A Mystical View of Current Events

A friend asked me how I was feeling about current events. He asked what a mystic sees in all this, and how I walk within this “painful human dynamic.” It’s a good question, and a difficult one to answer with words, because it calls for an account of the absolute while bearing in mind a relative world focused on present change. Here’s what I wrote:

It’s heartbreaking when I see people gripped by fear, aggression, despair, and suffering. It’s uplifting when I see them embrace courage, hope, friendship, and selflessness in the midst of uncertainty. But from a spiritual perspective, what’s going on and the stakes involved are no different now than they have always been. Delusion and ignorance are the source of suffering. When there is great delusion, there is great suffering. That’s nothing new. It’s been going on for a long time.

The mystical view is one of absolute unity, without any division or separation whatsoever. There is nothing but that unity, that limitless One. All phenomena, including one’s own body, one’s mind, one’s thoughts, the world, others, all things and events, all of time and space, appear — dream-like — within that. Behind it and through it always and everywhere is this limitless reality of being. So while great change may erupt around us — whatever it is — it is not other than divine.

I read a piece by Buddhist teacher Alex Kakuyo recently that said “The world is both a land of suffering and a wish-fulfilling jewel.” And that’s a good way of putting it. The relative and the absolute are not separate. So although delusion is the source of suffering, it is this very suffering that turns us toward the truth, puts us on the path, and leads us to that which is beyond all things.

For any individual at any given time, this turning toward the truth may happen in a very small way, like a whisper one barely hears, tries to ignore, or even actively pushes away. But once truly heard, the sacred fire is lit. And this thirst for truth, when followed, leads all to a heaven that is both this very world and beyond it.

Nothing bad happens when we regard all beings with compassion and see their actions in this light. So I pray for all people to hear that whisper, that call to the truth. I pray that whatever suffering they endure shows them the next step on their spiritual journey, and that they may keep walking, all the way to the end, to realize the great love and the great perfection that is always with us.

Prepare for Transformative Change

I hear some talk lately about when things will go back to the way they were … as if they ever do that. On the other hand, I hear some talk about how things will never go back to the way things were … as if that weren’t always the case. I get it: in the current environment, some people are seeing fundamental impermanence more clearly than they have ever seen it before. And the stakes seem higher. But from a spiritual perspective, nothing really has changed in this regard.

All things change continuously. The entire phenomenal universe is a phantasmagoria of change. Nothing ever goes back to the way things were, if they were even that to begin with. Widen your gaze enough, and you will see that mountains rise up and crumble to dust as swiftly as storm clouds blowing overhead. The stars ignite and go out as quickly as match heads. Each moment is always this moment — ever present — and yet things always change. The things cannot be grasped because they are always changing, and the moment cannot be grasped because you cannot be apart from it. So there really is nothing to hold on to.

Usually, we hide this truth from ourselves, principally to stave off terror. We imagine an independent self, and project a past and future, with some sense of stability and permanence. But this is only the imagination at work. That separate self, that stability, that permanence, has always been a kind of illusion. In times of great upheaval, many people may glimpse the real depth of impermanence for the first time. But it has always been thus.

If we are shocked or disturbed by the nature of change, it is simply disillusionment at work. There is fundamentally nothing to fear. Our fears can spur practical action, but we are bound to them only by and precisely to the extent that we cling to our illusions. From the spiritual perspective, disillusionment at work is an opportunity for insight and awakening. Without insight, disillusionment may be experienced as a kind of trauma or an assault against one’s way of life. With insight, it is a catalyst for awakening. So to the degree that our eyes are open to insight — open and accepting — all change can fuel our spiritual growth.

Zen-master Dogen wrote:

“Firewood becomes ash, and it does not become firewood again. Yet, do not suppose that the ash is future and the firewood past. You should understand that firewood abides in the phenomenal expression of firewood, which fully includes past and future and is independent of past and future. Ash abides in the phenomenal expression of ash, which fully includes future and past. Just as firewood does not become firewood again after it is ash, you do not return to birth after death.”

