An excerpt from the book by Ruslan Zhukovets “The Path of Transformation: Mystical Experience”
A modern seeker commonly lives among people, unless, of course, he winds up in some religious sect or ashram, which effectively ends his search, as now he has to follow rules and rituals of the place that generally cuts its members from the society. Having said that, withdrawal from society not necessarily means separation from the world, as the latter can still occupy one’s thoughts.
Amidst mundane concerns and problems, encountering various sides of the world, a person arranges his mind frame around the world and, like it or not, develops a relationship with it, broadly speaking. The world encompasses everything that is outside a person and what is not identified as part of "I".
Worldview can vary in different people. One believes that the world is full of suffering with no glimpse of light or shelter to comfort a tormented soul. Or you may try to perceive the world as an exciting and greatest creation of God, which is perfect insomuch that we are unable to fully realize it. One’s worldview represents a projection of individual experiences or desires, which makes discussion of the topic futile. Anyone’s mindset in regards to the world lacks minimum required objectivity and is strongly depended on one’s mood and well-being. It is driven by a dominant idea and certain desire and serves as representation thereof. One’s attitude toward the world is not representative of the world — it is indicative of one’s inner state and nothing else.
Our relationship with the world, on the other hand, is a different story. In this relationship, the world in all abundance of its manifestations is a subjective entity, mental object for personal interaction. This is similar to how children attribute the quality of subjectivity to their favorite toys and imaginary friends. As adults, they continue to name cars and other inanimate objects; yet the world remains a nameless agency for them, or is identified with the subjectivity of God. In the latter case, the world turns into kind of manifestation of God, and one automatically projects their relations with Him on real world.
Any relationship comes with expectations and emotional attachments. What do people usually want from the world? Fulfillment of their desires, of course; which is what they, directly or indirectly, expect to receive from God. People want good weather, high crop yield, no global disasters such as earthquakes, floods, and droughts. People want well-being, naturally, and unconsciously anticipate that the world will meet these expectations of theirs.
But this is just one side of the coin. In people’s minds, the world breaks down into fragments that represent it yet belong to different manifestations and levels of what is referred to as the world. Life is one of such fragments. Nature is certainly an integral part of the world, and the process of its existence is what we conventionally call life, believing our life-being to be part of it as well. We all have an idea about life and the mindset that is coalesced around it (life is unfair, life is shit; life is what you make of it, etc). And we are attached to our ideas and desires in regards to how we want to see life in general and our own life in particular, and these desires are most often aimed at saving and protecting both of these values. Some help save animals, others protest against deforestation, yet others save money in hope to protect themselves from troubles, hardships and, who knows, maybe even to escape death. Our attachments are amplified by expectations that life should deliver all sorts of pleasant things. And yet there are quite a few people who anticipate nothing but problems and various nasty things from life. Regardless, people are usually quite attached to their expectations. Expectations are fueled by hope and let many people wait for a miracle until almost the end of their lives.
Personal relationship with God is always conditioned by the codes taught by the representing religion. One way or another, this relationship is built on learned ideas; it can be childish and immature or be quite deeply thought out and filled with the most sacred feelings. Whatever it is, the point remains the same: where there is a relationship, there are expectations and emotional/mental attachments. God expects something from you, you expect something from God respectively — be it a reward or a punishment, it does not matter. You become attached to His image that you created yourself and are ready to clash with anyone who willingly or unwillingly question it. All this belongs to the way of believers, a wide path available to everyone and often demanding little personal efforts. And in cases where efforts are required, they leave the basis of the mind-world-God relation untouched — ascribing them some imaginary subjectivity.
By comparison, relationships with humans are more down-to-earth, as a person has a real, not an imaginary identity and subjectivity. That is the reason why our loved ones are never perceived as a part of the world, whereas the humanity concept is perfectly compatible with the diversity of its constituting elements. People in our close circle make up our microcosm, which is quite tangible and real. The realness of our relationships in our microcosm is extrapolated on our imaginary relations with the world and all its categories, including God.
The seeker, in case he wants to transcend the limits of ordinary perception and cognize new dimensions of Being, is compelled to leave the world. Moreover, withdrawal from society, including a monastery or a skete retreats, does not always lead to the desired outcome. Attachments can stay alive in human mind even when nothing in close proximity is reminiscent of them. Therefore, withdrawal is to be carried out within and requires elimination of relationships and attachments.
Attachments are developed in response to one’s fears and desires; relationships are the fruits of our mental projections and illusions. Relationships that seem to exist objectively are present in our minds exclusively and technically represent a tacit (or voiced) convention between two egos on behaviors expected from both sides. In fact, this is an agreement on the rules of the game on certain conditions that ensure a secure relationship. This game brings forth a special “reality” which, as may seem, is created by human relationships. As for the reality of one’s relationship with the world — it is pure illusion.
