Saturday, December 17, 2016

Experience is a Pointer

Experience can be a pointer. One needs to step back from the experience and discern what it is pointing to. In this way the message may deliver knowledge. True knowledge, like the Self, does not change. Experience is a trip. Knowledge is the place. The journey's end.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Everything Is An Interpretation

It is said that the unexamined life is not worth living. Obviously that is not true. Many people run the programs that they inherited in childhood and have a life they like. They have their ups and downs, but overall, feel that their life is good and worthwhile. There are some however, who for some reason, want to pull on the veil of conditioning and peek behind the curtain. This post is for those who are peeking beyond the veil. 

Fundamental to life is perception. How we perceive fixes our way of being. Most never notice this, or assume that this is just the way it is, and nothing can be done about it. But some perceive that there is a stickiness to conditioning that does not seem comfortable, they scratch because the conditioning feels itchy, like something is wrong. 

Those who have the itch from childhood, to peer behind the veil, typically realize that they are different. They quickly find that their views are not appreciated, and are often ostracized for not towing the line. They may have been born introverted, but if not, their pariah status often drives them inward. 

Inward is the only option when looking beyond the veil. This inwardness if carried on, leads to deeper and deeper questions. The alienation of Existentialism is a good example of this. Existentialists promoted freedom, which they insisted must come from the individual for the individual. To do this, one had to be authentic. This striving for authenticity created a deep personal struggle to overcome conditioning. Albert Camus' book, The Stranger, is a tale of this alienation. 

Camus' approach to self examination was labeled Absurdism. This term is how those adapted to their conditioning view the questions, and the lives, of those who challenge their conditioning. Søren Kierkegaard was deeply religious but deeply questioned and gave his life to writing about authenticity. He suffered immensely. Frederick Nietzsche did the same. 

When one questions deeply, everything is suspect. This is a very uncomfortable place for the mind. As J. Krishnamurti stated, "The mind is always looking for security." Those who question, suffer, there is no doubt about it. But suffer long enough, sit with the questions long enough, does have its rewards. One might even say that one must have faith to persevere, not faith in anything in particular, but faith that answers will come because there is something fundamental about being. 

Fundamental questions bring the structures of the mind, of thinking and feeling, under observation. This points to the fact that there is something other than the mind; a truth seeking function that is deeper than any mental structures, conditioning and prejudices. This function is willing to pull apart, even shred, every piece of conditioned thinking, even as the mind suffers incredible pain. At this level of suffering, if that fundamental faith in Being is lost, if there is no hope, suicide is often the only way out. On the other hand, coming to that point is often what is required to come to something new, something deeper than the conditioned, imprisoned self. 

The Hindus called enlightenment Moksha, which means freedom. Their take is that without a burning desire for freedom, one will not have the strength to stay on the path. In the Christian tradition we have the term, "Dark Night of the Soul. This is an apt description of that period of time during which everything is undone. Those who survive the Dark night of the soul have perennially been called mystics. They have gone deep, survived the questioning, and come out on the other side. Many describe their discovery of a direct knowing that is so fundamental that there is no need or even the possibility of questioning it. This is not knowing that leads to fundamentalism, but rather an knowing that is free. No conditioning contains it. Nothing to fight over. Their stance with others is "Take it or leave it. I'm OK." 

Once the questioning factor arises and it can't be denied, the journey has begun. At the beginning it may be fun, and the ego may even get a thrill out of being rebellious. But in time, if the questions can't be dropped, the pain will rise and it will trend upward. For some it will be many years of making do with the additional burden of being alone . 
Many with this nagging persistent questioning will even call it a curse. But like all life, there is balance, and if one holds steady, answers will come and there will be freedom. 

The reason it takes so long for many is that that their conditioning is strong. It is so thick that they cannot see through it. Their path is an arduous and painstaking dismantling, piece by piece. This can take years, and usually does. Some never get through it. They have more freedom, but the woods is never cleared. But if one could get to the fundamental questions early, and answer those, the whole woods could be felled rather quickly. 

The fundamentals that underlie conditioning are the words and labels with which we think. What we think leads to automatic value judgments which we call feelings. And we tend to think of feelings as permanent settings, beyond questioning. These stumbling blocks need to be surmounted. In the end, our thoughts do not determine who we are, but they do define the person that we think we are. 

To undermine our prejudices and free our minds, we need to analyze thought, and that is mostly words. We need to analyze and question our feelings. Everything we think and feel is brought into question. So, what are these things, these thoughts, these feelings? Thoughts are concepts, and feelings are automatic value judgments based on them. These two things, thought and feeling, carry our conditioning. They are our conditioning. We weave a net of concepts and then are caught in them. 

Fundamental to our being and our knowing is consciousness. We are aware, and any thought or feeling that we have, when it comes into awareness, we are then conscious of. Sight, sound, touch, and taste, are the same process. Every though is a concept or a label, a representative of something. But no representation of an object is the object itself. We can look at a menu in a restaurant to order food, but we do not eat the menu. 

All our senses provide us with an interpretation of the world around us. The thing in itself is not known to us. When we ask, "If a tree falls in the woods and there is no sentient being to hear it, is there a sound?" We are simply pointing to the fact that sound is an interpretation of waves of air pressure. The waves are there, but with no one there to interpret the waves into sound, we cannot say there was a sound. 

Whatever exists in the universe, and whatever it ultimately is, remains a great question. All we can know is how our minds and bodies interpret it. Is there such a thing as a feeling except that we perceive it. Touch, taste, smell, sight and sound, are all interpretations of something, but the thing in itself cannot be known. Whatever that is that ultimately exists, we can only infer. 

