Archive for November, 2010
Let Awakening Come to You: The Path to Yourself (From the Liberation from the Lie Sequel – The Way of Liberation: At Home on Planet Earth)
Do you strive for what others have called “enlightenment”?
Do questions like these often fill your consciousness?
Then listen up. For you are now on the wrong track. You’re missing it and you’re missing it by miles.
Awakening is now or it’s never. It will never happen when you’re seeking it – when you’re struggling to “get” it. It is either here and now or it is nowhere.
I know your problem because I’ve suffered from the very same problem. We hear about all of this enlightenment stuff in a life where there is constant heartache, struggle, and challenge and when the fear of death hangs over us like a guillotine. So we take the bait. We read dozens, often hundreds of books. We’re on the look-out for the next Mooji video and wished we lived in a place like Santa Cruz where enlightened dudes can be found speaking in small bookstores or in the comfy well upholstered living rooms of well-off people.
We get obsessed. We really, really, really want this thing called enlightenment. There have been moments when we’ve been filled with bliss and light and then the moment sadly passes. Just another state that comes and goes. We have no where else to go, but to get back on the track and start running, breathlessly running for the one book, the one talk, the one retreat, even the one off-hand remark that will finally and forever set us free.
Yet it eludes us and there is a part of us, a small part but real voice that whispers in our ears that it’s hopeless. Now we know that we’ve come to a terrifying crossroads. The first and most obvious road is that it’s all hopeless. We could meditate for a hundred years in the very presence of the Buddha himself and still never make that essential breakthrough. The other road tells us that it’s all bullshit. That we’ve been feverishly chasing an illusion – a hoax. That these fakes claiming to be enlightened and actually have the gaul to wear white flowing robes and always be sitting next to a vase of pretty flowers and be surrounded by their adoring and reverential followers (assholes) are just full of shit.
It’s either one or the other.
Actually it’s both. It is hopeless and the people we observe, who claim their special status are anything but enlightened.
If you’re not, you should be. For we know that as long as we’re seeking “it”, we will never “get it” and we know that no body ever “gets” enlightened. This we know.
Are you totally convinced? Probably not, (although you should be) but allow me to continue.
First you do really must know that it really is hopeless and these self-proclaimed gurus are not enlightened. That is just a simple fact.
Let’s address the gurus first. That’s the easy part. They are not enlightened because no “body” is enlightened. What you see and hear and feel is just appearance – fleeting and insubstantial. It’s just sight and sound ‘signifying nothing’. While their body is just a body, their words may trigger something in your experience that can illuminate the false. We move closer to the true every time we see what we’ve believed to be true turns out to be false. That is the very process of self-liberation. In illuminating the false these words can have the power to enable to release yourself to the real. But ultimately, the many gurus out there don’t matter.
All that matters is you.
We’ve already said that if you’re seeking “it” – “it” will elude you. As seekers, it truly is hopeless. This is a basic fact.
“It” can only happen now. So what are we to do? I am beaten by this profound problem and am left truly hopeless and now without resources.
What you can “do” is to put out the “awakening’s welcome mat” by engaging with an open heart and mind with this moment right now and right here. This, my good friend, is your life. Live your life right now and let the ‘magic’ happen. When you are seeking for it someplace else, it can never be found. You must live your life now, as if you will die by nightfall and if it is night when you’re reading this, then just substitute the word dawn.
Five minutes can seem like a lifetime when you’re really alive to it. Get pulled in by life just as it is. Stop being so quick to judge this moment as “not it”, for every time your mind inserts this belief it creates an insurmountable wall to Realization. So live “this life – your life” right now and awakening will come to you … rather than the mind goading you to run to it. That which runs toward anything is merely the “inadequate self” seeking relief from itself!!!
So let awakening come to you by living this moment and the next moment by truly living it. When you love life, life will love you back.
You see your very mind, the judger, the knower, is the final obstacle. Awakening is right here, right now. Drop all of your defenses and resistance to this moment and the next and the next and the next – and it will come to you. Trust life.
Then you will Realize and it will truly be yours’. Just as we awaken each day from sleep, so the spirit awakens unbidden and free.