Firewood and ash — birth and death — are only ideas. As are the mountains and stars and your self. Insight into impermanence can encompass everything. This can seem terrifying, overwhelming, as if you are falling into an abyss, which offers no purchase, no hold, and no bottom. But if we can go all in, giving up everything, including ourselves … then our insight may pass beyond the impermanence of all things, and into the absolute, into the divine, into the unchangeable, diamond-like perfection of transcendent wisdom.

From a spiritual perspective, the stakes are no different now than they have always been. And my advice in the current situation is the same advice I would give for any situation. Prepare yourself for transformative change. Seek the truth in yourself and the world. Try to accept the fundamental uncertainty and ever-changing nature of all phenomena. Surrender yourself to the will of God, to the flow of nature and the ungraspable, groundlessness of being. Realize the truth that has always been with you — through every state and every situation — and you will find a love, a joy, and a peace that will endure anything.

Happiness is not a Scarce Commodity

In these trying times, remember that happiness is not a scarce commodity. However, we cannot seek happiness on our own terms or according to our fears and desires. Just allow yourself to be happy, regardless of circumstances, and you will find it in abundance. Even in trying times, joy is present, peace is present, and all-pervasive bliss knows no bounds, no conditions, no beginning, and no end.

Don’t get the idea that I am dismissing the current situation, or dismissing suffering. That would be missing the point. Many are suffering and the current situation may lead to greater suffering. Many people are afraid for their health and for their family. Many are depressed, confused, or fearful about the future. The course of events may lead to the deaths of friends and loved ones … and it may lead to our own death.

I am not dismissing any of that. We should do what we can to mitigate all this suffering. We should take action — or inaction — to keep ourselves and others safe as needed. We should help those around us who are experiencing fear, discomfort, and distress. We should give aid to those who are unwell and comfort those who are grieving. But to base our happiness on the need for such endeavors and the success or failure of them is a mistake.

When we seek happiness on our own terms, we are always seeking gain. We are saying, I will be happy if things go how I want. I will be happy if I get what I desire. I will be happy if my fears don’t come to pass, and so on. That is seeking happiness according to the ego. With that attitude, we are frequently disappointed, troubled, and angered by circumstances. Suffering is magnified, and any personal failure, conflict, or lack becomes a focal point to justify being unhappy.

Instead of seeking any kind of gain, if we root our actions in basic love and kindness, we become open to the whole situation. When we are open like that, we are open not only to suffering and the calamities of events, but to a happiness that does not depend on circumstances — an innate happiness of being. And by being open, we can give ourselves permission to enjoy this happiness. Because it has been there from the beginning and has never wavered, it is always in abundance.

Such happiness is never the product of egoic thinking, nor the result of carefully arranged circumstances. But when we look past all the concerns of the ego, its tangle of fears and desires, we find this innate happiness. Its source is the source of all. And even in such trying times, it is the source of all joy, all peace, all love, and all bliss.

Available Now: That Which is Before You

That Which is Before You is available now as print book or a Kindle ebook, published by Empty Press  Additional ebook formats will come online soon.

This book is a testimonial of a profound spiritual awakening, which suddenly and completely changed my life and perception of reality. In addition to an account of what happened to me, the book includes insights, teachings, and guidance for spiritual practice.

Although I have been a writer for many years, until recently I mainly wrote fantasy, horror, and science fiction. I never would have expected to write a book like this, but here it is. I hope it brings people whatever measure of peace they are ready to handle. For I can tell you plainly that there is no shortage of peace for those who truly seek it.

If you are already on a spiritual path or just curious, you will surely find this work of interest. If you are skeptic — like I was — I encourage you to consider this account. This book comes from a place of clear insight. It doesn’t avoid difficult questions, and it doesn’t hold anything back.


“This is a deadly serious book, direct and to the point. If you read it, follow the instructions, and the time is ripe, it will kill your false sense of self and reveal That Which You Truly Are!”
— Joel Morwood, Author of The Way of Selflessness

“Matthew Lowes articulates spiritual awakening as only a skilled writer can, and in so doing, provides a map for others to follow. This is an important book.”
— Liz Cratty, MAAT, Theologian and Author

“Like a gut punch to your consciousness and beliefs about the nature of reality. Sometimes your delusions need to be knocked out of you. It can hurt and be scary, but there’s a clarity that’s impossible to deny.”
— Kaizen Taki, Founder of Movement Daily