Posts Tagged desire
When the mind determines that “this isn’t it”, but realization knows that “this is it”, what can we say about the difference?
First, you must know that this is very difficult to put into words. I think it might be best to speak about this difference metaphorically.
When the mind says, “this isn’t it”, that is the voice of the conditioned, personal self. But then this voice drops away, what is really happening is the dropping away of the conditioned and personal self.
The voice that says “this isn’t it” is also the voice of personal desire AND, as I have said a thousand times on this blog, until we see the compulsive force of personal desire as the flip side of one’s identification with inadequacy, we will never see the complete picture of the personal self.
Desire is the personal identification with inadequacy. Personal, self-focused desire ends when the identification with personal, self-focused inadequacy (insufficiency, worthlessness) ends. At those all too brief moments when we feel truly awakened we experience this first-hand. These moments are transitory because the underlying identification with inadequacy inevitably returns and we feel that we are back where we started.
Thus we can truly see “this is it” when the personal self fully drops away. Another way of expressing this is the final seeing through of our identification with inadequacy and the whole array of Fear-Selves that develop in its shadow signifies the return to our Authentic Being. Reading Liberation will help greatly in seeing and understanding this dynamic.
When you read these words know that they are read by the personal self and know that they are written by a personal self – but that doesn’t really matter once the identification with the personal self drops away. As long as we have a body, we will have to use a personal self. We will continue feeling passion, connection, pain, and drive – it’s just that our personal attachment with any condition will be transformed in their totality.
Quite literally, we will have died. The Buddha said that self-realization occurs when the self-cherishing thought cluster is dropped. It is dropped by no one. It just happens when the time is right.
We must grow utterly exhausted and bored with this personal self – this constant negator, the fountain of ceaseless desire. We nurture it in so many ways, but one of the most subtle ways is our “spiritual resistance” to its manifestation. So just let it be as it needs to be, but grow tired by its insistent voice. Stop nurturing it through unnecessary attention or need for it to go away.
Remember, the only difference between the Buddha and yourself is the issue of personal identification.
To me it really feels like death. The bliss of awakening requires the death of the personal self. And death means death. Total annihilation – gone.
Where the personal self is always on the hunt to get what can never be obtained, the Self of realization is always here; strong solid, yet without weight or substance.
Where the personal self is ceaselessly looking here and there and thus is always driven to say “this isn’t it” – the great Self always knows – “this is it”.
It’s easy to misinterpret this post and starting struggling to STOP everything in your experience. People get tied up in the strangest of psychological straight jackets when they try to stop the natural flow of life in the name of extreme spiritual pursuits (which are nothing different from any other project of the personal ego).
The problem is never life. The problem is that we negate our own immediate experience (when we say, “this isn’t it”). Those who seek to experience ego death believe by trying to kill everything in sight are profoundly incorrect. They are, in effect, amplifying the action of ego to a pitch that is agonizing and unnecessary.
What this post counsels is to see the expression of personal inadequacy expressed as personal desire. That is really all you need to see and know. So when we speak of ego death, we are speaking only of the death of that. But it is a vast death indeed.
It’s time to move on from what is simply false in Eastern philosophy (Buddhism, Advaita/nonduality, and some Taoism). Jesus said the truth will set you free and the whole purpose of this blog is to identify the false, so that the ineffable truth of being and life can shine forth.
1. The basic tenant of Eastern spiritual philosophy is that we are not our thoughts and feelings. We are, therefore, not who we “think” we are. So far, so good.
2. Our thoughts and feelings change, but, as these philosophies point out, there is a part of us that doesn’t change. This part is that presence that observes our passing thoughts and feelings. We are, they say, this changeless entity. Now we’re getting on some shaky ground, but let’s continue.
3. This presence, which is our true self is separate from the body/mind. It is neither born nor will it ever die. It is eternal consciousness. Here the philosophies collapse. I will try to show this below.
My experience shows that Point 1 is partly correct. Clearly, we are not our thoughts. Our thoughts, do, indeed, change. One day we “think” we love our wife/husband, then something happens and then we discover to our shame and disbelief that we now are not the one who loves this wife/husband. Life has changed completely. But we can also observe that some of our thoughts change constantly, other thoughts change only occasionally, and still others are nearly constant in our life. Within this array of change, we can detect patterns of thought and feeling. These patterns suggest an individuality that is, in fact, real. For example, I know that I love to explore issues, that with all my heart and soul I stand up for those who have been victims of unjustice, I love the music of Brahms and Mozart, etc.
Our Eastern Philosopher will say that my seemingly consistent thoughts/feelings are merely an outcome of my conditioning. They are “mere” appearances on the utterly changeless and characterless ground of being. They will further assert that this is not a theory, but the the outcome of direct experience, it is therefore not an issue of philosophy, but of direct experience. I can respond that the same is true for me. I am able to employ the power of presence, that power that is central to Eastern spiritual tradition (EST), to detect and identify these patterns. I can, therefore, make the same experiential claim. It is something I can directly observe.