If I see a chair in an empty room, and you come in, you too will see a chair. But if a cow comes in, it will not see a chair. It will see an object, but will have no concept of chair. Chair does not exist in its world. The cow does not see the world we do. It's interpretation is different. It will walk around the chair, but it will not think to sit on on it. It is simply not a chair to the cow. From this, we can see that from our senses to our thinking and feeling, everything is an interpretation of what is. 

There is no known thing in the universe that is known outside of our interpretation of it. The universe known to us is not known by the bee. Its interpretation of this same field is different. It exists in the same universe as us, but its knowing is not ours. So, the fundamental question is, who is doing the interpretation? 

Since everything that is known by man or beast is an interpretation, what is it that interprets? We are tempted to say, why our senses, our bodies. But our bodies are also known to us, and are themselves an interpretation. Fundamentally we can say we exist. But we can only say that because we are aware and conscious. So, ultimately we can only say we are aware. Being aware we can interpret, and that is consciousness. 

So, the clearing of our conditioning, the freeing of our minds, is a matter of realizing that words cannot define us, nor contain us. Neither do our feelings define our contain us. We are awareness itself. And when that awareness shines on us, we become conscious beings. 
As awareness itself, our problems relating to being a body and mind are minimalized. We are not limited to our body-mind. We are not imprisoned in it. Our conditioning belongs to the body-mind, not to us. 

By taking on this fundamental understanding, we can wear the world lightly. We are not a person with a mind. We are much bigger than that. We are Awareness, unbound, unlimited, carefree. When this understanding dawns, we are free. The body-mind may still have some work to do, but it can be done in good spirits, with light heart, knowing that we are free.  









Friday, August 12, 2016

The Knower

Everything that we see and experience is created by the knower. The knower is Awareness, pure consciousness. Absolutely everything that we know and experience is an interpretation. Everything we experience is a created interpretation of what is. What that is, what everything is, is consciousness. Every interpretation is a creation of Maya, the creative interpretive function of the Absolute. All is created by the Self, for the Self, for its own good pleasure. So why not be yourself and enjoy yourself.

The map is not the territory. The map is an interpretation only, a representation of a physical or other type of space. The map and the physical space are both in consciousness, both interpretations of what is. All that is experienced, in and of itself, only exists in consciousness. There are no ifs or buts about it. All there is, is consciousness. We are that Awareness, that knower, of what is.

There are no two consciousnesses. There is no separate thing in this entire universe. There is nothing you can know, touch, feel, smell, taste, or see, that is not in consciousness. The soup of isness is nothing but appearances, interpretations moderated by the type of brain we have.

There is nothing real as a separate thing. There is only this one essence experiencing itself as this and that. All created in consciousness alone. The interpretation of seeing is reflected light. The interpretation of hearing sound is waves of pressure. Taste is an interpretation of molecules on the tongue. Where are these seemingly different experiences? In the mind. Where is the mind? In consciousness.

Is it not clear that there are not two things in this universe? Is it not clear that there is only one thing, experiencing all things. All known by consciousness alone. Is not our personality just an interpretation of a particular body and how it experiences and responds to the world. Can you really claim the consciousness of your bodymind for yourself? Certainly not as the bodymind, for you are the knower of the bodymind.

We are that Absolute knower, the ground of being, the Awareness of all that is. We are that which is the consciousness of all sentient beings. That alone exists. That is what we are. The creator of all this. Isn't that limitless freedom? Being the creator of all that is. Isn't this understanding a joyful knowing. I am That, and you are That.

The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God's eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.” ― Meister Eckhart

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Glorious Freedom

All the various things are interpretations of the sense organs. The one Essence swirls with energy, forming and dissolving objects of infinite variety. The variations of energy interpreted by the organs of sentient beings, create the appearance of all objects. Quantum physics now explains that all the objects in the universe are the atoms of one system, one Essence, one Absolute. Quantum physicists now realize that nothing can be explained without consciousness in the equation.

Without being aware, nothing can be known. Without Awareness nothing can be said to exist. Awareness, being pure, has the capacity to reveal any object, any thought, any feeling. Awareness itself, however, must remain pure, otherwise, how could it know all things. It is the screen upon which all existence appears. It exists in its purity prior to all appearance.

When any object appears in Awareness, we become conscious of it. Awareness is primary, the subject in which all of existence appears. From womb to death we are conscious. There is not one thing we become conscious of that does not owe its existence to Awareness. Yet, we are so distracted by all we are conscious of, that we fail to see Awareness itself. This unseen presence behind all appearances we do not see. That is the open secret which ignorance protects. Yet that is what we are. For without Awareness, there is nothing to be conscious of.

The ancient sages say there is only one thing we can know for sure. That one thing is that "I exist." No one can deny this. Everyone knows they exist; knows they are aware. Therefore, Awareness, the Absolute, is primary, the ground, the being, the knower of all.

