NON-DUALITY

yinyang panda

Non Dual Yin Yang Dog

 

See yourself as the experiencer of everything that life has to offer.
Feel every frequency range you find yourself in; and you do not need to judge the situation as either good or bad, right or wrong. Simply feel what resonates with you and what doesn’t. Then with the power of your attention, consciously choose to create more of the experiences you prefer to experience.

Self-Love: The Key To Personal Liberation

no apologies

They say, the most difficult thing to do is to love one’s self. In my experience, this is true.

What does self-love mean, and why is it so difficult?

Self-love:

  • Self-love is to be honest with one’s self first and foremost. Even if you choose not to be honest with others at any given moment.

  • To appreciate and accept yourself as you are: to give yourself permission to be exactly what you really want to be.

  • To care for yourself enough to live your life according to your own will and not to the demands and expectations of others.

  • To validate and approve of yourself, your choices, your desires, your unique self-expression, no matter what the rest of the world thinks.

  • To love yourself enough to trust yourself.

  • To accept your ‘wayward’ emotions without judgment.

I don’t know if you agree about the difficulty of loving one’s self. I have explored and struggled with this thing called self-love for some time, and it felt like I was challenging the whole world with its agreed upon belief system which demands that we must put others first before ourselves, so that we don’t appear selfish by catering first to our needs before the needs of others. The result of this hypocritical belief is that while we may appear generous, kind and strong on the outside, we may actually be suffering, tormented and fragile inside because we are too scared to show our true feelings, to express our true desires, and live authentic lives.

If we love ourselves enough to give ourselves the permission to be who we are, it will be easier for us to permit others to be who they are. As we accept our idiosyncrasies, our mistakes, our nonstandard or non-mainstream desires, we will find ourselves more understanding and permissive of others’ mistakes and idiosyncrasies. If we love ourselves enough not to beat ourselves up to conform to some established standard of normality or morals, we would not also be as critical and judgmental of others who we think are not measuring up to such social standards.

It is true that, at the core, the way we treat ourselves (consciously and, mostly, unconsciously) is the way we treat others. It is when we are cruel and exacting of ourselves (even if we don’t know or admit it) that we also become cruel and exacting of others.

So when we fully love ourselves for who we are, we set ourselves free. We let ourselves off the hook. And simultaneously, we set others free. For it is in understanding and acknowledging our own complexities, our strengths and weaknesses, our fears and insecurities that we truly come to develop genuine understanding and sympathy for others.

A Lesson in Unconditional Love

toreachgod

I believe that at a certain juncture, a spiritual seeker comes to a point where he has to let go of all the tools in the path, and even let go of a certain path, or paths, in order to transcend all worldly constructs. I see this process as a pivotal step towards spiritual enlightenment.

When a seeker stops clinging to the tools in the path, and stops holding on to only “one right path,” he arrives at the equanimous, balanced state of Non-duality, or Oneness. 

A non-dualist and unconditionally loving person does not judge and criticize others who act and think in a different way from his definitive notion of what is right and wrong. A non-dualist understands that people act the way they do because of a reason – some reason he can know and understand, but many other reasons he may never know and may never understand. And so his best recourse, as a non-dualist perceiver, is to accept and love others in spite of who they are and what they do, in spite of how they choose to live their lives – knowing and understanding full well that anyone who is in their best state of mind would not deliberately do anything to disadvantage themselves or another. So instead of judging and condemning another who may be doing something “wrong”, a non-dualist perceiver would instead feel compassion towards the other.

In my early journey as a seeker, most of the teachers and spiritual traditions I encountered are wrapped up in dualistic consciousness: they maintain a strong idea about good and evil. In consequence, they tend to act that as if a lurking evil is out there to get them. Some of them do rituals and repeat mantras to “protect” them from the alleged onslaught, or corrupting powers of so-called evil forces. A fear-based spirituality such as this is threatened by so-believed lower vibrational beings, impure situations, sinful elements, immoral people, people who are certain to reap negative karma, etc. As a result of this fear, and perhaps mixed with a feeling of righteousness and superiority, fearful spirituals actively resist associating with certain people and situations which they judge to be of “lower vibrational frequencies”.

Ironically, what we resist persists. The very people and situations we are trying hard to avoid all the more pop up in our reality to get our attention. It is because we attract our disowned parts until such time that we learn to embrace, integrate, and to love them unconditionally.

