Ascended Master Gautama Buddha through Kim Michaels, January 7, 2023. This dictation was given during the 2023 New Year’s webinar – Being a spiritual person in a chaotic world.
I AM the Ascended Master Gautama Buddha. What does higher intent mean? What is intent? Normally people would say that I have an intention based on a desire to have something, to experience something, to achieve something. Intent implies past, present and future. It implies that in the past you formulated certain desires, a certain vision. Right now, you have the intent that this vision shall come to pass, but you think it will happen at some point in the future. But is that the highest intent? Is there not another way to look at intent?
What I have said previously is that you are living in a difficult world. Many people have a desire to protect themselves from this chaotic world. They have an intent to be protected from some of the chaos, from being overwhelmed, but they may also have a certain desire to have something, to achieve something, to experience something in this world. Again, there is of course nothing wrong with this. You are who you are right now and based on who you are right now, you look at the world, you look at yourself, you look at life a certain way. Based on this, you have certain intentions, certain desires that you would like to see fulfilled, certain things you would like to have, certain things you would like to avoid. It can be no other way.
When you start the Eightfold Path, you realize that the intent you have right now is not the highest possible intent. Now, it is not that you necessarily need to condemn your intent, to judge it as being wrong or to forcefully suppress it, but you need to realize that there are two aspects to life on a planet like earth. One is, as I have said, that there are certain things you need to do in order to survive, to keep your physical body alive, and the other is that you have a larger goal, a more long-term goal, which is to reach nirvana, inner peace, enlightenment, to walk the spiritual path, to raise your level of awareness however you define it.
You need to start contemplating that you actually have two distinct kinds of intent here. You have an intent that relates to living on earth, being in a physical body on earth, and you have an intent that relates to going beyond earth, going beyond the physical body. The challenge when you become spiritually aware is how to balance those two. This is the eternal challenge, the timeless challenge that people have faced for a very long time. How do you reconcile the fact that you are here with your intent to not be here forever or indefinitely? This is where it requires you to start a process of really questioning your intentions and your desires.
The mental strain of defining right intentions
There are many Buddhists who have looked at this concept of “right” intention, as they see it, and they have again attempted to define in an outer way that certain intentions are right, certain intentions are wrong. I need to avoid, I need to force myself to not have the wrong intentions and instead force myself to have or cultivate the right intentions. This has caused many, many, people to go into this spiral of using more and more mental strain to suppress the intentions that they label as wrong and to always be mindful, have their intention upon having only the intentions that they label as right. This can become a very intense mental effort, a big strain on them as you see not only in Buddhists but many spiritual and religious people, even many other people who are seeking to live up to some kind of ideal.
This is where we need to step back a little bit. We need to recognize here that the path to higher awareness has stages. It has several stages, and you have to start somewhere. You start at whatever level you are at when you find a spiritual teaching in this lifetime. That level varies from person to person depending on your growth in previous lifetimes. For you personally, you came into this embodiment with a certain level of intent, a certain level of awareness. You came to a point where you discovered your first spiritual teaching, you realized there was a spiritual path, there was a procedure you can follow. The way you looked at this at the time was an expression of your general level of awareness, and based on this you formulated certain intents for what you wanted to get out of walking the spiritual path. Again, nothing wrong—what else can you do?
What you need to recognize here is that as you walk the path, as you raise your level of awareness, you need to again look at your intentions for walking the spiritual path and your intentions about life on earth. You cannot simply set up this black-and-white, dualistic determination of what is “right” intentions, what is “wrong” intentions. You cannot force yourself. Or rather, you can force yourself, but it does not help you raise your awareness. It keeps you trapped at this level where you feel that because you have forced yourself to not have the wrong intentions, and force yourself to have the right intentions, you have now reached some advanced stage on the spiritual path and therefore you are better than those who have not done what you have done. This is not, as I have now said many times, not real progress.
A higher evaluation of intentions
The alternative to this is that you do not evaluate intentions based on right and wrong. I have talked about the separation, the illusion of separation and the dualistic consciousness. What is it that actually happens when you define this dualistic polarity of right and wrong? You put yourself in a state of mind where you are open to using force. The extreme outcome is as I said that you are willing to exterminate another group of people that are different from your group as you define it. For a spiritual person, you have already risen to a higher level where you are not so much focused on forcing other people. In fact, most spiritual people are not willing to force other people, but you are often willing to force yourselves. You can very easily get into this state of mind where you feel that you have to use your willpower, your attention, your focus to force yourself and force your mind.
