2010-12-23T10:18:43+01:00

We see things and people not as they are, but as we are.

In the beginning of the year Oldřich lend me a Czech translation of a book named "Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality". Now I've reread that book in English.

Call it awareness, call it love, call it spirituality or freedom or awakening or whatever. It really is the same thing.
--p63

That still leaves us with a big question: Do I do anything to change myself? I've got a big surprise for you, lots of good news! You don't have to do anything. The more you do, the worse it gets. All you have to do is understand.
--p90

It's not a book for everyone and for every day as it is a spirituality book. It has bit in common with the question books that I've read so far - Leading with Questions and Change Your Questions, Change Your Life. While those two were about business, all three share the same idea - we have to drop our rusty opinions and prejudgements in order to see and understand the reality and only then the things, people and situations begin to change and we can experience the happiness and the beauty of the life and world around us.

Underneath are the notes from the book. I've realized that for a 184 page book I took quite a lot of them. To prevent TLNR I've made the most interesting bold.

  • p3 Insulting? Never. That wasn't Tony's way. But he was telling me and these people that in his eyes I was a "golden eagle", unaware of the heights to which I could soar.
  • pp5 Spirituality means waking up. Most people, even though they don't know it, are asleep. They're born asleep, they live asleep, they marry in their sleep, they breed children in their sleep, they die in their sleep without ever waking up. They never understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing that we call human existence.
  • p6 Even the best psychologist will tell you that, that people don't really want to be cured. What they want is relief; a cure is painful.
  • p8 Don't try to teach a pig sing; it wastes your time and it irritates the pig.
  • p10 Wouldn't that be wonderful? She would love me at the cost of her happiness and I would love her at the cost of my happiness, and so you've got two unhappy people, but long live love!
  • p11 What's the earthly use of putting a man on the moon when we cannot live on the earth?
  • p12 I'll explain. It didn't make sense to me for many years until I suddenly discovered that people have to suffer enough in a relationship so that they get disillusioned with all relationships.
  • p13 There are times when psychotherapy is a tremendous help, because when you're on the verge of going insane, raving mad, you're about to become either a psychotic or a mystic.
  • p14 We're crazy to the point, I've come to believe, that if everybody agrees on something, you can be sure it's wrong!
  • p15 Very well, when you renounce something, you're stuck to it forever. When you fight something, you're tied to it forever. As long as you're fighting it, you are giving it power.
  • p16 When you renounce something, you're tied to it. The only way to get out of this is to see through it. ... Understand its true value and you won't need to renounce it; it will just drop from your hands.
  • p17 Are you listening, as most people do, in order to confirm what you already think?
  • p19 There are two types of selfishness. The first type is the one where I give myself the pleasure of pleasing myself. The second one is when I give myself the pleasure of pleasing others. That would be more refined kind of selfishness.
  • p25 That's the worst kind of charity, when you're doing something so you won't get a bad feeling. You don't have guts to say you want to be left alone. ... I don't believe anyone who say that he or she does not like hurting people.
  • p28 We don't want to see. Do you think a capitalist wants to see what is good in the communist system? Do you think a communist wants to see what is good and healthy in the capitalist system? Do you think a rich man wants to look at poor people? We don't want to look, because if we do, we may change.
  • p29 It's not that we fear the unknown. You cannot fear something that you do not know. Nobody is afraid of the unknown. What you really fear is the loss of the known.
  • p30 "The lovely thing about Jesus was that he was so at home with sinners, because he understood that he wan't one bit better than they were." We differ from others - from criminals, for example - only in what we do or don't do, not in what we are.
  • p31 Someone once said, "I dare not stop to think, because if I did, I wouldn't know how to get started again."
  • p35 The only way someone can be of help to you is in challenging your ideas. If you're ready to listen and if you're ready to be challenged, there's one thing that you can do, but no one can help you.
  • p37 The trouble with people is that they're busy fixing things they don't even understand. We're always fixing things, aren't we? It never strikes us that things don't need to be fixed. They really don't. This is a great illumination. They need to be understood. If you understood them, they'd change.
