Monday, November 25, 2013

The myth of permanent enlightenment. ..or beyond the gravitational pull of human conditioning.

Eloquent. This lady says it so well...

Joan Tollifson
 · 915 like this
about an hour ago · 
  • I had an email from someone recently who tells me he has been with several popular teachers who stress the notion of permanent enlightenment and who seem to suggest that they have reached a place beyond the gravitational pull of human conditioning, a place of unending awakeness—like a caterpillar that has permanently and irrevocably transformed into a butterfly. The email describes this person’s reaction to these teachings: “I feel sadness, disappointment. It seems that it is like being a caterpillar who has many tastes of butterfly-ness, a few quite pronounced, but discovers there is a powerful inner condition that keeps him primarily in slowly evolving caterpillar form.” Sound familiar? 

    I spent many years caught up in this story, feeling the same sadness, disappointment, frustration and sense of failure. On the one hand, there was often complete clarity and spacious, open, unbound presence. There was a seeing-through of the false self, and a realization that awareness is ever-present, that Here / Now is always here. There were deep and vivid glimpses of how it would be to embody and live from complete emptiness and openness, entirely free from all the heaviness and constriction of sticky thought-forms. I could taste the freedom. But then that would all be clouded over again by caught-up-ness in the story of Joan and all the things that went with that—depression, anxiety, dissatisfaction, restlessness, defensiveness, anger, addictive and compulsive behaviors, and so on. Compared to those Golden Winners who told the Butterfly Story, I seemed to be a second-rate spiritual loser, a wannabe butterfly who just couldn’t make the grade. 

    At some point, I began to notice that this story was all about me. I also began to notice that it was a story. And I saw how that story instantly created the seemingly-real appearance of permanent things, conditions and states, a picture that didn’t match my observation of how life actually is. I began to see how this story plugged into old patterns of self-doubt and giving away my own authority—putting other people up on pedestals and then feeling that I was unworthy, insufficient, lacking and imperfect. I noticed that the teachers I trusted most deeply, the ones I considered most awake, did not tell the Butterfly Story. These trusted teachers were honest in acknowledging that they could still be swept up in delusion, and they emphasized Here / Now, the present moment, the ownerless awakeness that is not mine or yours or theirs to possess. They undermined self-centered stories of lack and the search for personal perfection rather than reinforcing it. Eventually, my belief in the Butterfly Story got thinner and thinner, the ability to see it as a story when it popped up increased along with the ability to let it go rather than following it, and its grip on me gradually fell away. Not because I turned into a permanent butterfly, but because I saw what a ridiculously seductive and deceptive story this is. That story IS a form of delusion and suffering. Teachings that reinforce the Butterfly Story have become one of my major pet peeves. 

    I’m not denying that some people are more stabilized in awake presence and less caught up in delusion than others, nor am I denying that some people have sudden, dramatic awakenings or that for some there seems to be a lasting shift in which they remain grounded in awake presence, more or less free from the gravitational pull of the dream state and never again lost for very long in delusion or confusion. One person who apparently had this kind of sudden and lasting shift is Eckhart Tolle. He seems very genuine and credible to me. I have no reason to doubt his story, and his awakeness is plain to see. But to his credit, he doesn’t say that this kind of awakening is typical or necessary or better than a more gradual awakening, and his whole teaching emphasizes Here / Now and constantly undermines the story of lack or the search for perfection. So it is possible to have a dramatic and lasting shift and not teach in a way that promotes and feeds the Butterfly Story in other people. 

    Because for most of us, transformation does not happen that dramatically or that permanently, all in one explosive moment. For most of us, it is a much more gradual process with occasional peaks and valleys and many plateaus and backslides, in which we seem to get it and then lose it again, often many times in the space of a single day or a single hour. Sometimes we are completely 100% awake, and sometimes we are caught up in the me-story. Does this fluctuation ever completely end? Is it totally absent even in people such as Eckhart Tolle? (I doubt it). And even if it seemed that this fluctuation was completely gone at some point, how could anyone know with certainty that it might not be back tomorrow? And most importantly, why do we care? Does it help to think (or obsess) about how we compare to others or to ideals of perfection, and to focus our attention on what we presently lack but might one day attain? Does that thought-pattern enlighten us or sink us deeper into delusion?

    The Butterfly Story is one of the most popular versions of the me-story amongst spiritual folks, either the “I am a butterfly” story that some tell themselves or the “I am still just a miserable caterpillar” story that is more common. Another popular me-story is the “I got it, then I lost it” story. Can we see that these are stories? Can we see how they instantly reincarnate the mirage-like “me” and the mirage of linear time, the two core delusions? And to whom do these stories matter?

    Isn’t it only from the perspective of the imaginary me that it seems terribly important how “I” compare to the others or to some ideal and whether “I” am a butterfly? From the perspective of the whole, everything is included and none of it is personal. It is all the movement of life, the unfolding of consciousness, a never-ending Self-realization that is not mine or yours. So when we find ourselves caught up in the Butterfly Story, can we perhaps notice that this is a virtual reality occurring in the imagination, a creation of smoke and mirrors (i.e., thoughts, images and sensations), a mental movie…and that it all centers around “me”? How real is this “me”? 

    And what is aware of this story? What is seeing all this? Can the seer (or the seeing) itself actually be seen? Are we really a caterpillar, encapsulated inside a separate bodymind, peering out at an alien universe, desperately trying to turn into a butterfly? Or is that just a movie that has captured the attention? Can you begin to see what a joke this is?

