Aja Blog

 

Aja-Blog-All

(Now All In One Convenient Place)

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

 


Saturday  December 31, 2005

Farewell to Arms - Hello to Heart

It is the last day of the year 2005 c.e., and in a few hours we will be entering into a new year. It's often bewildered me that we make such a scene at something as trivial and arbitrary as the flipping of a calendar page, particularly when it really is almost like a random number. I mean, yes, it is the most accepted calendar system around the globe I suppose, but I'm sure there must be at least a half a dozen others regularly in use, all with the new year being at different times (the Vedic calendar year beginning in the March/April area for instance).

Still, here I am, at this arbitrary last day of the year, recognizing that the whole concept of time, what to speak of calendars is an illusion, and still affected by the energy of it. What does that mean? It means that the duality is part of the Oneness. The Divine Dance goes on, and we all are meant and destined to be the Eyes, Ears, Mind of Infinite.

Similarly, although time is simply conceptual, there is yet a framework within which it falls, and we, the Dancers of the One are a part of that great Mystery. In that framework, time exists, 'others' exist, future exists - all tied together. So as long as we will play this game, let us play it with heart, both figuratively and literally. Let us move away from the more divisive nature of the mind, which sees, feels and touches mostly in the field of duality, and move into the heart, the doorway to the Absolute. Let us move our consciousness both into the region of the physical heart, and rest in the Heart of Pure Awareness. Bring the mind into the heart. Breathe into and out of the heart. See from the heart. Recognize how the heart is the center of that Absolute and Infinite field of Grace. It takes but a moment to shift the Awareness into the heart, a bit more to stay there for any length of time, but the rewards are profound and perpetual, not only for 'You,' but for the All. Do this as often and for as long as it happens to come to 'mind' and you will soon find that your whole perspective begins to change.

And on that note, may you all have a very Happy New Year.

Heart Blessings,

Aja

 

Tuesday  December 20, 2005

Murderer or Midwife?

Ahhh! The beautiful world of duality. Good and Bad. Life and Death. Happiness and Sorrow. Pleasure and Pain. And our endless attempts to grasp the one and avoid the other. But it can't be done, can it? No matter how hard you try, both will always be there as long as there is an individual to perceive them and analyze them. "I like these things and I don't like those things."  This is a totally natural part of the Dance.

It's similar when it comes to awakening. Our postmodern view of the universe seeks to make everything equal and the same. But, there is a big difference between equal and the same. We are all equal. We are not all the same. Good and Bad are equal. They are not the same. Male and Female are equal. They are not the same. Higher and lower are equal. They are not the same. The post modern view (otherwise known by some as the 'mean green meme' or as boomeritis by Ken Wilber) would have us believe that my views and your views are virtually interchangeable, that there is NO hierarchy of values. I accept your views and you accept mine. Yes, they may be different, but they are of equal value. Thus, you can't tell me or teach me anything, because my views are already just as good as yours! AND we're all already enlightened anyway, so what recognition could you possibly have that I don't? AND I will not look at the teachings of anybody or anything that tells me differently. 

Can we see the dilemma here? If, as many want to hold onto, we are all equal and the same, and that no one's understanding is greater than anyone else's how is it possible for anyone to grow? It virtually necessitates stagnation. By this same understanding, I should go to a shoe salesman next time I need a brain surgery. You might as well put your holiday mail in the box that says "Litter" instead of "Letter."

We live in an age of EXTREME narcissism. We love our 'selves' with infinite passion, even to the point of seeking Enlightenment for our 'selves,' that "I" may experience the highest, perfect, all-good, bliss. But I want to do it 'my' way. "Yes, I know that awakening means surrendering my ego, but I can surrender my ego just fine, thank you! And I want a teacher who nurtures me, who loves me, who acknowledges my specialness, and sees me as a friend and an equal! Not some one who will point out my flaws, or even suggest that there might be a more effective way of doing and seeing things!"  But this is not the way of a true teacher. This is the way of the sweet and puffy new age teacher who sways you with their 'infinite love' and lulls you into the deep sleep of IGNORANCE!!!

Mohammad Ali perhaps said it as well as anyone: "Dance like a butterfly, sting like a bee." My teacher used to say: "Hard like a thunderbolt, soft like a rose." In other words, yes, the guru, the teacher, the mentor can be soft and loving, ever so human in every way, and even at times saintly. But they can also be the wrath of God, the avenging angel, the slayer of ignorance. I think of it as being "Two (click)...Two (click)...Two MENTors in One." The teacher is human and divine. (Yes, of course, we all are, but do you have that recognition?) The teacher is a midwife, there to love and nurture a new birth. But they are also a murderer, whose primary purpose is to destroy the ignorance, including the attachments to the way you think it should be AND the way you think it should be done. As one Buddhist teacher said, "I am the assassin you hire to kill you!" But you don't want to be killed. You only want the sweet, the light, the loving, the beautiful, the saintly. You don't want the hard, the discipline, the effort, the pushing the envelope. You want to hold onto your 'equally valuable' concepts that make you feel safe and comfortable and secure. In other words, you want only one side of the story, one side of the teacher, one side of the teaching, one half of the Truth. That's fine, but if that's your choice, do it somewhere else and quit wasting my friggin time!

(PS - If you happen to consider yourself a student of mine, and you think I'm writing with you in mind, chances are I'm not!!! However, if you perceive it that way, then perhaps you might consider the ramifications of that.  Hmmmmm?  Love & Light ... Slash & Burn)

 

Wednesday  December 14, 2005

I, Other, All

I've often said that the basic problem inherent in seeking Self Realization is that it virtually always starts from a strong ego desire, which is, of course, what it seems you are fighting in the first place to recognize the true Self. So, the ego says, "Let's go for enlightenment, the ultimate cool," but it (the ego that says this) is the thing that is getting in the way. 

This is part of the reason that bhakti, or devotion, can be so valuable. From the very beginning it's geared toward service. Ahh, service - a concept which is all too unfamiliar to us in the west. None of us wants to serve. We all want to be the master, the leader, the jnani or enlightened one. But in traditional advaita or non-duality, there is a recognition that humility, service, motiveless action or karma yoga is a necessary part of the path. Why? Because it begins the loosening of the bonds of the ego. It says serve first. Serve others. Serve God. Serve ANYONE or ANYTHING besides your own ego.

As Wei Wu Wei said:

"Why are you unhappy? Because 99 percent of everything you think, of everything you do is for yourself and there simply is not one, that you think is there."

And yet that sense of being a somebody is the predominant sense that anyone has. Like Einstein said, "The universe is an illusion, albeit, a very persistent one." So, I'm convinced that I'm here, and all my actions are geared around getting what I want, including getting rid of my I. What a quandary! How is this to be answered. The 'I' that wants it is the 'I' that must die to get it. The answer: Serve. Take a first step. Even though Advaita or non-duality says there is no individual 'I' or individual 'others,' since you're going to act as if there is an 'I', then why not act as if there are others. Find a way to serve others. Find a way to serve the whole, the all. Ninety percent of the population experiences incredible lack of self esteem. Don't be confused here - they seriously believe that they exist, they just don't like the self that is existing. Recognize, as Wei Wu Wei says, that everything you do is for your self (a non-existent one). What if you began trying to do 99% of everything you think and everything you do for others (even though they may also be non-existent? What if you began to mold your thoughts and your life in such a way that virtually everything you did was to try to be in service of others, or of God, or of the community? You get the picture.

One of the problems that has come from our present situation is that the teacher/student relationship has gone kapoot - largely for good reasons.  However,  the sense of service that was fostered in the teacher/student relation was extremely powerful and beneficial. Now, in our postmodern age, where everyone is 'equal,' now everyone is just as smart, just as enlightened, and just as important as their teacher, so why should they serve them? Because they themselves are God, why should they serve a separate God. (That's often their sense, anyway.)

In the Uddhava Gita, it says that one should see EVERYTHING as God, and bow down to it in body, mind, and spirit, until they realize the Truth of it. Before assuming everyone else should treat you as God, how about seeing everyone else as God and serving them, serving their evolution. Don't meditate so you can become enlightened, meditate so that the world becomes enlightened. Look at how many of your daily acts and thoughts are based around 'getting', and see how they could be changed to 'giving.' Give of yourselves freely and fully. Soon, you will find yourself feeling totally fulfilled and at peace.

 

Saturday  December 10, 2005

Truth, Illusion & Delusion

Ragtime... In other words, time to vent. So this is your caveat, your warning - you may not find this exactly in the realm of "Truth," but perhaps worthy of considering. It might be considered more in the "relative sphere," of what's going on in the world and how we fall into the trap of delusion.

