By Jim Hawes — They are succinct summaries of Andrew Cohen's provocative chapters on his five spiritual tenets and have been very helpful pointers in my daily meditation.
We all know that inner peace is always here and now. Millions of words have and are being written on how to find and, more importantly, sustain it. As a result of recently reading six of Andrew Cohen's books, I use these five words as guideposts or a mantra to return to inner peace: simplicity, choice, acceptance, impersonality, world. They are succinct summaries of Andrew Cohen's provocative chapters on his five spiritual tenets and have been very helpful pointers in my daily meditation.
By simplicity, which is his first tenet, he means whole, undivided, unified or One. Be simple — be free, no thinking, and no striving. This is the opposite of complexity, which is ego or identifications with physical, mental (emotional), and even pseudo spiritual forms. Concisely stated, simplicity means wisdom, not ignorance; freedom, not bondage; and heaven, not hell.
Choice is his second tenet. The individual assumes complete responsibility for every thing he or she does. We have choice each moment of every day — free from fear, ignorance and selfishness. To use Cohen's words, "Be a true spiritual warrior. Be the unconditional, uncontainable energy of the absolute — perfectly mysterious." This has the effect of destroying or letting go of what he calls "the momentum ego accumulated over time."
Acceptance is a succinct summary of Cohen's third tenet of "face everything, avoid nothing." And this means acceptance at all times, in all places, through all circumstances. Of course, our ego is the exact opposite in that it has a compulsive need to remain separate at all times, in all places and in all circumstances. Rather than accept, Cohen says we are "in the grip of a fear-driven habit, a habit of avoidance and denial." It is here where the ego needs to maintain a separate sense of self, and in this movement, we will deliberately choose to avoid anything that would challenge the ultimate validity of the ego's separate identity. In short, our attention will constantly be on the ego and, therefore, when we decide to be free, we shift our experience.
Cohen says, "We discover something extra ordinary and profound — the true and right relationship of all things." He confirms that this mysterious knowledge has always been there, and is always here and now. But we were unaware of it because of our preoccupation with the needs of the ego. Cohen says we need what he calls "a heroic degree of interest, determination and passion to liberate us from the ego's influence."
Our experiences that we think are uniquely ours are a lie. And, in fact, they are not personal, which is Cohen's fourth tenet or law of impersonality. In fact, fearful or lustful and even spiritual experiences are exactly the same for all of us. There are some who will take issue with this and reply that their spiritual experiences are unique, special. But, if you look closely, the ego is here, too, (the need to personalize). The lesson here is to let this compulsive need to personalize fall away or die to our habitual way of living.
The word world clarifies Cohen's fifth tenet, "For the sake of the whole," in that we should realize that the significance of human life is never found through having or getting for ourselves, but rather, only through giving. That is, he says, when you begin to care about the greater good (whole). Then, all the problems that you had will disappear. In short, when you give everything you are to everyone else, there will be nothing left for you. Nothing left means you will be free or liberated. It is the end of becoming, the end of having a problem and even the end of striving for enlightenment or inner peace. These five powerful words: simplicity, choice (will), acceptance, impersonal and world help me bring to conscious awareness that I am totally free each moment.
Jim Hawes, retired teacher, writer and spiritual practioneer, lives in Medford. E-mail your 650-word inner peace article to Sally McKirgan at firstname.lastname@example.org.