Thursday, September 13, 2012

Telling the Truth about What is Here: Guest Teaching by Gangaji

WELCOME TO THE TWENTY-SIXTH EDITION OF OUR GUEST TEACHING SERIES.  It's been quite a week around here, so let me start with an announcement.  We have a new dog, a Shih Tzu, named Wilson Hackett-Davis.  You can see snapshots in the Housekeeping Notes at the end of this post. Wilson has had Betsy and me and our two quite startled cats (Henry Hackett and Dickens Davis) all in a lather for several days.  He is fifteen pounds of Pure Joy.  Thanks to our dear friend, Vince Reese, who's an avid AC reader, and his crew (who aren't!), for building a fabulous, Wilson-proof fence yesterday!

LET ME POINT OUT THE SITE'S NEW PAGE, for which I'm slipping in a link.  It's titled Beyond Recovery, and the normal link for it will be right under the Home Page.  Right out of the gate it's the most successful page launch we've ever had.  It's a tie-in to my forthcoming book, and will be a blog-within-a-blog.  It will be centered around recovery, but won't be exclusive to it any more than the book will be.  It's likely to be more practical than theoretical, so it might be worth your checking out, even if you're not interested in, or associated with addiction recovery.  I'll update it regularly, probably once a week or so. 

I AM TRYING OUT ANOTHER NEW THING this week, too.  At the top of the side-column I have the first full chapter of David Lang's new book, A Flower in the Desert, courtesy of our friends at Non-Duality Press.  All you have to do is click the picture to read the first chapter.  Or you can click here.  David met Douglas Harding decades ago, and has been a follower, and key  proponent of The Headless Way, which is about the easiest way I know to get a taste of Who you really are.

JUST TO SATISFY THE CURIOUS, yes, David is Richard Lang's brother.  Those of you who've been with us a while, or who've gone through the archives will remember Richard being a guest teacher with us back in February.  Here's a link to that post.  Richard sent out an email with a link and it drew an astonishingly large audience, even by today's standards.  That's how some of you found us for the first time.  It was a rocking weekend!

DAVID'S NEW BOOK is both a memoir and a teaching.  Those of you who are experiencing some frustration in your day to day lives, meaning all of us, will appreciate the poignancy. This book is not just to-read; it's to-do.  He can take you where you want to go; he really can.  David will be with us next year on February 7 as our guest teacher, and will have an original post for us, which I very much look forward to.

I've not yet reviewed this title, but I will be doing so soon, and when I do, I'll post that review here on the News & Events page, where I've posted several reviews of late.  There's a link in the lower portion of the side-column to all of my reviews. Maria Barry at Mantra Books (part of John Hunt Publishing) just sent me a copy this morning of Non-Duality: The Groundless Openness, by Douwe Tiemersma, who wrote the foreword to I Am That.  There's a deed that'll get you through many a Nondual door.  Douwe teaches in Holland, and I'm very keen to get my teeth into this new work.

LET'S TALK ABOUT GANGAJI!  I might as well confess I'm starstruck; it's going to be obvious anyway.  Gangaji has been one of the seminal figures in my spiritual journey.  She and Eckhart Tolle and another distant love of mine, Byron Katie, laid the stones upon which everyone who came later walked.  The fact that I'm hosting Gangaji on my website today is nothing less than amazing.  She's done so much for so many for so long, and done it with grace, style, and a beautiful smile.  She has been the very definition of "spiritual teacher" for three decades.  Clearly I am absolutely delighted to have her here.

I WATCHED ONE OF Chris Hebard's excellent videos this week.  It happened to be an interview with spiritual teacher Kenny Johnson, who spent decades in federal prison.  He finally woke the presence of Gangaji.  The same interview mentioned another spiritual teacher, John Sherman, who also spent decades in prison, and who also woke up inside the presence of Gangaji.  The Gangaji Foundation Prison Program has been helping inmates find freedom for almost twenty years.  The Gangaji Foundation's Annual Financial Report is available to any and all online.   This kind of service in tandem with this kind of openness is at least uncommon, and perhaps unmatched in our community.
IN A QUICK NO-COINCIDENCES REPORT let me say that I wrote Chris at the end of the Kenny Johnson DVD and told him how much I enjoyed it.  He wrote back and said, "Funny thing, Kenny is a house guest of mine right now."  I was writing this post on Gangaji when Chris and I were emailing.  One thing led to another, and you may expect to find Kenny as a guest teacher here next year on January 7. 

