What Happened Happened Before!

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Sonsuz:

Cem, for our third issue, our conversation will explore the topic of what happened happened before and why on earth is it so difficult for us to take life easy! Remember, the other day, when we were on the phone, you told me: “You are so tense. You are so uneasy. But note that what happened happened before. So, all you should do is just relax and try to be an observer.” After this conversation I seriously considered your words for a while. They were on my mind day and night. Your words have become a thorn in my flesh. I kinda lost my appetite. I can’t find the best way to put my feelings into words. You know what I mean. Can you please save me and elaborate on your words?

Cem:

In our daily actions, we tend to think that we are the ones to designate these actions. We even think that we can control and create our actions. Yet, we overlook the fact that there is no way our actions would happen in any other way. Hasan, this is hard to explain. What I am trying to tell is way too complicated. Let me give an example. 

You know, Mohammed, the prophet, was an extremely broadminded person. Even he was open to discuss any subject and he calls it “accident and fate.” I can see his point: Once you start evaluating this subject, you start going round in circles; just like Ouroborus, the snake, that swallowed its tail—or quantum physics stories. I mean the paradoxes where the future stimulates the past. Of course, as usual, Taoists and particularly certain sections of Tibetan Buddhists delved into this subject and adopted it as part of their studies. 

Indeed, my advice to you stems from such teachings. Suppose that you have raised awareness on the issue of freewill—whether we are free to choose our actions or they are somehow predetermined. If you manage to escape the ancient accident-fate trap, and also raise your awareness, then this awareness may unite you with God or the universe. And, you may recover from all the illusions of your ego. Rather than benefiting from escaping this trap, the human mind prefers to work it out. Instantaneously, we ask: “Now that the future is predetermined, what happened in the future happened before. Then who is the one to decide on the future or make all these determinations?” As a result, some people believe that it is God that determines the future. That is, people do not have free will. Hence, no one can be blamed for their actions. Whereas, some others believe that God is messing with us, so they get angry with God. 

Believers of free will also believe one makes their own future; yet, they introduce parallel universes as an alternative explanation. Each choice we make creates a new universe; it’s up to us. Every single choice of man is realized in infinite parallel universes. So, sometimes when we remember or know some incidents that have not yet happened, it is because some connections have gone beyond time-space continuum and made us remember or know them. It is the same when we recognize people whom we have never met before. Likewise, I may be friends with somebody here, but she may be my lover in a parallel universe. But why on earth do these oddities happen? The reason comes from the ultimate soul, my true soul; that we need to experience these great incidents regardless of time.

This way of thinking is more or less like the second approach; we have free will. Still, both approaches are based on assumptions about the real situation. This is the case with all similar theories: They are based on, and in return, serve the reality I want to believe. Therefore, these theories are most certainly biased.

Believers in a higher power or God interpret phenomena in their own way, and so do those with no belief as such. It also depends whether one believes in free will or not. But what is real anyway? What may happen happens before it actually happens? If so, in whose hands? Who is the one to make the decisions? Who builds or operates this deterministic mechanism?

Sonsuz:

Well said, friend! Now, I have some very targeted questions. Has what happens [in the present] happened before? If so, how? Who makes it happen? Who decides on that? Who sets up the mechanism that determines the initial step? And, about what you mentioned a minute ago, did you really mean that we do not have free will? Are you aware that by saying so [no free will], you have deconstructed and spoiled a number of spiritual theories?!

Cem:

I know. This is one the most complicated parts. If what happened happened before or obvious that it will happen, then how can we talk about free will? This is the point when the snake swallows its tail. 

Since man gets stuck on this point, they cannot see the naked truth. Here, let me share an experience of mine; then we may continue. One time, we were on a retreat in the country. We had this practice in the mountains and returned home. I knew that my pupils had questions about the source of the illusion in their minds. There, I pointed out the burnt fields up on the hill and told them: “You are like that burnt forest on the hill. When there is a fire you come and ask questions about the thing that started the fire. I tell you, understanding the cause of the fire will not make it go away. Knowing the cause of the fire will do no good.”

