driven by purpose. In such cases, it is likely that certain people and groups in power have become receptacles for these destructive vortexes and channel them into our world. Some of the more destructive entities are actually invoked by people deliberately to achieve self-centered goals!
Some people pray to Satan or whatever dark “deities” they choose. This is a confused action, since such entities have no true power, except to manipulate perception (create illusion) – they appear to feed on our energy, but only because we give them something to latch onto.
I understand why people worship Evil. When a powerful vortex from the Astral Plane enters a being or a group, these people literally get high from that experience – the sense of purpose, power to do anything (or so it seems), belonging is so intense that people can’t resist it. “Powerful is the Dark Side” – or, the chemical reaction in our brains that this much energy produces as it engages with our bodies and minds.
Ultimately, the “high” someone can get from powerful vortex energies coming from the Astral Plane is limited. This temporary elation is nothing compared to what you feel when your awareness identifies with your true nature – happiness. People who believe they have discovered “power” from a dark source are trapped in limitation and cannot see through it. The more bound they become, the less they can see clearly.
Is there “good” on the Astral Plane? If you define “good” as anything to support the balance and well being of all living on the planet, then such energy appears to be limited on the Astral Plane. At best, Astral Plane energy is neutral information.
Most of what feeds us and on us is a reflection of what we spend most of our time thinking and feeling. Usually, we want something, hate something, are extremely attached to something, obsessed with something, disconnected from something – these are the energies that we attract. There are also other energies of a similar kind, attracted to our realm from other dimensions of existence. Even obsession with “good” can attract posing energies that claim to help, but really just want to feed on our passion. As humans, we must discover our own power and connection to the divine.
People who are unconscious of Astral Plane energies are vulnerable unless they make a conscious effort to draw clear boundaries of what they allow to come in. For example, someone who is angry or sad may attract a vortex that is filled with a directive for vengeance, will get intoxicated by that sense of purpose and power, and begin to enact it in his or her daily life. At the initial stages of practice, visualization tools and meditation are effective at reflecting negativity back to its source. You can set the intention that a mirror is reflecting all negativity from you back to its source, and hold that intention in the space of meditation. As you continue to evolve, a Light web strengthens around now and naturally repels all that is not of Its kind.
Drugs and alcohol are particularly dangerous in leaving a person vulnerable to becoming an instrument of darker forces. Pornography is also a magnet for these energies, tapping into a desire-driven (rather than love-guided) sexual energy of the planet. Sexual energy, by itself, is not bad, of course. However, it becomes destructive and “sticky” when it is layered with attachment and distorted with self-absorption and manipulative games. When we are free from mood- and perception-altering substances and influences, some of our natural defenses are more likely to kick in and block dark vortexes.
You may already be very aware all that you feel and experience as you go through your daily life – the source of your emotions and urges. You may be able to discern what is originating from you, and what does not belong to you.
If not, set your intention to reflect anything that does not directly belong to you and to your realm of responsibility. Your intentions are your natural protective system that does not require any magic spells. Pray for help and clarity in resolving anything that is unresolved and festering in your life so that you can emanate love and grow stronger. The skill of discernment and clearing up your own energy field is necessary preparation for further awakening.
Fortunately, awakening cuts right through the complex and the unnecessary – including dark influences, and makes life much simpler – although not necessarily easier.
The wind swallowed up the land, and the snow fell in waves – cascading and shimmering under the Moon. Blue and silvery light entered the Master’s home, as if always invited. The Master got up from his warm seat in front of the fire and gently lay another log on the flames, closing his eyes as the shadows danced around.
After several knocks on the door, the Master walked toward it and opened it wide. Several strangers shuffled in with varying gaits. They expressed happiness to finally meet the Master, and he ushered them in to sit by the fire and warm themselves.
He asked the strangers about the depth and texture of the snow, about the brightness of the moon, and which trees they saw on the way to his house. The strangers were smiling with noticeable impatience – why is the Master wasting precious time about the weather and the moon? The road was treacherous uphill, and all they saw was the snow directly in front of their feet. Sometimes their eyes closed, as gusts of wind blew by their faces. And yet, they humored the Master’s questions and responded with strained smiles.