    As people, we all have different weather conditions—different genes, different neurochemistry, different nervous systems, different personalities, different childhood experiences, and we’ve all been through different degrees of trauma. No two of us are exactly alike. We all encounter different experiences and face different challenges as we move through life. Some of us have what Eckhart Tolle would call a heavier pain-body. The inner weather is stormier, the gravitational pull of negative conditioning is stronger, the ability to rise above all this is weaker. These kinds of differences show up on brain scans as well—people struggling with addictions often have very different brain patterns from people who easily resist such temptations. These things are not personal. They are the results of nature and nurture, the infinite causes and conditions that bring forth each moment, just as it is. 

    Our suffering comes from identifying this self-image, this imaginary character at the center of the virtual reality called “The Story of My Life,” as what we are. In fact, this self-image is always changing (positive one moment, negative the next), and this bodymind person to which it refers is more of a process than a thing, and this process is completely interdependent with the whole universe—no person (no bodymind) can exist apart from the whole—life is actually one, seamless, undivided whole happening. The separations are notional like the lines on a map between different countries. The person is an activity of the whole universe, and each person contains the whole universe. This activity we call a person is only a small part of what we truly are. We are the wholeness of being that includes the person and the awareness beholding it all—the indivisible, all-inclusive, unborn, deathless unicity from which nothing stands apart. 

    But we forget. Attention gets swept up in the story of being little old me, the lost caterpillar. Or in some cases, we get swept up in the opposite story of being ME, the Enlightened Butterfly! Either way, this is delusion. Enlightenment is simply seeing delusion as delusion. Not once and for all, not yesterday, not someday, but NOW. 

    The wholeness of being, aware presence, Here / Now is never not here. Only IN the story do we SEEM to be somebody (a separate, persisting entity) who is “getting it” and then “losing it,” a caterpillar who hopes to one day be a butterfly. In awakeness, there is no owner of awakeness (or of delusion), and awakeness has no problem with caterpillars, pain-bodies, stormy weather systems, or moments of delusion. These are problematic only from the perspective of the me who takes it all personally as “my” success or failure, my identity. Awareness accepts it all, beholds it all, allows it all to be as it is, allows it to come and go. Awareness is not bound or encapsulated. It has no owner. It is the groundless ground, the no-thing-ness of everything, the freedom at the heart of every moment. It is what Here / Now IS.

    I still experience depression, anxiety, dissatisfaction, restlessness, defensiveness, anger, addictive and compulsive behaviors, and many moments of being caught up in the story of Joan. I am often lost in delusion. Many of the finest and most honest teachers will tell you exactly the same thing, because the more awakeness there is, the more clearly delusion is seen, and the more subtle the layers of delusion that come to light. “Delusions are inexhaustible,” as the Buddhist chant says. There is no end to delusion. And the good news is, delusion is not some terrible enemy. It is the mud that nurtures the lotus, the grit that creates the pearl. Our darkest struggles are often the greatest source of our love, compassion, humor and wisdom. Darkness and light, up and down are inseparable polarities in the dance of life, the wild ride with all its twists and turns that seems to be forever going somewhere but is actually always Here / Now. 

    What has changed in my experience is not that I no longer experience darkness, but that I’m no longer chasing after the myth of permanent enlightenment or bemoaning the fact that I’m still human. I’m not saying there is no enlightenment, only that it isn’t personal and it’s not a permanent attainment. There continues to be a natural interest here in seeing through delusion, clearing up what is confused, and waking up to the joy, love and freedom Here / Now. But it is a never-ending process, a never-ending Self-realization. And I know the answer is not “out there.” It’s right here. And I know beyond a doubt that it’s not about “me” crossing the finish-line and becoming perfect. That very idea is itself delusion. 

    Would I like to be as free from the gravitational pull of the dream state as people such as Eckhart Tolle and Adyashanti seem to be? Happily, that question no longer seems relevant or meaningful. In once sense, yes, my greatest aspiration and deepest vow is to be awake. Not to be awake forever (for I recognize that as delusion), and not to be awake like somebody else—because each of us is a unique and perfect expression—but to be awake NOW. Am I sometimes making a choice, not yet fully conscious or avoidable, to sink back into delusion and compulsion instead? Yes, that would be one way to describe what happens here (and for many other people). 

    But I see that this pull into the dream state can only undo itself in its own time, and that what matters is this moment, not some mental fabrication about how I rank on the spiritual ladder of success (how I compare to Eckhart or Adya or Ramana or Jesus or anybody else). And who knows, maybe by not being a spiritual gold medalist, I am able to offer something to others that the gold medalists cannot offer. Because not every Olympic athlete wins a gold medal, no matter how hard they train or how dedicated they are, so if we see this as a race or a competition, and if what matters is winning the gold, it’s a set-up for failure and disappointment. But if we can enjoy the event itself and simply do our best, moment to moment, we actually have a better chance of “winning,” and when we don’t win, it’s perfectly okay. Recognizing my True Self as the larger event and the unbound awareness beholding it all, I am all the winners and all the losers and the Whole Show, and I am that which is here prior to the show and that which remains long after the show is finished—and so are you! And what is that? THIS: Here / Now.

    So if the story of being a caterpillar longing to be a butterfly grabs you like a good movie and takes you for a wild ride through the darkness of despair and discouragement, maybe you will stop and wonder, is this movie for real? Am I really a caterpillar (or an athlete in the spiritual Olympics, or somebody on a long journey)? Am I really lost? Is anything really lacking Here / Now? 

    As Toni Packer once said: “Enlightenment? How lethal it is to attach a label. Then you become somebody. At the moment of labeling, aliveness freezes into a concept. ‘My enlightenment experience!’ To be alive, fully alive, means flowing without hindrance—a vulnerable flow of aliveness with no resistance…Without needing to think about ‘myself’—what I am, what I will be. Our craving for experiences is a resistance to simply being here now. It’s such a relief to realize we don’t have to be anything.”

