Monday, December 20, 2021

True Intimacy

     Our ideas of the world, ourselves, others, life itself, are heavily influenced by our past experiences - predominantly early negative / traumatic ones:
     Other powerful influences include current societal trends: "
materialism, hedonism, narcissism & nationalism, as well as a coursing nostalgia for a world that never really existed.” James Hollis

     So our heads are usually crammed with self-talk about all of the above, with little space left to clearly see, & intelligently deal with here-and-now reality! Self-talk is the echo-chamber of the noisy ego. For a balanced, appropriate approach to life, we need to cultivate a quiet ego, so we may approach life with far deeper intelligence. I highly recommend Iain McGilchrist's talks & books on balanced left- & right-hemisphere:

A monk asked his teacher, ‘What are you thinking of in that immobile sitting position?’ ‘I think of not-thinking,’ replied the teacher. The monk asked again, ‘How do you think of not-thinking?’ ‘Beyond thinking,’ replied the teacher.
     ‘I think of not-thinking’ is a key teaching of our practice. Thoughts come. We do not try to exclude them. Our effort is to leave them alone as much as possible and let them go on their way. Not-thinking, or zazen, is how the universe thinks. We are this undivided, unfabricated movement of energy in the universe. You can call this ‘beyond thinking.

     Suzuki Roshi told us, ‘When you say, “Yes!” you forget all about yourself, and you are refreshed into some new self. Before the new self becomes the old self, you should say another, “Yes!”’
     When we can see things as they are, we are nobody special anymore. You can’t see things as they are when you have a self. When you keep saying yes and keep finding a new self, it takes you into the unknown. We keep finding a new self and don’t know what that will be. It may feel like freedom.

     True intimacy occurs when we directly experience reality for ourselves. ... Each one must find intimacy directly, not through our thinking mind, but from immediate direct experience prior to the mind’s mediation.”
Thanas. “The Truth of This Life. Zen Teachings on Loving the World as It Is.” Shambhala, 2018.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Awakening the Heart-Mind

     "I began by asking myself, “What do I want out of life?” And the answer was happiness. Investigating further, I went into the moment when I was feeling happiest. I discovered something which to me was startling at the time. It was when I was loving that I was happiest. That happiness equated to my capacity to love rather than to being loved."

The main thing is to be aware of being comfortable within. If you can do that, you can observe things which come in and produce a little discomfort, and examine why they produce the discomfort. You can quietly observe them and then return to the comfort. It’s surprising – the comfort in here is already out there with you in everything you see. This is the real nature of things: the comfortable area of being ‘part of’ rather than ‘separate from.’
Williams, edited by Steve Taylor. “Not I, Not other than I. The Life and Teachings of Russel Williams.” O-Books, 2015.

     “… in any situation in life, confronted by an outer threat or opportunity, you can notice yourself responding inwardly in one of two ways. Either you will brace, harden, and resist, or you will soften, open and yield. If you go with the former gesture, you will be catapulted immediately into your smaller self, with its animal instincts and survival responses. If you stay with the latter regardless of the outer conditions, you will remain in alignment with your innermost being, and through it, divine being can reach you. Spiritual practice at its no-frills simplest is a moment-by-moment learning not to do anything in a state of internal brace. Bracing is never worth the cost.
     This does not necessarily carry over into an outer state of surrender, or ‘rolling over and playing dead.’ On the contrary, interior surrender is often precisely what makes it possible to see a decisive action that must be taken and to do it with courage and strength. To ski down a hill or split a piece of wood, you first have to relax inwardly; only then can you exert the right force and timing. It’s exactly the same in the emotional world. Whether it’s a matter of holding your ground in a dispute with your boss, handling a rebellious teenager with tough love, or putting your life on the line for an ideal you believe in like Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr., action flows better when it flows from nonviolence, that is, from the place of relaxed, inner opening.
     Remember that memorable scene in the first Star Wars movie when young Luke Skywalker had to guide his space cruiser through a narrow passage and release his missile at exactly the right time? ‘Feel the force, feel the force’ – that powerful mantra his teacher Obi-Wan-Kenobi had impressed on him – captures perfectly the relationship between inner surrender and effortless action. It’s a secret the great spiritual masters have always known.

