My one true love. After I moved into my new home, the guidance I find in my body pointed me to the story of Leela as a tool for helping me understand what was happening in my life. A quote from that Wikipedia link: Within non-dualism, Lila is a way of describing all reality, including the cosmos, as the outcome of creative play by the divine absolute. In that video Watts describes her as the nondualistic face of god as play. Everything in the universe is Leela: god separating into all these actors to play the cosmic game. I first met Leela two years before, on the night I woke up to inner silence. Silence is Leela's voice, how she makes herself known. Since that night I've always been connected with Leela, but I only feel that connection when I'm quiet inside, when I stop the internal talk and take refuge in silence. Ever since that night I can be quiet inside when I actively choose to. I adore Leela; I am hers. My love for Leela is my reverence for everything that is, for all of nature. The feeling of reverence is extraordinarily comforting. Living alone as I do, nature is my beloved companion all night long.
The game. The cosmic game is extraordinarily hard to win. Winning the game takes an uncountable number of lifetimes. If it were easy to win it wouldn't be worth playing. I win the game by paying attention; that enables me to make progress with love. Seeing everything that exists, including all of human misery, as a game god is playing with herself is incredibly liberating. It's a huge relief. Grasping that truth is like dunking my head in an ice cold mountain stream. Understanding life as a game helps me come to terms with the world's outrageous inequities. It puts everything in a different light. No player is greater or lesser than any other; we're all god playing different roles. If I don't like the role I find myself in I have to change my own situation. No one else can. Leela has shown me the world is a machine set on infinite replay. When I die it will all happen again exactly like it's happening right now unless I make a real change in myself. That makes me a different player with a different role. Moving from a life of miserable self indulgence to a life of deep meaningful satisfaction will take a vast number of lifetimes. Making that kind of change is the work of making progress with love. No one can do that kind of work for anyone else. Any attempt to change things for others is just part of the endlessly replaying game. Everything has already happened this way an uncountable number of times. The only thing I can do to step outside this eternal replay is to make progress with love, to become a little more enlightened. If I or anyone is in a dead end situation, there's only one way out: do whatever it takes to make sure it doesn't happen again next time. I can only do that via the unforgivingly hard work of making progress with love. It could take eons. It probably will. But time is unlimited, and what else do I have to do?
The world is Leela's work of art. This world, the seemingly broken one we all live in, is Leela's masterpiece. To have a rich and satisfying life I have to give up all my judgments and opinions about the world being broken or whole, good or bad, right or wrong and embrace it as it is. Learning to love the world as it is is a crucial task in making progress with love. Trying to change the world is a waste of my precious time and energy. I can't change the world. Nobody can. I can only change myself, and I'm going to need every speck of my time and energy to do that. Trying to change other people or the world will just keep me stuck where I am. Failing to love the world as it is sets me against the world. It makes me an unhappy alien in my own world. Having a fulfilling life begins with accepting and loving the world as it is. Loving the world makes the world feel loving to me. The more I fall in love with the world, the more I find my place in it, the future Leela wants me to have. The more I love the world the more I get what I really want.
The best way to live in this work of art is to be an artist. The fundamental art, far more important than all the others, is the art of living well. If I'm living well I'm taking exquisitely good care of myself physically and psychologically. I'm working to eliminate my bad habits. The stereotypical starving or tortured artist is someone who has ignored the fundamental art and their life is crap as a result. The other arts are like precious jewels to adorn my life. They make life so very much worth living. But they're useless to me if I don't have a life worth living, worth adorning. First do no harm to myself.
I am a human instance of Leela. I'm an Atman of her Brahman, just a minute cell in her vast body, but all cells in a body share the same DNA. In some incomprehensible way, she is who I really am: Atman is Brahman. In my present state I'm a tiny undeveloped version of Leela, as far as I know unlike any other. Making progress with love is the long slow journey toward realizing my human potential, fully realizing the particular flavor of Leela that I am. It's a journey that never ends. In this life so far I have taken two big steps on that journey: in 2006 I took the step of beginning to surrender to her and let her guide my life. Then in 2019 I found my way to inner silence by following her left-handed guidance. Inner silence is critical: as long as I listen to the endless banal ramblings of my inner monologue, as long as I try to find my way by thinking, I'm stuck. My situation is hopeless. I have to get quiet enough to let Leela begin speaking through me.
The gift of inner silence. Just like all the other spiritual seekers I knew, I tried to quiet the noise inside my head. And I failed just as miserably as everyone else. People in the profitable business of teaching meditation, mindfulness, whatever you want to call it assured me that doesn't matter. I don't have to stop the chatter. Instead I somehow set myself free of it. The mind chatters on but the diligent student rises blissfully above that, no longer weighed down by mental noise. But I don't work like that. If there are words going on in my head, I'm paying attention. My attention is the juice creating those words: I'm doing the thinking. Inner silence is a gift from Leela. At least it was for me. I didn't earn my inner silence by being dutiful with meditation, I received it as a gift after I surrendered to her unreasonable demands.
