Aja Blog - May/June 05

Aja Blog

Welcome to Aja's online blog - an ongoing expression of what is arising in Aja's consciousness...

random writings, musings, and more on the nature of consciousness, awakening, reality, non-reality, stupidity....

Each entry is chronologically dated with the most recent first and older stuff later. 

Feel free to start wherever you want.

If you have questions or comments, you can email them to atma@atmainstitute.org


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Tuesday  June 28, 2005

Exploring the Present

The problem with the present, for most people, is that it's already available and therefore must certainly not be worth much. It's free, so it has no value, and because the mind is always expressing desires for something bigger, better, and more, it is certainly lacking in any thing of substantiality.

The reality is quite the opposite. The present moment is so full that one who has opened to it entirely, surrendered into it, couldn't possibly ask for more. Yet we resist the present, repress it, perhaps because it offers so much.

Ernest Becker wrote, ""The great boon of repression is that it makes it possible to live decisively in an overwhelmingly miraculous and incomprehensible world - a world so full of beauty, majesty and terror that if animals perceived it all they would be paralyzed to act."
 

Humans, too, can be classified as animals in this context. The present moment is so full, so overwhelming, so filled with the fullness of Self and emptiness of self that most minds are forced to run away. They look for some un-truth to fill that void, to repress and resist that deep experience and recognition of Now.
But the only place that is real IS Now. Stop trying to fill that void and explore it in its actual fullness: What does the body feel right now? What emotions are arising? What thoughts are occurring? What is arising anywhere in your awareness? Don't back away from it. Don't resist it. Don't repress it. Explore it. Open to it. Stop looking for something else. Don't have expectations of what should or could happen. Just be in the present - in the fullness of the moment. Better yet - get out of the way of the moment. Let the Present flow through you - express through and as you. Ultimately, it is ALL, every bit of it, simply God God-ing!

 

Friday  June 24, 2005

You are Always the Infinite Absolute

What are you seeking? Why do you look elsewhere for what is always present Here and Now? This is the heart of the problem - looking for something that is already always present. But how to recognize that? How to let go of the trees to see the forest? It is the mind, the thoughts, that break up the infinite into multiple finites. Like the prism that breaks up the one light into the many colors, the mind breaks up the infinite one into seer and seen, and then breaks up the seen into multiple 'objects' of perception. And, like the prism, which cannot take the multiple colors and turn that back into the one light, the mind can never take the multiple objects and turn them back into the one absolute. Don't look for the mind to create oneness or to find the answer. It will only be a cause for division, analysis, evaluation, multiplicity. When the question is posed, "Who are you?" or as Ramana says, "What is the source of the 'I'?" it points to that which is prior to mind. There is no 'I', no seer separate from the seen. Whatever is, is that one. You, not the separate you, but the real YOU that is reading this now, the awareness in which these words are arising, is the ever present. The words are arising and the 'seer' of the words are arising simultaneously as two flavors of the one. You are not the dancer, but the danced. Stop trying to be the wave experiencing the ocean, and recognize that the ocean is arising as the wave that calls itself you. You are not the dreamer, but the dreamed. You are not the creator, but the created. Letting go of the 'me' allows 'That' to be fully recognized. You are 'That.' You are always the Infinite Absolute.

If you can't recognize it instantly, if you can't abide as That, then continuously ask, "Who am I?" "What is the source of this I?" Or as the Gita says, "From wherever and whatever the mind wanders, due to its flickering nature, bring it back to the Self." It doesn't say, 'Look for the Self.' It's already understood that you ARE the Self. It says the mind will wander (virtually constantly) and when it does, bring it back to the Self, that sense of 'I am.' Keep coming back to that, until you can rest there. When the mind wanders, bring it back. From wherever it wanders, bring it back. Rest in the Self, always. This is not a 10 minute, or a 20 minute or even a 2 hour exercise. This is always, constantly, throughout the day. Then, as you abide as That, you will recognize, 'You are Always the Infinite Absolute.'

 

Sunday  June 19, 2005

What Do I Do, Anyway?

No, this isn't about choicelessness versus effort, as in "What do I do, cuz the "I" does nothing.. This is actually about what you can do to wake up. I tend to berate endlessly those that don't want to wake up, or aren't serious about it, or pretend to do it, and so forth, mostly because it is a lot of fun, and I mean A LOT OF FUN. But there always comes a time when you have to get back to business - in this case, the business of waking up. So, what do you do to wake up?

You know, this question is not as easy to answer as it would seem. The question came right out, but the answer...well, that's another thing. Let me tell you about a few things, i.e. I'll blather on for awhile, and if anything makes sense, more power to you.