First off, the other day I went into my local video store where they asked me if I want to support the troops (with a donation). I don't. They don't need money, they need to come home. I get tired of seeing constantly the "Support Our Troops" bumper stickers on cars. But even worse for me is hearing supposedly left-leaning thinkers, on the radio and elsewhere, thanking people for supporting our troops in Iraq and elsewhere, which is, to my mind, subtly supporting the government and the thinking which sent those troops to kill other human beings.

This body/personality, which is a child of the '60s' is fully in line with the following thoughts of Albert Einstein:

"He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder."

A big part of the nature of Truth is to see things exactly as they are, free from both illusions and delusions. Let me explain. A magician performs a trick where he puts a woman in a box and appears to cut it in half, including the occupant. The truth is that there is a trick to it and no one is cut in half. The illusion is that he does cut the woman in half. The delusion is that we allow ourselves to believe it. In other words, the illusion is natural, the delusion is not. Similarly, heat on the road creates an appearance of water on that road. That is the truth and the illusion. The delusion would be that we continue to believe there is water there.

So how does this affect us? Well, where do you delude yourself? Let's take eating meat as an example. I don't really care if you eat meat or not. It may or may not make any kind of difference in your 'spiritual' life. However, if I point out to you that killing and eating an animal is, to me, no different than killing and eating a small human child, chances are you will take offense. Why? Because you equate being human as being superior to being some other species, and therefore it's okay to kill one kind of animal but not another (a human). You might even find it reprehensible that some people eat dogs, our loyal and trusted companions. The truth is, when you eat meat, some life was ended in order for you to eat it. It's just flesh. Who cares if it was a dog, a cow, or a little boy or girl. Does it make a difference that nine billion animals a year are killed in the United States alone for food? And how about those who are in favor of abortion,  but against eating meat? Or against killing whales.  "Save the whales but kill the unborn infants." That would make a good bumper sticker. Or, "Save the whales, kill 9,000,000,000 animals a year and eat them."  Or, I saw a bumper sticker that said something like, "Save the animals, Eat a vegetarian instead."

Or, how many of you are vehemently against smokers and smoking, yet drive some big-ass SUV around? Everyone acts as if this little item burning plant material is the major cause of death and global warning. Think about it - would you rather be in a closed space with a smoker or an automobile with its engine running. One will kill you in 30 minutes, the other in maybe 30 years. We delude ourselves based on our beliefs and the prevalent memes of the day.

The point here is not that I, Aja, am for or against any of these things. The personality of Aja has its preferences and idiosyncrasies as does yours. The point is can you see which ones are true, which are illusions and which delusions? Don't delude yourself that eating one kind of flesh is better or worse than any other or that one religion is better or worse than any other. There have been people of every faith, and no faith, that have woken up to truth, been willing to see past the illusions and their own delusions to find what is real. But what it does take is discrimination - a complete willingness to see the kinds of crap you believe. Look at your habitual patterns of thinking. Explore how many things that you accept as truth are an illusion, and your willingness to hang on to them (which then becomes a delusion). Is there a past? A future? An "I"?  Is there such a thing as enlightenment? What beliefs do you hold to as sacred that you don't KNOW to be true? Look into it. Explore it.

 

Tuesday  December 5, 2005

Wanting Thing to be Different

Overall, probably the most common denominator among people is the desire for things to be different than they are. Everyone wants their life to be better, more, happier, freer, or in any number of ways, different than what it is at the present.  They want to be wealthier, more beautiful, more sexy, more spiritual or enlightened even. However, for those who are interested in Truth, they may find that they judge themselves strongly when they recognize within themselves this desire for things to be different. "How can I be surrendered to the 'Now' if I find myself wanting things to be different? If I'm wanting things to change, or wanting things to be different, I'm not accepting things as they are, and that's bad! I need to accept things as they are, which means not wanting things to be different."

Okay, here's the twist, and it's a bit of a mind boggler, so try and stay with me here. Wanting things to be different is natural. Not liking that you want things to be different is wanting things to be different. Therefore, the only way to not want things to be different is to accept that you want things to be different! I know, that takes a bit of thinking which very few people are able to actually do. So, in case you didn't get it the first time, I'll try again. People want things to be different....that's natural.  If you see this in yourself and don't like it, you also want things to be different. In other words, what you want to be different is that you should be able to accept things as they are (and not want anything to be different than it is). However, this very not wanting things to be different is, in fact, wanting things to be different. So the solution is to accept that you want things to be different, which, on a higher level, so to speak, is to accept things as they are, to accept that you want things different.

Perhaps one more way of looking at it might be that it is totally normal to want things to be different. You want to eat  because you want the hunger to go away. You want to pee because you want the pressure to go away. However, if you want to not need to eat or pee, you're really weird. If you think it's more spiritual to not want things to be different, that's unnatural. Even the desire to be more spiritual or more evolved is probably a very natural desire. Whether you can actually do anything about it is another story. However, it is also natural that you will probably try, often being frustrated in the attempt. And you'll want that to be different as well. All of this will continue to go on, and you don't need to change it. You see, it's really about surrendering at a higher level, a recognition that the human nature will always be the human nature, and any attempt to change things, in any way at all is resistance to what is.

Okay, I'll leave it there for now. Have fun with it, as confusing as it all might be. That's natural too.

Love & Kisses!

 


Wednesday  November 30, 2005

The Meaning & Purpose of Life

Oh! I can feel it now...the tension...the expectation...the scintillating excitement of an upcoming revelation! Finally, someone is going to reveal the ultimate meaning of life and simultaneously the very purpose and reason for my existence.

You're doing it!  That's right. You heard me. You are already doing it. Let's put it another way. You're not going to find anything more than what's already happening. The ultimate 'why's' are essentially a mystery. Oh, you can take one of the many belief systems already established by a variety of philosophies, religions, theories, scientific speculations and so on, but is that going to tell you which one is right? Do you expect that I'm going to tell you which one is right? (Poor misguided soul  -  Who? You or me?)

Life is. (Period) You ARE that life. In that life, that awareness, this experience that is going on there is a mind, and the mind is telling you there is an ultimate meaning and purpose and you MUST find it. What if, for a moment, you just let go of that thought that there was something to find, some purpose beyond this moment that's happening now? So what should you do with your life? Again, chances are you are doing it. If you don't like what you are doing, change it! If you can't seem to change it, deal with it, accept it, surrender to it, see the humor in it. In the end, the body disappears, and perhaps something else happens. Perhaps not. Does it matter? A huge amount of time is wasted pondering the 'what-ifs.'  Of course, probably a larger amount of time is wasted in far worse arenas of life. But then again, if the purpose and meaning of life is whatever is going on for you at this moment, then I guess no time is really wasted, is it?

But, is there a God? Am I God? Which path is the correct one? ("Path to where," I might ask.) What are you doing in your life, right now? Is it so bad? If you don't really evaluate it or compare it to some 'other' person's life or a TV show or any religious or mythological figures, but simply take your life as it is in this moment, is it really THAT bad? Do you think that if you know which is the 'true God' or the 'true path' anything will change?

But what about all those enlightened people and their expressions of the Divine and the Absolute and everything. What about YOU? Well, I'll tell you. It really comes down to a couple of simple things. Recognizing that THIS IS IT, and the YOU that you are concerned with is a fallacy.  It's like Wu Wei Wu said, "Why are you unhappy? Because 99% of what you do and what you think are all for the self; and there isn't one."

Stop thinking for a sec and just feel what's going on right now. Just kinda 'be' the now. Is that so bad?  Nahh! I didn't think so.

Bonus Blog -  2012 - Been There, Done That

Everybody knows this old phrase, "Been there, Done that." I had the thought the other day.  Take it for what it's worth (i.e. more or less a joke).

So billions and billions of years ago, (or perhaps in the infinite expanse of ancient Now-ness) the Infinite Absolute arises and begins to express as universes, galaxies, Gods, Goddesses, planets, plants, animals and even people. It expresses itself as these things, and they expand, grow, evolve, awaken on various levels. Entire civilizations rise, grow, decline, and ultimately fall, being replaced by a slightly different, perhaps more evolved civilization. This is taking place on innumerable planets in infinite dimensions of time and space, simultaneously, concurrently, whatever. Entirely unimaginable (to our puny minds) this has been going on - One infinite Consciousness expressing/experiencing infinitely, seemingly forever. And then one day, a new thought arises to it - "Been there, done that." It can't even begin to imagine any more subtle variations of the infinite number of expressions it's already made. Remember, it has been doing this in infinite dimensions for infinite years. Perhaps it's just friggin tired. Why is it, that in the last decade or so this idea has been arising among the youth and others - 'Been there, done that?' Is it the manifestation of the Absolute's ultimate boredom? What if this is what the Mayan prophecy of 2012 is about? The premonition of the Universe's ultimate boredom. "It's time for a nap!" No big cataclysm. No rapture. No big reverse bang. In fact, for that matter, no little whimper. Just ...

