Relative and Ultimate Reality: Transcript of a talk by Frans Stiene

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Good morning, afternoon and evening everybody! I am back again! What strange weather – last week it was 21/22 degrees Celsius here in Holland, and this morning it was super cool. Last week I was sitting in the sun and now I’m talking inside with a sweater on!

So yesterday I posted a little Facebook image about the Precepts and being true to your way and your being. Being true to your way and your being has two levels: your way is duality and our being is non-duality. So ultimately, this is really about the relative reality and the ultimate reality. Normally we focus only on the relative reality, you know – where there is this separateness of I, you and me, this and that. So in the dual world there are dual elements. I see this a lot when people teach and they only teach dual reality. For example – I’m here and you are there, I’m giving you a treatment or I’m sending you Reiki. I am doing this to you and it’s all very separate. Which is wonderful, because yes, we do live in a dual reality. However, at the same time, we also live in a non-dual reality, or the ultimate reality. We do not have to work to acquire this ultimate reality. It already exists at this moment in time – the ultimate reality is here already. I am the universe and the universe is me. So it means that if I am completely the universe, then that is the ultimate reality. It’s already here. Therefore it’s not that there’s only the relative reality (or dual reality), and there’s not only non-dual reality or the ultimate reality. They’re both here at the same time. We all have heard the phrase “heaven on earth” and it is exactly saying the same thing, Earth being duality and heaven being non-duality. Heaven on earth is that marriage of relative reality and ultimate reality. Therefore when we teach, we need to teach not just from the relative reality, but also from the ultimate reality at the same time. We have to bring our students to an awareness of this ultimate reality.

Well, what is this ultimate reality? Mikao Usui actually pointed this out very clearly – dai komyo – great bright light. He also pointed this out very clearly in the Precepts. Maybe some people might not see it, but it’s there hidden within the Precepts. They have the same concepts. Relative reality – do not anger, do not worry. Then we have the ultimate reality that is compassion. So Mikao Usui also points out in the Precepts that we should teach both together. We have anger and worry because we see everything as separate. I am angry with you, or you are not doing something that I like – so then I get angry or worried. Then we have the ultimate reality where the “I” has fallen away, we realize there is no “I” to be found in the first place, and pure compassion comes forward. This is really important and as teachers we should teach both. For example, if I constantly teach you that you need to protect yourself from “negative energy”, that is okay to some degree. If you feel fearful, angry and worried, it’s okay. But this is just the beginning step. At the same time we have to tell students that we’re trying to lay bare the space of ultimate reality where there is no need to protect yourself. Because if I’m the universe, I am everything. I am the “good” and “negative” things. Does that make sense?

Yes, it’s okay if we feel that we need to protect ourselves because we haven’t yet realised this ultimate reality. But if I keep constantly hammering on that I need to protect myself, then for that student it becomes very difficult to let go. Therefore we need to teach both. It is the same with distance healing – if I constantly keep hammering on about distance healing and sending distance healing (I’m here, you’re there), it is only teaching the relative reality. I need to create a bridge between you and me. All of that is relative reality. At the same time we also have to teach the students that there is also the ultimate truth. That I am you and you are me. Thus a teacher’s focus point is really the ultimate aim, the ultimate reality. Hence if the teacher only teaches relative reality they are planting seed for duality and therefore anger and worry. If we plant the seed of ultimate reality we plant compassion. So ask yourself as a teacher, what are you planting? Ask yourself as a student, what are you planting?

If I really want to rediscover that I am the great bright light that Mikao Usui talks about, that is really the ultimate reality – the ultimate truth. It happens here in this dual world. So if you realise your non-dual nature and you still live in a dual world – in your own mind you have the ultimate truth. This is when you become a yogi, or you attain Buddhahood. Then of course it is said we “attain” it, but that is the relative truth. We say we have to attain something, but with the ultimate truth there is nothing to attain because you are there already! This is a really important element. This is what proves a good teacher. We have to teach both of these elements together. It doesn’t mean that suddenly we say, “no need to protect yourself”. Some people need to do that, and that’s fine. But at the same time we need to teach them that they are laying bare a space where there’s no anger, worry and fear – where they can completely be in this ultimate reality, in this dual world. So what is the essence of this ultimate reality? As Mikao Usui pointed out, it is no anger, no worry, being grateful, being true to your way and your being and being compassionate. That’s the essence of the ultimate reality.

We can think about it intellectually, but most important is the direct experience. This is the most important thing: direct experience. The Precepts point out this ultimate reality, this great bright light. And they point towards Reiki, Reiki meaning Kami or Buddhahood – enlightenment. But that is difficult to realise. So that’s why we also practice hands-on healing, work with the symbols and mantras, the Precepts themselves and work with meditations and Rejiu. The more we work with these tools, the more we lay bare our ultimate reality.

