Church & State

What does it mean to be existent? Truly, what does it mean? You are here…but what does that mean? What does it mean to be here? And…are you? At a very basic level…sure – breathing, sleeping, eating, etc., but beyond that, what is it that constitutes your existence? Anything? Soul factor into play here? And if so, in what capacity? You can talk all day about your soul, the spiritual side of you, but if none of it is indulged, to what degree does it have validity? As a pre-constituted precept of identity? That you are multifaceted? A multi-hued, nuanced entity?

If you live out your existence perpetually distracted, perpetually immersed in technology, what are the foundationaly constitutive aspects of that existence? Distraction? The propensity to indulge in an escapist mentality in order to avoid peering into an abysmal lack of substance? The perpetual search for a perpetually absent foundation? What is it, at a base level, that constitutes your existence?

We have doctrines, and scriptures, and allegories, and aphorisms – volumes full – to give meaning to a seemingly (for many) meaningless existence. So, you go to church, or synagogue, or a mosque, or whatever, on whatever day, to be told that a vengeful, anthropomorphized deity is going to fuck you up unless you tow the line; that you aren’t fit for the afterlife of the pious unless you…fill in your commandment..don’t ‘fornicate,’ don’t eat pork, observe the day of the sabbath, cover yourself in black linen from head to toe, etc. Did it ever make you curious that the god of the Abrahamic religions is perhaps the most psychopathic character in literary history? Let’s leave it at that for the moment.

But, put it to yourself: you have before you, around you, an unknowable universe; so vast, intricate and expansive, that the best minds in physics have yet to properly explain its mechanisms. Let’s say – conservatively – hundreds of billions of galaxies, each with hundreds of billions of stars, and this is all made by a bitchy deity who is going to periodically visit murder, pestilence, genocide – when appropriate of course – upon an unsuspecting populating of dumfounded, subservient, progressive primates? A deity, in one guise or another, that makes Hitler look like a backwoods bible thumper from ’Bama. In what universe does this make sense to an intellectually sophisticated, if primatic society?

So, go to church, wherever, do what you do, but should you exist in any way that could be quantified as authentic, it may be worth looking into why you do what you do.

The Real You

If you had to choose a set or series of characteristics, something that singly, or in totality defines you, what would it be? What would they be? How do you define yourself on an ordinary basis? What about you is definitive? How do you describe yourself? Do you talk about your occupation? Past-times? Your favourite football team? What are the attributes, positive or negative, that you would use to define what you are? Or, perhaps, the question is somewhat open for you.

That’s not a bad place to start. Having some question about who you are is natural. It should, in fact, be much more prevalent then it is currently. Why? Well, though who you are could be described as a collection of experiences, likes and dislikes, and the mundane things like your job, relationship status, etc., is that who you are? Could the who that you, to one degree or another, might describe yourself to be, be changed somewhat based on circumstance or experience? And, if so, what remains steady?

We often have a habit of referring to ourselves as changeable, to one degree or another. We describe ourselves that way – others some times; using the phrase ‘you’ve changed,’ or something like it. But, what does that mean? Who has changed? Has the identity of the individual in question changed? If so, what is unchangeable? Is identity merely a reaction to circumstance? If so, who is reacting? If I refer to your identity, who is the you I am referring to?

Who puts on the guise? Is that you? If so, who are you without the guise? Without the role? Who are you really?

Do you see what I mean? This question of identity is far from simple; to this extent I refer to your identity as your interactive identity, to give it more specificity. It is the identity you use to interact with others, and in many ways it constitutes how your perceive yourself, but is it truly you? If your identity can change based on experience or circumstance, then is there something more foundational that we may more properly call you? Something that exists beneath the facade, any affectation, any role you play? Something that doesn’t change, that doesn’t bow to the vicissitudes of contemporary existence?

You see, when people speak of real awareness, whatever term they may use, they typically consider the potential attainment of it as something they may add to their existing identity; something to be achieved and consequently assimilated into a workable self-concept – when, in fact, it is quite the opposite. Your ‘identity’ impedes your experience of real awareness. Any adding to identity only obscures who you really are. It adds to the role, not to the individual. In order to get at something real, you need to abandon what is not. You need to be what you are, not who you profess your ‘self’ to be.

Reaching your base state of awareness – what is most typically referred to as ‘enlightenment’ – is not an achievement. The real achievement is in giving up everything that you hold in place of real awareness. It is an act of letting go, not of adding to a pre-existing facade.

 

-P.D. Lapinsky

The Truth About You

Awareness is simple. Real awareness. It is what you have, what you are, once you remove everything that you are not. It is what exists once you have relinquished your grasp on the superfluous, on those aspects of yourself that have been added to what you are, rather than comprising constitutive elements of what you are. It is what you are, what you experience at a root, foundational level. As such, it is likely that you have never experienced it.