 

Saturday  November 19, 2005

Do I Meditate?

Often I'm asked if I meditate, to which I normally answer, 'no.' I say 'no' because, in most people's minds, when they ask that question, they're really asking, do I sit at a specified time, doing a particular practice, or technique, or something they can grasp at and understand in order to help them 'Get There.' But the reality is more that I am always meditating. However, probably even more precise is that I often claim that I sit around and do nothing for hours at a time. This is true. More true is that what is happening is that I am being meditated. The distinction is that there is no willful intent. My eyes close, and stuff goes on. Sometimes I appear to be asleep, and for all practical purpose, I am, except that there is an awareness of things going on around me, (sometimes including my own snoring). Sometimes there are thoughts. Sometimes no thoughts. Sometimes great expansiveness, and sometimes not. But there is no willful intent to direct it in any way. Whatever happens is just fine and that part that 'appears' to be Aja is surrendered to whatever may happen, knowing that it is all according to Divine will.


So, I don't want to give the mistaken idea that I am against meditation. I'm not. However, I would suggest that what most people call meditation is really a mental exercise to try and get somewhere, rather than an opportunity to surrender more deeply into the Absolute Now. Simply close your eyes and surrender to That! Trust in God or Goddess or the Divine or Truth, to carry and lead you through whatever evolving you are meant to pass through. You can't push the river - you can only flow. Resistance is futile! Or at the least painful. Of course, if that's what you need to go through, nothing I say is likely to change that either. So surrender to your highest capacity, and trust. There is no 'place' to get to...there is only the deeper recognition of what is already happening NOW. This is natural meditation.

 

 

Saturday  November 12, 2005

Mind Busters

Every once in a while, it's fun to play with an idea and explore it within consciousness. Einstein said, "The only real valuable thing is intuition." (That's not the thing to ponder.) Intuition is defined as the power or faculty of knowing things without conscious reasoning. Intuition is highly under-rated these days. If you can't figure it out with your tiny ass left brain, it ain't worth squat. But, much of that which is worth knowing, including who and what you are, can never be understood or figured out with that tiny brain or mind, because they are simply arising (occurring) within that non-definable thing, namely Awareness, or consciousness.

So, here's the ponderable thing... Infinite Continuum. 

Lately, I've been pondering the idea of spectrums - a continuous sequence or range - whether it be of light, sound, energy, time, and how the person fits into the spectrum. For instance, what we are able to see is a very tiny range or spectrum of electromagnetic waves that go from thousands of miles in length to millionths of an inch. Of course, all of this is within the phenomenal realm, but still, it helps us to understand the vastness of what we don't know, see, recognize with our limited mental capabilities. Our mind, which is what most people identify most strongly with, is specifically meant to break things down, to create clear delineations and boundaries - to cut things up into digestible pieces. However, in our minds, we then turn those pieces into wholes. We figure that what we can see with our eyes is the whole of the show, even though it's a tiny fragment of this much larger spectrum or continuum.  Our experience of ourselves, on nearly every level - physical, mental, emotional, etc. - is similarly just a tiny part of an infinite continuum, something like a tiny node within (and without) of all space and time. Ponder (ruminate on, meditate on) this sense of infinite continuum - that what you know or experience is but a tiny fragment of something that continues infinitely in all directions and all levels of space, time, being and non-being, consciousness, knowable and unknowable, forever and ever. In other words, open up to the infinite. Let go of your perceived boundaries or limits. Rest in the infinite continuum. Have fun!

 

Wednesday  November 09, 2005

Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Life is But a 'Meme'

When you look at the process of awakening from the standpoint of the elimination of beliefs, then you would do well to study the nature of 'memes.'

So what is a meme? One definition from Glenn Grant: "Meme (pron. meem): A contagious information pattern that replicates by parasitically infecting human minds and altering their behavior, causing them to propagate the pattern. (Term coined by Richard Dawkins, by analogy with "gene".) Individual slogans, catch-phrases, melodies, icons, inventions, and fashions are typical memes. An idea or information pattern is not a meme until it causes someone to replicate it, to repeat it to someone else. All transmitted knowledge is memetic."

In our more conventional language, we talk about beliefs, but essentially, all beliefs are memes; in other words, virtually none of our beliefs are self created. They come from someone else, either vertically or horizontally - i.e. vertically from our parents, elders, traditions, etc., and horizontally from our peers, friends, social and cultural contacts, and so forth.

What is most interesting about memes is their ability or necessity to replicate themselves. Author Richard Brodie has called them 'Viruses of the Mind' and has written a book by the same title. When you consider the implications, you begin to recognize the extent of their ability to do 'good' and or 'evil.' And their ability to replicate is often built into the meme itself. For instance, a really good meme (or a complex of memes, called a memeplex) has built into it the necessity of spreading. A perfect example is nearly any religion, which says that you must save others by spreading a particular meme. A meme can be either beneficial or, suprisingly, malignant to it's host (the human mind). For instance, memes like Jim Jone's People's Temple was obviously very detrimental to its hosts, as is the meme, 'smoking is cool.'

Language is considered by many a type of meme, as is the very concept of memes itself. Advaita, god, spirituality, emptiness, enlightenment...all memes. Moment to moment, most of our movements, our ambitions and goals, our hopes and fears, are driven by memes. Thus, our entire 'life' could be defined as the outcome of memetic movement. But, of course, if you read this, it makes sense to you on some level, and you spread the idea of it....woo hoo! we're spreading more memes!

Anyway, it's fun to think about and recognize how binding these ideas are, whether you call them memes, beliefs, mental habits, programming, patterns, cosmic illusion or whatever.

Now....to Whom do these memes arise?

 


Sunday  October 23, 2005

Know who you (The Person) Are

This may seem to be going 'backwards' in a way, but I think it's necessary sometimes to look back at the steps and make it clear in order to go forward. The process of self inquiry needs to take place on all levels, and that means beginning at the beginning. Often I see people having difficulty with the process of inquiring into the self because they are starting at the 'top' so to speak. In other words, they jump directly into these wonderful aspects of the Absolute (or try to), without understanding the lower principles of who they are as an individual person.  So it looks a little like this...You're a six year old kid who has mastered the tricycle, not able to really ride a bicycle with any balance, and somebody puts you on a motorcycle. YAHOOOOOOO!!! This is GREAT! Incredible speed, amazing experience. You might even be able to manage the first turn. But somewhere along the line, and probably sooner than later - Kablam! Really big crash. Why? Because you hadn't even gotten the basics down.

Now it's true that we often belittle new age or psychological teachings because they are in a completely different category than the recognition of the Self or Absolute. However, it's only to make the difference clear. Riding a motorcycle is nothing like riding a bike. Or to extend the analogy a little further, riding a rocket ship is nothing like riding a bike, although they hold certain things in common - starting, steering, maintaining speed and direction, landing properly and so forth; but beyond the obvious similarities, they are very far apart. And, you're unlikely to be able to navigate the more advanced without having mastered, or at least familiarized yourself with the lower.

So, what is all this leading to? In the process of inquiring into who we are, we have to start with what we are right here in the relative and 'mundane' level. That means, who we are as people, as an individual expression of the Absolute. Each of us is a particular energetic patterning of the Divine. We are here, in part, to represent that function and to own up to it, discover it, express it, be it.  This is what many psychologists would call the maturing process - becoming mature and aware adults. Who are you as a person? What floats your boat? What do you like to do to enjoy or to express yourself? Be totally honest with yourself!  I often find that due to those great evils - Political Correctness and Spiritual Correctness (P.C. and S.C.), both of which are simply social, cultural, societal constraints, people are often unwilling to BE who they are. They lie to others, and more importantly themselves, about who they are. If you're a stone-cold killer, that's who you are. I'm sorry, but not everybody is a little light fairy on their way to infinite Sainthood, at least not right now and this time around. Or more accurately, you can't get there (if that's where you're supposed to be) without recognizing who and what you are right NOW! In fact, the recognition and expression of who and what you are IS the doorway to recognizing who and what you are on a deeper level. Another analogy: If your basic math tells you that 2 + 2 = 3, then you might go to the most advanced levels of mathematics and calculus, but everything will be fundamentally off, and you will never get the right answer.