Only deep examination of what we experience and how our senses interpret the world, do we begin to appreciate that which makes all things knowable. Only when all experience is deeply examined do we appreciate the primacy of Awareness. That essence we overlook is Awareness itself. When we see that all  experience is known only by and in Awareness, can we appreciate the Absolute subjectivity of Awareness. Only then do we realize we are That. Enlightenment is simply that recognition that what we are ultimately, is none other than That. I am That. You are That." Glorious freedom. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

No Strategy Required

Once your ignorance is gone, you know that you are That. Once you are no longer the bodymind on the stage, what strategy is required? When you are That, what further action is required? What further action could you do? What needs to be done? The bodymind you once where, remains, but it no longer has anything to do with you. It is still on the stage, but you have nothing to do with it. You are the audience. The bodymind will continue to be and do what it does. It will follow it's program, doing what it does, enjoying what it enjoys, moving away from what it does not like. But you, being That, just watch, blissfully knowing that whatever happens to the bodymind is none of your concern. Enlightenment is just the shift in identity from being a bodymind to being That. Once you are That, you are seeing from that 'grand indifference" as Franklin Merrell-Wolf called it. Peace only reigns. What happens to the bodymind does not disturb you. What happens to other bodyminds does not disturb you. The bodymind will have its concerns. It may work for environmental concerns, or work for social justice, but it is irrelevant. Its just a program, a play you are watching. If the bodymind doesn't work for justice, or any improvement whatsoever, you, as That, don't judge or opine. There is no thought that it should be different. Even Jesus said, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone." The enlightened one does not wake up thinking he needs positive thoughts. He doesn't need strategies for getting through the day. He doens't tell himself, "This will be the best day of my life." Everything is already good because he is That. That peace. That bliss. That knowing that all is well. The play will go on. But it's just a show. Shakespeare said it well. "She would have died later anyway. That news was bound to come someday. Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. The days creep slowly along until the end of time. And every day that’s already happened has taken fools that much closer to their deaths. Out, out, brief candle. Life is nothing more than an illusion. It’s like a poor actor who struts and worries for his hour on the stage and then is never heard from again. Life is a story told by an idiot, full of noise and emotional disturbance but devoid of meaning." (Macbeth Act 5, Scene 5) The enlightened one is no longer the fool. If the candle goes out today, it is no different than if it goes out tomorrow. The actor is on the stage, but you are not the actor, the doer, the enjoyer. You are That. The witness only. Be well my friends. Let play go on. You are the witness only.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Pursuit of Happiness is Dead

The knowledge I am awareness, if firm, should affect the person. Why? Because once the identity shifts due to the knowledge, I am That, the person can no longer retain the values it once held. The body-mind still remains, but because it realizes that it is actually whole and complete, unlimited awareness, it doesn't have to pursue the values it previously held. Some of the relative values may remain, but they no longer have roots. Without roots, the undesirable values wither and drop away. This Jiva's values have certainly changed, mostly noticed in the lack of any pursuit of happiness. Pursuing happiness has become invalid. I am already all that I could be, or want to be.

What remains? There is only a peaceful existence that doesn't need to do any particular thing to be happy. If I am alone, I spontaneously move from activity to activity, none of which seems to be more conducive to pleasure than another. If something needs to be done. I enjoy doing it. If nothing needs to be done. I do what seems enjoyable to do. This jiva happens to like keeping the mind occupied, so I read on the Internet, or watch videos. Since I am still interested in nonduality, I enjoy watching videos on that. If my mind gets tired of that, I watch funny videos, or documentaries. The point is, whatever I am doing, I am aware of the background of contentedness. Not sure I would call it bliss. But I no longer have any need for bliss either. Whatever That is that I experience, it is enough.

Whatever I do is in the Silence. What is the Silence? It is just another word for Awareness. Some call it "pure consciousness." Awareness itself is primordial silence. It must be so because it is amenable to anything in the universe appearing in it. It can know matter, mind, spirit, and whatever else appears. Awareness itself, however, is not affected.

Awareness is no thing in particular, yet everything that exists or could exist, appears in it. What it is in itself, we cannot describe. We can only know that this is what we are. Anything we see, hear, feel, or know appears in what we are. It is ineffable, unnameable, and yet it exists. It exists because we are aware. When we are no longer trapped in what we see, hear, feel, and touch, we perceive the Awareness in which all obtains. It is our very own Self. Awareness, all pervading, ever present, without limit, without end. Hallelujah. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Sword of Knowledge

The sword of knowledge can cut the knot of ignorance. This is the bottom line for Advaita Vedanta. All the yogas, all the mantras, japa, meditations, are provided to prepare the mind so it is open to receive a deeper knowledge. Acknowledgement of ignorance is the first step required.

Ignorance is in the mind. That Ignorance must be pointed out due to the nature of our instinctual hard wired ignorance. Most of us need some preparation, some softening of the mind, before the truth can be absorbed. Because the knowledge of nonduality is subtle, the mind needs some refinement to appreciate its depth. The gross little mind we have accepted, has little chance of allowing new knowledge of this level to penetrate without some refinement, some open space, with which to receive it.

Sometimes we come to Vedanta after a severe crisis; an event that breaks are extant conditioning. Such a crisis may bring us the humility required for us to be ready to hear. As Leonard Cohen says, "It's the crack that lets the light in." Correct knowledge destroys ignorance. But we need to be ready to receive it. In Vedanta they call it a "qualified" mind.

If the mind cracks, or opens suddenly, enlightenment can be an instant seeing. A sudden opening without preparation can be a calamitous, earth shattering event. If the mind is well prepared, enlightenment may come as softly as a gentle breeze. It is the earth shattering stories that get repeated. But that is not the way it has to happen.

We start out hard wired in ignorance, and conditioning piles on top. It all has to be unraveled for the truth to sink in. The unraveling comes in many ways. It has to happen, for ignorance is in way. New knowledge is required to free the mind. And when our mind is freed, the ignorance removed, we discover that we aren't the mind. It is the realization that we have always been free. This is Moksha. Freedom. The end of mental suffering.

Below is a poem I wrote at the age of eighteen, describing the pain of ignorance in the mind, and wanting something new.

Potential

A potential being
I lay in the loins of man
a million years.

A listless child
in a dreamy land
eternal as the infinite
and free
respecting all the
world about,
but understanding not.