Many spiritual people have gotten the idea that they can achieve progress through meditation, but meditation is often disturbed by what some Buddhists call the monkey mind where the thoughts go all over the place. They have developed this idea that they should force the mind to not be thinking, force the mind to not have thoughts and this can become quite a strain for some people who have done this for a long time. They may think they have achieved various results, but it is all based on force. The alternative is to question this force-based approach and realize that you do not have to use force.
This can be helped along by considering the concept that before you came into this embodiment, you formulated a Life plan. This happened along with your spiritual counselors, whoever they are depending on your background and your personal development. You had advice from more mature, more experienced teachers and based on this you formulated a Life plan. Most people on earth have either no Life plan or a very simple Life plan but as a spiritual person who is open to spiritual teachings you have a more elaborate Life plan. That Life plan has as its overarching goal your growth in consciousness, raising of your awareness to higher and higher levels. You sat down with your spiritual teachers, you evaluated: “Where am I at in consciousness, what are the patterns, the illusions that I have in my emotional, mental and identity bodies that I need to overcome in order to make progress, and how can I best facilitate this in my coming embodiment?”
This was then an overall framework for choosing when and where, under which circumstances to come into embodiment. Most spiritual people chose their parents, chose their family, chose their culture and nationality because there was something in that environment that could help you overcome the illusions, the attachments, the patterns, the reactionary patterns that you wanted to overcome in this lifetime.
Here is where you might say that there is a certain element of force because when you make your Life plan, you have a more clear perspective of what you need to overcome. Of course you know that once you descend into embodiment again, you forget that perspective. That is the nature of overcoming something. If you knew ahead of time what you had to overcome, where would be the challenge in overcoming it? How would you actually overcome it?
You have an illusion. If you know it is an illusion, you have already overcome it. The only way to overcome it is to descend into embodiment with the illusion, forget about the illusion and then while you are in embodiment, you come to see the illusion. That is how you overcome it. You still have some awareness before coming into embodiment that there are certain things you need to overcome, and you choose to put yourself in a situation where you are forced to deal with this particular aspect of your psychology. Your outer situation, the people you embody with for example, parents and siblings, they have certain patterns in their psychology that force you, or that force you to react to them so that you have a chance to see your own patterns. In a sense you could say you are forcing yourself to confront this, but you of course forget this when you come into embodiment, which is why you often react so strongly to parents, family members, your outer situation. The challenge is to reconnect to this.
The mind wants to suppress things
You see what I have said earlier, there is a mechanism in the mind that wants to suppress certain things that it sees as a threat. It could be the threat of being overwhelmed or having to question your beliefs, whatever, but you want to suppress this. When you come into embodiment, this often means that when you are in a difficult situation, dealing with a difficult person, you want to suppress the need to look at yourself. You want to suppress the feelings, the beliefs, the situation you are dealing with so that it does not disturb your equilibrium. This is again natural for a time but if you are a spiritual person, it was in your Life plan that at a certain point you would find a spiritual teaching and become consciously reminded that there is a path to follow.
What you can benefit from is that you take this teaching here and you say: “What was it when I made my Divine plan that I wanted to force myself to see? Why did I put myself in this situation? What was it I wanted to bring out in my own psychology?” By making this conscious decision, you can overcome at least some of the resistance to looking into your own psychology, to seeing why you have this reactionary pattern to certain types of people.
This is part of your formulating a higher intention where you realize that in the here and now, in your immediate situation, you have certain reactionary patterns that want you to suppress looking at your own psychology. You can choose to consciously override these patterns and decide: “No, I am willing to look at my own psychology and my patterns and see them and overcome them.” This means now you are connecting to your own intention behind your Life plan. And when you do connect to this, where is the element of force? Why do you need to force yourself to look at something when you reconnect to your desire to be free of it? When you realize that you want to be free of this, you are not forcing yourself to deal with it.
Who are you?
