HOST: Welcome to season three of the Planet Dharma podcast, Dharma If You Dare. We are excited to relaunch the podcast with a new name and new content that speaks to the current and evolving paradigm of spiritual awakening in our modern age. We are very excited to be using this platform to share audio recordings of Doug Duncan`s (Qapel) and Catherine Pawaserat`s (CS) teachings, whether they be excerpts from an online course, a live stream, or a Q and A session. We’re confident you’ll find the content speaks to the challenges of modern life in ways that are insightful, practical, and healing. Doug and Catherine are also big on sharing joy and humor so we expect you’ll also find the material entertaining and uplifting. The last year has seen a lot of exciting developments for Doug, Catherine and Planet Dharma. We saw the publishing of their best-selling book Wasteland to Pureland and a big increase in the number of participants in their signature year-long program.
While the podcast will no doubt evolve over the course of the season, the backbone will be two episodes a month. One, a selection from past courses while the second will be taken from Planet Dharma’s monthly Enlightenup live streams on Facebook. We also look forward to publishing bonus content. So make sure to click subscribe, so you don’t miss out. Today’s recording comes from the recent Pearl Without Price online course and is a continuation of the material that you can hear in the season three trailer entitled Why Awaken? Drawing on material from the first reflection in their book Doug and Catherine explore the topic of personal vision and connect it to the concepts of absolute and relative truth. To explore these ideas further, purchase Wasteland to Pureland Reflections on the Path of Awakening available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Indigo. And now here’s today’s recording.
LIVING IN ALIGNMENT WITH OUR VISION TAKES LESS EFFORT
CS: So then we’ll start with the vision – having a vision and fulfilling a vision. The thing about the vision is that it can seem like a lot of work, just making a vision can seem kind of daunting, and then to make it happen can seem even more daunting. But actually, when we get all of our ducks in a row, when we get the cart behind the horse, when we are living our lives aligned with our vision, we find out that it’s actually getting the most beautiful results for the least amount of effort. It’s a very streamlined process. So, let’s talk about that more.
Q: Are you saying then that awakening to absolute truth is less effort than the relative world?
CS: Yeah. Yeah. I had a friend once who said, and he said this at quite a young age, we were still under 30 I think. Some people think that’s young. My friend said to me, “I’m so tired of my own bullshit” and I thought, “yeah, really”. You know, being me full time is hard work, right? And if I can let that go, it’s actually very easeful and I have an easier time, and people seem to like me more, you know, if I’m not making a big effort in being me, right? So that’s one example of how living in alignment with our vision is more beautiful and requires less effort.
ABSOLUTE TRUTH IS JUST THE UNIVERSE BEING ITSELF
Q: But let me question you on this. Are you saying that absolute truth is less effort than relative truth?
CS: I am indeed.
Q: You are. And why is absolute truth less effort than relative truth?
CS: Well, for one thing, this absolute truth is the natural order of the universe.
So when Taoists talk about – be one with the Tao – the whole universe is just being itself. It’s not sort of like, you know, seeing if it matches or seeing if the theme works, seeing if the curtains match, I mean nothing against matching curtains, but the universe is just being itself. And that’s a somewhat effortless process compared to trying to make a production out of me.
So, that’s a little connection with the absolute vision. How about the relative vision?
Q: Yeah, the relative vision. This is where it gets tricky because with the relative vision, we move from absolute truth to relative truth. So we can also call it, as I said earlier, developmental truth. This is where you have to go to work. This is where the training is. This is where the discipline is. This is where the nuts and bolts are worked out. And it has very much to do with how the details manifest and it has very much to do with karma and the strength of your current vision.
KARMA IS INEXORABLE, HOW OUR VISION GETS LOST
- And so in a sense, karma is inexorable. If you make decisions and choices that keep you in the bar, you can expect a bar kind of life. If you make the kinds of decisions and choices that take you to the ocean, you can expect an ocean kind of life. This is just the nature of karma and karma is inexorable. It’s a law. It’s a fundamental principle of the universe. It’s like A causes B, or if this then that, or this choice leads to that result. And part of our problem and relative truth is we’re not often sure where our choices are taking us. We think we’re choosing from preference mind, for what we like, but it may not be consistent with our vision, it may not support where our vision goes. We have a vision that we want to do this and then we act like that and the two can’t come together.
So it’s important to pay attention to detail. And one way that Catherine and I came up with this the other day was we were lying in bed and we’re just kind of, you know that place where you wake up, we’re looking out the window and just kind of asked the question, what are you thinking about? And when you think about it when you wake up in the morning, what is your first dialogue about? Getting your shoes polished? Or you`ve got to feed the horses or, let’s say a lawyer, as a lawyer he’s thinking about his caseload or he’s thinking about his clients, this is his karma and it’s also his vision because he’s filling his day from the very beginning with his karma. Therefore his vision is his clients and his business, it’s not spaciousness, it’s not totality, it’s not the awakened mind and therefore through his whole day, he’s building the vision of the relative truth.
So in a sense, the absolute vision gets lost. The big vision about what you’re going to do for humanity gets lost while you’re busy digging around in the developmental. That uses up your energy and it is your karma. So everything else from the point of view of our lawyer friend will seem peripheral, the sun and the rain will be peripheral. Nature will be peripheral. Human relationships will be peripheral for that particular person because of those choices. So this is the developmental truth, this is the relative truth. This is work in the world. How do I make my decisions? We`re suggesting, of course, that every decision is permeated with spaciousness, with clarity, with emptiness.
