Aja Blog - August 05


Aja-Blog August 2005                          

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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Wednesday  August 11, 2005

The Big Empty

In one sense, this here blog (today) is something of an apology...an apology for not writing more regularly. Of course, there is absolutely no need to apologize. It's not like anyone is paying me to do this. And if you have an expectation (or if I do) that they should come more regularly, that is, still, just an expectation, an idea.

For those who may remember, some years back I sent out a 'Spiritual Sharing.' They started out very regularly, sometimes one or two a week, then once a week, then once a month, and gradually........  well, they just kind of petered out. Great stuff came out, and eventually I put it all down in the book, In This Moment!

There's something about the writing which is itself self-exhausting; something like self-inquiry or spiritual autolysis. At first, there is much to say, and then less and less until there is nothing - the Big Empty. That's not to say that there are no thoughts. Thoughts arise (occur, zip by, say hello - whatever) but not quite the same. Insights become quieter, more subtle, there's more stillness, and many of the nuggets that arise (as Franklin Merrell-Wolff would call them) are just too subtle or quick to really negotiate with the mind.

Then there's the "So what?" factor. It arises and there is a recognition of it arising and you say, "That's pretty cool," but there's not enough mental resistance to slow it down and catch it. There's also the "Who cares?" factor - similar to the 'so what?' but with the added aspect that much of what comes through can't really be understood by a mind very well, and others certainly don't seem to get it, so 'who cares?' I often found the same problem when 'doing' satsangs. People want this nice talk. I have absolutely nothing to say. If and when someone asks a question, then an answer arises and comes out. Otherwise...The Big Empty.

Having said all that, I will add that some things have been coming up just in the last few days, so perhaps there will be more to come (always, eh!?) Certain thoughts come up about the progression of Awakening (so to speak) from ignorance to enlightenment and the various steps that take place. I can't tell you if it will end up in any concrete state, or if it will mean anything or do any good. After all, so much of the process (if not all) seems to be pre-determined. Of course, there appears to be choice, and when there is individuality there, you act as if there is choice, but in the end...it's all the dance of the Absolute; billions of hand-puppets playing out their Punch & Judy show.


Sunday  August 21, 2005

Enlightenment's Next Door Neighbors

There used to be a TV commercial touting the wonders of Canada that stated, "America - it borders on the Magnificent!" The idea, of course, was that our northern neighbor, Canada, is magnificent, and America borders on it. I thought it was kind of funny, as it was sort of a subtle jab at the U.S. So, I started thinking about all of the things that border on enlightenment, which in fact, might be confused with enlightenment.

The first one that came to mind is 'Now.' A lot has been said about the 'Now.' Even my own book, In This Moment is based on the idea of 'Now' and features the smaller piece, Right Now! In This Moment. Who hasn't heard of Tolle's book, The Power of Now and it's various extensions. But 'Now' isn't enlightenment, per se. It is a recognition of the moment, a certain surrendering to the present, which can either be a pre-curser to awakening, or a subsequent recognition, however, it still is not the actual recognition of Self as non-dual awareness.

Similarly, 'Here' is not enlightenment, for the same reason. 'Here' may seem to be the recognition of infinite space, the unlimited nature of 'here-ness,' but it is still an object. In other words, anything that is an object of recognition, an object of perception, is still a separation.

Think of the eyeball, looking for 'Itself.' It may give up the gross objects of perception, but begins to experience the more subtle aspects of perception. This is often the confusion that comes up. Somebody turns 'within' and begins to experience subtle perceptions and confuses these with Awakened Self. Self is never an object of perception. It is the pure Seer without an object of seeing. It is the tangible recognition of Self as Absolute Consciousness and everything that arises within that Consciousness is similarly an aspect of that Consciousness - thus non-dual Awareness.  This is why the question, "Who is aware of this?" is so important. Even the 'awareness' or visions of gods and goddesses is not enlightenment. It is a perception. The awareness of 'emptiness' is an awareness "OF" something, so, it too, is a subtle perception.