Accepting all that was in doubt,
the word before me had,
and being a child
of that world,
I remained a part.

The shattering blow
was long in coming
though departed from the land;
the structures of a mind so strong
were long in coming down.

The roots were long and deep
secure in depths of unconsciousness,
torn up as they slept
the tender nerves were bared
and wrenched the conscious mind.

The mind tormented
in this dying mess,
could find no peace,
and tangled emotion
like a spider's web,
held the helpless mind
amid is myriad sticky host.

Potential intuition
had it rested in its native land
lay uprooted, victim,
and the cause of so much pain.

The mind is planting once again
deep within its earth.
Will it harvest fruit
in this new land?

Potential freedom,
does it lie here?
Then it is grace,
not fate.



Not Belonging

Isn't it interesting how, for most people, if you really push them, will often say that they feel like they don't belong. Somehow they feel different, out of step with whatever their life seems to be.

Knowing nonduality is a great revealer of why the sense of not belonging is here. It's because knowing ourselves as a body/mind and feeling limited is not our original state. It's like being lost in a body/mind. In fact, as long as we think we are our body/mind, we are lost.

No matter how sophisticated we become. No matter how successful in the world's eyes we become, we always have that sense of something missing. Well, there is something missing. It is the knowledge of who we are. And that knowledge is hard to come by.

Why is that knowledge hard to come by?Because it is hidden in who we thing we are. It is hidden in our body which makes us feel limited. It is hard to find the knowledge because we are hard wired to think we are limited to the body/mind.

The fact it is hidden is not known to us unless there is a tremendous shock to our body/mind and we are forced to look deeper. Even with a tremendous shock to the body, some of us will still refuse to look. The pointer of some experience can be put smack up against us, and we won't see where it points.

For example. Many people who'be had a Near Death Experience, where  their spirit consciousness lifts away from their body, still won't admit to the implications. I know someone who slipped on an icy bridge through the railing and through the ice some fifteen feet below. He told me that he found himself floating up the river bank, seeing his body under the ice below.

As he floated slowly up, he reports that he watched his two buddies get out of the pickup truck, scramble down the bank, reach down into the water and drag him out. He recalls yelling at his body, move, breath! He watched his buddies hold him upside down and pound his back. Like a bang, he says, I was back in my body.

Would he ever admit the implications of that experience. No. He said it must have been some chemicals in his brain. That's a very, very stubborn ego. Others with similar NDEs loose their fear of death, but they still don't go looking for who they really are.

This points to something important. If you are cursed, as I was, in a fundamental non negotiable search for truth, you are blessed. You are blessed, because as Western sage said, "Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7 New Living Translation)

Why is the body/mind ego I important? Because the it is the creation of the Self. We may not know why the body/mind is? We may not know why the ego sense of I is is here. But the fact that it is, can be for no reason but that the Self put it here.

So, if you realize that you do not feel at home in your body/mind. If you have a sense that the personal you does not belong, you are on the right path. You are not the body/mind. The personal mind you take yourself to be, is borrowed consciousness. Borrowed from the Self. That which you really are.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Sweet Presence

I feel a very sweet presence. It's calm and feels like home. Funny that I found this presence through a "means of knowledge" called Advaita Vedanta. The ancients sages say that "Vedanta is knowledge that ends the search for knowledge." It's very clear what they mean. The knowledge we seek, knowingly or unknowingly, is to know who we are. When that knowing also informs you, without a doubt, that you are an eternal being, what more are you going to look for?

I always wanted something worthwhile to write about. Well, Vedanta is worth writing about. It's writing about myself. In the case of Vedanta, if you understand it, you are only writing about yourself. How sweet.

Besides writing, I also had a devastating, unrelenting curse, to know the truth. How else would I have found Advaita Vedanta. It took a long time for me to get there. As you know, it is the end of the path. The path was entirely made up of all the things that weren't true: all the concepts, all the beliefs I had picked up, or made up, along the way.

I was one of those who lost all my faith, all my beliefs, in a sudden free fall from everything I thought I was. I was brought up in a deeply Christian home. I lived my childhood among Christian missionaries. And my parents took me to foreign countries. The cultural differences between stone age natives and moder day Christians was a split world. I was always seeing two worlds, both of which had cultures of their perceived truth.

While dependent and living at home, wherever that happened to be, I could not express my doubts. It was a Christianity of forced belief, and shunning, although not a part of the creed, it was a fact. Think wrong, express doubt, and you knew you were in hell.

That changed when I went to college in California in the late sixties. From a missionary home to Southern California in the middle of the sixties drug culture was more than my mind could handle. My poor mind collapsed like a popped balloon. I was thrust into existential angst. Hell couldn't be better described than the one I was.

Of course I was now on the path to find the God, or the truth that would put me back together. I slogged through thousands of self help books. Got a Masters in Psychology, and did therapy. It all helped, but not enough. When nothing is enough, the only thing left was the spiritual path. And I read about all of them. I didn't know where it was, but I could feel what it wasn't. Neti to this and neti to that.

The first thing my incredible and genius Gestalt therapist said to me was, "There is nothing wrong with you that killing 30 people wouldn't cure." He got my anger, and believe me it was that bad! I worked with the therapist about ten years. I believe he saved my life. But that was not the end of the road. I was still looking for the final truth.

I am nothing but absolutely stubborn when it comes to wanting the truth. I really was thinking I would die without getting it. I knew I was about 90% of the way, but I wasn't a fully cooked goose. I kept looking. Finally I had the good sense to go looking for the root of enlightenment. The ancient knowledge out of India, from thousands of years ago. Strangely, it was exactly what I was looking for. That knowledge was fully cooked, and served on a silver platter. Strange that the spiritual search for truth ends with knowledge.