Often, I've found that spirituality for many people is an escape, when what they probably really need is therapy and just to really identify what's going on with them as people. Yes, this can be hard because so much of what we are as individuals is not P.C. and S.C., so we deny it to others and ourselves. But you can never know who you are as Absolute Being if you can't even recognize what you are as a Relative Being. Well, you can, but you probably won't get much past the first turn or two before....Kablam!  So do the work. Inquire, write, question, investigate! If somebody calls you on something, don't just shine it on. Look at it. It's probably true. Don't just turn it around and say, "Oh, that's your projection." It might be, but it probably also applies to you. How can you own up to your divinity if you can't own up to your relativity?

The 'Hindu' scriptures talk about the 'yugas' these vast periods of time that are differentiated by the amount of purity in them. At present time, we are considered to be in Kali yuga, the lowest, which is designated by a gradual decrease in Truthfulness. This is just what I'm talking about. I used to think of it as being just your basic lying to others. But gradually, I realized that it's not so much about truthfulness with others, as it is about truthfulness within oneself. Be truthful. Recognize (without judgment) who you are on the basic levels of here and now and that will create the foundations to inquire into who you are on deeper and vaster fields of Being.

 

Thursday  October 20, 2005

Being Still

Sometimes, (I am told) there is malaise...ennui... tedium...unrest. With the understanding that there is 'nothing' to get, that it is all present here, and there is nothing to strive for, it sometimes occurs that the whole thing gets kind of, well, boring. 

The problem here is simple. While it is true that there is nothing to 'get,' there is still something to recognize. in other words, understanding and recognition are not necessarily the same thing. Part of process IS this mental or intellectual understanding. That is a big part of it, but the actual recognition of that also needs to to happen. How is this to be accomplished? Well, at the risk of repeating myself YET ONCE AGAIN, one can ask, "To whom is this ennuit, this malaise arising?" Recognize that it is all arising within this Awareness.  However, if that doesn't work, or even if it does, there is one more thing that can be of great and significant value...

STOP!  Be Still! Stop Doing.

It doesn't have to be forever, or even for a long time...an hour, a half hour, five minutes. Just stop any doing and just 'BE.'  Our tendency is to keep moving, to keep doing, to strive in some little way, or to fill up the space with some other small doings - like busy work or little chores, or anything that will take away or help us escape the immediacy of NOW. But in the long run, it is anti-productive to the recognition of what is. So instead, just stop and be. Relax into the moment. Don't try to do anything other than recognize the nature of the moment, of Awareness, of your own presence. Totally be with what is arising, in you, around you, the feelings, the sounds, the emotions, all of it. Relax into the totality of it all, without any expectation or striving. Just let go.

In the West, particularly, we seem to feel that we can't stop doing. Even our non-doing has to be pervaded by some kind of doing. But this is like trying to start a fire while constantly dribbling water on our fuel. This is not India or some other place where non-doing is practically a competitive sport. Here we need to consciously stop any kind of doing. Otherwise, we can't really experience or explore those deeper issues which want and need to arise. We end of living in a sort of half-way land, and that will be boring. It is not effortless being if we're continuously chasing after doing. So, if we want to see a change happen, change something. (There's that old saying, "Insanity is doing the same things and expecting different results.") Therefore, change something by stopping the doing and being still. Be still and recognize that stillness within you. Be still and recognize that within that stillness and from that stillness the world arises, and yet, that infinite stillness is still there. Stop dribbling the water for a few minutes (hours, days, whatever) and allow that stillness to be recognized. The world won't crumble around you. And if it does...no biggy. It wasn't doing you that much good to begin with.

 

Monday  October 3, 2005

Switching to 'I Am'

We, by our nature, are constantly focusing on the objects of perception, whether sights (through the eyes), sounds (through the ears), physical sensations, or even thoughts within the mind. This constant 'outward' focus is habitual. But what is the perceiver?

Various teachings, teachers, etc. have proclaimed the need to 'know' the Self.  Generally, they are not speaking of the physical, mental or emotional self, but the 'True Self.' But what is that and how is it done. It's really not that hard. In fact, it's pretty rudimentary. The problem is staying there for any appreciable amount of time.

Right now as you're reading this, you are focused on what you are seeing. Without doing anything else, change your attention to the one who is reading. Be the one looking out those eyes. You might have to stop reading for a moment, but try it a few times, going back and forth - focusing on the words you're seeing, then focusing on the seer. In both cases, you're still seeing the same thing, but there is a subtle shift of what is dominant - the object of seeing or the one who sees.

You could also try the same thing in a mirror, gazing at the image in the mirror and then switching to the one behind those eyes in the head who is staring out at the mirror. You can also try it with part of your own body. Feel your foot and then be the feeler of the foot.

This shift to the perceiver or Seer (sakshi  or drashta in Sanskrit) is what is referred to by many as the Self. It is that consciousness or awareness which is perceiving through the various senses. It is that pure sense of 'I Am.'

The Bhagavad Gita (sixth chapter) describes this as the essence of Yoga:

"When the disciplined mind rests in the Self alone, free from desire for objects, then one is said to be established in Yoga.

"When he experiences that supreme happiness which transcends the senses, and is perceived by the intelligence (buddhi), established thus he never moves from Reality.

"Abandoning all desires born from imagination, and curbing the senses by the mind on all sides, firm in intellect, little by little one should fix his mind on the Self, and not think of anything else.

"From wherever and whatever the mind wanders, due to its restless nature, let him bring it back to rest in the Self.

"Constantly engaging in this way, the Yogi, who has given up impurity, attains easily the supreme bliss that comes through contact with Brahman (the Absolute)."

So first, learn to recognize that switch to the 'I Am,' the Seer, the Self, bit by bit, step by step, training yourself to stay there. Even though the mind may wander, bring it back to the Self again and again.

(Shortcut: No matter what is happening, ask the question, "Who is aware of this?" That should  immediately bring you back to that sense of 'I Am. Then just keep doing that.)

 


Monday  September 19, 2005

Why Are You Reading This?

The answer to that question, for probably 99% of you, is that you want things to be different; you assume that you are not enlightened and that you want to be enlightened; that you are bound and want to be free? Always dualities!

The whole idea of 'This Moment' is that there is nothing wrong right now. The key word is acceptance. Let me quote a few old friends:

Ramana Maharshi says - The only thing standing in the way of enlightenment is the thought, 'I am not enlightened.'

Nisargadatta Maharaj says - The problem is you want what you don't have and don't want what you do have. All you need to do is switch that around and want what you do have and don't want what you don't have.

And Ashtavakra Samita says - If you consider yourself free, you're free; and if you consider yourself bound, you're bound. The saying, 'As you consider, so you become,' is true in this world.

So what is wrong with this moment, and with you as you are? If you ask yourself this question, probably a whole mess of answers will arise that tell you what is wrong with you. But these answers, these 'wrongnesses' are only in the mind; they are only thoughts. If the thoughts were not there, not given any credence, not believed, then guess what - nothing would be wrong. So then, the mind asks, 'How do I stop or still the mind, or these thoughts?' 

Answer: You don't have to. They also are simply arising in the sphere of awareness. What do you do about the clouds passing by? What do you do about that little twinge of pain in your big toe? What do you do when any insignificant event occurs? Nothing. You recognize it, or witness it, or notice it, and everything continues. That's it.

But then you say, 'Well, what about the big stuff?'  What big stuff?  It's like that book title, "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff & It's All Small Stuff."  What do you do when you have to take a pee? You go take a pee. What do you do when you are hungry? You go eat. What do you do if you're dying of some horrible disease? You go to a doctor, and/or you die. What do you do about the starving children in (place city/country here)? You give money, you fly there, you join a group, or do nothing. Whatever seems to be the proper answer for you. A million things arise - some of them appear 'good' and some appear 'bad.' But that's a little bit like some appear 'red' and some appear 'green.' They are all just things arising/happening in Awareness. You, the 'big You' are that Awareness, already free, already peaceful, already infinite. You don't need to do anything, or get rid of anything to be who and what you are. You need only let go of the thoughts, 'I am not happy, I am not free, I am not peaceful." And the rest is already and always there!

 

Friday  September 16, 2005

The Way We Were

One of the benefits of knowing (or playing with) Sanskrit, is the wealth of beautiful and profound writings that are available there. Around the time I met my Sanskrit teacher, he taught me one of the most beautiful verses I have ever heard, and it still deeply affects me every time I think of it:

Yuyam vayam vayam yuyam         (You are we...We are you)

Ityasin matir avayoh                        (Thus was the mind of us)

Kim jatam adhuna yena                   (What has happened now by which)

Yuyam yuyam vayam vayam            (You are you and we are we)

"You are we and we are you; this was our mutually shared understanding and vision. What has happened now, though, by which we are separate and you are you and I am I?"