One stranger tried to bring the Master back on track. Her voice was quiet, yet firm. She was trying hard not to appear like she was interrupting the conversation – parhaps he doesn’t know what they want or why they are here…. “Something is missing from my life – even with all this beauty around me. I want to feel something new and different. I want to be enlightened.”
The Master smiled at her like a man who was asked to speak after biting into a large sandwich: “You want more beauty? Something a bit more interesting?”
“Yes! I am so bored with everything. The colors of the world have looked gray to me for long time,” she answered uncertainly.
The Master saw anger beneath her quiet, soft-spoken exterior. He also saw the sad eyes of feeling unworthy beneath the anger, and the bright being that she truly was and did not know: “You are still not angry enough or bored enough. You want me to say something wise to you so that your mind can spin on it in busy circles, and then you can be entertained. You’ve come to eat, but I must ask you to leave hungry.”
“So what should I do now?”, she asked in frustration.
“Do what you want to do,” he said with a gentle smile and waited.
She got up angrily and uttered “What a waste of time.” No longer dressed in niceties, she threw the door shut as she walked out. The fire crackled.
“What have you come to see and hear?”, the Master turned to the man with a thick, wet beard.
“I don’t really want anything. I already see the truth that the world is a cruel place. I don’t belong here because I see it clearly – how we are all just killing each other and the Earth. Sometimes I think I should just not even be here, and that no one cares anyway. If you don’t agree with me, I hope you can prove to me that I am wrong.”
“I cannot prove to you that you are in the right place, at the right time, and doing the best you can do….I can only say that you are not yet disillusioned enough. Your true hope is not to leave your life, but to have life turn around your hardships. You think life is a problem to be solved, and so your mind prevents you from seeing life any other way. You should go and solve a few more of life’s problems, and feel the satisfaction this will bring to you.”
The bearded man silently tied his coat, and stumbled out into the wind. The door fell shut behind him, and the Master looked at the next stranger, who glanced at the Master with uncertainty. “I’ve come to tell you that I’ve heard many stories about you and that I have so much respect for how you help people. I am here because I want to help people like you do,” she said.
The Master smiled and asked the stranger, “Someone needs help?”
She was visibly much more animated as she answered. “Well, so many people need help! You are here, so far away from the world, and probably don’t see the hungry, the sick, and the dying. They all need hope and help!”
“How are you so sure that they need help, and that you don’t just need to help?”, he answered.
“Are you saying that people don’t need help, or that I am not the right person to help them, or…both?” Her eyes grew distant as if she were deeply immersed in a complex calculation.
“You grieve about your life and feel helpless. So, wherever you look, you see grief and helplessness,” he answered.
“That’s not true! I can’t believe you would imply that children should continue to go to sleep and wake up hungry, that women should continue to be abused by men, and loved ones should disappear to illness or addiction! That is the truth, with or without me saying it. Why do you help people?”
The Master smiled.
She continued. “I heard about all the people you comforted, gave gifts to, carried forward through dark times…. Why did you do these things if nobody needs help?”
He turned to the fire: “I have not set out to help anyone – only to be present here fully. Maybe some people felt like this has helped them. Maybe others thought that I’ve been no help at all. Either way, each moment unfolds before me, and I am filled with wonder.”
“Well, you certainly aren’t helping me at all. I was expecting something different – perhaps some guidance and some appreciation of my willingness to help others. I got nothing from you.” And with these words, she walked out into the cold.
Then, the warm quiet took hold of the room, with only one stranger left. She sat with the Master, while he stirred the fire ablaze.
She said: “I am not sure why I am still here. It just feels right to stay. How can I feel so many possibilities? I didn’t know what I was looking for before I got here, but now I know that this – whatever this is – is what I want.” After a short pause, she continued “I saw a leafless birch under the moon, I think. Let me tell you more about it….”