Is that clear, Hasan? These two situations are quite alike. Unfortunately, the mind gets stuck on the cause and reason about this predetermined future thing. Its cause and reason, however, have nothing to do with the case at all. What matters is how we’re gonna manage the situation. Knowing the cause or the one to wind the clock will not make it any easier. Talking over the causes will lead you to the dichotomy of faith and faithlessness; whereas, ironically, neither has anything to do with the situation.

Here are the key issues:

1. Is that real? Did what happen happen before? Is the future pre-determined?

2. To which extent is the future determined? Can it be changed? 

3. If so, how?

4. If not, what is the point? 

5. Why does such a mechanism exist?

Sonsuz:

I think this resembles PC suite games. When you install a game on your PC, what you can do is limited to the content of that CD. You may not break the code and do something other than the content of the CD. Yet, you are free to choose in between the limits of this coding system. This is true even for the games that provide you with full initiative. You are free to choose within the context, but there are limits to the game. There are borders that you may not cross. Of course, it is fun and you play the game for the sake of having fun. I mean, it does not really matter whether you accomplish any supposed assignment or not. All that matters is you pass on to the next level; yet, you enjoy the process. The target is not saving the world; you do not have such a goal. Indeed, it is a virtual world that need not be saved. All you should do is have fun and make the most out of it. I think life is quite the same.

Cem:

Actually, the word “virtual” emphasizes much more than you may think. There is something virtual about this situation. Hence, the gist of the argument is discovering this virtual content. This is the very reason why this mechanism was designed in the first place; it’s what this mechanism signifies and determines. 

Remember these lines in the movie Matrix? It goes something like this: A day came when somebody discovered that everyone lives in the matrix. That person who discovered this was the first to be liberated. Then, that person began to liberate others. My dear Hasan, this mechanism is there to awake us from the matrix! But you are missing the whole point by asking questions: Do we have free will or not? Who decides on that? These questions will lead you to yet another perspective. Is there an infinite universe? Is the lady over there my sister in another universe? Am I a mean person in a parallel universe? Is there access in between parallel universes? Do I have free will? I am aware that it is fun and appealing to ask and try to provide answers to such questions, but they won’t do. Here, I am going to ask you a question. Then, I will provide a simple explanation about finding the way out of the matrix. I will tell you why the system has such a design in the first place with a straightforward and non-elaborate manner. Now, here comes your question, Hasan: We have been talking over whether free will exists or not; what is free will anyway?
 

Sonsuz:

Before one manages to find their way out of the matrix, it seems to me that free will acts like our master control unit. With free will you make the decision to either pull or push the joystick in a PC suite game. Man, it’s been a while since we began this conversation; yet, so far we’ve only managed to arrive at the popular question: “What is the matrix?” Man, the reader will be surprised. They might probably say: “You were supposed to be grown-ups, wise guys. Is that really where you have come thus far?” In general, talking about the Matrix is a product of pop culture which is consumed by members of the pop culture, in return. Here, I would like to underline the fact that these concepts are far from being comprehended. So, dear Morpheus, could you please show us the way out of matrix?

Cem:

Alright, I will manage to explain it. But before that, please let me question you a little bit more. Free will is a two-word concept: free and will. Do you think it is possible that one has will which is not free? If so, what is freedom? What is will? And what takes freedom away from will? If you please, try to answer, Hasan?
 

Sonsuz:

You behave as though I am “the man” for such questions! When I’m asked these types of questions, I am usually hard-pressed to answer as if we were back in our school days—like when a question was asked by the teacher, and I was supposed to answer back immediately. I think feeling this way has got something to do with me. 

Cem:

Hasan, all my pupils say so. 
 

Sonsuz:

Whatever; I’m going to answer your question. Is there a way that somebody may have a will that is not free? We all presume ourselves to be free. This is how we live. In fact, there is a limit to each and every single thing in life. The system leads us to believe we are free; yet, all our choices are overseen by the system. We all fool ourselves into believing that free will is choosing our cell phone among a set of similar designs. The situation is more or less the same for our choices in life. We belong to a system which in return structures and manipulates all parameters. Aha! Welcome to the matrix!

Cem:

You are almost there, Hasan. Indeed, you are on the bottom rung…but anyway. 
 

Sonsuz:

I would be floored if you had said that I had arrived there. 

Cem:

That would happen when you are enlightened. Now, tell me what is “will”? Can you please provide an answer? 
 