First, it is essential that there be a strong desire to wake up, to be free, to be liberated, to know truth - call it what you will - but that strong desire MUST be there. If it's not, then why the hell are you reading this anyway? If that desire is there, then continue. In the Vedantic tradition, it is considered that there are 7 stages to Enlightenment (saptabhumi), the first of which is that desire to be free (mumuksha). The second step is inquiry (vichara). Vichara means to examine, to investigate, especially within. Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living." This is because the unexamined life is really no life at all. It is a sham, puppetry, machine-mode, where there is really no person there at all, but simply a bundle of patterns, habits, reflexes, and reactions. There's really no one home operating the machinery...only a prisoner helpless to the modes or qualities that effect it. So, vichara means to explore what it means to be human; to investigate what is real and permanent versus what is unreal and impermanent; what is behind the patterns; where they arise from, etc. This can be done in a number of ways. The 'methodology' that I used and that I recommend is the continuous inquiry into the question, "Who am I?" Ramana Maharshi is probably the most famous for elaborately speaking on and delineating this method, but he is certainly not the first, nor the only one. In fact, when I started doing this technique, I had never even heard of Ramana. A friend discovered this process in a book, and we started doing it together. It simply made sense. At a certain point, beliefs just don't make much sense any more and it's apparent that the one thing that is always there is 'ME'. So the question of who I was just made a hell of a lot of sense. So, I started asking, and asking, and asking. It wasn't long before 'answers' started coming. But they weren't intellectual answers, but recognitions...realizations.

This really isn't so strange. Ramana himself said, "If the time spent thinking about objects NOT the Self were spent inquiring INTO the Self, Self realization would occur in a very short time." So the process is really pretty simple. You could even use your own name. It's said that Alfred Lord Tennyson awoke simply by repeating his own name in a spirit of inquiry - "Tennyson, Tennyson, Tennyson." It's not so much the question, as the sincere inquiry into what is behind it. What is the reality that supports it? What is the pure subject? Or as Douglas Harding says, "What is the first person, singular, subject?" That's YOU. Any number of questions could also do: What am I? What is Real? What is the Source of all?  But, Who am I? seems to be the most immediate and easiest for people to relate to.

'Jed McKenna' talks about what he calls 'spiritual autolysis'. It's basically the same thing, but in writing. You write down what you know to be true, examining your ideas of truth, and then continuously discarding them as you recognize that they're really not true. Keep digging deeper and deeper into what you know to be true versus not true, and eventually you are left with only what IS true. Seek the true and disregard whatever other crap comes up in the process. It's a little like cleaning the house.

In India, they talk about 'Neti Neti' (not this, not that). Same process again. You investigate what you are, by throwing out what you are not: (I'm am not the body, because the body is an object of MY awareness. I am not the thoughts, because the thoughts are an object of MY awareness..." and so on. When you do this long enough, ultimately you are left (again) with what is left - simply the Self...unadorned, pure, simple, present moment beingness.

Okay, the third step in the 7 stages (saptabhumi), just so you know is called attenuated mind or thinned out mind(tanumanasi). This is generally where the world may begin to become a little dreamlike. You are throwing out all the crap that your life and your world have been based on, and are beginning to touch upon reality. The mind, which is really just the collection of all your ideas, beliefs, memories and so forth, is beginning to thin out and things don't seem quite so substantial. In fact, you may be walking down the street and wondering why you aren't just falling through space.

The fourth 'stage,' and in fact, the fourth through seventh stages, are all enlightened. They each have their own name, but often they are simply referred to as: Brahma-vid, brahma-vid-vara, brahma-vid-variyam, and brahma-vid-varistha. Translated, those mean, 'a knower of the Absolute, a better knower of the Absolute, an even better knower of the Absolute, and the best knower of the Absolute. Once you have reached (recognized) level 4, you don't give a rat's ass if you're at 4, 5, 6, or 7. The distinctions between them seem to have to do with choice versus non-choice of certain identifications, etc. and the whole analyzing the levels thing is said to be for those who have not reached level 4, anyway.

So, there you go, some philosophy, some theory, and what to do all in one spiel. So, the rest is up to you.

 

Saturday  June 18, 2005

"Yo! You wanna 'Peace' of This?"

Sometimes, it seems the only way to get people to understand the nature of Reality would be to beat it into them. I know, I know...not very peaceful or proper these days. Of course, in the 'Old Days' you could get away with such things. Crazy wisdom was what it was called, and you could get away with just about anything. Nowadays, you look at somebody the wrong way and you're liable to be facing a lawsuit. "That enlightened being over there told me I had an ego! Who the hell is he to say I've got an ego. I want him arrested for slander, or perhaps vilified or eviscerated or something. He can't get away with that. Everyone is supposed to be lovey-dovey and sweet and say nice things to each other. He's...he's...he's...Omigod...He's telling the TRUTH" Well, here's the truth - chances are you're an idiot. Lord knows, I am. If you can take that, that you are an idiot, fully accept it, without any evaluation or negative reaction, chances are you either are, or are pretty close to being an enlightened idiot. If it offended you in any way, you are not enlightened. Why? Because you know (recognize, realize) the truth of the statement. In the words of whoever it was, "We're all bozos on this bus." And there's certainly nothing wrong with that. In fact, the sooner you recognize that fact, the sooner you will be totally happy and free. Because it means you realize YOU are not the body or the mind or your idiotic thoughts. YOU are That which is prior to and observing all of This.