     Modern science has come to understand that matter is only condensed energy. … Sooner or later, science will also discover that what it calls ‘energy’ is only condensed psychic force – which discovery will lead in the end to the establishment of the fact that all psychic force is the ‘condensation,’ purely and simply, of consciousness, ie spirit.” Valentin Tomberg
     In other words, there is an energetic continuum running through all of creation, beginning in the virtually vibrationless awareness of pure consciousness and ending in the solid world of rocks and tables. In contrast to the more traditional theological model, which views God and creation as rigidly separate, the Wisdom model stresses the fluidity of movement along this energetic continuum, and the presence of divine consciousness at every level, regardless of the outward form.

ynthia Bourgeault. “The Wisdom Way of Knowing: Reclaiming An Ancient Tradition to Awaken the Heart.” Jossey-Bass, 2003.

     “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.
Martha Graham, (1894-1991) American dancer & choreographer, regarded as one of the foremost pioneers of modern dance, and widely considered one of the greatest artists of the 20th century.

      “I would say that we live in a panpsychic, ensouled universe; that it’s intelligent and spiritually-informed, and at some deep level conscious, though not every expression of the cosmos is equally conscious as we all know.
don’t think that we’re living out a blueprint that has every single detail predetermined. I think we live in an open universe and, as I understand it, the cosmos is itself a continuing, evolving, creative act. That creativity brings in a certain amount of unpredictability. It’s bringing together multiple movements and infusions and impulses in each moment of our consciousness as well as in every other part of the cosmic panoply of other consciousnesses.
there’s a play in the system. There’s a kind of creative unpredictability that is crucial, in my understanding, to the human adventure. If we were just living out a kind of predetermined structure of fate, that would be a less interesting adventure for sure. Even though I think that there’s a constant interplay between underlying karmic factors, underlying archetypal & cosmological structures, & evolutionary stages, and so forth, that take place collectively as well as individually - there are all sorts of structures that we’re working within, but it’s more like jazz music or rock & roll or blues, where you have certain formal structures, chordal structures, harmonic architecture as it were, and then within that larger architectural structure, it’s up to us what melodies we sing, what dances we dance.
the genres are somewhat shaped by our culture and the epoch we’re living in, but I deeply believe there’s a certain element of human agency of autonomy, of creative freedom, and that’s where our moral responsibility comes in, as well as the playful dimension artistically and so forth.

Tarnas interview

     "We are The Mystery awakening to Itself.
      You are not alone but in good company...."    Joel Levey

     “Were one asked to characterize spirituality in the broadest and most general terms possible, one might say that it consists of the direct experience, remembering, or felt sense of an unseen order, and our supreme good lies in harmoniously adjusting ourselves thereto.
James,​ ​“The Varieties of Religious Experience” [italicized words in the text are my substitutions]


Thursday, December 2, 2021

Transformative Power of Deep Acceptance

      Most of us define ourselves in terms of what we can & cannot accept, and are fairly rigid about these opinions. We all realize, at some level, that deeply meaningful aspects of life powerfully influence us. BUT instead of deeply investigating these via self-reflection, self-inquiry, meditation etc, most of us do whatever we can to avoid such topics, even sliding into nihilism, denying that life has any meaning at all!

     "Existential crisis (existential dread) ... when individuals question whether their lives have meaning, purpose, or value, and are negatively impacted by the contemplation. It may be commonly, but not necessarily, tied to depression or inevitably negative speculations on purpose in life such as the futility of all effort (eg 'if one day I will be forgotten, what is the point of all of my work?')"

      Avoidance is beneficial only when we're too young, or otherwise unable to consciously deal with reality. But avoidance so easily becomes an automatic reaction to challenges, that distraction becomes a way of life. As soon as we feel the slightest discomfort, we immediately try to escape. We rationalize our constant compulsive busyness by blaming external factors, choosing to ignore our fearfully immature inner life.

     Of course the opposite of avoidance & intolerance, is simply accepting life, as it is.

     "Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less." Marie Curie

     "In time we hate that which we often fear.” William Shakespeare

     "It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live." Marcus Aurelius

     "Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility." Sigmund Freud

     "The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek." Joseph Campbell

     "Men go to far greater lengths to avoid what they fear than to obtain what they desire." Dan Brown

     “You take up the spiritual path only when you feel you cannot do otherwise
.” The Mother

      “Most people go to their graves believing suffering is unavoidable. How sad that is. If you turn from the possibility that it could be otherwise, you will suffer needlessly until the day you die. But here is something: the end of suffering would be the least of the benefits, if you become free. The real miracle is not the profound undoing of anguish, but the riches that would flood the freed-up ‘space.’” Jan Frazier, “When Fear Falls Away”

