Friday, April 18, 2014

Scratching With A Feather



THE SCRATCH OF AN ITCHY FEATHER

Advaita, or non-duality, is elusive. It is not a religion in itself, in fact, its understanding leads to the end of all religious belief as being final, for these are seen as merely pointers or "reference points" to the reality that is ever-present beyond them. Non-duality is deeply rooted in the foundations of all the teachings of the great founders of the world's religions, as the principal of oneness, as the fulfillment of the religion and its practices.
  • Jesus speaks of non-duality when he mentions the oneness between himself, his followers, and God the Father.
  • Sufis interpret Mohammed's creedal call as being "There is nothing but Allah."
  • Buddhists speak of the emptiness of all things; "form is emptiness, emptiness is form."
  • Hindus speak of the unity of life: "all is Brahman."
The perceived problems in life that lead everyone to seek fulfillment through a variety of means, religion, career, wealth, fame, sex, drugs, alcohol, food, etc., all seem to result from the overwhelming "itch" of this sense of apparent separation from the source of unity or completeness.

RELIGION, THE SCRATCH OF GRACE

Religion, a means of "re-connecting" (from latin re-ligere, connect again), appears at first, for some of us, to be the best form of scratching for the itch of this anxiety, or suffering, that is the apparent separation. But if you look at it deeply, religion often only serves to feed the sense of separation by strengthening the illusion of a "destination" or state of being that is "out there" or distant from the present reality; that somehow must be attained or "realized."

In Christianity it's called "salvation," and depending on the denominational interpretation, is something that is received as a gift, but not fulfilled until after death, or is a process that continues forever as one develops through grace that grows in response to effort, into the image of Christ. ("Theosis") where an individual soul "communes with God in heaven" for eternity.

In Buddhism, this "reconnecting" is seen as awakening or enlightenment, and is attained either in a bright moment of Satori (sudden awakening), or is a gradual growth into self-awareness that culminates in the attainment of Nirvana - or consciousness of the emptiness of everything that is mythically described as the Pure Land (a kind of Buddhist heaven).

All religions speak of a journey - but for there to be a journey implies a destination that is not here - a physical or spiritual "place" that exists elsewhere in time. The problem is that time, of course, is an agreed upon mental projection that does not exist in reality, but serves as a mental tool for dividing what is actually the eternal present into manageable moments.

So, apparently, from a religious point of view, there are seekers. Their seeking leads them on a journey through life to an apparent future state of existence that fulfills all desire for meaning. As the seeking and searching becomes more intense the distance between the one who seeks and the goal of the search grows ever wider.

NO SCRATCH, NO ITCH - MY APPARENT EXPERIENCE

One day I became very aware of the futility of this process of constantly seeking - as if somehow I'd managed to peek behind the curtain in the Emerald City and see the show for what it is. The desire to seek went away and in that instant I realized that there is no separation between awakening and the present moment. There was liberation happening - not as a process but as eternally present. There was no journey, there was no destination - in that instant I was already here where everything happens - it only happens right here. No past, or future - just right here and right now. This awareness is pure grace - no effort, no sacrifice, no bartering - it just happened.

There was no sense that I had become something different, or someone special, there was no desire to shed all my possessions and move to a cave in the Himalayas. Apart from the nagging headache that lingered for a few days, everything was perfectly ordinary and very natural. There is, however a tremendous lingering desire to tell people about it, - which to me is just another form of the "itch," indicating the continued presence of an apparent ego that still wants to preserve and exert its influence upon me - re-affirming my sense of separateness from all things. But this too is to be accepted.

The ultimate joke in all of this is that all my seeking and searching had to be. There was no purpose in it other than it had to be so that it could lead to its own end. There is only that which leads to what is happening now. It was not bad, and it was not good - it just happened.

The awareness that IS this doesn't require anything from anyone. No change of religion, no asceticism, no acquisition or disposal. All is contained in it, for there is nothing else! There is also no apparent discouragement for doing these things either - they happen as necessary, for no other reason than that they seem appropriate. There is no sense of bartering behavior for good favor. Whatever is done is done for its own sake and the morality of it is decided by its impact and not by its intent.

There is no compulsion that this must be the way things should be for everyone else - for in this awakening there is only one Self experiencing all of this through everything that is contained within it.

WHAT NOW?

Everything is as it should be, and always has been. All of the suffering in life appears to be rooted in the act of non-acceptance of things as they are - good, or bad. This doesn't mean that we should choose to be nihilistic and accept bad things without resistance, or that life has no meaning. On the contrary, everything has infinite meaning and happens as part of the experience of the only Self.

There are no more isolated events - all events, good or bad, affect everyone. Compassion in awareness, is no longer the work of a few, but the responsibility of all. The ego appears to exist as a means of protection from the overwhelming pain of universal awareness of suffering, thus it might be perceived as dangerous to seek its elimination.

In reality we do not exist as separate, unconnected beings, but the illusion of separateness has a purpose that can only be seen in light of the awareness of all that is happening.

