Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Garden Beyond Paradise - Rumi

Rumi expressed the fragrance of non-duality through poetry:

A Garden Beyond Paradise

Everything you see has its roots
    in the unseen world.
The forms may change,
    yet the essence remains the same.

Every wondrous sight will vanish,
every sweet word will fade.
    But do not be disheartened,
The Source they come from is eternal--
growing, branching out,
    giving new life and new joy.

Why do you weep?--
That Source is within you,
and this whole world
    is springing up from it.

The Source is full,
its waters are ever-flowing;
    Do not grieve,
    drink your fill!
Don't think it will ever run dry--
This is the endless Ocean!

From the moment you came into this world,
a ladder was placed in front of you
    that you might transcend it.

From earth, you became plant,
from plant you became animal.
Afterwards you became a human being,
endowed with knowledge, intellect and faith.

Behold the body, born of dust--
    how perfect it has become!

Why should you fear its end?
When were you ever made less by dying?

When you pass beyond this human form,
no doubt you will become an angel
and soar through the heavens!

But don't stop there.
Even heavenly bodies grow old.

Pass again from the heavenly realm
    and plunge into the ocean of Consciousness.
Let the drop of water that is you
    become a hundred mighty seas.

But do not think that the drop alone
becomes the Ocean--
    the Ocean, too, becomes the drop!

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Imaginary Birth of the Self and the World

     There is no separate entity that experiences and there is no object, person, mind, body, world or other that is experienced. 
     The mind, body, world, people, places, objects and entities are all abstract conceptions that are superimposed by thinking onto experience itself. 
     There is only experiencing from moment to moment and this experiencing is one every-present seamless whole. 
     From time to time this ever-present seamless totality, out of its infinite creativity and freedom, takes the shape of thinking, which goes something like this: ‘I, the seamless totality, am not the seamless totality. I am this little fragment, this little cluster of bodily sensations, and everything else that is not this fragment, is not me.’ 
     With this thought the apparently separate inside self and the apparently outside world, including all ‘others’, are simultaneously born. 
     From this moment onwards the world becomes the known, the experienced, and ‘I’, which has apparently contracted into a tiny location somewhere behind the eyes or in the chest area, becomes the knower, the experiencer, the thinker, the feeler, the chooser, the doer. 
     The ever-present seamless intimacy of pure experiencing gives birth to two apparent things, a subject and an object. Experiencing seems to become the experiencer and the experienced. However, this separation never actually takes place. It is a virtual birth. 
     If, as a result of this imaginary separation, objects are considered to be real, aware presence will be conceived as their witness. However, if we take our stand as this witness and go deeply into the experience of the apparent object, other or world, we do not find anything subjective there. We find only knowing, only aware presence. That is, aware presence finds or knows itself. 
     As objects lose their apparent object-ness in clear seeing, so aware presence loses its apparent witness-ness and stands revealed as pure awareness alone, pure presence.

      Rupert Spira. “Presence, Volume II: The Intimacy of All Experience.” Non-duality Press, Salisbury, UK, 2011.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Choosing Identity

     There are basically two possibilities open to us at any moment when a situation like this arises. Am I going to respond on behalf of a separate entity - or - am I going to respond as if I was this aware presence? Those are the two basic choices. A train of thought or a reaction or a response to a situation comes up and at any moment you’re free to say to yourself, ‘This train of thought and activity that I’m now engaged in, is it dependent upon the belief and feeling that I’m a separate entity – or – is it based on the understanding that I am open, transparent presence, and therefore, the so-called other is also that?’ And the answer to that question is always clear. So that’s the question.
     Or maybe you find yourself after ten minutes down the line in a full-blown reaction about something and suddenly you think, ‘Oh, hang on.’ Then, you’re at the crossroads. Are you going to carry on? What is the deep feeling-understanding that is motivating your thoughts and your behavior at that moment? Is it coming from the belief that I’m a separate self – or – is it coming from the felt understanding that I am this inherently peaceful, free, aware presence, and therefore that the so-called other is also that? You have a choice then. Which way are you going to go?
     The way that we choose radically changes the situation. It doesn’t mean to say that it magically clears up the issue. No. That may take time to resolve. But if we become accustomed to being this aware presence, instead of pretending that we’re a separate entity, to take our stand as that (aware presence), it just becomes more and more natural, just as in the past it was natural to us to take our stand as a separate entity. And the world strangely, in a way magically, the world reflects whichever position we choose. If we choose the position of a separate entity, somehow our experience in the world will confirm to us, will support that position, that belief. It will seem to confirm that the position we are taking is true. But magically, if we take the position, if we abide as this presence, if we live as that, think and feel from that, act and relate from that, the very same world, the apparently same world confirms that our feeling-understanding is true. That’s the beauty of it.

     There’s really no such thing as ‘theoretical understanding’. There’s either understanding, or there’s belief. There’s really no such thing as a theoretical understanding that 2+2=4. You either understand it or you believe it equals 5. So understanding is never theoretical. In fact, understanding doesn’t take place in the mind. So either we understand, which means we have seen in our own experience that there is no separate inside self, or we believe that that is true because we have read it, or we have an intuition that it is true but may not have made it our own experience yet. So there’s no problem with any of those positions.

     We may have a taste, it seems very clear what we are not. It becomes obvious to us that we are not a separate inside self. The reactions, thoughts, activities that we have based on the inside self seem so absurd. And then, 2 minutes, 10 minutes, two days later we find ourselves acting along the same old lines, betraying our deep feeling of being a separate self. So at that moment, whenever the invitation is presented, we stop and say ‘Hang on, am I this separate self?’ Now to begin with, we may have to slowly trace our way back. We may have to go through the kind of exploration I went over earlier: exploring my thoughts ‘I’m not my thought’; exploring my body ‘No, I’m not my body’ … and this may take time. We may have to, as it were, walk ourselves back, take ourselves by the hand and walk ourselves all the way back to ourself till it becomes ‘Yes! It’s so obvious, I’m not a separate self. I am this presence of awareness which knows these thoughts and images.’ Then, it becomes our experience, we begin to recognize it. Something in us goes ‘Yes!’ And the old habits of thinking and feeling peter out.