There are some people, whose ingrained beliefs are threatened and challenged by a different perspective or paradigm, who often form exclusive groups with members who only agree and validate who they think they are. There is certainly nothing wrong in choosing to hang around certain types of people; I see nothing wrong with fortifying oneself with like-minded folks who tend not to create friction in a perfect bubble world. My rebellious temperament, however, often gets the better of me that I find it wrong to judge and censure others who happen to have divergent thoughts from certain established dogmas.

I had a recent personal experience. For the past 1.5 years, a spiritual guru, whom I have neither seen nor talked with in person, often appeared in my dream state. The dreams were repetitive and consistent in their theme. In dream state, he was sending me letters, emails, books, invitations, calling me through a cell phone, gazing at me while projecting very loving vibes. For some reason, the “giving” was only one way: he was doing the action while I was a passive recipient of his actions. In waking state, however, the situation is very different. I was the one initiating communication with him, mostly only to tell him about the dreams and to ask his opinions about it. His vague but standard or typical guru response, as to why I was dreaming about him, is because we have a “soul-connection”, “mystical connection”, “past life connection”. My unusual dreaming about him intrigued me greatly and drew me closer to be more interested in him.

In waking state, our atmosphere of interaction is quite formal. And in fact, we at times vibrationally clashed because of our differing approaches to spirituality. He is one of those teachers who maintain a dualistic mode of thinking and perceiving. He pushed my buttons. I might have done the same to him. Since his vibes in dream state and waking state are incongruent, I was perplexed as to whether he has a conscious agenda or not. It turned out that he has not. He was not telepathically contacting me in dream state, at least, not consciously on his end. Since I thought he was just a source of unnecessary confusion, I tried to totally avoid him. But as I “blocked” him, the dreams became even more intense and outrageous.

Lesson learned:

I claim myself to be a non-dualist and who is then unconditionally loving. Yet I perceived this individual as a dualist, and I was “bothered” by his dualistic teachings. I was provoked by some of his strongly held dualistic beliefs which I considered to be judgmental and discriminatory against other people who do not necessarily share his spiritual convictions.

He censured others. I censured him for censuring others. He judged others; I judged him for judging others. I criticized him because I wanted him to be more like me – a non-dualist – one who does not see higher or lower, but only strives to focus on the good in others. However, by judging and perceiving him as a dualist, by being provoked by his dualistic teachings, and by censuring him for censuring others, I have become a dualist myself!

I just found myself re-schooled in my lesson about non-duality and unconditional love!

Vegetarianism – A Path to World Peace?

Kat contemplating world peace (arguably)

Kat contemplating world peace

A while back, I blogged about vegetarianism and meat-eating which was a part of an interesting exchange I had with a certain spiritual teacher who is a staunch advocate for a vegetarian lifestyle.

Said spiritual teacher believes that vegetarianism is the answer to world peace. I understand that his premise comes from the belief that vegetarians are more peaceful, compassionate, non-violent people because of their diet and non-involvement in violence (the killing of animals for food).

Personally, I agree that vegetarianism can significantly contribute to world peace. However, it is not always the case that vegetarians are more peaceful and less inner-conflicted than meat-eaters.

I gave him two first-hand examples.

I have vegetarian friends who belong to a certain religious persuasion, and there was this incident I heard from some of them:

A group of them entered a restaurant and instructed the food servers that they do not want meat, oil from meat, and MSG in their food. The cook, in his total ignorance and lack of exposure about vegetarian people, put a little MSG on the vegetables as he worried that plain veggies would not satisfy the palate of the diners. Upon discovering that there is MSG in their food, the group of vegetarians stormed out of the restaurant, cursing the cook and the rest of the crew, upsetting other diners.

Where is the peace and the love, brothers?

Another story is the story of my friend who had been a vegetarian for more than a decade. For more than ten years, he did not join his family for meals. If it has meat in it, he refused to eat what his mother lovingly cooked as he was resolute about his vegetarian beliefs. And then, one day, he joined a volunteer group to do some projects in a very remote province. He observed that the indigenous people who welcomed them to their villages made all efforts to make them comfortable, despite that these people lived very simply and that they do not actually have much to offer in terms of tangible things. My friend observed that the little they have, they gave it all. If they have hunted meat, they served it to the guests first, and only after the guests have eaten their fill, the host family ate if there were leftovers. If there is no other ‘presentable’ food available, they catch their chicken (which they would not normally eat by themselves on ordinary days) to have something especial to feed the guests. They sacrifice their chicken so they can serve the best food they know of.

