What is real? The Holy Grail. Byron Bay is such a spiritual supermarket, with all kinds of people offering truth as an experience, a commodity. “Come and sit in truth”, “Discover the truth of your being”, “Know the truth”, or “Learn how to live your truth” workshops or evenings happen daily.

One wonders if there was so much truth about, why do we feel the need to keep going to see someone to give us an experience of truth.

And which truth are we talking about? Jesus has one version of truth; Buddha, Osho, John de Ruiter, Advaita, Krishna, Mohammed, the guy in the grocery store has another.

I heard once at an evening ‘meeting’ with someone, the ‘someone’ was told by a woman who was there that she was there to check him out.

The guy asked her if she was simply wanting to see if she agreed with what he was saying. ie, it wasn’t to do with whether or not he was speaking the truth, or any quality he may have had, only whether or not his viewpoint coincided with hers.

Let’s face it, depending on what answer we want, we can go and be with anybody, read any book, practise any meditation, depending on who we resonate with, and we can get different take on truth from everybody.

I remember when I first took sannyas, and I felt I had found God! I took on a whole belief structure, often nothing to do with what Osho actually said, about how to live my life, how life worked.

I wore the red clothes and the mala, which in retrospect I find pretty off the wall, but it did have some payoffs.

The trouble with Osho of course was/is that he constantly contradicts himself, and the more I imbibed of him the less certain I became about anything other than the silence of existence which is the backdrop for all the goings on in my life.

In a sense it was/is like being with a dozen masters at once. It was and is easy to use Osho’s words to support any opinion, quite a trap which many have succumbed to, ignoring the other, opposite things he said.

The criteria for whether or not we resonate with any particular teaching is usually our “feeling”.

A nebulous amalgamation of our past experiences and the beliefs which formulated the conclusions gleaned from those experiences, our personality, our heroes even, the kind of substances we imbibe, our instincts and our own inner ‘knowing’.

How do we know which is real? And is there any such thing as absolute truth? That this is the way to go, that this is the right thing to do? Is there anything real?

I have often wondered if what I am feeling is real, or just an illusion, even if I am really here, but then I come back to being here and now, in this body, breathing this breath, having this thought, drinking this coffee, cause that is ultimately all I really know.

Often people will use karma as a means of deciding to do this or that, or the I Ching, the Tarot, Astrology, tuning into ‘guides’, others the roll of the dice.

It seems that we are always looking outside of ourselves for some direction, that we doubt our ability to make our own choices and the inevitable occasional mistake.

Karma has been used as a control method to stop people from doing what they want to do if it contravenes some social norm.

We see someone doing something ”bad” according to our beliefs, our understanding, and we comfort ourselves by thinking that karma will take care of them, karma will fix them up.

But what happens if there is no such thing in reality? What if it is just another heaven/hell game?

Does existence, as vast as it is, really care, really sit in judgement over what we do in our small lives on this small planet in this insignificant solar system in a back-blocks galaxy?

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There does seem to be in some cause and effect thing happening though, and we have all experienced that, or what looks like it. You do something to someone, and something similar happens to you.

We have also seen other people doing the same thing and nothing happens. Maybe it all depends on how we feel about what we are doing.

If we are clean with it, and we are not going against our own belief structure, our own knowing, whatever inner voices, even our parents’, we listen to, then it seems that existence loves and supports us.

If we do something which we’re not so sure about, not so convinced, then often we become unstuck.

Is there indeed a right and a wrong? Is there a path that we have to stay on to ‘achieve’ what cannot be ‘achieved’?

That comes down to idea of there being a purpose, a divine plan as to how we live our lives, that we are supposed to be doing this or that, be with this person or that, that there is a reason for all the things which happen in our lives.

Again it presupposes some form of divine being watching over us with a plan, with morality, any of a dozen concepts which arose in someone’s mind.

I wonder what reason, what purpose there was in the suffering and deaths of the Bosnians, the Timorese, the Cambodians? What lessons do they have to learn from being killed as children?

What lessons are we as a race having to learn about destroying our planet? Is it all just ‘leela’, a big game without any end, without any winners and losers, with nothing of significance happening at all?

And if it is, does that change anything? Does it actually matter if we ‘grow’, if we love, are loved, if we are ‘good’ or ‘bad’? Or is it as many would suggest that it is all predestined? (Predestined by who?)

In a way it feels like the issue is self-doubt.

We find it hard to do something without consulting others, which of itself isn’t a bad thing as it is good to check in, but then most of that is with like minded people anyway with the same belief structure as we have, but it can become addictive.

Am I thinking the right thing, am I acting the right way (according to who?), am I even OK being me? Is me an OK person to be? It feels like it is a constant quest to be told that we are OK, that we are legitimate as individuals.

I don’t pretend to have any answers, but it’s good to check out what we take as being real.

By Mark O’Brien, Originally published in Here & Now magazine, Byron Bay

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