     Then, we find ourselves involved, we get completely caught-up, we seem to lose this experiential understanding. Our self seems to get covered over again. We seem trapped inside the body-mind again. Off we go again down a train of reactivity and whatever it is, until again the invitation comes up ‘Wait! Hang on a minute. I’m acting and feeling on behalf of a separate self. Am I that separate self? So this time as we trace ourselves back – we’ve been here now several times – it doesn’t take three quarters of an hour, it takes two minutes. And then, after a while, we find the invitation comes (snaps his fingers), and as the invitation comes, the sense of being a separate entity just collapses, there’s no more inquiring left. Because we’ve been there so many times, we truly understand. So then the old habits of thinking and feeling on behalf of the separate self rise up, they’re seen to be empty of a real separate entity, and they just drop. And this leaves us more and more in our true nature, or rather, as our true nature of presence. When I say more and more, it’s not quite right because it’s not happening in time, but for longer and longer periods of time, we find ourselves abiding as presence, and less and less things seem to pull us out. The kind of thoughts and feelings and situations that would previously have immediately have precipitated the sense of separation, they no longer have the power that they used to. Maybe just the beginnings of an old habit would rise up and poof it just peters out. And we just find ourselves naturally abiding more and more as this presence of awareness. And it becomes experientially obvious that in fact that we were always that. It’s not that we suddenly become that, we were always that, we just failed to notice it. And it cannot be disturbed, even when it seems that we’ve been taken out, that’s only for thought, only for imagination, it’s an imaginary self that goes off down the road of separation. Our true self never goes anywhere, it’s always just peacefully at home. It becomes clearer. We laugh at ourselves, the silliness of our separate self.

Iain : What do you find are the biggest obstacles to people finding who they truly are? 

Rupert Spira : The belief, and the subsequent feeling, that we are something other than this presence of awareness. All obstacles are really a variation on that one obstacle. It’s just a simple, childish belief that we all have, that what I am is a cluster of thoughts, and images, and feelings, and memories, coupled together with a series of sensations that make this amalgam, this dense, deep entity made out of all these thoughts, and images, and feelings. The belief that that’s what I am – it all comes down to that. All our problems, all our psychological problems, are problems of the imaginary self. If they’re traced back to their origin, it always comes down to mistaking ourselves for a cluster of thoughts, images and sensations. If we can call it an obstacle, that is the only obstacle. It’s that simple. Of course the ways that obstacle expresses itself may be colored differently in different people. But it’s always the same obstacle. 
     And at a certain stage, we see that clearly in ourselves. We see that spiritual life is not complex. It’s not about lots of different ideas, lots of different experiences, it’s really about one thing. And when this becomes clear, it kind of focuses our interest and our love for the truth. ‘What am I really?’ And ‘What is the nature of this self that I am - this aware presence that I am?’ And if we go deeply into it, we find that its nature is pure openness, peace, lack of resistance - which is another word for happiness. And then we realize at some point, all I ever longed for in my life, when I was out in the world searching for objects, situations, relationships – all I was searching for was happiness, was my own being. This topic is not just confined to the few thousand people interested in non-duality, everybody, everybody, all six billion of us seek it. If we believe we’re a separate entity, there’s no such thing as a separate entity that is not in search. In fact, a separate entity is not an entity. It is an activity of resisting what is, and seeking what is not. So a separate entity is an activity of seeking. That is unavoidable. 
     And what we are seeking, is always the same thing. It’s the dissolution of separation. The dissolution of the apparent entity that is seeking. That’s all we are seeking, all of us. Whether we call that peace, happiness, a new relationship, it doesn’t matter what we call it, but it’s the simple intimacy of our own being. That’s all we long for. As soon as we feel we’re a separate entity, the peace and the happiness that are innate in our own being is veiled. It doesn’t disappear but it seems to be veiled. And therefore, the separate entity that we imagine ourselves to be is by definition unhappy. Happiness seems not to be present. And hence the separate self is always on the search out there in the world for happiness. And our culture says to us ‘You’re unhappy. The way to get happy is to go after this series of objects.’ Our culture is bombarding us saying ‘If you do this, if you acquire this in the realm of the body, the mind, or the world, you will get happiness, you will get love, you will get peace.’ That’s the message that is being spoon-fed to us 24/7 in our culture. It’s just a mistake. It’s just not true. We all know it’s not true otherwise the search would at some stage come to an end. We get the object we want, everyone sooner or later gets the drink, the relationship, the job … and then we’d be happy. Does it work? No. The search goes on forever. It doesn’t work. Someone should ring the bell. Our culture has so much invested in this search, invested in our staying separate entities that there’s a tremendous resistance to this of course in our culture and of course individually.
     Although we long for this, it’s the thing we long for most of all, it’s also the thing we fear most of all. It’s like the moth attracted to the flame. All the moth wants is the flame. But the only thing the moth cannot experience is the flame, because the moment it touches it, its only way of knowing it is to die and become the flame. So the search for happiness is like that. It’s all we long for, happiness, love, peace, but there’s a terrific resistance in use as well. Because in order to do that, everything we imagine ourself to be has to die, has to dissolve. And for that reason (he clutches his chest). And people very often experience this in intimacy, it’s very common in intimate relationships you approach intimacy, and at the last moment you say ‘No. I don’t want to die’. And so there’s this play – this desire for happiness, and the fear of happiness, the fear of the dissolution of separation repeats itself in cycles until it’s either pointed out to us or we spontaneously come to it on our own. What we long for can never be found in the realm of the mind, the body or the world. At some stage we have to have the honesty, the courage, the clarity, and the love to face that fact, and not to dance around it.

Above transcribed from the video below:

Friday, May 27, 2016

Liberating our Thoughts

Rupert Spira : Thoughts are what I call ‘objects’. Anything that has an objective quality is what I call an object. By 'object' I don’t just mean physical objects (eg glass of water). A feeling of loneliness has an objective quality to it. It’s not the taste of tea. It’s the feeling of loneliness. It has distinguishing features. 
     Those distinguishing features are objective. We know them. I feel lonely. The feeling of loneliness has a particular quality that is observable or feelable or knowable. The taste of tea has other particular qualities that are knowable or perceivable. So yes, thoughts are, in that sense, objects.

Questioner : So my relationship to thought can be much the same as my relationship to the world?

Rupert Spira : Yes.