Sonsuz:

I guess the best explanation for “will” would be my own desires; that is, my deep-rooted desires in my soul, deep-rooted desires of my very nature. But now that we are talking about will, I happen to realize that it is not will that lies beneath our actions. Forget about being free, we don’t even have will. I am not quite sure that freedom is something we encounter frequently. While we seem to be free, we live rather preplanned lives. Whatever the system says so!

Cem:

I guess you are going through a kind of awakening, Hasan. The first thing we should do is to ask the right questions and stop our rote actions. We have to surpass the concepts and go beyond the ordinary. To make a decision, first you have to be free. If you’re not free, then you cannot make a decision. If you’re not free, then you can never commit a misstep. Then, what you are capable of becomes all predictable. You would not even draw a random line to a piece of paper.

Generally, most of my pupils avoid my questions because I usually force them to provide fast answers when they least expect it. For example, while we are on the road and two distinct paths lie ahead—particularly if both paths lead to the same place—at the last minute, I ask my pupils, “Which path you are going to take?” If they hesitate, they lose their chance at liberation. Is that clear? In our lives, we face the question of which path each and every moment. It is so instantaneous that we cannot escape it. This question uncovers all the sheaths that belie us. And, it leaves us naked. If we are free when the sheaths are uncovered, then we may be able to render free actions. There is no way to predict our actions beforehand. If we are not free, then we do nothing but predetermined actions. To speak of true will, first there should be freedom. Well, Hasan, tell me how you may be free.
 

Sonsuz:

By using my senses. Sometimes people assume wasting time is freedom. It is not. Indeed, living against the rules of the society is mere reaction. Yet, reaction is generated by an action. In our case, reacting to the existing system means you are influenced by the system, in return. I can be free by taking pause and remaining still. Only then may you act with your senses. I have just had an “aha moment”: You may also be free by facing the fear of death within you and breaking free from it. One of our innermost aspects is fear of death. Fear of death is our key boundary. If we break free from the fear of death, then there is nothing left to limit us or hold us back. You kinda sign out from the matrix. Since the main cable that plugs you in to the system is fear of death, then when you break free from your most dreadful fear, the matrix ends. 

Cem:

I see. You consider liberation as an internal process. At the basic level, liberation means liberation from the fear of death. Only after we happen to free ourselves from this phobia, may we be able to obtain true will and commit all our actions freely. Thereafter, your actions may become unpredictable. Did I get that right, Hasan?
 

Sonsuz:

Exactly! I think this is the riddle of immortality. Probably, when you no longer fear death, your body will also definitely respond to your mind in-kind. Of course, then you probably would become physically immortal as well. It is kinda like being in an “Avatar” state. Suppose there is a man pointing a gun at you, but you don’t respond with fear. Indeed, you do not fear him. How can he harm you when you do not fear him? Well, in the worst case, he may pull the trigger. I guess it was you who told me about the bulletproof immortal masters. I know these masters are extreme cases, but also they are probably the farthest point to where the situation may lead.

Cem:

Yep. So, I must have correctly understood your points. Let me make an addition and carry on with my questions. Indeed, another fear lies underneath Thanatophobia (fear of death). Death, all by itself, may not be that fearful. In fact, mankind is more afraid of becoming almost meaningless, bearing no meaning at all. Unidentifiable, meaningless, pointless. If something is unidentifiable, without any meaning at all, then worse than death itself, that thing vanishes into thin air. It becomes obscure and creepy. Suppose that all of a sudden you have lost all your meaning. Suppose that we cannot recognize you anymore. We cannot use concepts like editor, father, man, spiritual, Hasan, etc., to identify you. Nothing exists to define you. Even worse, you cannot find a word to express yourself. Then who would you be, Hasan? Do you think an average person can live with this?

Sonsuz:

If I were an average spiritual man, then I would most certainly have given this sharp reply: “If I have lost all meaning and no concepts work for me anymore, then I would become an it. By “it” I mean the self/essence inherent in us, the true me within…love…oneness.” What do you think it would be, Cem? Now, I think we are at the last exit before the matrix. This is the final temptation before exiting. This is the level end, boss. Sooner or later, we all will face it. This is us in our birthday suits, bare naked. Finally, when we die we leave our bodies and shut the door behind. Indeed, this does not necessarily have to be a physical death; you may actually experience it alive.

