Thursday, March 29, 2012

Living Realization: Guest Teaching by Scott Kiloby

WELCOME to Awakening Clarity and our eleventh Guest Teaching.  We continue to expand this living resource of Who's Who in current Nonduality.  The goal is to provide an easy way for you to meet respected teachers, sample their teachings, and then pursue those you resonate with via the links you find at the end of each profile.  We’re open to showcasing many different approaches within the Nondual field.  I really think it’s less a matter of “who’s got it right” than it is, “who’s got it right for you.”  As I see it, the event of awakening is neither as common as many people hope, nor as rare as most seekers fear.  Living what becomes known, however, is indeed rare.  Even when there is deep and excellent understanding, there is typically a gap between seeing truth and being the seeing.  

SCOTT KILOBY is one of those who is living what he knows.  Once, when we were talking about enlightenment ‘being all about right now,’ he laughed and said, "Yes, that's why I call the book Living Realization!"  For Scott, it is all about right now, and I can tell you that in every right now we've ever shared, which is quite a few, he's consistently shown himself to be patient, selfless, compassionate, loving, and endlessly supportive. How do you resist loving that? I don't even try.  Furthermore, Scott is blessed with a rare ability to ably share his own experience and genuinely facilitate fresh and authentic seeing in others.  That’s about as good as it gets, folks.

STICKING WITH conventional language, Scott and his teaching have had an enormous impact on me, my life, and my own limited teaching.  I’ve spoken about him frequently here, and published a short piece about his online Living Realization meetings in September:  I also recapped some of his work with me in my report on my journey to the Direct Path: .  Scott’s picture is on the wall of my study: what more can I say?

IT WAS SCOTT'S skillful inquiry over the telephone that helped me release the largest story-burden I’ve ever had, one so deeply embedded that I carried it with me for years, notwithstanding a pair of profound awakenings.  His online Living Realization meetings—I was in one as recently as this past Sunday—have given me encouragement, feedback, and community to help me understand and express my experience, and to continue to grow in clarity.  Though awakening had already occurred here years before, it is Scott's method of teaching through experiential means that really helped open me up.  Scott was also the shoehorn that slipped me into the sharp sights of Greg Goode, who first introduced me to the Direct Path and has since helped me walk it.  There's plenty of gratitude here to go around.

TO MY EYE, Scott still looks every bit the warm and confident son of well-to-do Midwesterner parents; a young man who first excelled in sports and scholarship, and later became a successful lawyer.  If you dig a little deeper, you uncover the skilled musician and sensitive guy who went through the hell of addiction and recovery before waking up and becoming a spiritual teacher.  He's now begun helping people with addictions through his Natural Rest Method.  This is a method he’s developed over the last several years, but which is now just beginning to be brought public. 

THE LAW CAREER is gone for now, in favor of full time teaching. Scott is always busy: in person, in online meetings, and he does a great deal of one-on-one work with students and seekers via phone and Skype.  He’s just back from a trip to the Denver-Boulder area, and is soon headed for points Northeast.  He’ll be back out West later this spring and will speak at the 2012 Science & Nonduality Conference for the third consecutive year.

SCOTT IS THE AUTHOR of a number of books in both hard print and e-print, including the entirely amazing daily meditation book, Reflections of the One Life: Daily Pointers to Enlightenment.  The book excerpt he's sharing with us today is from the second edition of Living Realization: Your Present Experience, As It Is.  It was Scott's first e-book, and has become the foundation for his online meetings and much of his overall teaching.  Thus when Scott says something like, "In Living Realization we..." he is referring to an entire teaching, not just a single book.  I’ve edited this excerpt lightly to better fit this magazine format.

AND NOW . . .

Scott Kiloby


(1) Recognize awareness
(2) Let all appearances be as they are
(3) See that appearances are inseparable

LET'S START WITH recognizing awareness.  The first and most important step in Living Realization is a direct, experiential introduction to awareness.  This article focuses only on this experiential introduction.

IN LIVING REALIZATION we recognize awareness as often as possible, throughout the day, every day, until the recognition is unshakable and uninterrupted.  We recognize awareness whenever we remember to do so.  No matter what we are doing-relaxing, walking, sitting, working, engaging in physical exercise, or lying bed at night, we take a moment to recognize awareness.