  • p37 Because what you judge you cannot understand.
  • p39 "That country of yours and its poverty - it's disgusting." I feel ashamed. But I didn't create it. What's going on? Did you ever stop to think? People tell you. "I think you're very charming," so I feel wonderful. I get a positive stroke (that's why they call it I'm O.K., you're O.K.) I'm going to write a book someday and the title will be "I'm an Ass, You're an Ass.". That's the most liberating, wonderful thing in the world, when you openly admin you're an ass. It's wonderful. When people tell me, "You're wrong" I say, "What can you expect of an ass?"
  • p40 I press a button and you're up; I press another button and you're down. And you like that. How many people do you know who are unaffected by praise or blame? That isn't human, we say. Human means that you have to be a little monkey, so everyone can twist your tail, and you do whatever you ought to be doing. But is that human?
  • p41 If you ever let yourself feel good when people tell you that you're O.K., you are preparing yourself to feel bad when they tell you you're not good. As long as you live to fulfill other people's expectations, you better watch what you wear, how you comb your hair, whether your shoes are polished - in short, whether you live up to every damned expectation of theirs. Do you call that human?
  • p42 Yet my experience is that it's precisely the ones who don't know what to do with this life who are all hot and bothered about what they are going to do with another life.
  • p44 Again and again in my therapy groups I come across people who aren't there at all. Their daddy is there, their mammy is there, but they're not there.
  • p51 No! The world's all right. The one who has to change is you.
  • p53 We never feel grief when we lose something that we have allowed to be free, that we have never attempted to possess.
  • p55 There's an emptiness inside, isn't there? And when the emptiness surfaces, what do you do? You run away, turn on the television, turn on the radio, read a book, search for human company, seek entertainment, seek distraction. Everybody does that. It's big business nowadays, an organized industry to distract us and entertain us.
  • p56 You only change what you understand. What you do not understand and are not aware of, you repress. You don't change. But when you understand it, it changes.
  • p59 When you're living for nothing, you've got all your skills, you've got all your energy, you're relaxed, you don't care, it doesn't matter whether you win or lose.
  • p59 The three most difficult things for a human being are not physical feats or intellectual achievements. They are, first, returning love for hate; second, including the excluded; third, admitting that you are wrong.
  • p66 You know there are times like that when the Blessed Sacrament becomes more important then Jesus Christ. When worship becomes more important then love, when the Church becomes more important than life. When God becomes more important than the neighbour.
  • p71 The dislike was still there. It hadn't gone away, but it wasn't getting in the way. What you are aware of you are in control of; what you are not aware of is in control of you.. When you're aware of it, you're free from it. It's there, but you're not affected by it. You're not controlled by it; you're not enslaved by it. That's the difference.
  • p73 Don't seek the truth; just drop your opinions.
  • p74 Suffering is given to you that you might understand that there's falsehood somewhere, just as physical pain is given to you so you will understand that there is disease or illness somewhere. Suffering occurs when you clash with reality.
  • p75 It's like when you throw black paint in the air; the air remains uncontaminated. You never color the air black. No matter what happens to you, you remain uncontaminated. You remain in peace. There are human beings who have attained this, what I call human. Not this nonsense of being a puppet, jerked about this way and that way, letting events or other people tell you how to feel.
  • p76 He said to the plumber, "hey, you're charging me two hundred dollars an hour. I don't make this kind of money as a lawyer." The plumber said, "I didn't make that kind of money when I was a lawyer either!"
  • p79 They didn't teach me how to live at school. They taught me everything else. As one man said, "I got pretty good education. It took me years to get over it."
  • p80 When you bump your knee against a table, the table's fine. It's busy being what it was made to be - a table. The pain is in your knee, not in the table. The mystics keep trying to tell us that reality is all right. Reality is not problematic. Problems exist only in the human mind.
  • p81 But what you are really telling me is that you want to be desired. You want to be applauded, to be attractive, to have all the little monkeys running after you.
  • p82 How do you control a person like this? He doesn't need you; he's not threatened by your criticism; he doesn't care what you think of him or what you say about him. He's cut all those strings; he's not a puppet any longer. It's terrifying. "So we've got to get rid of him. He tells the truth; he has become fearless; he has stopped being human."
