Horizontal Vs. Vertical Growth
Updated: Jun 9
If you want to transform your life you need to know where to head to. In this post I would like to talk about two different directions you can take for growing, that is, an horizontal and a vertical one: the former being ultimately illusory and inconclusive and the latter being the only efficient path to follow.
" I have always believed in numbers, in equations and logic
but after a life time of such pursuits I asked:
"What truly is logic? Who decides reason?
These questions took me through the physical, metaphysical, the delusional and back.
And I have made the most important discovery of my career and of my life.
It is only in the mysterious equation of Love
that any rational reason can be found".
-From the final scene of the movie "A Beautiful Mind"-
Truth can be hard to be digested because it does not fulfill any ego or mind expectations. And even though everyone wants to live in Truth, this is a lie for most of humans. A conclusion I had and I have being experiencing every day of my life since I have started this journey. We think we want to live in Truth but once we really grasp what Truth is about, we get a bit more reluctant in pursuing that path and the initial thrill gets quite soon substituted with all sort of excuses and deceptions to avoid to pursuit this goal.
Why? Because reaching Truth means putting an end of you as an ego, as a mind. All your desires, all your fantasies, all your dramas, all your suffering need to be ended. And even though this seems what we want, we never really work in that direction due to our own attachment to our narratives and dramas, to our being a victim, to our own sufferings that offer us an identity to cling on. If we really wanted to be peaceful with our self and the world around us, we would have already achieved this goal but we are incapable to let go of our own fantasies about our self and the world in which we live.
There is an actual reason why it works in that way, so do not beat too much up yourself. By transcending all these attachments you will realize that you do exist but not anymore as an individual entity, that is, what you currently think you are. You will not even consider yourself to be a human being anymore. This realization will wash away everything you know about yourself, everything that at the moment represents your reality, leading you to the unknown, a destination that not many people are willing to get to when their own identity it is at stake.
What you think you are does not want to see what is behind the curtain because your illusory identity relies on the certitude of already knowing who or what you are. Only by questioning this taken for granted position you will start the journey into the unknown and if you keep going deep enough you will be surprise what sits at the end of the road.
Whoever starts this journey will be challenged by two forces: one is the willingness to really grasp what he/she truly is and the other is the resistance not to go too far towards that direction. Only the most courageous and determined ones (this path is often referred as the hero's journey) will be rewarded to know what resides within the unknown discovering that there was nothing to be afraid of. At the contrary, the unknown will become our new identity, a place that has no form and therefore no limitations, a place where Love, Intelligence, Beauty, Peace, Acceptance and Silence Presence will keep shining no matter what is happening in the world of forms, where your illusory identity is trying to survive and resist.
Since I will be saying things that might bother you (as a mind), I will only talk about my personal experiences without taking examples of events did not happen to me. Once again what follows is the result of my personal efforts and attempts in getting to something that I somehow felt was more true than what I was shown by the educational system, society and family and I do not invite you to believe me but to actually prove to yourself these statements if they do resonate within you.
Reality offers you two directions in which you can move in order to change your life: one is an horizontal movement that in the long run will turn out to be a cul-de-sac that will not bring you anywhere, whereas the other one is a vertical movement that represents, in my opinion, the only efficient way to radically change the trajectory of your existence.
Within the horizontal movements are present many activities and solutions that are offered and sold by our society as great opportunities to fix our own paranoia, our own compulsions, our own fears, our own depressions and anxiety. Among others these solutions consist in reading self-help books, personal coaching, subscribing to a religion, conducting a healthier life styles, acquiring more knowledge, following a certain morality and doing in general.
We could call these activities pseudo-spiritual practices in the sense that they do not elevate us higher than before but they simply keep us trapped at the mind's level. As long as our attempts of transformation operate within the belief that we are a physical entity and that this entity can save itself by doing or by achieving something that at the moment is missing, we must be ready for a crude awakening. We, as humans, cannot in any way set our self free from our suffering as long as we stay in the field of doing.
In this sense there is a big difference between self-improvement and self-transformation. The former approach operates in the horizontal plane and it simply shuffles the card of the same deck within the bubble we are living into. We get from one illusory self to another illusory one. The latter throws away the entire deck and looks for the magician that sits behind: from the self we move towards the Self. There is nothing missing in our true Self. We simply need to pierce the bubble in which we have decided to live to see what relies beyond (a good post to refresh might be "Your life Is A Truman Show").
As I have mentioned in my very first posts, for long time I did have lived in a self-constructed bubble. I have suffered from compulsive behaviors in which I was slave of my own mind, obliged in performing repetitive mental and physical patterns in order to get some relief from this constant self-imposed hell. In addition to that evident disorder, I have acquired, as anyone else, other ideas from my family, parents, school and society about who I was, what I should do, how I should behave, what was true, what was right and what was wrong. All assumptions that have framed my being in a certain way, that have encapsulated my nature within a certain frame of reference that became, after many years, my own reality.
This enclosure became soon quite limiting and suffocating for my real Being and the way it started showing me its unwillingness to be in such a state of malaise was mostly through mental and emotional suffering (for others might be physical). At that time I had no knowledge about spirituality and my attempts in getting better, if any, were quite discouraging.