Life is This - all that is happening right now is life.

Life is not a temporary thing - it is always appearing and disappearing in multiple forms, with the consciousness that is life, seeing itself, continuing.

Don't seek the experience of awakening - it cannot be sought. It cannot be attained. It is already the case - it needs only to be accepted. Reality can be trusted - it does not need our approval or need to be understood. It is just what is happening.

RELAX!!!!

Friday, April 11, 2014

No Other Purpose Than Love



This is all there is…….

The Bridge


The Meaning of Life?

Life is not a puzzle to be solved. It is a gift to be enjoyed, even at its darkest or hardest moments.

I cannot claim to know the meaning of life, no one can, for life does not belong to us as individuals. We believe that we live a life, but reality is very different. Life actually lives through us and is our source, and not something that we have as a possession. We are alive because we are conscious, although we learn to accept the opposite as truth when we are young. We believe that we are individuals that are separate from one another in a universe that exists apart from us and is made of different “stuff.”

When we speak about “our” lives we speak from a perception position that we learned from our ego-controlled mind. We are taught to believe that life has a unique purpose for us and that each life has a meaning that some of us long to find.

But does life have to have a meaning?

Is life any different than a joyful dance or work of art that needs no other meaning beyond its expression?

Can life have any other purpose than love?

But the belief that life has a hidden meaning and purpose causes many of us to seek. The pain of longing is so strong for some of us that we are driven to pursue a search for fulfillment. Many turn to specific religions for the answers, some pursue meaning through demanding jobs or careers. Others turn to more negative “remedies” for the longing; drugs, sex, gambling, the pursuit of control etc. This process can be overwhelming – for some it can be self-destructive. For self-destruction is what we believe will end our pain of separation from that which we believe will fulfill us. Self-destruction by ending the ego through religious practice or self-destruction through the killing of the flesh, they can become very close relatives.

But the ultimate positive self-destruction comes through the mysterious attainment of enlightenment. The self becomes the Self. The small self is destroyed to allow the REAL SELF to appear. But after many attempts at striving at arriving at self-realization some of us find ourselves asking a strange question:

WHO IS ENLIGHTENED?

I cannot claim to be enlightened – for no one is EVER enlightened. Enlightenment is not the beginning of expanded consciousness, but rather the withdrawal of separative perception and the embracing of all that is, complete in oneness.

So what can one do when the desire to become free of suffering is so great?

This weblog is my gift to your seeking mind. Like you, I have sought to be free of the sufferings of life and have tried to find definitive answers to questions about God, religion, destiny and all the other seeming puzzles of existence.  What I have found is that the truth is beyond the answers. In fact, the truth is prior to all that motivates the questions. So I want to share with you, dear readers, what I have found. I do not wish to share as a teacher – because reality cannot be taught. It is not a set of beliefs that someone must accept and I do not want the responsibility of being accountable for your own discoveries. All I can do is point the way, not to a destination, but to a way that seeks no destination.

This weblog will be my sharing of signposts that I have seen on my own journey of discovering the pathless way.

You can be totally aware of life as it is RIGHT NOW!!!

Stop looking forward to it……. It is my hope that this weblog helps you to do just that.
_______________________________________________________________

Note: Please share this with all who are suffering the pain of the endless search….

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Elusive Me

I wrote this as an attempt to describe the indescribable - because the beauty of liberation to reality is worth the sacrifice of life itself. There is no beauty more wonderful than being fully open to this life as it is - unfiltered, unrestrained, and undefined.


Where is the “I” that I think that I am?

When I contemplate this question I seem to be something that exists apart from my body that is looking out through my eyes from somewhere in the front of my brain. Or, perhaps I may sense that I am located at the top of my heart on the left side of my chest.

In analyzing this sensation there is the prevailing illusion that I am the chauffeur to my body.

BABY, YOU CAN DRIVE MY CAR

Indeed, I speak of “having a body,” “having a mind,” or I feel pain in “my” arm or leg, as if I own them as an extension of myself. But even more strange than this experience is the awareness somewhere deep inside me of the nagging suspicion that I am not my physical self, and the even greater sense of longing to find out what is missing from me that prevents me from being the complete and self-fulfilled being that I somehow know that I “should be.”

There is a mysterious re-collection of wholeness that haunts my consciousness. I believe that I don’t have it, but I am also strangely aware that whatever it is, I will recognize it as something very familiar when I experience it for the first time!

This drive to wholeness, this search for a greater Self (big “S”) can obsess us and often seems to find relief through efforts of escape or pre-occupation with religions, or various pastimes that either distract us from the suffering, or consume us momentarily – so we “forget” our selves (small “S”)

All suffering of this type is a symptom of the drive to end the sense of separation from the “Omnipresent- Absolute Consciousness” that the Hindus call Brahman, the Buddhists call Nirvana, and the Christians, Jews and Muslims call “God.” But this separation is an illusion.

For the wholeness that is everything can never be less than complete.