    I’m also reminded here of Kabir, who said of the Holy Reality at the heart of everything: “Kabir saw that for fifteen seconds, and it made him a servant for life.” His focus was on the blessing of what had been given rather than on the sorrow of what was missing. He was seeing the glass half-full rather than half-empty—living in gratitude for the extraordinary gift of even a brief glimpse rather than bemoaning the fact that it lasted “only” fifteen seconds. Kabir celebrated the dance in its entirety. He didn’t need to personally be a gold medalist in order to sing his ecstatic songs and live in service to what had been glimpsed.

    Waking up doesn’t take time. Nothing is really in the way. The problems and obstacles are all imaginary. The Spiritual Olympic Games are imaginary. The caterpillar is imaginary and so is the butterfly. The “you” who seems to be one or the other is also imaginary. It is only a mental image, a passing thought, an old story. Instead of thinking about “me” and what “I” lack, what “I” don’t have, is it possible to wake up right now to the simple fact of being present, being aware, being Here / Now? THIS is where the juice is (the enlightenment, the Holy Reality, the light, the joy, the freedom). 

    We can’t grasp the light. We can only BE it. And we can SEE (and see through) what seems to get in the way. We can see the caterpillar story as it pops up, and we can question, is this story really true? Is the one at the center of this drama even real? That doesn’t mean we pick up the opposite story that “I am an enlightened butterfly.” It means discovering what is beyond all the stories, what is beholding the stories, what is present right here, right now, unstained by any story but not separate either…this awaring presence, this shining light, this radiant open heart, this undeniable awakeness that is right here, most intimate, and everywhere, inescapable, all-inclusive.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

a Haiku on Conditioning...

Words are amazing,
The sound of thoughts happening.
Wonder Full effects.

If you are not yet 'awakened', then treat this as a koan.
If you are awakened, then treat this as a koan.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Direct Experience

This is possibly the shortest route to Enlightenment/Awakening...
Direct Experiencing by Neil Jalaldeen
The most important catalyst for triggering Awakening to no-self is to investigate our Direct Experience. Direct Experience is what is noticed, here and now.
We can skilfully divide d.E., for the purposes of investigation, into 3 main aspects:
1) thought

2) sensations
seeing
hearing
smelling
tasting
feeling [tactile + kinesthetic)

3) an unmistakable sense of Aliveness / Existence
(presence, being)

The illusion of separation is maintained by a stream of self referencing thoughts that are based on past conditioning. The most common reference point is a thought-created center referred to as "I" / "me" / "self". There is no such center, and those self-labels refer only to other thoughts, or to some aspect of Experience.

By referring to d.E., one is able to deconstruct any assumptions of separation or self, and see that there is just an Experience. There may be thoughts about Experience that conceptually divide certain aspects of Experience into a "me" and other aspects into "the outside world", yet those thoughts are also just a part of Experience, and as such there is ONLY Experience.

There is an assumption that there is an experience-er that experiences. This is propagated by a belief, as expressed by a thought such as "I experience". We investigate this in d.E. by looking for this "I". Is there a separate "I", or is there just an Experience that thought conceptually divides as such: "I" + "what is experienced"?

There is an assumption that there is a perceive-er that perceives. This is propagated by a belief, as expressed by a thought such as "I am the perceiver". We investigate this in d.E. by looking for this perceiver. We can see that there is no such thing as a perceiver, just a perception and thought dividing it in to an "I" + "body" + "perception through the senses".
A sound is heard, then there is a thought "I hear a sound". We can investigate and see that there is no hearer of sounds, just sound. If there is something felt and assumed to be the hearer, or self, is it anything more than some other sensations? or that sense of Aliveness? or another thought?

"I feel my body against the chair" a thought says. So, we investigate d.E. and see that there are sensations that are habitually labelled "body" and other sensations we refer to as "feeling of chair against body". When we investigate where this "I" is that claims these sensations, it cannot be found, as there is either another self-referencing thought, some sensations or another aspect of Experience.

We can pick up an object, and look at it. We might say "I am looking at the object". We then test this conclusion to see if it correlates with d.E., and what we find is that there is a sensation of seeing, and maybe some sensations that we usually label 'head' or 'eyes', or even other feeling-sensations labelled "body". A thought may arise with the conclusion that these are inherently separate, and that one is "self" and the other is "what is observed". When we test this out we see that there is never an "I" looking, never a watcher, never a seer. There is only seeing, only feeling, only Experiencing. We can say that it is simply Experience experiencing itself.

We look deeply in to Experience, and see that the assumptions of separation, self, "I", perceive-er or an experience-er are just references to Experience. There is never an actual separate object, just the perception of such, and thoughts labeling it. We deconstruct all these assumptions of there being a watcher, or a looker, or a hearer, and find that there is only Experience, never an actual separate self.
Is it possible there is just Experience, with no separate experience-er?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What is Real in this moment ?


Nothing is Real except the current experiencing.
LOOK for yourself. 
Is there anything other than what you are experiencing, that is not thought about it?  
It is just a thought product. Story. 
The thought itself is Real, but what it is about is just concept. Mind product.
These stories may or may not predict the Real. This can only be revealed when actually experiencing what they were about. How often does the thoughts about something turn out to be different ?

Thought streams (stories) may be divided into practical, useful, stories and everything else.
Everything else might include stories that are entertainment. These would be seen for the fiction that they are, and simply enjoyed. 
Then there are those thought stories that cause suffering.
What is suffering ?
Is it always the result of responding to thought ?
Certainly the emotional reaction to these stories are Real
When there is Recognition of which kind of thought has arisen, and this recognition happens habitually (eventually, it happens in the background), Happiness is expressed. (habitually) 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013

There is only THIS !