Why is that? Well, look around you. Look at your environment, your culture, your society, your circle of friends. Tell me that all of that feels foundational to what you are – that nothing could be removed without disrupting the essence of you. Initially, there may a few things you recognize that could obviously be removed. With a little more consideration, you may recognize that the list of what you could do without, and those aspects of yourself that could be described as – to one degree or another – contrived, is a bit more extensive than you may have previously thought.

So, what does that mean? Well, it means that to get at a real experience of awareness, that blissful state of existence where all of the chaos of your world flatlines into an impossibly perfect stillness, you need to do some work on yourself and what you are. First, you need to see yourself clearly. And this is a process that will unfold over time. But you’ve got to start the ball rolling. You have to have the will to take those first steps, and to continue along that path.

You see, awareness itself is simple. What is complicated is extricating yourself from years of enculturation, ego-identification, and social adaptation. You’ve got to toss out everything that is not what you are; and start with the glaringly obvious. You need to live truly. You can only access the truth once you commit to truth as a foundational aspect of your existence. You can only see what is once you can see past what is not.

 

P.D. Lapinsky

Get Down to Get Down

Listen – when it comes down to it, the quickest way to any real kind of awareness is to sink below your own personal facade, way down, to what lies beneath, to what lies there at the bottom, the foundation of what you are. It is only there that anything about you actually makes sense, because it is there, from that perspective, that you realize that nothing about you makes sense. What I mean is that when you get to that level, you recognize your own personal charade for what it is, for what it has been. You see yourself for what you are, or, perhaps more importantly, what you are not.

This is the point at which you really start to open your eyes…Really…open your eyes. What does that mean? That means to see what is for what it is; to remove the veil that currently impedes your vision; to see, in stark contrast, all that is real, and unreal, about what you are; to see yourself truly, perhaps for the first time.

What’s interesting is that when you are truly seeing yourself, you are, in effect, seeing past yourself. What you have previously conceived of your ‘self’ loses immediate currency; it no longer has the value that you previously attached to it. You are no longer what you ‘thought’ your ‘self’ to be.

What happens is that you dissolve into the absence of your own personal narrative. That narrative is a story, and little more; and it is seen for what it is.

All of those years spent building up and tending to an identity are recognized as wasted. But that’s ok, because one moment of what is real, of what is actual, is worth many spent idling in vain curiosity. That moment where all of the chaos of your existence flatlines into a perfect serenity, well, makes up for lost time.

Your Private Prison

Excerpted from the upcoming book by P.D. Lapinsky

Your Private Prison

Perhaps at some point during your life you’ve had the feeling that, in some way, your life could be more. Actually, it’s pretty much a given that at some point in your life you’ve wanted more. Perhaps you’ve felt that you weren’t living the kind of life you want to live. Something was missing. Maybe many things. Well, this is a pretty steady facet of the human condition.

But, perhaps the more that you desired extended beyond what you could acquire, or any of the typical experiences that one experiences, or that were available to you. Your desire for something more could not be satisfied regardless of any action you took, any decisions you made, any friends you had, any relationships, any goods or possessions. With it all, there was still something missing. And, on a certain level, you weren’t going to fill whatever that void was; not by any conventional means.

Perhaps you looked into mediation, yoga, what-have-you. You took some of it seriously – practiced diligently, stuck to it. But, even in that case, beyond any fleeting tranquility, you were more or less back where you started. Some level of dissatisfaction remained.

This is – actually – as it should be. Thirsting for something more – given the current state of what we refer to as the ‘human condition’ – should be a given. Being satisfied with the superfluous, with fleeting pleasures, a taste of serenity here and there, is hardly a complete existence. It is existing as if you were the shell of an entity, instead of the entity in its entirety. It is being without really being; a cursory type of existence.

Perhaps you have felt this to one degree or another; that what you were was something more than what you had heretofore got to the bottom of; that there was a depth to what you were that you could only sense in a very vague way. It is likely that you could not articulate this in any way that made sense to you.

Well, part of the problem is that it doesn’t make sense; not in the traditional way you use the word. It is, as it were, beyond sense; beyond the senses. It is something else for which you are looking. It does not exist in a book. It does not exist in a class or a course of study. It does not exist in your mind. It is something other.

An amusing distinction in actuality. But, more of that later.

What is the ‘human condition,’ when it really comes down to it? What do we define as central ‘human’ character traits, experiences, conditions, etc.? What does it mean to be human?