And the best food they know of happens to be meat!

Why is that?

For two reasons:

First, within the indigenous contextual framework, the meat of animals, specifically, wild animals, contain a special life-giving force. And the animal that allowed itself to be hunted down means it was willing to impart this life-giving force to its other relations – the human kind. Within the same contextual framework, the hunters reciprocate through the rituals and offerings they do before the hunt, and in the thanksgiving celebrations they perform after hunts and harvests.

Second, it has to be taken into account the fact that these remote villagers are mostly farmers, hunters and manual workers who work hard with the land and with raw nature. Hence, the best viand they know of is meat, for the reason that they feel it gives them more strength and energy which they specially require for their hard labor.

In addition, compared to people in towns and cities where commercial meat (with much less life-giving force) is readily available, these indigenous people do not have the luxury to eat meat any time they want. This adds to the special value they put on meat. This is also one reason why it is an absolute ‘paniyu’ (taboo) for them to waste animal meat.

Naturally, in a cultural context where hospitality means everything, people feel obliged to give their guests what they themselves consider is the best. And it so happens that for some, the best food to be offered to guests is animal meat.

With that peculiar experience and exposure, my vegetarian friend started eating meat again. He said he was deeply touched by the unsophisticated villagers’ nurturing quality, their authenticity and deep hospitality which he realized are values more important than rigidly adhering to a particular doctrine.

He learned that in a world of rich diversity, there is no absolute right or wrong. There is only what is appropriate at every given moment.

Is vegetarianism the key to world peace?

No, not entirely.

The first step to world peace is inner peace. And a crucial step to inner peace is to be at peace with the external things you cannot change. Again, this does not mean that you are condoning the wrong that you see in society. But maintaining a strong aura of peace is more influential and more transformative than any change that can ever come from militant and agitative action. How do I know? I’ve been there, done that.

A solution to world peace is certainly not found in arguing as to whether vegetarianism or not, is the answer or a path to world peace as this act is obviously not any different from the never-ending ideological and religious battles raging around.

Yes, compassion is definitely the key to world peace, and compassion includes understanding, tolerance, open-mindedness, and non-judgment.

To Eat or Not to Eat – Meat?

SEMC 3MP DSC

Polar the pup trying to eat raw chayote to compete with the cat that loves to eat the same.

.

To eat or not to eat meat? This is a most controversial topic. The simple and natural act of eating has unbelievably stirred fiery debates within the spiritual community. Whether to eat meat or not has created a divide, a battle among so-called spirituals.

I corresponded with a certain spiritual teacher who is an avid vegetarian. By the sounds and looks of it, he is the militant vegetarian type. He believes that everyone should become a vegetarian. I, on the other hand, come from a culture that eats meat, so we do not see eye to eye when it comes to the simple act of eating.

I have nothing against vegetarianism, and I am not an advocate for meat eating for any reason. In fact, I had been a vegetarian at some point in my life, and I have only good things to say about vegetarianism.I respect other people’s personal choices, so when it comes to eating, I try not to eat meat when I am in the company of vegetarians. I am aware of the many reasons why vegetarians choose to be vegetarians, and I agree with all their undoubtedly noble reasons and intentions for themselves, for the animals, for the environment, and even purportedly, for world peace.

I wrote a very long essay to this spiritual teacher, mentioning to him why some people are not vegetarians and why these people don’t necessarily see meat eating as sinful, impure, or deliberately a non-compassionate act. There are all sorts of people who eat meat, but the particular case I cited to him was my tribal group – an originally shamanic, animistic people who engage in traditional hunting.

I mentioned to him that unlike some people on this planet, we do not see human beings to be the apex of creation. We do not see a linear, hierarchical structure like a pyramid where human is on top and animals below.

As indigenous people, the way we see relationship is a circle where every creation is equal and interdependent.

It may appear a paradox because although we do not see animals as beings of a lesser divine essence (or, as some religions believe, animals incarnated as animals because of bad karma in some past life) compared to us humans, we do eat their meat. While we eat their meat, however, it does not mean that we look down on them, or that we see them as simply food to consume to satisfy our appetite for tasty meat. This is what many militant vegetarians seem to believe about all meat-eaters in general.

