(Photo Credit: Orbin Zebest – “Demon’s Resent”)

I have suffered the demons of depression since childhood, and let me say that I am thankful for all the psychological suffering which I have (and continue) to endure. Why am I thankful for the profound darkness which sometimes seems to permeate every corner of my mind and, by the way, has absolutely no connection whatsoever to my external circumstances? I’m thankful because suffering through the darkness opened my eyes to the fact that darkness is nothing but the absence of light.

This means that LIGHT does exist, and I just have to find it somehow. This psychological suffering also made me question the infinite contradictions and paradoxes of human behavior. Peering into my own consciousness and trying to sort through the ‘trash’ of the subconscious mind gave me an awareness that I may never have otherwise known. My own thoughts, feelings, and actions were/are so often at loggerheads that I began to realize that “it’s not just me”. I became keenly aware that “something is wrong with the world of human beings.”

Still, despite my innate sense that the world of mankind was missing something essential, I continued to search only for a resolution to MY problem – the problem of unhappiness due to the insipid sense of meaninglessness and deeply profound sense of fear. As a writer and reader I delved into my issues using intellect as my weapon of choice, thinking that I could think and reason my way out of the darkness. Can you believe that in 20 years of wandering and sifting through thoughts in the land of logic and reason, it never occurred to me that THOUGHT ITSELF MIGHT BE THE PROBLEM!?

(Photo Credit: Laszlo Nagy HU – “Thinking”)

I have been searching all my life for a resolution to MY unhappiness, but it wasn’t until 12 years ago that my journey took a truly meaningful turn. I happened upon an enigmatic, disciplined, and peaceful warrior who was the first to suggest to me that my identification with thought was the root of all my fear and unhappiness. Though I didn’t truly understand what he meant at the time, I felt a very sudden and profound sense that there was genuine meaning behind his words…I sensed that this person may actually have the key that might open the door to LIFE.

He said, “Rula, put aside your disbelief for a moment. Put down your intellectual weapon (which is absolutely corrupted by your conditioning) and consider what I’m saying. If it’s true that your identification with thought is the root of all your so called ‘personal problems’, then answer one question: ‘Can thought ever think its way out of thought?'”

(Photo Credit: Holly Lay)

I stood dumbfounded. The answer was absolutely clear. How can one possibly get rid of a problem by using the same method which created that problem to begin with? He also suggested that the impurity of the intellectual center was not only due to the long history of its conditioning both individually and collectively, but that human beings have the tendency of misusing their intellectual and emotional centers by thinking emotionally.

(Photo Credit: Mike Licht – Torches & Pitchforks)

He elaborated: “The intellectual center is for thinking. The emotional center is for feeling. But people misuse those centers by thinking emotionally and this leads to an even greater corruption of one’s perception of Reality. We are not ONE, but fragments of selves – we are divided from within, and therefore we have collectively molded the external world along these same fragmented, bound, limited and divided lines.

050309 Orissa Bird Sanctuary - India 2005 (24)My true journey began here, with this disciplined, peaceful warrior, twelve years ago. But he himself was still divided. He showed me that being a disciplined warrior was not enough. One had to become an IMPECCABLE Warrior in order to find presence and more importantly, to REMAIN PRESENT IN CONTINUITY. So we joined hands on this pathless path of UNDOING our conditioning. We made a pact that LIFE without Presence was not Life at all, but a walking, talking Death. Therefore, our greatest priority at any given moment was the quality of our being which we would evaluate from moment to moment every time we remembered.

I wish I could tell you that after twelve years of ‘effort’ to UNDO the natural tendencies of our minds, the presence of our inner Light filled the spaces of darkness within. But alas, the journey of UNDOING turned out to be too profoundly simple for our complex minds – and our habitual, self serving, deeply rooted, destructive selves (whom we call the Legion of Demons – for they are many), proved to be stronger than the Voice of the Intending Self that we had created as a means of taking back possession of the House from its servants. The mind continues to choose our reactions despite all our intellectual resolutions to “stop the world” by simply BEING (witness) to the mind’s madness. Instead of actively Undoing the Legion, we were passively witnessing their madness without actively undoing.

We were Warriors only in word, and not in deed. Just this morning my Warrior Companion asked, “What have we accomplished in our twelve years? Have we moved even an inch?” I sensed his profoundly deep sadness which was not separate from my own profoundly deep sadness and by way of justification I said, “The Legion is present in my absence.” He replied, “Then STOP BEING ABSENT.”

Presence is the absence of absence.