I guess because I had already absorbed so much, when I read Vedanta, all the pieces just started falling in place. The missing pieces fell right into puzzle. I knew the absolute was beyond my conceptual ability, but knowledge of who I am, proved beyond my ability to deny. I could no longer doubt I was That. With the intellect out of the way, the knowledge went deep and pierced my heart.

True knowledge removes doubts. Denying the intellect never worked for me. Vedanta doesn't ask you to do that. It satisfies the intellect. Finding knowledge that satisfied my intellect did it. The ancient Indian sages respected the intellect. They understood that knowledge could provide freedom, and they wrote to prove it. They even coined the phrase, "A means of knowledge."

I don't deny the enlightenment of others who somehow get it almost accidentally. But when there is a proven method that's worked for thousands of years, it's worth a try. Their means worked for me. It's not done with hugs and kisses. But it works. It is reasoned, impeccable knowledge, that when applied, left me dumb with understanding. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Means of Knowledge

I know I am Awareness, and that Awareness is having its way with me. I feel an unnameable presence.

It took this hard head a long time to realize. Like 40 years. I first started running into the word "enlightenment" when I was in my twenties. For some reason the word just stuck to me like glue. Their was some intuitive sense in me that there was another profound way of seeing. A way out of the suffering I felt. That word offered hope that there was some other way of experiencing the world.

I didn't know about Jnana yoga at the time. That is yoga for the mind. I was a pathetically intellectual person. I was a very repressed person. In college I had tried to outrun my feelings of pain by thinking, but that didn't work. I had to do therapy for that. Getting my feelings felt, especially the pain, quieted my mind down tremendously. Enough so that I could think more clearly. It destroyed a good deal of my projections which were distorting my world.

Reading J. Krishnamurti took my head apart and through me into a number of mystical experiences. They were profound and meaningful beyond measure. They came with such authority that there was no possibility of even questioning them. But there was a problem with these experiences. When they left, I was back in my normal ego state. That normal was now compared to those states.

The comparison was like knowing about heaven, and being in hell. It was as if the most meaningful possible existence was reduced to meaningless mundane subsistence. I had no choice but to live with the meaningless and work my way out. If I could have reproduced those experiences, I would have. But it doesn't work like that. The experiences were pointers only.

Being cursed with an undeniable intellect, I could only continue to read and contemplate. Meditation never did a damn thing for me. Believe me, I tried. But reading enlightened teachers did help. They gave me hope. It also came about that when I needed new direction, someone out of the blue would send me an email and specifically give me a pointer, another teacher or book to read. You know the old saying, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." It's true!

There were many years during which I did not know anyone who read more than me. I'm not bragging, I'm just pointing out the level of conditioning I had to work through. I needed challenging thoughts to destroy whatever lesser thinking I was holding. As Ramana, said, "You can remove a thorn with a thorn."

For me, the most exacerbating problem was that there were so many descriptions of enlightenment. Without being realized it can be hard to know who is providing half baked experiential based crap, and who is teaching the truth. I had to kiss a lot of frogs. But the process was worth it.

I cannot name all the teachers who helped me along the way. They know who they are. Obviously for me, the final ones are most prominent in my mind. It may be helpful for me to write about those, because, in the end, what we want is realization. If my final steps are helpful to others, then writing this is worthwhile.

I began to think I was getting close. It was just a peacefulness coming into my life. One interesting thing I became aware of, was that I could pick up a book and have an intuitive sense after reading a paragraph or two, whether or not the writer was enlightened. That begged the question; "How could I do that if I wasn't enlightened?"

That knowing propelled me to the final question. How will I know I am realized?I also knew that with my intellect, that I would have to find an answer that satisfied it. There was going to be no way around this one, as it was my intellect that still had doubts.

How will I know when I am realized was the final quest, and I knew it. I needed to know what the goal was. Only then would I know how to get there. Only then would I know I had arrived. In thinking about this, it crossed my mind that I would not accept any definition except the definition and explanation that came from the original sources of this knowledge. I went looking for the source.

Although the West has a long tradition of mystics, they didn't talk about enlightenment. And although I knew many of them were in that space, I needed something more rational than prayer. I didn't want to beg, and though I loved the mystics of all religions, but they didn't have a path I could follow. That's when I went looking back to ancient sages of India to see what they had to say. They originated the texts on this subject, and I wanted their definition and descriptions.

That's when I discovered the books and videos of James Swartz.
What drew me to Swartz was that he knew Sanskrit, knew the ancient texts, and taught them. He said things that brought to my heart. He said I didn't need and experience to realize. So many teachers do teach that you  have to have some experience. They taught that the experience would make it obvious. But what experience. They each had different experiences!
so many different stories. I had had plenty of those. It didn't do it for me. Which experience was the right one? How would I know? It drove me to what the originators the knowledge of enlightenment taught. I wanted their definition and their teaching.

Through the work of James Swartz I was informed that the ancient sages taught that it realization was knowledge based. Surprised the heck out of me! You mean I don't have to be waiting for the next experience? Swartz also stressed that the ancients had a "means of knowledge." Five thousand years ago some brilliant people had this revealed to them, and they wrote the means of knowledge down.

As I listened to the Swartz videos of this ancient teaching, I could see that they had really worked this out. They did a damn good job of it. And Swartz does a full out beginning to end teaching of it. Finally I was getting the whole story, the whole teaching, the whole science. It wasn't some mystical unrepeatable experience, it was knowledge!