This is all a game, folks. The big game of world - of cosmic illusion. It's the divine dance. Lila. Call it what you will (it really doesn't matter) -  it's just what is happening, arising in the infinite ocean of Consciousness within which is also arising the idea of 'you'. But decide what you want. It's totally fine to remain in illusion. Really! There's no judgment there. Most people don't watch a movie or TV to analyze the character development. You watch it to be entertained; to lose your self in the drama. Well same thing here. Very, very few people are even interested in Waking up, what to speak of actually putting in time and/or effort to do so. The majority of people who do have an interest usually grab quickly onto some religious or spiritual belief system and any progress stops there. A few more will begin to grok that those belief systems are limiting and perhaps change to a new set of belief systems. A very, very, very few might eventually begin to realize that ALL belief systems are limiting and begin to ponder what life would look like without any beliefs. This is where real Truth-seeking begins - in that space where you're willing to let go of all beliefs and fall helplessly into the void. Trust me...not many people want to do this. Oh sure, it sounds cool, but when you begin to recognize that you can't trust anything you've ever held onto, including where you are in time and space, or the fact that there isn't even a 'you' in that illusory time and space, it can get a little dicey. But in the end, if you're willing to totally surrender EVERYTHING, it all works out just fine. In fact, it's totally fine now. That's the joke. You only discover that everything is as it is and there's never been a problem at all. It was all an illusion.

So decide what you want. You can totally go on with things as they are. Be happy! Know that the illusion is just that, an illusion and nothing really matters. Or you can jump into the fray in an attempt to really discover Truth. Actually, you either will or you won't. There's not much choice about it. You'll be pushed, pulled, inexorably drawn into the pursuit of Truth with nothing to say about it. You'll just know that you'll never be happy until you realize Truth. If that's the case, then may you be blessed to never give up until every last shred of un-truth has been annihilated; until you are bloodied by the effort and have no will to go on and no will to stop. Where the divine goddess of illusion, Maya, says to you, "Yo, you wanna' peace of this?" and without even thinking and racked with pain, you mutter to the best of your blood-soaked ability, "Let's see what you've got, bitch!" And she smiles and shows you what she's got. It gets even less pretty at this point, until you are utterly and completely defeated. No one left to fight. No one left. No one. One.

 

Tuesday  June 14, 2005

Wake Up and Smell the Coffin

Born....................................................................................................Died!  

(100 little dots, each one signifying one year of life)

In the great Epic, the Mahabharata, King Yudhisthira, who at the time is surrounded by the dead bodies of his four brothers, is asked 100 questions by Dharmaraj, the king of heaven. One of the questions is, "What is the most amazing thing in the world?"  Yudhisthira responds, "The most amazing thing in the world is that every day we see friends, family members and others die around us, and yet we think 'I shall never die.' That is the most amazing thing in the world."

We have a great ability to deny death! We can see it everywhere, on the news, in our homes, on our dinner plates, but somehow we keep our own mortality deeply buried, hidden. Although we are entirely attached to and identified with our bodies, we fail to totally 'get' that they are extremely temporary. We are unwilling to face death, and thus are really only half alive. In the movie, Fight Club, Tyler Durden explains, "You have to know, not fear, but know that you are going to die...It is only after we have lost everything that we are free to do anything."

For good or ill, the fact that we are truly Infinite Awareness, which is beyond the body, allows us to recognize, consciously or unconsciously, that we are infinite and eternal. However, it also allows us the ability to escape the inevitable end of the 'mortal coil.' Folks, this body is going to die. No matter how much you pamper it, exercise it, diet it, or don't, it IS going to die, and it could be any minute. You can't avoid it. You can't get around it. You cannot escape it. This body is destined for the scrap heap, the burn barrel, the worm farm. Now that doesn't mean that you can't or shouldn't take care of it. Just don't hold the illusion that it will ultimately do much good. And it certainly isn't going to give you the ultimate happiness, peace or freedom that you are probably subconsciously seeking by all of the primping and nursing of it that you may be doing. Death awaits you. And that isn't something to worry about. Everything dies. Everything MUST die. Whatever has a beginning has an end. Life is the same way:

Born....................................................................................................Died