Cem:

Again, you have made a good point. Are you considering becoming my pupil? You are doing fine. 
 

Sonsuz:

Lol! Be my Sensei, Cem. Off the charts, I learn a lot from you. Yet, you are a well-disciplined master, and I am a fat cat. I know that if I became your pupil, we might snap. We are okay as we are.

Cem:

So be it.

Yes, you are totally right saying that we do alright as we are. First of all, this is something that an average spiritual man would say, and of course, it is just talky-talk. Let’s get back to our senses. There are two sides of this experience: The first one is physical death; in fact, Taoists do that to a certain point. As an experience, they remain physically dead for a while, and then they come back to life. The second one, instead of dying, they walk away from all concepts, in other words, a moral death. Do not let moral death misguide you, Hasan, it is a far more scary experience than physical death itself. 

Masters describe this experience as the fear you feel when alone with a hungry lion in a small room. Frankly, when I experienced moral death for the first time, I could not deal with it. I had diabetes, panic attacks and depression. As far as I remember from my own experience, there was way too much fear involved. All of a sudden you lose all your meaning. It’s fearful! Remember in the movie Perfume lacking body odor drove the man crazy. 

Now compare this situation to the case where you lose all your meaning. It is as eerie as that. In our daily lives, quite often we experience similar situations of loss of all meaning, but then we find ways to escape the situation, sometimes by using drugs, or a better alternative by finding clarity of our limits through special concepts of thought or theoretical information. That is, we find relief in concepts; we assign meaning to ourselves or redefine ourselves. In turn, we may transform into something else or make us ego-focused. Ego is nothing more than a definition of self, Hasan, a concept. 

If there is a definition, you can simply define yourself by it, Hasan. If I know something, then I would most certainly know/predict what that thing is capable of. Bottles stores water, fire burns, trees blossoms…Things must perform what they are made for. A pine tree seed will become a pine tree. You cannot make a chestnut tree out of an oak seed. Similarly, all your actions are predetermined. Can you follow me up to this point? As I have told you before, this subject is quite complicated.
 

Sonsuz:

It’s all clear. I always think to myself that we perceive the world through concepts. I mean, why do we name a table “table”? Because we articulate it that way. We have assigned that meaning to “table.” If we take its meaning away, then it will become something else. For instance, do you remember when we were robbed in Egypt? Normally, if that incident had happened in Turkey, I would certainly have been depressed. But it did not bother me at all. Why? Simply because Egyptian currency means nothing to me: It is nothing but paper with a sphinx prints on it. On the other hand, can you imagine what some people are capable of doing for that paper!?

Eventually, I always think that real life starts when we go beyond concepts. Now we are blind, and we live as blind men. Even the so-called spirituals do so. First, a concept is created and then we add meaning to that concept. After that, we live according to those concepts, but we cannot see the true essence. This is also true for people. When the name “Cem” is mentioned, it evokes many concepts. Yet, an image of “Cem” is formed in my mind. I think that I am talking to Cem. Indeed, I am talking to that image in my mind. This is why sometimes I do not grasp your words totally, and find your improper demeanors odd. Still, I cannot perceive your real self. I am still a blind zombie.

Cem:

Very well understood. If he is in the mood, Master Hsu makes things disappear. For example, he takes a glass and poof; all of a sudden it vanishes. This is quite an experience. You are aware that something has disappeared just now, but you just cannot remember what it is. The thing that disappeared also loses its meaning. If it ever comes back, then you may remember and say, “Of course! I knew it. It is a glass.”

The thing you have mentioned is huge. Enlightenment is the ability to see things as they are, without shifting them or their meanings. This is why I see the world as it is. Not like any image I have in my mind. This also applies to how I perceive you, Hasan, and even what I assume to be me. That is, when I totally and utterly free myself from the fiction of my mind, only then can I be truly me. Only then can I be unpredictable. What you are supposed to do is predictable, Hasan. Any action you commit is pre-determined even before you do it. It happened before you did it. Now that we have covered almost all the necessary background, we may go back to the beginning of our conversation. We have a full package now, so let’s get to work.
 