I knew the big picture of the current scene. I knew that a lot of teachers seemed to be realized. But that had no teaching. They were entertaining, but I literally found them unhelpful. Reading Swartz's books made it clear that what I felt was accurate. Much of the means of knowledge the ancients taught had been dropped along the way. They taught their experience, and their experience wasn't a means of knowledge. You could try to feel your way into their experience, but we are all different, and personal experiences aren't easily repeatable.

For me, once I started following the ancient teachings the knowledge just fell into place. For a damn intellectual like me, it was like falling into Nirvana. The knowledge just started working, doing its own thing. I found myself changing because my mind couldn't challenge the teaching. The knowledge was humbling. My mind had to work to understand, but it gave itself whole heartedly because it made sense. I read the Swartz books, and watched the videos.

At this time I also happened on the work of Robert Wolf. From Wolfe I got more clarity on the effects of understanding. Understanding started to fall into place. All the paradoxical statements suddenly began to make sense.Apparent paradoxes just peeled away. Wolfe told me two things. He said the two predominant myths are, "It can't happen to me. and "It may not be some big experience."

With the understanding from Swartz, and reading Wolf my mind relaxed. Wolfe had told me "Your search is over. What you are looking for is right here now." The way he said it, it just went straight to my heart, deep down. It cemented the knowing. At that moment I realized that I knew. Knowing that you know is like a rock.

There was no big bang for me. No earth shattering experience. I just felt a peace come over me in knowing that what I had been searching for all my life was what I was. I was complete. It was so satisfying that I went to bed and had a sound night's sleep.

I don't think that final knowing would have happened without James Swartz work that puts in current American English the knowledge of the ancient texts. My intellect just demanded that level of knowing. The humbling of that knowing is wonderful. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Basic Agreement

The sufi poet said, "When I went looking for God I found myself. When I went looking for myself I found God."

Meister Eckhart said, "The eye with which I see God is the eye with which God sees me."

The Hindu sages say, "You are That."

Here we have some of the greatest spiritual minds from three great religions saying the same thing. How is it that when the ultimate understanding is the same for these great religions that there is hatred, fear and wars among us? It is only lack of this understanding. Go deep my friend and see that we are all one.

You and I

When you are sitting across from me you see me over here. But am I really over here, and you over there? You know I am over here because light reflected off the energy form penetrates your eyes and gets interpreted in your mind. The form created in your mind is an interpretation of the energy field present.

If you then look at your own body, the same process interpretation unfolds. Your mind sees your body where you are. But both images are nowhere but in your mind. If both images are only in your mind, how much separation is there really between you and me?

Awareness is that which knows the images. That awareness is the same whether you are wearing a pink dress one day and green the next. Awareness is the same whether I am wearing jeans and baseball cap, or a suit and tie.

You and I are seen in your mind, and you and I are seen in my mind. The process is the same. But how can you and I both be in separate minds if both of us are in each other's mind? Rather confusing, isn't it?

If we are both in each other's minds, it must be that we are not separate, but in fact one consciousness. We are both conscious in one undivided field of awareness. That awareness is what we are. In that there is no here and there, no me and you, just that Awareness. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Being Good

If you take Jesus' saying, "Love your neigbor as yourself" as a commandment, you are missing something. This was not a commandment. It was a pointer. If you know your neighbor Is yourself, you got it. In the first instance you are trying to be good. In the second instance you are goodness itself. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Corrupted Love

I have pondered for many years what "unconditional love" is. From the point of view of the Absolute it is easily understood. All that is is That. There is no second. There is no judge of the Absolute. Everything created, every life form is That. All one, and no description of the creation from the Absolute view can be anything other than pure love. All is as it is, created in love, with no judgment possible.

The issue I always had was from the human point of view. Can we live as a human with unconditional love? It seems a few sages over our history have. But how did they do it? They must have had the Absolute nondual perspective. Only from there could they have known and acted without judgment.

How is Absolute unconditional love reflected in the rest of us? It is like pure light through a prism, broken and split. We express our love through the damaged, fearful, filters we developed growing up with parents who were damaged, and fearful. The love is there all the time, but it is corrupted with the conditioning we can't avoid.

The only solution I can see is for each of us to look at our fears and own our damaged condition with forgiveness. When we see our own damage, feel the pain and let it go, we see the damage that was in our parents. Then forgiving them is possible.

As each of us works through our damage and sees the hidden, broken light, the damage we do will be just a little less. The less corrupted our love, the more we see the innocence in everyone and compassion has its birth. 

Silence

So many spiritual people talk about the silence. When you go to the theater and watch a movie, that's the mind. When the movie is over and the projector is turned off, all you get is the screen. It is silent. You may not have even noticed it. But without qualities it is the perfect background for the movie. You are awareness, pure consciousness, the perfect silent background for your mind and the activities of the world.  

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Enlightenment Is Not An Experience

I was watching a teacher streaming online talking to a gentleman who was very insistent on understanding. He was speaking of his search as this big lack in his life. The teacher kept insisting that he find the lack somewhere in his body. He said he didn't feel the lack in his body. His body was fine. The teacher then said that if he couldn't find the feeling in his body then he couldn't be helped.

I was really appalled at the teacher's response. This poor fellow was desperate, and he had a strong intellect. Instead of letting him know that the intellect was a not a problem, he was told that he was too intellectual. He was told he was stuck in his head.  There was no help for him if he didn't get out of his head.

This is really a travesty. I can tell you that the teacher has a big following online and is very entertaining. I don't doubt the teacher is in touch with the nondual perspective. But, the teaching is utterly unhelpful, and in fact damaging to this poor fellow.