Eckhart Tolle had a very difficult childhood & severe depression, however, as a result of acceptance, his life transformed into a lasting, profoundly positive, meaningful experience. His description:

     “In my case, grace erupted into a bad karma situation: unhappy childhood, parents continuously fighting, no harmony in the environment, often lack of money, then my parents divorced which was uncommon at the time & I felt great shame about it, my Dad was like an unexploded bomb that was always ready to & did periodically explode. So the young adult became unhappy. He had absorbed unhappiness from the environment.
all that’s not good karma, and because of that, suffering became unbearable, and then a surrender happened (choiceless acceptance), and then there was an eruption suddenly of grace. The fact that surrender happened in the midst of the suffering, is probably grace. So, surrender happened, and with surrender, grace could suddenly flow in fully. Grace is the essence of who you are, coming through the form (physical body & personality). So in grace then, you’re not the density of the form – the form’s density lessens. As it lessens, grace is able to flow through. The density of the form lessens through surrender or acceptance of the present moment as it is, as a spiritual practice. If you can make that your spiritual practice, you may not succeed all the time. That’s fine. Have compassion with yourself. So you have another level of acceptance behind the non-acceptance. If you don’t succeed in accepting what is, then accept that at this moment I can’t accept what is. Allow the emotion to be there, you still have space then, and grace is space.
can enter – grace is the spaciousness of the unconditioned, the divine (primordial) consciousness. The quickest way of inviting grace to into your life is by becoming friendly with the 'isness' of this moment - no matter what form it takes. It already is anyway, so why not say yes? It doesn’t mean you can’t take action, but at the moment, it is. So you ‘go with the flow’ of life. The flow is always here & now. You never go against it. The starting point is the isness of this moment.
that acceptance, the gate is open for grace to come in. If you complain about difficulties or the unsatisfactory nature of this moment, the gate or the shutters are closed so the sunlight can’t come in. It doesn’t mean you’re more powerful than the sun. The sun isn’t concerned about your shutters. So when you are somehow against the present moment, or you treat it only as a means to an end because there’s a more important place you want to get to, grace can’t operate in your life, or you only get a trickle, just to keep you going. Occasionally, for example when you’re in awe of a beautiful sunset, just for a moment the ‘complaining entity’ subsides, and in that moment grace can come in, and you can live on that one sunset for three weeks. But of course that’s only a trickle. To go from form to formlessness, is done by accepting whatever form arises in the present moment, whatever form this moment takes. With the acceptance of form, the formless opens up in you.
the ultimate truth of that is in the image of the crucifixion, which I see as going beyond religion. Some people dislike it. They say it’s all to do with suffering, and it’s unhealthy, and so on. But there is a deep meaning there, that for a long time, perhaps could not be expressed in an abstract way. That meaning is that here you have the image of complete suffering of a human. He is nailed to the cross, which is a torture instrument, and this human is able to surrender & accept, ‘Not my will but thy will be done,’ and then suddenly the torture instrument becomes a symbol of the divine. Isn’t that strange? The torture instrument has become a symbol of the divine. So through acceptance, whatever looks like an obstacle, or even a dreadful thing, becomes transformed.
situation that’s accepted deeply – and if it’s a very big thing like a crucifixion, there needs to be very deep acceptance – and immediately, there’s a transformation. So grace is hiding also in that which looks dreadful. The dreadful sufferings we see all around us - they are there, but grace is hiding there. And you can only see the truth of this in yourself. I’m not saying anybody should believe in that. You have to find out for yourself that grace is hiding in what the seemingly dreadful things – even in little things that go wrong – but even more so in big things that go wrong.
ultimately you see it’s not wrong, it didn’t go wrong – what it looked like in the moment when you judged it. So that’s inviting grace into your life, through bringing this deep yes to the present moment. Then your evolution accelerates. And the more you do that, the less you need the disasters, because you can operate with the flowering of consciousness. Consciousness wants to flower into this dimension, in this dimension. So it’s really welcoming what is.”
transcribed from the superb video below:

Monday, November 29, 2021

Can We Change Now?

     "'Is the universe a friendly place or not?' ... If we believe that the universe is unfriendly ... peace will be elusive at best." Joan Borysenko. “Fire in the Soul. A New Psychology of Spiritual Optimism.” Warner Books, 1993. 