Nearly all of us who are engaged in the “spiritual journey” consistently posit a “better me” that will evolve over time. When we believe that thought or any thought related to it, we are, perforce, obliged to resist or even reject our current Life Force in the now of existence. We are ceaselessly moving away from who we truly are.
What does it tell us when we realize that we are never satisfied with who or what we are?
It tells us that we are conditioned to sustain the self killing process of invalidation. Because the false self, the very self that we believe ourselves to be, is a total consequence of the invalidation trauma, we are, literally, unable to imagine who we might be without this form – without this mind. We are tied to this conceptual self and that is very definition of the psychic prison. We were born as thought and most of us will die as a thought.
But we are not a thought or any thought.
As long as we give life to the concept of a “better me”, we can never live from our source. It will remain inaccessible to us. So instead you will be stuck seeking an identity and once we are firmly lodged into our identity, we will always be ready to defend ourselves and attack those that challenge who we believe ourselves to be. It’s a painful cycle and it’s a cycle that will never end. It is the cause of all our wars and our ceaseless conflict against the Earth itself.
As some of you may know, I worked for quite a few years with traditional Navajo (Diné) healers and counselors. While working with these men and women, I noticed that they rarely if ever used the word God. Rather they would refer to what we might call God as “the Creator”. This curious difference is what I am discussing in this post.
I don’t believe in God. I guess this would make me an atheist.
To me, the word God conjures up a person “up” there that makes things happen. He or she is someone we can speak with. We can bring to her our fears and dreams. She is a direct part of our life. Perhaps, she is our life.
I know that how people visualize this God varies a lot. Some people think of him as an aged Patriarch, like the one painted by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. There are others who imagine a fertile woman whose life brings about all that is. And then there are others who, like Einstein, do not project a material God, but see it as the faceless force that allows everything to be as it is. But even in Einstein’s view, God was an entity – a kind of unseen being that conforms to the rules of physics and science in general. Einstein’s God was consistent and ultimately predictable.
When I walk in “nature”, I see everything as the Creator. Even walking in mid-town Manhattan, this too is the Creator’s work, but it differs from a forest, a place marked by diversity and complexity. In Manhattan, the force is entirely generated by the behavior of human beings. But we are as much a part of creation as the oaks, brambles, bugs, birds, bushes that make up part of the world outside of my home.
The Creator is that which is. It has no rules. It is complete in itself as itself. The Creator is no different from what is. The Creator doesn’t play favorites. A cockroach is as much an expression of the Creator as Donald Trump.
But why does the “idea” of the Creator matter? Is there anything here that can draw us to our Authentic Being?
That which is – is prior to all thoughts. While thoughts are also expressions of the Creator, they are always secondary to what actually is. But even more importantly, they tend to be artifacts of our cultural and social conditioning. They are reflections of our personal and unique self. This is why your thoughts will be different from mine at any given time. How you think of a song will always be different from how I think about that same song.
Unity with the Creator happens when we stop grasping for this thought as opposed to that thought. Unity with the Creator only asks us to accept the invitation to be open and that which we need to be most open to is our own unwillingness to be open to certain types of thoughts and experiences. That which we close down to is our lord and master.
Who is your Lord and Master?
While we see the Creator in the objects of the universe, we touch the Creator at the source of all of these objects.
Where is that place?
It is in the Open Ground. This is the place of Nothingness. But it is anything but nothing. Creation happens in the place that is utterly objectless, but possesses the ability to make any object. This is the Source and we are that.
This place cannot be grasped or visualized by the mind. It can only be as it is; mysterious and unknowable.
So how can we realize this place?
This is where the Journey takes over. We must go, first, to a provisional place. To get to this provisional place, we are required to assume temporarily that every object is an illusion. No exceptions. Nothing whatsoever is real. When we truly cease grasping onto any physical object, thought, or feeling as real, that which is the Source is sensed. This is sometimes called the Zero Point, the pivot, the Tao, and even the Creator.
To understand the illusory quality of every object, we need to understand, completely, that nothing can exist independently from its context. Thus nothing whatsoever possesses independent existence. Rather everything is connected to everything else and as everything it cannot be “known”. Because “everything” is in constant change, it is utterly empty of set substance of identity. It is all flowing in one seamless mass.