Questioner : In that I can’t really control what happens in the world and I can’t control what thoughts come in, I think that there’s a tendency to identify my quality of being by the thoughts that arise.

Rupert Spira : No. Identify the quality of being just by the quality of being

     The screen doesn’t derive its qualities from the image. Your relationship to thoughts and perceptions is the same as the relationship between the screen and an image. In other words, the screen is intimately one with the image. It’s closer than close (clasps hands, fingers interlocking) to the image, but at the same time, it is completely independent of it. 
     That is you. You – this experience of being aware – are totally intimate with all your experience. Every experience you have - that is every so called inside feeling (points to his own chest), but also so called outside perception (points away from himself) - are this close (clasps hands) to you, totally intimate, not even intimate because there are not two things there to begin with. There isn’t a screen and an image. It’s just you, just knowing. 
     So in that sense, you are intimate with all experience, equally intimate. Not more intimate with this (touching to his own body), than you are with this (touching glass of water) – equally intimate with all experience. 
     And at the same time, you, the experiencer, simply being aware, are absolutely independent of all experience. So it’s this mixture of total intimacy (clasps hands) and total freedom (opens hands).

     As we understand ourselves, so we see the world. So if we think (hands on his chest) ‘I am a finite, temporary self that shares the limits of the body’, if we think ‘I am a finite, temporary object’, then our experience will appear (one hand on his chest, other hand pointing outwards) in conformity with that belief. In other words, your experience will be a multiplicity and diversity of finite objects. You will feel that you are separate from everyone and everything, related to them through an act of knowing, feeling or perceiving. I know such and such, I love you, I see the tree. 

     These are the three channels – knowing, feeling and perceiving – through which the inside self, the apparent subject, is connected to the outside object, other, or world. That’s if you believe that you are a temporary, finite subject, made of a mind, living in a body. 
     But if you know that you are simply this unqualified, experience of being aware, then you find yourself equally pervading all experience. You cannot say ‘I am closer to my thoughts than I am to the sound of that car.’ Thoughts are made out of thinking. The sound of the car is made out of hearing. Both appear equally in me. And when I try to touch the stuff that they are made of, all I find is this empty knowing.

Questionner : I know that, but I have thoughts that are in direct contradiction to that experience.

Rupert Spira : So you have to recondition your mind as well as your body. That is part of what we do here. It’s one thing to understand that – and you obviously understand it. But just understanding it is not enough, because your mind and your body have been laboring for decades, serving for decades, the demands and the fears and the neuroses of an illusory, finite self. So just the recognition of your true nature is not enough to put an end to those habits. They come back with a vengeance, very often stronger than they were before, because the separate self feels, quite rightly, that its existence is threatened by our new understanding. It is threatened. Its days are numbered. And it’s going to do everything it can to prevent itself from disappearing. So this tidal wave of thoughts, and more importantly, feelings are going to come back and assail you and try to persuade you of the validity of the separate self. 

     And so much of what we do here is not just about the recognition of our true nature, it is about the realignment of our thoughts, feelings, activities, relationships and perceptions with that understanding
     So when these thoughts keep coming back, you have to be firm with them. When a thought appears on behalf of the separate self, the thought’s going to take you off down a journey of activity or relationship or whatever it is. Before the thought tells you to act, question the self on whose behalf that thought is arising. Who are you representing? Ask the thought ‘On whose behalf have you come to me?’ 
     And if it is a thought that is based on being a temporary, finite self, then instead of following the thought, question the validity of the self on whose behalf that thought is arising. And be relentless about that. Every thought that arises on behalf of the finite self, question it rather than doing what the thought wants you to do. And eventually, you will erode this old habit of the mind rising on behalf of an illusory self. And more and more the mind will begin to rise on behalf of the qualities of the true and only self of pure awareness. 
     You won’t stop having thoughts, but your thoughts will be an expression of what you truly are, not what you previously imagined yourself to be. So it is not a getting rid of thoughts, it’s a liberation of our thoughts, indeed our feelings and perceptions from the tyranny of a nonexistent finite self.

Questionner : So do you ever have any thoughts that you have to say ‘no’ to?

Rupert Spira : Yes. Occasionally an old thought arises in me based on old habit of believing myself to be a finite self, and I do exactly as I’ve just suggested to you. 

     To begin with, when a thought rises on behalf of a finite self, it takes us maybe 20 minutes to question the ‘I’ around whom that thought revolves. And we may have to take some time to slowly walk ourselves back to find the true ‘I’ of simply aware being. That may take some time. The first time it may take 20 minutes, and then the second time 15 minutes, and then the third time 10 minutes, and as we become more practiced at this we find shortcuts – we don’t have to go every single step – plod, plod, plod – because we’ve done it before, we go quicker, we find shortcuts. 
     And in the end, we find that when that thought arises on behalf of the finite self, it doesn’t really require time anymore to walk ourselves back. It’s just like an instant recognition, and it falls.

Questionner : There’s often great physical resistance along with the thought.

Rupert Spira : Yes. We’ll spend a lot of time this week exploring just that because the separate self, the apparently temporary finite consciousness that is the separate self, is not just concealed in our thoughts as beliefs. More importantly, it is concealed in our body as feelings. And that in fact is the deeper root of the separate self. And in fact, long after the separate self has been flushed out of our beliefs, it remains present, hiding in our feelings. And in this approach we spend a lot of time, as you know, exploring this deeper root of the sense of separation. First if all exposing the sense of me in the body, gradually encouraging it to come up out of its hiding places, and then gradually allowing it to dissolve.”

Above transcribed from this video:

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Intimate Relationships & Realizing Our True Nature

     What happens when we recognize that we are awake loving timeless, limitless awareness itself?

