by Peter Del Vecchio
In my previous article, “Imagine”, I wrote about the concept of believing only what you know to be true, not believing what someone else tells you just because they say it is true. By letting go of what was told to you that you really don’t know is true, you can make room in your mind to observe more objectively and learn for yourself what actually is true. Sometimes the difference is quite dramatic![ad name=”AdSense Responsive”]
I am not advocating that we ignore the “Caution! Danger Ahead!” signs in life. We do not need to get hit by a bus to know that we do not want to get hit by a bus! Common sense plays a huge part in one’s spiritual unfoldment. My teacher used to say to keep one foot in the clouds, but always keep one foot on the ground, too. I still think that is good advice.
I like advice, especially from trusted sources. Advice presents concepts, yet allows us to make up our own minds. It is your choice to either follow or ignore the “Caution!” sign; you are responsible either way. It is your choice. Everything you do, think, or say is always your own choice. Dogma, on the other hand, removes from us the freedom to reason deeply and feel what is true, as it binds us to a rigidity that does not always serve us best. My advice is to avoid dogma.
“Neti Neti” is a Sanskrit term, meaning “Not this, Not this”. For milleniums, truthseekers have tried to share what they have learned about Spirit and Truth, the biggest challenge being that it is virtually impossible to describe what exists in realms beyond our “physical” universe (which is often referred to as a “dream” or an illusion) using references from within the dream itself. “Neti Neti” means that what we “seem” to be experiencing through the senses is not true, so: “Not this, Not this”. It means that the senses are lying to you, “you” being the mind, which “seems” to dwell within the body. The Bhagavad Gita states: “The mind follows in the wake of the wandering senses.”
Imagine trying to share with a blind person what the color fuchsia is, or with a deaf person, the difference between the sounds of a clarinet and a flute. Through such metaphors, we can begin to understand the complexity of sharing that which exists in realms our senses cannot know, beyond our body-centered experiences.
Because of this conundrum, many people just give up seeking or trying to understand. The natural inquisitiveness and openness of youth hits a brick wall when pondering our very existence – the “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” questions that require specific – and rare – guidance. Often, because of the absence of understanding and because of the absence of not knowing how to begin to understand, many people just give up. They just get “lost” in the dream, and soon forget to look at the dream itself from within the dream, which would give them a most valuable perspective and crucial key to unlocking the door of knowledge. These are the “lost sheep” that Jesus the Christ referred to.
Of course, any term can be interpreted on many levels. The term “lost sheep”, for example: Some folks might use the term to describe those they feel are “not saved” according to a certain religious belief. Unfortunately, along with that belief often comes the associated dogma and judgment that the “unsaved” will burn in Hell or some such punishment. (Please read “Imagine” for my thoughts on that.) By such reasoning, those that are “saved” are better, and therefore, “superior”. If there is a God and if he did make us, do you think he would make any one of his children feel less than the others?
A lost sheep is just that – lost. Nothing more. Not sinister, not evil, and certainly not worthy of fiery eternal punishment. It is vulnerable and frightened, having been separated from the flock. As a twelve year-old boy scout, I really did get lost in the woods once. It was really scary. Eventually, I heard sounds that led me to a camper chopping wood. When he returned me to my scoutmaster, there was happiness all around! Burn in Hell? I don’t think so. What do you think?
So, how do we learn to remember the dream, see the dream for what it is, and maintain this focus? It is tricky, that’s for sure. It takes a strong effort, and it’s easy to get off track. If you want to be a major league baseball player, you have to put forth effort and regular practice. The same goes for being a concert violinist, or a symphonic trumpet player. Guess what? The same goes for being a person who sees and lives with the knowledge of the dream, and who remembers – “Neti Neti” – that this seeming physical dream-world is not all there is. Not this, Not this.