There is only THIS !
What is THIS, you ask.
Thought.
Thought emerging from mystery. Uncontrolled. At least uncontrolled consciously.
This is easily tested.
If you think that you can control thoughts, then stop the ones that cause suffering or the ones that you don't want, or the stupid, rubbish ones. If you think that you can do this, then go back to your reality tv. This blog is not for you.
So, what are thoughts ?
A story here is that they are the description/expression of perception. (more on this in a moment)
Thoughts might also be more than this. They might be, hmm, let's think about this... they might be..
Hmm, i'll get back to this, as i can't think of any exceptions at the moment.
Can perception happen without thoughts ?
What is perception ?
Ha, it's one of those nouns that's not a thing. There is only perceiving. It can only exist as a verb.
OK, so what is perceiving ?
If i break the word down using common sense before going to the dictionary, i would say it consists of 'per' and 'ceiving'. 'ceiving' as in re-ceiving or taking in, obtaining. 'Per' as in 'by' or context. OK, let's go to the dictionary..
Wiki says;
Perception (from the Latin perceptio, percipio) is the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the environment.[1] All perception involves signals in the nervous system, which in turn result from physical stimulation of the sense organs.[2] For example, vision involves light striking the retinas of the eyes, smell is mediated by odor molecules and hearing involves pressure waves. Perception is not the passive receipt of these signals, but can be shaped by learning, memory, and expectation.[3][4] Perception involves these "top-down" effects as well as the "bottom-up" process of processing sensory input.[4] The "bottom-up" processing is basically low-level information that's used to build up higher-level information (e.g., shapes for object recognition). The "top-down" processing refers to a person's concept and expectations (knowledge) that influence perception. Perception depends on complex functions of the nervous system, but subjectively seems mostly effortless because this processing happens outside conscious awareness.[2]

Dictionary.com says;
per·cep·tion [per-sep-shuhn]
noun
1.
the act or faculty of perceiving, or apprehending by means of the senses or of the mind; cognition; understanding.
2.
immediate or intuitive recognition or appreciation, as of moral, psychological, or aesthetic qualities; insight; intuition; discernment: an artist of rare perception.
3.
the result or product of perceiving, as distinguished from the act of perceiving; percept.
4.
Psychology . a single unified awareness derived from sensory processes while a stimulus is present.

Origin:
1350–1400; Middle English percepcioun  (< Old French percepcïon ) < Latin perceptiōn-  (stem of perceptiō ) comprehension, literally, a taking in. See percept, -ion
 
There is a gross presumption here (in language and the definitions above) that what is being perceived is coming in, from outside.
Coming back to the beginning of this post, There is only THIS !, then of course there is no outside or inside separate, as everything that exists as Real, only exists as its' perceiving. (and perceiving can only exist as it's description/expression, thought.)
Does anything exist before perception ?
Not for this organism. No. 
Oh, i can have a story about, let's say the Pacific ocean, but it can only exist as an idea until i am experiencing it. 
Ha, that means that it is the story about it that exists, and i am perceiving the story, not the actual ocean.
Well, that brings us back to the beginning. There is only THIS ! (thoughts about what i am currently perceiving)
 

Friday, July 26, 2013

more Joan Tollifson.

This lady says it so well !
When we speak of giving complete, nonjudgmental attention to the present moment, accepting what is and allowing it to be as it is, or when we say everything is perfect as it, this is sometimes misunderstood. No one is saying we shouldn’t identify problems (a flat tire, global warming, alcohol addiction, a broken bone), or that we shouldn’t imagine, seek out, or work to bring about constructive solutions—if we are so moved. ALL of that is part of this seamless and all-inclusive happening. The acceptance that is being pointed to is absolutely immediate—right here, right now, not a second or a minute from now—and the perfection of what is INCLUDES not only the problems but also the noticing of problems, the impulse to fix and heal things, and the actions that emerge from those impulses. 

It may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s actually deeply healing and transformative to simply attend to and fully accept the way things are right now in this moment (the tire is flat, the ice caps are melting, I was unable to resist having this 4th drink, my leg is in pain and I can’t walk). That doesn’t mean life won’t move us to seek a solution in the next moment. It means that right now, in this instant, we’re simply seeing and acknowledging the reality of how life actually IS. And when there is simply awareness—without thought, we can’t even say that “the tire is flat” or “the ice caps are melting,” because even that is an abstraction and a story—the bare actuality is prior to thought. It is pure sensation—energy—vibration—not those words, but the living actuality to which they point. That living actuality has no plotline, no central character, no past or future. And out of that simple awareness or nonjudgmental acceptance, intelligent action (or non-action) arises. We may change the tire, join a movement to stop climate change, go into a recovery program, or go to the hospital to have our broken leg attended to. (Or we might do something completely different—there is no single, correct “intelligent action”).

If we pay attention, we can perhaps notice the difference between the bare awaring of what is—simple, open, nonjudgmental attention—and the movement of thought (labeling, evaluating, judging, analyzing, story-telling). We’re not saying thought is bad or suggesting that we should strive to be entirely free of thinking—thought has its place—we’re simply noticing the difference between thinking and awaring. Awareness isn’t seeking a solution or passing judgment—it is simply AWARE. It accepts everything and resists nothing. It beholds everything equally. It has no agenda. It is nondual, meaning that in awareness, there is no separation between awareness and content—we have different words for purposes of communicating, but EXPERIENTIALLY (in awareness without thought), awareness/content is one whole, undivided, seamless happening. There is no separation.

