It’s amazing how things change, isn’t it?
Six years ago I was drinking anything I could get, eating out of bins and smoking dog ends off the street. You might say I was “morally and spiritually bankrupt”, a phrase which is bandied about quite indiscriminately in my particular community, along with other such pithy and well-considered epigrams as: “there are only two things you need to know about God: 1) there is one and 2) you’re not him”.
The second one particularly amuses me, because this is a nondual reality which means that 1) there is nothing other than “God”, so it necessarily follows that 2) I am him and so is everybody and everything else.
With this understanding in mind I am about to set sail for India; my destination: the holy mountain of Arunachala. Arunachala is the famous home of India’s most revered modern sage, Ramana Maharishi, who died in the 1950s. I’m going there to be taught the Vedanta – the ancient science of self-inquiry - which is the investigation into the nature of consciousness and the world’s original enlightenment teaching, of which Buddhism is an offshoot.
Of course, I’m very much looking forward to it, but what I’m getting at is this: this was not something I ever imagined I’d be doing when I had my head stuck in the wheelie bins round the back of Waitrose all those years ago.
In spite of the fact that I was a mostly destitute drunk, I still thought I was right, and I clung to my delusions of rightness tooth and nail. These were delusions that I had to surrender if I wanted to stay sober, and when I did let them go, my world got inexplicably lighter. So much so, in fact, that I made a decision to continue the process and to cast off every belief and opinion that I’ve ever had.
It’s been illuminating. Most of the deep rooted and unquestioned beliefs that I had about life weren’t even mine in the first place. I had been indoctrinated by my parents and the society in which I grew up, who in turn had been indoctrinated by those who came before. They were doing it for my benefit, I know. But unfortunately, what passes for wisdom in the world is ignorant of the nature of reality, and if we take the world to be real we will suffer.
All of my beliefs are wrong, and need to be discarded. How do I know this? Because they appear in the mind, and I am not my mind.
I have no idea what will happen to me next. I’ll just follow my nature and leave the results to God. It’s the best way to live, I find. Which reminds me of another pithy statement that I heard an old boy say once, and which I like a lot:
“The answer to your question is: because.”