It is at the Source where we get centered. It is the place that we have never left and has never left us. It is the universal home – the place of no identity. Thoughts and feelings continue to arise, but they are seen to without substance or reality. They arise from invisible Source to ephemeral “isness”.
Then once we are centered in this place, we are able to welcome Home the infinite objects of this universe – the artifacts of the Creator in our immediate experience. When we are truly free of any identity, we are free to be any identity – the passing show. We return home – to the “thingness” of this moment.
The Buddha said, “Form is emptiness and emptiness is form.” What does this mean?
It means two things that are complimentary. One, that all objects – physical, mental, and emotional – arise out of emptiness. And two, when we remove the discriminating conditions of language, everything that is seen, heard, and felt is One as the totality. As One it reflects the emptiness from which it arises. The illusion that things can be separate and exist independently as themselves is something that happens only through the dissection of the totality by the mind through thought.
Thus, the emptiness that we truly are is reflected in the Oneness that we perceive. It is one and the same. They are the two sides of the same coin.
In this way the Creator experiences her(him)self and you are that.
As Paul Krugman’s op-ed piece in today’s New York Times points out, Ireland had a true economic miracle, but over time this “miracle” gave way to a housing frenzy fed by the banks and speculative real estate developers. As the economy prospered they fed on this prosperity and worked together to create a massive housing bubble. When the bubble burst, the country was thrust into economic ruin and is now facing deep austerity prospects that will hurt everyone except the bankers who are international and comfortably insulated from assuming losses or any other form of responsibility for the social violence they have happily wrought. The situation in Ireland mirrors that of the United States and many other nations.
This is how it happens. In stable economies banks are rather boring players on the economic stage. They exist to keep people’s money relatively safe and to lend money in a regulated manner to create and maintain prosperity. The rules of lending need to be regulated to protect all the savers who place their hard-earned cash to the banks in trust. Savers tend not to want to have their money played by a group of gamblers who game the table and stack everything in favor of themselves.
Thus the clever bankers used the nation’s prosperity to express their repressed greed. But here’s the important part. As they made themselves grotesquely rich, they used a very small part of their money to buy their government. Politicians come cheap and they are more than happy to become whores for the super-rich friends. Thus the financial sectors own the governments of the United States and Ireland and most other places that experienced a big housing bubble from which they made their trillions. Greed and wealth made them extremely powerful.
Because they are, in essence, the government itself, they enforce the laws in ways that can only favor them and hurt everyone else. They create the policy that keeps them perfectly secure from criminal or civil prosecution, that maintains gratuitously low tax rates for the ultra wealthy and makes sure that what was the middle class pays for their continued fiscal vulgarities through painful austerity measures that affect the super-rich not in the slightest.
In this way they create a two class society. The middle class is hollowed out and transformed into the upper Lower Class and the wealthy become much richer, even as the local economies collapse into penury. The ultra-rich will scream that we cannot afford large deficits in order to leverage their impact on creating the austerity measures that enable them to get a lot richer even in times of economic crisis and decline.
Thus the bankers and their friends in the healthcare and military industrial complexes get to run the whole show. And then they speak speak as if we’re all in this together. We aren’t.
The truth is, they treat everyone but their class as ignorant rubes. They keep the rubes entertained by the idiotic television shows that are everywhere and through fear that unless we follow the orders they demand of us, that things could get so much worse.
It’s time to see reality. This is all part of waking up to what is real. It’s time to see these people (and they are discrete individuals with names and addresses) as the blood-sucking parasites they truly are. It’s time to express our need for basic justice. We must cease listening to any politician owned by this class. It’s time we take to the streets. It’s time that we refuse to swallow their ceaseless lies.
The point is not to spread the wealth. The point is to live a life that is just and fair. This class is truly a cancer on the world. The time has come to re-invent civilization as something that can exist in harmony with all of our fellow human beings and the animals and plants that make this world a wonder in a very cold universe. That time has come and that time is NOW!
Is this true for You?
What is our life?
Is it not a vast accumulation? We are born. As we grow up we have many memories. Stuff happens. Suddenly we’re middle-aged and then we’re old and facing our own death.
This is the vast accumulation of the personal self.
