Is there such a thing as the perfect action or the perfect conditional moment in life? We always imagine that there is a better way to do everything, and thus we judge ourselves in the past, present and even the future. Every action seems to leave an imprint whether good or bad. And it is these imprints that keep one bound to the effects of conditional actions in the world. Spiritual refinement is the work of polishing the consciousness so that any blurs or smudges that have appeared upon it are wiped off. Yet the difficulty comes from the fact that we have spent our entire lives perceiving through this blurred and muddied lens of perception. This is the great difficulty and this why it so dangerous to try to undertake the spiritual refinement process alone. Instead of seeing the world as we think it is, we have to learn to see the world as the reflection of the imprints within our own consciousness.
Instead of perceiving the chair, for example, as some conditional object, we must learn to perceive it as an extension of ourselves. This may seem like a silly example, because most of us don’t have any particular problem with chairs. But when we consider the seemingly infinite list of phobias, some of which seem completely nonsensical, we see that even seemingly banal objects in the world can, within certain individual consciousnesses, have a drastic and even traumatic significance. So for the person suffering from furniturephobia, a chair is no longer just a chair; within that consciousness, for whatever reason, it triggers some kind of response that warps the perception of the reality entirely. This seems like a far out example, but we all have to learn to see ourselves in this way. Because we all have micro-phobias, things that happen in life that cause an acute response in body and mind. It is these micro-responses to the world, situations and the environment that shape our personal perceptual prison. We then build our lives around these micro-phobias and fear-based responses. We all create our own patterns of avoidance and escapism in the same way as the phobiac has to fullproof their reality from the object of their phobia. Spiritual living is fearless living. It is living through the clarity of a non-differentiated, yet fully integrated perception. At the root the perception is unitive and non-differentiated, but in action there is an absolute clarity and intelligence, because the response is a spontaneous and intelligent response to the life itself without obstruction. It is absolute attention and concentration in action without energy being wasted on thinking, doubts or fearful apprehensions and impressions.
As we go along the spiritual path the refinement process becomes more and more subtle. At first, we may think that we are traumatised by a certain past event in our lives and eventually through the refinement process we come to terms with that event to the point that when we recall the event we do not feel the strong reaction in the nervous system. At the same time we come to see that that event has created certain patterns that played out through our lives. But the deeper work of refinement is to discover what brought about the traumatic situation in the first place. Because there is no ultimate state of human innocence here to which traumatic events encroach upon like a hideous demon. There are no victims in this reality. There is always a predisposition to a certain experience, and it is not the experience itself which is traumatic, but mainly the way the consciousness responds to that experience. And the deep level of refinement is to see within the self the base layer of one’s responsive program which often comes from a primal ingrained way of perceiving the reality and life itself. Some of our notions of life are so habitual and so (we think) absolute and unarguable that we never question them and certain never offer them up to the crucible of spiritual refinement. But this is the point of the practice of absorption. We are to learn to consciously put ourselves beyond all conditional perception, no matter how subtle, in order to see clearly into the prison of our own perception. We are to slowly peel back layer by layer of our consciousness-manifestation. We get the power to do this through the cultivation of stillness and we obtain the clues to the ongoing realisation through our past and present life situation and experience. This way we are able to unfold through a continuous realisation of illusory veils within our self and the wider experiential reality.
What we know of as mental illnesses and psychological abnormalities are simply blown up versions of issues that everyone on Earth has, even on a very subtle level; indeed to some degree ‘we are all mad here’. When we accept this fact we can begin to heal self. We have to pinpoint through our reactions and through our escapist patterns, ‘where are my phobias? where are my compulsions and obsessions? where do I succumb to absolute rigidity in action and expression through a deep fear and contraction in the solar-plexus.’ As well as reading self through the life situations, one must also learn to read through the bodily reactions themselves. We have to learn be fully in our mind and body each moment in a relaxed and equanimous way and constantly be on the lookout for minute disturbances. The more we become still, the more relaxed our body becomes and the subtler becomes the anxious impulses and contractions within the body. It is a gradual process. The process begins with self-honesty and the genuine desire to purify one’s consciousness and dive into the ultimate unconditional contentment of self.