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Excerpt for Cultivating a Natural State of Mind by , available in its entirety at Smashwords











Copyright © 2018 Wayne Bloemhof



info@waynebloemhof.com



All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof

may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever

without the express written permission of the publisher

except for the use of brief quotations.





First Printing, 2018



ISBN 978-0-6399279-0-9





Cover design by: Nicola Wilson

nzendesign@gmail.com

image credits: Unsplash.com (Johann Siemens)







Thanks



Just like raising children, it sometimes takes a village to write a book.

My sincere thanks and appreciation goes out to all those who have supported, inspired and encouraged me along the way:

To my mum, dad, sister, and Sean, to Nix, and Monkey, my family, and my extended family, and my 'spiritual' family who always have my back, even during the tough times – I appreciate you all. To my soul-friends and extended brothers and sisters, to all those hundreds of authors, artists, musicians, gurus and teachers who say the same thing in so many inspiring ways – I love you, and thank you.

To the physical, mental and emotional pains in my life: Thanks for being a superb teacher. I value your input – and let you go.

Finally, to you the reader, may you find something of lasting value in the pages that follow.









Contents

Introduction: 6

The Esoteric Wellspring 6

The Source of the Smile 9

When Smiles Slip Away 10

From Smiles to Peak Experiences 14

Delicious Moments 15

Entheogens and the Doors of Perception 20

Rising Above Thoughts and Feelings 26

"Who Am I?" 30

Befriending the Beast Within 33

Fallen, and Estranged from Nature 33

The Divided Self 39

Everyone Loves a Good Story 40

The Story of "Me" 41

The Wolf, the Sheep, and the Basket of Cabbage 44

Letting Go without Giving Up 49

The Art of Letting Go 52

Meditation 57

The Easy Method 58

Creativity as a Path to Enlightenment 62

Creativity Transcends "Mind" 64

Conclusion – A Permanent Holiday 68

Bibliography 73











A CALL

To all the seekers, the natural ones, and those who long to be natural again, the dreamers, wonderers, co-creators; all of you who are waking up.

All you outcasts, outsiders and original thinkers. All of you who still read to stretch your mind, and still stretch to read your body.

All of you who can still see the possibility of a world free from ignorant egotism, greed and fear, free from cut-and-paste sleeping people. All of you who sense the ancient esoteric secrets still alive in your bones. All of you who are learning to see.

All of you who believe in non-possessive-love, dignity of soul, dance, art, inspiration, crazy divine madness, tempered by intelligence and hard-won wisdom…

Come – free the true art inside your deepest self. Learn the art of letting go.

Let go, and let go again of each moment, and kiss the joy as it flies.





Introduction:

The Esoteric Wellspring



There is a certain something in a real smile.

As it is with so many of life’s beguiling little mysteries, so it is with the smile: It’s only when we make the effort to pay more attention than usual, and only when we care to probe into the heart of the matter, that the thing we’re looking at reveals its secrets.

When we examine them closely, smiles can seem quite otherworldly – and still feel so completely familiar. It’s almost as if they’re made of magic.

When we see someone’s eyes light up, it triggers a direct and unmistakeable response somewhere inside. If we catch it as it happens, we can watch the delicate facial muscles come alive. The micro-landscape of the face we’re looking at is subtly transformed. The lips curl, the corners of the eyes crinkle, and the eyes begin to sparkle.

We immediately know what it means. A smile like that can tell a story in an instant. It can convey the subtlest shades of meaning. Smiles express a feeling – a certain flavour of being.

We can sense it. We can simply feel it, and experience it, knowing that it contains something ethereal – and something good and earthy. If we’re perceptive, we can tell the difference between a genuine smile and the pasted-on variety.

It’s as if a real smile opens up an inner door, just wide enough to allow something to shine out. It’s just a glimpse – but a glimpse of what, exactly?

Where does that enigmatic something come from?



The hidden well of life’s vital force has bubbled up from within and splashed out onto a face, for everyone to see.





It’s one of the most natural and recognizable things in the world. No matter what your race, gender, or hair colour, no matter whether you’re a cynic or a believer, no matter what language you speak or what your ideas about the meaning of life are, in a metaphysical sense, or in practical terms – if you’re a human being, you know what a smile is.

Oddly enough, we human beings have complicated relationships with our smiles. The truly spontaneous ones are usually quite rare, except perhaps among small children, or those beautiful and rare orchids – the child-like adults.

On the other hand, there never seems to be a shortage of fake smiles. Almost everywhere in our complicated world, there are plenty of us who have perfected the thin veneer of civility, along with the polite, but meaningless smile.