It happens! And even putting the idea of Awakening aside, you can't really LIVE until you truly recognize DEATH. Without the recognition of death, you are only half alive; not fully living because you are on some level living your life as if you can avoid death. Well, you can't! So wake up and smell the coffin. Recognize death. Embrace death. It is as much a part of life as anything else...more so. In a few days, months or years, that body that you appear to be in will be gone. And YOU? Well, who knows. Another body, perhaps. Heaven or hell. Merged with the infinite. Gone forever. Lots of ideas and beliefs. But none of them do anything for you now, do they? So recognize death! Know, not fear, but know that you are going to die. And see how that changes your relationship with life, with this very moment. What doesn't die? What is it that is aware of the concept of death? To whom does the idea of death arise? Are you dead now? Are you sure? How do you know? By totally facing and embracing death, it make Life more Alive! It makes this Moment much more Real! Who lives more deeply than those who have tasted death? No one. And it is an incredible impetus to Wake UP, to recognize that Infinite Presence of what is...Right Now! In This Moment...to Wake UP to the dream that is both life and death.

 

Saturday  June 11, 2005

A Lethal Combination

In the endeavor to understand or recognize Truth, we are constantly bombarded by a very lethal combination: Stupidity and Arrogance. Boy, you can't get a worse combination, and unfortunately it is rampant, especially these days.  Here's what it looks like - Stupidity generally assumes the form of "I Know" even though we don't; and Arrogance assumes the form of "And I'm Right!"  I know and I'm right. Oh man! You can't even learn to tie your shoes with this attitude, and yet this is the predominant mode of expression for nearly everyone, particularly 'spiritual' people of all ilks. I write this, in part, because a friend reminded me of a teacher, Zen Master Seung Sahn, whose mantra is "Don't Know." Being able to say, "Don't know" pretty much covers it. It's a recognition that I AM stupid, and I'm WILLING to totally admit it. This leaves us open to what is traditionally called 'Beginner's Mind'. Nowadays, nobody wants to be a beginner. Our culture, our advertising, our hierarchical structure of life, and everything else says, "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, then baffle them with bullshit." This doesn't even work on the relative platform, and it certainly doesn't work in the inquiry for Truth. Why, because the search for Truth is within oneself and, ultimately, you can't fool yourself for very long. As much as we want to wander around with the attitude that 'I know and I'm right,' we will ALWAYS be WRONG! And that's because it makes the first wrong assumption that there is an "I" that exists (with the corollaries 'I know' and 'I'm right'). "Don't Know" is an openness. It is a surrender. It is the recognition of the stupidity and arrogance of the ego, which has usurped dominance  for so long that we just assume it must really be in control. But it's NOT.

So try this: Every time you think you know what's going on, that you fully understand the situation, that you are the master of your life, that you understand what Truth is, that you definitely are 'Right,' say to yourself, "I'm stupid, I'm arrogant, and I don't know!" Then let everything else go and just be fully open to 'don't know'. Surrender to 'don't know'. In fact, eventually, and as soon as possible, let go of even 'I'm stupid and arrogant', because there is no "I". Otherwise, what happens is that you become 'Right' about being 'stupid and wrong'. Amazingly, we can make ourselves 'right' about anything: "I'm soooo stupid and arrogant! And about that I truly am right!" So, we are able to maintain our ego position by being 'right' about how 'wrong' we are. "Don't know" nullifies that instantly. It doesn't say 'I'm right' or 'I'm wrong'...it doesn't even say 'I don't know'....it just says 'Don't know'.  Or as my friend Lisa pointed out, it's just like saying "Just This." Or, "There's no one particularly here to know or not know...there's just all this. What is, IS."

So, the basic caveat here is to simply be aware of our tendency to think we know and that we're right, and to let go of all of that. Be totally open to 'Don't know,' because as long as we think we know, we are cutting ourselves off from Truth. 

And you should take my word on this because I know and I'm right...................................(oh crap!)

 

Thursday  June 9, 2005

Three Faces of Advaita (Non-Duality)

Somehow it's ironic that something called advaita (literally non-dual) could have different faces, but it does - at least, in a manner of speaking. I'm talking practically now, or viewpoint-wise. Historically, Advaita or more specifically Advaita-Vedanta, is (was) a particular school or sect of the Vedanta Darshan, one of the 6 primary philosophical understandings of India. Vedanta (meaning the 'End of the Vedas'), attributed to Vyasadeva, came out of the Brahma Sutras or Vedanta Sutras. How someone interpreted the Brahma Sutras came to be known as a particular school. Thus there were several main branches - dvaita-advaita, suddha-advaita, advaita, and so forth, as established by Ramanujacharya, Madhvacharya, Vishnu Svami, Shankaracharya, etc. What we principally think of as Advaita, is more properly called Kevaladvaita (or absolute non-dualness) and was developed by Shankaracharya, back a thousand years or so ago. 