What you can then begin to contemplate is that there are two levels of intention. As I said, in the here and now, in your present situation, there is a part of your mind, your lower mind, what could be called the ego, that has an intention to maintain your equilibrium, to not be disturbed, to not feel threatened. You want to suppress feelings, suppress thoughts, and suppress how you see yourself. This is what that part of the mind does. It is like a computer program that cannot do anything else. This is not your highest intention. Your highest intention is what is in your Life plan where you wanted to overcome some of these patterns, perhaps all the patterns you have left. Once you recognize this, it is not that you are forcing yourself to abandon the lower intention and accept the higher intention. You reconnect to the higher intention. You realize that the you that you are, you have a higher intention. This is your intention.
The intention to suppress and avoid something is not your intention, it is the intention of the ego, the outer self. Then, you can gradually over some time come to contemplate this. Who are you? What is the you that has a higher intention than the you that has the lower intention?
This is where you can benefit from asking yourself some questions that most people cannot even formulate. For example, who are you right now, who is taking in this teaching? This is a spiritual teaching. It has an intent to help you raise your level of awareness. Who is the you that is taking it in?
You can also ask who is the you that is resisting this teaching? You may be aware that there is some effort in your own mind to make you resist the teaching. There is an effort to take your existing knowledge and beliefs and evaluate this teaching based on those, looking for something, some reason, some excuse to reject the teaching. Many people have found a spiritual teaching and found one little detail that did not agree with their present beliefs, and they have used that to say: “Well the entire teaching is false.”
Who is the you that is studying the teaching and who is the you that is trying to get you to reject the teaching? In other words, who is the you that is open and who is the you that wants you to close your mind? The you that is open is the real you. Whereas the you that resists, that wants you to close your mind is the outer mind, the ego personality that wants you to stay in illusion. This entire ego personality is based on illusion. It springs from illusion, but it wants you to stay in illusion. Who is the you that you are? Well, you can begin by striving for an intellectual understanding of this, but really it all comes down to an experience, so participate in a simple exercise.
Some of you will know this but it will be new to some people. Become aware that you are sitting here taking in this teaching. Become aware that you are most likely sitting in a chair and therefore mentally step outside of yourself, your own mind and visualize, imagine that you are now standing behind your chair looking at your body in the chair. Now realize you are sitting in a specific room but there is something outside the room. Now mentally step further back until you see the room you are in as a whole. You see your body sitting in the chair in the room. Most likely that room is in a building. Step back again, visualize, imagine the entire building, the room in the building, your body sitting in a chair in that room. Now you can step further back to the environment outside the building, look at the building, the room, the chair and so forth. You can step back and back and back, look at the entire earth, look at earth from space, look at the solar system, look at the galaxy and all the time you are looking from this perspective down to where your body is sitting in this chair.
This is a simple exercise, but some people will not be able to do it, and other people will find it easy enough at least to imagine and visualize that you are stepping back. The question now is, what is the you that can step back? What is the ability that you have in your mind to step back from your physical body?
The you that is more than the body and the outer mind
The vast majority of people on earth are so identified with their physical bodies that they cannot even imagine that they could step outside the body and look at the body. If you were able to do this, it means that you are not as identified with the body as most people are. This means there is a you that is not the body, otherwise how could you mentally step outside of it? You are not, as the materialists say, a product of the electrochemical processes in your brain. As a spiritual person you already accept that you are not your physical body. You can then contemplate that you are not your emotional body, you are not your feelings, you are not your thoughts, you are not even your sense of identity as it relates to earth. So, who are you? What are you?
By pondering this, you can eventually come to realize that as you can mentally step outside your physical body, you can step outside your emotions, your thoughts and your sense of identity and you realize that you are really like an actor. You enter a theater, you put on a certain costume, you put on makeup, you even put on a certain voice, a certain way of speaking, a certain outer personality and suddenly, you can go on stage and act as if you were a very different person from the person you are in your normal life. Your four bodies, are just like a costume you have taken on. What is then the you? The you is the core of your being.
I know that your mind is now struggling because the mind wants to do what it always does. It wants to have a description, it wants to have a label, a name, it wants to have characteristics so that it can understand what the you is. You see, when it comes to your earthly identity, your mental mind, your feelings, and your physical body, they have characteristics that can be described by the words and the mental images you use on earth. The you that you are is beyond this, it is more than the four bodies and therefore it cannot be described by the words and the mental images used on earth.
