Finding the Supreme
Chapter 8 — Becoming the Wizard of Is
Most of us can’t calm down enough to search for anything except the car keys, not to mention searching for self. This chapter provides some ways we can begin to at least like ourselves enough to allow god to come to us sweetly, easily, and eagerly.
The way out is the way in
It is not impossible for even a very anxious person to cope with and then to triumph over anxiety by becoming a wizard of is. Becoming a wizard of is means learning to be in the now moment. There is no anxiety there. This will be discussed later in detail. Living in the now moment means first finding the entry point to now and then moving in. Happily, finding and inhabiting are the same. Staying there is another matter, and my experience is we don’t stay because an effort to stay there is not a now activity; it is an anxious activity locating our awareness into the future and necessarily abandoning the present. But as should be seen below, this all is not as slippery as it may first appear. There are techniques. They can mostly be considered orientations instead of “steps”, in keeping with the notion here that there are no steps to God. And they aren’t guarantees, but they might help us find other ways that work for us.
The notion of finding an entry point to now is somewhat comic since there really isn’t an entry point, or the entry is everywhere and every-when, really the same as not being any specific place at all. It is instructive to notice that our English language uses the same word to refer to both past and future. We say, “I was happy then.” And we say, “Then I will be happy.” So it was now then. And it will be now then. Nothing new here, we’ve been told these things quite a lot, but the angel is in the details.
After a few significant experiences of radical present moment awareness, one eventually yearns for now. Now becomes sort of like Poo Harbor, and we want to get back.
So what do nervous people do to find an entry point to where we already are? What do we do to put an end to nowstalgia. There are many things we can do.
Read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Mr. Tolle was as miserable as any of us before he found his way. He suffered so much he couldn’t stand it and finally he was lucky. About when he was ready to shatter, he woke up one morning enlightened. Nice work if you can get it. Tolle absolutely gets it. He is a modern writer talking in an accessible way about finding our way Home.
Read Be Here Now by Ram Das. Then read it again.
Do Pranayama. Do it a lot. Pranayama is a simple Hindu breathing technique. Sit comfortably; put the thumb of one hand (I use my right) on your nose, gently closing off the nostril. Put two fingers of the same hand on the other side of your nose – you’re supposed to use the two middle fingers, and your index finger just kind of hangs out in space or perches on the bridge of your nose.
Start with a gentle inhale into the open nostril. At the top of the inhale, switch sides. This means release the nostril under the thumb and close the nostril on the other side with the two fingers. Gently exhale. Then inhale. Switch sides. Gently exhale, inhale, switch. Keep going. That’s it. Each side is an exhale and an inhale; you switch when “full”.
This technique is effective because it is mechanical. Little thinking involved. What is involved is attention. You cannot do this very long if your mind is wandering all over the universe. You just forget what nostril you’re on. You can do this technique no matter how freaked out and panicked you are. It will at least calm you down, a precursor to opening up now for you. And when you do get calmed down, now may open.
The technique of Pranayama is so valuable that when students asked Maharishi (TM founder) what we’d do if we didn’t have TM he is reported to have said, “Lots and lots of Pranayama”.
How long to do it? Ten minutes is fine; it’s more important to do it until you feel a change in awareness, you slowly calm down and come into a gentle focus with the runaway worrying mind slowing down; then go as long as you like. You might fall asleep.
Do Yoga. This is also something you can do in the midst of a panic attack. Find a teacher, any teacher, or a book, and do Yoga, any Yoga. There are a lot of different techniques. From where many of us start, terrifying neurosis, it does not matter which yoga we do. It is a lot more important to do it than to do the right one. The one you do is the right one.
Read anything by Louise Hay. (You Can Heal Your Life). This wonderful lady had been through hell, found her way, and writes beautiful clear prose about getting to now. A very practical and effective book. If you get her, you can’t forget her.
Buddhism. I don’t recommend just reading very much about it. Buddhism can go to your head very quickly. Buddhists have written philosophical tracts on it for thousands of years, and people who are faced with psychological emergency can’t afford at first to think abstract ideas about getting to safety. It’s excessive thinking that gets us into trouble in the first place.
Find the Buddhist notion of ‘Practice’ and start to do it. Find the stuff in the books about ‘mindfulness’, put the book away and do it. There are wonderful local Buddhist centers all across America with dedicated Buddhist practitioners to show you the way for almost no dollars. A Buddhist style of meditation can be very healing. A very actual, intentional, and effective entry point to now. A way to peace. But I recommend doing a practice, not just reading about it.