The recognition of Infinite Self has many next door neighbors. Think of it as a crowded neighborhood, where, in one sense, the substratum of the entire neighborhood IS that Self and there is no separation between 'that' and the things that arise in 'that.' (Probably doesn't help much does it?) However, the purpose of most spiritual techniques are to get you into the neighborhood - in a more 'purified' place, a 'higher energy level', etc. But that's not good enough (so to speak). Even in the modes of nature (sattva, rajas, and tamas) where it is encouraged to cultivate sattva (goodness, purity, light, etc.), it is warned that sattva conditions one to happiness..."conditions one." So, it is still a state of bondage. But again, it is one of those next door neighbors. It is generally easier to recognize Self from sattva, then drunk in a bar somewhere (tamas). But not always! No matter what you are experiencing - purified happiness or a drunken stupor - the question, "To whom is this arising?" still points toward the pure Seer, which itself is the doorway to Infinite Being.


Monday  August 15, 2005

Some Days You Just Wanna Shoot Something!

Do you ever have those days when you just want to shoot something? Anything? It doesn't really matter what, just the idea of destroying something sounds particularly wonderful. Today was such a day. And, as usual, for me it was my computer. (Gawd! How I hate the thing which I love so much.)  I remember when my children were growing up, there was a book we read to them. I don't remember the name, but it was basically that the kid, I think his name was Alexander, was having a "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day!"  That was today. And you know what? It doesn't matter. In fact, it's great. In fact, sometimes it is incredibly blissful to just want to blow everything up and relish the bliss of utter destruction. Why not? Lord Shiva does. Are we not both the creative and destructive impulse? I've always had a hard time with those that end all their letters with "Love & Light." What the hell is the matter with "Hate & Darkness"?  It's all part of the dance, isn't it. Yet, people will do all they can to avoid the painful and grasp the wonderful. You can't do it. It just doesn't work that way. You have to embrace all of it - the love, the hate, the horror, the misery, the bliss, the destruction. It's all one great field. Don't deny what is. It will only come back to bite you in the ass, when you can't maintain that facade of outward greasy happiness and a stupid ass smile slapped up on your face, and people find out that you're a real human being. Being what is, allowing what is, means you recognize the ever changing nature of the dream. You can't hang onto anything, other than that which is permanent, and that is the infinite presence which can never not be present. Whatever arises in consciousness is guaranteed to come and go. So allow it. Resist nothing, and all will be as it is meant to be. 


Saturday  August 13, 2005

Restructuring Beliefs

Often in the journey (non-journey) of Self inquiry, spiritual autolysis, waking up, there is a process that essentially becomes a restructuring of beliefs, prior to the abandonment or release of all beliefs. This is a relatively natural process since most are unable to totally abandon all beliefs in the beginning of the game, and it becomes a process of recognizing more and more subtle belief systems or mental habit patterns which we still cling to, letting those go, as we fall deeper into Truth. Let me give you a couple of prime examples that occur to me:

1. The "I / not I" duality.  Ultimately, our recognition is of an absolute non-dual awareness. However, first you have to reorganize how you see things in order to break the old patterns. For instance, when most people consider who they are, they see themselves as this "I" which includes their thoughts and memories, their emotions and feelings, and finally their physical sensations, moving out to the skin (or perhaps a little beyond that) and that is the "I". All that 'stuff' out there beyond that is NOT I. So the demarcation or boundary between I and 'not I' is the skin.  In the process of Self inquiry, we often use something of the 'neti neti' process (i.e. "not this, not that"). In this process, your 'job' is to differentiate all objects of awareness from the pure subject - whatever "I" am aware of is an object, and "I" am the pure subject. Thus, I am aware of my body, my thoughts, my emotions, my feelings, etc. etc. and thus the "I" is separate from all of those. As you let go of all of the objects of awareness and concentrate/contemplate on the pure subject (I AM), you have restructured a belief in a separate "I" as awareness that is different from everything that arises in awareness. Ultimately, this is also not true, however, it can be an important step to dislocating the old concretized habit structure. As you rest in the pure "I" as Awareness and recognize it's unlimited nature, that it has no boundaries, and so, you recognize that the awareness is all that is, and that whatever arises in that awareness, including the concept of an individual, the body, the world, etc. is all one.