WHETHER INSIDE THE HARD, GRAY WALLS OF PRISON, or the among the soft, flowery circles of her meetings or retreats, the people who've come to know their true nature in Gangaji's presence is large.  Her picture has had a home in my study for many years, and one of the walls also holds a note she sent me earlier this year, which I had nicely matted and framed.  Oh yes, I am smitten.

GANGAJI GREW UP IN MISSISSIPPI, so we share the commonality of Southern soil.  In 1972 she took the then-amazing stride for a Southern woman, and moved to San Francisco, where she became a dedicated Buddhist and acupuncturist.  At that time this kind of thing was very much akin to publicly announcing that you were secretly an alien from Mars. In 1990 she traveled to India, where she met Sri H.W.L. Poonja, also known as Papaji, who introduced her to her True Nature.  She's been traveling the world as a spiritual teacher ever since, helping to relieve the burden and suffering of "personal me-ness" wherever she travels.

AND NOW, IT IS MY GREAT PLEASURE to host three complete teachings from Gangaji.


Telling the Truth About What Is Here

One of the most powerful phrases in human language is "I am here." It is powerful because it is utterly simple and profoundly true. Anything that is said or thought afterward is just an addition to this basic, unfaltering truth. In fact I and am and here are all pointing to the same essential truth, pointing to that which needs no foundation for its support, because it is the foundational truth.

Even "I am not here," comes from the truth of being here. Denial of presence can only be stated here, where you are. The power to deny yourself comes from the truth of yourself.

In recognizing that basic truth, I am here, you have the opportunity to be welcomed here, to welcome yourself here, and to welcome what else has appeared here, in whatever state you find present in yourself.

I am inviting you to tell the truth, as completely as possible, about what is here. You probably have particular feelings that are here. Can you welcome them? When feelings change, you are still here. Feelings will change, which may be a good thing or a bad thing, but you remain. Here remains. Here doesn't change. Things that appear here change.

Tomorrow comes here, yesterday was here. The sun comes here, clouds come here. Limitless beingness, here, discovers itself as I. The ground of the ground, the beingness of your being.

In this very moment you can tell this basic truth, I am here, and meet whatever is evoked by that truth telling. You can rest your mind in this truth. Your thinking mind can be embraced by this truth.

As an investigation, just in this moment, can you find a beginning or an end to here?

Has here ever been absent from your life?

Can you find a time in your life when you ever were not?

You can also turn your attention to the pronoun that everyone uses, I. If you do not limit I to a particular story about I, or a particular definition, or a particular gender, or a particular body, can you recognize it here as consciousness? Deeper and closer than any thought, and yet informing every thought.

In recognizing the particular thoughts that attempt to define I, and attempt to define being, and attempt to define here, in any moment we can simply return to the fundamental truth that needs no definition for its truthfulness.

I am here.

Then we can ask ourselves, "Is it enough?" If full attention is turned to I am here, is anything lacking?

There is no correct answer. It is a discovery.

The Limitless Treasure of Who You Are

I can remember as a very young child recognizing, “I am,” and feeling both enormous wonder and fear. Before that moment my attention (in my memory, at least) was focused solely on survival: mother, breast, food. In that instant, attention was opened to consciousness, expanding beyond my known limits.

As I began to grow up, I attempted to define myself—this presence of “I”—through endlessly collecting information. I collected many definitions of who I was from family, teachers and subjects in school, from my religious beliefs, all my social interactions (every “other”), the cultural and social conditioning surrounding me, and much later from various alternative political, social, and spiritual movements. In this natural process of mental awareness inhabiting a body, I discovered a symphonic mandala of sometimes competing, sometimes complementing explanations.  The sound and light of this mandala was in itself awesome and often evoked feelings of wonder. And yet somehow I never found a definition of “I am” that could fully reflect and sustain that initial innocent wonder.

