Sunday, November 27, 2011

Everything As It Is

HUMAN BEINGS ARE ATTRACTED TO STILLNESS.  We are pulled toward spaciousness; we are drawn to silence.  We will travel great distances to find an external set of conditions that present these things.  Monument Valley in Arizona comes to mind as a sterling example of all three.  Of course there are many such places in mountain ranges around the world.  They are in deserts, oceans, islands, and deep, ancient forests.  They are in cathedrals, temples, monasteries, and mosques.  When we are in such places, if we look we will notice that there’s little or no resistance from within.  We breathe deeply; we close our eyes; we drop our complaining for a moment.  We are willing to just be.  And any time we are willing to just be, we notice that we are willing, or at the very least much more willing, to let everything else be just as it is.  Our external conditions have matched our natural, yet somehow hidden, internal condition.  We are stillness; we are spaciousness; we are silence itself.  In the absence of mental resistance, resting in our own stillness, our own silence, our own spaciousness, we can notice that everything somehow feels connected. 

IT FEELS CONNECTED, BECAUSE IT IS CONNECTED.  There is no such thing as unconnected; not for a star, or a galaxy, or a human, or a butterfly.  There can be a sense of being disconnected that arises in the mind of a human being, but that’s just a false reading of reality, because we are limiting our identity to that human being.  In truth, there is just one, and you are it.  The seeker is the sought.  You are always already perfectly complete, without anything else needing to happen.  What could you add to completeness?  You could add the process of seeking; you could add the hunger of wanting more, but really, there’s nothing addable, if you will.  Even the seeking and the hunger are a game you play with yourself, a hide-and-go-seek thing, like a dog chasing its own tail.  Conscious awareness of that Living Singularity, and the willingness of the previously dominant “character” in the play to remain essentially absent, thus allowing for presence to present itself, is what the entire field of Nonduality boils down to.  First we see the truth; then we gain some understanding of what it is we’re seeing, and finally we move toward living it.  That, at least, is the ideal.  Let’s sketch in a little basic background, just to make sure that we’re all on the same page.  It’s okay that you’ve heard it before.  Repetition is the mother of enlightenment.

EVERY APPARENTLY SEPARATE IDENTITY IS A WORK OF FICTION. There simply are no individuals, not in truth.  There are individual appearances; billions of humans, trillions of sentient beings, countless apparently insentient beings, just on planet Earth, just in this one dimension.  How many more galaxies and dimensions can there be?  As many as can be imagined by the mind of God.  Yet at heart, at core, there is just one; not “me and one”, but just one.  Please, take a moment, and really do this silly little exercise; we’ll refer back to it.  Hold up just a single finger and look at it.  That’s exactly how many things there are in the universe.  Get that image clear in your head.  If you look around, what do you see?  Objects.  Is that all?  Is it true?  What is in between the objects?  Space.  Without the space to accept and support the objects, where would the objects go?  How could they exist without their invisible background?  Look at the letters on this page.  What is in between the letters?  Space.  Without the space holding and breaking up the lines, we would have nothing but gibberish.  When there is talking, what is in between the words?  Silence.  Silence does not arise; it is constant and unchanging.  Noise arises from and then subsides into silence.  Without silence holding and breaking up the noise, you have nothing recognizable; nothing useful.  Watch any movement, whether it be of your hand, a car, a star, or a cat.  What holds that movement?  Stillness.  Without a background of stillness there cannot be movement, for without the ability for us to detect movement, there is no such thing. 