IN RECOGNIZING AWARENESS in all these situations, it dawns on us that awareness is always and already present, regardless of what is happening in our lives.  This provides a peace and stability that passes all understanding.  It truly transforms who we are.  In seeing that awareness is ever-present, we realize that awareness is our real identity.  This naturally and effortlessly releases the tendency to identify with the various appearances that come and go within awareness.  Appearances include thoughts, emotions, sensations, states and experiences.


1- Start with Non-Conceptual Awareness

WHEN WE FIRST begin recognizing awareness in our lives, it is important to start with non-conceptual awareness.  Experiencing non-conceptual awareness:

Do not force thoughts to stop.  As the next thought you have comes to rest naturally, simply and gently notice the non-conceptual space that is left once the thought falls away.  Rest there for one moment, without labeling your experience or having to know anything at all about life.  That is non-conceptual awareness.

HUMANS ARE ACCUSTOMED to relying heavily on thoughts, both for a sense of self and for information about others and the world.  But this habitual tendency to rely on thought creates a belief in separation.  The more we learn, repeat, and rely on concepts, the more it really feels like the concepts are pointing to separate things.

THIS BELIEF IN SEPARATION is the underlying cause of human suffering, seeking and conflict.  It’s the reason we experience ourselves as separate people in a world of other separate people and things.  As thoughts arise, there is a tendency to believe that they are pointing to separate things (e.g. me, you, us, them, apples, countries, the moon, atoms, mothers-in-law, etc.).

THIS BELIEF SYSTEM lies at the core of personal suffering.  Personal suffering comes from identifying strongly with the thought stream in our minds.  If that thought stream is negative, we experience emotional and mental suffering.  This belief system is also the root cause of human seeking.  When we take ourselves to be separate selves, we think of ourselves as being separate stories existing in time.  In this story, the past feels incomplete.  At every point within the story we find ourselves in the middle of an unfinished movie called, “My Life.”  The past has not yet completed itself and it seems that the future is needed for this completion.  This results in constant seeking towards the future.  The belief in separation is the reason we are often chasing contentment in the future, but never quite finding that contentment on any permanent basis.

THIS BELIEF SYSTEM is also the reason why we experience conflict with other humans.  Separation makes us feel “cut off” from other people and from life itself.  This is spatial separation.  When we feel like separate objects, we believe that other objects (i.e., people, places and things) have the power to threaten or diminish who we are.  This causes us to want to be right and to make others wrong.  In being right, we build ourselves up, strengthening the sense of self.  This protects the fragile self center (i.e., ego) from feeling diminished or threatened.  Unfortunately, this is precisely why we find ourselves in conflict.  For every right there is a wrong and it is usually “the other” who is wrong.

FOR MOST HUMANS, thoughts happen very quickly, one after another, and carry such a force or momentum that the thought stream feels uncomfortable.  There is a sense that we can’t shut it off.  Throughout the day, that thought stream displays all sort of judgments, opinions, beliefs, criticisms, and other concepts.  The thought stream has a sense of self invested in it.  We consult that thought stream to know who and what we are--including name, history, memories, beliefs, family of origin, political affiliation, and all other thoughts about ourselves.  A great majority of thinking is self-centered.  The self center is the main object in our experience.  The term “self center,” in Living Realization, refers to the sense of being a separate person in time and space. 

THE POINT OF this teaching is not to shut off that thought stream permanently.  Although we may experience a quieting of the mind, my teaching is not about having a completely non-conceptual experience in life.  Thoughts are a part of life.

THOUGHTS SERVE the function of identifying things for conventional purposes.  For example, how would we know to mow the lawn if we weren’t able to determine that there is a person, a lawnmower, and a lawn that needs to be mowing?  How would we know to drive a car, clean the house, or pay taxes?

LIVING REALIZATION is designed to help you see through the belief in separation, not get rid of thought.  As that belief falls away, thought is seen to be not only harmless, but a valuable tool for living.  It’s an inseparable appearance within awareness, which means is it none other than awareness.