     In the interim, ever more human beings keep ravaging our fellow humans, animals & Nature. We continue to prioritize short-term gain & profit over sustainable peace. We are not merely unfriendly, but openly hostile. Can we change sufficiently before we destroy our planet & ourselves along with it?

      "Spirituality means waking up. Most people, even though they don't know it, are asleep. They’re born asleep, they live asleep, they marry asleep, they breed children in their sleep, they die in their sleep without ever waking up. They never understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing that we call human existence. You know, all mystics – Catholic, Christian, non-Christian, no matter what their theology, no matter what their religion – are unanimous on one thing: that all is well, all is well. Though everything is a mess, all is well. Strange paradox, to be sure. But, tragically, most people never get to see that all is well because they are asleep. They are having a nightmare.
de Mello. “Awareness. The Perils and Opportunities of Reality.” Doubleday, 1992.

     “If a man achieves or suffers change in premises which are deeply embedded in his mind, he will surely find that the results of that change will ramify throughout his whole universe.” Gregory Bateson

     "The non-dual understanding (direct path or Advaita Vedanta) addresses two essential questions: one, ‘How may we be free of suffering and find the lasting peace & happiness for which all people long above all else?’, and two, ‘What is the nature of reality?’
     In relation to the first question, the non-dual approach suggests that happiness is our essential nature, or simply that we are happiness itself. We might then ask, if happiness is our essential nature, why is it not experienced all the time? And the reason is simply this, that whilst all people have a sense of being or knowing their self, not all people know their self clearly. It is this absence of clear self-knowledge that is responsible for the feeling of lack that accompanies most people’s lives and drives them to seek fulfillment in objects, substances, activities, states of mind and relationships.
     ... chances are that the search for happiness in objective experience has failed you sufficiently often to make you doubt that it can ever be truly found there. The non-dual understanding suggests not. In fact, it suggests that in order to find lasting peace and happiness one must know the nature of oneself as one essentially is. As such, self-knowledge is considered to be not only the means by which peace and happiness may be found but the very experience of happiness itself. It is for this reason that the non-dual teaching starts with an investigation into the essential nature of our self, and you can find a video giving an ‘Introduction to Self-Enquiry’ in this section of the website.
     This clear knowledge of oneself is also the basis of the second aspect of the non-dual understanding, namely, the recognition that reality is an infinite, indivisible whole, made of pure consciousness, from which all separate objects and selves borrow their apparently independent existence. Everything we know or experience is mediated through the mind, and therefore, the mind’s knowledge of anything can only ever be as good as its knowledge of itself. In order to know what anything truly is – that is, what reality truly is – the mind must first know its own essential nature. Therefore, the investigation into the nature of the mind must be the highest endeavor upon which any mind can embark, and the knowledge of its essence or nature the highest knowledge.
     Thus, whether we approach non-duality as a means of finding lasting peace and happiness or, more philosophically, as an answer to the ultimate question about the nature of reality, we begin with an investigation into the nature of our self. This understanding is found at the heart of all the great religious and spiritual traditions, and is expressed in the particular language of the time and place in which it arose. For instance, in Christianity it is said, ‘I and my Father are one’. That is, the essence of our self and the ultimate reality of the universe are the same. In the Sufi tradition, ‘Whosoever knows their self knows their Lord’. That is, whoever knows the essential nature of their self knows the ultimate reality of the universe. And in Buddhism, ‘Samsara & Nirvana are one’, meaning the nature of the world and the essence of the mind are identical
, the words ‘Know Thyself’, carved above the entrance to the temple of Apollo at Delphi, indicate that at the very foundation of Western civilization lies the non-dual understanding that our knowledge of our self is not only the means by which lasting peace & happiness may be found within an individual, but is also the basis for peace amongst individuals, communities & nations, and must, as such, be the foundation of any truly civilized society." Rupert Spira


Tuesday, November 23, 2021

True Happiness & True Self

     “The only way that someone can be of help to you is by challenging your ideas.” Anthony de Mello SJ, “Awareness: Conversations with the Masters”

     “Intelligence is usually seen as the ability to think and learn, but in a rapidly changing world, there's another set of cognitive skills that might matter more: the ability to rethink and unlearn. In our daily lives, too many of us favor the comfort of conviction over the discomfort of doubt. We listen to opinions that make us feel good, instead of ideas that make us think hard. We see disagreement as a threat to our egos, rather than an opportunity to learn. We surround ourselves with people who agree with our conclusions, when we should be gravitating toward those who challenge our thought process. The result is that our beliefs get brittle long before our bones. We think too much like preachers defending our sacred beliefs, prosecutors proving the other side wrong, and politicians campaigning for approval - and too little like scientists searching for truth. Intelligence is no cure, and it can even be a curse: being good at thinking can make us worse at rethinking. The brighter we are, the blinder to our own limitations we can become.
Grant. “Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know.” Viking, 2021.