In the context described above, relationships are a sensitive topic for many people, as display their life as a waste of time. The more so, people do not know how to live differently and are not interested in learning either. Their hope for building an ideal relationship and mutual understanding dies only together with them.
Transcending the limits of this world is impossible if the seeker is still attached to it and wants to continue enjoying it. Attachments and relationships consume the energy available to one as pointlessly and recklessly as a gambler spending his last pennies on roulette. This why there is a need to work on growing aware of them and liberation of self from repressed desires and fears which support and nurture invisible rhizomes of attachments. So long as they exist, it is impossible to reach the state of inner freedom, and you lose awareness each time a sensitive matter is brought up.
The strongest attachment is associated not with the external world and relationships. The strongest human attachment is the one to self, in the form of an ideal or non-ideal image of self, as well as identification with the body. An unconscious person is represented with a combination of his habits; and each habit helps to splash out the energy that is produced in him through repeated and unvarying actions. Habits are repeated experiencing of favorite pleasures and a means to squander excess energy without recovering consciousness.
The process of elimination of attachments often has negative connotations — they say, get rid of desires and everything will change at once. On the one hand, it is true. On the other hand, this description of the process of internal transformation is a huge oversimplification of what the seeker undergoes. It is impossible to live an absence-based life, just as it is impossible to exist in emptiness. Existence per se means presence, and all the Buddhist narrative around emptiness sounds odd when the speaker is still present in his physical body. Oh, that metaphysics...
The process of elimination of attachments involves several aspects. Firstly, there are old unfulfilled childhood desires which stemmed from basic child’s needs but usually become irrelevant for adults. Unfulfilled childhood desires can be handled through awareness, although sometimes you need to fulfill them — say, treat yourself by throwing a birthday party that you longed for as a child — with clowns, balloons, and a bunch of gifts...
As a person straightens out his old desires, he grows up and becomes more mature. He becomes able to see his present desires more clearly and figure out their roots. Advancement of one’s vision is an inevitable aftereffect of this work, a positive consequence of letting go of attachments. There are other beneficial side processes: each attachment and desire bring tension and elimination thereof makes a person more relaxed; breaking free of desires enables one to direct the power of attention to the territories that present entirely different possibilities for realization of human potential.
The art of losing is to be mastered by any seeker who aspires to experience the Divine, because while you are still in the world, and the world is still in you, it is nearly impossible to come to know God and experience Truth. Each time you lose an attachment and the rational for staying with the world, you take a step beyond its boundaries, to the levels of Being that remain invisible and inaccessible to you while you are inseparable from your attachments. On the spiritual path, the art of losing is synonymous with the art of acquiring, and each loss leads to obtaining a new opportunity or quality. This is the law and it applies to the spiritual path and mundane life alike.
When it comes to relationships that are to be lost, things are less complicated. Once their unnatural essence becomes evident to you, it will be difficult to maintain the relationships in their original format. You cease playing ego games; it may be challenging at the beginning because your loved ones want you to continue living up to their expectations. Every seeker undergoes this test and more often than not successfully comes up with a new convenient form of communication and interaction.
Similar to the ego, relationships are artificial at their core and hence, false. There is something else though that can replace relationships in and outside the world: it is the sensing and experiencing of the connection between a person and the world, other people, and God. Relationships are the prosthesis of this connection, because connection cannot be sensed until one has progressed to a certain point along the mystical Path. Not until a person develops the faculty for higher perception, these connections are nothing but another assumption, a utopian idea. The connection is experienced through one’s Heart, and while it remains closed, one can hardly feel the connection in full.
As a person breaks free from relationships with the world, he comes to experience the connection with what is far from you and close to you in this world and with the entire Creation. As the seeker eliminates his attachments, he gains freedom that allows him to transcend the boundaries of the visible world and learn the taste of self-realization at other levels of Being that can be available to a human being. Similar to a magnet, attachments hold the seeker within the frame of the possibilities of this world, repelling the possibilities of a higher level.
Relationships, as I mentioned earlier, are defined by one’s attitude. It is believed that having a good relationship with a person also implies that you care about him/her. In fact, this is not always the case, but is taken as common knowledge. As one moves along the Path, their relation to the world and people changes. The Seeker surpasses the limits of liking and disliking judgments and any judgments altogether. Judgmental attitude (indifference included) yields to acceptance of the world and people the way they are. Acceptance does not turn a person into a victim of circumstances and unconscious responses of other people — he is free to act in the world according to his vision and awareness of the situation.
Relationships are aimed at helping a person with fear, loneliness, and feeling isolated. Relationship with the world serves the same purpose eventually. However, when a person begins to feel an inextricable connection with the Creator and His Creation, the need for relationships disappears by itself, because a person discovers fulfillment and contentment of a completely different nature. Such is the Path of the mystics — going through losses to contentedness, from the world to heaven.