ONCE WE NO LONGER identify with thoughts, and cease believing they are pointing to separately existing things, what is left is the functional, conventional aspect of thought (e.g. lawn mowing, talking to a friend, buying food at the grocery store, and teaching a child).

ALTHOUGH THE ULTIMATE purpose of this teaching is not to get rid of thought, we encourage you to start with non-conceptual awareness in the beginning.  Recognizing non-conceptual awareness interrupts the belief in separation.  It provides a relaxation and release from the story of past, present, and future that is constantly and uncontrollably playing itself out in our heads (i.e., the self center).

THROUGH RECOGNIZING non-conceptual awareness, we come to see that we do not need to rely on thinking so much.  We can simply be, as awareness.  This is the simplest and most effortless way of living.  In Living Realization, we come to experience awareness as natural, effortless, and ever-present.  As we experience non-conceptual awareness, our stories are seen to be less important in our lives.  Therefore, self-centeredness naturally falls away.  We come to see awareness as our real identity.  This recognition provides the peace, freedom, wisdom, joy, and well-being we’ve been seeking in our lives.

WHAT DO WE MEAN by recognizing non-conceptual awareness?  Awareness is not a concept.  The word “awareness” is a concept that comes and goes within the awareness that sees that and every other concept.  All concepts, and other appearances, come and go within awareness.  Recognizing this from the start goes a long way in avoiding confusion.

IT IS WORTH REPEATING an explanation of non-conceptual awareness:

Do not force thoughts to stop.  As the next thought you have comes to rest naturally, simply and gently notice the non-conceptual space that is left once the thought falls away.  Rest there for one moment, without labeling your experience or having to know anything at all about life.  That is non-conceptual awareness.

IF YOU HAVE SOME difficulty with the pointer above, start with something really simple when you first begin.  Bring your attention, over and over, throughout the day to the felt sense of presence in your chest or inner body.  Just return to that felt sense repeatedly, as often as possible.  Notice that there is no thought there.  There is only a felt sense of presence.  Just reach each time you experience that inward space.  As you rest there more and more, you start to notice that this space is naturally non-conceptual.  You don’t have to think about the space.  It is just there.  And you are merely noticing it and resting as that inward space all throughout the day.  As you rest there more and more, the space seems to expand.  It starts to encompass more of your experience.  You start to notice that that same space in your chest is also in your legs, your arms, and in your head.  The voice in your head, which is playing one thought right after the other, is seen to be happening within this space.  You notice that this space is what hears that voice.  So this space starts to feel more and more like what you really are.  The thoughts start to seem less and less like what you are.

YOU EVEN START TO notice that the spaciousness you are experiencing within your body and mind is the same spaciousness outside your body and mind.  You begin to notice this non-conceptual present space wherever you go, no matter where you are.  You find that this space is always present.  You experience its natural peacefulness.  And this peacefulness draws you into it, over and over.  It feels like home.  This is a peace that passes all understanding.  Even if you were to try to understand it, it would be a thought trying to do that.  The thought would be just a temporary appearance coming and going within this stable, ever-present space.  That thought cannot grasp this space.  The first and most important thing to do in Living Realization is to make this present, restful space the most important thing in your life.  Return there often until the return becomes automatic.  It will become automatic because the peace within that space has a powerful pull to it.

2- Is Recognizing Non-Conceptual Awareness a Practice?

WHETHER RECOGNIZING non-conceptual awareness is a practice or not depends on the person.  For some, one taste of recognizing non-conceptual awareness is all that is needed.  They do not continue visiting or returning to the recognition of awareness.  That first taste reveals to them that awareness is their real identity.  From that point forward, awareness is seen to be ever-present and all appearances are seen to come and go effortlessly and inseparably within awareness.

OTHERS MAY HAVE to repeatedly take brief moments of resting and recognizing non-conceptual awareness again and again to it until it is stabilized and experienced as ever-present.  If you find yourself needing to take these brief moments, notice that the first few times you take a brief moment, the experience may last for only a second or a few seconds.  That is fine.  You have tasted awareness.  That is all we are asking you to do in the beginning.  We invite you to experience non-conceptual awareness on a regular basis, as often as possible throughout the day, every day, no matter where you are or what you are doing.  As you continue doing this, it becomes easier and easier to rest in non-conceptual awareness.  The force and momentum of thinking can be so strong at first that all you can do is take brief moments.  But as you take more and more brief moments, continuing to rest in non-conceptual awareness throughout the day, the moments get longer and longer.  It eventually becomes very natural and effortless to return to awareness.  At some point, it stops feeling like a practice that you are doing.  Awareness is seen to be ever-present-not something you visit, not something you practice, but what you are in the deepest sense.