     “I feel that the mind is given too much attention by human beings because we’re actually led to believe that the mind represents a 100% of our consciousness, when in reality the mind is less than 1% of our consciousness. It’s just that there’s a misunderstanding about the way the mind functions.
we’re always doing, and everything that people are engaged in to try to seek happiness, we’re actually seeking our true nature. We’re seeking the infinite Self, infinite consciousness. To give a couple of examples. For people who enjoy spectator sports, if somebody say goes to a football match, what they’re going there for is to try to experience infinite consciousness. And the way they’re trying to do that is they want to see one of their players performing in a way that just demonstrates that their activity is way beyond the capability of the mind. You see the flow of the way they play. And it creates the sense of awe and this sense of inner bliss. And that’s really true of most of the things people are engaged in. Whether it’s watching a football match or going to the opera, or watching a film, we’re always looking for that sense of heightened awareness which is beyond the mind, which is one’s true nature. And in terms of creative people, the same thing applies. So people who are writers, they like to get into the flow where what they’re writing is totally effortless. And they’re actually functioning from their effortless infinite nature.
     It’s just that they’ve been told that it’s the mind that’s doing it, but it’s never been the mind. And the same is true of musicians, dancers, artists, or poets. We’re always seeking to go beyond the limitations of the mind. And that’s what everybody is already doing, but they don’t realize that that’s what they’re doing. They think it’s because they like this particular football team or because they admire this particular musician or this particular writer. But everything has the same motivation, which is to experience one’s true nature. But the difference between a secondary mode of experience like that and ‘the greatest secret’ (self-realization or realizing our true nature) is that the greatest secret gives you direct access to that, so you don’t need any kind of intermediary.” David Bingham - I HIGHLY recommend his interviews:

       “We seek happiness in experience after experience, relationship after relationship, therapy after therapy, workshop after workshop – even ‘spiritual’ ones, which sound so promising but never address the root cause of suffering: ignorance of our true nature.
      ... the
understanding and recognition of our true nature … is the one medicine for everything.” Mooji

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us." Marianne Williamson

     “The term 'perennial philosophy' was coined by Agostino Steuco (1497-1548) and refers to a fourfold realization:
      (1) there is only one Reality (call it, among other names, God, Mother, Tao, Allah, Dharmakaya, Brahman, or Great Spirit) that is the source and substance of all creation;
      (2) that while each of us is a manifestation of this Reality, most of us identify with something much smaller, that is, our culturally conditioned individual ego;
      (3) that this identification with the smaller self gives rise to needless anxiety, unnecessary suffering, and cross-cultural competition and violence; and
      (4) that peace, compassion, & justice naturally replace anxiety, needless suffering, competition, & violence when we realize our true nature as a manifestation of this singular Reality.
      The great sages and mystics of every civilization throughout human history have taught these truths in the language of their time and culture. It is the universality & timelessness of this wisdom that makes it the perfect focus for the spiritually independent seeker."
      Rami Shapiro. “Perennial Wisdom for the Spiritually Independent.” SkyLight Paths, 2013. 

     “The world is so unhappy because it is ignorant of the true Self. Man’s real nature is happiness. Happiness is inborn in the true Self. Man’s search for happiness is an unconscious search for his true Self … When a man finds it, he finds a happiness which does not come to an end.” Ramana Maharshi

     “Considering all the effort given to bolstering the ego – the emphasis on self-esteem, reputation, achievement, physical appearance, material acquisition – it’s a miracle awakening ever happens at all.” Jan Frazier, “The Freedom of Being.” 