The shrewd businessmen of the world learned long ago that money flows more easily when there is a smile around – even a fake one. Those kinds of smiles are fish hooks and bait, and they could undermine our appreciation of the genuine ones.

We could make the mistake of dismissing even the most genuine smiles and laughter as unimportant, as shallow, unreliable, or even as sentimental rubbish.

Perhaps it’s because they lack seriousness, or perhaps it's because they don’t carry intellectual weight.

Neither art nor science can fully capture or explain them. We can’t accurately and consistently reproduce them in a laboratory, and besides – what are they really? They hardly exist at all.

Smiles are instinctual, and they are slightly mystical too. Their real essence seems to lie just beyond the reach of intellectual thought. They are deeper and richer than any words that attempt to describe them. They contain so much, yet they’re so simple. We take them for granted, so it’s easy to miss the big thing that’s so artfully hiding in plain sight.

Usually that’s because we’re looking at the exoteric, or outward manifestation – in other words, the joke, the funny face, the prank, the comedy of the situation, or the slip on the banana peel – rather than the inner, or esoteric dimension – the place where the smile really came from.

That ‘place’ is really something that deserves our attention, if we wish to uncover the real source of the magic. As we dig deeper, like archaeologists uncovering an intra-cosmic mystery, a clear picture will reveal itself, and we will get a little more insight into what’s really going on.

Beyond the simple smile, this book will follow the trail of clues – from that something we can all sense, through what is called a Peak Experience, and deeper inwards, leading towards the source of it all, and something more or less permanent: Cultivating a natural state of mind.

This book was not designed to follow any of the standard formulas for personal development books. It avoids sweeping generalizations, and makes no false promises about financial or personal success, and it will not try to convince you to believe anything you don't already sense within yourself.

You're unique, and intelligent enough to create your own path, on your own sweet time, after you've weighed things up in your heart and mind.

Instead, this book is meant to inspire your originality – the authentic poetry and dance in your soul. If it helps you see clearly and deeply into the patterns of your own life and your own mind, then it has fulfilled its purpose.

At the same time, it will invite you to use some clear rational thinking. You will be guided to carefully weigh the evidence, and the book offers some practical know-how too. It's not all theory, and it's not all poetry, because it's based on real experience, and genuine life-lessons. Head-knowledge is useless when we don't live by it, and turn it into wisdom. That part is up to you.

We all have a natural intuition which guides us, so this is an invitation to harmonize the reality you intuit in your heart with the purifying fires of your intelligence, and find your own truth hiding in between the sentences.

Take nothing at face value, and question every assumption – but heed the response you feel in your deepest, most natural self. Allow enough room in there to feel uplifted and inspired.







The Source of the Smile



Let’s begin with the first clue: The innocent smile.

There is a momentary feeling of enjoyment that is expressed by an authentic smile, and laughter that comes straight from the belly. That brief moment points to something very obvious – but only if we look at it in the right way.

What it hints at is deeper, and far more permanent than a smile, and it is something that is usually hidden from our awareness.

That ‘smiling feeling' arises when we touch base with our natural state of being.

We can't systematically or actively create the feeling, or make it happen in any way – we wouldn’t know where to begin.

Our minds reject that idea, because our minds love to find reasons for everything. We love to understand things. We like to trace the causes of everything. How can anything be uncaused? We want things to be under control. We want to know how to influence the outcome, how to change things, how to master everything. We want techniques.

We love to find the reason for the smile, but in reality, there is no cause.

The feeling is already there, unspoiled, and fathomless, before a single thought has entered the mind. The feeling itself doesn’t need to be engineered, planned, or executed. It just springs up from the inner well, whether we’re ready or not.

We can invite that feeling, and make room for it – we can carefully cultivate its natural growth – but we can’t force it.

Any kind of technique, or artificial stimulation, or theory – all of these ultimately lead away from that state of natural joy. To find it, and to stay in that natural state, we need only one thing – insight that pierces right into the heart.

It is simple, but at the same time, it is the most difficult thing of all.

Heartfelt laughter is a gentle teacher. It reminds us that life just isn’t quite as serious as we like to believe it is. It reminds us that it is possible to be in a state where our minds, emotions and our bodies melt into one, natural and harmonious whole. It reminds us what an authentic human being feels like.

When we laugh, our internal division isn’t there to interfere with anything. When the feeling arises, it can feel as if our separate ‘selves’ are no longer at odds with each other. In that instant we sense something uplifting and transcendent. Real smiles are attractive because they express hope and acceptance of life as it is. They bring perspective. They bring relief, and a return to sanity.

It is not the same thing as a practiced smile. It is not an automatic or a conditioned response, or a contrived social façade.

