Understanding how destiny is sealed the moment we believe that freedom is merely the power of choice.
This is a follow up article to: Filling the Endless Void, Finally! – A journey with ayahuasca to the source of all my addictions — a journey that helped overcome the feeling of endless craving and neediness.
There are several things that can shock us into questioning the ground on which we stand, not only the physical ground that sturdily supports the hyper-realistic body we inhabit, but also the “ground” of our psychological stability, the mental roots that have been growing for years into the mind-space and keep us functioning on a daily basis. When such a shock occurs, generally one of two things happen — life as we know it comes to a standstill and we go deeper into this new avenue that has been presented; or we get shaken up so deeply that we are frozen in a bubble and all the life force is sucked out of us, leading us into a depressive, self-destructive, ill state of being. I’ve been on both sides of such incidents and have explored the extremes of either side to realize that each of them was absolutely necessary to bring me to the state of freedom I am experiencing in this moment. Through this article I intend to elaborate on how I broke out of endless seeking to experience the freedom of just being present in the “real world”.
A movie called “Life”
To begin, I would like to briefly share one of the most important tools I learned during an ayahuasca retreat at the Spirit Vine center in Brazil. Silvia, the lead facilitator there, holds workshops before each ceremony to teach techniques to navigate the ayahuasca experience and unlock resources that have been blocked due to past incidents. Through the workshop, and repeatedly applying this technique even after the retreat till it became a way of life, I have been able to transform my physical, emotional, and mental health to the point where I now love life and don’t just live to survive.
In this particular workshop, Silvia teaches to discover the life script created in between lives (before birth) and in order for this she takes us in a light trance to get answers from our subconscious mind. In this way we get to view life from a different perspective, to go outside of ourselves and view life objectively as a movie that has to be scripted. At this point, you don’t view things emotionally or physically, you view life in terms of lessons to be learned. So you take note of a few of the important lessons that need to be learned and then you navigate to moments in your life where some incident took place. Now you have to see how this incident was teaching you the planned lesson, without feeling like a victim to what took place.
Through this technique, you get to see why you keep experiencing certain scenarios repetitively — even if they don’t have the same physical aspects, the underlying themes haunt us throughout life. The most important takeaway from the workshop was to stop being a victim to my circumstances and to take responsibility for my life.
Writing the “Script”
Let’s say that we want to write out the script of your life, and to do this we go to the point in time before you are born. In this dimension of life planning, time is frozen so we have infinite space to carve and design exactly what we want to live out.
First, we may object to this because it would kill the mystery of being alive — to resolve this let’s say that you will forget the entire plan the moment you are born. Most of us live in this state all the time, wondering what is the purpose and why we are here, so this is not tough to believe.
Second, we would want to know the extent of our possibilities in designing our life — let’s say there are no limits and you can play the classically defined role of God to have and be whatever you want, under the condition that once the script is written it cannot be altered.
Now comes the tough part, to actually write the script. Since we are planning the “future”, our way of thinking defaults to goals and purpose. Knowing that you are going to be the one experiencing everything, what would you want to give yourself? What are the kind of people you want to have around yourself? How would you want to look?
The trap of “Desire”
For almost all the people — when you started the exercise, your mind was planning to create the perfect world, to give yourself the “good” life where all the desires that were unsatisfied in this life would finally be accomplished in the planned life. We are so tuned to our desires that even given complete freedom we are generally limited to fulfill the desires that plague us in the present life. But let’s play along and say that the purpose is to fulfill the desires that are yet unmet in this life.
So we take an average person who wants to live a simple peaceful life with sufficient resources to fulfill the needs and wants that culture promotes. As seen in an endless number of examples from our history and present, most of the people who always had an abundance of material resources tend to either squander it away or become unhappy not knowing what more to do. The people who generally tend to be happy are those who have earned it through a lot of hard work.
With our above example of wanting a peaceful and successful life, it seems that the only way we appreciate material wellness is when we feel we deserve it, and this comes through having suffered and not initially having what we desired. Which brings most of us to the present situation in our lives. Most of us feel at least some level of dissatisfaction, we always have something that is not in tune with our desires.