     “The implications of this recognition is that the happiness – and by happiness I don’t mean that we always have to be smiling or laughing, it’s more like the peace, the sense of fulfillment, the absence of any sense of lack – the happiness that we previously sought in activities, substances, states of mind, relationships, and never fully found there, has now been discovered to be a quality of our essential nature – this sense of fulfillment, this sense of absence of lack. 
     The motivation to seek happiness in any kind of objective experience doesn’t disappear overnight, because there is a habit that we have been rehearsing for decades (seeking happiness in substances, activities, relationships). That habit doesn’t come to an end overnight, but it winds down, because the source of happiness in oneself or as oneself has been touched, known. And that has an impact on the desire to find happiness in any kind of objective experience. It winds down slowly. 
     That, for instance, has a profound effect on relationships. Anyone who believes or feels themselves to be a separate self is seeking one thing alone in life, and that is happiness. The reason, in relation to relationships, a separate self seeks relationships is not because they want the other. It’s because they want to be happy. If you knew the person you are dating was going to bring misery to your life, would we go on dating them? No way. It’s not the person that we want, or the activity, or the substance, it’s the happiness that we believe will be derived from them. So if we are no longer seeking happiness in activities, in relationships, does that mean that we simply stop having relationships? No, of course not, because we can have relationships either to fulfill our need for happiness, or to express and share and celebrate the happiness we already feel. We still have relationships, but we relieve the other person of the demand to fulfill our our sense of lack, to fulfill our sense of emptiness. So we’re not using the other as an object to continually fill up this sense of emptiness, which of course another can never do. And that is why relationships fall apart, because sooner or later we realize this other person is not fulfilling me, no person can fulfill us. As soon as we realize they’re not fulfilling me, the conflict begins and the relationship begins to fall apart. 
     But now, we don’t want to be in relationship with the other for the purpose of finding happiness. We relieve our friend of this impossible burden of providing happiness for an insatiable self. That attitude gives our relationship the best possibility of being truly intimate, truly loving, open, undemanding, and an expression of our shared being. It’s not a guarantee that an intimate relationship, for instance, will work, because there are many elements that go into the make of an intimate relationship, but this is the most essential part – the recognition that the other is not there to provide love for us or happiness for us. 
     That’s just one example of how it has a profound effect on relationships – relationship with our neighbors, with our children, with our parents, but particularly intimate relationships. I would go further and say that it was the prerequisite for true intimacy; that as long as we consider ourselves separate entities trying to derive happiness from one another, that position, and true intimacy are mutually exclusive. There cannot be true intimacy if we are demanding the other to fill up our sense of need, or lack, or want. 
     Isn’t true intimacy what everybody wants? Isn’t that why we have relationships? Because we all have this deep intuition of real intimacy – that’s what we’re looking for in a relationship. We all know deeply at some level the potential of a relationship. And over and over and over again we find that our relationships are spoiled by our projecting our needs and our fears onto the other person.”                 Rupert Spira

Above transcribed from this video:

Monday, May 23, 2016

False Certainty

Rick Archer : “There are so many people in this world who are so sure of their position, their beliefs, whatever, and of course so many wars have been fought over that mentality – many of them in the name of religion.”

Mooji : “It’s actually because they are not sure. They’re not sure, that’s why they try to appear so sure. They’re not sure.” 

Rick Archer : “They’re desperately defending their doubt.” 

Mooji : “Yeh, if you’re sure about something, there’s a great relaxation in you, a very great openness. When you really can say that you are clear and certain about it, you reach a place of stillness. And you cannot be moving in some line of aggression towards any being. There’s a stillness in that.” 

Rick Archer : “And in that stillness, you’re very comfortable with paradox. You don’t take a polar position and adhere to it, you can actually embrace two contradictory concepts or positions."

Mooji : “Of course, because ultimately you can only do this because you have transcended concepts. You see their limitations. You see their usefulness. And you know that what is, is not shaped by any concepts. The concept is secondary. Only one who is really moved beyond the dependency on any concept is free with all expressions and any concept.”

     More on "Certainty": http://www.johnlovas.com/2012/03/certainty.html

Above transcribed from the interview below:

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Road Less Travelled

     “The movement in understanding from ‘I am something’ to ‘I am nothing’ could be called the path of wisdom or discrimination. The movement in understanding from ‘I am nothing’ through ‘I am everything’ to simply ‘I’, could be called the path of love.”

        Rupert Spira. “Presence, Volume II: The Intimacy of All Experience.” Non-duality Press, Salisbury, UK, 2011.

The Odd Book, Wolfville, NS

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Birth of Dualism in the West

     “For the West, however, the possibility of such an egoless return to a state of soul antecedent to the birth of individuality has long since passed away; and the first important stage in the branching off can be seen to have occurred in that very part of the nuclear Near East where the earliest god-kings and their courts had been for centuries ritually entombed: mainly Sumer, where a new sense of the separation of the spheres of god and man began to be represented in myth and ritual about 2350 B.C. The king, then, was no longer a god, but a servant of the god, his Tenant Farmer, supervisor of the race of human slaves created to serve the gods with unremitting toil. And no longer identity, but relationship, was the paramount concern. Man had been made not to be God but to know, honor, and serve him; so that even the king, who, according to the earlier mythological view, had been the chief embodiment of divinity on earth, was now but a priest offering sacrifice in tendance to One above – not a god returning himself in sacrifice to Himself.
     In the course of the following centuries, the new sense of separation led to a counter-yearning for return – not to identity, for such was no longer possible of conception (creator and creature were not the same), but to the presence and vision of the forfeited god. Hence the new mythology brought forth, in due time, a development away from the earlier static view of returning cycles. A progressive, temporally oriented mythology arose, of a creation, once and for all, at the beginning of time, a subsequent fall, and a work of restoration, still in progress. The world no longer was to be known as a mere showing in time of the paradigms of eternity, but as a field of unprecedented cosmic conflict between two powers, one light and one dark.”

       Joseph Campbell. “The Masks of God: Oriental Mythology.” Viking Compass Edition, NY, 1962.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

"Heaven can wait" ??

      Happiness, as Rupert Spira sees it, is synonymous with peace, love, beauty and understanding. This is clearly much more refined than our common understanding. The requisite shift in consciousness may or may not occur as we age and grow more & more frustrated "looking for love in all the wrong places".

     Do I have a burning desire to directly experience truth, true happiness - as if my hair were on fire?: http://www.johnlovas.com/2016/05/how-sincere-or-urgent-is-knowing-truth.html

     Or am I content to keep chasing after & running from fluff; remaining stalled in "dazed & confused" mode; and dumbing-down life's deepest mysteries to comforts & meaningless distractions?: http://www.johnlovas.com/2014/05/how-we-experience-complexity.html

"Time waits for no one."