One thing about the Buddha, he was practical and he didn’t flinch from saying the unsavory. “Life is pain” (translated in many different ways, but let’s just say it this way) was his first teaching observation and then he set about showing how to demolish pain. Billions of people have found their way out by this way in
Other meditation styles. Any meditation. Like Yoga, which you might say is a form of meditation with the body, there are many effective varieties and the one you can do is the one for you.
Simply following the breath even without doing alternate nostril breathing as in pranayama is a wonderful meditation and a way into now. It goes like this: As you breathe, be aware of it as in, “Breathing out, I know that I breathe out … breathing in, I know I breathe in”… (I believe I found these specific words in a book by the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh.) You can say the words to yourself, quietly inside as you go. In extreme situations you can say it out loud, maybe not exactly in public…
You will find your mind wandering off, and noticing that is the key, because the part of you that noticed your mind wander away didn’t wander away. And this is the part we want to touch. Once touched, it will lovingly gather the rest of you in. Just gently come back to following the breath. Go as long as you can with comfort.
You can do this anywhere, anytime. Good way to fall asleep. Good way to wake up.
You are following your breath with your attention alone without your fingers to help you know where you are. In some way therefore it is more advanced. If you have trouble with breath meditation, practice with physical pranayama first. Recalling the discussion from chapter one that attention and intention are sacred assets, breathing meditations are premier ways to culture both in self service to real self.
It’s boring? Progress. Because breath meditations bring up the questions, who is running this. Who is doing this. Who is watching. What is going on. Who forgot where I am, left nostril, right nostril, this is all ridiculous. Who picked it up again. Who decided to do this anyway. In breath meditations these questions don’t go away by distractions found in usual activity, because distraction is the point. Distractions are road markers. So, ok, I must be on this stupid pathless path because something that is not out there pulled me off what nostril I was on. What did that? Who did that? Why did I let them? Let who? Who got distracted here? Who distracted the who? What is he doing? This is stupid. I’d rather suffer. Do I have any beer? Am I done yet? It’s raining. I would give a million dollars for the phone to ring.
This may be the first time in our lives we have even noticed the hilarious inner human dialog running around inside like a hamster pleading for a way out of in. Who’s the hamster? Who is out? Who goes in? This is booooooooooring! I’m outta here. You sure are.
Basically we will continue to do this service only once it becomes too painful not to. Once nothing else works to inch us a microsecond towards Poo Harbor. I have never met a westerner who wanted to sit and do nothing — until doing anything else but nothing had become agony.
- Oddly enough, breath meditation might produce considerable anxiety in some people. I have taught this technique to very depressed or anxious people with quite mixed results. One woman fell asleep immediately and it scared her nearly to death. She woke up thinking it was like a form of Voodoo and never did it again. Other people calm down quickly and benefit right away.For many people who are very disassociated from themselves, I.E. not in touch with the part of them that is in now, there are two problems with this technique. First, it seems too simple. In the West we need rooms full of machines to change anything about health. Think CAT Scan. So if it works, it must be a trick of some kind that is maybe almost dangerous. I mean, it put me to sleep, made me pass right out! Second, it may seem too strange. For many people it is the first inward focused thing they have ever done in a life of focusing only out into the world. To follow the breath makes these folks uncomfortable precisely because it does work for its intended purpose, it quiets the mind and brings it home to where it lives, within itself, and right exactly now, and they have never been there before. For people this frightened of themselves, something will work to retrieve them from personal hell, I just don’t know what it is.
“When you’re late, walk slower”. A Buddhist saying; the trick to this is not doing it, but remembering to do it. Remembering to do it is a portal to now. As mentioned, the part of you that remembers to do it is the part of you that never left now. Doing it calms you down immediately. You can’t do it without calming down, can you? This technique cannot fail. I’ll leave it to you to experience all the wonderful thoughts doing this brings up, such as “what is late, anyway?”.
- Sound therapies. Modern sound therapies are sound therapies. The book Human Tuning by John Beaulieu presents the theoretical foundations and given our analysis of the universe as all vibration, it all fits together well.One technique known as binaural beats presents different but harmonious pure tones made by tuning forks to each ear and the human brain integrates them in amazingly healing ways. Practitioners of Beaulieu’s and similar techniques are appearing. One client received the beautiful shock of his life when looking in the mirror after a session and finding the most wonderful human in the universe looking back, as mentioned in Chapter 1. And the experience stayed, and lived, and transformed.
There are many benefits to living in the now moment. Let’s focus on the fact that you stop suffering.
For the pathologically anxious, everywhere but now hurts. Worry and obsession about the future change places with the same about the past. Both are marinating in pain and guilt. Somehow one can get stuck in past/future obsession. It’s not worth figuring out how this happened when a way out of it as simple as breathing is available.