When I met my teacher H.W.L Poonja (Papaji) he asked me to first tell the truth about what comes and goes, and second to discover what doesn’t come and go. He stopped me in my tracks; in that instant the outward search for a definition of myself was revealed to be the magic that “creates” a mirage.  When I told the truth about the nature of everything (appearance, existence, disappearance), I could stop looking for permanence where there was none. I could stop looking for myself in anything whatsoever. In that return of my search to its origin, I overflowed in bliss and self-recognition. 

With surprise I discovered that the essential and undefiled truth of that initial wonder—the nature of recognizing oneself as being—was still present. I discovered that while all definitions appeared in the limitless presence of consciousness, and each explanation reflected some aspect of that, none could contain it. Certain unexamined definitions or explanations had the capacity to either cloud my consciousness or attempt to define it, but consciousness remained itself, free of all. In the willingness to stop defining, the wonder of life was freshly, uncontainedly revealed.

 When Papaji gave me the assignment to find out what comes and goes, I saw that both good and bad experiences come and go. My experience of my body comes when I wake up in the morning, and goes when I drop into sleep at night.  Evaluations of my goodness or badness, my intelligence or my stupidity come and go.  In fact, all thoughts come and go. All emotions come and go. All events come and go. My various identities of myself (all my arrangements of definitions of myself), come and go. My definition or explanation of anything comes and goes.

But what doesn’t come and go is life. Whether I am aware of it or not, life is here. Even if I have a thought denying life, life is still here. When this particular form has no life left in it, life remains. It was here before this form was made. Life itself doesn’t need this particular individual life form for its beingness and presence.

When I turn my attention in the deepest, most intimate way toward discovering what this universal pronoun “I” points to, I discover life—life in a way that refuses to be limited by any definition, and yet is inseparable from any definition; life that is unfragmented regardless of the various experiences of fragmentation; life that is unfazed by a formula defining it as limited to a carbon molecule.  Life that is not contained by even the grandest of its names, including God, Self, no-self, truth, emptiness, or even the word life.

How thrilling is this time in history as scientific discoveries align with the oldest of spiritual wisdom! How liberating to hear about the scientific proofs that both time and space—our linch pins for definitions—do not truly exist as we have conceived them.  Life is continually collapsing our mental constructs and showing itself to be both more ancient, more vast, and more here than can be imagined. The daily newspaper reveals that the universe is bigger than can be imagined and older than all previous estimates. (From the San Francisco Chronicle science section, January 12, 2012: “The Milky Way is awash in planets by the billions, and astronomers are
finding more every day.”)

How thrilling to hear of scientific discoveries that demonstrate what we directly discover in opening our minds to the indefinable yet undeniable presence of life itself. As we recognize ourselves, as we become more and more conscious of ourselves, we discover no separation between life and the wonder of life. In attempting to find “I”, who we are is directly realized to be immeasurable and free of locality. Immeasurable yet undeniable. 

The parameters of who we are collapse as we examine them, yet the undeniable perception of being remains. As we are unencumbered by our power to name and measure, we realize the unnameable. We directly know ourselves and realize directly “I is.” Wonder lives! Who we are is life.

What has appeared in life as a particular form that uses the pronoun I, with particular mind-body experiences, is only present because of life. When the attention of a particular form discovers life it discovers itself. Closer than a name, closer than a gender, bigger than any mood, bigger than any particular experience or explanation of that experience, whether that explanation be scientific or spiritual. Conscious life discovers itself as being.

The result of this discovery is also the discovery of what in Sanskrit is called ananda. We could call ananda joyous love. Joyous love naturally overflows in the recognition of oneself as ever present life. Wonder is freshly in love with itself as life, as beingness conscious of Itself.

If you have given your attention to this mystery of yourself, this mystery of life itself, you know that wonder is here. I salute this wonder, I bow to it, and I encourage you to honor it. There are so many ways that we can overlook it in our mental sophistication. There are so many temptations to be entrapped by our capacity to explain or define. Yet at any moment we are free to stop. We are free to simply surrender to what does not come and go. It is here, it is alive, and it is conscious of itself as the limitless treasure of who you are. 

The Point of Authentic Inquiry

There is a point that appears in a lifetime, regardless of chronological age, when healthy, true doubt appears. We doubt what we have been taught, and we doubt what others insist we must believe. This is the point at which true spiritual inquiry can begin.