Now my question to you is this: What part of you, right now, is NOT accumulating? What part of you is not adding onto the story of you?
That is the enlightened being – that is what is free of this accumulation. The mind might take hold of this realization and integrate that into it’s continuing story and thus “fold” it into the greater accumulation of the personal self.
But no matter what the mind does, no matter how desperate it is to survive as the one and only you, it can’t overcome this Realization.
Notice how the accumulating includes your expectations about the future. It’s one enormous story about you. It holds all of your fears, hopes, desires, preferences, and knowledge.
When the accumulating self is seen as just one of many narratives that we construct in almost every moment, in that same moment we are free. We are that which never accumulates anything.
If you think you have failed at ANYTHING, that is part of the story of accumulation. We happily accumulate all of life’s disappointments. If you think you have succeeded in ANYTHING, that is part of the story of our accumulation. We are often reticent to lay the same claim to our achievements.
Again, I ask you, what aspect of your experience, right now, is not part of personal accumulation? Find that core aspect of your immediate experience which is unborn.
The accumulator dies – the Self is unborn.
That is the part that we never born and will never die.
We noted that perceptions, feelings, and thoughts belong to “know” (no) one, but are simply part of the living environment. Thus, if you are sad, the sadness is not your sadness and if you are happy, the happiness is also not your happiness.
Thus striving to be anything or anyone is a hopeless endeavor. It is also true that seeking to avoid a certain condition, is also equally hopeless.
A thought (feeling or perception) is intrinsic to itself. This means that an object is true to itself in the moment of its apperception. It is not your object. The YOU you take yourself to be is just another object that is also intrinsic to itself in the moment of its apperception.
That tree that you can see outside possesses little quality of being possessed by the personal you, but your thoughts feel like your very own thoughts. But it is said here that, in essence, the tree and the thought are not different on the level of objective reality. As the tree is intrinsic to itself, so is the thought. Any thought or feeling can be appreciated in the moment it arises.
When you see a tree, both the “you” (a thought) and the tree (a physical object – experienced as a different class of thoughts) are objects that belong to no one. They are each objects of differing class arising from the ground of being.
We will never be able to trust ourselves as long as believe that our thoughts and feelings belong to me – a thought.
We can’t trust that false sense of me because it’s a concept based on a false premise – something that isn’t true. You and I are not thoughts. Thoughts are just objects and objects are subject to change.
The realization that you are not a thought, that you never have been a thought, and never will be a thought is enlightenment itself.
Here is the key instruction: The effort to understand yourself as a thought or a concept or a feeling is utterly futile. It is what keeps the infinite wheel of seeking going. When you truly know that you are not a thought, the seeking ends and everything is revealed in the light of your perfect being. It is radiant, raw beauty.
We are that which never changes. We are not a thought. We are that which experiences thought, but is not any experience.
That which sees the tree and that which observes the thought of the seer of the tree is one and the same. Do that right now. Observe something, then quickly notice a thought of someone (yourself) seeing the object. Not how that which sees and notices the object and the assumed subject are the same thing – a kind of perfect openness.
The moment our need to trust a thought as ourselves is seen as false and we instantly transition to just being that which observes and notices, we are free of the slavery to the false me. This is not an easy or simple Realization.
You and I are not slaves to any thought.
When I think I am a fool, I feel bad. When I think I’m a wonderful, generous person, I feel good. Neither condition or identity is stable. It just moves with mood and circumstance. When it feels bad, it needs to feel good and when it feels good it tends not to be very concerned about feeling bad.
Liberation is freedom from all notions of good and bad. But it is more than mere noticing. For when we are free of identifying with any thought, we can be one with anything and we are one with everything all the time. The array of observed things change but the open field stays the same.
There is a vast embrace held by the field. This is compassion, connection, and carrying – all at once.
Imagine the Great Plains, covered in wild grasses. It holds the immense Western Sky, the thousands of birds that fly in the open space, their infinite calls, the powerful clouds that drift above, the mighty herds of buffalo that rumble across the open earth. Now a band of hunters appear. They wildly fly after the scrambling buffalo. A lance hits one of the buffalo and rich, red blood spurts from the open wound. Death happens suddenly in the vast field of being. Elsewhere a baby calf is born. Life happens suddenly in the vast field of being. Night follows day and Spring follows Winter. The cycles follow an invisible spiral beginning nowhere and ending nowhere and we are that.