I have done lots of group therapy and it was a tremendous relief to work through repressed feelings, but enlightenment isn't a feeling. Teachers espousing enlightenment as a feeling are wasting a seekers' time. I too have had a lot of mystical experiences. I have been in states of ecstasy and union with everything, but I can tell you they don't last. As James Swartz makes very clear, enlightenment is not a feeling, it is not an experience.

The major dividing line I experienced watching and visiting teachers was that all seemed to be coming from the same space, but some were helpful, and some were not. The unhelpful ones were entertaining, but frustrating at the same time. They kept saying that one needed to feel or experience something, but each had a different experience.

I finally decided that I needed to know for certain what I was looking for. I could see that the experiential enlightenment teachings got me nowhere. Even if I could duplicate, replicate, or induce a similar experience, there was no way to guarantee it lasting more than a minute or a few days.

The big question then became, what in the hell is enlightenment anyway? Who would know? In thinking about this I realized that I needed to go to the source of enlightenment. Where was the source? Well, it's far back in history in ancient India. That's where the original teaching and years of refinement happened. What was their definition?

When I went looking. I happened on the teaching of James Swartz. I was immediately tuned in. Here I found a teacher who knew what he was talking about. He wasn't espousing a feeling or any particular experience. He also did not say I needed any particular experience.

As I watched James' videos, he explained the teaching from beginning to end. He had the definition and the whole teaching. I had to use my intellect to understand what he was saying, but I didn't have to have any particular feeling. I didn't have to have any particular experience.

He explained that experiences could be useful, but they needed to be understood. In other words, what did the experience point to? What did the experience mean? This made experience a stepping stone, not the big bang. The bottom line was that enlightenment was an understanding, a knowing, and experiences where just a sideline.

What a relief to an intellectual like me. I didn't have to degrade myself for not having certain feelings. I didn't have to have a particular experience, I just had to understand. The more I watched his videos, the more I understood. And the more I understood, the more satisfaction I felt. Understanding was something I could grasp. The bottom line is that feelings and experiences are not transferable, but understanding, knowledge, can be conveyed. Not that there isn't work to be done, but it's not chasing experience or feelings. Believe me, I have feelings. Having the right feeling was not my issue. And it's not the issue regarding enlightenment. Knowledge and understanding are the key.

It took about a year for the knowledge to gel and come to fruition, but once I really understood and took it to heart, I realized the understanding. What a relief after many years to know I had found what I was looking for.

If you are out there chasing the enlightenment experience, please reconsider. Enlightenment is knowledge based. The knowledge creates understanding, and the understanding leads to realization. Ultimately it's really simple, but since we are hard wired with ignorance, it takes a teacher with knowledge, understanding, and a means of knowledge to produce results.

I am sure I would have realized sooner had I encountered James Swartz teachings sooner. Perhaps I wasn't ready until he appeared. I suspect that is true. If I can help someone else by pointing them to a teacher who has the ancient teachings under his belt, then this post will be of value.

James Swartz teaches the understanding of enlightenment from the Vedas. He doesn't tout his own experience. He isn't promoting himself, and he doesn't claim any new teaching. That humility alone makes him worth listening to.

I went searching for the origin of the enlightenment teachings. I went searching for understanding of the ancient original texts. When I found videos on line by an American who knew Sanskrit, and knew the ancient texts, and could teach them in English, I knew I was home. Worked for me. Thank you James! 

Enlightenment Is Not An Experience

I was watching a teacher streaming online talking to a gentleman who was very insistent on understanding. He was speaking of his search as this big lack in his life. The teacher kept insisting that he find the lack somewhere in his body. He said he didn't feel the lack in his body. His body was fine. The teacher then said that if he couldn't find the feeling in his body then he couldn't be helped.

I was really appalled at the teacher's response. This poor fellow was desperate, and he had a strong intellect. Instead of letting him know that the intellect was a not a problem, he was told that he was too intellectual. He was told he was stuck in his head.  There was no help for him if he didn't get out of his head.

This is really a travesty. I can tell you that the teacher has a big following online and is very entertaining. I don't doubt the teacher is in touch with the nondual perspective. But, the teaching is utterly unhelpful, and in fact damaging to this poor fellow.

I have done lots of group therapy and it was a tremendous relief to work through repressed feelings, but enlightenment isn't a feeling. Teachers espousing enlightenment as a feeling are wasting a seekers' time. I too have had a lot of mystical experiences. I have been in states of ecstasy and union with everything, but I can tell you they don't last. As James Swartz makes very clear, enlightenment is not a feeling, it is not an experience.

The major dividing line I experienced watching and visiting teachers was that all seemed to be coming from the same space, but some were helpful, and some were not. The unhelpful ones were entertaining, but frustrating at the same time. They kept saying that one needed to feel or experience something, but each had a different experience.

I finally decided that I needed to know for certain what I was looking for. I could see that the experiential enlightenment teachings got me nowhere. Even if I could duplicate, replicate, or induce a similar experience, there was no way to guarantee it lasting more than a minute or a few days.

The big question then became, what in the hell is enlightenment anyway? Who would know? In thinking about this I realized that I needed to go to the source of enlightenment. Where was the source? Well, it's far back in history in ancient India. That's where the original teaching and years of refinement happened. What was their definition?

When I went looking. I happened on the teaching of James Swartz. I was immediately tuned in. Here I found a teacher who knew what he was talking about. He wasn't espousing a feeling or any particular experience. He also did not say I needed any particular experience.

As I watched James' videos, he explained the teaching from beginning to end. He had the definition and the whole teaching. I had to use my intellect to understand what he was saying, but I didn't have to have any particular feeling. I didn't have to have any particular experience.