We are all one. This is not a theoretical proposition, but a reality, and many believe that this was much more commonly understood at one time, and may still be among certain groups. It may also be the direction that we are moving toward again. As one awakens to truth, this recognition becomes more and more clear, and subsequently a certain amount of pain is actually felt that this isn't the commonly perceived reality. It is this individualized mind/ego, this divisiveness that causes all the suffering, and the heart aches to see it. Fortunately, there is also a certain amount of detachment as well. But it is this aspect of awakening that initiates the compassionate need of those who teach. Unlike many others, teaching, for those who have reached a certain level of awakening, is not from ego, not from mind, but from the level of experiencing the suffering caused by this divisiveness, and feeling a need to assist others. Not all people who awaken experience this, but in our own case, and many other teachers I know, this becomes achingly clear.

Each time I sing this verse (which has a beautiful melody), the heart opens a little more. Some may argue that this isn't very Advaitic, but that's okay. Feel it anyway. The heart is one as well, and the more we experience that, the more everyone will come into this pure non-duality which includes not only the Being (sat) or the Awareness (cit), but the Bliss and Sweetness (ananda) as well.

  

 

Wednesday  September 7, 2005

Just Do It!

In the Neo-advaitic circles, it is popular to talk about 'choicelessness' or  that there is no choice. This may be the recognition that arises ultimately - that there is no choice, and that it appears that everything is pre-determined...every motion, every thought, every everything. However, that leaves one in something of a dilemma. It leaves them, often, like a spineless jellyfish, flopping around and unable to do anything. Even if it is the realization in the end, that when you get to the end of the road, you realize that the road didn't really go anywhere, and that you were always That, and that everything ends up exactly where you are now....still, there is one big difference: Virtually everyone who ends up 'there,' worked their ass off to get there. Find that awakened person who, on some level, didn't sit for years, inquire for years, meditate for years, or even just sat at the feet of some awakened teacher, or did something where their intention and their mind was focused on awakening.

The Yoga Vasishtha says that there are two karmas or actions - that from the past and that from the present, and that the second is more powerful than the first. In other words, no matter what your present circumstances are (due to the accumulation of past actions or karmas) they can be overcome by your present actions. Yes, it takes a great amount of will, or intention, or effort - because essentially you are breaking through your patterns, your gunas, your conditioning, but only you can do it. Ramana Maharshi says, "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." So it appears to be a paradox: Choiceless awareness is our real nature, and yet, to get there requires effort. Nothing is achieved without effort, and every heart warming, inspiration story tells us of someone who achieved great things through effort, sometimes almost superhuman effort.

The bottom line is that if you don't like the way things are going, make an effort to change it. It may or may not work, as the outcome may also be predetermined, but it sure isn't going to change if something (i.e. you) don't change. The old definition of insanity is 'doing the same thing and expecting different results.' So in what ways are you insane, doing the same things, bitching about them, and expecting something to be different? If you want to wake up, struggle to wake up. If you want anything to be different, then the idea is arising to change. Do it! That is what is arising. Go with that flow to change. Don't hold on to old patterns, or allow yourself to remain stagnant. Go, open, move, flow, surrender, expand, explode. Do something! Just do it!

 

Friday  September 2, 2005

There Is No Goal-Line

Ego (mind) wants to achieve. Particularly in the West, there is an idea of achievement - that when I have attained 'this or that' I will have 'gotten there!'  The recognition of truth has become such an achievement. It is the ego, mind, identification which wants to 'achieve' enlightenment - to be 'There', to be 'done'. But, there is no such thing. There is no 'Done' or ultimate end. There is movement and non-movement. There is the Absolute (or whatever you want to call it) in both stillness and movement. There is deeper recognition and there is dis-identifying with the limited. We may or may not exist as localized individuality. Most people identify as being localized persons. Some of us less so or not at all. (Yes, I am aware of the inherent problems in languaging all this.) But there is no great goal-line. People have made enlightenment or awakening as the final big achievement, as in 'When I get there, I will be done, and have achieved the ultimate!'

Bull-Puckey! Yes, the big questions are done; there is minimal internal conflict; there is a recognition of pure, non-dual awareness and that That is what one is. But it's also like flowing down the river and into the Sea. The limitation has stopped, but not necessarily the flowing. It's like somebody spend their life wanting to go to India. They travel by train, plane and automobile, working hard, suffering and enjoying the trials and tribulations of the journey, get to the border where the border guard stamps their passport and then, "Wow! I made it. I'm in India. I'm THERE!" And their journey stops. They haven't seen a single beggar, temple, sadhu, or open sewer system. They haven't smelled the ghee, chai, incense, burning plastic, or the shit. They haven't tasted a single samosa, idli, or lassi. But they 'got there.'

Enlightenment is not the end-zone; it's the beginning-zone. It is the doorway into the Real. It is the recognition of Consciousness and beyond. But it is also a natural process of the evolution of the Awakening Field of Consciousness which is what the All is. When you reach puberty, you don't say, "I made it," and stop. Life goes on. When you reach menopause, you don't say "I made it," and stop. Life goes on. When you wake up to Self as Infinite Being...well, yes, part of the old you stops, but Life doesn't; existence doesn't. The show continues. You-ness goes on.

Part of the problems is that the very ideas of Enlightenment, Awakening, Nirvana and so forth create a limited concept. They create a whole new construct or belief system that the ego-I can strive to achieve, moving the box of limitations into a new realm.

My suggestion: Give up all the concepts of enlightenment. In a very real sense, there is no such thing. Have the underlying intention to move toward / Be / KNOW Truth; inquire into Truth and what the 'I' is, recognizing it's flimsiness and un-reality; and see what you hold onto to that isn't true. Fill yourself with this intention. Be this intention. Then let go of all other identifications. Fall into the Reality of What Is in the moment, and you will see that you have always been in the end-zone.

I also suggest you click on and read the 'About Aja' page which I have changed. I've tried to reflect his perspective there as well.

 


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!

 


Sunday  July 31, 2005

All I See is Me

Whatever you experience...all that you experience...all that you have ever experienced is YOU. Perhaps it may not feel like you in the way that you are used to (primarily full of doubts and confusions, big dreams, expectations, arrogance, and so forth) but it is You nonetheless.

If you are used to the ideas of Non-duality at all, the primary recognition is that what you are is Consciousness or Awareness. There is no localized individuality that is real. The thoughts swimming around, the body, etc. give an idea of a localized individuality, but when you inquire into who is perceiving those things, and the answer "I am" comes up, you find that "I" has no localized, stagnant, limited place of existence. It is what is happening...boundless Awareness is what is happening, and That Boundless Awareness is all there is. In that Boundless Awareness, infinite things are occurring (arising, happening, existing, etc.) Among them is an idea of you, an idea of body, an idea of universe, all appearing as experiences within the Boundless Awareness, including the experience of a localized individual who is experiencing them. The subject/object experience is one of the 'things' which is occurring in this Boundless Awareness that you are. So, YOU, that IS the Boundless Awareness, are arising (occurring, happening, etc) as this multitude of things, including the 'you' experiencing 'something else.'

The hard part in all of this is letting go of the habitual conditioning of seeing it as a subject/object relationship. If, for even a moment, you get a glimpse of the recognition, that egoic sense of limited individuality pops up and goes, "Cool, I want to experience this," and Poof, that recognition suddenly disappears again to become a memory to try and be retrieved. (By the way, never try to retrieve a history or memory of a recognition because it will always remain just that - a memory - not a living recognition in the Now.)

So, you have to look in this present moment - what is actually happening? Is there a localized individuality (subject) experiencing other things (objects), or is there simply an unbounded Awareness within which the feeling of individual and something else is arising. Dig deep into this. Question the nature of this sense of localized individuality to see how concrete it really is. Ultimately you'll find that You are what is happening...You are all that has ever happened...You are that Boundless Awareness.

 

Friday  July 29, 2005

"Ticket, Please!"

(First - my apologies for the long delay - sickness struck - I'm better now.)

Ticket Agent: "Can I help you?"

Customer: "Yes, I'd like to buy a ticket."

Ticket Agent: "Great. Where do you want to go?"

Customer: "I don't know. Somewhere nice that's not here."

Ticket Agent: "Well, I can't help you if you don't know where you want to go."

Customer: "Fine, then, how about a ticket to Earth."

Ticket Agent: "Sir, you're already here!"

Customer: "Oh."

This is, unfortunately, the way most people are in the West when it comes to understanding spirituality - "Just give me a ticket." I haven't a friggin clue where I'm going, but I know THIS ain't it." So, when they say they want enlightenment and you ask them what enlightenment is, the description could be anything; and it's usually more along the lines of something mystical, or magical, or saintly, or about mastery or about anything except what real enlightenment is.