Monday, May 16, 2016

From Observer to Intimacy & Equanimity

"To be enlightened is to be intimate with all things."     Zen Master Dogen

     How is it possible to remain as awareness in more demanding situations, without taking a step back, without separating yourself?  
     Instead of knowing yourself as the witnessing presence of awareness in the background of experience ("2nd possibility"), you know yourself as the light of pure knowing at the heart of all experience ("3rd possibility")
     In these two possibilities, I use two different metaphors. For the 2nd possibility, we describe awareness as kind of an empty space, and thoughts, feelings, sensations, all take place within this space. So awareness is slightly removed from the objects – independent, free, in the background of the object. 
     In the 3rd possibility, when we know ourselves as the knowing that all experience is made of, forget the image of a space-like awareness in which objects appear. Go to my favorite metaphor of the aware screen. Imagine a screen, a TV screen without any borders. The screen is watching a movie taking place on it. The movie is not being watched by someone sitting on a sofa. Now before the movie starts, the screen is just empty. You can go to Netflix and choose any movie you like. All possibilities, the screen is just pure potential. And because it is colorless, all colors can appear on it. If the screen had a pinkish hue to it, then only pinkish images would be possible. But it’s because the screen is colorless, it has no color of its own, that all images are possible. So you go to Netflix and you choose a thriller, the thriller starts, the thriller is being watched by the screen. The image is not appearing on the screen. In fact screen and image are two names for the same thing. There isn’t screen plus image, like in the 2nd possibility - the space of awareness and object. In this understanding, there aren’t two things. There is not awareness plus it’s object. There is not screen plus image. 
     To begin with, we think that the screen is behind the image. It’s not. All there is to the image is screen. Now screen is pure knowing. It is the knowing that pervades all experience. Now even that is not right. We can’t say that the screen pervades the image. Because that suggests that there is one thing called an image and another thing called a screen that pervades the image. No. It’s just a way of speaking, because language is limited. So it’s not that all experience is pervaded by knowing. It’s that all there is to experience is knowing – like all there is to the image is the screen.

     Now you’re at work, surrounded by people, the phones are going, your boss is being unreasonably demanding, there’s full, demanding life going on in your office – and it consists of thoughts, feelings, sensations, sights, sounds, tastes, - this multicolored, multidimensional experience. 
     All there is, all you know of all of that, is just the knowing of it. Is there anything there other than the knowing of it? Now you are that knowing. The same is true now. 
     Take the sight of this room, which thought perceptualizes as an object out there, separate from me which is in here - the seer in here, and the seen out there. That’s what thought says about experience. But actually, all we know of this room is the experience of seeing. Look around – it’s just the experience of seeing. And if we touch the stuff that seeing is made of, what do we find? Just the knowing of it. You are that knowing. In other words, you find yourself everywhere. You, not you a body-mind, you this pure knowing, pure awareness are the substance, not just the background of experience, but the foreground of experience, the substance, the reality of all experience
     Look around you now, at your thoughts, your feelings, your choices, your sights, do you find anything there other than the knowing of it? When your boss is yelling at you, is there anything other than the knowing of it? When you are choosing what to do, in that choice, which is a thought, is there anything other than the knowing of thinking? In other words, this knowing only ever comes in contact with itself. It can never know another, or an object. It just knows itself. And there, this knowing finds itself completely intimate with all experience – not with just this little corner of experience called my body-mind, equally intimate with all experience – totally in love. This is what William Blake meant when he said ‘Eternity is in love with the productions of time.’ This knowing is so close, to all experience. Closer than close. One with – not even one with because even when we say ‘one with’ it suggests that knowing is one thing and experience is another thing, and that knowing and experience are one. They are not one – they were not two to begin with. This complete intimacy with all experience is what is called love. That is the way you, pure knowing, lives 24/7. 
     So we find ourselves as this pure knowing totally at the heart of all experience. Not just this little corner of experience, but all experience, totally intimate with it, but, at the same time, free of it. In just the same way that the screen is totally intimate with whatever’s playing on it – the good guys, the bad guys, the people that are right, the people that are wrong, everyone and everything, equally intimate with all appearances. At the same time, the screen is completely unaffected by what takes place in the movie. So it is this combination of absolute intimacy or love, and at the same time, total freedom. The freedom doesn’t have to be found in the background of experience – I the aloof witnessing presence of awareness and all the objects of the body-mind world over there that can’t touch me. That’s a half-way stage. This is something else. This is right in the midst of experience, at the heart experience. Even in difficult situations, at the office, at your job, as a teacher with pupils: everything’s going on, ten thousand things going on, it’s far too much for your body-mind to cope with – this kid is screaming, that kid is throttling somebody out, this one’s tipping paint everywhere etc. You’re trying to handle it, it’s far too much, you’re going crazy. At the same time, all there is to your experience, is the knowing of it, and you are that knowing. You are the substance, the reality of everything that is taking place, totally one with it. So you can just give yourself totally to the chaos, to all the kids, to the chaos.
     Sometimes you do the right things, sometimes you do the wrong things. In other words, you just do your best all the time. In hindsight, you would have thought ‘Oh I shouldn’t have done that, it would have been better to tell James no.’ But you did your best at the time. So you can give yourself totally to the chaos of the situation. You don’t have to practice being the witnessing presence of awareness. That’s not a good idea for someone teaching kids – you don’t have that time. And if you did, you wouldn’t be a good teacher. To be a good teacher, you have to totally be in there, in their midst, right at the heart of the children’s chaos and noise. So you can be there, totally one with, to know yourself, everything you see, you are that. The child that is behaving like an angel in that corner, the child that is behaving like a nightmare in that corner, everything that’s going on, you are the reality, the substance of all that. You give yourself totally to that. But at the same time, you are not stained by it, you are not harmed by it, you’re not hurt by it. Like the screen – the thriller is taking place; the guy is strangling his next-door neighbor; the screen is one with it, but the screen doesn’t die. The screen is not being hurt. The screen is not stained by the activity. The film ends, and the screen just remains as it always is. So you are like that. You can give yourself totally to experience.
     Questionner : I understand what you mean, but for me it’s a process. 
     Rupert Spira : Yes, it’s a transition between these two possibilities, you’re right. So when you’re at home, in the peace and the privacy of your home, you are abiding as the space-like presence of awareness – the sounds are flowing through you, thoughts are flowing through you, sensations are flowing through you, you’re this open, empty, space-like presence of awareness. And then, as you do that at home, take a sound, and see that the sound is not an object that is flowing through you. All there is to the sound is the awareness with which it is known. So in that way, bring the sound closer. See that it’s not actually an object, and you are not a subject. It’s a transition between the 2nd possibility and the 3rd possibility. You are starting with ‘I am the open empty state of awareness and these objects have got nothing to do with me. They just float through me. They just pass by like the sound of the traffic.’ That’s the 2nd possibility, and it’s a valid stage. ‘I am the witnessing presence of awareness. This open, empty, borderless, space-like presence.’ But then, take a sound, and think, 'That’s not true. The object is not separate from me. All I know of this sound is the experience of hearing. And all I know of the experience of hearing is the knowing of it. In other words, the sound doesn’t just pass through awareness, it is made out of awareness.' That is the way, having separated yourself from the objects of the body-mind world, in order to establish your true nature. This is the way of bringing them close again. But this time it isn’t just the body-mind that is experienced as close, intimate, myself, it is the entire realm of experience is experienced as equally close, equally intimate. 
     So you can first of all explore this when you are at home in peaceful circumstances, then, as circumstances begin to get a bit more demanding, your husband comes in, and things are just a little bit more difficult, a little bit of agitation starts, but again, explore that, and see that nothing that your husband does or says, however pleasant or unpleasant, harms you. You can respond appropriately, if he’s unreasonable, you can say ‘No, that’s not acceptable’, you can still say ‘No’, it doesn’t mean you have to smile at everyone and everything, it’s still possible to say ‘No, that’s not OK.’ But you don’t do it as a result of separating yourself from the other. So then you practice it on the metro on the way to work. It’s even a little bit more difficult now, a little bit more demanding. And then, it gets really difficult when the class starts. 
     So it gets more and more difficult, more and more demanding, but at each stage you see that all you ever come in contact with is this knowing. And if you really realize that nothing can harm you. You don’t have to defend yourself against experience in order to maintain your peace. We first find peace in the background of experience, as the witnessing presence of awareness, but then we find peace in the midst of experience, in the foreground of experience. And yes, you can experiment with making this transition from the 2nd possibility to the 3rd possibility, until you just feel stable in all circumstances.                                           Rupert Spira