However, this is not really what I wanted to talk about at all. I wanted to talk about how Advaita looks today. The way I see it, there are now three basic kinds of advaita or non-duality around town: 1. Pure non-duality or recognition of what is; 2. The practice of non-duality, 3. Neo-advaita or the non-duality belief system.  Let's elaborate...

1. Pure non-duality or recognition of what is. This is not a belief system or a school of thought. This is simply 'What Is' and the recognition of 'What is'. This is the 'abiding in' the non-dual as proposed by Ramana Maharshi, by the Ashtavakra Samhita, Avadhuta Gita, and traditional texts. There is no place to go, nothing to do. It is the recognition of 'That' as it is. In other words, it is essentially the Awakened state.

2. The practice of Non-duality is the traditional form of 'achieving' the above #1. Through effort, one practices Self-inquiry, reads the scriptural verses pertaining to Advaita, meditates, and so forth. They go through the three phases of 'shravanam' (hearing from the teacher), mananam (thinking about or considering those teaching), and nididhyasanam (deeply contemplating and recognizing those truths within themselves). In other words, they make effort.  Ramana Maharshi said, "Effortless & choiceless awareness is our real nature. If we can attain that state and abide in it, that is all right. But one cannot reach it without effort, the effort of deliberate meditation. All the age old vasanas (inherent tendencies) turn the mind outward to external objects. All such thoughts have to be given up and the mind turned inwards and that, for most people, requires effort." [Teachings of Bhagavan pg 78]   Even many of the present day 'choicelessness' and 'there's nothing to do' schools recognize the need for effort. Even Nisargadatta Maharaja, many followers of whom believe in the 'nothing to do' approach said,  "I simply followed (my teacher's) instruction which was to focus the mind on pure being 'I am', and stay in it. I used to sit for hours together, with nothing but the 'I am' in my mind and soon peace and joy and a deep all-embracing love became my normal state. In it all disappeared - myself, my Guru, the life I lived, the world around me. Only peace remained and unfathomable silence," and also, "Give up all questions except one: 'Who am I'? After all, the only fact you are sure of is that you are. The 'I am' is certain. The 'I am this' is not."

3. Neo-Advaita or the non-duality belief system. This could also be called neo-zen or new age non-duality, or ... The basic practice here is, um, er, I'm not sure if there is one. Actually, I think it boils down to reading whatever the books of whomever is the top selling non-dual teacher du jour, and perhaps attending a gathering (satsang or retreat) or two of theirs, or a whole bunch of them. Yes, I'm being a little bit harsh or critical, but only to make a point. The point is that belief systems are subtle, and often what people are doing is not practicing a system (#2), or abiding in consciousness (#1 or #2) but rather embedding themselves in another belief system. They look at their life and recognize suffering; they look for a way to alleviate suffering; they find the idea of Enlightenment; they read a bunch of books on Enlightenment and Waking up that sound really great; they do what they've always done, with the addition of talking about how great Enlightenment will be and how they can't wait to get there. And, since we're 'all already Enlightened', they often put on a happy face of enlightenment, even though they feel like shit. (Now doesn't this somehow seem a little familiar - like we're born again; how great heaven will be, and can't wait for the rapture -coming soon- and since we've accepted Jesus, we'll just put on our happy face even though we're scared as hell about everything?)  The problem is that Neo-advaita is about supporting the ego with a new way of thinking; making one self feel better and giving them hope for the future. Real advaita is about the destruction of the ego, that very thing that obscures the Truth of non-duality. It's about recognizing Truth in the moment as it is, and if that Truth is not apparent, then Slashing and Burning all beliefs that stand in the way of that. As the Ashtavakra Samhita says, "Unless you forget EVERYTHING, you can not wake up." And, "Where there is an 'I', there is bondage; where there is no 'I', there is freedom." So, we are not looking for a new belief system (i.e. neo-advaita or neo-zen) to bolster our false sense of security, but rather either to directly recognize the Truth of non-duality, or to practice discrimination, Self inquiry, and so forth, whole-heartedly, continuously, until that recognition arises.

So, there you have it. You choose. Oh wait, there is no choice! Damn!

 

Monday  June 6, 2005

'Searchen' General's Warning: Caution! Seeking Truth can be Hazardous to your Fun

These days, I feel it's necessary to give something of a caveat before I talk to someone. You see, most people have this wonderful idea of what 'Enlightenment' looks like, and the rosy path to get there, where you smell all the flowers (and of course, they're all sweet), and there are cute little bunnies and squirrels hopping along and birds chirping and flitting from branch to branch. Why it's like the Great Rock Candy Mountain!  But the reality of the journey often appears so much different. Not rock candy but craggy rocks with razor sharp edges, thorn bushes, buzzards and snakes.