Enlightenment is about the realization of Truth and knowing what and who you are (and are not). It is not about being a saint, or reading minds, or walking on water, or seeing the ends of the universe. It is actually far more profound and far more simple. It is seeing and being Truth with no blinders and is far more rare and valuable than mystical powers. Where part of the problem lies is that, depending on where you're starting from, the pathless path (or trackless track, or flightless flight) to your destination may have you going through numerous other stations and stops. So, some enlightened beings have powers and some don't. They don't care. Those just happened to be the stops along the way. But somebody else looks at that person, sees the ability to transmute water into wine, or read minds, or juggle four ostriches  while singing the national anthem,  and thinks, 'This must be the guy,' even though that guy may have no clue as to who he himself really is, or what the truth is. They're content with their juggling act.

Another thing about the destination is that it might look like some other destination or have similar qualities, but that doesn't make it where you want to go. It's sunny, so it must be California. It might actually be the Sahara desert. Certain symptoms are just that - symptoms. People often confuse the symptoms of something with that something itself, or as the means to get there. Love is a great example. If I pretend to be loving, I'll become Enlightened. Thus, you get a lot of people trying to be Love realized (a noble quality, certainly) but not interested in Truth, or in who is being love.  

A lot of people (probably the majority) aren't interested in Truth, they just want to "Get the hell out of Dodge." They don't care about where they're going, as long as it's not here. The funniest part of it is that, should they ever recognize Enlightenment, they'll find out that it is exactly right here. In fact, you can't get there without ultimately accepting and surrendering to exactly what is here, right now! (That's part of the whole pathless path thing.)

A more recent problem is that since we are now all 'Equal,' your understanding can't be any better than my understanding, so no one can tell me what it is and how to get there, because I know it just as well as you. (Ask one of these people to go to a shoe salesman when they need their next brain surgery.) Of course, they won't say it exactly like that, but that's the gist of it. There's this pseudo-understanding that there is no higher or lower, good or bad, and that everything is equal, so I can choose any path I want, any destination I want, and my understanding and wisdom is just as great as yours. (I hope you enjoy playing volleyball in the Sahara.) This is the height of today's arrogance (or stupidity). And the saddest part of it is, that while this equality thing is well intentioned, it is: 1. Wrong, and 2. Virtually guarantees that you will never, ever, ever see the Truth. Although it is now an outdated quality, a modicum of humility is an absolute pre-requisite to seeing (or more importantly hearing) the Truth. If you already know the Truth (or rather think you do) there is no way you're going to be willing to let go of those things and hear or recognize what is True.

So, the bottom line is, figure out what you want, what you truly want, where you want to go, and move toward that. Find out what you believe, and see if that is true. Research what is what, and particularly, research your own understanding or lack of it. And most importantly, be willing to do the work.

 

Tuesday  July 19, 2005

How to Understand Spiritual Writings

Like just about everything that deals with the spiritual, spiritual literature and the words of spiritual teachers must be approached or understood in an entirely different way than regular literature and regular words. When you read regular (or mundane) literature, you are reading with the mind. Your intention is to gather information - to increase the accumulation of 'useful' knowledge, or possibly for the enjoyment factor. Spiritual literature, however, is an entirely different animal. My teacher used to call his writings his 'spiritual ecstasies,' and I now fully understand what this means. Franklin Merrell-Wolff spoke of the 'golden nuggets' which would come from the 'mines' each day, and which, due to other mundane affairs, he was often unable to get down in writing fast enough. The words of the teacher, whether in person or in writing, are infused with transcendental energy. They come from the Realization of the speaker and therefore from the Absolute. They speak much more to the heart than to the mind. They are not meant primarily for information gathering or to increase the wealth of intellectual knowledge, but rather to effect the consciousness. In fact, sometimes the words may make no mental sense at all, but the power is there.

Words carry the energy of the speaker (or the writer). So it is important more to 'feel' the words, feel the energy, and contemplate the feeling which they impart. Spiritual instructions are to be taken, also, from a sense of how do they feel, or how can I implement these into my Being.  In the Vedantic tradition, there are three words that describe this process - shravanam, mananam, and nididhyasanam. Shravanam means simply to hear. Mananam means to think about, but more accurately to reflect upon, meditate on or deliberate deeply. And finally, nididhyasanam means profound and repeated meditation, essentially at the level of making it a personal insight or Realization. This is the way transcendental literature is to be understood. If it remains at the level of the mind, it simply and literally adds more garbage and beliefs to the mind and gums up the works and obscure actual Recognition.

This is why a single word or phrase from a teacher or spiritual work, if deeply pondered upon, and acted upon, can do far more good than volumes of literature or hours of 'spiritual sessions.' A single finger pointing in the right direction is more valuable (and more direct) than piles and piles of maps and guidebooks. Our natural tendency is to not trust our inherent wisdom. We seem to need to hear the same thing over and over and over, rather than taking it within ourselves and acting upon it; feeling the Truth of it, as it resonates with That which we already are and already Know.  For instance, when I began doing Self inquiry, I didn't know any Papaji's or Nisargadatta's. I had never even heard of Ramana Maharshi. I was only given the instruction to inquire, "Who am I?" And this I did continuously. That's all. Nisargadatta says the same thing. He simply followed his gurus instruction to stay in the "I Am" and did this for three years (I believe it was) until he gained Realization. It doesn't take a lot. It takes a deeper understanding and commitment to those words, rather than a mountain of words that are not understood or acted upon.

So don't make the mistake of becoming a spiritual 'junkie.' Commit yourself fully, not to gathering information, but to meditating upon and acting upon that wisdom which you have received. If you haven't received any yet, than try this...Ask yourself 'Who am I?' and don't stop until you hit 'bottom.' Good luck!

 

Thursday  July 14, 2005

Why Slash & Burn - The Process of Waking Up

This could also be entitled - Why am I such an asshole? 

The process of waking up or recognition essentially consists of two phases which I call De-ID and Re-ID, that is:

1. De-Identification: De-identification is about finding out what you're not. In Sanskrit, it is what is termed 'Neti Neti' or 'not this, not that.' I am not the body, not the mind, not the emotions. I am not a particular class of person. I am not the elements of the body, and so forth. However, our identification with this is VERY strong, even more so in today's culture. Our entire society, our media, our advertising, TV, culture, everything screams out every moment of every day - "You are your body! You are your prestige! You are your possessions! You are your job! You are your country! You are your religion!" Society either intentionally or unintentionally seems to be trying (and succeeding) to systematically stupefy, dumb-down, and keep asleep all of humanity. They keep them at an adolescent stage, not encouraging intelligence and philosophical thought, but in fact fighting against it. Above such a roar of lies and propaganda, it is necessary to scream at the top of your lungs and act as a madman in order to be heard.

Without this process of dis-identification, it is impossible to recognize Truth. Imagine that you have some vague idea that the world isn't flat, but might be round. However, all the evidence that you are given, everything that everybody tells you, is that the world is flat. There's no particular reason to believe that it's round. It doesn't look round. It looks flat. But your heart tells you that it's round. Unless and until you can let go of the conceptions that it's flat; until there is virtually no doubts left, you are NOT going to get in that boat and sail willingly toward the edge. You will remain relatively content with flatness, but never totally happy, because your heart will always tell you, "I'm sure it's round."

Our own flat world is society, media, our family, our friends, and our own minds telling us that this is the real world. There's nothing else. Make more money. Be successful by getting and being bigger, better and more. We can't even see the patterns within ourselves, they are so deeply ingrained. (This is the position of the teacher, the wolf crying in the wilderness, who points out these patterns and illusions, sometimes painfully.) It becomes necessary to gradually see these patterns, these illusions, these habits, and to recognize that they are not the truth...only habits.

2. Re-Identification: Simultaneous with the De-identification is a 'sort of' Re-identification. I say 'sort of' because it's not like you're taking on a new belief in exchange for the old ones, but rather recognizing what is really there when you get rid of the old belief habits and patterns. It is the recognition of that non-dual awareness, that pure infinite consciousness which has always been present. So, in the beginning, it may seem something like a belief, or an affirmation. But it's not. An affirmation is often the claiming of something which is not, or for something which is simply hoped for ("I have a billion dollars. I have a billions dollars.") This is more akin to "I am a human. I am a human." It's something that is already true, just not recognized. So, the great evocations, such as 'aham brahmasmi' (I am the Absolute), and 'tat tvam asi' (You are That), or virtually the entirety of such books as 'Ashtavakra Gita' and others are the pure expression of what you truly are - Pure, infinite consciousness within which this entire universe arises!

Self-Inquiry, the investigation into 'Who am I?' 'What am I?' 'What is Real?' and so forth, simultaneously fulfills both these features. While inquiring into who you are, you practically see what you are not. You also begin to taste that which is left over. You keep seeing the unreal and slashing and burning it out of the way. With each habit or old pattern you are able to see through, you begin to recognize more and more what is actually left - glimpses at first, but gradually tearing through that veil of illusion to the Truth!