Friday, November 19, 2021

Never Left Home

     Bruce Springsteen expressed it nicely, "everybody's got a hungry heart." It goes by many other names: "an itch we can't scratch," "ordinary unhappiness," "lack," "seeker," "neediness," "greed," "inferiority complex," "imposter syndrome," "low self-esteem," "desperation," etc. And unless cynicism & resignation have set in, we strive heroically to fill the bottomless hole in our heart with: work, food, shopping, sex, drugs, travel, and all sorts of experiences including spirituality: prayer, meditation & rituals including sweat lodges, entheogenic plant medicines like ayahuasca etc. But too often, we just "can't get no satisfaction."
on-dual methods offer a surprisingly direct approach to "re-cognizing" how we're far less needy than we can imagine. Two teachers have particularly impressed me with the clarity of their teaching: "Sailor Bob" Donaldson and John Wheeler
highly recommend listening to their 90min talk - youtube video bottom of this page. The initial (Bob's) portion has poor audio, so the text below will help:

     “I don’t teach you anything, and we don’t tell you anything. What we do is point toward, and ask you to look to where we’re pointing to, to see for yourself, because there’s nothing that you’re going to get, nothing that anybody can give you. We’re talking about non-duality or the nonconceptual present awareness, just this, nothing else. And we talk in concepts. So again, anybody new needs to realize that the concepts themselves are not the introduction, nor recognition of this. And you also realize that if you came from some conceptual point of view, you can pull apart what we recite quite easily – whatever we say, because it’s all conceptual
we ask you to learn, if you haven’t learned already, to listen. And when we talk about listening, we’re not saying ‘head-to-head’ - taking what we say into your head, trying to analyze it. So let it wash in, in what we call, ‘heart-to-heart.’ We’re not talking about your physical heart or anything in your body. I’m talking about using the word ‘heart’ as the core of beingness or you can use the symbol of spirit if you like. When we talk about ‘heart-to-heart’ – you know what heart-to-hear is already. How many times when you heard somebody that you’ve really felt close to, heard what they were saying and you realized, ‘My heart opened up to them’? When we talk about heart-to-heart then there is natural communication.
     When it’s 'head-to-head,' you’ve got to put your concepts against the things spoken, and nothing’s going to penetrate. But if it’s heart-to-heart, there’s an openness there, and that’s communication. And it mightn’t be in the words, because the words are concepts. There might be a natural resonance there – a natural recognition of your innate true nature.
     Here we don’t say, ‘it’s only for the few,’ which you’ll hear elsewhere, ‘you have to do this & that, and it will take time & years to get there & understand it.’ In this space, everybody’s right in everybody’s natural state if you like to open yourself and drop some of the conceptual beliefs you’ve held & kept there that have become the blockages that stopped you." Sailor Bob Adamson 