Too often there is little support for the deep examination that this spiritually-healthy doubt demands. In my Episcopal confirmation classes -- taken with other rowdy 12 year olds -- the questions that we could ask with approval had little interest for us. The ones we were interested in, "What exactly is the devil? Where is hell?" were considered disruptive and impertinent. Although the point of the classes was to bring us into the church in a more mature phase, for most of us it was the beginning of the end of our churchgoing days. Something essential in us was denied. I have heard countless variations of this story from others who felt their right to sincerely question had no place in their religious upbringing.

We have sometimes found that we have to rebel against all we have known, since those who "know" are unwilling to allow inquiry to be an essential part of spiritual development. In our rebellions, we absorb new anti-beliefs, and when we dare to doubt them too, we again are branded as heretics. How many converted Buddhists scoff at the naive Christians who believe literal interpretations of the Bible while easily taking on the belief of reincarnation? How many fundamentalist Christians brand New Age visualization as the work of the devil and revile Hindus with their nirvana and multiple faces of God, while having personal conversations with their deity and continuing their own magical thinking about their version of God. Even proponents of inquiry often state what inquiry should reveal. In the "religion" of self inquiry, the concept of non duality takes the place of direct discovery.

Authentic spiritual inquiry reveals the joy of fresh insights and revelation, just as artistic or scientific inquiry does, but if we cling to the latest insight as a thing we know, that thing grows stale.

To be of real spiritual value, inquiry must be alive and fresh. Regardless of what we remember or have discovered from the past, each time we truly inquire, we return to not knowing what the outcome will or should be. No doctrine is needed for discovery. No concepts of multiplicity, duality, or non-duality are needed. In fact, we must put aside all of our doctrines and concepts for our inquiry. All that is needed is the willingness to be unattached to the outcome, conscious, and truthful.

Deep inquiry is not for the fainthearted or weak-minded. It is for those who are ready and willing, regardless of fears and discomforts. It is the challenge and invitation to mature. It is the invitation to give up past reliance on others' discoveries while allowing those discoveries to encourage and even push us into our own inquiry.

Inquiry is not a coping mechanism. It is not present in human consciousness to provide certainty or comfort, except the sublime certainty that one has the capacity to discover truth for oneself. It is a stretching mechanism. It calls on the mind to stretch beyond its known frontiers, and in this way inquiry is support for maturing and evolving the soul. It frees us from the need to define ourselves to experience being ourselves. It is both humbling and a source of profound joy, but it does not provide a neat package of new definitions and stories.

The challenge in inquiry is to be willing to directly discover what exists with no reference points. Inquiry is no small challenge, for it requires facing the death of the inner and outer worlds as they have been constructed with no knowledge of what will take their place. We have the experience of releasing our constructed world when we fall into sleep, and we cherish and need this experience for our well-being on all levels. The challenge of inquiry appears in releasing the constructed world while remaining conscious.

All three articles © 2012 Gangaji Foundation
All rights reserved.  Used by permission.


There are countless pages of Gangaji links on the Internet.
We are just presenting a survey of them. 

Gangji's website:



Amazon: Gangaji's Amazon Page

Barnes & Noble:


Gangaji's DVD store:

Gangaji's CD store:



Blog Talk / Vivid Life radio:

Conscious TV:

Housekeeping Notes

Blogger has been rife with errors of late.  Just about every time I update a page, it disappears for a while.  So far they've always come back.  If you happen to hit on a page with an error message telling that the page doesn't exist, don't fret; it's just visiting the formless, and will return to the manifested world before very long!  I've just gotten word that Non-Duality Press is going to put up a title/author-specific website for my book via WordPress.  That might be a way for me to learn that system.  If so, AC on Blogger will at some point be history, but nothing will change anytime soon.

Joan Tollifson will be our guest on the 28th.  I've just read and reviewed her new book, Nothing to Grasp, which is fabulous.  Be sure to join us for her post, which is an original piece Joan generously wrote expressly for Awakening Clarity.

And now, the moment you've been waiting for!  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you:

Wilson Hackett-Davis, Wonder Dog
Wilson invites you to come back soon.

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