In a class I often use a light as an example. I would say that you have a light covered with a lampshade and the light is on. The light is always on. This light is always on in you – you’re always this great bright light. But when we have these lampshades we don’t see it. When we peel these lampshades away we might think that the light is becoming brighter. From the relative viewpoint the light becomes brighter. If I take the lampshade away from a light in a dark room it suddenly becomes brighter – but that’s only one viewpoint. If we look at it from the viewpoint of the lamp, the lamp doesn’t become brighter; it is already bright! The sun is bright by itself. If we see it as relative reality we say, “The sun is becoming brighter today”, but the ultimate reality is the sun is being the sun. The sun is not becoming brighter; the sun is already bright. So teaching both is really important when we are teaching the system of Reiki.

In the beginning we might say that we’re going to do hands-on healing on someone and you might feel that you’re doing it right. But then even in Reiki I we can already emphasise that even if it feels like you’re doing it, you are still separate. Your client is laying there and you are here. This is wonderful but we’re still working towards feeling that there is no separation. You are the giver and the receiver. This is very simple but needs to be pointed out in hands-on healing. If I touch the other person in a relative reality, we only see that I’m touching my client. But the ultimate reality is that the client is already touching me. As soon as I touch this laptop, the laptop is touching me. As soon as I touch this pen, the pen is touching me. We often only see from this one relative way. We say that Frans is touching the pen but in the ultimate way the pen is touching Frans. So both happen at the same time.

Here’s another one – if I’m dancing, I am dancing with you which is relative reality. But in fact we are dancing together; we form a whole at the same time. This is something we have to teach in a Reiki I class. Both. It doesn’t mean the student has to have a direct experience of it (that might come later), because if we pull the lampshades away it becomes brighter – but from the viewpoint of the lamp it’s never been bright. So when we practice and say that we’re feeling more energy, compassion and light – that is relative reality. Then we realise, “Oh I was this energy already, I was this light already, I am this compassion already”.

We can also see this in the Precepts. It’s very clear but it’s a very tricky concept. It’s something we have to think about for years and years. It’s not that easy. To have that direct experience is also not that easy. In fact that’s the hardest part. So therefore it comes very slowly. As teachers we must realise both. And that way we can teach from both viewpoints. We can say, “I am doing hands-on healing on someone and at the same time it’s hands-on healing on myself.” It is a great example. Often we don’t think about it; I’m doing hands on healing on myself. Or some people might say I’m “giving Reiki” to myself. But if I give Reiki to myself, then I’m also the receiver! If I think about it correctly and I say I’m giving Reiki to myself (I never say this, I say I perform hands-on healing), but that way I am receiving. So you have both. You are a giver and a receiver at the same time. Non-duality.

Normally we focus only on the one aspect – on the giver. I’m giving myself Reiki. We hear this in a lot in classes: “we’re going to learn how to give ourselves Reiki”. I very rarely in class hear, “we’re going to learn how to receive”. Receiving is very difficult. Most of the time our cup is full. A cup is full of all sorts of stuff and therefore we find it very difficult to receive because the cup is too full. To receive, the cup has to be empty. What is this emptiness? Ultimate reality. In ultimate reality there’s still the cup and yet the cup is also empty – both at the same time. So to be truly receiving Reiki I also need to be emptied. That way I will realise I am already Reiki – both at the same time. Relative reality and ultimate reality.

So for a Wednesday morning at 10:00 am this is pretty tricky and complicated! And yet it’s also super simple. We just have to think about it. We have to think about both elements. As soon as I touch the wall, the wall is touching me at the same time. As soon as I peel away the layers, these lampshades on the light, we say the light becomes brighter. But this is only one viewpoint; we have to see both. Mikao Usui stated this clearly. I know I’m repeating myself here, but I do this because it’s a very tricky concept. Mikao Usui also said that we have anger and worry which is relative reality. Ultimate reality is compassion. We need both at the same time. So I will let you sit with this for the rest of the day, I’m going to sit with it myself. My head is exploding already with these concepts, I can’t sleep! No, but it is important to think about it. It’s tricky and it’s interesting.

Most important is not to intellectualise it too much, because you will tie yourself in a knot and you can’t get out of it. You will get super confused about it. These insights come mainly through your own direct experience. How do we gain this direct experience? It is sitting on your butt doing the meditations like Joshin Kokyo Ho, Hatsurei Ho and Seishin Toitsu. See hands-on healing as a meditation practice – don’t fall asleep while you do hands-on healing, but be really focused and aware. Also with the symbols and mantras – internalise them and see them as meditations where you stay focused. Chant the mantras and then work with the Precepts. Really contemplate these Precepts, chant them and see them, and Reiju, as a meditation practice. So we must practice, practice and practice. Then one day, “I am the universe and the universe is me”. I live in a relative reality and in the ultimate reality at the same time.

So I hope you enjoyed this little lesson for today. I’m going think about it and have breakfast now. I’m going to feed my relative reality! Anyway take your time to digest it all and I’m going to go digest some porridge. I’ll talk to you all later; bye!

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