Well, as a starting point, perhaps it means to be a conscious entity, currently inhabiting a planet called ‘Earth’ rocketing through space whilst one sits in one’s easy chair watching ‘reality’ television. It could be said that ‘reality television’ has about as much reality to it as your everyday, waking reality. That would be disappointing would that were the case, no?

Anyway, what does it really mean to be human? And…are you human? Stupid question, right? Or, is it? Most certainly you are here…on this planet…doing whatever you are doing at this very moment…having what must, no doubt, be called a ‘human’ experience. But, is that the extent of what you are? Are you flesh, bones, and consciousness…whatever that means? Is all of you contained within your packaging? Or is there something more? Is there something ethereal, ephemeral, that does not conform to the parameters of what you see in the mirror?

Questions worth considering. But why? Why is it worth considering these questions or those like them? Why is it worth questioning the nature of one’s existence? What it means to be human? What it means to be existent? What it means to be a living, respirating entity at this single moment in time?

And what is time? Can you touch it? Sense it in any way? You can sense its reflection perhaps? The gradual degradation of any physical system? Beyond that, what do you sense? That is, without the luxury of a device that informs you what ‘time’ it is? The passage of the sun and moon across the sky? Day turning to night, turning to day? But what does it mean?

Do you exist in linear time? Are you subject to time? Or, is time subject to you? Are you…of time…or are you something more? Is time something of an imposition? Something imposed upon who or what you are? Does time define you?

These questions get you to start looking outside of the box, to get a sense that what you perceive to be your existence, your world, may not be – as it were – the whole picture. Beware of accepting wholeheartedly, without question, information that has been presented to you, or that you have accepted as true at one point or another in your life. Even physicists can’t agree on the nature of reality, on the constitution of the universe – one camp favours quantum theory, another, classical physics; some string theory, and others posit the existence of multiple dimensions and even multiple universes. And these are the best minds in the world coming up with these theories – not just because they’re bored and need something to do, but because we truly don’t know what this ‘world’ is – not in its entirety. We have theories that are quite good at explaining aspects of the physical universe, but as of yet, we don’t have a unanimously agreed upon model that explains how the quantum and the classical, the microcosmic and the macrocosmic work together. But, more of that a bit later.

P.D. Lapinsky                                                                                                    www.PDLapinsky.com

Your Personal Audit

Excerpted from the upcoming book by P.D. Lapinsky.

The Cornerstones of Self-Awareness.

1. Personal Audit

Ok, what does mean? Well, you have to audit yourself – who and what you are, what you think yourself to be, what you think yourself not to be; what is it that constitutes you? What are your likes and dislikes? What comes to mind? Who do you think your ‘self’ to be? Take some time. Write down everything that comes to mind. Keep it available – someplace easily accessible. Add to it as things come to mind. The idea here is that we’re going to get down to the bottom of ‘who’ you are.

Now, psychologically speaking – you are a combination of your experiences, your natural proclivities and vicissitudes, your natural inclinations and tendencies. But what are your

‘natural’ or ‘innate’ tendencies and inclinations? Are they objectively existent? Can they be replaced or substituted or are they, more or less set in stone? Could they be, or have been different?

It is an important question to ask yourself as you begin to take stock of ‘who’ you are. Is that a solid kind of ‘who?’ Or, is it possible that the ‘who’ you think your ‘self’ to be could possibly be changed in some way. Do you change over time? Certainly a possibility, right? Of course, we have a tendency to utter phrases like ‘I’m not the same person anymore,’ or ‘I’m a different person now than I was then’…etc. What does that mean? If you are who you are then how are you a different person today then you were at some point in the past? If the ‘who’ has changed, then who is the ‘who?’

This leads us to this question of personal identity. What about you doesn’t change? What is the true you? Is there such a thing? If you can become ‘different people’ throughout your lifetime, then is there an objective ‘you’ even worth talking about? And if there isn’t, then what are you?

From a personal identity standpoint, what about you is solid? What does not bow to the trials and tribulations, concerns and vicissitudes of your existence? What about you remains eternally steady, never to change? If parts of you can change depending on your experience, then what about you is foundational? What is that rock upon which the rest of you is built? Who are you…really?

It must be said that many individuals continue through their lives by latching onto a personal identity, a way they want to project themselves to, or be perceived by others. Perhaps they have acquired a certain occupation, a career, etc., and based on whatever that occupation may be have adopted an identity they perceive to be commensurate with the occupation. Is this foundational? Would you say that an identity based on an occupations, what one does, is the true person? Is that what is real and unchangeable about that person? If not, what is the unchangeable part? Who is adopting this identity?

Let this question settle.

Zen buddhist love this kind of thing. Famous for their koans – those questions that tend to stretch you out a little; to kind of bash your head against the box. You know, the box that you are not currently thinking outside of.