THIS SIMPLE PRACTICE of repeatedly taking brief moments to recognize awareness provides rest from constant thinking, and puts you in the perfect position to begin seeing that you do not have to identify with all the thoughts, emotions, sensations, states and experiences that come and go temporarily within awareness.  It also places you in the perfect position to begin to really look into your experience and see whether separation is real or whether it is a belief system. 

3- What is Awareness?

THE REMAINDER of this article provides a more detailed discussion on awareness, helping us to recognize awareness in our own direct experience.  Awareness is the limitless, boundless non-conceptual space to which everything comes and goes.  It is wordless, thought-free, non-locatable presence.  Appearances come and go to awareness.  When a concept appears, it seems to refer to a separately existing object.  What is it that sees that concept?  That is awareness.  When that concept disappears, the experience of that object existing as its own separate thing disappears also.  All things are really thoughts and sensations. 

THE AWARENESS to which all thoughts come and go is not, itself, a concept.  The word “awareness” is pointing to that which hears the voice in your head.  When that voice utters the word “awareness,” or any other word, that which hears the sound and sees the thought is actual awareness.  Therefore,  we can never state, express, or capture awareness with any word or thought.  Whatever we state, express, or think, it is an appearance to this basic awareness.

IT IS BEST not to try to get too involved in intellectualizing what is meant by the word “awareness.”  The most direct approach is simply to rest, without thought, on a regular basis until it is recognized that non-conceptual space is like the very ground of our experience, before a thought or anything else appears.

INTELLECTUALIZING AWARENESS, or using metaphors may be helpful in the beginning before we get an experiential introduction to awareness.  But being clear, right from the start, on the fact that we cannot state, express, or capture awareness with any word or thoughts goes a long way in reducing the tendency to try to understand or intellectualize awareness.  No one understands awareness.  It is not a thing.  Remember: humans tend to rely on thought heavily.  In Living Realization we come to see thought as something that comes and goes within what we really are-awareness.  Our greatest ideas and descriptions of awareness are concepts that come and go within awareness.  No matter how profound or ridiculous our concepts are about ourselves, friends, family, society, science, God, enlightenment, self-realization, business, religion, philosophy, cultures, politics, or anything else, they are not the awareness to which the concepts come and go.

IN THIS TEACHING we also sometimes refer to awareness as the pure seeing within which all thoughts, emotions, sensations, states and experiences come and go.  By referring to awareness as seeing, we aren’t referring to vision.  Vision is a sense, just like touch is a sense.  All senses are appearances that come and go within awareness.

IF WE OPEN our eyes, we visually see colors, shapes, and things.  That is visual seeing.  If we close our eyes, all the colors, shapes, and things disappear.  Awareness is that which is present and awake both to the colors, shapes, and things that appear when our eyes are open, and to the absence of those colors, shapes and things when our eyes are closed.  Seeing, in Living Realization, is not just the seeing of colors, shapes, and objects that seem to appear outside the body and mind, but also the thoughts, emotions, and sensations that seem to appear inside the body and mind.  Awareness is that which sees all of those internal and external things appearing and disappearing.  As all these things come and go, awareness remains ever-present.  That is why the recognition of awareness provides stability in our lives on every level.  We no longer feel that our sense of self is wrapped up in the various temporary appearances that come and go.  We come to know our true identity as something more stable and ever-present.

IT MAY ALSO be helpful to refer to the word “being” instead of awareness.  It is difficult to refute the simple fact of being that is always present.  It is present when our eyes are open and when they are closed; when we are awake and when we are asleep; when we are thinking and when we are not thinking.  Regardless of the word we choose to refer to awareness, find out what aspect of your existence never comes and goes.  Thoughts, emotions, sensations, states, experiences, objects, colors, sounds, and all other phenomena come and go.  No matter what comes and goes, the simple fact of being remains present and here.  That is awareness.