NOW, SUPPOSE FOR A MOMENT THAT THE SPACE is not dividing the objects, but rather that it is connecting them.  The space between the words is not dividing, but linking them.  The silence is not dividing the sounds, but organizing them through apparent division.  Hold up your finger again. See that space all around your finger?  Where does your finger stop and space begin?  Actually there is no hard line.  There is a mental hard line, but in the physical universe, science tells us there is no actual hard line.  Of what are molecules and atoms primarily composed?  Space.  Atoms look just like solar systems, do they not?  There’s no real boundary anywhere, including right there at the end of your hand.  Your finger and the space surrounding it, the space that is connecting it to everything else in the universe, are not-two, as the Zen masters say.  No boundaries, no barriers, no division anywhere.  Everything is, in reality, connected.  Everything is, in appearance, divided.  So what about reality and appearance themselves?  Where is the division between those two supposedly different things?  Can you find one?  Look at your finger again.  How many things are going on here?  Again from Zen we find a chant sung daily in monasteries around the world, the Heart Sutra.  It tells us, “Emptiness is form; form is emptiness.”  Not like, not similar to, but is the same.  One equals the other.  Without the “first” the “other” cannot be.  Reality is not other than samsara.  Truth is not other than maya.  Everything is no-thing, and no-thing is everything.

WE’VE LEFT OUT ONE SMALL THING IN THIS DECONSTRUCTION, which is the largest detail of all: we’ve left out you.  It’s the trickiest illusion to get past.  It stops most seekers cold.  We’ll just touch on it here.  Look around you.  Where, precisely, is the line, the demarcation, that divides what is is seeing from that which is seen?  Is there a sharp division somewhere?  Can you see one?  Could you mark it?  Could you point it out to someone if they came and asked you to show it to them?  You check for yourself, but I think the answer, which you can bear witness to with your very own eyes, right this minute, right where you are, is no.  There is an apparent “gap” between your finger and what’s seeing it.  What fills that so-called gap?  Ah.  We’re back to space, are we not?  We have the strong sense that we are these bodies exclusively, but that in itself is the dream.  That is the divine hypnosis.  If you back the “camera” up; if you place your “seeing lens” behind you, so that you include your own body as just another object, just another dream character, then you’re getting very close.  Peter Francis Dziuban, in his book, Consciousness Is All: Now Life Is Completely New, offers us one of the best and simplest pointers you’ll ever read.  It is—I’m paraphrasing him here—“You are not looking at Consciousness; you are looking from Consciousness.” 

MOVING FROM A DRY, ABSTRACT, INTELLECTUAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT of this oneness, and into a living, present recognition of it is what is known as Self-realization.  Forget what you saw last week or last year, or how cool that moment was in meditation, or on retreat, or when you were talking to your teacher under the banyan tree.  Recognize yourself now. Seeing is being, so be reality now.  In the absence of that seeing and being, the door is left open for ego to operate and dominate, even though it’s not an actual entity.  Ego wouldn’t mind a little Self-realization, it thinks.  It might shine it up a bit, make it more special, and give it some advantage in the world.  Only it’ll never happen.  It can’t happen.  Ego will never recognize truth, because liberation is the living, present, recognition of the one-thing-going-on, which does not include a make-believe ego, which is just an ever-whimsically-changing set of mental objects. Individual “me’s” are seen to be stories, just a hazy collection of thoughts, memories, and opinions.   Will you have another lifetime?  Yes.  When?  As soon as you breathe again, and reinvent yourself.  The fiction of personal, or individuality, is reborn every time you draw and expel breath. 

THROUGH THE GRACE THAT IS NOT EXCLUSIVELY, but most often found to fall upon people who are doing some sort of spiritual practice, we can come to know what we are.  Well, usually we find out what we are not, followed by another movement sometime later that shows us what we actually are.  If you have had some seeing and now experience listlessness, or a sense of sliding despair, or flat nihilism, you have probably seen what you are not, but have yet to see what you are.  It’s a stage; you’re doing fine; keep on doing what you're doing.  From another way of describing the same essential movement, we often discover the emptiness of things, and then sometime later we discover the fullness.  It doesn’t have to work that way; there are no rules.  Reality can do anything it wants anytime it wants, because it’s the boss, and that is that.  A wise and beautiful quote from Eckhart Tolle is, “A sudden awakening doesn’t mean a sudden understanding.”  The individual ego (so to speak) tends to get full of itself immediately after seeing that it doesn’t exist.  Incredible, yes?  If you land there, remember this column, and try not to stay there.  Get a teacher; get some help.  Fast.  It is deadly to spiritual growth.  Adyashanti says of this entrenched position that it is the hardest one from which to pull an aspirant.