He explained that experiences could be useful, but they needed to be understood. In other words, what did the experience point to? What did the experience mean? This made experience a stepping stone, not the big bang. The bottom line was that enlightenment was an understanding, a knowing, and experiences where just a sideline.

What a relief to an intellectual like me. I didn't have to degrade myself for not having certain feelings. I didn't have to have a particular experience, I just had to understand. The more I watched his videos, the more I understood. And the more I understood, the more satisfaction I felt. Understanding was something I could grasp. The bottom line is that feelings and experiences are not transferable, but understanding, knowledge, can be conveyed. Not that there isn't work to be done, but it's not chasing experience or feelings. Believe me, I have feelings. Having the right feeling was not my issue. And it's not the issue regarding enlightenment. Knowledge and understanding are the key.

It took about a year for the knowledge to gel and come to fruition, but once I really understood and took it to heart, I realized the understanding. What a relief after many years to know I had found what I was looking for.

If you are out there chasing the enlightenment experience, please reconsider. Enlightenment is knowledge based. The knowledge creates understanding, and the understanding leads to realization. Ultimately it's really simple, but since we are hard wired with ignorance, it takes a teacher with knowledge, understanding, and a means of knowledge to produce results.

I am sure I would have realized sooner had I encountered James Swartz teachings sooner. Perhaps I wasn't ready until he appeared. I suspect that is true. If I can help someone else by pointing them to a teacher who has the ancient teachings under his belt, then this post will be of value.

James Swartz teaches the understanding of enlightenment from the Vedas. He doesn't tout his own experience. He isn't promoting himself, and he doesn't claim any new teaching. That humility alone makes him worth listening to.

I went searching for the origin of the enlightenment teachings. I went searching for understanding of the ancient original texts. When I found videos on line by an American who knew Sanskrit, and knew the ancient texts, and could teach them in English, I knew I was home. Worked for me. Thank you James! 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Muddy Water

Let's not muddy the water by saying everyone is enlightened. It is a sloppy statement. It points to a truth, but it  also misleads because it leaves out the necessary "realization" of this truth.

The truth of this statement points to the fact that everyone is Awareness. It points to our essential oneness. It acknowledges that we are the One, God, Brahman, the Absolute.

The problem with the statement is that only a realized person knows this. Enlightenment means that one knows this fact. Realizing this fact is enlightenment. But does the average person know this? No, he does not.

So, we have the truth that we are all Awareness, undivided, unlimited, unborn, eternal. But, we have people who realize this, and people who do not realize this. Enlightenment means the mind realized this, and the light went on. To not realize this means the mind remains in ignorance.

Therefore the statement that "Everyone is enlightened," is a false statement. It is better to say everyone is Awareness. This fact may be argued by those who have not realized, but lets not call them enlightened.

Realizing the self is usually a long process of questioning the mind, of inquiring into existence, and pursuing the question, "Who am I." For many, the subject is rather abstract. Understanding is not easy.

It takes a sattvic, clear mind to catch the subtleties of inquiry. Unclear, sloppy statements, don't help. Therefore, if we are going to help others to see the truth, we must be careful how we use words or phrases to convey this understanding. Let us be careful and admit that everyone is Awareness, but lets not be sloppy and say "everyone is enlightened." 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

No Ego Death

My ego still functions pretty much like it always did. There are some changes though. It's quite peaceful as it doesn't have much motivation. It is known to be a function that keeps food in the fridge and and lets me know when the yard needs to be mowed. I even enjoy it when it likes something its accomplished.

The ego is still here, but there is a knower of the ego. That knower is now the primary identity. Because the knower is known, there is no need to get rid of the ego. It's a form just like all the other ego forms. My ego is just a form appearing with this particular body.

The recognition or realization of the knower negates the power of the ego, but it does not destroy it. It's more like the ego has no roots. It still reacts, behaves badly, gets hurt. But these feelings pass quickly because they have no roots. The return to the knower comes quickly, and the reactions are noticed.

The ego is just an ordinary function,. It is different from other human egos in its peculiarities, but basically the same. It's just not who we really are. When we don't know this, the ego seems all powerful and is taken seriously. When the knower is recognized, the ego takes its rightful place. It's a pet we can't get rid of. It gets weaker with the knowing, but no need to kill it.

Is it not obvious that the purpose in watching the mind is to discover that you are the watcher, the knower of the mind! No need to get rid of it. Just see it in its rightful place. Realization will calm the mind because it's no longer center stage. But you can still appreciate the stage and the acting. It's just a play.  

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Paradox of Enlightenment

Enlightenment is a paradox. Someone searches for enlightenment for 40 years. Finally it is understood, or realized. It is an attainement, but it is paradoxical. The paradox is that the one who realizes, sees that what he was searching for, is what he already is.

That person still remains, and has attained realization. We know this because the search stops. However, he knows he is not who he thought he was. The finding changes identity, but the apparent person still exists as a body/mind intact. From then on there are essentially two aspects of the One: the Absolute Self and the individual, apparent self, still walking around.

This makes for confusion when listening to a sage, becuase sometimes he is speaking from the enlightened viewpoint, and stometimes from the relative viewpoint. You have to be enlightened to catch the difference. That is why realization opens such an incredible vista. All of sudden, all the formerly paradoxical statements ring true. No confusion is left.

We have to admit that the Absolute Self does not need enlightenment, realization, or attainment. However, it is what the personal seeker needs. There is great relief when it is attained. From then on the person knows he is enlightened, which simply means he knows he is not what he thought he was.