Maintain a beginner’s mind

A mind that is really humble has an immense capacity for inquiry, whereas the mind that is under the burden of knowledge, with its own conditioning, can never really inquire. A man who says he knows is already dead. But the man who thinks, “I don’t know,” who is discovering, who is not seeking an end, not thinking in terms of arriving or becoming — such a man is living, and that living is truth.

– Jiddu Krishnamurti

The world is full of half-enlightened masters

The world is full of half-enlightened masters. Overly clever, too “sensitive” to live in the real world, they surround themselves with selfish pleasures and bestow their grandiose teachings upon the unwary. Prematurely publicizing themselves, intent upon reaching some spiritual climax, they constantly sacrifice the truth and deviate from the Tao.

What they really offer the world is their own confusion. The true master understands that enlightenment is not the end, but the means. Realizing that virtue is his goal, he accepts the long and often arduous cultivation that is necessary to attain it. He doesn’t scheme to become a leader, but quietly shoulders whatever responsibilities fall to him.

Unattached to his accomplishments, taking credit for nothing at all, he guides the whole world by guiding the individuals who come to him. He shares his divine energy with his students, encouraging them, creating trials to strengthen them, scolding them to awaken them, directing the streams of their lives toward the infinite ocean of the Tao.

– Lao Tzu

Tough Love

Boundaries play an interesting and sometimes complicated role in developing compassion. They are like the stake and wires that are used to help keep young trees rooted and growing straight. Early on in our practice or when we’re faced with difficult, new challenges, a lack of healthy boundaries can lead to our compassion being blown away before it’s had a chance to take root. As we develop, though, boundaries held too tightly can stifle our compassion and keep it from reaching maturity. In the process of developing compassion, we need to become skillful at knowing when to apply boundaries and when to relax or release them.

– Lorne Ladner, “Taking a Stand”

Unearned guilt

If short lived pleasure is the parent of pain, then unearned guilt must be the Mother of egocentric delusion.

Whether it be the subject of race, the ecology, gender issues, or relative wealth; the program is the same — If you haven’t done anything wrong, stop letting collective, unearned guilt drive your rhetoric and actions.

If you want to change something wrong you’re doing today, great.  Have at it.  But, the distant past no longer exists, and any real or perceived wrong one might dwell upon is simply a repeat of previous, identical events.  Nothing’s ever new or unique.

Same goes with giving others a hard time about things people did 150 years ago.

Stop it.  It’s just ignorant, self-centered behavior.

What is a “liminal” state?

“Liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning “a threshold”) is a psychological, neurological, or metaphysical subjective, conscious state of being on the “threshold” of or between two different existential planes” (Wikipedia)

A ‘liminal’ state is when structures dissolve and the stream of events undergoes a creative process of change, resulting in the spontaneous emergence of fundamentally new forms and modes of being.

Thus a ‘liminal’ state is the state of being in the midst of a radical, whole system, evolutionary, quantum leap.

It is not a smooth transition but a radical discontinuity. For example, if one cuts open a caterpillar’s cocoon one doesn’t find a half-caterpillar-half butterfly, what one finds is a complex biological soup that is in a liminal state.

Paradigm shifts also require such transformative leaps, where the old ways of thinking and being are deconstructed all the way down to the the fundamental assumptions from which they have grown. When these are dissolved by the clear light of awareness the new paradigm will emerge and flourish.

This process is known to alchemists as VITRIOL, the “Universal Solvent”. It is from this acronym that the word vitriolic arose, to describe the action of sulphuric acid and its capacity to dissolve things into their basic constituents.

VITRIOL stands for “Visitas interiora terrae rectificando invenese Occultum Lapidum.”

Literally it translates as “Visit the interior of earth and by rectification you will discover the Hidden Stone (the Philosopher’s Stone).”

What it means is that in any context, delve into the foundations of it, dissolve it into its fundamental constituents and underlying causes then seek to correct the situation at that deep level, then you will gain profound insight and mastery of that context. This is particularly applied in the alchemical context of self-awareness, self-knowledge, self-transformation and self-mastery.

Self-Realisation, profound insight and effortless mastery are easily attainable, but only on the “other side” of a liminal state. If one simply builds upon the old foundation in new ways one only creates variations of the same old theme. To discover that which is truly new one must dissolve the old and let things go into a liminal state.

– John Ringland, 2010-07-16