Dualism is a creation of thought. It only exists notionally or conceptually. Thought divides, reifies, categorizes, compares, evaluates and strategizes. It creates the illusory (conceptual) division between “me” and “my problem.” (Or between subject and object, or awareness and content). If we’re “trying to be aware,” or “doing acceptance” or “being aware SO THAT THE PROBLEM WILL GO AWAY,” that’s not bare awareness, that’s the movement of thought, operating from an agenda. At the center of that agenda is the thought-sense of “me,” the one with a problem. Bare awareness is undivided, whole, empty of self. It simply SEES what is, without separation. There is no owner of awareness. 

Awareness has an intelligence that thought does not have. Awareness is alive and unconditioned, whereas thought is mechanical and conditioned. When there is resistance to how life actually is, when we are caught up in idealistic notions of how it “should” and “should not” be, the actions that arise from those habitual patterns of thought tend to repeat the same old grooves again and again. (Of course, that too is all the happening of life itself and in that moment could not be otherwise). If we think about all this, it may get confusing, but if we rely on actual, direct experience—awareness rather than thought—everything clarifies itself. 

Thought is a story-teller. It creates narratives. It comes up with stories and then forgets they are fictional. It tells stories like, "I’m a hopeless case because of my traumatic past, doomed to a life of addiction and depression, and I’ll never be able to have the spiritual experiences other people have because I’m too traumatized,” and we BELIEVE these stories that the mind has concocted out of thin air. They SEEM very believable—just the way the story and the characters in a movie seem real. We think there really IS a “me” who has been traumatized and who is now hopelessly doomed as a result. But the truth is, this “me” and the whole “story of my life” is a creation of smoke and mirrors. And it doesn’t really matter whether what appears Here / Now is expanded or contracted, tense or relaxed, bright or dull, pleasant or unpleasant. None of it is personal—it has no owner, no author—and ALL of it is the happening of life.

Taking the things in our lives that appear problematic personally, turning them into an identity and giving them meaning is a form of suffering, as is fighting them and trying to get rid of them. With my fingerbiting compulsion that still flares up, for example, I no longer believe this compulsion means something about me—that "I'm a spiritual failure" or “a real loser,” as I used to believe. I've come to genuinely accept that this compulsion may continue to show up periodically for the rest of my life, and I'm at peace with that possibility. It might end forever in the next instant. But it doesn’t matter either way. Yes, if it ended, that would be more pleasant for me, but life is not always pleasant. And I notice that when there is AWARENESS of fingerbiting—awareness without any overlay of thought, which could also be called total acceptance—that it isn’t even “fingerbiting” anymore. It is simply energy, movement, sensation—no-thing in particular. When the compulsion happens, it is a tense, unpleasant, contracted experience. But I no longer have some idea that “I” (this character) must be perpetually relaxed and open and blissful. The true I, which is Life Itself, has no problem with contraction, tension, depression, anxiety or dis-ease. It includes everything. 

There's always only this ever-present, ever-changing Here / Now, however it is. And the more desire and push there is to have special or different or better experiences, or the more regret and hopelessness over not having them, the more likely they are to evade us...sort of like what happens when we try really hard to fall asleep while simultaneously thinking about all the ways a sleepless night will ruin our life. In the end, experiences are just experiences...whether it is an experience of contraction or an experience of expansion. And no experience is there all the time. Magnificent experiences pass away and really don’t mean anything.

I remember in the Feldenkrais training I did some years back, sometimes they would suggest bringing attention to some part of the body, and at first, I'd be completely unable to sense anything in that place...it was a total dead zone. But over time, with relaxed attention, I could begin to sense something there, however slight. Or they'd suggest a movement that at first seemed impossible but eventually became possible. And even if the dead zone remains dead and the movement never becomes possible, what difference does it make, really?

Some people report dramatic experiences of intense kundalini energy coursing through their bodies and shooting out the tops of their heads. For years, I was never really sure what they were talking about—it sounded like some important mark of a truly enlightened being that I obviously didn't have. Yes, I could feel a kind of energetic vibration or tingling in certain parts of the body if I paid attention, but nothing as remotely dramatic as what many people seemed to describe. And then once during a massage I was receiving, for a few minutes, I felt powerful rivers of energy gushing through my body. It was quite amazing. “Wow!” I said to the person working on me, "This is what people talk about!” And she said, "Yes, this is what it's all about—energy." It has never happened again, not ever. I remember Wayne Liquorman telling a similar story, describing how he was meditating once, and he felt this huge surge of energy come rushing up his spine and shoot out the top of his head....and he was like, Wow!!! Fantastic!!!....and the next day, he sits down in meditation excitedly waiting for a repeat performance, and it never happens again, not ever. Experiences are just experiences. They come and go and they don't really mean anything. But many people in the spiritual world become experience junkies, endlessly seeking spiritual highs or trying to recapture moments of peace, unity, ecstasy or expanded consciousness. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying such experiences when they happen, but chasing them is really no better than getting hooked on drugs or getting drunk. Whatever comes will always go away again. Experiences are by nature impermanent and fleeting.

People often tell me they’ve never had the experience of unboundedness that I seem to be describing. I’m guessing they ARE having this experience all the time, but they are simply overlooking it because it's so ordinary...nothing special. Waking up is really just about noticing the wholeness, the seamlessness, the fluidity that is often overlooked in favor of our more habitual focus of attention on some particular, discrete object—and our habitual focus on thought rather than on perception. And the noticing that I’m speaking about isn’t some spectacular psychedelic event in which we see or experience or grasp wholeness as an object—this but not that. It’s very simple, very ordinary. Seeing IS the wholeness—whatever the content or form it is taking. And that seeing (or awaring) is happening right now. It is the registering of this present happening, jut as it is. And the registering is not separate from the happening. It is one, nondual, seamless, all-inclusive whole.

