Eight Spiritual Laws
These "laws" of the spirit emerged over the course of an extended period of solitude. I call them laws, because in my experience they are as ineluctable as the laws of gravity and motion. A few are familiar to practicing Buddhists: the Law of Impermanence particularly. But I did not learn them from any religious or spiritual system. I have watched them at work in my own life. They are not matters of belief. You can test them against your own experience and either verify their validity, or discard them.
The Law of Appearances: Nothing is as it appears to be.
All experience consists of the sensory and mental apparatus of the experiencing organism, not of objective reality. Sensory illusion is relatively trivial compared to mental illusion, which is much more troublesome. Mental illusion filters and obscures our experience so that our view of reality can become deeply divided from reality itself, from what actually is. This is the state most of us are in most of the time. Since everything known and experienced is at best a minor echo of reality, and at worst a delusional fiction, how then is one to live truly? Is it possible to live out of being rather than out of knowing? Summing up: Everything known is fictional. Everything lived is real. We believe the fiction and deny the real; Trusting what is known, and not trusting Life.
The Law of Interdependence: Nothing exists in and of itself.
Everything exists in relationship to and dependence on everything else that exists. This is true at all levels, organismic, ecological, and cosmic. In some sense, the universe is one organism, one being, made up of interdependent systems, just as the body is made up of many cells, and is host to many organisms on which it depends. The sense of separation that humans often feel is a complete illusion.
The Law of Impermanence: Everything that is born, dies.
Everything that arises, falls away or is transformed into something else. Thoughts. Breaths. Heartbeats. Bodies. Species. Suns. Galaxies. Reality is in constant motion, and always returning to emptiness. One can believe in eternal life and reincarnation. But these beliefs fly in the face of all our experience of reality, which is that for anything to exist at all, it must have a beginning and it must have an end. As an aside, eternity is often thought to be a very, very long time. Actually, it is the very absence of time. In the absence of time, nothing is born and nothing dies. That which is eternal, is that which can neither be born nor die. Neither created nor destroyed. And what is that?
The Law of Emptiness: Form is what we know and experience, but form is mostly emptiness, and emptiness is where we live.
Emptiness and form are two aspects of the same thing, just as the head and tail of a coin are two sides of the same thing. We are surrounded by emptiness. It is vast. It is everywhere. It gives shape to all form, just as form gives shape to it. We get enchanted by form and become blind to the emptiness. The walls of the room define the space, but it is the space that we use, that we live in. Our blindness to emptiness is like clinging to the wall and never using the full available space of the room. Those who get to know emptiness realize that it is the heart of being.
The Law of the Present: This particular time and place are the only reality.
If we constantly live in resistance to whom and what and where and when we are, we can not live fully. If we derive our sense of self from anything other than who and what and where we are right now, we will never be happy. Living in the present is easy, but we make it hard. Living in the present, which is the only reality, means being open to everything exactly as it is and clinging to nothing. What we tend to do is just the opposite: close our minds and our experience to almost everything except our own habitual thoughts, and grasp at everything that serves the pattern of those thoughts. Thus is it possible to go from birth to death without ever really living. And since the whole universe participates in the creation of this and every moment, living here and now is a wee bit of a threat to the ego/self, which thrives on the illusion of being separate, autonomous, and in control.
The Law of Love (which encompasses all the other laws): The essential nature of reality is total acceptance of, and movement with, everything exactly as it is.
This is very difficult for most of us to accept. We tend to define ourselves by what we exclude or whom we exclude. Total acceptance of everything exactly as it is feels like personal annihilation to most people. Who am I if not my dislikes, my gripes, my revulsions, my conflicts, my opinions? Who am I if not who I think I am?
The Law of the Separate Self: There is no seperate "self!"
This "law" is actually our attempted violation of all the other laws. To believe in the fiction of the separate self is to violate all these laws, and since these are laws that can not be violated, the attempt to do so is the root of violence, and causes great suffering, for oneself, for others, and for the Earth. The illusion of separation, and it is truly only an illusion, a tale we tell ourselves, comes from resisting and clinging. Imagine if the "in" breath tried to separate itself from the" out" breath and declare that it alone was eternally real. Death would not be far off.
The Law of Release: We will return endlessly to all that is resisted or held until all is accepted and released.
It is my experience that human suffering springs from our attempts to resist Life or cling to Life. The way to end suffering is to embrace life - including that which is painful - but not cling to it. By returning to those places where we have been hurt, or frightened, or shut out, and allowing ourselves to fully experience the pain, without resisting it and without clinging to it, without weaving a story around it; that which was held, and which persisted as suffering, can finally be released. It is an almost miraculous alchemy that transforms suffering into joy.
One could also state this law as follows: we will continue to attempt to violate the first five Laws until we become aware of the violation, and so begin to embody the Law of Love.