Your outer mind cannot fathom the real you and your outer mind is probably now revolting against this idea, frantically wanting to be able to grasp, label, categorize this concept. It might argue that it is nonsensical to talk about something that is real but has no characteristics that can be described. What is the purpose of a spiritual teaching? It is to help you raise your awareness, and how do you raise your awareness? By transcending your present level of awareness. What is your present level of awareness? It is the contents of your identity, mental and emotional bodies. This is what gives you an outer self, an outer sense of who you are and how you can relate to the environment you are in.
Right now, you have a certain level of awareness and when I give you the concept that there is a part of your being that is beyond this level of awareness, your mind wants to use your present level of awareness to grasp, to categorize, to label, to describe this part of your being. There are spiritual students who have spent decades trying to understand intellectually, with the outer linear mind, spiritual concepts. Some have even tried to understand this concept that there is a part of you that is beyond the mind, the outer mind, but you cannot understand it with your present level of consciousness. You can ponder it and then if you are able to let go of your present way of looking at life, you can come to have what is often called a mystical experience.
This so-called mystical experience is not mystical at all. It is based on the fact that there is a you. We can call it a conscious self or the Conscious You, but there is a you that at some point stepped into your physical body and your emotional, mental and identity bodies. It came from outside, it stepped into it, and it is using these four bodies as a vehicle to interact with your environment on earth. It is not produced by the bodies. It took on the bodies, in a certain sense it even produced the identity, mental and emotional bodies in past lifetimes. The very fact that it came into your present mind also means that this you can step outside of your mind. You might say that right now the you is conscious of itself as being the four lower bodies, but the you has the capacity to step outside those four lower bodies and become conscious of itself as being beyond the bodies, beyond the mind. This is the basis for all growth in awareness.
You may say, if again you want to use a linear awareness, that this path can be likened to a staircase that has separate steps. Right now, you are at a certain step on the staircase. The question is how do you rise to the very next step up? Who is it that rises? Well, it is not your emotional, mental and identity bodies. It is not your current sense of self, of who you are, that rises, because your current self is tied to your current step. What rises? It is the You that rises.
Self-observation is the core of the spiritual path
This happens when you look at yourself, for example, a reactionary pattern. You see that you have a tendency to react in a certain way in certain situations. Instead of thinking this is the only way to react, or this is the right way to react, you now come to a point where you say: “Why do I react this way?” I do not really want to become angry when somebody does not do what I want. I do not want to have this experience of anger. How can I be free of it, if I think it is the only way to react? Let me look at it, let me look at what is behind this. Why do I think this is the only way to react?”
Then you can come to realize that other people do not react the same way to similar situations; there are other ways to react. In fact, what the Buddha said is that there is always another way to react that is based on non-attachment. In other words, you do not have a pattern that makes you attached to reacting a certain way. This, the you can come to realize, and you can come to see that there is an illusion that made you believe this was the only way to react. When you see through that illusion, when you see that it is an illusion, that it is limiting you, holding you back, then you will, when you see this, spontaneously let go.
There is an old story used by various spiritual teachers that if you are in the dark and you grab onto something and you think it is a rope, then you might hold on to it. But if the light is turned on and you see it is a snake, then you do not have to go into a sophisticated and lengthy intellectual analysis. You just spontaneously open your hand and let go of the snake. The same here. When you see that what you thought was the only way to react or was the truth, is actually an illusion, you spontaneously let go of the illusion and then you rise to the next level up. Of course, you take with you the remaining illusions in your three bodies. As you examine the next illusion and let go of that, you rise to the next step up and this is how you gradually walk the path. But this can be done only by the You that is not the mind because the mind cannot look at itself.
Computers will never become self-aware
There is an elaborate movement in scientific circles of creating what they call artificial intelligence because many behavioral scientists, for example, have realized that human reactions are almost like a computer and for most people, this is actually true. You expose them to a certain situation—they will react the same way that they reacted the last ten times they were in that situation. The reason for this is, as I have explained, that you have patterns in your subconscious mind. A pattern normally lies dormant but when you are in a particular situation, it triggers the pattern, it takes over your reactions and now you are reacting that way. Your subconscious mind truly is like a computer in many ways. There are programs and when they are triggered, they take over your reactions, you react a certain way and then perhaps later you regret it or perhaps later you reason that: Oh, that was the only way you could have reacted.
