Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - "Pure awareness", the state of being free

"Pure awareness", the state of being free

"Pure awareness", the state of being free

Dr Bit Seanglim recalls the tale of the jackal and the fish, and offers some

advice to Ieng Sary and others involved in the Khmer Rouge drama: search for self-fulfillment...

I want to know God's thoughts... the rest are details - Albert Einstein

Long ago, a big jackal was very hungry and wanted some fish to eat. With luck, he

found a drying pond where he could easily catch the fish.

A shrimp in the pond knew what the jackal was thinking. "Brother jackal",

he said in a kind voice, "you can eat us all. But look, we're covered in mud.

We'll taste horrible. It would be better if you took us away and washed us."

"There are so many of you, how can I do that?" said the jackal. "Don't

worry", said the shrimp. "Just lay down in the mud and let us hang onto

your fur."

Because the jackal was greedy and stupid, he agreed. When he found a deeper pond,

he walked in and the fish jumped off in the water. Again and again he returned to

the old pond until all the fish had been moved to the new pond. When the fish saw

they were all together, they swam away into deep water. The jackal realized he had

been tricked and was very angry.

The jackal hurried away to get some help to empty the water from the pond. He found

elephants, tigers, buffaloes, pigs, pythons, cobras, crows, sparrows and vultures.

He said to the pythons "the animals and birds will take the water out the pond,

and then you can swallow it."

When the fish in the pond overheard what he was planning, they were frightened and

asked the catfish what they could do to stop the plan.

"The hare is very clever and knows how to help animals in trouble," said

the catfish, and set out to ask the hare for help. All day long he flip-flopped slowly

along the ground looking for the hare. When the hare came out to look for food in

the evening, he encountered the catfish and learned of the plight of the fish.

"Have pity on us, brother hare. People say you are clever. All the animals have

come to drain the pond so the jackal can eat us. Help us," pleaded the catfish.

The hare agreed and the catfish returned to the pond with his news for all the other


The next day the hare went to the pond and saw the animals taking out water. He found

a long leaf which some worms had eaten and was full of little holes. "Brothers,"

the hare shouted to the animals, "I have a letter from the great god Indra.

It says he will come and break the ducks' legs, crush the eagles, cut off the jackal's

head and pull out the elephants' tusks," the hare pretended to read from the


The animals were very frightened by the message. They climbed on top of each other

and on top of the pythons. The pythons burst and the pond water that rushed from

their bodies drowned all the other animals.

And instead of the animal eating the fish, the fish ate the animals. (Chandler 1978)

THIS folk tale - describing a hostile environment, fear of abuse, the need for a

clever protector to counter the more powerful, and the use of manipulation and deceit

to survive - is more than simply a fanciful story. I will not attempt to judge who

is the jackal, the hare and the fish, but the story portrays the major themes of

consciousness which underly Kim Trang, alias Ieng Sary, alias Van; a consciousness

that, we hope, will transform the destroyer mentality into a creator personality.

In fact, a study revealed that Khmers were able not only to survive the Khmer Rouge

history but emerge changed. It is possible to recover from tragedies and gain inner

strength from them. Some have started the transformation from a destroyer mentality

to a creator one.

D. Chopra (1994) has proposed the Law of Dharma which offers the tools for off-setting

the pervasive effect of fear. This approach centers on discovering the "purpose

in life" and the role of special talents to serve humanity. The concept does

not require abandoning the traditional Buddhist beliefs; their applicability to Khmer

needs can be considered.

Just as light brightens darkness, discovering inner fulfillment can eliminate any

discomfort, including fear. This is truly the key to creating balance and harmony

in everything we do.

This theory offers ideas and recommendations for increasing our sense of fulfillment

and freeing our inner nature. The goal is to help us realize that we are made of

pure awareness, that it is our natural state to be free from fear, and that it is

our destiny to enjoy complete fulfillment in life.

