An Unexamined Life Is Second-Rate Living
R: When one starts examining things that one has taken for granted, life becomes infinitely more interesting.
Q(1): I can see now how it was before I started on all this.
R: It is fascinating that none of this kind of personal inquiry came up in your spiritual years.
Q(1): I wonder why we didn’t. I wonder why all this ‘digging in’ didn’t happen .
Q(2): I’ll tell you what we did. We tried and we tried and we tried and we never got it right. We gave up. We never found somebody whom we could be with harmoniously to work it all out ... with the clear intent to work it out. In all those years.
Q: You need time to work it out ... you can not do it in a three-day workshop. You can play around with it there in personal encounter groups, but unless you do it in your daily life, nothing substantial happens. The people you interact with in the groups are fine, there, but the next time you see them, in town or socially, it’s all gone. What a shame.
R: What is necessary to observe is all the little points. I used to have a young person come to see me, years ago, and she would listen to what I had to say, discuss things with me. Then she would come with a particular situation in her life – with her lover or the people she was sharing a house with – and tell me about that. Then she would ask me: ‘What do you think about that?’ Then I would obligingly consider the matter and say something relevant. Then she would go away and put it into practice ... and it would very rarely work! What I had said to her made sense in the spirit of what was discussed at the time, so what was going wrong? This went on for about six months or so until she come to live with us for a while.
By living together one can not help but notice behaviour traits and I observed her in her daily life with her lover, with the other members of the household and with people who came to visit. Sure enough, we would end up sitting out on the verandah and having a chat about life, the universe and everything, as we were wont to do. She would eventually start in on telling me about a particular situation that happened, for example, that morning ... and what did I think about that? I would listen to her telling me about a situation I had observed myself and I saw where I had been going wrong over the last six months. I would only get to hear her version of the story. I would then be able to say: ‘What about such-and-such, though?’ or ‘I heard you say something different to him than what you are telling me’. Or ‘You had a particular tone of voice when you said that to him’. Or ‘You had a certain attitude, a distinct stance, when you interacted there’. This is what is causing your problems; please, observe these important manners of interacting and reciprocating.
She eventually packed her bags and left, saying: ‘I’m being watched all the time! You are spying upon me!’ It was all rather lovely for she was following a certain spiritual teacher who made a big thing out of awareness ... she would often want me to instruct her into the finer points of becoming aware – in the spiritual sense of the word, that is. It is one thing to discuss it, philosophically, and another to put it into practice in one’s daily life. One starts in on developing awareness by becoming conscious of the little tricks one gets up to ... even with the shopkeeper, for instance. ‘Oh’, she would say, ‘is that awareness?’ Of course it is not, yet one starts where one can. The little points, each moment again. An unexamined life is second-rate living.
Q(2): In my spiritual life I remember asking why is it that people are so unaware? It was really lovely to meet a person who was using their intelligence. A lot of devotees were ‘face down’, they were very ungrounded ... terrible to live with.
Q(2): Impractical, yes.
R: There are some fairly basic behavioural patterns, ordinary social protocols that are conducive to smooth, everyday living that are simply not observed by some seekers. They have rejected, not only society, but society’s niceties as well. One need not become rude, insensitive and boorish just because one is living a ‘meditative life’. We can talk intensely, frankly and sincerely to one another, all the while remaining considerate, and lose nothing but ignorance into the bargain.
Q(1): My spiritual years were, essentially, self-centred. I’d sit around eyes closed, as it were, getting into my own space.
Q: That is a word we often hear: ‘I need some space’.
R: I would like people to say: ‘Why? What is wrong? Do you not like me? Let us talk about it’. They say: ‘No, it’s not you, it’s me. I need some space’. I would like a person to say: ‘Why? What is that going to do?’ They say: ‘I need some time out’. I say: Let us sort it out now and have a good time together doing it. It is fun to find out, to explore together. To uncover and discover. What a delight! What a privilege! This is me; this is what I am.
Q(1): Taking ‘space’ is a way of avoiding uncomfortable discussion.
Q: Rather than say what is wrong they’ll avoid the situation?
Q(2): I had expectations that I’d be able to get it straight with people. It didn’t work, you never can get anywhere ... of course I had my own investment in it too.
R: What do you mean by investment? Do you mean you have something to lose? Is it the whole network of devotees? The social organisation which supports you, both physically and emotionally?
Q(2): It’s a completely unconscious investment.
Q: An investment in the group? Belonging to the group supports your sense of identity ... the very thing you wish to be rid of!
R: What initially stands in the way of action is the fear that one will become an outcast. The sum total of humanity’s drive is to cultivate the feeling of belonging. One feels that by no longer belonging one will live in solitude and isolation. Nothing could be further from the truth, because this is a feeling, not a fact.
The fact of being on one’s own is unlike the feeling of being alone ... which is loneliness. By daring to be an outcast – that is, standing on one’s own – one discovers that loneliness vanishes. I do not belong to any group ... yet I can live here because I have found intimacy – with myself and with all people. Not only has the need to belong become redundant, it is an assurance of safety and security. The sense of belonging is a chancy deception. Losing oneself in the flock contributes not only group highs but to mass hysteria ... and mob riots. Just as marital disharmony can lead to domestic violence, so too can civil unrest and communal violence lead to war.
All because of belonging.
The Third Alternative
(Peace On Earth In This Life Time As This Flesh And Blood Body)
Here is an actual freedom from the Human Condition, surpassing Spiritual Enlightenment and any other Altered State Of Consciousness, and challenging all philosophy, psychiatry, metaphysics (including quantum physics with its mystic cosmogony), anthropology, sociology ... and any religion along with its paranormal theology. Discarding all of the beliefs that have held humankind in thralldom for aeons, the way has now been discovered that cuts through the ‘Tried and True’ and enables anyone to be, for the first time, a fully free and autonomous individual living in utter peace and tranquillity, beholden to no-one.
Richard's Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.