palms and cirrus arc
palms and cirrus arc

Are You Serious? The Mystery of Grace

Being serious, being earnest. About the truth …

That phrase — “the truth”, or “Truth” — has come to mean something different here.

All Else is Distraction

Most people’s problem is that they are not serious. They are afraid of the truth – what they imagine it to be. Or of what’s inside themselves. So when they go into psychology, or go to satsang (which means “being together in Truth” or “being in Reality together.”), or to study something about how to be happy or find love or be at peace, or be successful (which is really the same goal of happiness and peace, because they erroneously believe this “success” will bring them more than temporary happiness and peace, a sense of being alive, or love, the end of desire and fear), or are on a “spiritual path” or in search of something, a “seeker” or practice something, they may not realize that their goal (conscious or not) is a distraction.

We want to feel better, feel something in particular: feel safe, cozy, comfortable, or feel something such as “energy”, or we want a state (which they may call ” awakening”), or not feel something, or an escape, or they want to have a good time. Have some fun. they want to have an experience. For the bodymind, or for the image of themselves. We want salvation – from paranoia, from feeling lost, not part of something…

Or we obtain a status, or an object, a love object, something to worship, a sense of purpose, or set of circumstances. Or we may have an obsession with an object (such as a person or teacher, or a substance or a state, or a future imagined, good or bad, desired or feared …), an infatuation, an attachment…

… we want a brighter, shinier ego, basically (self help).

All very well and good. The balm that is used to feel better, to escape the fear, resolve a desire might help, because you might not have the presence of mind, the clarity, to start thinking for yourself and asking good questions with one-pointedness and the silence of mind to see. But are you really serious…

Serious Failure is Real Success

You might have to fail, deeply, badly, before the eyes are opened.

Then why do I say it’s a problem – this not being serious. Because all of these motivations (reasons for doing or going) are a “lower” goal in this sense: the balm that is used to feel better, to look better, to self improve … is temporary, is a distraction.

So I don’t mean “serious” in the sense of heavy, or weighed down, but in the sense of wanting, seeing, and telling the truth, no matter what, to oneself and others.

Do or Die

You have to be willing to die.

And I don’t mean physically die — that would be stupid — but die to old beliefs, to a way of living, to an old identity, to whatever one was holding on to. The false sense of importance must die – the sense of importance in what is not (really) important. Where one’s interest is, one’s worship is: are you worshipping family, or money as your gods, or the ego (self-image, opinion, approval, control, security), or the body, or an object out there, or states of mind … there are endless objects of consciousness to worship, but being mere objects of consciousness, they come and go, cannot be held onto, are impermanent, are a distraction, are part of the world of cause and effect. Are “empty” as the Buddhists say.

Die in the sense of “do or die”: it could be that you, like the author, had tried everything, seen everything, are at the end of your rope, and want some answers to burning questions that no one has been able to answer. That’s the sense of being “serious” and “willing to die” I mean. You are open. Ready, willing and open.

Surrender and Grace

Hopefully, it’s so “bad” that it’s good: you surrender. Then something else comes in. Grace it’s called. No one knows what it is, which is why we use these vague words. If we knew what it was, it wouldn’t be grace.. Grace is of the Whole, of the Totality. Thus it can’t be defined or held or captured or created or made to happen, or owned. Not by anyone. It is a not-holding of the anything or anyone.

To be then, like a child, open, ready, full of wonder and delight at the ordinary that is really new and extraordinary, no longer seen through the filters of desires, fears, beliefs, the interpretations and agendas of mind, of “the head”.

All you can do is get everything out of the way, by telling the truth. This world is a very heavy place, full of lies. One can be remarkably light and free, telling the truth, first to oneself, then as need be, to (seeming) others.

Eric Platt

2 Comments

  1. Fred Hughes on December 30, 2023 at 8:08 am

    Seems like failure or coming to the end of one’s “rope” can be the preparation for the grace event. In the Christian model, it seems that “new birth” happens where all becomes new. Jesus doesn’t really tell how to “do” this because it just happens not by effort. Then depending on the environment many beliefs and filters are inculcated but the “new birth” and associated death are initially pure nondual
    Realizations. Perhaps, but all is really mysterious and hard to really describe. Thanks for your writing Eric.

    • Eric Platt on December 31, 2023 at 11:22 am

      Yes it seems like that. I believe the common element in both “coming to the end of one’s rope”, and the spontaneous happenings of grace and illumination, and the seeming (intentional) preparation such as in spiritual practices (including the deep questioning in self-enquiry) are an openness.

      The interesting thing is, this openness can’t be produced artificially as it were, such as by the “little self”, since the self or mind is by nature not open, but a closed system. For example, I used to imagine I knew what “openness” was when spiritual teachers described it, but then when it was actually experienced, it was “Oh, aha! That’s what they were talking about!” It’s an experience. An expereince that then becomes a mere memory, which is not the “knowing” we are looking for.

      So how do grace and illumination happen? What can one do? The answer is, the less the better! In other words, activity cannot produce the “stillness that we Are.”

      At one point, certain pointers seemed very helpful, such as Robert Adam’s “Leave everything and everyone alone.” and “Your only freedom is to not react.” Those were very powerful for me. Yet, later I lost interest in them. Theses days I enjoy other pointers or being pointerless.

      It seems like going to satsang can potentially help to undo what’s in the way, yet some people go to it for decades and are still seeking.

      So who knows, ultimately.

      Not-knowing is the best.

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