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."
Non-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.
I 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.
So 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.
Now 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.
So 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.
It’s 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.
So 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.
And 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.
This 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