  • p82 "God is not attained by a process of addition in the soul, but by a process of subtraction." You don't do anything to be free, you drop something. Then you're free.
  • p88 We see things and people not as they are, but as we are.
  • p90 That still leaves us with a big question: Do I do anything to change myself? I've got a big surprise for you, lots of good news! You don't have to do anything. The more you do, the worse it gets. All you have to do is understand.
  • p91 "Don't glory in that award, because it's setting you up for the time when you can't perform as well."
  • p92 "It was so wonderful in the old days when we did things badly and enjoyed them."
  • p93 The selfishness lies in demanding that someone else live their life to suit your tastes, or your pride, or your profit, or your pleasure. That is truly selfish. So I'll protect myself. I won't feel obligated to be with you; I won't feel obligated to say yes to you. It I find your company pleasant, then I'll enjoy it without clinging to it. But I no longer avid you because of any negative feelings you create in me. You don't have that power any more.
  • p98 In fact, he really isn't your child and he never was. He belongs to life, not to you. No one belongs to you. What you are talking about is a child's education. If you want lunch, you better come in between twelve and one or you don't get lunch. Period. That's the way things are run here. You don't come on time you don't get lunch. You're free, that's true, but you must take the consequences.
  • p100 "About God, we cannot say what He is but rather what He is not. And so we cannot speak about how He is but rather how He is not."
  • p104 Did you ever try to lose something? That's right, the harder you try, the harder it gets.
  • p105 So when the man comes to his senses and realizes that he is not Napoleon, he does not cease to be. He continues to be, but he suddenly realizes that he is something other than what he thought he was.
  • p107 "The neurotic is a person who worries about something that did not happen in the past. He's not like us normal people who worry about things that will not happen in the future."
  • p108 After enlightenment I continue to be depressed. But gradually, or rapidly, or suddenly, you get the state of wakefulness. This is the state where you drop desire. But remember what I mean by desire and cravings. I mean: "Unless I get what I desire, I refuse to be happy." I mean cases where happiness depends on the fulfilment of desire.
  • p108 Do not suppress desire, because then you would become lifeless. You'd be without energy and that would be terrible. Desire in the healthy sense of the word is energy, and the more energy we have, the better. But don't suppress desire, understand it. Understand it. Don't seek to fulfil desire so much as to understand desire. And don't just renounce the objects of your desire, understand them; see them in their true light. See them for what they are really worth. Because if you just suppress your desire, and you attempt to renounce the object of your desire, you are likely to be tied to it. Whereas if you look at it and see it for what is is really worth, if you understand how you are preparing the grounds for misery and disappointment and depression, your desire will then be transformed into what I call a preference.
  • p118 People talk about making love and falling in love. Like the little boy who says to the little girl, "have you ever fallen in love?" And she answers, "No, but I've fallen in like."
  • p121 The day you teach the child the name of the bird, the child will never see that bird again.
  • p122 Concepts are always frozen. Reality flows. Finally, if we are to believe the mystics (and it doesn't take too much of an effort to understand this, or even believe it, but no one can see it at once), reality is whole, but words and concepts fragment reality. That is why it is so difficult to translate from one language to another, because each language cuts reality up differently.
  • p126 When we start off in life, we look at reality with wonder, but it isn't the intelligent wonder of mystics; it's the formless wonder of the child. Then wonder dies and is replaced by boredom, as we develop language and words and concepts. Then hopefully, if we're lucky, we'll return to wonder again.
  • p126 "God does not die on the day we cease to believe in a personal deity. But we die on the day when our lives cease to be illuminated by the steady radiance of wonder renewed daily, the source of which is beyond all reason" We don't have to quarrel about a word, because "God" is only a word, a concept. One never quarrels about reality; we only quarrel about opinions, about concepts, about judgements. Drop your concepts, drop your opinions, drop your prejudices, drop your judgments, and you will see that.
  • p130 Flags re in the heads of people. In any case, there are thousands of words in our vocabulary that do not correspond to reality at all. But they trigger emotions in us! So we begin to see things that are not there.