Life can only appear in polarities, but the polar opposites (contraction and expansion, tension and relaxation, agony and bliss, light and dark, enlightenment and delusion, good and bad, birth and death) are not opposing forces in conflict with each other—a conflict in which one will eventually defeat the other, as we often tend to think—but rather, they are interrelated and interdependent aspects of one whole harmonious arising. Enlightenment is not about “me” being permanently expanded, relaxed and blissed out. It is the recognition that nothing is separate, that everything is included, that there is only THIS and that no “thing” (including “me”) has any actual substance. There is only impermanence, which sounds scary if we still think there are “things” that are impermanent. But this impermanence is so thorough-going that no-thing ever even forms to be impermanent. Can you sense the freedom, the joy, the cosmic giggle? (If you can't, don't worry, it doesn't matter). 

Every apparent person is an ever-changing dance inseparable from everything else in the universe. And no two dances are exactly alike. We each have a totally unique part to play in the Great Dance of Life. At times, our different roles seem to clash and conflict (those on the political left vs. those on the political right, the so-called 1% vs. the so-called 99%, investment bankers vs. spiritual renunciates, vegetarians vs. carnivores, Buddhists vs. Advaitans, radical feminists vs. religious fundamentalists, soldiers vs. pacifists). But the apparent clash and conflict is all in perfect, interdependent harmony at a deeper level. Liberation might be described as the ability to play our particular part—dance our unique dance—to the fullest while not losing sight of the larger context, the unicity that includes it all. Then we can express our opinions and do whatever life moves us to do, but without imagining that the whole drama (or the whole universe) is quite as serious (or as substantial and permanent) as it often seems to be, or that the forces of good should (or will) eventually triumph over the forces of evil. We see that no-thing is really happening in the way we think it is. We may still experience pain, illness, disability, loss, contraction, compulsion, depression or anxiety—but it no longer seems like a personal insult or a personal failing. It is simply the ever-changing texture of life—an inexplicable, unavoidable, ungraspable, indivisible, fluid happening

Monday, June 3, 2013

A question was asked; "Are you Enlightened?"

Hi Friend.
Language is by nature dualistic. (subject and object)
Language is the expression of thought, and as such is designed to be understood by mind (thoughts).
Enlightenment is a word used to describe the indescribable.
Enlightenment is (perhaps) the Recognition of something that mind can never understand. It is like the eyeball trying to see itself. 
What is recognised was always there. 
A portal to this discovery, is the Recognition of what obscures it. A delusion. The illusion of a personal self, an I/me. This illusion creates the delusion that there is an actual self running the show. There isn't. (if you are burning for this, i will happily guide you to SEE it for yourself)
Given that the I doesn't exist, no being can say with technical accuracy "I am Enlightened" - there is no I, to be Enlightened. (i actually prefer the word liberation, as in liberated from the delusion. 
The experiencing here is certainly no finished state. Perhaps from a Buddhist' perspective, it might be more accurately described as Stream Entry. (it's all actually irrelevant except for the purpose of communication)
As for "ego", (depending on what you mean by that word) it still exists, but is no longer 'running the show'. LIke a raincoat, it is useful in certain circumstances. It is not an enemy and never was. It was just like an out of control child and just needs boundaries.
You ask "who is the one taking all the actions and thinking and seeing."
The underlying presumption here is that there must be a "who" or "what" to take the actions. Where is Akash when his body is in deep sleep ? 
There is a body. There is breathing happening. No 'self' doing it.
Try this; Look at your left hand. Move it a little. 
Was there an I doing the moving ? or did it just move ?

To be a seeker, and having no idea or understanding of what you are truly seeking is a distinct advantage over those that 'think' that they know what they can't yet know.
Perhaps everybody that is still stuck in the delusion is seeking 'home'. They know that something is wrong, even if they don't know exactly what.
Perpetual bliss is definitely a story, but the discovery here is that happiness and a knowing that everything is OK, is the default 'state' for humans being.

love

vince

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Can the world be a better place?

How to tell the world,
it can be a better place?
Of course there's no need.

How to tell myself,
That nothing needs to be fixed.
Of course there's no need.

How to understand,
That the need is only thought.
That thought is just thought.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

This inquiry...

This from Annette Nibley;
"What now? Can I tell you how to find out that you are not real? At this moment, nothing like that is arising, but perhaps it will. I don't think it's possible to tell another person how to begin or conduct this inquiry. Yours is unique, it is intimate. It is your business. What you need will come to you when you need it.

If I offer a pointer, it assumes that you are "ready" to hear it like I was when I met John Wheeler. Otherwise, you'll just continue the way you are going, and you'll distort my words into something that fits your existing mental view. But just in case you really are done with looking to your mind for solutions, this would be a solid pointer:

Ask, Am I real? Look for no other information. Ask no other questions. Find out if you are real - that's all. If you are not real, then the boundary between you and the source of all life is not really there, is it? If the boundary between you and the source of all life is not really there, then you would notice yourself as the source of all life, wouldn't you?"

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A string of Haiku, a story to tell...

A place i see, that's now,
maybe for just a moment.
This Haiku to share.

NoWhere, EveryWhere.
NoWhen, All of time is Now.
What IS Now, is ALL.

My Reality
and the worlds Reality
are the same you SEE.

There's no world, no me,
there's just experiencing.
That's Reality.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

The paradox of searching...