Saturday, May 14, 2016

One Consciousness ?

     First - we open to the possibility that everything is universal;
     two - we understand that everything is universal; and
     three - we experience that everything is universal.

     Everything is universal means nothing is personal – ‘nothing personal.’ Nothing is personal means separation is not real. There is no separate entity in the cosmos. If you prefer, what it ultimately means, and that’s the most important, is that that which is hearing these words (I’m now saying), in this moment, is not a separate individual, but is a universal consciousness. That is, for all practical purposes, what it boils down to. 

     And most of us are not ready to accept this possibility that that which is hearing these words, in this moment, is not separate, personal, mortal.
     So we have first, to be ready to accept this possibility; then, to understand (or glimpse, or have the insight) that it is true; and then, to live, experience, feel, perceive that it is true at every moment. These are the three stages I was referring to.

     Because of the culture we live in, we believe that there is strong evidence that consciousness is separate, that it is personal. We feel that it is an outlandish type of concept to claim that it is universal, because most people believe otherwise. So the first step is to find out where is the evidence that substantiates our beliefs that consciousness is separate, and what is the value of that evidence. And it is not until we have investigated this evidence and recognized that although before the investigation we believed that we had strong evidence, after the investigation it turns out that the evidence was bogus. Then we are open, you see? This being open to the possibility requires an investigation. We believe that that which in us perceives, because that which we call ‘I’ or ‘me’ is really that which perceives, that which thinks, that which decides, that which acts, as a result of those decisions. That’s what we call ‘I’. But basically, this ‘I’ is first of all, that which perceives. The rest comes after – the decider, the doer. The perceiver comes first. Because in order to have a decision, or to have an action, I need to perceive right? So what ‘I’ am is truly the perceiver – which means the consciousness, which I define as whatever it is which is perceiving these words, in this very moment. And that’s what we call ‘I’. We say ‘I’ perceive, right? We believe that there is a different perceiver in each body or in each mind. So as a starting point, we could as ourselves ‘What evidence do we have that there are as many consciousnesses as there are minds or as there are bodies or body-minds? 

     Questioner : The evidence is that each person experiences different experiences. 
     Francis Lucille : Well, let’s take the analogy of a circular tower with all kinds of windows looking at the landscape, and there is only room for one observer in the tower. The landscape that appears in each window is different. Does the fact that the six landscapes that appear in the six windows imply that there are six observers in the tower? Does the multiplicity of the windows imply multiplicity of observers? No – right? So in this metaphor, each body-mind is a window, and consciousness is the observer. The fact that that which is observed in various windows, differs from one window to the other, does not imply that that which observes, differs from one window to another. When we seem to have evidence that there are many consciousnesses, do we have facts to back it up? So if this mind and that mind have different contents, implies that they are two consciousnesses? The questioner retracts his assertion. 
     In our culture we have not investigated this, we have zero interest in investigating this. There are no courses in consciousness; there are no courses in ‘What am I?’, in kindergarten, primary school, in high school or in college. I’ve never seen a ‘What am I?’ course, which means that there is zero interest for that. In other words, all the interest goes towards that which is perceived, but there is zero interest in investigating that which perceives. So because of this lack of interest, there is a lack of knowledge that goes with it, and (as a result) there are all kinds of childish and simplistic assumptions. 
     So the first thing is to investigate thoroughly whatever evidence comes up in support of the multiple consciousnesses theory, and to realize, to convince oneself, that there is zero evidence. So evidence can be concepts, arguments ‘there are several consciousnesses because …’, but there are also other types of candidates for evidence which are more irrational – they are feelings in the body. And these could come up in the form of ‘Well, theoretically speaking, that’s well said, and I agree, but, at the gut-feeling level, that’s not true.’ So then we also have to investigate the validity of the gut-feeling level evidence. At a some point we also become convinced that the gut-feeling level evidence is also bogus. And then we are left in the situation where we don’t know. But then we are open! That’s a big difference. We are completely open. When I don’t know, I am open to all possibilities. 
     And then there is a moment when we see it – the moment of understanding. Because the moment of understanding is an insight. In the beginning this insight takes place in a timeless moment, in a split second, in a timeless moment. But then, in this split second, we move beyond not knowing. Before we are in not knowing, we say ‘OK, it’s possible.’ But then, there is a kind of reversal of perspective that takes place – a shift that takes place – and then, after that we say ‘Oh, that’s the other way around! It has always been the other way around!’ That’s what I call the understanding or the glimpse. That’s really the entry on the path. Before, we are on the path to the path, on our way to the path, but we are not on the path. Then we really enter the path as we let go of the belief that we are a separate entity. And we let go of the belief that we are a separate entity the moment we have an insight of what we truly are, which is something universal.
     Universal is a word that doesn’t refer to this physical universe – universal is bigger than that – whatever there is in all realms, the totality. And at that point of course, deep inside, a shift has taken place in us, which is irreversible
     But all the consequences of this shift have not yet trickled down to all realms of our experience. So the path is this trickling down of this understanding, which was just in a split moment, in a split second, and to allow for this understanding to transform everything in our life. In other words, to cooperate with this understanding – to allow for this understanding to change, to transform the way we live. And in order to transform the way we live, we have to allow for it first to transform the way we think, the way we perceive the world, and the way we feel – the body. As a result of that, it will also change the way we act in the world, and the way we relate to the world, and that’s all. 
     This final stage, if you will, is a process of stabilization of our experience, to reach a true equanimity. And by the way, equanimity, in my book, doesn’t mean necessarily that we don’t get angry, or upset, because there might be things that are worth getting upset for. But equanimity means that there is no distinction between self and non-self; there is no distinction between inside and outside. It’s all equal. And it is this absence of distinction between the inside and outside that, as a result, also changes our behavior and the way we relate to our surroundings and to the people we interact with.            Francis Lucille