But more importantly, I can also experience what is pointed to in EST and assert that the ESTer is drawing a decisive line of separation between “presence” and thought/feeling/experience, in which it is posited that one’s true identity is exclusively on one side of the experiential dimension. Our ESTer posits that Reality is the ground of experience and sensed experience (thoughts/feelings/observations) itself is mere appearance. All objects (thoughts/feelings/sensed objects) are passing and insubstantial. It is highly ironic that a philosophy that eschews separation so depends on this division, that this Maginot Line of separation is posited between one’s true identity and what is mere passing appearance. I can see the mere passing appearance of that tree just outside my window. I can look away and the tree is no longer in view (the tree ceases to exist!), but when I look back – what do I see??? – it’s remarkable, but it appears to be that same tree. Yes, the direction of sunlight might have changed a bit, but I am very sure that it’s the same true – perhaps five seconds older.
Now before moving on, let’s take a deep breath. What is the EST person really doing? Is it not possible that by labeling all sensed objects (thoughts/feelings) as mere passing appearance, he is negating his own role in this sensed life? Consider that possibility. Is this any different from the substance abuser who is also seeking to avoid the challenges of life through booze and drugs? Is this any different from the depressed person who lifts himself out of the anguish of his psychological being by adopting a zealous faith-based attitude on this life? Is this any different from the religious fanatic who believes that this life is just a preparation for the real life that begins at death and he can avoid all of the messiness and unpredictability of everyday life and dream of living an eternity in heaven?
I do not seek to judge the ESTer, but it is possible to detect a pattern in human history that revolves around the negation of everyday life – because life can be challenging, it can be complex, it calls on us to make tough decisions, it brings to light all of the empty faith-based beliefs we might cling to out of fear of the unknown. This is what life is. Wake up to its fantastic messiness. Life calls on us to be challenged. Anyone who has parented a little baby into adulthood knows this is true. Anyone in touch with their heart senses the vapid emptiness of EST.
Welcome to the challenge of your life. Make the best of it, for time is passing.
April 26th’s edition of the New York Times reported that executives of Wall Street firms are back making the unimaginable incomes they were making in the glory days of 2007.
Isn’t that great? I am very happy for them. It brings back memories.
It used to be common for middle and upper class people to complain bitterly about how people on welfare ripped off the system. They would talk about these black and brown people just “living it up” in the worn out inner cities of Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. How dare they use our precious tax dollars to buy cigarettes people would sanctimoniously scream to their local talk radio programs. How dare they go out and buy shoes for fifty bucks. These welfare queens just loved shoving their devil may care ways in our faces.
Now the tables are turned. It’s the hyper rich who are the welfare queens of our day or, actually, the Welfare Kings. But unlike those ingrates of the 60s and 70s these welfare KINGS live in the gated, regal communities of suburban Connecticut and Westchester County. Unlike those cheap fake jewelry incrusted women of the inner city, these welfare Kings of our Time show off the real stuff – $25,000 watches, SUVs that say, “I don’t give a shit about ”your“ environment.” and I can’t be bothered about hot summers in the City, I got my estate in the Hamptons. Ah the good life on federal welfare. Were it only so for all of us.
This is the world of haves and have nots. We have nots celebrate in our anger, if not our jealousy. I mean, really, how do these people get away with it?
They get away with nothing. Wake up to the American Dream!!!
They are living the American Dream and you, probably, aren’t. How does it feel my fellow American? Has the dream passed you by?
Instead of dreaming – let’s wake up.
Also notice, within awareness, that there is NOTHING TO GET! Most of us make a subtle bargain in our spiritual practice. Will do the mindfulness stuff, we’ll try to enter the void-like zone of nonduality, but we also want to GET SOMETHING out of the process. We might follow the spiritual rules, but we are still primarily identified with WANTING.
When we are identified with WANTING, we sustain our much deeper identity with inadequacy, insufficiency, and worthlessness (unlovability); the Invalidation Triad. There is no problem in that, as long as it’s recognized. We recognize it just by watching its psychological play in our lives. We don’t try to “solve” or “work-out” anything. We just watch.
So, take a walk, spend time with a friend, and open to void-like openness of awareness WITHOUT trying to get anything out of it. It’s often fun watching how the desperate ego continues to want to get something, but don’t fall for its ruse.
What does that FEEL like?
Running from Enlightenment
When we are identified with thought, we believe that we ARE the me “thinking the thoughts”. This is the path of chasing the positive and fleeing the negative or being frozen by the negative (depression/high anxiety). If we watch carefully, we can see that it is the process of believing these thoughts creates the believed concept of the “me”. This is how the ME exists. We undo the process when we start not believing the positive as positive or the negative as negative. We then take the fuel out of the power of thought and we begin disengaging our identification with it. Then presence arises; unentranced by thought and no longer believing the reality of what the ego projects as positive or negative.