  • p131 Now, it you want to wear your culture the way you wear your clothes, that's fine. The Indian woman would wear a sari and the American woman would wear something else, the Japanese woman would wear her kimono. But nobody identifies herself with clothes.
  • p134 When we were young, we were programmed to unhappiness. They taught us that in order to be happy you need money, success, a beautiful or handsome partner in life, a good job, friendship, spirituality, God - you name it. Unless you get these things, you're not going to be happy, we were told. Now, that is what I call an attachment. An attachment is a belief that without something you are not going to be happy.
  • p135 "Until I get this object (money, friendship, anything) I'm not going to be happy; I've got to strive to get it and then when I've got it, I've got to strive to keep it. I get a temporary thrill. Oh, I'm so thrilled, I've got it!" But how long does that last? A few minutes, a few days at the most. When you get your brand new car, how long does the thrill last? Until your next attachment is threatened!
  • p138 I was afraid to say this, but I talked to God, and I told Him that I don't need Him.
  • p139 I remember how frightened I was to say to an intimate friend of mine, "I really don't need you I can be perfectly happy without you. And by telling you this I find I can enjoy your company thoroughly - no more anxieties, no more jealousies, no more possessiveness, no more clinging. It is a delight to be with you when I am enjoying you on a nonclinging basis. You're free; so am I."
  • p139 I'm quite amused, sometimes, to see even seemingly objective people like therapists and spiritual directors say of someone, "He's a great guy, great guy, I really like him." I find out later that it's because he likes me that I like him. I look to myself, and I find the same thing coming up now and again: If you're attached to appreciation and praise, you're going to view people in terms of their threat to your attachment or their fostering of your attachment.
  • p140 If I need you to make me happy, I've got to use you, I've got to manipulate you, I've got to find ways and means of winning you. I cannot let you be free.
  • p141 It's a great thing you have suffered. Only then can you get sick of it. You can make use of suffering to end suffering.
  • p142 Mark Twain put it very nicely when he said, "It was so cold that if the thermometer had been an inch longer, we would have frozen to death." We do freeze to death on words. It's not the cold outside that matters, but the thermometer. It's not reality that matters, but what you're saying to yourself about it.
  • p145 Did you pick up the attachment there? Peace. Her attachment to peace and calm. She was saying, "Unless I'm peaceful, I won't be happy." Did it ever occur to you that you could be happy in tension?
  • p146 It sounds strange in a culture where we've been trained to achieve goals, to get somewhere, but in fact there's nowhere to go because you're there already. The Japanese have a nice way of putting it: "The day you cease to travel, you will have arrived."
  • p147 The harder you try to change, the worse it can get. Does this mean that a certain degree of passivity is all right? Yes, the more you resist something, the greater power you give to it. That's the meaning, I think, of Jesus' words: "When someone strikes you on the right cheek, offer him your left as well." You always empower the demons you fight. That's very Oriental. But if you flow with the enemy, you overcome the enemy. How does one cope with evil? Not by fighting it but by understanding it. In understanding, it disappears. How does one cope with darkness? Not with one's fist. You don't chase darkness out of the room with a broom, you turn on the light. The more you fight darkness, the more real it becomes to you, and the more you exhaust yourself.
  • p148 As soon as you look at the world through an ideology you are finished. No reality fits an ideology. Life is beyond that. That is why people are always searching for a meaning to life. But life has no meaning; it cannot have meaning because meaning is a formula; meaning is something that makes sense to the mind. Every time you make sense out of reality, you bump into something that destroys the sense you made. Meaning is only found when you go beyond meaning. Life makes sense when you perceive it as mystery and it makes no sense to the conceptualizing mind.
  • p148 I don't say that adoration isn't important, but I do say that doubt is infinitely more important than adoration.
  • p150 Dying is wonderful; it's only horrible to people who have never understood life. It's only when you're afraid of life that you fear death.
  • p151 "A system is about as good or as bad as the people who use it." People with golden hearts would make capitalism or communism or socialism work beautifully.
  • p151 I have negative feelings, so you better change in such way that I'll feel good.