Now, often what happens as one awakens is something of a third phase. This is what Franklin Merrell-Wolff calls:

3. Real Altruism: In Awakening, there is a total recognition that everything is perfect the way it is. There is nothing wrong, and in fact, everyone is doing exactly what they should be doing and are fine exactly where they are. However, a certain sort of sense of compassion arises. A sense that even though everyone and everything  is perfect as it is, there is a certain incompleteness - the Universe wants to wake up; this sense of wakefulness needs to expand. It is much like raising a child. You recognize that every point of development in a child is perfect. You can accept their mistakes and childishness and where they are at, and yet you work toward and look forward to that time when they are healthy, fully-functioning adults which contribute to your own wholeness or the wholeness of the All. The desire of a true awakened teacher to teach has nothing to do with ego, but rather a compulsion to fulfill the evolutionary agenda of the Absolute. It's like stepping into a rushing river. It's not my desire to get to the ocean. You simply surrender to the current and that's where it takes you. For those who actually teach Truth, they'll tell you there's no great glory there. From a personal level, it's often a pain in the ass. And yet, you can't help it. You are now Enlightenment - and Enlightenment must express itself through that teacher guy there. Sometimes, the teacher is sweet and flowing and loving and apparently compassion. Sometimes, (ahem) they're just plain butt-heads. As God says (and Popeye too), "I am What I am."

 

Tuesday  July 12, 2005

How Many Minutes?

Let's simplify this. Often, we may be very proud of ourselves and say, "Well, I spend quite a lot of time daily meditating (inquiring, reading, etc.)" But the real question should be how many minutes a day (or even how many seconds a day) am I NOT thinking about, meditating on, inquiring into the Absolute? How many minutes or seconds a day are totally wasted and lost for eternity as I contemplate some enjoyment, or worry, or success or failure or ...?

"If the time spent thinking about objects NOT the Self was spent inquiring INTO the Self, Self Realization would be achieved in a very short time." - Ramana

Being obsessive for Truth is not a sickness. It is perhaps the first and only sign of wellness.

 

Monday  July 11, 2005

Mental Media

I just watched the movie, 'The Corporation,' which goes into great detail about the history, nature, problems caused by, and so forth, corporations. Much of the movie dealt with how we are manipulated through corporations and their power to affect media, government, and everything else. When you examine how much of life (and the world) is dictated by and controlled by corporations, it's overwhelming. My friend who was watching it with me, couldn't even finish. She became far too depressed. The sense that you get is that they are all powerful and that there's nothing you can do. The world is going to hell in a hand-basket, and mighty, friggin fast!

Now, let's translate that into something much closer...the mind. Your mind has ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHAT'S TRUE! It does NOT have your best interest at heart. It will NOT guide you toward Truth. And yet, everyday, virtually every minute, you greedily suck up those thoughts that come pouring into your head and identify them as being the Truth. Why? Because, like those who readily accept whatever is on TV and have identified the people on TV as the 'knowers,' you have identified with your mind as YOU. The thoughts are coming into YOUR head, and therefore they must be True, they must be correct, they must be RIGHT.

WRONG!!!!! They are just thoughts. They are not necessarily true or not true. Each one is just as likely to be absolutely incorrect as it is to be correct. This is why discrimination is SO important. You need to be able to dis-identify from those thoughts and assess them - is this real or not? Is this thought true or not? What do I know for sure??? Who or what am I really if not these thoughts? You have probably been believing a whole heap of crap for years and consciously, unconsciously or subconsciously just assumed it was true. This is why you have to start digging up everything you hold as dear, all those beliefs, assumptions, habits, general assessments, expectations, concepts - all of them, and look very closely at them. They keep feeding through your head as thoughts which you assume are true. Dig them up and assess them. Is this one true? Do I know it to be true? Is it Real? If not, throw it the hell out! In fact, you should probably just throw it out anyway, because what is really True can never be destroyed. Slash and Burn everything, and what is true will remain.

But most people, even those who claim they are seeking Enlightenment, won't do this. Why? Because they want to hold onto those things that are comfortable. They want to get rid of hate but hold onto love. They want to destroy darkness while holding onto light. They want to destroy Republicans but hold onto Democrats. That last one sounds ludicrous doesn't it? And yet, they are all the same. They are all just dualities created by the mind. See, you can't trust the mind. Inquire, Inquire, Inquire. Find out what is Real. Abandon your reliance and trust on the Mental Media.

 

Monday  July 11, 2005

Do You Have What It Takes?

Okay...You're reading this page, and the assumption is that if you're reading this page, and you're not a relative or someone else that's required through association to read this page, that you're theoretically interested in waking up. So, the question is...Do you have what it takes?

I deride beliefs endlessly, since beliefs are what generally obscure truth. However, there is a distinction between beliefs and genuine pointers, and I have found that many of the classic Advaitic (non-dual) texts of Shankaracharya and others, are bona fide pointers toward Truth.  Often they delineate what are the pre-requisites for liberation.

First, a clarification: What is it that you want? And in this, you must be very clear. Do you want to be special in some way? If so, go away. Do you want power? If so, go away. Do you want love and light and happiness, and for everything to be sweet and dandy? If so, go far, far away. Do you want Enlightenment? If so, first you have to define it. Generally it has way to many ideas and beliefs attached to it.  The two words I like best are Truth and Freedom. And as I've mentioned before, the two words generally used in the ancient texts are 'moksha' and 'mukti,' both of which essentially mean to be Free, and that particularly means free from everything that is NOT true, and thus to come to Truth!

So what are the pre-requisites?  In Vivekachudamani (The Crest Jewel of Discrimination), Shankaracharya describes them as follows:

1. Viveka (Discrimination) - the ability to discriminate what is real from the unreal,

2. Vairagyam (Dispassion) - to be dispassionate toward all enjoyments or the fruits of action. That doesn't mean aversion, it means dispassion. You already don't care what happens. You're not seeking the fruits. You don't care about any kind of enjoyment whatsoever.

3. The six qualities:  a. Shama (calmness), b. Dama (control of the senses), c. Uparati (Self withdrawal of the mind), d. Titiksha (Complete forbearance or tolerance of all afflictions), e. Shraddha (Logical faith [not blind faith] in the instructions of the Awakened Teacher and non-dual scriptures), and f. Samadhana (Self-settledness or constant concentration of the intellect (buddhi) on the Absolute,

4. Mumuksha  (Yearning for Freedom) - Again, that strong, burning desire to be free from falsity, illusion, bondage, etc. Not seeking power or grooviness, or anything else, but true freedom through Truth.

Now, remember, these are the pre-requisites, not what you get once you get there. Many of these qualities we associate with saints who have already achieved a great spiritual treasure, not with qualities you need to even be on the journey.  However,  he does point out that amongst these, numbers 2 and 4 are the most important that they already be there and that those two can be helped by the other qualities. But by far, the most important is number 4, that keen desire for liberation. So, again, the question is what do you want. Is this desire for liberation an all encompassing, burning desire that "I WILL know Truth or Die," or is it more of a hobby until something else comes along...money, fame, mystical experiences, a mate?  

 

Saturday  July 9, 2005

How Special Are You?

Everyone likes to think of themselves as special. Most people do think of themselves as special, and when it comes to alternative areas - new age, spirituality, yoga, healing, etc. everyone is CONVINCED that they are truly special.

Examples (To be said in a prideful sing-song voices) - I'm a healer. I'm a spiritual seeker. I'm a healer. I'm a yoga teacher. I'm a reincarnated merkabian tulku dedicated to the fifth dimensional jump of enlightened humanity to the post-enlightened avataric spatial spheres. I'm a tree-hugger. I ride my bicycle. I'm a democrat. I'm an enlightened master. (Oops, that's me.)

Anyway, let's put this into perspective. Take with me a little journey, if you will, possibly into reality, and possibly into the Twilight Zone...(i.e. this may be Reality or not. You decide):

In the beginning, there is That - infinite, absolute being...primordial IS-ness. In Sanskrit we might call it Sat-Chit-Ananda (Being, Consciousness, Bliss) or Brahman (the Infinite Absolute [God]), this latter word, important here, is derived from the Sanskrit root Brh, which means to expand. So the Absolute, although already infinite, is also expanding. A quality of being infinite and everything would include everything, including expansion. So for purposes of this journey, we will say that God is expanding infinitely, and has been doing so endlessly. Why? If you were all encompassing presence (Sat), and were conscious (Chit), it would be necessary to be conscious of something to bring you bliss (Ananda). In order to do this, you would need to expand endlessly. As you expanded, you would begin to form, so to speak, excretions of yourself, within which would also necessarily arise the same principles of sat-chit-ananda. Each of these excretions would, on some level, recognize themselves as that infinite Absolute, even though they primarily identified themselves as being excreta or excrement. (By now you should begin to recognize where I'm going with this.)

