The realization that life isn’t our doing; we’re a movement of nature. Everything, just as it is in any moment, is the already complete and pure expression of existence; it’s never been a person accomplishing anything. Darryl Bailey, Essence Revisited: Slipping Past the Shadows of Illusion (p. 3), New Harbinger Publications
It's light outside, but I'm not sure what the weather is or is going to be; I've got my blinds shut, the light above my computer turned on and I'm head down, typing these few words.
Well, it came and went — like they all do.
The only news I've not reported previously is the continued admission of my father-in-law, Brian (aged 83), to hospital. He's been in for eight days, and despite being very poorly with pneumonia and a whole heap of other heart-related problems, is climbing the wall. Yesterday, he called my wife (don't forget he's not allowed to see anyone) and with the hospital phone exclaimed: "I want you to press the red button". Now, my wife, being a nurse of some 30 years, has heard a few things in her time, but even she was a bit lost for words. She thinks he means — "Get me the f* out this place!". She intends to speak to the staff today to see exactly what can be done for Brian to get him home sooner rather than later. I will, of course, keep you posted, but it's too early to say what his prognosis is or might be but let's just say, he knows he's limited time left to enjoy his life — and it's likely, with all he's got going on, medically speaking, to be severely compromised.
Back to the title.
Yesterday afternoon, sat in my favourite chair, I read most of Darryl Bailey's memoir, "what the...". It was published in 2019. I've all his books — there are four in total. I Tweeted that he's my (in print) spiritual teacher. And it's true. I've taken more from his prescient and wise words than anyone else, including Thomas Merton.
Don't worry, this isn't a pitch but if you take the time to study his, now, nearly 70 years of life experience, you'll come to realise that previously he was a very ardent and serious spiritual seeker. In fact, at one stage he was an ordained monk in England under Ajahn Sumedho. But until reading a few words from Ramesh Balsekar, a student of Nisargadatta Maharaj, he was still struggling to understand the full import of (his) life. Once having done so, though, everything made sense — see the above quote, as pithy as it is.
Of course, I can only tell you what I've read and heard through his audio recordings but in many ways, not to mark myself out as anything more than an ordinary human being, I feel similarly blessed to know that all the struggle to arrive at this point seems utterly pointless when: a) we're not in control of any of it; b) we're most especially not our thoughts; and c) none of it really matters.
Prima facie, I accept that those very personal precepts look hopeless but when you let go — not in a deliberate way but through an annihilation of your desire to know and/or control everything — you realise that everything, much like in nature, carries on regardless. The thoughts, the moods, the beating heart, the senses keep sensing and if only we'd stop arguing with the ineffable nature of life, then there'd be an equanimity that, for most people, or at least the ones I know, is sadly missing.
Of course, that's my experience. And I'm not — heaven forbid — making any or a universal declaration. And that probably explains why, when I hear people reciting others for their truth, I'm apt to whisper to myself, "Yes, but what do you think?".
Even in this moment, if you're so inclined, consider what you actually know about any of the things that bring you joy or feel like you're living under a sense of crushing disappointment or defeat. Go (if you even can) to the source, and ask yourself the simple question:
What do I actually know about [insert]?
Trust me, this isn't easy. Mostly, we're apt to fall back to our conditioned past to explain things and that's fine. I'm not here, as I've said many times, to tell you how to live your oh-so-precious life.
All I know is that I am not creating my thoughts, any more than I'm creating the energy to drive my heart or brain. They happen as they happen. Some days they're good, other days really shitty and still other, just, meh! Sure, a lot of people think that they can will themselves positive but what does that even mean? You might think you choose or will things — and that's fine — but who or what chooses your choices or wills your wills? In short, if you consider your actual experience of life, you won't find anything to confirm that you are directing the movement of your life (see "what the..." as quoted above).
Now, in ordinary, everyday happenings — e.g. running a home, working and doing all the other stuff that consumes our time — this sort of woo-woo speak seems of little, if any, use but when you consider how much of life is replete in arguing with the present moment, namely, we want it this way and not another, you'll perhaps realise (at least it's been this way for me) the import of the 'we don't will our will' message. I'll be honest though, if I've tried to share this, even with my wife, I've got myself involved in (as she would describe it) a deep conversation. Of course, I don't think it deep at all. I think it very ordinary — dare I say obvious. But what it indicates to me is that, at least for the few people I've spoken to, they don't want to examine the unexamined part(s) of their life beyond a very few, spiritually-limited things.
And that's fine. Truly. I'm not out to convert anyone to anything.
But if you're so inclined, I would always invite you to look within and consider your actual experience of life and not rush immediately to buy another book, watch another TED talk or go see (or watch a Zoom meeting!) a putative Guru up close and personal.
In fact, these days, I much prefer an epistemological approach to all things spiritual because at least in that way I can test my own experience and not be sucked down another rabbit hole of magical thinking.
If you're interested to know more about Darryl's work, I've included his interview on Conscious TV which, whilst a bit dated now, is still worth watching. Here also is a link to his website.