Where the artificial intelligence people have misunderstood this is that this is not the only way to be for a human being. A human being has the potential to consciously and deliberately change its patterns so that even though you may have reacted that way the last hundred times, you can suddenly choose not to react that way in the next situation. A computer will not be able to do this. Why? Because it does not have self-awareness. It does not have a self that is aware. The you that I have talked about is the you that can become aware of itself. It becomes aware of yourself in the beginning, but also aware that it is not the outer self. That is why you (as a human being and all human beings) have the potential to consciously and deliberately change your reactions and your actions. You can choose a different reaction than you have had in the past. In the past you may have reacted based on a program where you really did not make a choice. Well, you made a choice in the distant past when you created the program but when the program kicks in, you are not making a conscious choice. That is actually why some scientists have discovered that there is a reaction in your brain before you make a conscious choice in a certain situation. That is because there is a subconscious program that has already made the choice before you become aware of it at the conscious level.
The bigger issue here is you have the potential to become self-aware. Not only about your reactions but about higher levels of self-awareness, who you really are. You are not the reactions, you are not your feelings, you are not your thoughts, you are not your outer sense of identity. You are what some people call a spiritual being. You came from beyond this environment that you call earth. In a sense the Eightfold Path, whatever you want to call the spiritual path, is a process of becoming gradually more and more self-aware. The you that you are becomes more and more conscious of what it is and what it is not.
No instant enlightenment
Now again your outer mind will say: “Well then why don’t you just give me the ultimate level of self-awareness, the ultimate secret about self-awareness so I can skip all those steps and go into Nirvana right now? I can become enlightened instantly.” You see, this cannot be done. There is no instant enlightenment and the reason is very simple. The you that you are did not come to earth originally to attain enlightenment. You came to earth to have certain experiences here that could facilitate your process towards enlightenment. You did not come to earth just to get out of here, you came to earth to have certain experiences. In order to have these experiences, the you that you are had to create contents in your identity mind first, then your mental mind, then your emotional mind. It is these concepts that set the parameters for the experiences you have had on earth, and the purpose for this was to have the kind of experiences you can have on earth until you have had enough of those kinds of experiences, and you want something more.
That is when you are ready to start the path. Until then you are having the kind of experiences you can have on earth, which currently is that you are a separate being who is in a world of other separate beings, and you are struggling against them. You may say with your conscious mind: “I never desired this kind of struggle. That is not why I came to earth.” In reality, it is. When you step back from your current experience, you realize that this is why you came to earth. You may have had different reasons for it, different motivations, different intentions behind it, but this is why you came to earth: To have the kind of experiences you can have on earth. There comes the point after many lifetimes of having these kinds of experiences where you have had enough of them and now you want something different. That is when you become open to the spiritual path in whatever version you can grasp it.
The purpose of the spiritual path is now to help you gradually become conscious of the contents that you put into your emotional, mental, and identity minds, gradually discard them so that you have less and less contents in those minds. You become more and more free. Enlightenment is really the point where you have no more contents in your mind that are based on the illusions of duality and separation. You have overcome all of the illusions that you are a separate being and that you can use some dualistic polarity to justify doing whatever you want to do as a separate being. That is when you are enlightened. You can say that as you move towards enlightenment, you take one content at a time from your mind and discard it, you let it go, one illusion at a time until you have no more dualistic, separate illusions left.
Do you lose your personality?
Now some will object to this and feel that, does that mean I no longer have any opinions, beliefs, theories about life, emotional patterns, does it really mean that I have no personality, no identity? Yes, that is exactly what it means. You have no personality and identity as it is defined on earth based on the illusions of maya, the illusions of separation and duality. You lose what most people see as their personality and identity. It does not mean you become a nobody because you have an individuality in your higher being that you can then begin to express on earth. It does mean you lose what we might call the human individuality, personality, and identity. This was, if you are open to a spiritual teaching, your greater intent before making your Life Plan.