IN LIVING REALIZATION, we want to avoid emphasizing some thought within our personal stories in order to recognize awareness.  Awareness is like the seeing in which every thought about ourselves (past, present or future) comes and goes.  Awareness cannot be recognized by referring to a previous moment when you recognized awareness or by projecting forward into a future moment when you hope you will be able to recognize more clearly.  Awareness is an ever-present seeing.  It happens only in the space of this moment.  Thoughts of past and future come and go within this present space of awareness.  Remember, awareness is that which sees these thoughts come and go.  If you find yourself emphasizing thoughts of past and future, simply let those thoughts come to rest.  Stop there!  Recognize the non-conceptual awareness that is automatically and effortlessly present as those thoughts come to rest.

TAKE A MOMENT right now and recognize awareness.  Keep it simple and let all the idea above drop away for one moment.  Let all the ideas you have ever learned about yourself, others, the world, and awareness come to rest right now.

JUST RECOGNIZE what is timelessly awake and looking.  Forget everything that has been said in this article thus far.  Just drop it all and look into the present fact of your own being.  This non-conceptual awareness has been there all your life.  It is the only thing about you that has never come and gone.  Many concepts have come and gone.  Many emotions, states, and experiences have come and gone.  But this awareness has always been here.  Feel into that.  Rest there.  As you rest there, if a thought arises, just let it pass.  Let it fall away.  Rest again into present seeing or space (whichever word you prefer).  There is no need to think about or analyze any of the words on this page.  Awareness is more akin to the white page on which this print appears than any pointer that appears on it.  Now drop that pointer too!  Just relax and rest in non-conceptual awareness.  The value of this article, and the book from which it is drawn, is not found by memorizing the concepts.  The value is in seeing that the text is pointing to what you are in the most basis sense.  In recognizing this basic presence, you may not need the text any longer.  Any good teaching self-destructs in that way, making itself no longer needed.  It is important to recognize awareness in your own, direct experience.  It’s the most important discovery you can make in your life.  Memorizing this text merely gives you more information, more concepts.

AWARENESS IS SO immediately here and present in all situations that it repeatedly gets overlooked as we focus on our personal story and other ideas and images appearing within awareness.  What is here that never moves or changes, that never comes and goes?  There may be a tendency to overlook this basic fact and, instead, go looking into the various things that move through awareness such as objects, thoughts, emotions, sensations, states, and experiences.  If you find this happening, be easy on yourself.  Just stop whenever you notice that happening, and recognize the basic, non-conceptual awareness that is inseparable from the present moment.  Do this as often as possible, until it is seen that awareness is ever-present, no matter what is happening.

AWARENESS IS ALWAYS available, no matter what is happening in our lives.  In Living Realization we do not make recognizing awareness into a practice that we do only in the morning or at night.  Treating the recognition of awareness in this way tends to compartmentalize life into recognizing awareness in the morning and living in the “real world” for the rest of the day.  Awareness is always present.  It is present during work, during time with the family, and every other place and time in our lives.  We do not recognize awareness only when we are in peaceful places or free from the daily stress of our busy lives.  We “check in” with awareness in all situations.  We recognize awareness when things are going well and when life is going badly.  We just take a moment, no matter where we are, or what we are doing.  We drop all of our labels about the situation that is presently happening and we discover for ourselves that awareness is here, always.

TAKE A MOMENT now and try this.  Drop even the words “awareness,” “presence,” “being,” and any other pointer you have read here or in another teaching.  Let each word, within each sentence, just fall away.  Don’t look back at what you’ve just read.  Let all thoughts come to rest.  Simply rest here for a moment.  Just be, without any thoughts.  Take a moment for that.

Copyright 2011, The Kiloby Group 
All right reserved. Used by permission. 


Housekeeping Notes:

Let me welcome The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago as country number 76 to join the ever-expanding Awakening Clarity family. Readers there join thousands of others around the world.

Jerry Katz will be next week's Guest Teacher. That post, and all future posts, will now come out on Friday afternoons, possibly late in the day.  Thank you for showing up!  Namaste, Fred