Sonsuz:

I see; this is why what happened happened before. The only thing you can do to put an end to it is to change for good. That is, when you break out of the matrix, or at least you are on the threshold of doing so, only then may you behave unpredictably. Only then you are totally and utterly free. Only then you may act on free will. 

Dude, here comes a question: How will our lives be after we are totally free? 

I have asked similar questions to a number of people. I asked them: “Suppose you are rich. You have a beautiful family. You have everything a man longs for. There is no other desire that compares to it. Yet you have another 60 years before you. How would you spend those years?” 

In the movie Meet Joe Black, Anthony Hopkins said he would rather be dead. He was an old man, and he chose to die. In fact, the Western way of thinking may never provide a better answer: When you have all earthly possessions, you have nothing more to acquire. Nobody could provide a satisfactory answer to the question of how would you live after you have fulfilled all your desires. We cannot answer this question properly because there is no such code to be satisfied in full in our minds. 

The most common answer to my question was that man may never reach a point where they have everything with nothing left to acquire. There is no end to man’s desires. I also think this may be the reason that when most people almost reach their fill of satisfaction, they lose their heads. Since there is no answer to that question, either they indulge in weird stuff or they want to be in charge of everything—the world, for example. Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the middle of the room. Like Neo, now that we have awakened, and there is no matrix for us to fight in, how would our lives be?

Cem:

I think you’ve missed the point. Before awakening, there is a great deal of tasks to be finished. These things uncover why the future is predictable, and why we cannot escape this situation, as well. Consider this: Remember the story I told you about master Hsu. When he makes the glass disappear, the concept of glass in your mind also disappears, right? In that case you really cannot remember what disappeared. You see, Hasan, this is the case when you abandon definitions to identify yourself by. Is that all clear now? 

I severely warn all my pupils moving into deeper steps on their spiritual paths. At some point you may face the risk of losing meaning, which would be eerie.

Now tell me, Hasan, when the glass disappears, where does it go? I just cannot see it anymore. What happens to you when you lose all your meaning?
 

Sonsuz:

Well, you probably feel worthless. Everything you think you know fades away. You realize and admit that indeed you know nothing at all. Life becomes meaningless, you sorta die.

Cem:

Believe me, Hasan; it is weirder than you think. When you lose all meaning and there are no concepts to define you, it’s as if you have never existed at all. How could that be? Ego is a concept, a definition in itself. Tell me, how can all definitions that define yourself or your ego disappear? Now, if you’re ready, we may discuss how we can make use of our pre-determined future?
 

Sonsuz:

I’m all ears!

Cem:

First of all, do you really think the future is predetermined? Do you think whatever will be will be? Can it be proved? Can you name anything where the future is predetermined? 
 

Sonsuz:

Match-fixing.

Cem:

Or even the ones that are not fixed? Think about it!
 

Sonsuz:

Well, when you plant a seed, you most certainly know something will grow. We might know these kinda things beforehand.

Cem:

Ok, take it easy, don’t push so hard. Let me give you an example. You ought to have a better awareness of the world around you because everything happens before our eyes. Is that ok? Now, do you recall Paul the Octopus? [reference to an octopus housed in the Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen, Germany.]
 

Sonsuz:

May he rest in peace.

Cem:

As you know Paul the Octopus foretold the results of all six games Germany played in the World Cup 2010. Mathematically speaking, I cannot give you the probability to guess right all six match results; however, it must be slim chance, true? Do you think there is any chance Paul the Octopus could foretell the match results if the future was not predetermined? This is not a story told by my masters; it has happened right before our eyes.

It is in evidence that the future is totally predetermined and predictable. If the future was unpredictable, then for sure we wouldn’t know it. But, we can know it. So, if the future is knowable, how can we talk about free will?
 

Sonsuz:

Are we starting to talk about destiny or something?

Cem:

What is the point of making so much effort or pursuing what you want if what will happen will happen anyway, no matter what you do? Truly, I am really asking you. Tell me, why do we struggle? Why do we shoot for doing the right thing in the best way all the time? Why on earth do we try so hard to bring everything under control?

If we cannot control a future situation, then we certainly cannot define it. If we cannot define it, then neither can we exist. To a certain point, the definitions we make in our minds are flawless. There are things we do wrong, and there is the possibility to do them right in the future. Only this time they would be just perfect. This is why the future should not be for certain. If the future is predestined, then it may interfere with my free will. It will interfere with what I am and what I will become.

