wanted to send out one more post before I go.
This question was posed to
me recently and I think it is very relevant to some of what we've been talking
about here in the forum:
From the questioner:
"How can you talk
about no self and also give relative descriptions from within a story in your
Great question! .....because this
is all we have....stories. All descriptions are relative. No one has
ever expressed the truth or non-duality. All that we can do is
The moment we begin speaking, we are speaking within a
dualistic language. No self has no meaning except in relation to
self. So one has to know and experience "self" for the words "no self" to
resonate as an insight. In that way, the words "no self" are just as
dualistic as any other words. They appear to point to an absolute truth,
but do they really?
No self is basically a story that goes like
this: "I once thought of myself as a separate self, but through a
particular recognition, I now know that there is no separate
That's fine. A very important insight actually!!
do you see how each word refers to other words? How do we know anything
called non-duality without reference to duality, for example?
exist in a pair of opposites. And language is this finite web of
symbols. No matter how we rearrange them, and no matter whether our
arrangement is labeled traditional advaita, neo-advaita, zen, taoism, direct
path, indirect path, christian mysticism or fuddy duddy, the arrangment still
falls within dualistic language. In seeing this, we can stop
We can stop pretending that non-duality is like a big club
and once you have a powerful experience, you are in the club. As a member
of the club, suddenly you are speaking "the truth."
speaking as awareness? Is awareness some detached, transcendental cloud of
nothingness, and once you recognize the nothingness, all words you speak are
truth? No, that's just another story. If nothingness is anything at
all, it is everything. It is every voice--from the uncompromising
nondualist to the unclear, compromising dualist. All equal appearances of
nothing. This isn't bad news. It's great news, because we can stop
pretending. Stop fighting. Stop believing that language is delivering
truth and "my truth is better than your truth." It's like a child saying,
"na na na na na, my dad can beat up your dad."
You see, I once
thought that I didn't exist. And I walked around believing that. It
was the best story ever. And I met others who claimed they didn't
exist. And so we picked at each other, often pointing the finger at each
other, deciding who existed less...who was less of a self...who was more
absent. But this was just another ego game. The game of who
can be more humble, more non-dual, is just another aspect of the ego game.
But because one can walk around saying "I'm a member of the non-dual club,"
somehow I thought I had a free pass to act arrogant, to think of myself as
special, to think that I was expressing truth.
And in the fog of that ego
crap, I missed the fact that my brother, the Christian, was also the
truth. I missed the fact that the guy whose non-dual expression I hated
the most was also the truth. I missed the fact that scientists,
philosophers, and atheiests were the truth, that the guy down the road who has
no interest whatsoever in seeing that he doesn't exist is the truth, that the
quaker, the baker, and the candlestick maker are also truth. Every story
is truth. What else do we have on earth but our stories?
to claim the truth by believing that I didn't exist and therefore that I was the
truth, or that I stood for or spoke from pure awareness, I created a point of
reference against those pesky others who "still believed in separation" or "who
weren't speaking the truth as I was speaking it." It was the biggest ego
trip of all. The story that tried to one-up all other stories.
And something clicked in seeing that. I began to be able to talk
about my personal experience again. I began to talk about Scott. I
began to be able to share more about my own messups, my own boxing of shadows,
my own silly little feelings of jealousy, frustration, and
self-centeredness. I didn't do this as a part of a game of trying to be
the most humble, which is another ego trip. I did it because I wanted out
of the club of the truth. The truth began to feel like the dogness of
Oneness, like a little room that felt very small with no room to move, to
breathe, to be human, to enjoy stories again.
So now I enjoy
stories. And everything is a story to me. The greatest non-dual
pointers are seen as just more stories. But I love them all. It's
just that I don't consider them truth. They are helpful, yes, but not the
truth. And none of these words are the truth either. So there is no
one who transcends being "no self" or transcends "non-duality" either, which
would just be another ego trip.
In this freedom, I no longer feel like
I'm betraying the club to speak in relative terms. All terms are
relative. Is truth real? Yes, but I don't own it. I can't have it to
the exclusion of others. And so truth is everywhere I turn, in every
question and answer, in every self and no self, every choice and no choice, in
every person, group, nation, political view. They are all me. I am
them. And that is a view that just has more room. It feels freer
with nothing to defend and nothing to own. No conflict. Just
So it is very easy, as you can see, to use relative dualistic terms
to point. All the insights that I've had along the way are empty.
They feel just like any other thought. Yet, they are all relevant in their
own right. They are relevant because the word relevant points to the word
RELAtive. They all have their place, but none of them sits on top of the
mountain of truth as the last and final word on truth. In this view,
everything is allowed and loved.
Some words are clearer than
others, but only relatively speaking. What is clear to me might feel like
total mud to you.
You see, my friend Bruce has no interest in
non-duality, so the words "no self" are not clear to him. They are
meaningless. And my other friend who just experienced an awakening this
week finds the word "no self" to be irrelevant also. He sees it as a great
insight, but in the end...just more words. And there is a guy I met from
my website recently who believes that "no self" is the last and final
truth. But it's just the truth for him, right now, at this moment. I know
a dear friend and teacher who experiences what he calls "Unique Self." It's not
ego. It's the sense that no matter how clearly we recognized our real
identity as timeless awareness, and it truly IS, there is still an individual
expression with individual talents and skills. No one ever transcends
these individual talents and skills. So for my friend, "no self" is true in that
ego can be seen through, but so is "Unique Self." There is nothing
final about any thought or insight. There is no final club that we
This mess I've written here may seem like a bunch of
contradictions. To someone it may appear that way. To someone else,
all of this may be really clear. It's all relative in that sense.
What is clear depends on where you sit in your perspective, and every
perspective is relative, even the guy who claims that he is looking from the
ultimate perspective. There is really is no such thing. There is no
special club. If I had to put words to it, I would say there is only love
and we either embrace that or we turn away from it in each moment.