This means that when you now look at your life and your activities, you do not have to do what many Buddhists have done, of evaluating again, what is right intention, what is wrong intention. I need to force myself to not have the wrong intentions. What you can do instead is you can say: “What is in my Life Plan about a specific aspect of my life right now?” Let us say that you identify in yourself that you have a desire to have a certain type of experience. There can be many different things on earth but for many people, you decide to have a personal relationship and you desire to have sex with another person. This is a very common desire even among spiritual people.
There are many, many misunderstandings about this among spiritual people where you still see many, many Buddhists who have taken the teachings and used the outer mind to say: “Well, any activity that is not spiritual is wrong and I need to avoid it.” There is another consideration that can be made here. Let’s say that you are making your Life Plan, you have a broader perspective than you have right now. You realize that you still have a desire to experience a personal relationship, even a physical relationship. You decide to put yourself in a situation where you can meet a person and have that kind of relationship. What could possibly be wrong with having that experience, if you evaluated that I need to have that experience for a certain amount of time so I can have had enough of it. I can therefore be free of it, and I can now focus on other experiences that I want for the rest of this lifetime. What could possibly be wrong about this?
It is part of your Life Plan, which ultimately leads you towards higher levels of awareness. Instead of forcing yourself to suppress a certain experience, you are going into the experience until you have had enough of it, you are saturated with it, and then you can evaluate, not necessarily that you have to give up the outer situation, but you can come to a point where you are free of any compulsive desires to have it. There is nothing inherently unspiritual about sexual activity, but if you are attached to it, if it is obsessive compulsive, then of course it can hinder your growth towards higher levels of awareness. If you come to a point where you overcome the attachment, overcome the compulsion, overcome the illusion that you need this in order to feel complete, then you can either choose to stop the activity or to continue with it in a different way without the attachment. Either way, it facilitates your growth in awareness.
You see again, what is your greater intent here? Is it to resolve the illusions, the maya in your mind? Or is it to use a spiritual teaching to cover over the illusions so you at the conscious level can pretend that you do not have them? You can say: “Well I understand this very advanced spiritual teaching and I have spent countless hours practicing these spiritual practices, therefore I am beyond this desire, this intent.” But you are just pretending. You are covering over the desire, and this does not help you rise to the next level on the ladder or the staircase.
Reconsider your intentions
This is the next step on the Eightfold Path, to reconsider your intentions. Your overall intention is ultimately to be free of earth, but you cannot force yourself to be free of earth. If you suppress a certain desire, you will have to come back into another embodiment in order to come to the point where you can consciously let go of the desire. Many spiritual people have forced themselves to live in a monastic situation where they had to suppress their desire for sex. They may have been able to live that way an entire lifetime, perhaps even several lifetimes, but there comes a point where they realize, when they are out of embodiment, that they have not freed themselves from the desire, they have only suppressed it. They will need to come back, experience the activity (whatever it is) until they can consciously and voluntarily let go of the desire: “I have had enough of this experience.” This cannot be forced, and unfortunately, many, many people have used a spiritual teaching to create this idea that they have to force themselves. If you really want to make spiritual progress, your intention must be to resolve, to let go, to surrender, to overcome your attachments, your patterns, the contents of your emotional, mental and identity bodies. This must be the overall intent, and when you rise to that level and become conscious of this, you can evaluate all of your other intentions.
Again, you have to make a living to feed your body and keep it alive. You may have obligations towards family and others. How do you balance being a spiritual person who is aware of this spiritual teaching with a normal family life? You can only do this by realizing that any activity (well, most activities on earth) can facilitate your growth in awareness. The whole idea that you have to renounce a worldly life and withdraw into a monastery in order to make spiritual progress is not universally true. There may be some people who have to do this for one or several embodiments, but it is certainly not the case for all people. In fact, in the specific time you are living in, it is more important than in previous ages that people are walking the spiritual path by living an active life in society. This is how many more people than in the past can be inspired to open their minds to the path when they see that they do not have to renounce a normal existence and withdraw into a monastery in the mountains in order to be spiritual.