  • p159 There's the sotry of Paddy, who fell off the scaffolding and got a good bump. They asked, "Did the fall hurt you, Paddy?" And he said, "No, it was the stop that hurt, not the fall." When you cut water, the water doesn't get hurt; when you cut something solid, it breaks. You've got solid attitudes inside you; you've got solid illusions inside you; that's where the pain comes from.
  • p159 "If the eye is unobstructed, it results in sight; if the ear is unobstructed, the result is hearing; if the nose is unobstructed, the result is a sense of smell; if the mouth is unobstructed, the result is a sense of taste; if the mind is unobstructed, the result is wisdom."
  • p160 Wisdom is not something acquired; wisdom is not experience; wisdom is not applying yesterday's illusions to today's problems.
  • p161 I had been thinking of another reflection, from Plato: "One cannot make a slave of a free person, for a free person is free even in prison."
  • p162 Now this is exactly what your society did to you when you were born. You were not allowed to enjoy the solid, nutritious food of life - namely, work play, fun, laughter, the company of people, the pleasures of the senses and the mind. You were given a taste for the drug called approval, appreciation, attention.
  • p163 So we were given a taste of various drug addictions: approval, attention, success, making it to the top, prestige, getting your name in the paper, power, being the boss. We were given a taste of things like being the captain of team, leading the band, etc. Having a taste for these drugs, we became addicted and began to dread losing them. Recall the lack of control you felt, the terror at the prospect of failure or of making mistake, at the prospect of criticism by others. So you became cravenly dependent on others and you lost your freedom. Others now have the power to make you happy or miserable. You crave your drugs, but as much as you hate the suffering that this involves, you find yourself completely helpless. There is never a minute when, consciusly or unconsciously, you are not aware of or attuned to the reactions of others, marching to the beat of their drums.
  • p165 And we've got an inner self-conflict which animals don't have. And we're always condemning ourselves and making ourselves feel guilty.
  • p170 Life is for the gambler, it really is. That's what Jesus was saying. Are you ready to risk it?
  • p172 Can you imagine a life in which you refuse to enjoy or take pleasure in a single word of appreciation or to rest your head on anyone's shoulder for support? Think of a life in which you depend on no one emotionally, so that no one has the power to make you happy or miserable any more.
  • p176 Happiness is not something you acquire; love is not something you produce; love is not something that you have; love is something that has you. You do not have the wind, the stars, and the rain. You don't possess these things; you surrender to them. And surrender occurs when you are aware of your illusions, when you are ware of your addictions; when you are aware of your desires and fears.
  • p179 Come to Summerhill and you'll never find a handicapped child with a nickname (you know how cruel kids can be when someone stammers). You'll never find anyone needling a stammerer, never. There's no violence in those children, because no one is practising violence on them, that's why.
  • p182 Do you know where wars come from? They come from projecting outside of us the conflict that is inside. Show me an individual in whom there is no inner self-conflict and I'll show you an individual in whom there is no violence. There will be effective, even hard, action in him, but no hatred. When he acts, he acts as a surgeon acts; when he acts, he acts as a loving teacher acts with mentally retarded children. You don't blame them, you understand; but you swing into action. On the other hand, when you swing into action with your own hatred and your own violence unaddressed, you've compounded the error. You've tried to put fire out with more fire. You've tried to deal with a flood by adding water to it. I repeat what Neill said: "Every child has a god in him. Our attempts to mold the child will turn the god into a devil. Children come to my school, little devils, hating the world, destructive, unmannerly, lying, thieving, bad-tempered. In six months they are happy, healthy children who do no evil. And I am no genius, I am merely a man who refuses to guide the steps of children. I let them form their own values and the values are invariably good and social. The religion that makes people good makes people bad, but the religion known as freedom makes all people good, for it destroys the inner conflict that makes people devils."
  • p184 Lots of people gain the world and lose their soul. Lots of people live empty, soulless lives because they're feeding themselves on popularity, appreciation, and praise, on "I'm O.K., you're O.K.", look at me, attend to me, support me, value me, on being the boss, on having power, on winning the race. Do you feed yourself on that?

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