2. The "Spiritual / material" duality. Similar to the "I / not I" duality, this starts by looking at our preconceived ideas of what is and is not spiritual. I see a lot of this because, as a job, I teach Sanskrit and Mantra and related topics, particularly to Yoga students. To me, these things are not spiritual. They are just things. Most people have very definite ideas of what is spiritual, like: Sanskrit, mantras, affirmations, crystals, channeling, Oprah, mystical powers, yoga, vegetarianism, democracy...Oh, I don't know - just all kinds of weird crap. The point is that all of this stuff is just stuff. You might say some of it is nicer or higher or more light-filled, or whatever, but it's still just stuff in the relative field of existence. From the dualistic standpoint, the only thing I would say is really spiritual is the recognition of That which transcends ALL phenomenal stuff - the recognition of consciousness as opposed to the 'things' which arise IN consciousness. Now, this again may be a new artificially created boundary that says 'these things' are material and 'this one thing' is spiritual, but it is a process of letting go of the old pre-conceived ideas until Truth is recognized as one. Again, ultimately, when you can discern the recognition of awareness from the things that arise in awareness, you begin to recognize that everything that arises in awareness IS ALSO awareness and that there is no demarcation or boundary. It IS all One. 

So continue the journey (non-journey) and recognize that the whole game is one of seeing/being Truth and letting go of mental constructs and surrendering to what is always and all ways Real.


Sunday  August 7, 2005

What is the Perfection of Now?

My friend Ben (who we affectionately refer to as 'Master Wu Wu Wei or is that Woo-Woo-Way), once described perfection as it is generally seen wonderfully. He said that most people see perfection as being 'double good.' In other words, if things are really, REALLY good, they are 'perfect.' But that is not what perfect is. Perfect is that things are 'As they Are.' However they are, they are fulfilling their IS-ness in the moment, and it is as it should be. There can be nothing wrong with how things are - they are just perfect. Whether the mind sees them as 'good' or as 'bad,' in reality, they are as they should be and therefore 'Perfect' in the true sense of the word.

In the process of inquiry, we look at what is Truth in the moment, generally utilizing a question such as 'Who am I?', that explores the direct recognition of the question and what comes up as resistance to it. In this process, it is probably most important to recognize the resistance. These are the patterns or concepts we hold which directly obscure the truth. So in light of that and the true meaning of 'perfect,' a question which can uncover profound understanding and recognition is - "What is the direct recognition of the Perfection of Now?" When you begin to ask this question of yourself, what you find is all of the answers of why it is NOT perfect - or in other words, why your mind tells you that it is not 'double good.' Each thing that arises - my body hurts, there's starving children, Bush is in office, I'm not enlightened, and so forth - illuminate your beliefs of how things are not as they should be. They are the resistance to the recognition that things ARE perfect!

As you inquire in this way, two things are simultaneously happening. First, you are intending to recognize, not mentally understand but directly recognize, the Truth or Reality of the statement (such as the perfection of now). The second thing you are doing is recognizing those concepts, patterns, habits of belief, etc. which directly stand in the way of this recognition. It is exactly like trying to get out of a room crammed with junk. You 1.)make movement toward the door, which in this case is your own Presence, and 2.)simultaneously you are moving the crap which obscures the path. (Of course this is all metaphorical, since there is no door, there is no path, there is no goal, but from the level of dualism, you think there's something you need to do to recognize what is always and already perfect and present.) Another analogy might be something like trying to get into a locked and barricaded stronghold, where you have armies both on the inside and outside working to meet in the middle. The intention to directly recognize the Perfection of Now (or whatever point you're inquiring about) is within the stronghold, and the destruction of the obstacles is on the outside. Both are working to meet in the middle. I know that all this technique-ing often seems contrived if we are already That, and yet, without endeavor and intention, nothing will happen. Inquiry is the intention and endeavor, not to create something new or different, but to recognize the Truth of what already IS - and in this case, the Perfection of Now! 


Saturday  August 6, 2005

No Words Come Close!

The whole problem with trying to convey, teach, share, express (and so on) the nature of reality, truth, enlightenment, awakening, (and so on), is that no words describe it - they only give a very filtered, obscured, belief-system-oriented, convoluted description of something else. I say 'God' and a thousand things come into the head. I say 'Emptiness' and a thousand things come into your head (about what emptiness is!). I say, 'non-dual,' 'brahman,' 'divine,' 'This,' or any other thing and a bunch of ideas come into your head. You end up trying to decipher every single word, of course using other words, until you ultimately come to a Clinton-esque, What is 'IS'?