This is an age, this is a time, where a great number of people have volunteered to come into embodiment in this time in order to demonstrate that you can find a balance between a worldly existence and spiritual growth, growth in awareness. Now, I say this is more important than ever because of the times, but this is not to say that it was not important in the past. Why do you think I called it the Middle Way? Now again, the Middle Way is an unfortunate translation of a more complex concept. Nevertheless, the Middle Way is neither the extreme asceticism that I practiced in my youthful folly, nor the completely blind worldly existence that most people practice. It is something that transcends both, where you can live an active life in society with family obligations, but you are still walking the spiritual path because your intention is to use your worldly activities to facilitate your growth in awareness.
How do you do it? Well, partly by looking at your reactions to your worldly situations. Partly by realizing that you can inspire other people by your example. What is it that happens when people withdraw from society, become monks and nuns, and live in a monastery? They avoid many of the pressures of everyday existence that trigger their reactionary patterns. They live in a controlled environment where, once they have accepted the parameters for that environment, there may not be very much that triggers their reactions.
They can make themselves believe that they no longer have the reactions, that by choosing to be in a situation that does not trigger my patterns, I have overcome the patterns, but you have not. You have of course only suppressed them.
What the Middle Way really means
The entire concept of the Middle Way is that you do not define the spiritual path in terms of two dualistic polarities, where you are either a completely worldly person or you must withdraw from the world to be a spiritual person. There is an alternative to the either-or to the black-and-white. You can find a way to be spiritual while being active in society. This is the deeper meaning of higher intention and all of a sudden, everything gains a different shading. You gain a different perspective on every aspect of your life. Suddenly, you can begin to reconsider what has been one of the greatest hindrances for spiritual people. It is the distinction between what is spiritual activities and what is not spiritual activities or even anti-spiritual activities. This of course is a topic I will return to when I talk about higher action. But still it is important when you consider your intentions that you need to overcome this dualistic view of the spiritual path.
What is one of the foundational teachings of Buddhism? It is that everything is the Buddha nature. Of course, human beings on earth do not see that everything is the Buddha nature. Why do they not they see that everything is the Buddha nature? Because their minds are blinded behind the veil of maya. But what is it that makes up the veil of maya? It is this dualistic consciousness that always creates two polarities that are opposite in a black-and-white way, implies a value judgment and says these activities are not spiritual and these activities are spiritual. If everything is the Buddha nature, does it give any meaning to say: This is spiritual, this is not spiritual? Does it not give more meaning to realize that the real goal of the path is to overcome illusion? An illusion is what covers over the Buddha nature that is within everything. This means that the real goal of the path is not to define this is spiritual, this is anti-spiritual, so I must avoid the anti-spiritual and focus on the spiritual.
The real goal of the spiritual path, the Middle Way, is to come to see that most activities on earth can facilitate your growth in awareness when you approach them with the intent to grow in awareness, the intent to look at yourself and your reactions, your illusions. That is when an activity is spiritual. To say that a certain activity is not spiritual and therefore participating in that activity, such as having a family, will destroy your spiritual growth is simply a lower level of understanding of the path. Of course, there are certain activities that will not facilitate your growth in awareness because they trap you even further behind the veil of maya, but any activity can actually be used to help you see the illusions behind that activity. I am not thereby saying that going out and killing people will facilitate your growth in awareness, but coming to see the illusions behind killing people can actually facilitate your growth in awareness.
Again, the dualistic mind always wants to create distinctions and separations to set up the polarity, but the path, the Eightfold Path, is about seeing beyond this veil of maya so you see that everything is the Buddha nature. The Buddha nature is within everything so the real intent is to come to see this, not to come to identify that this thing or this activity is spiritual, and this is not. What helps you see the Buddha nature behind the veil of maya? If something helps you see that, how could it not be spiritual? If something ties you to dualistic illusions, even using a spiritual teaching to reinforce those illusions, well how could that be spiritual?
With this I have given you what I wanted to give you in this installment. Shock waves have certainly been sent into the collective consciousness, stirring up many of the demons of Mara who are growling and screaming and trying to get people to deny these impulses and again engage in the struggle of the Sea of Samsara.
You who are open to these teachings can avoid this by turning the teachings into the Prajna boat, but you can only do this by striving to always reach a higher level of intention than you have right now. I have fulfilled my intention for giving you this teaching. I hope it can help you fulfill your intention for this embodiment.
Copyright © 2023 Kim Michaels