Over many years, from my very young age to the end of my 20s, I have tried everything I could to liberate myself from these self-imposed limitations: I became a diligent attendant of church, I have prayed, I have confessed my sins to a priest, I have restrained myself from food and sex to achieve some liberation, I have read self-help books, I have practiced yoga (the commercial one), I went to shrink sessions and tried other non conventional means to find relief from my own suffering, I expanded my knowledge till the point to get a PhD, I have lived in different countries and I visited many places around the word in search of a "better" place.
Nothing of the above activities worked in the long run. Some of them were completely bullshit, others gave me momentary relief but sooner or later my demons were coming back to visit me.
Only years later I discovered that the reason of my slow progresses was due to the fact that I was working and operating within the same system of beliefs that was keeping me enslave in the first place, that is, the belief to be a physical human being living in a physical world. All these attempts were still functioning within the mind's frame of reference, they were activities still existing within the bubble. Simply put, I was still operating inside the Truman show were everything was an illusion, no matter how promising the solution seemed to be.
As long as I had not found the door at the end of the ocean, I could have never improved my own situation. No matter how far I had traveled to get far away from my past, no matter how much knowledge I had swallowed through books to find some existential answers to my problems, no matter how many "Padre Nostro" I had recited to get some divine redemption, nothing would have worked.
Why? Because the one that was looking for answers, the one that was so intensively searching for a way out, was itself the problem and as long as this false and illusory identity was sticking around, no solutions could have been found. Why happiness cannot be found in buying clothes or a new house? Why no tangible change is obtained by changing job? Why you always get the same problems by changing partners? Why knowledge is never enough? Why too strict discipline never works?
Because the "you" that you think to be DOES NOT EXIST! The entity that you are trying to satisfy is not at home. What you think to be is a mix of thoughts, emotions and feelings that will never be satisfied because their nature and their job is to create a sense of "you" to be sustained and protected. The "you" that wants to be liberated from the illusion cannot do it since itself is an illusory entity made out of subjective experiences that have no owner. What you think you are is only a shadow of your real nature.
And so we travel, we engage in hundreds of activities, we change partners and jobs, we try psychedelics, we go to shrinks, we do whatever it takes to find a solution that could finally put an end to our suffering. We look outside hoping that one day we will meet the person and the book that will finally change our life. Illusion after illusion.
Coming back to me, as long as I had not realized that I did not need to go to the jungle to find peace, as long as I had not realized that I did not need a PhD to find some ultimate truths, as long as I had not realized that were not my partners to be wrong, as long as I had not realized that no prayer or actions would have set me free, I would have not found a way out to my imagined world of illusions. At some point I had to stop and admit that whatever I was looking for could not be provided by the outside world and therefore I tried to look within.
And when I started to pay closer attention to who was actually the "I" that felt uneasy, shy, fearful, restless, obsessive, compulsive the magic happened. When I stopped to move horizontally within my own bubble and started looking vertically, that is, beyond mind, beyond my ideas of who or what I was, beyond even the entire perceptive and sensory apparatus, I found a treasure whose price was inestimable. Only by looking within and not outside, only by self-reflecting and by self-observing I could truly know myself discovering that what I thought to be was an illusion and that what I actually am is "something" else.
That "something" does exist and it is you! But it is not a "thing" and therefore can also be called Nothing. This Nothing is not the absence or the lack of something but simply That which cannot be pointed and described because it comes prior to any word and intellectual understanding. It is also known as Consciousness, That which is conscious of all those forms that seem to exist independently of It if the power of mind prevails ("Mind: A Double-Edge Tool").
In reality both That which has no form, alias you, and those forms that appear to have their own existence, alias what you think to be, are one with each other. Unless what you think you are thinks differently.
This vertical movement will destroy your illusory identities and everything else that is associated with them: all sort of fears, depression, anxiety, desires, attachments, obsessions and fantasies. This vertical movement will reveal the unknown to be the actual reality that you are and that anything else in existence is. And from this revelation your body and mind will slowly become a vehicle governed by this higher intelligent force and not anymore a puppet driven here and there without destination by the ignorant mind.
I am not encouraging you to drop whatever you are doing in the horizontal plane to get some relief from your suffering. Doing some of these activities is much better than ignoring the problem and it will certainly help you to increase your awareness over some personal issues. My invitation is to simply make you aware about the existence of a more true level of reality that is currently veiled by your thinking mind, a reality that can transcend all your problems with one single movement. Techniques such as meditation, contemplation, (real) Yoga and self-inquiry are in my opinion the best ways to get to the Truth in a safe and lasting way.
Your job is to stop looking for solutions within the mind's frame of reference. Your job is to transcend what you think you are and to drop all fantasies. Just do not expect to have mind, alias what you are currently thinking to be, at your side by taking this journey. It will be always in denials.
Realize the appearance of mind WITHIN you, Consciousness. Realize that without you, mind could not even arise. Do not let mind take ownership over you, get out of your bubble and get real!