But the truth is that Truth, even a little, dispels illusion. The moment you shine a light in a dark corner, it becomes illuminated and the shadows disappear instantly.  The moment you begin to shine the light of Truth on your life, you begin to see the illusions disappear. The problem is that you base your entire life on these illusions - these ideas and concepts of what is good and bad, right and wrong, what God is, who you are and so forth. All of your hopes and dreams are shattered. You realize that all of those 'things' and 'goals' that were going to make you better and special and fulfilled are still going to leave you flat and bored and nowhere. You begin to find out that you're not that 'special little flower' you thought you were. You're probably more of a thorn. All of your fun and enjoyment that you thought you were having, and that you continue to look for, begins to recede. You realize that it's like trying to squeeze blood from a turnip. There is no 'fun' out there. It's all illusion! You begin to wonder why anyone would come on such a God-forsaken journey. And then you remember, the very, very beginning of the journey was an attractive sign that said, "This way to ultimate freedom," and you just couldn't resist. You were sick and tired of the crap and you just wanted to get free. But you didn't realize it was going to get worse before it gets better...or does it get better?

The Ashtavakra Gita says, "This awareness of the truth makes an eloquent, clever and energetic man dumb, stupid and lazy, so it is avoided by those whose aim is enjoyment." You see the motivation for nearly all action is based on ego - how to make it 'bigger, better and more.'  But how much energy can you put into going after a phantasmagoria, an illusion, a castle in the sky? My first teacher used to say, 'The material and spiritual life do not go well together.' He didn't say it was impossible; just that they didn't go well together. These days I see ads in the 'spiritual magazines' of how to bring enlightenment into your daily life (Great Rock Candy Mountain). Why is it that I don't see ads that say, "This is one fucking bloody journey and embark at your own risk!" Maybe because that wouldn't sell. (Generally, the truth never does.)    

So, before you go getting all hopped up on seeking ultimate Truth, ask yourself, "What do I really and truly want?"  Do I want Truth, no matter the cost; no matter how many limbs, lives, friends it may cost; no matter how painful it may be to see Truth? Or am I content to play in the illusion; to perhaps just become a more mature human being? That's fine too, but you may want to question yourself before you start down the path. What's that? You've already started and you can't get back?  Oh, I'm sorry. Well, never mind then. 

(Ultimately, there really is no choice whether one goes down the path - you either will or you won't - but I thought it would be nice to warn you anyway, as if there was a choice.)

 

Friday  June 3, 2005

Want What IS

Want to be happy all the time?  The answer is simple: Want what is. 

The only reason for unhappiness is that people want what isn't. In other words, they want things, anything, to be different than it is - their environment, their body, their thoughts, their friends, their spouse, their job, their finances, anything and everything. And when they find that they don't like what is, then they don't like themselves for not liking what is. It's like a feedback loop or some kind of infinite regression: I don't like what is, so I don't like myself for not liking what is, and I should like what is, so I don't like myself for not liking myself for not liking what is, and... You get the picture. So what's to be done. Like what is, no matter what it is - the crap that's going down around you...your resistance to it...your resistance to the resistance... and so on.

There's actually another name for this. It's called surrender. Many people don't like this word, or perhaps the concept of it. But it's a great word and a great idea. You surrender to what is and there's no resistance. No resistance, no suffering. No suffering and, what the hey, things just seem to be great.

Surrender is not the only word. Some call it embracing what is, or, being open to what is, or even 'Not my will but Thy will.'  No matter what you want to call it, it comes down to the same thing: it is a reduction in the limited ego idea, or the sense of "I am an localized individual."   So, if there's a choice...choose to want what is!

 

Thursday June 2, 2005

"Self" Realization

A few more words on 'Words':  In the previous blurb, we talked about Truth vs. Enlightenment, mukti and moksha. Another great one is 'Self Realization.'  Hey folks, it's called Self realization for a reason. It's not called 'Something-somewhere-else-Realization.' It's about the Self.  The Self is You; the real You. This is why all of the great traditions say things like 'Know thy Self.' What you are seeking is already who you are. It's just that it's the True You, unidentified with the not-you. It's also why, when you're done with all the other stuff that continues to take you somewhere else, and you decide what you REALLY want is to know Truth, you should come to something like the following conclusion: 

"I know that I exist. It may be the only thing I can truly know. All of the things that I assume to be real as objects of my perception (including my body, my thoughts, the world) may or may not be real. But there is definitely something here which I call 'I', which is experiencing all of this, which has always been present, which seems to stay the same whether I am 3 years old or 23 years old or 53 years old. There may or may not be a God or a world or a cosmic muffin guiding me. There may or may not be a Buddha of compassion, a Christ, a Krishna, a Mohammed. There may or may not be anything else anywhere ever! But this 'I', or at least what I refer to as 'I' is definitely something. Since it is the one thing that seems to be real and ever-present, let me find out what that is and who I am."