From my own experience, after a lot of physical and emotional trauma in my childhood, I took to drugs that numbed me completely for almost 8 years. Being numb to the pain was so peaceful that I never imagined I would want anything else. When I first approached ayahuasca it was without any expectations, it was only out of curiosity to see what will happen. My life was tossed like a pancake when I found out that instead of suffering or being numb constantly, there is a third option — healing myself and experiencing the pure bliss of being present!
I committed myself to achieving this and after three years of persevering through some very rough times, I finally came out on the other side. What really pulled me through was seeing that without experiencing that level of trauma, I would not appreciate the bliss and peace I am experiencing today. Indeed, this way of learning a lesson may seem harsh and unnecessary, but when viewed objectively and without judgement or emotion, does it really matter?
It’s not that I don’t feel emotions and pain, but what has changed is the attitude towards “darkness” and “negativity”. Seeing the duality of happiness and sadness, trust and fear, guilt and power, shame and pleasure, it is now evident that if you “desire” the experience of one it is impossible without the other. In Hinduism this is what is called “Maya”, the endless cycle of illusion, or the endless cycle of birth and death, because they are inseparable. But just because the cycle is endless doesn’t mean there is no way out…
Climax or Flow?
Seeing the inseparability of dual experiences, the mind may wonder why even become manifest in this reality. To most people this may seem like a depressing avenue, and one may even think that death is the answer to end this cycle. As I wrote in one of my previous articles — “Death is not an Escape”. This is exactly what Maya means — thinking that some action will redeem you or give you what you are seeking is the eternal “trap”. Although there is no external thing or person trapping you, it is only the beliefs of your mind that keep you trapped and wanting something other than what’s present, endlessly.
If you think of freedom as the power to choose, we have to understand what is choice and if there is any freedom in it. If everything you do has a purpose to make you happy or feel better or avoid pain and fear, then that automatically eliminates all choices that would make you feel the opposite. In a manner of speaking, you have already lost half your freedom. Now if the available choices all make your life better, with what certainty can you make a choice that it will not eventually result in you feeling worse? If choosing meant that you are free from duality, then certainly choice would imply freedom. But already having a purpose in the end, freedom is out of the window and you can only experience duality eventually. For the happier you get, the more difficult it gets to stay happy.
When you reach the peak of the mountain, the only options are to go down or die at the top.
As long as things are done with purpose, as long as there is an expectation at the end of any action, there is always going to be disappointment in some form or another. So it appears that purpose itself is the “trap” and the one seeking purpose, you, is the one laying the trap. Only that your past self ends up trapping your future self without realizing it.
When you are in the trap you don’t want to accept that it was you who did it, so you either end up blaming someone else or pity yourself as a victim. Or if you are even deeper in denial, you just directly seek the next experience to escape this feeling, thinking there is hope and happiness on the other side, but eventually you end up feeling the same way.
So why say all this? It is to make you look inward and see for yourself if and how you are experiencing the same, and how you may finally resolve this. In reading about the way of Zen, I found it explaining exactly what I was doing when I started feeling an unending contentment in life.
When you stop seeking a result from your actions, and just do actions without any purpose or end in mind, the process itself gives you the ultimate satisfaction that you would otherwise be seeking. And for some reason, this only happens when you truly give up purpose completely.
The answer is only found at the end of the search, so all you can really control is how long you keep searching.
In Zen, you don’t sit in meditation to seek Enlightenment or Satori, you sit just to sit. When you sit you can pay attention to how you are sitting, to what is happening around you, to the sounds and the movements, but you do all this not with a purpose to find something, you do it just to do it. In this you find all the freedom you could ever desire, because it is doing without expectation, in other words, the doing is free to do what it wants.
Finally it is to live out the script that you at one time planned, not for good or bad, better or worse, but just because it is what it is and you get to learn what you had to learn.
If you focus on the hurt, you will continue to suffer, If you focus on the lesson, you will continue to grow.
This process can be spontaneous or can take a while as was my case. I found that Ayahuasca and the workshops at the Spirit Vine Ayahuasca Retreat Center were deeply instrumental in transforming my life and perspective. If you feel the call to work with this plant, I highly recommend this center, the facilitators there are highly experienced, intuitive, caring, and you will have one of the most beautiful experiences of your life.
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Author: Guru Muskytoe