Some might have to give worry its way. For some it is simply too powerful an addiction and I worry, therefore I am. It is worthwhile admitting that putting aside worry may very well be impossible. But there also might be a clever jujitsu move we can make on the worry demon. Let’s say, on the count of 3 I am going to worry. One, two, three, WORRY! So when are we worrying? Well, we are worrying now. When is it possible for me to worry? When is the only time that I can worry? Yes, Now. This proves now is bigger than worry, but it may not solve the issue. Worry is clearly a severe control mechanism of the ego. Sometimes worry has hooks so deep into us that it’s not possible to think our way out of worrying. Sometimes the tyrannical ego cannot be deposed when we wish.
Even though we know worrying in the past about a problem didn’t handle it and we know regretting it in the future won’t handle it, and we know the exit from anxiety is now, this may not give us peace.
A worrier will say, no, it is because I was worrying about it that I prepared for it. Worry is a necessary thing. Maybe worry can’t fix something that has not occurred, but it can keep something from occurring that might. It is irresponsible not to worry. The most cheery brief for worry I have heard is, “If something bad happens, and you weren’t worrying about it, you probably caused it.” True to some, and not funny for them.
We must prepare for emergencies, must we not? Indeed, but when can we prepare? Right.
We may go round and round. As said earlier, the ego does have its place in our lives, but a way must be found for us to decide what that place is. If it’s a tyrant, try loving it to death? If we need medication, god makes medications too. Our language tutorial again, meditation and medication one character apart and I may just be the character. If my ego is blocking my way to who I really am, this ego is in more trouble than it gives, for eventually, one day, this must and will end.
If there is some emergency in my now, I am handling it. After all it is an emergency. I am not worrying about it. In emergency, panicked you may be, but it is real panic, not anxious panic. And, just because it is happening now, you can handle it. Now is the only place to handle it because, as Louise Hay says, now is the only place it is possible to make a decision.
If there is pain but not an emergency happening in your now, every source I have ever found credible on this topic points out that when you think correctly about it, that is, accurately and honestly, you will realize that you are OK. And this means all the time. All now. You are not suffering. In the now you are OK.
Emergency necessarily plunge us into now, where we are not suffering, as we deal with the emergency. I believe this is why so many people create emergencies and drama in their lives. It’s a stupid way to temporarily end the suffering of anxiety and worry, and unfortunately for many, it works well enough to become an addiction. I freak out, therefore I am.
I did not accept this. My objection was what if I am in physical pain? The sources of wisdom on this idea say that even in the midst of physical pain I am OK. I don’t bear pain well or easily, but if I am honest I have to admit that I also don’t know how to deal with pain in the now. I’m in the past worrying about how I got this, or I’m in the future, worrying about how long it will last, how to solve it, and will it get worse. I am so overshadowed by the pain that I cannot even ask who is hurting.
Note, if the pain is an emergency, I am solving it. I am screaming for a nurse, or I am dialing 911. If the pain is not an emergency and I stay in the now, I finally had to admit it actually does not seem so bad, because I am in touch with the part of me that is not in pain. This part is an inhabitant only of now. To simply touch this part of us is a pain reducer.
This is becoming a wizard of is.
Of course we pick up the phone and order more pain ‘killer’ if we need it, but we do that in now. It is the only place in which to do it, so we might as well experience this fact, since with it arrives contact with our now self, who isn’t hurting.
If we are not in pain, being in now can liberate us from worry, in spite of the above caveats. Being embedded in now we can recognize future threats but they should not be overwhelming if we really are in the now moment. The platform of OK supports us.
I am OK in this now right now.
Let’s define “OK”. I have enough air (else it’s an emergency). Enough water, food, and other essentials are available. I can think any thought that I want, including the one that it’s now. Nobody is attacking me. They may in the future, but that’s not now. If they do, I will deal with it then, like I have before; if it’s an emergency, I’ll be OK because there won’t be time to worry, I’ll be fully engaged in handling the emergency. I cannot handle it now, because it’s not happening and so not available for fixing, distracting, or hurting me.
OK is an exit from the field of anxiety, by definition. It also grows by itself to become eventually what the sages have called bliss, but for many among us it is quite enough to have suffering stop, even for a second. One second of OK imperils a lifetime of anguish. It is a way out. And the way out as said many times here bears multiple repeats, and is the way in. Into here, into now, into where I really am. Where do I go to feel better? Nowhere except here, now. I need nothing to go nowhere other than to change my current thought. To realize that it’s now.