     "In the beginning you might hear a few pointers to essentially get you looking in the right direction. You’ll hear many different types of pointers. If I start sharing my experience or my understanding, I might come out with a certain set of pointers & concepts as how I would frame what is the essence of what Bob was pointing to. I often come back to the basic pointer that you hear quite a lot that, there is this nature of reality or truth that is accessible to us, and if we are curious to where that resides, or how we would look at that, or where we would find that. We also often hear something to the effect that, ‘that is what you are,’ or ‘that’s already what you are.’ So this natural state or reality get’s pointed to, but in a practical way, when you want to notice that, or want to recognize that as an actual direct recognition, where you look for that, where you access that is pointed to be exactly, precisely where you are, because your natural being, your natural state is that reality that’s being talked about. So that’s a way of using pointers, & some words & concepts to try to get us simply to look in the right direction and notice something in our experience.
once we have a grasp of that, or basic sense of that, then the concepts & the pointers can fall away, and we’re just in the immediate recognition of something that’s not a concept, that is present in our experience. That’s really what this is about. Not so much about what the concept or the word is, or how it’s stated or who says it or anything like that, it’s actually something that’s being pointed to. It’s important to keep that in mind in any of these teachings & pointers, so we can go immediately into noticing what is the nature of what is present in our experience here right now, that isn’t framed by any concept. There’s clearly something here. Each one of us is present, existing, aware, alive, conscious. Whatever that is, whatever that reality is, if you notice that you’ll see that it’s not word, or an object, or a pointer. It’s not even a teaching. There’s really no particular teaching or school of thought that really can capture that, or own that, or kind of have the rights to that so to speak. But still that natural being, that knowing the essence of what we are, is actually present for all of us, even right now in this moment. And I think what we find is that, at the end of the day, as we’re looking at this, resonating with it, that that’s what you recognize at the end in terms of where the pointers are pointing to. So I would say just to encourage you to pause the concept, pause the question, pause the mind trying to grasp some particular understanding, and just simply relax & notice something very simple & available which can be pointed to.
I could call it ‘the fact of your being’ or ‘that innate conscious presence that’s here right now, that’s at the root of all of our natural functioning & seeing & knowing & thinking’ and that’s there prior to any description, word, or label. Once you get that, once you resonate with that, and once you realize that that’s what we can notice, that that’s what really being pointed to, it just goes to an immediate re-cognition, an immediate looking & seeing that in direct experience.
quite interesting because what you’ll find, is that a lot of those pointers that are used, turn out to be someone attempting to describe what your natural being is. So just to give a flavor of a few things that I would say, and encourage you to also notice right now that there is that effortless, natural given reality of your being here right now. And that’s not an attainment, and it’s not even an awakening, it’s not a liberation or some kind of spiritual state. It’s actually simpler and prior to that. And in looking at that, and recognizing what that is, you’ll find that it’s not troubled by questions & problems. It’s not divided from anything. It’s not searching for anything. It’s not limited or defective or anything like that. So the amazing thing about this is when you follow that pointer and you actually examine in your experience to just simply be curious about what is the nature of what we are here, you immediately come face to face with this obvious, undeniable fact of your true nature, and it is already having all of those characteristics we might have been searching for.
that can allow us to appreciate some of these pointers, but always knowing that the pointer is not what it is. But in seeing that distinction, you can appreciate the pointers, you can enjoy the pointers, and you can be at a meeting like this and hear this being pointed to and following the pointers, but simultaneously actually directly recognizing, as it’s being discussed, that reality of who you are. And the beauty of it is it starts right now in our direct experience, if we care to recognize what’s being pointed to. And this is something that people I think miss, is that what you find is that we’re not really talking about attainment. It’s not a particular experience. It’s not a particular moment. It’s not a shift. It’s not a penny dropping. Nothing particular needs to happen, which is I think in spirituality we often subtly pick up that kind of idea that, ‘When’s it going to happen?’ ‘When am I going to be there?’ ‘Somebody got it and somebody didn’t get it.’ And subtly the mind is just kind of projecting into the future, imagining there’s something that’s going to happen to me and then ‘this’ will be the case.
it turns out, which is a wonderful understanding, that that’s not the case actually. Even the most rarefied, absolute teachings that you hear, also turn out to be a little bit too complicated. So we often hear ‘awakening.’ And it seems like so and so got something at a certain time. So that would lead us to feel like maybe that could happen to me, or something like that. But that’s all conceptual. That’s all in the imaginary, conceptual picture in the mind, because if you actually look in direct experience, that awake, conscious aware presence is actually already functioning. It’s already completely clear and evident. So there we were waiting for awakening, waiting for the shift or something to happen, not actually noticing that the awakeness or the awareness or that reality was actually there without even needing the shift or the awakening. In seeing it like this, the whole structure of spirituality concepts just glides out of the picture, because you realize you don’t need anything what you already are. All those natural qualities are given by default in what’s already present.
is the kind of thing that Bob pointed out to me, and that he shares. And I was able to listen to what he was saying, and just check it out and find the simplicity of the truth of the meaning of those pointers. But at no time was there some exotic awakening or shift or moment or something like that because it’s too complicated. Then those age-old pointers about ‘you are that’ and ‘your mind is the Buddha’ and ‘this is who we are’ – we recognize that, well this is what they’re trying to say, that you already are the truth of what you are, that you are that. And at that point, the need for the pointers, or the need to understand what it is and where it is and all that – that whole thing is no longer necessary for who we are because there’s that direct recognition for ourselves of the truth of what we are. It’s a simple appreciation & recognizing of something that, as was pointed out to me once, that one of the keys to it was that it’s so incredibly simple, so totally basic, and in a way so clear, so obvious that often we’ve just stepped over it and missed the essence of it. So you hear a lot of these pointers today and if you really follow what’s being said, it’s pointing back again & again & again & again in various different ways to that same basic message. And you don’t need a lot of pointers, or a lot of meetings, or a lot of time, or a lot of chewing over it, because all of that is still missing the simplicity of it. Just one meeting like this, or a discussion or heart-to-heart talk, or hearing just one direct pointer that resonates can in itself be quite sufficient, quite enough for us to notice that. So that’s just one attempt to try to share this.
" John Wheeler



Thursday, November 11, 2021

A Splendid Mystery

“We are part of a mystery, a splendid mystery
within which we must attempt to orient ourselves
if we are to have a sense of our own nature.”     Marilynne Robinson

“Why should things be easy to understand?”     Thomas Pynchon

"We are stars wrapped in skin
light you are seeking
always been within."               Rumi