In presenting solutions to the problem, it's essential to discuss the concept. The

theory introduces a new element into the situation - the element of personal fulfillment.

To be in dharma means to know what we're here for. It means we've discovered the

purpose of our life. You see, there are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone

is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into

the big jigsaw puzzle. Indeed, the universe would be incomplete if it weren't for

the fact that we happen to be here. And for any single thing to happen in this whole

universe, you Kim Trang, alias Ieng Sary alias Van, and everyone else must take part

in it.

Of course the concept of dha-rma encompasses much more. It takes in all the activities

of our consciousness, because we are destined to fulfillment, and part of that destiny

is doing work which give us the most satisfaction.

But sometimes things can get in the way of our destiny. Fear is one of the first

problems that we might encounter, and it can be a harbinger of other problems. In

the fulfillment theory, the source of any difficulty is said to lie in awareness.

An awareness of some discomfort, some anxiety, some worry, which then produces a

background condition such as anti-social behavior. Next a sharper level of discomfort

begins, and ultimately full-blown fear presents itself.

So fear is a symptom of an underlying imbalance, and if we want to discover the root

cause of that imbalance, I would suggest it is lack of dharma, lack of fulfillment,

lack of purpose in life.

To put it a better way, the purpose is there, but you Kim Trang, alias Ieng Sary,

alias Van, haven't found it yet.

To overcome any difficulty, it's essential to ask oneself some very basic questions

about life: What is my purpose here?...What makes me happy?... How can I find fulfillment

in my heart?

Just as we spend our lives making a living, it's very clear that the positive or

negative qualities of those endeavors have a vital influence on us. But I'm not suggesting

that you Kim Trang alias Ieng Sary alias Van should immediately quit your work if

you don't like it. Any type of job can be made more fulfilling if it's done with

simplicity and an awareness of the present moment.

In order to understand how this can be done, we need first to understand a very important

point about the way the theory approaches fear and fulfillment.

Fear is viewed as actually having no reality in and of itself. The relationship between

fear and fulfillment is like the relationship between darkness and light. Fulfillment

is not the absence of fear; fear is the absence of fulfillment.

The theory focuses on fulfillment as a positive, active quality, so much so that,

in some sense, it doesn't deal with the treatment of fear at all. Fear is recognized

as an area that is simply lacking in the basic concept we call fulfillment, the way

a room is dark until a light is turned on. Fulfillment means wholeness, and when

fulfillment is brought to a level of perfection it results in a state of complete


If dissatisfaction with work is affecting your health and ruining your sleep, it's

not really your job that's the problem, it's the quality of your life in every area.

There's an old saying: "The world is as you are." If you're fulfilled in

other parts of your life, your work will be much more enjoyable, and certainly more

fulfilling. Although sometimes you may feel like a victim of circumstance, you actually

can take charge of the situation, and the first step lies on the level of your consciousness.

You don't have to go anywhere or to anyone to find fulfillment; it is inherently

within you to begin with. You just have to give yourself access to that field of

pure intelligence.

The first step is to make a slight shift in your awareness. It's a shift in the direction

of self-indulgence in a good sense, of attention to yourself and to your purpose

in life. Once you see that there's a perspective that's bigger than your worries,

bigger than your concerns, then you'll be able to do your work with much more happiness.

You'll be more focused in your work because you'll have a larger view of what it

means to have a life of fulfillment and freedom.

For most of the people of Pailin and Phnom Malai who have worries, the active portion

of their lives is being overly emphasized at the expense of the rest period. Be sure

to take enough time to balance your dynamic activity with genuine recreation. Don't

suffer from picnic deficiency!

Free time and vacation time should be spent in activities that make you feel more

whole and refreshed, not more fatigued and tired. This is a recreational universe

made for those who want to share in God's one great passion: beauty. In the presence

of beauty, the connection with nature is restored and we recognize it as truth.

According to this theory, all problems arise because of what we can call object-referral.