The challenge of trust becomes nothing at all when we are free of all self-identifying thoughts. Instead of needing to trust something or someone, we are trust itself – trust in the perfect, seamless reality of this world.
Why is this so?
The psychological being, the person we take ourselves to be, depends on mind.
- Mind is the agent which sets priorities;
- Mind is the evaluator;
- Mind is the decider;
- Mind is the carrier of culture;
- Mind reflects our genetic heritage;
- Mind tells us who we are, who we are not, and who you are; and
- Mind is the holder of the ‘inadequacy belief’.
Mind depends on itself for being. It tells us, time and again, that we are our mind.
In other words, we place our inherent trust in our minds – even if we deny it.
This is even more true for people who are intellectual. The mind of the well educated has even greater importance because it has demonstrated how brilliant it is. It has the capacity to organize vast volumes of facts and it has the ability to perform complex forms of analysis on these many observations. Thus its power and voice are all but deafening.
We learn, a million times over, to trust this mind.
And this is precisely why awakening is so rare for nearly all of us. And this is why I say that Trust is the final hurdle.
We must see that even the great mind is seen and it is seen in every moment, if we are open to that seeing. The challenge of awakening inevitably boils down to this pivotal question: “Do I trust my mind or can I trust open awareness?” It’s very similar to Hamlet’s immortal question, “To be or not to be? That is the question.”
The issue is not can I negate the mind?
Is there a way we can bridge this terrifying gap? Can we find the place where mind seems to end and open awareness begins?
How do we learn? How do we see what is true? The only compelling answer to that question is this: we observe. Awareness is the source of our knowledge. And for forms of knowing that elude us (say, for example the computer programming that has made the internet possible), we learn from those who have observed truth on that level of experience (which we call computer science). Thus a vast web of knowing evolves and grows.
We learn through awareness. If we could not trust this awareness, what could we ever know? This, to me, is the bridge that connects the perceived world with living, open awareness. Our aliveness is a direct and immediate outcome of awareness with mind.
Our problems and our suffering begin when our identity migrates from open awareness to a mere thought of the mind. We have never been a thought and if you observe very carefully, you will see that every manifestation of identity is all wrapped up in thought.
If nothing else, the best thought can do is to inform us who we are not. That’s the best it can do.
Can you trust the clear shining of your open awareness? That is the decisive question. Can we trust what we see in this very moment without needlessly inserting the quest for a personal identity in that seeing? Because as soon as we renew our quest for a personal identity, in that very moment we have severed trust with our primal aware being and overlaid it with our conditioned, thought-based false self.
This is why I say that trust is the final hurdle. Trusting this open awareness is very scary. It’s a kind of courageous falling backwards into space. There is no place to stand here. We are just This.
But here is where and how we can regain our power in this moment – here is where we discover the balance that can never be taken away –
We don’t abandon the mind. We just stop seeking our identity within it. And here is the part that may “blow your mind”. When we awaken into the openness uncontaminated with personal identity, we observe something that is all but miraculous. We see that what we took for “our” mind, is really just another object that seems to float unseen everywhere in the universe. The knowing that we took to be personal and part of the self, is, really, another energy thing that happens here, there, and everywhere. It belongs to know one, but is available in the moment of its seeing. The cosmic narrative that binds all things into one is the mortar of the universe and it is yours’ right now, if you can only trust this open awareness that is before anything and everything else.
As long as we fight the mind, we will be at war against ourselves and our world. What we have taken to be ‘our’ mind is the world and the universe. It is the birds and the rivers and the stories. It is all of that and so much more. It lives to be seen.
Can you trust that? Can you trust your true self, that which does not come and go?
If you take away anything from this post let it be this:
The mind naturally loves itself. When identity is attached to mind, the mind is expressed as ego. It is a normal outcome of the personal inadequacy belief. But when mind is FREE to be mind AS mind, then it can love itself AS itself. So thoughts can love themselves AS themselves – that which is heard can love itself AS itself – that which is seen can love itself AS itself – that which is felt can love itself AS itself.