UG Krishnamurti. The Mystique of Enlightenment - page 7;

Q: You think, Sir, that it is not the result of the search? I ask because I have heard that you studied philosophy, that you were associated with religious people ...
UG: You see, the search takes you away from yourself -- it is in the opposite direction -- it has absolutely no relation.
Q: In spite of it, it has happened, not because of it?
UG: In spite of it -- yes, that's the word. All that you do makes it impossible for what already is there to express itself. That is why I call this 'your natural state'. You're always in that state. What prevents what is there from expressing itself in its own way is the search. The search is always in the wrong direction, so all that you consider very profound, all that you consider sacred, is a contamination in that consciousness. You may not (Laughs) like the word 'contamination', but all that you consider sacred, holy and profound is a contamination.
So, there's nothing that you can do. It's not in your hands. I don't like to use the word 'grace', because if you use the word 'grace', the grace of whom? You are not a specially chosen individual; you deserve this, I don't know why.
If it were possible for me, I would be able to help somebody. This is something which I can't give, because you have it. Why should I give it to you? It is ridiculous to ask for a thing which you already have. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Joan Tollifson on 'Enlightenment'


Here is a grab of a Facebook post by Joan T, that points to some pretty big 'issues' regarding the myth of 'liberation'.

A question was posed to me yesterday. The person wrote: “Joan, in your interview with Rick Archer, you said that sometimes you identify as a person when, for example, hurt or anger arise. You also said you've never met anyone for whom the identification with the person has dropped away ‘forever.’ Tony Parsons says that for ‘him,’ there is no longer any sense of a person, and that it's clear that in ‘his’ body-mind, no personal identification will arise again. He also says that ‘he’ experiences no localization of consciousness. Would you be interested in addressing these points of confusion?”

Here is my response:

However we try to express this, it never quite comes out right because no words can re-present the actuality of Here / Now. The truth is that there IS no separate, independent, persisting person who is angry or hurt or misidentified as a person or for whom the sense of being a person is not happening anymore. In reality, these are ALL impersonal experiences happening to no one. Unicity is all there is.

It is very hard to speak of nonduality and so-called enlightenment or awakening or liberation without inadvertently reinforcing the illusion of the separate self or the illusion that enlightenment is some kind of permanent experience or personal achievement extended over an infinite duration in time. I don’t remember what I said in that interview or what I was trying to express at that moment, and I can’t speak for Tony Parsons, but here’s what I can say now about the underlying issues.

I spent many years comparing one person’s account and description of enlightenment with anothers, and then comparing my experience to theirs, and thinking that there was some final breakthrough I still needed to have—some experiential state that needed to be constantly present, or some illusion that needed to fall away forever and never return. I imagined myself going back and forth between clarity (aka nirvana, expanded energy, pleasure, success, identification as boundless unicity) and confusion (aka samsara, contracted energy, suffering, failure, identification as Joan), trying to stabilize permanently in clarity and banish confusion once and for all.

Eventually, it became clear that this entire concern was all about the imaginary “me” and how “I” was doing in some mythical battle between what I viewed as irreconcilable polar opposites. It became clear that the whole problem I was trying to solve was imaginary, as was the “one” who was supposedly going back and forth. The polar opposites were recognized as inseparable aspects of one interrelated and interdependent whole that was inescapable and unavoidable. The concern with “my enlightenment” (or lack of it) fell away—in my case, not in some big, dramatic, explosive event, but gradually and imperceptibly (and always only Now).

I suspect that in that interview, I was trying to make the point that there is no enlightened person, and that there is no such thing as a perpetual EXPERIENCE of expansion and pleasure and clarity. All apparent form is nothing but continuous change, so it is only as a concept (a mental abstraction) that any form (such as a person or an experience) seems to exist and persist as a separate and enduring “thing.” Consciousness is not encapsulated inside some imaginary form; Consciousness IS form, and form is actually empty of form (impermanence is so thorough-going that nothing forms to BE impermanent). NOW is the only eternity there is, so “forever after” is always a story.

So-called enlightenment points to the falling away (or seeing through) of the illusion of separation and encapsulation, and the recognition of the all-inclusive and seamless Totality from which nothing stands apart. This recognition isn’t an experience that someone has. It isn’t something that happens TO the imaginary fragment. What seemingly falls away was never really there to begin with—it was an imaginary problem. Instead, we often imagine that liberation means that “I” will abide “forever” in some experiential state of consciousness called “nirvana,” from which “I” will never return. But liberation is actually the dissolution of that whole picture.

Liberation is the realization that Totality INCLUDES the mirage-like experience of apparent separation and encapsulation; nothing is excluded from the wholeness of being. Liberation is the total embrace of samsara and the willingness to be in hell forever. It is the discovery that Nirvana is Here / Now, and that samsara IS nirvana. It is the recognition that NO experience is actually personal, whether it is an experience of separation and contraction or an experience of expansion and unity. And by not being personal, I mean that no one brings it about and no one possesses it. There is no owner, no author, no experiencer apart from the experiencing. There is simply THIS – the undivided totality of being.

When there is anger or hurt appearing Here / Now (and I’m speaking here of psychological anger or hurt, attached to a story of some kind), when that is happening here, the story in question always seems predicated upon and tangled up with the mirage-like illusion of being a separate somebody who feels hurt or threatened. I’m guessing that’s what I meant if I said that sometimes I identify as a person when hurt or anger arise. But there isn’t really “somebody” who identifies as a person—and not because Joan Tollifson’s “somebody” has been successfully eliminated in some Enlightenment Triumph, but because there never IS a separate, independent, persisting self to begin with—it is ALWAYS only a mirage.

The appearance of contraction and separation NEVER means that there really IS a separate self to whom ANY of this is happening. And although the structure of language is always suggesting otherwise, it is never the case that a separate self called Joan is identifying as Joan, or that a separate self called Tony has permanently lost his false self. And whether some kind of passing emotional upset (or inner stormy weather) seems to happen more frequently for Joan Tollifson than it does for Tony Parsons is of no concern here. It’s not personal either way. ALL of the weather (inner and outer) is an appearance in and of the wholeness of being (Presence, Awareness, Consciousness, Here / Now, the Tao, the One Self, this undivided present happening, just as it is).