Now, let's get into the mind-boggling part. By definition here, that infinite would have to expand into not just one so-called reality, but infinite realities, or what scientists might call alternate realities or dimensions. Now within each dimensional reality, you have billions and billions and trillions of expansions of the infinite (humans, bugs, cows, monkeys, fish, and other creatures) each of whom (we'll assume) is seeing through an apparently localized perspective. In other words, "my" experience of the universe and "me" is completely different from "your" experience of the universe and "you". So even within this one planet, the Absolute has successfully created gazillions of different universes solely through perspective. Multiply that through the infinite number of universes/dimensions/realities that God is seeing through, and imagine (or try to) that mind-bogglingly infinite number of views of Him/Her/Itself that God has. Now how special are you? Or, another way of looking at it is...You are just the excretion of that Absolute as it expands infinitely to enjoy itself. You, and particularly your localized egoic idea of yourself, are a by-product of that expansion. You (and I) no matter how groovy, awake, special, etc. we might consider ourselves, are infinitesimally small drops of God poop! Yes, you are God crap; the shit of the Absolute. So, yes you are very special in that you are an expansion/expression of God. But, really....shit's just shit.

 

Thursday  July 7, 2005

Who's Aware of the Question?

Received the following question by email:

"Until awakening happens apart from the desire and/or effort(?) to awaken, is there any part of the dream that is changeable or can be changed by the volition of the dreamer ? or is the dream pre destined? While reflecting on this as I type it, I should say I operate more now in this life/dream without planning too much and as circumstances can appear to be very insecure it is probably fear of the unknown (in the dream !) - Pete"

Well, here's the predicament as I see it. First, Who is the dreamer? The question assumes that we are the dreamers of this dream, perhaps giving more control and credibility to the 'individual' than is actually real!. So, are we 'dreamers' or are we in fact part of the dream? Part of the illusion is in the very fact that we imagine ourselves (as the individual) to be the source, the dreamer, the controller.

The second difficulty is that the whole issue of 'choice' depends on who you ask. If you ask Ramana, he would say (and did say) that every single aspect of life is pre-destined - not just the big things, but every little thing. Yoga Vasistha would tell you that present action (of the individual) overcomes past karma (or action). Others would tell you it's all up to you.

Thirdly, and most importantly, going back to Ramana, he would say, "Who's aware of the question?" In other words, inquire to whom the question is arising in the first place. This directs you away from the mind/ego (which is in fact what or who is asking the question) back to That Self which is the Seer and aware of the question being asked. When you direct the mind back to the Self, and abide in that space, then, as you have noticed, you tend to operate your life without as much tendency to plan. You recognize that you (as individual) are part of the dream. The body/mind/ego is all a part of the dream or creation or phenomena, and YOU as the every-present awareness are aware of it. Further, that YOU is always the totality of the present moment. In that totality of this present moment, the questions don't even arise, because we see the moment as the perfection that it is - that there is nothing needed in the moment; there's nothing that needs to be known in this moment, and the questions generally arise from being out of the moment (having slipped into the idea of past or future....what if's).

Fourthly, the question brings up the suggestion of choicelessness versus effort. While Ramana said that everything was pre-destined, he also said that if one can't simply abide in Awareness, then one should make an effort by inquiring. So, how, if there is no choice, can one make a choice to make effort? This is the mystery or paradox of the Absolute. The answer is given - While the reality seems to be that there is no choice, one must act AS IF there were choice.  Let me give you an example to explain why.  True story: Years ago a friend told me that he had been in contact with some type of "extra-dimensional beings" whom he had asked if he would become enlightened in this life. They said, "We know, but we can't tell you."  To his inquiry of why they couldn't tell him, they responded, "Well, if we tell you that you WILL become enlightened, you won't make any effort. You'll just wait for it to happen. And if we tell you that you WON'T become enlightened, you also wouldn't make any effort, since there wouldn't be any point. Therefore we can't tell you the answer."  Now, whether these people really had access to this knowledge or were just full of shit, I don't know, however, there answer to him very nicely describes the paradox - If you know the answer, there's no mystery and therefore no reason for action. It is that very 'Unknown' that we both fear and drives us. So act as if there is choice; do what arises to do; but ALWAYS inquire who is aware of the totality of the moment in which these things and choices are apparently taking place.
 

 

Friday  July 1, 2005

First Grow Up - Then Wake Up

Most spiritual seekers really have no interest in waking up. They're not really looking for spiritual teachers or teachings as much as they're seeking a baby-sitter, somebody to spoon feed them pabulum while they continue to enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. And the pabulum that most 'spiritual teachers' give is pretty much the same as a baby-sitter would give you - "Everything's okay...you're okay...Just be happy...Don't take your neighbor's toys or candy...Love everybody" and so on. Or they deal in beliefs - "If you're good you go to heaven (get liberated, find peace", etc.) They don't talk about the fact that all those enjoyments or beliefs are an illusion, because most of the teachers themselves are deluded, and don't have a clue. But the teachers are willing to spoon feed this pabulum because it gives them students, a means of subsistence, honor, fame, or whatever. 

Some of this problem stems from the "There's nothing to do" school of thought. That is, since there is no choice, you just sit on your ass, do what you've always done, focus on  the same thoughts you've always focused on, and 'POOF' as if by magic, one day you become enlightened. Now, I don't know about you, but as for me, the few people I've ever met or heard of who were truly enlightened (or even just spiritually advanced), spent months or years, if not decades, working seriously to wake up - even many of those who spout the "Nothing to do" school. I know, I know...people will point out Ramana Maharshi who seemed to spontaneously wake up at the age of 17. That may or may not be the case. However, what did he do after that? He went to Arunachala and sat in meditation 24 hours a day for the next many years! (By the way, sitting at the feet of a truly awakened master is NOT doing nothing. That IS doing something.) Even if you were to wake up strictly due to the grace of God or some teacher, are you going to count on that? Or would it be better to prepare yourself by serious, I mean SERIOUS work toward awakening? It goes back to the question, "What do you really want?" Take your time....don't rush it. I'm in no hurry. Got an answer yet? Okay, if your answer was something other than 'Truth,' 'Enlightenment,' 'Awakening,' or similar answer, then you're probably not really that serious about waking up. And that's okay. Just don't fool yourself with the idea that you are. Decide what your goal is and pursue it, happily and with vigor. But if your answer was to wake up, then look at your life seriously. Don't be a wienie.

A wienie or  those firm believers in what we fondly call "Wienie-ism" think that you can have whatever they want without doing anything for it. They hold that they are inherently right, no matter what the subject. They feel that everything should be given to them on a silver platter. They believe that "I'm okay and you're okay" and whatever anyone wants to do or whatever path they take to "spiritual" life is fine and perfect. They believe you shouldn't judge any body's spiritual path, because every one is just on a different road to the same place, that we're all equal and no one is any higher or wiser than anybody else (or at least higher or wiser than they are). Now, while it's true that some of these ideas are valid, particularly once you're already enlightened, in the non-enlightened state they are merely excuses for the ego to validate itself. For instance, (and unfortunately I can't remember who said it, but the quote basically says that) while people always shout about being equal, people only want to be equal to those superior to them. No one seems to be interested in becoming equal to those in a 'less fortunate' position.

The bottom line here is that if you want to wake up, you have to grow up. If you're serious about realizing Truth, then work for it. Give everything to it. Be willing to die for it. If you're not willing to die for it, and yet you think you're serious about waking up, then, excuse me but, you're full of crap! Ninety-nine percent (at least) of the people you see every day are spiritual wienies, and that may include the one you regularly see in the mirror, at least when it comes to spiritual reality. My teacher used to say that a spiritual life and a material life don't go well together. He didn't say it was impossible, but, for most people, damn unlikely. And don't look for spiritual life if you think it will fulfill some ego need. That's another whole topic, but this is where most people are coming from. They're trying to meet some adolescent need. Ask yourself why you want enlightenment or why you want truth. If it's for some ego reason, then grow up, or seek a therapist or counselor - not real spiritual wisdom. Seeking enlightenment is generally not fun. It's about dealing with shit, a lot of shit, every single day; being willing to thoroughly and honestly eviscerate yourself, dismantle yourself, and call yourself on the shit you try to pull and think you can get away with (and still be spiritual).

Or as some others might say, if you can't 'walk your talk' then maybe you should be crawling.

 


 

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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