You know, if my actions are predetermined, it means that I have no control over them. Here, a person with no control over their actions may have two possible attitudes: Either they would become a control freak because they would be disturbed by any situation a lot or they would admit that no matter what they do the future is fated and they are not capable of committing the best of anything. We are not bound to doing things in the best way; it is not up to how much control we have over our actions or situations. Indeed, our effort to get things under our control to make them right is the very reason why our actions are not perfect in the first place. On the other hand, if we knew that all our actions were predestined, then why worry?! Then we need not worry about our future actions or our lives.

Everything is predetermined: Who I will meet; who will leave my life; how my children will end up no matter how I raise them; if something I assume to be bad will turn out to be good or vice versa. In that case, is there anything in my control? At this point in my life, I sense that there is nothing I can control. Here, if I accept to let go of control, then my heart may lighten, and I may feel relieved. When I admit that the future is predetermined, it also means that I have no control over the future. Also, it means that I may never be able to do things perfectly. It means that I may never ever keep pain and sorrow away from me or my loved ones. It means that I may never commit any action which is not predestined. In that case something extraordinary happens: I will become unpredictable.
 

Sonsuz:

Does it correspond to the concept of having faith in your destiny according to religions?

Cem:

Yes, this is the true meaning of having faith in your destiny. Of course, there is more because we have just started questioning. You should remember that right in the beginning I warned you that this argument is complicated. Yet, we have just started digging.

As proven by Paul the Octopus, if you believe that future is fated and somewhat if you have faith in your destiny, then you need not worry about your actions. You need not push too hard to be flawless. In Islamic terminology, it is called reliance or to resign; that is, to admit that everything good and bad comes from God. This thought leads us to what we call Song Fa Gong in Chinese and Taoism and Jhana in Buddhism. As you see, all teachings interpret the same thing. This is why I am a Buddhist, a Taoist, a Muslim, a Christian.

Song Fa Gong is a kind of deep relaxation. This is such relaxation practice that it brings you back to the empty space you were made of. In other words, you go back to your genuine material. No definitions have come into existence before that. Here, you need to understand that resigning to your faith is the tool that will actually free you from it. Accordingly, when you resign to your faith, you let go of your old patterns, then you retrace your source and unite with God. I think we should go no further for now because we have dug deep enough already. The future is predetermined; it is thus to make it unpredictable. As I have told you in the beginning, this is like Ouroborus. 
 

Sonsuz:

So, please tell us, how would the awakened man live? How would his life be? Does he sit down in his place or take a back seat? Do people looking for answers consult him? Then when he dies, do they build a mausoleum for him where people come and light candles? This is the first thing that comes to my mind. Or, indeed, does the awakened man become invisible to us? Does he live a rather insignificant life to the point that we expect a wise old man with a white beard, but we do not recognize him? Also, if not for us would his life be lived for his own sake?

Cem:

First of all, his ego will vanish, and he will become a Buddha. That is, he will become an enlightened being like the historical character Buddha. Any enlightened being has become one with God. Yet, this is a rather advanced state. It is his final state of being. Therefore, it is even difficult to say how he would behave. Reconsider the question you have raised: What determines the motives of a man who is freed from definitions? Do you really think he or his actions could be predictable?
 

Sonsuz:

Dude, without the concepts and definitions, my brain does not work. My neurons are useless.

Cem:

Exactly, dear Hasan, exactly! Let’s forget about it all and enjoy this wonderful view before us over a cup of tea. Isn’t this what Zen masters do? What is the point in predicting incidents? What is the point in defining things? Is there a point to be reached? Is there a question to be answered? Now, we may enjoy life. We may experience the miracle called life. Only then do Zen masters’ words take on a new meaning: How fabulous! How marvelous! What a miracle! I draw water from the well; I cut firewood!
 

Sonsuz:

I would love to. Let’s go and have a cup of tea; you and me. By the way, thank you for the lovely chat, Cem.

Cem:

Thank you, indeed. This is a complicated subject, and we are at the bottom of the ladder. I hope it may stand for a good start for similar discussions.



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