Don't take the game too seriously. As I make progress I learn not to take the game too seriously. It's just a game. Yes we all die but then we all come back for a fresh start, a chance to live life better. We're all actors on a set shooting a vast drama with an infinite number of takes. We aren't really these parts, these heroes and villains and clowns we're portraying. Only this particular drama never ends. I never get to drop character because my character is the place I have in this passion play. But I do have the power to develop my character if I choose to. I do that by working to realize my human potential, by making progress with love. If I don't like my part in the play, that's how I can change it: realize some of my potential and thus become a better player. I have to make at least a little progress in every life I live. If I don't make any progress in this life, that bodes ill for any future life. If I didn't improve this life, and it's all on infinite repeat, how could I possibly improve the next? The only way I can break free of infinite repeat is via the spiritual quest. I have to buckle down and do some spiritual work. If I don't I'm stuck repeating this exact same life for all eternity. So I have to wake up a little in each life. Waking up is the hardest work there is, and it goes very slowly indeed. But in the big picture that's no problem because time is infinite. I can never run out of time that starts over every time I die.
The illusion of separation. The key to making progress with love is a secret hidden in plain sight: I can get guidance from my body. Whatever guidance I need I can get via muscle testing and body sensing. My body has all the answers. My body is already enlightened. My body has the answers because my body is Leela. Everything in the world is Leela. The only things that aren't Leela are imaginary things I make up in my mind. One of the things I make up is the illusion that I'm separate from everything else. Seeing myself as separate is a necessary stage I have to go through to develop consciousness, the fundamental tool for being human. But that's just the very first step in being human. All the other steps beyond that are the spiritual quest. That's why life feels meaningless without the spiritual quest. The meaning of life is found in becoming a better human being.
Sensory processing. Leela sometimes has to anesthetize me or otherwise adjust my sensory processing so I can meet her unreasonable demands. Sensory processing is where the world reaches me, where my experience of life is created. Unlike the world, my sensory processing is easy to change. Working there Leela can change or create sensations. She can create a pain or make one go away. She can create or change any kind of sensation: sounds, sights, smells, anything. Leela can make me feel like I'm dying in agony if that's what I need. Or wrap me up in exquisitely subtle pleasure.
Leela is a metaphor. I know Leela is a metaphor, a story I have to tell myself because my thinking self can't handle the truth. The fundamental truth is nondualism: there's no such thing as separation because we are all in fact one. But I can't see that because my seeing, my grasping of the world is limited by my thinking. In my conceptual world, the world where science truly is the best authority, I see all the separate things but I can't see the unity because of the inherent limitations of thinking. Language and thinking are the tools we've used to create human culture in all its glory and misery. We need those tools to find out about the spiritual quest, to find our way to the threshold. But they can't help us make progress with love. On that level, thinking itself is a barrier. The story of Leela is a way of grasping my personal discovery that the world is loving on some profoundly incomprehensible level. Not as a loving deity who guarantees my salvation if I toe some basic lines of faith or conduct. That is clearly a crock of shit. But loving as a challenge: Leela's challenge is that I can make this all work for me if I surrender to the needs and wisdom I find in my own body, starting with the obvious things we all know we should do to be healthier. And then work as hard as hell, harder than I've ever worked on anything, following my longing.
Thinking is unreliable when it comes to making progress with love. That's because getting quiet inside is the all-important first step in making progress. Getting free of my endless mental chatter was the first step I had to take, the step that made real progress begin to be possible. Thinking is an absolute requirement for being human and it's also a slough of self deception that most people never get out of, as far as I can see. It's our double edged sword. I have to get over myself before I can make serious progress. If I trust my opinions, my values, my well thought out and irreproachable liberal world view, I'm a goner as far as any progress with love is concerned. Luckily I have a genuinely irreproachable source of guidance and truth: my body. I can ask my body what's good for me, what's the right thing to do to make progress. If I listen intently, doing my very best to bat away all my preconceptions about good and bad, right and wrong, evil and godly, my body will answer truthfully. No matter where I am in my spiritual quest, the first step in making more progress is always to ignore everything I think I know and open myself to new truth. That includes things that were helpful for making progress this far. Truth is ever evolving as I do, into something richer, deeper, and so much stranger than anything I ever thought was true before. If it fits my preconceptions I can rest assured it's wrong. Heaven is not what anyone thinks it is.
Remedial work. Before I began getting guidance directly from Leela in 2006 I tried to guide my own spiritual quest mentally, using bogus guidance from teachers like TH and the I Ching. Needless to say, I made a complete hash of it. Human teachers and books are lousy sources. They offer little or no help for making progress. The only thing worse is thinking. My feeble attempts to mastermind my own spiritual growth were laughably inept. There is no mastery in the mind. Thinking was a trap I had to escape from before I could learn to use it well under Leela's firm control. From 2006 to 2020 my work with Leela was all remedial: curing the damage done by my bad habits and choices. I had to lose weight, get a divorce, start a new life full of dancing, fall in love a few times, and finally the big ones: stop drinking then root out the addictive mindset so deeply rooted in me. I came in with an addictive mindset. I had done all that by the end of 2019, then the pandemic hit. One more remedial step was needed: I had to root out the household mindset that got drummed into me in Boulder and find a real home where I could live alone. That one went so deep I had to become homeless before I could find my way out of it.