Enlightenment is not a special experience that happens “to somebody,” but rather, it is the discovery that the nondual absolute is equally present as EVERY experience, even the passing sense of being somebody. The nondual absolute, the wholeness of being, the One Self has no boundaries, no seams, no limits, and no other. It is all there is, and all there is, is this.

Tony still answers if you call his name, and I assume that he can still discern the difference between his finger and the carrot he is chopping up for lunch, so obviously he continues to have a functional sense of identity as a particular bodymind. Does he ever get irritated or defensive or miffed or anxious (as Joan does)—in other words, is there ever any kind of momentary entrancement in the mirage of separation, or is that entirely absent? What difference does it make either way?

For Consciousness Itself, there is no end to being tricked and mesmerized and fooled, again and again. Only from the vantage point of the character (the illusory self-image), does it seem to matter whether “I” still get fooled sometimes, or whether “I” get fooled more or less often than somebody else. ALL experiences come and go—experiences of expansion and experiences of contraction. Unicity (the nondual absolute) is not a particular experience (this but not that); it is EVERY experience. Even the APPARENT misunderstanding is nothing other than unicity appearing as misunderstanding.

To speak about this at all, we have to use words, and whatever we say, it ends up being easily misunderstood. Language is used casually, spoken off the cuff, maybe carelessly at times, and then it winds up being scrutinized—sentences are taken out of the larger context, taken literally, put under the microscope, compared to other sentences, sometimes misheard or misquoted—and soon, confusion abounds. Plus, this whole subject of enlightenment has been so greatly mystified, idealized and misunderstood over so many centuries that it is hard not to be confused.

What is actually being pointed to (I would say by both Tony Parsons and myself) is not some special achievement, but rather, the all-inclusive, ever-present, unavoidable and thus unattainable natural state Here / Now (the stateless state, the groundless ground, the One Reality) that is appearing as you and me and tables and chairs and Facebook posts and the whole movie of waking life. Unicity is never not here. It is never not attained. It is all there is. It is a never-ending Self-realization.

But don’t take on any of this as a new belief. Instead, look and see. In your actual direct experience right now, can you locate an actual boundary where “inside of you” turns into “outside of you” – where “subject” ends and “object” begins? Can you actually FIND any such boundary in direct perception? Is Here / Now (Consciousness Itself, this present experiencing) localized anywhere? Doesn’t it take thought to conjure up some IDEA like “it’s happening in my brain” or to form an image of some boundary line such as “my skin” between “in here” and “out there”? If we cut open your brain, will we find this presently appearing Facebook page or this room you are sitting in? Where IS all of this happening?

“No localization of consciousness” is not some strange mystical experience that “you” have never had and that Tony Parsons is having “all the time” and that Joan Tollifson is only having “some of the time.” That is how thought interprets what has been said by Tony and by Joan (and by many others trying to express the inexpressible). But you might notice right now that in your own direct present moment experiencing, this awaring presence Here / Now is unlocatable, ungraspable, and yet utterly unavoidable. This present happening is magnificently diverse and varied but also seamless and boundless. It is without division and empty of self. (And that doesn’t mean I forget my name or lose all sense of being Joan, or that defensiveness or feeling hurt might not arise here).

Here’s another bit from my book, Painting the Sidewalk with Water: Talks and Dialogs about Nonduality (p 57):

“We try to zero in on ‘unicity’ as an experience. And we feel very frustrated because we keep seeing chairs and tables and different people, and so we wonder, where’s the unicity, where’s the boundless emptiness? All we’re seeing is chairs and tables. Unicity shouldn’t look like this! Or maybe we think we’ve got it, but as you may have noticed, that thought leads almost instantly to the opposite thought, ‘Oh, no! I’ve lost it.’ Any EXPERIENCE that we identify as unicity will go. If it came, it will go. It may stay for a minute, for an hour, or for a decade. But it WILL go. And then suddenly there's a different experience, that pesky dualistic ‘me’ experience again. And then the thought, ‘I’ve lost unicity. I’ve fallen out of the Now. My spiritual ship has sunk!’ Very disappointing, very humiliating.

“The mind can get very confused trying to THINK its way through all this and figure it out, but what's here right now is utterly simple.”

And this is Tony Parsons, from his book All There Is (p 231):

“There is no such thing as an awakened person; that’s a contradiction in terms…So let’s say there is just being and ‘me’-ing…If those so-called enlightened people were honest, they would probably say to you that…there can still be a contraction into ‘me’-ing, but the final liberation is that anything is accepted and everything is accepted; nothing is denied. So both are now seen as one…There is being, but contraction can happen. It happens within the perception of the whole. Anything can happen because this is liberation…Liberation includes the total acceptance of all that is.”

Sounds to me like Tony and I are saying the same thing! For the record, I’ve always loved Tony, and as far as I know, the only significant difference in our expression is that he more consistently holds the line on uncompromising, absolute, radical nonduality, while I might be talking about meditation or quoting Thich Nhat Hanh in my next breath. I also find that some of the ways Tony describes awakening CAN dangle a carrot in front of his listeners—e.g. when he seems to be talking about permanent "energetic shifts" and final "pops" or making statements like the ones attributed to him in the question that began this post. But I’m sure that’s not his intention, to dangle a carrot. Somewhere or other, he puts it like this: "There's nowhere to go. There's no goal. There's no carrot. There's no prize. All there is is this. But the difference between there just being what's happening and the sense that it's happening to you is immeasurable."

Immeasurable and imaginary! Both!