A few months ago, I would have answered by rattling off personal specs: gender, age, profession, sexuality, social status, personal achievements, hobbies, likes/dislikes and so on.
Over the past few months, however, I have come to realize that I, C.C., am but an ego, a persona – the physical and physiological incarnation of my soul – and this is a concept I am still struggling with although intellectually I do understand it.
Roughly, as V, one of the main characters in V for Vendetta explained, “What was done to me created me.”

Until recently, I believed that the ME whom I tidy up every morning in front of the mirror was ME from the inside out – my choice of me, as I crafted myself minute by minute over the past fifty years – matured to perfection.
Now, I accept that all of what makes Me, this *individual* who needs to be seen, not necessarily heard, is not the end product of any creative free choice, as my Leo star sign would like to suggest.

Who is this Me, strong and independent that feels all droopy on Day 2 of a miserable cold?
Who is this Me, normally so calm and collected, who ‘loses it’when my partner, my mother, my boss, the person in the queue ahead of me pushes one of my buttons?

Can I really look in the mirror and say that I know who I am?
Or can I accept that whatever I see in the mirror and what others perceive of me is all there is to me?

Technically I am both Jewish and Catholic – the former because any child borne to a Jewish mother is Jewish by default. The latter because my paternal grandparents had me baptized when I was just a few months old – possibly in the hope of counter-acting any inherited Jewish tendencies.
Then, for reasons definitely beyond my control, I endured three years in a school run by nuns where the First Communion followed by Confirmation were compulsory for all Catholic students.

Having said that, as far as I am concerned, there is no god, great or small – only a huge cosmic force, yes, a creator of absolute order and precision, and an arbiter that keeps checks and balances through karma, personal and global – the same force that keeps the planets spinning however they need to spin to maintain life on earth.
However, what chaos there is in our lives, in our world, on our planet is 100% ‘man-made.

Me, my, myself and I – all four of us are one thinking, loving, eating, spending, working, drinking, ego-driven […] entity – I almost said *zombie-like*, because mostly asleep, but I pulled back thinking it might sound a little too hardcore at such an early stage of my ramblings.

I accept that I am a divided entity: I have an intellectual self, an instinctive self, a moving self and, not least of all, an emotional self.
Though I consider myself a rather mature, introverted and quiet sort of person, I accept that my four selves, as ego-centric as juveniles, are running *my* show as, as for now, they have a will of their own.

I accept that I am the main source of my own misery. Well, not me, C.C. but, me, as my ego-persona, which is really me, C.C.. Arrghh!
I accept that my moods, my anxiety, have a twin corollary imprinted in my energy field.

Reality check #1: I am made up of approximately 70% to 80% liquids and though my brain is the single heaviest part of me and the most documented, sliced, diced and quartered on innumerable science programs, I can only access a fraction of its power and, basically, I don’t really understand what makes it tick.

Reality check #2: My personality has been moulded by an imprecise series of events; two or three massive ones, but mostly what has shaped ME is the repetitive imprint left on my psyche by a series of relentless, but seemingly innocuous happenings – life, as interpreted by me.

Reality check #3: All I have described above is, after all, not the real me. I have simply described my ego-persona – my soul’s vehicle in this lifetime.
The real ME is my soul.
My ego-persona, me, as C.C., is not having much fun at the moment because I am not whom I thought I was – yet I am not in need of a straightjacket.
I am not delusional.
In fact, I have probably never been more aware of my constructed self as I am at the moment.

I used to think I was my own person and that, since I had always lived in ‘free countries’, all that I did was act out free will.
In reality, all that I do and feel and say has been pre-determined by the miasma of previous actions and reactions that go so far back my human mind cannot deconstruct it.
Put bluntly, I react freely to an endless range of stimuli, yes. But I do not act out of free will. I do not believe anyone does.

There is a story about a man who came to visit a spiritual teacher and the teacher inquired: “Why did you come in with all this crowd of people?” The man whirled around in astonishment to see who had snuck up behind him.

“Of course,” Yudit explained, “there was no one. The ‘crowd of people’ that he came with is his clutter of old ideas; the conventional, but arbitrary, concepts of right and wrong, good and bad, and about love, life and death. He lugged all this around with him wherever he went, as people do.
“In order to be free of our ourselves,” she added, “to flow spontaneously like water, and have faith in the course of things – knowing that our soul, our true mother, will never fail us – we need to discard all this baggage of conventional values.”