Q: So then the developmental work is always reflecting that goal. Everything else gets put on the back burner. Like the family gets put on the back burner. The relationship gets put on the back burner. And so we wonder why we don’t live our vision? It is because everything is getting put on the back burner. Because we’re so busy juggling balls. Depending on how many things you`ve got going, the more the vision gets put on the back burner. We still think the vision is important to us in theory, but we’re not living it, we’re not building it, we’re not constructing it at the moment by choosing to think about spaciousness first or emptiness first. And so backburner, backburner. And then down the road, you wonder why it didn’t happen. It didn’t happen because you didn’t make decisions that supported that vision.
STUDENT: With your lawyer’s example, their vision is their career.
Q: Well, that may not be. That`s maybe the point. Their vision may not be their career. Their vision may be their career in terms of helping people, but they’re not actually helping people in terms of their heart because they’re too busy with the papers and the files.
CS: Using your example where the first thing they think about when they wake up is “my caseload”, they’re not thinking “how can I help people through my practice”, which would be more in line with the vision that you’re referring to.
WHAT WE THINK, FEEL AND DO IS A CHOICE, IT IS KARMA
Q: And so what we think about is a choice, what we feel is a choice, what we do is a choice and that choice is karma. So what you choose to occupy yourself with is your karma. So when we get into negatives, it’s because we’ve lost our vision – negative emotions, negative thoughts, negative feelings. It’s because the vision is being lost. I’ve gotten so caught up in how my game is played that I’ve forgotten about my vision. The teacher’s job is not to run your life or tell you what to do. The teacher’s job is simply to remind you of the vision because that’s the thing we tend to forget right?
CS: Yeah. It takes a lot of discipline. It sounds so nice to live according to my vision. But it does take a lot of discipline to make sure our choices are in line with that.
Q: And so in that sense, the negative emotions are the hurt child protecting against the threat to their vision. Their vision was to be, I don’t know, a concert pianist. And everybody told them, “oh there’s no money in that. You’ve got to be a lawyer”. And so they got caught in that trap and now they have emotions about it. But the emotions aren’t helping their vision. They’re just reactive to the hurt child. So you`ve got to get past the negative emotions and the hurt child to really build a vision.
CS: We will talk about how to get past the negative emotions in future classes.
Q: And then in positive terms – oh my family, I love my family, my family, family, family but the vision may not be manifesting in your family because you’re too busy clinging, you’re too busy hanging onto the identity of that. The relationship, hanging onto the relationship may not fulfill what you’re really trying to do, which is to be in a state of love because you’re too busy hanging onto the relationship.
CS: That would be called clinging, in Buddhist parlance, Buddhist language.
Q: From a developmental point of view, there is no perfect love and there is no perfect parent. It doesn’t exist, in relative truth. You need to go back to the absolute truth, right.
CS: So, I think to reference Eva`s question and Qapel`s example, we can have more superficial goals or vision and then we can have a deeper goal or vision. And so some examples would be, if we’re practicing law just to be successful, that would be a more superficial goal, and feel free, you know, nothing against success. But maybe from the absolute sense, a truer sense of success would be, that I want to really help people and the way that suits my personality or my talents is to do that through law and through legal practice, and how can I use the law to do that? Okay, that would be a deeper one.
Another example would be, a more superficial goal would be maybe to make a lot of money and again, nothing inherently wrong with that, go for it, if that’s your thing, but a deeper expression of that might be to create wealth, which is a much broader and much more creative undertaking than just focusing on the money part. Like what is the nature of wealth and what does that look like? It’s more inclusive.
OUR VISION SHOWS UP IN OUR CHOICE OF PARTNERS
CS: As Qapel said “karma is inexorable”. Whether we are really having a deeper vision and living in alignment with it shows up in everything in our life. It shows up in our partners. Do we get together with someone because they’re hot? Do we get together with someone because we don’t want to be lonely? Do we get together with somebody because they fit into our lifestyle? Or do we get together with somebody because we find them really exciting and they challenge us and intrigue us and help us grow and vice versa. So that’s a multiple choice question.
Q: Would you say that if you choose a partner based on developmental truth, you may not get to absolute truth in that relationship?
CS: That’s right, yeah.
Q: So if you picked a partner based on absolute truth…
CS: Everyone’s probably had that experience, right, of getting together with somebody because they were, for example, hot, and then you’re like, whoops I forgot about a lot of other really important things in the relationship.
Q: So if you got together with somebody on the basis of absolute truth, the developmental line could go anywhere, couldn’t it? It could be law or business or it could be anything. It could be heat.
CS: Yes, that’s right. You’re saying there’s more freedom when we have the horse in front of the cart, we have more choices, right? And that’s why they call it liberation because there’s freedom in that.
HOST: We hope you enjoyed this first episode of our new season. Please rate and review Dharma If You Dare on Apple podcasts to help more people find and benefit from these teachings. Today’s episode featured a recording from Planet Dharma’s first online course of 2019 – The Pearl Without Price. Doug and Catherine run three or four online courses each year. Participants can attend live or watch the recording for one week after each of the four weekly sessions. The next online course takes place in September and covers the material in the final section of Wasteland to Pureland entitled Crazy Wisdom. To learn more about Planet Dharma’s online courses, visit planetdharma.com/events and click on online courses. See you next time and may all our efforts benefit all beings.