If this conclusion is concrete enough, and the commitment strong enough, at this point the real work begins. This is when one can truly start to inquire into the Self - 'Who am I?' The inquiry of 'Who am I?' has been around for centuries. Ramana Maharshi delineated it clearly and one can find wonderful descriptions of the 'process' in books about him and those teachings. One of the best descriptions I've seen recently, not so much of the technique itself, but what the process is often like, was offered by Eddie Traversa on his website: http://dhtmlnirvana.com/spiritual

To give you some sense of the kind of commitment and dedication that the pathless path takes, with Eddie's kind permission, I offer it up here for your benefit. Enjoy!

The Who Am I Koan

By Eddie Traversa

When we ask ourselves the question who am I in earnest, we have this expectation that we can answer the question.

In reality though it is a trick question which is designed to push you further and further into self, until you surrender completely and find no self exists and the question of who am I is totally irrelevant.

However this is not a conceptual exercise. It isnt like saying ok I give up now and then you awaken. It isnt even like saying, well since I cant define who I am, I just give up trying.

It more akin to being in a fight with an adversary so powerful you stand no chance. This adversary keeps on punching you, until you're down on your knees and you think ok I have had enough, I cant stand it. But when you say that, you almost instantly say “hang on I am not done yet”.

Your adversary keeps on punching you constantly. This time you are on your very last breath of life and again you say ok had enough.

That still isnt awakening. Somehow you manage to have the thought “I am still not done, I am going to die, I know it, but I am not going to give it up to my adversary”.

Your adversary swings at you with a fury and rage that is beyond fear and the final death blow comes; you are completely and utterly shattered emotionally, intellectually, on all levels you are defeated. You are immobilized and death ensues. You know the futility of the exercise as a deep felt experience encompassing all facts of your human form. You give up, you let death take you.

When death takes you, you look around and you are not there. Something is there though; something that seems so beautiful that it is inexpressible. That is still not awakening. I bet you wish it was though..

You have a sense that its not quite the end of the road, the adversary is still swinging blows at you, even in death, so you surrender again. The embrace of the nothingness takes you and everything vanishes (Gods will be done). And then you discover that you are this nothingness, this void, that can never be stated here in this world.

Thats awakening.

That's the real purpose of asking the question “who am I”. To come to know the futility of asking the question in the first place. To come to know the futility of asking any question. To come to know the futility of having knowledge and spiritual techniques.

Who are you?

 

Tuesday May 31, 2005

Truth vs. Enlightenment

This word, 'Enlightenment' tends to be a little misleading. Like many others, I much prefer the word 'Truth.' Truth is as it is. Enlightenment has ALL kinds of garbage wrapped around it, and is primarily filled with expectations. It makes it sound like a grand and glorious goal to be reached, which is, in fact, why many people go after it in the first place. "Gee, the money thing didn't work out. The sex thing wasn't that great. Never made the fame thing work. Okay, I'll go after the big 'E' - Enlightenment".  But it doesn't quite work like that. It might be a starting point, and if, in fact, one is dedicated to Truth, they'll eventually let go of all the garbage surrounding 'Enlightenment,' but more often than not, they'll give up because they (the 'seekers') are not getting what they want. They are not getting their expectations fulfilled.  Truth, on the other hand, is about what is Real; not what we want to be real, but what is in fact real. And that, can be extremely daunting, because all of the 'problems' and 'suffering' are based on the very thing that is not real - our mistaken identity of ego.

The term 'Enlightenment' suggests for most people, something to be gained - love, light, mystic consciousness...generally, anything that they think of as now missing; a perfect correction to the sense that 'something is wrong.'  Truth, on the other hand, while still holding certain expectations, has built into it the recognition that real truth may not be what I think or want it to be. Truth is truth, and if I really want truth, I must be willing to accept it as it is and face whatever is not truth head on.  I must be willing to destroy all that binds me to untruth. This is the 'Slash and Burn' method of our 'War on Stupidity.' (I'll talk about that some other time.)

Overall, I actually prefer the Sanskrit words 'Mukti' and 'Moksha' which literally mean Freedom or Liberation.  These words point toward a truth that it is not a state where something new is gained, but rather the removal of bondage. And what binds? Our ideas, expectations, concepts, beliefs, habits, and so on.  As these various concepts and expectations are removed (exposed, seen through, slashed and burned, etc.) one recognizes that what is left has always been truth, has always been freedom, has always been present.  Not some gobbledy-gook drivel that just adds beliefs and concepts, but the total destruction of all that one holds on to, and the one holding on. The problem with the words 'Freedom' and 'Liberation,' however, are that they sound like a political movement. "Join 'E.L.F.' - the Enlightenment Liberation Front" or "I'm a member of 'F.U.L.' (pronounced fool), the Freedom United League." 