ONE OF THE RAMIFICATIONS OF REALLY penetrating the illusion of division is to see for yourself, beyond the shadow of a doubt that everything is going on in every moment just as it should.  It’s going on just as it must.  It’s all happening the only way that it can.  There is no should.  There is no should not.  All the world is clicking away—click, click, click—with the beauty and perfection of a finely crafted and tuned Swiss watch.  There are no mistakes, even when we don’t like what’s in front of us, or what’s happening to us. There is no room or reason for error.  There is just What Is.  “What isn’t” is the lie we choose to live in when we choose to resist What Is.  The reason we are drawn to stillness, spaciousness, and silence, is that they remind us of what we already know: all is well; all is well, just as it is.  It’s more difficult to see that when we’re working hard at our demanding jobs, when caught in traffic, or in an argument, or when we’re talking to the income tax man, but it is no less true.  We can more easily relax when we’re in a natural setting, because there’s simply less going on.  In our busy lives there is a lot going on, and we agree with almost none of it.  We resist and we complain; we argue and we fight; we push and we shove.  We attack anything that doesn’t meet our approval, which is damn near everything.  We are at constant war with the world, because we’re right and we know; you’re wrong and you don’t know.  A woman was arrested today for pepper spraying a crowd so that she could get to the head of a line at Wal-mart for discount Black Friday shopping of stuff no one needs to begin with.  What can be said about that?  Insanity reigns wherever sanity does not.  Insanity is the default position of our planet; not sanity.  When we know where we’re supposed to be, and where everyone else is supposed to be, and what should and shouldn’t be going on, and those opinions don’t match the facts on the ground, God is out of a job, and we're suffering so long as we're pulling Her duty.

IT MUST BE SEEN WITH THOROUGH PENETRATION that there simply is no “what isn’t” beyond our crazed imaginations.  Our minds are in an ongoing war with life, complete with commentator and enforcers, but this is literally insane.  To argue with something that already is, is attempting to turn back the clock so that we can rearrange the pieces to suit ourselves.  There is no turning back the clock.  There is just this: this moment, this oneness; there is only this right here, this right now.  Whatever is in front of us is perfect.  It’s showing us what we need to learn.  If we can’t see that, it’s because we’re coming from and are devoted to a personal center.  We’re coming from make believe and trying to implement our make believe with mental yoga, and we don’t care if the change we believe needs to take place for us to be happy is in the past, present, or future.  Who gives a damn?  It’s all in our heads anyway.  The physical world and what’s going on within it is fact.  It rolls on along, fact after fact, after fact; What Is, after What Is, after What Is.

WHEN WE RESIST, WE SUFFER. When we don’t, we don’t.  It really is our choice.  We can’t make it once and be done with it.  We have to make it over and over again, as each new situation arises, as the scene in front of us changes moment to moment.  Will we choose resistance or surrender to this?  Will we choose resistance or surrender to that?  Choose well.  The next choice will be fresh, but the momentum of either resistance or surrender accelerates with each new choice, and then we call it habit.  We call it outlook.  We call it “us”.  Go figure.
Housekeeping Notes:
First, please note that Awakening Clarity now has an official second page!  It's called, unsurprisingly, The Nondual Diary, and a link for it is located just under the Buddha statue and text that tops off the right-hand column.

Next, let me welcome Brazil to the growing list of countries visiting Awakening Clarity.   Forty-nine countries are now helping to awaken Clarity in conjunction with this blog. 
AC saw another surge in readership this past week, and I got a number of emails from you, which was very pleasant.  If you’d like to suggest a topic, please feel free to do so.  If it’s on one mind, it’s likely to be on many.  If I feel qualified to address it, I will.  Maybe one day I can get these columns to run a bit shorter? Until then, it is what it is.  As ever, thank you for your precious attention. 

In surrender,


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