Friday, May 13, 2016

Beyond Suffering

     Francis Lucille : “… to experience suffering is a trap. I agree. It’s a self-created trap into which we have fallen. But, it is at the same time, also the trap and the ladder by which we can escape the trap. Because what suffering does to us is give us a desire to get out of it, the energy to get out of it. 
     That’s the ancient truth of the Buddha – the Four Noble Truths: #1 there is suffering; #2 there is a cause for it; and (#3) there is a way out of it – the ladder, right? If we were in the trap of ignorance, and if we weren’t experiencing suffering, there would be no incentive to liberate ourselves from the trap. So in a sense, the suffering we experience in ignorance is the beacon that indicates the exit. So from my vantage point, there is no problem with suffering ... 

     I define consciousness as that which is hearing these words in this moment. That has no states. That which perceives a state is not itself a state. That which perceives the states is itself not a state. That which perceives the phenomena is the noumenon, it’s not a phenomenon. [[ wiki: noumenon is a posited object or event that is known (if at all) without the use of ordinary sense-perception. ... generally used in contrast with, or in relation to phenomenon, which refers to anything that can be apprehended by, or is an object of the senses.]] So that which perceives a state is not a state. Of course if you read books on psychology, you will (read about) all kinds of states of consciousness. But here we’re talking apples and oranges then, because the way I define it is as that which perceives the states. And that which perceives the states - the perceiver-in-chief if you will - is not a state.

     Questioner suggests that when you speak of a perceiver and the perceived, there is dualism. 
     Francis Lucille : I would agree with that. The distinction between the perceiver and the perceived is, if you will, a pedagogical one. 
     If it is your experience that there is only one reality, then you are perfectly happy, at peace, there is no suffering, there is nothing to be sought, and there is nothing to be taught. 
     So the teaching only emerges when there is a student who emerges. And the student emerges as a separate entity. So then the teaching has to take the claim made by the student, of being a student & therefore a separate entity, at its face value, in order to be able to communicate. So then the teacher tells the student, ‘OK, you believe to be a separate self. What does it mean to be a separate self? You are that which perceives, right? Because you claim you are the body here, that perceives the world around you. Or you claim that you are the mind, this private, separate mind that perceives the thoughts. 
     But if you look more closely, the thoughts - you are the perceiver of these thoughts; this world, this body – you are the perceiver of them. Therefore, just as you claim that that which differentiates you from the world is the fact that you are the perceiver of it, and the world is the perceived. If I take you at your logic, following your logic, it follows that you are not your thoughts, your sensations, your perceptions, but you are the consciousness – whatever that is – that perceives them. 
     But then if you look at this consciousness, that perceives them and which defines you, which is really your centrality, this consciousness is devoid of any qualities because all qualities are perceived. Therefore you cannot any longer make the claim that it is separate, that it is limited. And then, once this is understood, this paves the way, makes possible the moment there is the understanding that that which we are - this consciousness - is devoid of any shape or form, or name, that makes possible the realization that it is universal.
     Because up until that moment, we were superimposing limitations onto it. At the moment we make this distinction between that which is perceived and that which perceives, that eliminates the possibility of any superimpositions, therefore of any limitations. That’s the theoretical aspect of it.
     But that points inwards towards an experience, which is real. Because the experience of consciousness is not a thought, it is an experience. And that’s how it gets started. Up until that moment, you are not on the way. You are on the way to the way, but you are not on the way. The point of entry in the way is through this experience of consciousness divested of any superimpositions, because then it knows its autonomy, it knows its reality. 
     Then you are told, ‘Wait a minute, now that you know you are real – as consciousness – that you are not making it up, that you as consciousness are real, you also have another intuition, which is that there is only one reality. Because everything is interconnected, everything is part of one single reality, therefore, this consciousness you know now to be real, must be this reality. So it must be the same consciousness that shines in all beings. And it must be the same reality-consciousness that we perceive as this universe. So then that’s when really non-duality really takes all its meaning – non-duality means there are not two realities. It means there is only one reality. Therefore, whatever is perceived, is consciousness and consciousness alone – or – reality and reality alone. 
     So my definition of consciousness, if you will, would be the reality that perceives, that which perceives reality, that which perceives in reality, that which truly perceives the reality it perceives. And there is only one reality. But what is important is the experience of this reality. And the experience of this reality is more readily accessible from within as that which perceives, than it is from without as that which is perceived. So we experience it first as that which perceives, and then we understand that everything that is perceived is nothing else than it. 
     And therefore the words from the Koran ‘Wherever the eye falls, is the face of God.’ Everything we see is divine reality, divine presence. But we cannot readily and easily go there through the external path. The teaching in a sense is accomplished through the teacher seeing the student as God, or as this reality if you will. And that in a sense communicates itself. That awakens within the remembrance of the divinity of consciousness. 
     There is this beautiful saying by Rumi ‘The gaze of Shams Tabrizi (Rumi’s master) has never contemplated an ephemeral mortal thing without making it eternal.’ In the Indian tradition there is also the saying ‘To see all beings in the self, and the self in all beings.’ All of that is the same and it is really the essence of the transmission - for those who are open to it, which is of course the precondition. 