Am I in now when I am not in now? Of course I am. When else could I not be in now?
Even changing my current thought is not needed; I have billions of thoughts and there is no need for more. All I have to do is select one that brings me into now by watching them, and watching itself brings me into now, sometimes with a bang. We recognize and welcome this bang as slamming the door to then behind us.
How do I tell it’s now?
Following are some clues.
Colors get sharper. They become richer as the darks get darker and lights lighter. I.E., contrast increases. Edges become noticeably finer and more detailed.
Perspective deepens. Figure / Ground phenomena become more apparent. You’re noticing everything more clearly so you are also noticing the relationships among things more completely. This is nice to experience and may be entirely new at first.
More is noticed. You see, and hear things you did not before. Crickets, birds, car horns, are more noticeable. And in the case of car horns, they are less irritating, too.
Things seem just there. Judging them as positive or negative, as desirable or not lessens. Judging may disappear entirely. Please do not mistake this for apathy when it happens to you. It is the beginning of full appreciation for everything. When forcefully picking one thing over another you really cannot appreciate
Justice. As judging begins to leave awareness, we begin having the experience of “just is”. Could English be playing with us again? Is there some relationship between just-is and justice? When I am extremely and nowly OK do I yearn for justice? If I should have a thought of it, where does now go? And with it my OK?
Getting to know me. Until the growth of this experience of what might be called genuine justice, automatically constructed in now moments, people are missing themselves as stated earlier. Nowstalgia is a lament not just about not being here now, but not knowing my true self – who isn’t here. I know all the other dimensions of my experience; I know it is raining; I know it is midnight. But, as Sri Mooji ask us so constantly, Who knows this?
The sense of spaciousness, presence, peace, in a cathedral is incredible, palpable, extreme. This begins to occur inside of what we think of as our ‘head’ as we let us be here now. Normal experience is that our mind is inside our head encased in bone and in there is where we think. This sense of confinement may relax a little. Our sense of where we are aware may expand a great deal. It may be faint. In any case, congratulations, we did it, we entered now.
This enrichment of perspective was put into words by a friend who reported seeing a saint – it doesn’t matter which one. She said he “relativised the space in the area”. This is a beautiful if abstract way of putting it. It is abstract. But it is concrete when it happens.
It happened seeing in person Mother Teresai walk down an aisle in church. She took over the space. She was the center, and the church moved around her.
It happened in New York City seeing Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the stage of the Felt Forum hundreds and hundreds of seating rows away. There was Maharishi. And there was everything else.
It happened in Taipei in what is called the night market, of all places. There was a young Buddhist monk with shaved head and begging bowl. He was standing 200% still in a yogic posture on one leg with his other leg bent and its foot on the standing leg knee.
He was looking straight ahead and I was behind him but he was looking at me. He was figure; all else was ground. I walked part way around him at a little distance in inner awe. My Chinese hosts wouldn’t let me give him any coins and pulled me away. But I never left. Years later, I am still there.
In an experience of now with or without a saint around, the space around you can become “relativised”. There is you and everything else. This is because heretofore there was just everything else. Now, you are there too.
A way to recognize now is when your sense of self becomes so expanded that you may if walking experience yourself walking through yourself. You may become both figure and ground; you might become both the trail and the one walking it. You can have a definite experience of moving through you. This is a valid experience on this learning path and lets you know you are on it. Walking or sitting, doing something or nothing, awareness may dawn in us that the center is everywhere.
Enlightened ones tell us there is a step beyond the relative distinction of you and what usually seems to not be you. Sages have said “Everything is viewed in terms of my self”. Entry to now opens infinite possibility. If not, at any rate, it’s a long way from anxiety. An inspiring vision may be helpful as you work through techniques that seem designed only to get something to cease, pain and anxiety. As we know intuitively, there is a lot more to life than the absence of pain. The road through now leads us literally to wherever we wish.
Now is inescapable. It is easier to let it be so. We were here and now there and then. We will still be here and now there and then.
In an emergency, it’s now. In pain, it’s now, and being in now is a pain killer. If it’s not an emergency and I’m not in pain, it’s also now, and being in now frees me from much anxiety and makes me a Wizard of Is because only now is where I can do anything and then I can do anything. Worry is only past or future. You can’t make choices there.
Now is free of worry and full of choice. It is truly the only place to be.
The correlation between finding now and finding self is becoming clear. Perhaps some orientations or new habits of thought mentioned here can be helpful. People today are sharing many ways for us to find self. There may on earth be 7 billion ways to find home, but there is one home and we all get the door-key at birth. Everybody breathes.