The feeling is different – deeper.

It can feel as if we have stepped into the flow of the present moment, and we start to feel refreshed and encouraged. In a sense, we express our true selves, and at the same time, we escape our miserable selves completely.

In those moments of life when we can't help but smile, there is a feeling of openness. There is an expansion – a widening and deepening of moment-to-moment consciousness that allows for more than just the superficial levels of existence we’re so used to. We don’t feel so grim and determined. We don’t feel the need to be anywhere else, or to be anyone else.

For a moment, at least, the mind is quiet. The heart and the belly take over. Life takes on a radiant, bubbling quality in that moment.

The nagging questions remain, though: Why can’t we make that feeling last longer? How do we develop and nurture that feeling until it fills up most of our lives? Why isn’t life always so naturally agreeable? Why does most of the world seem so artificial, and so far removed from that natural state of mind all the time?



*





When Smiles Slip Away



"Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy."

Thich Nhat Hanh

Smiles and laughter on their own are temporary. They really aren’t much at all. We can’t sustain them indefinitely – they come and go on their own secret timetables.

It’s true, of course, that choosing to smile deliberately can make us feel better for a while, but even so, it’s hard to keep it up forever. When the moment has passed, the smile slips away. As the saying goes, if you smile for too long, sooner or later it’s just teeth. The moment we try too hard to force a smile, it seems to disappear.

Somehow, when that smile fades away, and without fully realizing that it has happened, we slip back into our regular state of mind again.

We lose the flow of the moment. The secret door closes, the key goes missing, and our outlook on life doesn’t feel so open anymore – and most interesting of all: We’re hardly even aware of the change as it happens. We’re so used to the process already.

That familiar feeling of grim determination, the everyday dullness of life, the feelings most of us know so well, all come back again without fail. We might even feel as if these feelings are the only reality, and that the laughter was false, purely sentimental, imaginary, or fake. We’ve already lost the feeling of the smile – all that remains is an empty mental image of it.

The regrets and small disappointments of everyday life are never far away. We’re so determined to survive, to make a living, to succeed, to become something, to get somewhere, to develop ourselves personally, financially, socially, or spiritually, to grow up, to out-think our problems, to find someone to love, to make it to the next holiday or the next temporary escape from reality. We’re seldom satisfied.

Instead of authentic hope and acceptance, there’s an irresistible undercurrent of disillusionment and resistance. For many of us, life has become a constant struggle. We know that our life will end, someday, but there seems to be no end to the struggle in the meantime – and what do we have to look forward to? What little satisfaction we somehow manage to scrape together, never lasts for long.

In our regular state of mind, most of us don’t feel at one with life.

We don’t trust the world – especially the people in it – and most of us don’t trust the process of life. How could we? It has let us down so often. It can knock us down and kick us in the teeth – or so it might seem.

Our dreams and expectations are too often dashed to pieces, and left unfulfilled. We can begin to feel separate, disconnected, and at odds with our lives. We can become comfortably numb. We can fall into a kind of holding pattern, waiting and waiting for things to change. Then, at some undefined point in the future, we imagine, we will taste life again…

The world bears down on us. It can make us feel small, unimportant, worthless and alone. Some of us strongly feel that this is not where we’re meant to be, that we’re not who we’re meant to be, at least not yet…

Perhaps outwardly we don’t admit this to the world. Our faces and our bodies might even go through the motions of displaying happiness, but we’re not really present in it. It’s just a mask. We may put on a brave face, but if we look at it honestly, life often seems dull and worn out.

Ours can easily be a world that drags us down, not one that holds us up.

On some level we might suspect that we’re longing for that feeling of openness, that sense of belonging and wonder to return, but many of us feel gradually forced to accept that it simply isn’t going to happen. We might eventually make the choice simply to stop trying. We might become closed-up, cold and cynical.

The love of life might begin to wither inside us, like a delicate plant that has endured too much sun, and not enough water.

Maybe when we finally make enough money, we think to ourselves, or move, or when we finally meet the right person, or get a dog. Perhaps our children will be happy, if we work hard enough to give them a better chance in life than we had. There’s no guarantee, though. Rich kids are often spoiled, and miserable too. Maybe if we study another self-help book, or become exceptionally clever, or attend another course offered by one of those promising new online gurus. Perhaps some stranger will come into our life and unlock it for us. Maybe all we need is a holiday, or some yoga, a hike in nature, or a stiff drink at the very least. Maybe, but more than likely the remedy won’t last. So we might be telling ourselves, somewhere deep inside.