But none of these words say anything. For instance, from 'my' standpoint, everything looks the same, and from the old paradigm, I would call that 'Sacred.' In other words, all that I experience is the same 'sacred substance'. But that is entirely incorrect because it conveys a specialness that you don't recognize. I don't make a distinction between sacred and non-sacred anymore, because it's all the same. Nothing and no one is any more holy, sacred (or sinner for that matter) than anything or any one else. So if you say, "Oh, he sees everything as Sacred," or "Oh, he sees nothing as Sacred," - either of those statements is equally correct. You might as well say, "Oh, he sees everything as Peanut Butter," for all the good that any of those words or concepts will convey.

As so many others have pointed out, you can never, NEVER understand it with the mind or  with the intellect. Any process you use will utilize the mind. It's like trying to taste something with your eyes. Certain delightfully red berries might look delicious, but if you eat them, you'll be dead in minutes. Many of the 'spiritual' concepts that teachers and religions put forth are about as deadly. They only immerse you in giant mounds of sacred crap! The one really great advantage I had when I started doing self inquiry was that I had no idea what I was doing or what I was looking for. I had no concepts of what enlightenment is; I didn't know what any of the big 'teachers' were. All I knew was that there appeared to be a something called an "I" and I was determined only to know, to recognize what that is. So I asked continuously, "Who am I?" That was it. And in the process I threw out huge amounts of crap. I looked at everything. tried to take nothing for granted, and just kept inquiring. Of course, ultimately, the question itself becomes almost an obstruction, because certain concepts about 'who' and 'I' arise, and it begins to become much more 'experiential' or 'physical' or...you see, words just don't convey it. The only thing you can really say is be willing to let go of everything, EVERYTHING! Be willing to die, to move into death, the absolutely unknown. Hold onto nothing, while rejecting nothing. Get out of the way of what is.

Confused? Good. There's probably nothing I can say that won't confuse you. But if it's any consolation, I remember hearing (and seeing) that on either side of the entrance of many temples in India, there are two lion-esque looking gargoyles. These two represent helplessness and confusion, and to enter ultimately through the gates to the sanctum sanctorum (more concepts) you MUST pass through helplessness and confusion. Why? Because everything you 'know' must die. Every concepts must be slashed and burned, and where do you end up? Helpless and confused. This is the beginning of being able to recognize what is real - when all the unreal stops standing in the way.


Monday  August 1, 2005

What's Love Got to Do With It?

More than anything, it seems people want to be loved. They want that experience where something outside of themselves, generally another person, (although it could be a pet, a God, or anything else presumably sentient) wants/needs/loves them. Why? Most would simply say that it is "natural for humans to want to be loved. It is part of our instinct as humans." However I can assure you that is only 'natural,' as described above, if one is not Awakened to Non-dual awareness. This is made clear by the fact that in non-dual awareness there is no 'other' out 'there' to want/need/love you, since whatever is experienced or recognized is, in fact, one's own Self.

The Truth is that real Love is an expression of Absolute Self Intimacy. Even to one still in subject-object consciousness, if you take a look at what you feel when you feel love, you feel it inside of yourself. The love is not actually coming from outside of you. It is your love you are feeling. There are no 'love rays' coming from that other person. Essentially two things are happening:

1. Your ego, which continually tells you that you are imperfect and incomplete, stops for a moment when it is fed the proper diet of somebody (or something) telling you that they love you. In fact, it could be your own mind telling you that you are loved by that woman or man, god, dog, or whatever. So, in that moment, your deep sense of inadequacy is appeased and stops telling you how worthless you are. For a little bit, the ego believes that it is okay. When this happens then

2. You are able to recognize and experience the Love that you already are. That deep sense of Peace, Presence, and Selflessness that You are is able to shine into the mind and conscious self. Of course, it is wrongly attributed to some other entity. But that Love is only coming from you. It is absolutely not necessary to have someone else love you. In fact, it is virtually impossible for someone else to love you, because there is no one else. And even if there were, it wouldn't matter, because the only Love you feel is that which is arising from the Wellspring of Love that You already are when you stop not-loving yourself. It is Self-intimacy that you are feeling, experiencing and recognizing. It is available to you at anytime that you are willing and ready to dive deeply enough into the inquiry and recognition of who you truly are.

This doesn't negate the fact that companionship can be an extremely pleasant thing - to share one's daily experiences and thoughts, to physically hold another, to experience sexual passion, to feel the various expressions that the body/mind complex has to offer. But don't confuse ego needs with love. Everything that you are experiencing is your Self experiencing Itself. Or said another way, everything that you are experiencing is God expressing/experiencing with you as the hand-puppet. So what's love got to do with it? Nothing...and Everything!


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