Francis Lucille, 2 hour, unedited dialogue, Temecula, CA, March 22, 2014

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Qualities of Authentic Experience of Consciousness

     We have to understand that the thought about our true nature is a happy thought. Why? Because it comes from happiness itself. So it’s like a fish coming out of the water. The fish is wet. So the thought that originates in happiness, is wet with happiness. It’s a happy thought. 
     In the same way, the body that originates in happiness is a happy body from the experience of happiness. It is still pregnant, if you will, with the presence from which it emerges.
     It is not any kind of thought that has this quality. Some thoughts originate from ignorance. Some thoughts are just old thoughts that just come back to the surface. They are not fresh, creative, new thoughts. So the thoughts that are really pregnant happy thoughts are the creative thoughts of understanding, thoughts of love – because thoughts of love come from the experience of love. The thought of understanding comes from intelligence. These are the happy thoughts. 
     Typically, as a truth-seeker, to be practical, I may be driving and all of a sudden my thoughts drift to something I’ve read, something I’ve heard in satsang, and I experience as a result a joy which is causeless in fact. It’s not like being based upon a Ferrari or something tangible, it’s just the joy to be, the joy that there is being. The joy that there is being is not related to me as a person.
     You can have it in the morning – you look at the sun, you look at nature, you look at the sky, and you feel this joy. This joy is not about you – this little ant in this huge landscape. The joy of marveling at all this extraordinary being that is deploying this extraordinary scenery. And you see that when there is true joy, true happiness, there is nobody in it. It is for the sake of itself. And as soon as little me comes in and says ‘Oh oh, I am here enjoying this thing, but unfortunately I’m not always going to be here enjoying this thing’ – it poops the party.
     The ‘I’ that experiences happiness is consciousness itself. There are not two consciousnesses – one to experience consciousness, and the consciousness which is experienced. It is consciousness that experiences itself – that’s a very important point. 
     We usually experience in terms of the senses, and mostly, in fact for most of us, in terms of the sense of sight. Of course some of us experience, if you’re blind or if you’re a musician, you tend to experience a little more in terms of sounds. If you are a dog, you tend to experience in terms of scent. But we experience in terms of the senses. 
     So when we try to experience consciousness, the natural tendency is to project a look-alike of consciousness in the mind, which is a concept, which is an image – perhaps something transparent, or a mirror, or a blackboard, or a white wall or something of that sort, - or a localization in a bodily sensation. So it’s something that has some kind of a shape, some kind of a structure, even if it is a vanishing one, it still has some content. 
     The experience of consciousness is not of the mind. And we know the experience of consciousness. We have not recognized that that which we experience as happiness, of love, or beauty, or understanding, or humor for instance – all of those are in fact the experience of consciousness. They have this quality of being impersonal, of being timeless
     How long does it take to understand a joke? You see what I mean? Jokes that are delayed – you can spend days before you can understand it, and all of a sudden, you’re walking down the street and ‘Ahhhhh’ and you start laughing. But it didn’t take days to understand the joke. These days, they don’t count, because during those days you were not understanding the joke. The only thing that counts is the very instantaneous moment when you get it, when you get the punch line and bingo. And so it is the same here. 
     So this experience of truth, of love, of beauty – it has this timeless quality, that first appears as instantaneous, no duration, but then appears as presence, as something that is always here – you know like consciousness is always in the background so to speak. It’s always in the background, but when you look at it, it takes no time to look at it. If you ask yourself ‘How do I know that I am conscious?’ – of course consciousness is in the background, but how long does it take to realize that you are conscious? No time – it’s an experience that is instantaneous. So it is analogous in this case to the experience of truth, love, beauty, understanding, being touched by love, being touched by beauty. 
     There are things that may happen before. You look at a painting, or you listen to music, and you are taken by it, and all of a sudden you cry. Or understanding, you look at this problem, you don’t get it, you don’t get it, and then, all of a sudden (snaps his finger) bingo, that’s it. 
     To go back to the point I was making, it is important to have been informed that the experience of consciousness knowing itself is not at all like a visualization of some blank wall, or like a feeling in the body like something which is here (pointing to forehead) or something which is here (pointing to chest). No. 
     It is more like the experience of love, of happiness, of understanding. If you think about it, every time you experience love, you’re happy; every time you experience understanding, you’re happy; every time you experience beauty, you’re happy. So what these experiences have in common is happiness. And what they have in common also is that they are the experience of consciousness. 
     So the experience of consciousness is identical to the experience of happiness. That’s important because then, we are not kidding our self as a truth seeker by trying to have the experience of consciousness, trying to visualize consciousness, to see it. No, no, no – that’s not what it feels like. It feels like happiness. So if there is no happiness, it’s not consciousness. You see, that’s important. If it is dry, if it has no flavor, if it has no perfume, it is not consciousness. It is something else. It needs to have this freshness, this happiness, this quality of perfume, to be the authentic experience of consciousness."         Francis Lucille

     Rupert Spira on this topic: http://www.johnlovas.com/2016/05/awareness-of-awareness.html 

Francis Lucille, 2 hour, unedited dialogue, Temecula, CA, March 22, 2014


Sunday, May 8, 2016

Sincerity & Urgency to Know the Truth?

     “For most people … seeking the truth is not a centrality in their lives. They are not at that stage yet. They are at the stage where seeking the truth is still a hobby among other hobbies. Eventually it will become their main profession. But for the time being, it’s just a hobby. And often they kid themselves into thinking that it is the most important thing. They think it, but they don’t put their money where their mouth is, if you will. They don’t walk the walk. 
     I’m not being judgmental. It’s beautiful already to be interested. You cannot pull the plant to make them grow faster.”                                Francis Lucille

Francis Lucille - superb interview