Okay, so it becomes clear that words are the problem, so I'll stop talking now. Just don't be enamored by your expectations of Enlightenment. Rather, decide if Truth is truly what you want and then be willing to give up everything to recognize it as it is.

 

Monday May 30, 2005

Take the Prescription

Like many teachers, I deeply appreciate the writings of "Jed McKenna", (i.e. Spiritual Enlightenment - The Damnedest Thing and Spiritually Incorrect Enlightenment) and highly recommend them. (Here's a recommendation...if you are truly interested in waking up, read these books.)  Now, however is another recommendation: Don't just read the books. At the end, put them down and do the work!  Too many people read the books and go, "Boy, he is so right on!  He's really got it," and then go on to read something else, and something else, and something else, continuing to avoid the actual process of waking up, in favor of the culture of waking up.  It's like going to a half dozen doctors or more, getting a prescription, reading the prescription insert, and saying, "Wow, this looks like a really great medicine!" and then tossing it aside with the medicine, going to another doctor, and getting the next prescription in order to read its insert. Probably the very first one would have done the trick if you'd just TAKE THE DAMN PRESCRIPTION!!!  Quit reading, and do it.  Or don't. Get on with your life or don't. But don't waste it reading spiritual books just so you can feed the ego's need to be 'spiritual'.  There is no such thing as spiritual. Or it's all spiritual. Take your pick.  In any case, "Shit or get off the pot!"

 

Sunday May 29, 2005

Is There a God?

One of the ideas that nearly all philosophies put forth, including most Advaitic (traditional non-dual Vedanta) teachings, is that there is a God.  Now, I am certainly NOT going to emphatically state that there IS or IS NOT a God.  However, what I will say is that for nearly everyone, the idea of God is chock-full of assumptions and beliefs.  So, if you are in the process of wanting to truly 'Wake Up', consider the possibility of letting go of God. We've all heard the old adage of 'Let Go and Let God'; well, let's take it one step further - 'Let Go and Let God, and Let Go of God.'  Not everyone will be ready for this one as it's pretty severe. However, if you can recognize that on some level you are using the idea of God as a crutch, a final catch-all for the mystery, so that, "Even if I can't explain it, I know that God is there," then try dropping God. Remember, the price of waking up is EVERYTHING. Ideas, beliefs, assumptions, everything must go now. Good, bad, God, emptiness, fullness...leave no rock unturned. Slash & Burn.

 

Sunday May 29, 2005

Assumptions

There's an old joke that if you 'assume' something, you make an ASS of U and ME.  Worse yet, when you hold assumptions about something, you're missing Truth. An assumption is little more than a belief - a theory postulated which has no bearing on fact. Awakening is about the cutting away of assumptions, beliefs, concepts, ideas...basically anything that is not 'the Real'.  When you cut away everything that is not 100% Real, by default, you're left with what is Real. No assumptions please; just the facts, ma'am.

 

Tuesday May 17, 2005

Stop Looking

It becomes very clear that the majority of people don't want to be awake. To be awake is to let go of your illusions, and why would anyone want to do that? Illusions give hope - "someday I'll be [rich, famous, healthy, enlightened, safe, loved, on and on].  What they want is to believe that things are wrong with them now and will be right with them in the future. There is no future. There is only now. There has only ever been now, and as much as you 'work' on your 'self' you can never improve it, change it, kill it, diminish it, enlarge it, or anything else, even one iota. It is eternally present as 'Just This'. It is the Awareness, yes, ordinary awareness, that is happening in this moment. As long as you continue to 'look' for something else, you will remain in illusion.

So, how do you stop the illusion?  Look at what is happening NOW. Be what is happening now - not an "I" or a something experiencing what is happening now, but be it - all of it: the sights, sounds, feelings, emotions, thoughts, smells, physicality, the everything. In other words, let go of the "I" which is an illusion. Recognize that you are the entirety of what is happening in this moment. You are IT. Not you the person, but you the Infinite non-dual Awareness of which all this is a part. 

 

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Just This*

"Just This" are the magic words that can transport you to Infinity,

In the Absolute Moment where everything happens Now,

No past....No future,

An infinite expanse of Consciousness,

Arising as 'Just This',

Nothing else to know...ever,

For there is only and ever, 'Just This.'

 

(*In July of 1990, these were the words spoken to Aja, by his friend Blaze, at exactly the right moment! These were the words that allowed Aja to experience the one non-dual awareness and recognize Self as all there is.)

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