As we grow up, we might easily come to believe that the only way to deal with the realities of life is to armour our sentimental, child-like hearts, grow a thick skin, and get on with it.

The struggle to grow up and find our place in life teaches us that we must become responsible adults, and responsible adults are not supposed to be naïve. They simply don’t have time to daydream or play games. We tell ourselves that we must deal with reality; and that reality just happens to be cruel and serious. We must accept the human condition, and the world as it is. We have no choice.

So we might come to suspect, deep down, and so we keep telling ourselves, and those around us, until at last the entire human race seems trapped in this unwanted partnership of misery – by default.

The mesmerizing show and drama of it all keeps us enthralled, but blind, and we seldom see anything beyond these so-called realities.

Despite all of this heaviness, we also know that there are those rare moments...

There are moments of hope when the inner door, the one we sense in a smile, the one that leads to the esoteric wellspring of inspiration, stays open for a little longer. Sometimes we get a clearer view of that elusive state of serenity. In those moments, the world opens up to us, and we feel that it is indeed a rare and stimulating privilege to be alive.

There are moments when a kind of divine madness could fill up our minds and hearts with poetry and song, and we feel like we’re overflowing with joy.

These moments are few and far between, but they happen to ordinary people from time to time. This is not just the domain of poets, madmen, visionaries and gurus.

The glimpse could come to a new mother, to a work-weary tax consultant commuting home, to a plumber fixing leaking pipes under a dusty old kitchen sink, or to a lonely kid cycling home under the falling autumn leaves…

Perhaps the description in the following chapter will spark a glimmer of recognition.



From Smiles to Peak Experiences



As I was watching it, suddenly, in a moment, a veil seemed to be lifted from my eyes. I found the world wrapped in an inexpressible glory with its waves of joy and beauty bursting and breaking on all sides. The thick cloud of sorrow that lay on my heart in many folds was pierced through and through by the light of the world, which was everywhere radiant.

There was nothing and no one whom I did not love at that moment.”

Rabindranath Tagore, in a letter to his friend C. F. Andrews



If human experiences could be captured in the wild, tagged and categorized like zoological specimens, then Peak Experiences would be some of the rarest and most extraordinary among them.

They would be the exotic forest birds – the mystical Quetzal, or the shy Knysna Lourie. They would be like the glass frog, with the transparent skin, or the uncanny Jesus lizard that runs on water.

They make unusual and fascinating subjects of study.

The term 'Peak Experience' was first popularized by Abraham Maslow.

Just about every student of psychology, whether recreational or professional, will probably recognize his name, and might also feel a kinship with his search for meaning. Maslow’s own emotional suffering, growing up as an outsider, and his private personal struggles, led him towards the study of psychology. His pain became his teacher, as it does for anyone who is brave enough to investigate the source of it.

He worked during the formative decades of modern mental science, and followed in the footsteps of William James, the 'Father of American Psychology.' While most of his peers studied mental illness, focusing only on pathology, their theories about it, and their proposed cures, Maslow was one of the first to try to gather empirical, scientific data on the subject of mental health and happiness.

His preferred subjects of study were what he called ‘self-actualized’ people – or more simply, 'wonderful human beings.' (Maslow, 1964)

Academics will still argue about exactly how Peak Experiences should be tagged, defined and categorized – but they can agree, at least, that they do occur; and that they occur to a wide variety of people, at different times in their lives.



Delicious Moments



The external trigger could be anything. It might be an impressive sunset, as it was for Rabindranath Tagore, the renowned Indian polymath, painter, poet and novelist, quoted at the start of the chapter.

For somebody else it might be a road-trip, or just an escape from the usual routine. For another it might happen while falling in love, or while looking up at the starry heavens, somewhere far away from the city lights.

The thing that sets it off could be as random as the lines of a book, a poem or a song, or even a tenacious little weed growing in the cracks of an old, crumbling wall. It could happen for no apparent reason at all – while making dinner, or taking out the trash, or waiting for a bus.

Without warning or explanation, the ‘doors’ of perception are flung wide open for a while – or as Tagore expressed it, a ‘veil is lifted’ from the eyes. (Tagore, 2015)

Suddenly, without knowing exactly how it came about, we experience an inner shift. We might feel the release of a tremendous emotional pressure, or an upsurge of energy. It’s a rare moment – called a Peak Experience.

There is a spontaneous and deepening feeling of happiness, and along with it, a sense of hope, of meaning, of purpose and power, and ultimately, of belonging.

The gates of experience are opened wider than usual, and we feel a bubbling sense of optimism. The smallest everyday details could become charged with an almost mystical sense of meaning, and our eyes open to the beauty and harmony, the wonder that is – and always was – all around us.


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