That simply means that we refer to objects in order to identify ourselves, in order

to tell ourselves who we are. These objects can be situations, circumstances, people,

or things. As a result of object-referral, we develop guilts and regrets about the

past, we are distracted in the present, and we experience fear and anxiety about

the future.

So the solution to any problem is to become self-referring. We give to the world

our greatest gift when we're being ourself. The cause of suffering is the loss of

the image of the self, the forsaking of a self-referring inner reality for an object-referring


In order to get back to the self, we have to learn to trust ourselves, our instincts,

and our intuition. The goal is for us to realize that we are made of pure awareness,

that it is our destiny to be always experiencing this fact, that it is our destiny

to become free.

In order to experience freedom, we must have a present-moment, life-centered awareness,

where love and trust are naturally felt. The opposite of present-moment awareness

is time-bound awareness, and the emotion that naturally accompanies it is fear.

The only goal of life, therefore, for a free individual, should be to allow the flow

of pure awareness, the flow of relaxed attention, into the physiology so he or she

can experience in crystal clarity things as they actually are, and not filtered through

the camouflage of preconceived notions, definitions, interpretations, and judgments.

In this pure awareness, we see the world as it really is, a manifestation and an

unfolding of the eternal presence of the self. An individual in this state is truly

free, and can have everything that he or she desires. In this state of awareness,

wishes, dreams, desires, and commands unfold like seeds in the ground, waiting for

the appropriate season to bloom spontaneously into flowers and beautiful gardens.

Our life experiences are a result of where our attention takes us. In fact, we are

the quality of our attention. If our attention is fragmented, we feel fragmented,

we are fragmented. When our attention is in the past, we are in the past. When our

attention is in the future, we too are in the realm of an imaginary future. But when

our attention is in the present, we are in the present of the energy of life. And

all problems are a diversion of our attention from present-moment awareness.

Present-moment awareness is allowing the flow of attention, the flow of consciousness,

the flow of universal intelligence, the flow of nature, to move spontaneously and

effortlessly through our physiologies. And when we shift our attention from object-referral

to self-referral, our physiology will function with vibrancy.

Now it turns out that being a subject of self-referral instead of object-referral

is actually the simplest thing we can do. It's so simple because to be one's self

is our very nature. There is nothing more intimate than ourself. It is only because

we have become so used to complications that it could seem difficult to be ourselves.

But starting on the path of self-referral is the most natural, effortless, and enjoyable

thing that anyone could ever do.

In the course of discovering ourselves, we discover our intimate connection to nature,

and that this connection can never be broken. To be self-referring means to be true

to our individual nature and with nature as a whole. This is the real path, the only

path, to perfect fulfillment.

It is very interesting that the word for " fulfillment" is boromsok, which

literally means to be established in the self. So even in the very word itself we

see this profound truth, that the basis of fulfillment, which of course includes

freedom from fear, is to be in touch with ourself.

Where do we find this self? It is found in the simplest form of our own awareness,

of our own consciousness, where it is experienced as truly unbounded, free from limitations,

completely integrated and in harmony with nature. From this level all choices we

make are most natural and life-supporting. From this level we act spontaneously,

intuitively, and in such a way as to promote balance and fulfillment.

"We are travelers on a cosmic journey - star dust, swirling and dancing in the

eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. But the expressions of life are

ephemeral, momentary, transient," Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, once


This existence of ours is as transient as autumn clouds.

To watch the birth and death of being is like looking at the movements of a dance.

A lifetime is like a flash of lightning in the sky, Rushing by like a torrent down

a steep mountain.

"We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to

share. This is a precious moment, but it is transient. It is a little parenthesis

in eternity. If we share with caring, lightheartedness, and love, we will create

abundance and joy for each other. And then this moment will have been worthwhile."

These are the thoughts of God... the rest are details.

- (Dr Bit Seanglim is author of The Warrior Heritage, and a researcher of post-traumautic

stress syndrome suffered by survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime.)


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