Becoming Conscious Of The Truth And How You Live Your Life Are Two Different Things – Peter Ralston Newsletter

It is the “sensitivity” that you highlighted that I did not communicate but was my reason for asking this question. I know this sensitivity will continue to develop and I can imagine that one continues to see the world through a different set of eyes within this sensitivity. Feeling the suffering of others becomes an interesting experience and once one realizes the immense suffering, one begins to question. How may I do my greatest good to help others suffer less.
There is the obvious….help others as a good friend, through generous acts, acts of kindness, life of service, but are we really helping? Is studying truth and shifting consciousness of itself the path of most integrity? Or is it perhaps a balance of both…or all of the above. I feel it is all of the above.
In my Buddhist studies this was shared with me: Studying Buddhism benefits all sentient beings in all realms realities and planes. The same teacher shared that one could also go for a Nobel Peace Prize and be a good friend and intentionally help others to lessen their suffering in every opportunity.
The same teacher also explained that when you really cultivate your sensitivity, it is very difficult to go back to the general way of society and thus, a life on a parcel of around 35 acres for example (building a retreat center or monastery and growing one’s own food…keeping life very simple in a state of awareness. Essentially chopping wood and carrying water. He explains that few societal systems give back in a circular nature. When one sows the soil one gives and receives tenfold and cleans the air in doing so which is a beautiful circular symbiotic relationship with every system involved.

I really feel this and see my life going in this direction.


You think you are speaking of one thing, but there are two things on the table here. This is an area where many well-intentioned “spiritual” people become confused. The distinction being missed is that how you live your life and how you participate in community is not the same pursuit as becoming conscious of what’s True.

Your concern for the suffering of others and what to do about it is a human empathetic reaction to recognizing that this suffering is unnecessary. This recognition often accompanies an enlightenment experience because such a shift in consciousness frees you from this suffering and reveals its nature, at least temporarily. But there are other realizations and states that can also reveal this nature and so you’d have a similar empathetic reaction. Whether the impulse arises post enlightenment or from some other realization or shift of state, it itself is still not the Truth—it relates to self and life, not what’s absolutely true.

Anything that involves action and strategy is about life and how it is lived. Can you see the real possibility that the motive for such pursuits is to feel like you are a good person, perhaps a noble and self-sacrificing one? That may be socially lauded because it benefits the community, and it is rare. But it is actually antithetical to the pursuit of the Truth.

Beyond the self-serving aspect we can also see that such actions are an intelligent approach to the survival of the community, especially if everyone collectively pursues that same end. It’s not hard to see that it would create a positive atmosphere and perhaps healthier community. Yet all of that is actually simply a better version of survival, not the pursuit of the Truth.

There is nothing wrong and much right with pursuing such goals. But such beliefs in the benefits of studying Buddhism are just that, beliefs. People like to hear claims that agree with them and sound good. That’s not the same as pursuing what’s True. The Truth must be pursued on its own, even if the outcome is disagreeable and doesn’t fit with anything you believe or want to be true. Understanding this distinction is essential for such a pursuit.

I have wondered about the systematizing of Buddhist philosophy and the creation of lists suggesting how people should live their lives. I imagine that much of it was invented after Gautama died, as is true of all religions, but even of those instructions or recommendations that might have come from Buddha himself we have to take care not to jump to the conclusion that he thought they were steps leading to direct consciousness.

I imagine that his first and primary attempts were to communicate complete enlightenment and facilitate others in grasping it. Perhaps, upon failing to accomplish that for the vast majority of his followers, eventually he added to his communications those more grounded

actions and views—ones that people could understand and pursue—that would benefit them and the community as a whole, as well as assist them in “cleaning up their act,” so to speak, putting them in a more propitious state to pursue the Truth.

But that is setting parameters for living and suggesting actions to be taken. Just like sitting in contemplation or adopting a practice may greatly assist you in focusing your attention on pursuing the truth, the activity itself can’t produce a conscious breakthrough. It can only assist you in doing so. All practices, rules, techniques, activities, and so on, are relative affairs and so can’t be or lead to the absolute Truth. That can only be done directly. The “action” and the “outcome” shouldn’t be confused. No rules or practices can do it; only you can.

Once again, as for the center idea, think about it: on the one hand you go on about helping and serving others, and on the other you want to hide away in isolation because of some notion of “increased sensitivity.” What does that have to do with helping people, and how would it? Sounds very self-serving to me. Not that it is wrong in any way, but take a look at the real motive behind it, and perhaps you’ll discover the motive really doesn’t have in mind helping others or eliminating their suffering, but perhaps your own.


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One thought on “Becoming Conscious Of The Truth And How You Live Your Life Are Two Different Things – Peter Ralston Newsletter

  1. My experience is that even when I look into my motivations for why I’m searching for the truth directly, what I’m really up to is trying to make my life “better” and improve my position somehow. It’s 100% survival! Even in me posting this comment, aren’t I good person!!!

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