     North American surveys repeatedly show that most of us have mystical experiences, but due to family, societal & other pressures, we tend to downplay, discount or suppress these powerfully meaningful events, to conform to today's materialistic orthodoxy.
      Nevertheless, more & more of us are taking direct experiences seriously, investigating, integrating, & sharing them. David Bingham is an example of someone who underwent a major shift in consciousness, referred to as 'awakening' ('enlightenment') or directly experiencing one's 'True Nature' - who or what we actually are:

     "The main thing that happened, and this is true for most people I’ve spoken to where there’s been a similar shift (in consciousness), is that seeking stops. Because up until that point, we’re convinced that we really are this human being bound in time & space, moving through time towards something that we want. That can be a spiritual motivation. It can be trying to find the perfect relationship; it can be trying to find somewhere to live that you like; trying to have children; trying to have a good job; trying to make money. All of those things are all forms of seeking. Spiritual seeking tends to come after those have been exhausted, but really, there’s no pattern to it.
in terms of the integration, what took place to me is that the seeking stopped, because having seen clearly who & what you are, there’s no possibility of any seeking. So then an enfoldment takes place, because you realize that actually you’re already where you need to be. And then there’s a kind of fine tuning where one’s own inner knowing, one’s own intuition becomes much more clear. ... much more reliable. So even though there’s a desire to kind of share this, because consciousness is at the helm, it can only be shared when consciousness gives you the nod. So there isn’t anything you can do about that.
n terms of personal life, the integration that took place is that actually, because there is only present awareness, then everything takes place within present awareness, so the unfolding of life, all of the stuff that continues: it appears that time’s going by, it appears as though there’s an aging process, that things are changing on the surface of life. It’s all from the point of view of completely stable knowing of who & what you truly are.

     There’s a line in the Bible where Jesus said, ‘The lilies of the field neither toil nor spin.’ And what happens in the development of consciousness is there’s a certain point that’s reached where seeking comes to an end, and then life begins to go by itself almost. So there’s a knowing of what to do in certain situations as they arise. Because there’s no motivation to do something in order to get somewhere, then everything is purely for what it is. So for instance, being here is totally about just being here with you. There isn’t anything else that actually matters. So it’s actually giving full attention to everything. So whether it’s in terms of a relationship, or whether it’s in terms of a perception, or an experience, everything is just seen purely & totally for what it is – and you’re just fully present with that.
     The state before that (ie our common, shared sense of reality), is that there’s something missing, that this is incomplete, this can be improved on, that actually I can do something to be in a better situation than this. So full attention is not something that’s available to you.

     Interviewer: People are always trying to find happiness. The human mind is always trying to move towards what it perceives as pleasure, and away from what it perceives as pain. And you go through this process where you get money, and you get material things, and hopefully you have your health and a good relationship, beautiful children and whatever, but still this feeling ‘it’s not enough.’ So we all try in our own way. It may seem unintelligent in what we’re doing, but most of us are actually trying to move towards what would appear to be an intelligent place of happiness, but unfortunately happiness on a human level doesn’t really contain the magic missing ingredients, does it?

     No, it doesn’t. And that’s part of the incentive in a way, or that’s part of the way consciousness unfolds. Because it’s that incompletion that allows the game to be played because as there really is only present awareness, then everything is already home, so there isn’t anything to find. But the way consciousness plays the game is that most of the stuff in the manifestation, is actually in contrast to its own essential nature. So it’s the idea of not being home. It’s the idea that there’s something missing. It’s the idea of incompletion. It’s the idea of impermanence. It’s the idea of imperfection. So all of the things that are actually the polar opposite of one’s true nature, are apparent in the manifestation. And in one respect, the reason it’s like that is to allow consciousness to know itself fully, because it’s by the contrast of the imperfection that perfection can be known.
Bingham interview:

     Using terminology with which you might be more familiar, we are BOTH frightened children desperately seeking safety & unconditional love (often "in all the wrong places"), AND wise elders who are the very source of safety & unconditional love. The Zen version of this is "not one, not two." The left-hemisphere of our brain is all about looking after the noisy frightened child & discounts & tries to drown out any other approach. Our right-hemisphere recognizes the important, restricted role of the left-hemisphere AND is aware of & values a FAR broader, FAR wiser perspective.

“As a man is, so he sees.” William Blake


Luis Del Rio Camacho - cover photo, Orion Magazine, Autumn 2021