WAVES OF SEPARATION 

Our separate sense of self is a false conclusion that we draw from our egotistical mind that seeks to preserve itself as a separate entity. The ego is an elaborate “mechanism” that enables consciousness to experience itself – we mistakenly believe through lessons learned by habit and social conditioning that we are a separate instance of consciousness, rather than the mere observation of a part of the fulness of it. We “exist” as a wave on the ocean of consciousness – momentarily appearing as unique, then non-existent again.

The first time you become aware that your relationship with reality is a mental construct, and that the idea of separate existence is a product of memory, you feel lost.

When I experienced this a long time ago I sought an explanation in the knowledge of the past. I believed that I’d had a “religious experience.” As a teenager I remember thinking, based on what I thought I knew, that I was seeing the world through Jesus’ eyes!

So my course of action was to pursue the trail of various religious teachings. I thought that in one of them I would find the source of my experience. This was probably a reasonable course of action - but unfortunately it proved to be merely a method of escape; an avoidance of truth, rather than a means of realization of it.

Religion is an escape from reality - for the essence of life is already fully revealed in the very moments of our awareness. The path to God realization, salvation, liberation, or whatever we want to call “it,” the goal of our seeking, is fully present here, now. It cannot be anywhere else.

THE BELIEF OF NO BELIEFS 

All creeds, precepts, principles, practices, disciplines, and beliefs are merely tools of comfort, that we cling to in an attempt to hold onto the concept of a permanent, individual self. Even discussing the idea that creeds are empty is to battle with the consciousness that tries to make a creed out of NOT having a creed, or system of belief. The very idea of letting go of a concept becomes a concept in the “hands” of our ego-clinging mind!

Some might say that I’m describing the experience of Non-duality, or Advaita. But, this very act of classifying what I’m saying illustrates once again how difficult it is for the mind to exist outside of its own experience of memory. Our illusory self clings to definitions so that it can maintain its identity. If the mind can be still for just a moment, it is possible to experience the full-on wonder that is pure awareness.

If the mind can be still for just a moment......

That is the very essence of liberation. Being fully present in this very elusive moment. When it happens there is awareness of the fulness of eternity; the realization of the connectedness of all things. The self disappears into everything else and life is complete in each moment. It is almost futile to try to achieve this state of choice-less, or thought-less awareness, for it cannot be achieved by effort; only by acceptance as what is actually already happening.

There is no path to this - but there is meditation that helps the mind become quiet, and in this quietness is the opportunity for stillness of thought that welcomes reality on its own terms.

I wrote this as an attempt to describe the indescribable - because the beauty of liberation to reality is worth the sacrifice of life itself. There is no beauty more wonderful than being fully open to this life as it is - unfiltered, unrestrained, and undefined.

It is a gift that is free - and the best news of all is that you already have it, if you can risk letting go of all effort to obtain it.

HAVE GUN WILL SEEK

Before I saw through all of this I was the spiritual equivalent of a gunfighter.

I’d put notches in my “gun-belt” for every religion and philosophy that I studied, and turned it into a weapon to try and demolish other people’s beliefs and arguments. But, when you put enough notches in your belt it’s inevitable that it won’t hold anymore and you find yourself exposed to the world!

When that happens you can either pick up a new belt or accept the fact that life is much more than just grasping onto enough of the right beliefs.

At first, I saw that it was wishful thinking to believe that somewhere out there, a script existed that walked us through all the trials and challenges of life with the expectation that if we could live according to the right beliefs – everything in life would conform nicely to our preferred pattern.

It is an illusion of the separate self, the ego – that believes that there is a way and means to control reality.

When it is seen through, the illusion of a separate self falls away and consciousness shifts.
  • The universe is no longer the enemy that an individual stands against. 
  • There is only the wholeness of everything together all at once beyond the perception of time. 
There is still a relative self that sees the world the same way but there is an unhindered awareness of how it all works together.

It is simultaneously the most remarkable, and also the most natural state of consciousness.

There is a renewed attitude about life that rests in wholeness, in complete understanding that everything has always been this way, and anxieties are seen as mental fabrications of the ego.

The relative state of life still goes on but it has no pressure to seek its own end – for it is apparent that there is no reason to end it, for everything that happens, has no choice in its happening. Life is complete.

I wish I could package the apparent process of arriving at this awareness

….but ultimately there is no process
………………………….there is no arriving
…………………………………...because behind it all is the immediate and perfectly obvious fact
……………………………………………..that there are no individuals in conflict with the totality

….it is all oneness. 

Oneness has no separate parts. The field of existence is an ocean of consciousness that has apparent waves that appear to be separate, but in reality, have no independent eternal nature other than that of the ocean itself.

DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY

All that I can pass on to those who struggle with belief(s) and continue to pursue their earnest searching, is that there is no compulsion to come to the conclusions that I have, and there should be no feelings of lack or envy – because all is happening as it should, there is no need to worry about a destiny, or about spiritual death or physical termination for you don’t control it anyway.

Welcome to the vanishing of the self - the life beyond the death of the ego.