Clearly, objective thinking seriously kills the fun factor. It’s a real dampener.
In fact, the only way I can begin to understand ‘who’ I am is by keeping my ego-persona very still.
By not saying anything.
By not wanting anything.
By not making anything happen.
By not *touching* anything energetically – by not reacting to the programmed knee-jerk reactions that make our personality.

We all agree that we cannot drag any of our possessions to wherever souls migrate to, once six feet underground.
‘Possessions’, in this text, refers to any baggage – emotional or physical – that weighs us down; any clutter that turns us, inside and out, into the familiar cartoon image of a turtle with its house stacked so high it totters on its back.
I am sure you have seen it – the expression on that turtle’s face is always one of incomprehension and weariness.

Does this mean spontaneity has to go and I have to develop the personality of a cucumber? Not if I find a way to be in the moment, as I do ‘spontaneity’.

___

On the train to Brindavan, a Swami sits beside a common man who asks
him if, indeed, he has attained the self-mastery that the title “Swami” implies.
“I have,” says the Swami.
“And have you mastered anger?”
“I have.”
“Do you mean to say that you have mastered anger?”
“I have.”
“You mean you can control your anger?”
“I can.”
“And you do not feel anger?”
“I do not.”
“Is this the truth, Swami?”
“It is.”
After a silence, the man asks again: “Do you really feel that you have controlled your anger?”
“I have, as I told you,” the Swami answers.
“Then, do you mean to say, you never feel anger, even –”
“You are going on and on — what do you want?” the Swami shouts. “Are you a fool of a man? I have already given you an answ–”
“Oh, Swami, this is anger. So, I was right. You have not master–”
“Ah, but I have,” the Swami interrupts. “Have you not heard about the tormented snake that lived near a temple? Let me tell you the story.

On a path that went by a village in Bengal, there lived a cobra that used to bite people on their way to worship at the local temple. As such incidents increased, everyone became fearful, and many refused to go to the temple. The Swami who was the master at the temple was aware of the problem and took it upon himself to put an end to the problem. Taking himself to where the snake dwelt, he used a mantra to call the snake to him and bring it into submission.

The Swami then said to the snake how wrong it was to bite the people who walked along the path to worship. He made the snake promise sincerely that it would never do that again.
Soon afterwards, the snake was spotted upon the path by a passer-by but it made no move to bite. Once it became known that the snake had somehow been made passive, people grew unafraid.
It was not long before the village boys were dragging the poor snake along by the tail, as they ran laughing here and there.
When the temple Swami passed that way again, he called the snake to see if he had kept his promise.
The snake humbly and miserably approached the Swami, who exclaimed, “You are bleeding! Tell me how this has come to be”.
The snake was near tears and blurted out that he had been tormented ever since he had begun keeping the promise made to the Swami.
The Swami shook his head. “I told you not to bite”, he said, “but I never told you not to hiss!”[3]

The best way I can connect with the real me is by being in the moment.
Not by interpreting and analysing the moment to keep the sweet bits and spit out the rest.
And being in the moment is what I can not yet do with any measurable success.
But then again, I know I should not even be measuring and comparing anything.
So, it is back to Square One and the practice of just being – and observing.

I have accepted the challenge of interacting with the REAL me.
It is what my quest, the search for the present- moment, under Yudit’s guidance, is all about.

In his preface to Understanding the New Religions, Jacob Needleman recalls the first class he attended as a student of philosophy. When the instructor asked the class what they expected from the course, Needleman responded enthusiastically, ‘I want to know the meaning of life’.
“I will never forget the silence that followed. At first, I simply did not understand it; I assumed the teacher was waiting for me to say more, and so I went on
————————————–
3. D. Boyd, (1974), Rolling Thunder, Dell Publishing, New York, p.104.
talking while vaguely beginning to suspect that something was not quite right. I don’t remember anything of what I said, only that it all centred around the question, ‘Why are we here?’

Suddenly, I noticed that the teacher was smiling. I almost said ‘sneering’ but that would probably be an exaggeration. At the same time, I noticed my classmates shaking their heads and I heard some sniggering as well.
I stopped cold. ‘Go on, go on’, I was told.
Bewildered and frightened, I did try to go on and speak about all the questions that had been troubling me, but my voice was hollow and I soon had to stop.