Hoping that he’ll understand better if I elaborate and give examples, I told him about our indigenous practice of communing with Animal Spirit first by doing a ritual and offering a small gift (a symbolic token) before a hunter goes to the forest to hunt. We do this because of our belief in reciprocity and the importance of aligning our energy with the spirit of the animal to be taken.

We also have the belief that an animal in the forest does not give away its meat if it does not want to. So no matter what a hunter does to catch a wild animal if the animal does not want to be taken, the hunter will have to go home to his family empty handed. The point being – we do not see these animals as innocent victims. We see them as powerful in their own animal way. They have their own spirit overseers that look after them.

cat eats raw vegetable

My cat enjoys raw cabbage.

.

We respect Animal Spirit.

One way of showing respect is to not waste any meat (including fishes, crabs, etc.). It is a taboo to waste animal meat because it is an offering from Animal Spirit. We consume all the edible meat, including edible bones – nothing goes to waste. This is how we show appreciation and gratitude to the animal being that offered its meat.

As we believe that we humans have eternal spirit and when we die only our body die, we also believe that animals have spirits, and when we eat animal meat, we are only eating flesh whose spirit has already been withdrawn.

Of course, just like us humans, animals experience pain because it is the nature of a body with nerves to feel pain. But it does not mean that when we butcher an animal, we have a malicious intent to inflict pain on it (not unless a meat eater has that weird intention!).

We live so close with animals and in nature that we see how nature naturally works – the Circle of Life. We know that someday we will also die and the earth will devour our flesh which will nourish the plants which the animals will in turn, eat. We know of death and we know of pain, and unlike the very clever Western mind, we are not always trying our best to avoid what we know as inevitable. Instead, we deal with these realities of life by striking a peace deal with Nature – through being at peace with “what is.”

I also told this spiritual guru how animals appear in our dreams and communicate to us, or how they guide and serve us in the waking state by giving us signs, or how dead ancestors and live sorcerers may shape-shift into animal forms which necessitates us to be extra-careful and knowledgeable when dealing with the animal kind. I related to him how we, ourselves, are animals in a parallel reality.

I shared with him about an exotic and parallel world which he knows nothing about.

And, what was his response?

He refused to take any of it as a valid excuse to eat meat.

I was surprised. He is a spiritual teacher, he told me.

I was not, at all, trying to make an excuse. It was not my intention to condone animal eating. If at all possible to dictate how everyone should eat, I would be one who will champion against meat-eating because I love animals too! I grew up with them! Growing up in the village, we did not have toys and dolls, we only had animals to cuddle and play with. We feed them and are affectionate with them, and they love us back unconditionally. So what’s not to like about dreaming to grow old with our animal companions?

wisdom

For so-called spiritual people seeking for happiness, peace, and enlightenment, is it not wiser to let go of all the judgment and labeling and acknowledge ‘what is,’ by being at peace with the things we cannot change through sheer force or by preaching?

Accepting the things we cannot change does not mean we are condoning the ‘wrong’ that we see.

There are seven billions of us here. Seven billion humans to interpret reality. Seven billion humans who have free will and personal preferences, which, unfortunately, is beyond one righteous man’s control. Can we control how seven billions should eat and drink to conform to what we believe is moral and spiritual so that we can finally feel good and find peace within ourselves? Believing that our advocacy or particular belief system is the most upright one that every one else should uphold?

Honestly, I found it a bit naïve for anyone to think that he/she can put an end to meat-eating on this planet, just because there will always be people who do things differently than he/she prefers to do.

If God allows meat-eating why do some people not want to allow what God allows?

I was merely trying to make this spiritual teacher see a different perspective. I was not trying to convince him that meat-eating is right. (Why would I make my life harder by trying to convince anybody about anything at all?) 

I believe that eating and drinking are a matter of personal or even religious choice. But just like the conflict that exist among different religious faiths, a specific way of doing things ought not to be believed to be the only way for everyone else to follow.

Tolerance, respect, understanding, compassion, open-mindedness, live and let live: these are the very core values I want to communicate. It is not about a rigid belief or dogma on what to eat and how to eat.

The Awakened Buddha, was he a vegetarian? No, he was not. He saw through all the illusion.

Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is not about eating and drinking.

Indeed, higher spirituality goes beyond the business of eating and drinking.

.

SEMC 3MP DSCKat munching on raw chayote.

.