Exploration & Goals
On my visit to the Bay area last week, I was introduced to the work of A. Hameed Ali aka A. H. Almaas (a Kuwaitian with a Scandinavian pen name!). I was told his writings are very clear, and that definitely seems true.
I have enjoyed reading the first few chapters of Spacecruiser Inquiry so far, and am looking forward to exploring the specific inquiries suggested later on, and also to read other books by Ali.
He is using a beautiful, simple accurate language, and speaks very closely to my own experiences and explorations, so I naturally find a great affinity with his approach and outlines.
Explorations and goals
One of the themes is that of exploration and goals.
We can look at what is as an exploration process, as God exploring itself, as lila - the play of God. In this framework, the exploration process itself is the primary goal, and any goals found at particular points in time are secondary - just parts of this overall exploration process.
Goals as primary
In our own lives, this shows up in how we approach any spiritual practice.
I notice that if I see a particular goal as primary, it throws a wrench into the machinery. For instance, if my goal is selflessness - and I see that as the purpose for life and as an end point, I will always hold the idea of selflessness up for myself. I compare where I am now with that idea, I do any practice with that goal in mind, I get caught up in abstractions and comparing what is with these abstractions. The idea of selflessness may even be more important than my direct and immediate experiences in the present. And all of these create obstacles. They only reinforce a belief in ideas in general, including the belief in the idea of a separate I.
I may be able to let go of this idea to some extent, and I may be able to follow and be with what is - what is alive right now, but it is still going against the stream if my overall goal is selflessness or any other goal occurring at some point in time. My overall framework is not helpful in allowing me to explore and be with what is in the present.
Exploration as primary
But if the overall context is that of exploration, it becomes different - even if I for a while use the idea of exploration as a guideline. Now, what is alive in the present becomes important, for its own sake - not to get me anywhere.
And as goals arise in the present, they are included - although not taken as seriously as before. They are secondary at best, just markers in time allowing for added richness to the overall exploration process.
Now, selflessness is just a shift, and the exploration goes on before and after this shift. It is actually not that important in itself. It is just God exploring itself, first through a sense of separate self and then in the context of realized selflessness. It doesn't really matter. Although for our human self, it does matter a great deal, as one brings a great deal of struggle and suffering and the other a sense of ease and release for suffering.
Absolute and relative
Ultimately, it doesn't really matter one way or another. A sense of self and realization of selflessness just adds to the richness of the exploration process. But locally, it does matter - as one brings suffering and the other a release from suffering.
This is just another way of easing into holding both the Absolute and the Relative. From the Absolute, all is OK as it is (or here, an exploration process). And from the Relative, there is room for improvement (further awakenings, release from suffering and so on).
Our human self's desire for release from suffering is one of the many drives in this overall exploration process. It helps it to move, to dislodge, to have a direction.
First, we seek release from suffering through rearranging the content - either in the outer or inner world. We rearrange our circumstance, and our habitual patterns, as well as we can. And this gives some relief although not nearly a complete or more lasting one.
Then, we may find that realization of selflessness is a more complete release from suffering, and here the drive comes through seeking realization of selflessness.
And after selflessness is realized, the dynamism comes through enjoying the exploration process itself.
Aligned with what is
Whenever we are more aligned with what is, things go easier.
If what is is more similar to an exploration process than a situation where goals are primary, I may find that temporarily applying exploration as a general metaphor is helpful. And if what is does not have any I inherent in any of its segments, then realizing selflessness - even to some degree, gives a sense of relief and release from suffering.
The proof is in the pudding. And the pudding is our own life and immediate experiences, in this eternal present.
Explorations and goals together
Exploration and goals go together, beautifully.
The primary goal may be the exploration process itself, as it shows up in the present. Really, it just is as it is and we can put the label "exploration process" onto it.
And within this exploration process are secondary goals which we may temporarily adopt as human beings. These include goals such as education. Starting and caring for a family. Developing and maturing as a human being. Awakening further to the nature of what is. Realizing selflessness. Exploring my human life in the context of selflessness. And so on.
There are no lack of goals, in any area of life, and they all add to the richness of the overall exploration process. They are one of the ways God explores itself, in its infinite potential.