After another terrible pause, the teacher said (and this I remember precisely): ‘Yes — well, that is exactly what philosophy is not about. You are not going to get psychiatric help here (great laughter), or religious guidance (more laughter). No, you are going to be taught what it means to think clearly and well, to examine your presuppositions, to criticize and argue. That is philosophy’.” [4]
Personally, it is the exploration of this type of thinking, which is also Moriya’s, that is keeping me interested in the fathomless and all-encompassing topic we are discussing here.

Over the past thirteen months, I have come to trust Moriya as implicitly as I do my life-partner – certainly much more than any doctor, specialist, healer, therapist, I have ever had to consult. Even more than the highly respected, and genial psychiatrist-healer who, some five years ago, decided that all I needed to get over my childhood issues was to take up chakra meditation. It is under her guidance that, on a weekly basis, I began the healing of my energy field and a couple of years later, met my first spiritual healer, the woman I was talking about earlier.
If it had not been for these two women’s approach to matters of the soul, I would never had been able to recognize Moriya as a true spiritual guide – my spiritual guide.
Neither would I have been open to accepting trustingly the regular sessions of distant healing she directs at my energy field. Meeting these three women, in the sequence just described, amounts to synchronicity at its best.


So “what’s a good woman to do” when, like myself, she gets so frustrated by her struggles with the practical application of basic spiritual tenets?

If this woman is ME, she sorts out what her head and heart have come to accept from what she understands but has not yet integrated – the stuff that tests her mettle as she is finally awake and on The Path.


I am so totally convinced that you, and many readers, will value a shortcut access to the teachings I have been receiving from Yudit C.S, my mentor from Jerusalem, that I propose to commit what I can to paper – with her explicit support and encouragement.

Once I had begun sorting through the notes derived from my correspondence with Yudit, with a view to embarking on this project, I came to the page in Andrew Harvey’s, Journey to Ladahk, where Thuksey Rinpoche tells him, a writer and a poet in search of self, “You do not need to stop working, but you need to strive for a new relationship with your work. You do not need to stop writing, you need to explore another way to write, to build another awareness to write from. You will probably not find this quickly. You will need patience.
Many people will tell you that you are misguided, ridiculous. You must listen to what they have to say, learn from their criticisms, but not be swayed by them.” [5]
That brought a great grin to my lips.


As I expose the sky-high citadel of my struggles with the lessons that are forcing me well beyond my comfort zones to expand my mind and my heart to finally grapple with concepts never previously considered, I will at the same time share Yudit’s interpretation of all that I find relevant to the topics discussed in any one section.


I will keep this as free as possible of both mumbo-jumbo hype and the highfalutin language of academia, hopefully as clear as the waters of that little mountain spring. Hopefully, I will be able to give it back to you as fresh and clean as distilled by Yudit herself – for you to find as refreshingly fresh and full of light, as I do.

And so today, though I still only stand a little further up The Path, both my feet are firmly planted on it, as I experiment with the elusive but corner-stone concept of the absence of the *moment* in our wakeful hours, as discussed by Alan Watts in The Way of Liberation:
“We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infinitesimal causative past and an absorbingly important future. We have no present. Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation. We do not
realize that there never was, is, or will be any other experience than present experience. We are therefore out of touch with reality. We confuse the world as talked about, described, and measured with the world which actually is.” [6]


One word of warning, even about the greatest philosophers and theosophists: all we can accept from them is their ideas.
Like most sports coaches who train high-profile athletes without themselves living the daily rigour they impose, most great thinkers have not, themselves, excelled in the spiritual actualization of their own beliefs. Alan Watts, considered by many as one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century, was no exception. In fact, the old do as I say and not as I do motto is best kept in mind when reading what the world’s greatest philosophers say on matters most of us have neither time nor inclination to think about. That way, we do not risk being either hypnotized by the brilliance of such great minds or tempted to disregard them for being as flawed and damaged as the rest of us.
Having said that, I am totally convinced that Yudit walks the talk of her teachings.

_____________________________________________________________

4. A. Keightley (1986), Into Every Life a Little Zen Must Fall, Wisdom publications, London p.19.
5. A. Harvey (1983), A Journey In Ladakh, Houghton Mifflin Company, Massachusetts, p.174.

6. A. Watts (1995), The Way of Liberation, Weatherhill, NY, p. 91.