We might be master Monopoly players and own all the game’s hotels and properties, but we still pack away the game when it is over. It is not real. It is a game and nothing more. All the Monopoly money goes back into the box. Can you imagine that this life you are “living” might not be that much different? Observe yourself at the age you are now. Your past years were a twinkling ago. Now, think of the oldest person you have ever known. You will be just like that person sooner than you think. Neti Neti.
Imagine you have spent your whole life gathering Monopoly money – a metaphor, of course, for fame, power, “rightness”, possessions, control, position, sensual gratification of all sorts, etc. Then, in a twinkling, you are as old as that person we just referred to – AND it has by then become too late to change course and learn what it is you really came here for in the first place. It’s like the boy who gets distracted catching frogs after his mom had sent him to the store for a loaf of bread. Caught up in “the hunt”, he loses awareness of the purpose of his trip. Time passes…and then he hears His Mom’s Voice calling. Oops! Neti Neti.
How can we regain control? There are a few simple things we can all do that are very effective and powerful:
1. What do you really want? You alone decide what you want as the foundation of your living. Without right desire, your efforts will be short-lived. Once you know that you want to grow beyond this “Neti Neti” dream-world, you are ready to learn. It is your choice.
2. Meditate. It is easy and powerful. You do not need complex instruction; you just need to find someone honest to show you how. Meditation is the act of going within, of being receptive, as opposed to thinking or projecting. It is not the same as prayer. Prayer is thought-based; meditation is founded in receptivity.
3. Act in accordance with Who You Are. Live in as peaceful a circumstance as possible. Acknowledge your natural temperament and do your best to see your effects upon others. Observe reactions and adjust or accommodate with balance. Accept responsibility for your thoughts, words, and actions.
4. Act, think, and speak as consistently as you can. Try to work on this every day. Don’t think one thing and say another. As you practice this, your thoughts, words, and actions will become more aligned and will all begin to evolve to a higher level.
5. Associate with nice people. The yogis say, “Keep the company of wise and holy people”. Same thing. Nice people are everywhere – and they don’t have to be perfect to be nice.
6. Give. No, it’s not money I’m referring to. I’m talking about giving of yourself. Sometimes the best gift you can give is to just really listen to another person. Give a sincere smile or a kind and supportive word. If you are feeling cranky or judgmental, give the gift of your silence until your inner storm passes, as it will.
7. Input good stuff. Articles, books, music, poetry, whatever. Uplifting words, music, and the balanced and helpful thoughts of others are incredibly important when seeking to grow spiritually.
I have written a book titled The Art of Being Human. If you choose, you can get it directly from me (see below) or on Amazon.com. There is another book that I strongly recommend, written by Gary Renard, called The Disappearance of the Universe. It is a bull’s eye on the archery target of Life. It can help you grow beyond the “Neti Neti” of this world, this Monopoly game we mistakenly call “reality”. It has helped me get back and stay back on track, and I urge you from my heart to read it.
Be positive. You can do it! Reject the counsel of those who say it is impossible to understand what lies beyond the physical world. Like the concert violinist, you just need a good teacher, a positive attitude, and regular practice with sincerity and determination. You will succeed as sure as Spring follows Winter. The thrill of changing for the better is a birthright of Man.
If you would like to, you may leave a comment below.
Peter Del Vecchio is a natural teacher. Spirituality is his foundation, his university degrees are in music, and he is at home in the natural world. He is a helper with a universal approach. Formerly a yogic monk in the lineage of Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh, he re-entered society, continuing to learn and grow. He is the author of The Art of Being Human: Channeled Writings and Commentaries of an American Spiritualist, and is a musician: performer, teacher, composer and conductor.
Peter and his wife, Patti, own Within, a healing center in Lexington, Virginia, where they offer services including meditation, stress reduction, workshops, reflexology, energy work and more. You can write to Peter at WithinLex@gmail.com, visit him on the web at WITHIN, or connect with him on Facebook.
Copyright 2012 Peter Del Vecchio