And sometimes these kinds of questions can stretch you to the extent that you recognize…well… there is no box. Only you. Only your acceptance of parameters that don’t really exist.

You imprison yourself.

Did that hit you at all? Any very vague bells ringing? Well…it happens to be true. Of course, you’ve had some help. When everyone you know is subject to this…prison mentality…well, it kind of becomes the norm. And it can be useful to extend the analogy further. What would it feel like if you’ve spent 15, 20, 30+ years in prison and one day were set free? How would it feel to walk out of those doors…to breather that air…to feel…for once…completely unfettered? That’s kind of what we’re talking about here.

P.D. Lapinsky                                                                                                                                   http://www.PDLapinsky.com                                                                             http://www.BlackRoseReiki.com

Negative Space

Ok – if I had to put the question to you…what is the most perturbing, irritating, potentially grating type of emotional experience you have?  I’m not specifically talking about dealing with a problematic situation, person, what-have-you.  I’m not talking about dealing with a situation that has emotional weight to it – i.e., a romantic relationship, other interpersonal or familial relationship.  Not in real time.  That’s not what I’m talking about – not exactly.  The situations, as they arise, are problematic…to be sure.  What I’m specifically talking about is the aftermath.

Now, I’m not downplaying any existent or ongoing situations, whatever they may be, that have been – to use a blanket term – problematic.  They all have their weight and real-time value.  What I’m really talking about is the residual effect that many of these situations can have on you.  The stuff the lingers.  The emotional residue that keeps you thinking about whatever it may be.  That is the stuff that’s truly problematic.

Now, let’s take an extreme example.  Let’s say you’ve been abused in some way.  As an adult, as a child…whatever it may be.  There is always trauma associated with any kind of abuse.  Never would I try to downplay that.  It can often take a great deal of time, and help, to work through that trauma.  But what I’m talking about – in terms of you moving forward as a human being – is how the experience sticks with you.  To ask a blanket question – whatever the experience is – has it taken away any of what you are at a fundamental level?  I mean, really.  I know any and all adverse experience can take their toll; change how we view the world, people – affect our self-confidence, self-esteem, etc.  But do they really take any of what you truly are away from you?

What I would suggest is that they do so only to the extent that you have assimilated whatever the experience may be into your working, ongoing identity; that you have made the experience part of your ‘self.’  I’m not saying that this does not happen, or that this should not happen, or that there is anything specifically erroneous about the process.  All I am saying is that regardless of what you’ve had to go through, who you are, or – better put – what you are remains intact.

Do you consider yourself to be a body…with a mind…various personality traits, etc.?  Or, do you consider yourself to be something more?  Are you more than your body?  More than your combined experiences here?  Is there something more about you that carries on, that persists, that is not victim to whatever experiences you may have been affected by?  It’s an important question to answer.  If you believe yourself to be simply a more complex version of many of the animals that inhabit this planet, then your consequent perspective and self-image is going to reflect that.  If you are simply this incarnate version of yourself, then each and every experience you have will simply add to your personal narrative here, your personal, egoic sense of identity.

But this that who you truly are?  Is that what you are?  You may not have a real answer to those questions.  And that’s fine.  But what I would suggest to you is this: take some time…some time alone.  Quiet yourself down.  Use whatever technique you like.  Some form of meditative posture can work.  Just sit in a comfortable position where you are not going to fall asleep.  sit up straight.  Focus in on your breathing – in through your nose, our through your mouth.  Breath into your lower belly.  Start to establish a feeling-sense of yourself there.  Just start to tune into a sensation a couple of inches below your belly button and a couple of inches inside.  Breath into that area, and release the breath.  Easy.  Repeat.

Just slow everything down.  And, tune into yourself at an inner level.  Not what you do, now what you’re worried about, not your present conception of your ‘self.’  Just develop a feeling sense of yourself.  Feel whatever sensations arise; whatever you can feel inside.

This is a starting point for getting beyond anything superfluous to you; anything that is not you, anything that is bothersome and can be discarded.  This is your opportunity to do that.  You are not what you think.  You are something much for fundamental.

So, get into that state.  Develop a feeling awareness of what you are.  Then, go into whatever is bothering you.  Feel the emotion associated with that experience.  Now, treat whatever you’re feeling as energy – as emotional energy.  It is not you.  It is not what you are.  It is simply residual emotional energy that you carry around in your system.  And once you can start to feel it – really just feel it…with as little tension as possible…then it will actually start to dissolve…to disperse.  It is not you, so as long as you don’t identify it it will not linger.  It is not part of who you are…of what you are…so if you don’t attach your identity to it, it will not linger in your system.

 

P.D. Lapinsky