#2438 - Tuesday, April 4, 2006 - Editor: Jerry Katz
- #2438 - Tuesday, April 4, 2006 - Editor: Jerry Katz
The Nondual Highlights
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We welcome your letters, original submissions, book/movie/music reviews, news of websites and blogs. Send the info in a reply to this email.This issue features excerpts from three new books by the remarkable publisher Non-duality Press.Being: The Bottom LineNathan Gill
Chap. 30: Identification and liberation are both impersonal
---Nathan, whenever there’s some crisis or other, the focus on it is such that identification seems inevitable. So the big story here is that life’s not OK and needs to be resolved through pursuing liberation.
Liberation is not the ‘answer’ to problems and certainly isn’t the end result of any kind of process. However, whenever there’s an identification with the story of ‘my’ life, then quite likely that story will include the compulsion to do something about any ‘problems’. Maybe then liberation is viewed as being the answer.
---But how can you avoid identifying with the story?
There’s no ‘I’ outside of the thought story that can avoid identifying. The ‘I’ that would avoid identification is an integral part of the story that arises in the play of life. And in the spontaneous seeing of this, there’s no need to avoid identification: it’s obvious that everything is a play of appearances arising presently in awareness.
It’s not an ‘I’ that sees this, though. The ‘I’ cannot see - or avoid identifying with - anything. The ‘I’ is thought and thought has no capacity for action of any kind. Thoughts are just images appearing and disappearing in awareness.
So although it’s not being done by any entity, identification with the images that appear in awareness may be happening. Or maybe there’s clear seeing that there is no one.
---And this is why liberation is impersonal, because there’s no one left when it happens.
Identification is also impersonal, because there’s actually no one who identifies, there’s no one there in the first place! Identification happens as part of the play of life - but not to a someone. Even being a person is impersonal, because actually there are no entities at all.
---But even if there’s no one who identifies, identification is totally different in quality to liberation.
Whenever there’s identification, there’s seeming separation and an attendant sense of lack in some degree or other; a sense of something missing. What’s referred to as liberation, on the other hand, is the clear seeing that there’s no one - no separate entity - and therefore no such sense of lack.
But there’s no one to whom either identification or liberation is happening, and no one who can bring either of them about. Identification and liberation are both impersonal. Both are possibilities in the play of life, and while the difference between them will appear significant, that significance is relevant only in the play.
Being is the bottom line in all of this. It is the ground that allows the expression of all possibilities and that has no dependence on any happening in the play. It is this present expression just as it appears - whether that expression should be identification or liberation. This is all there is.Right Here, Right Now: Seeing Your True Nature as Present Awareness
21. Awareness and the Mind
Question: I am wondering if you could spell out in a little more detail your understanding of the two aspects of recognition you sometimes mention, namely, recognizing that you are non-dual awareness and uprooting the cause of suffering. You mention in your book that there is often a back and forth settling in period during which people report that spacious awareness is self transparent for awhile and then opaque when the mind is fixated on something (wavering between awareness and the mind). According to your understanding, how do you understand the difference between awareness and mind?
John: To me awareness refers to the non-conceptual sense of pure knowing itself. It is ever-present and clear and beyond doubt. It has nothing to do with thinking. Then there is the mind, which is conceptual thought or simply thought. Ultimately, awareness and the mind are one because there can be no thought apart from awareness. Awareness is the substance of which thought is fabricated. To imagine thought as an independent something separate from awareness, and more importantly to imagine ourselves as something apart from awareness, is the only real issue. That forms the root of all imaginary suffering and bondage. To rectify this matter decisively through clear seeing ends all questions, doubts and suffering.
Q: What wavers back and forth?
John: The focus of our attention wanders into false beliefs. The ever clear awareness never leaves at all. It is just that we overlook it and focus on shadows. But even those shadows are arising and setting in the clear presence of awareness. Once this is seen, the wavering ends. This can be seen and resolved directly, once we are clear on what is being pointed out.
Q: Is there a preference for one state over the other (for example, focusing on thought or not focusing on thought)?
John: Once you see what is going on, there is no difference. Awareness is ever-present and you never leave it. Seeing this is the end of the wavering.
Q: Is there a benefit to cultivating a habit of dwelling in/as awareness rather than thought?
John: Habits and cultivation are supported in the mind. They cannot go on except as a conceptual activity, and so they are apt to reinforce the basic error. Awareness cannot be practiced. That is just the fact of it. All practices are from the point of view of the imagined separate entity and must be abandoned in the end. Remember, this is the natural state, not the maintenance state!
Q: Do you see this habit as something easily attainable?
John: It is totally unnecessary. You just need to see the facts. Understanding is everything. Practice is a much less effective approach. The recognition of your identity is the ultimate understanding.
Q: How is the cause of suffering uprooted?
John: By tracing it to its root, which is a wrong belief, and uprooting the wrong belief through clear seeing. Ignorance is eradicated through knowledge. It is all about understanding, not doing anything. The belief that you are a doer is the root misconception anyhow. You are totally non-existent as a separate entity.
Q: How is the deep understanding (and not a mere intellectual understanding) achieved?
John: Through a penetrating examination to see if a separate self is present, not as a speculation, but as an actual looking or seeing in direct experience. Thinking and seeing are completely different. It is like reading the menu and eating the food. Most spiritual seekers, due to confusion, are eating the menu.
Q: In your understanding, how are the approaches we have been discussing related?
John: They go together like two wings of a bird. It is a tandem approach that clearly reveals what is real in you and dismantles the root suffering, which is the belief that you exist as a separate self apart from the real. This usually does not strike home by reading about it. It seems to be accessible more clearly, in practical life, through living contact and dialogue. We invariably try to ‘get this’ as if it were a mental recognition. But it has nothing to do with the mind. So unless we have a living example, we tend to fall back into a conceptual understanding. That was my experience anyway.I Hope You Die Soon: Words on Non-Duality & Liberation
Being Awake and Being Asleep are the Same—unless You are Asleep
When liberation is seen, it is known that being awake in liberation is no different from being asleep. They are both seen simply as oneness, manifesting as sleep or awakeness. In liberation all the mystification of enlightenment is stripped away and its absolute ordinariness is revealed. Mountains are seen simply as mountains.
But to the seeker who is still asleep, and in their sleep is searching restlessly for an end to the sense of separation, there appears to be a chasm between that state and liberation. Liberation seems like a marvellous prize to be attained, promising blissful feelings, freedom from pain and suffering, an end to all problems, perhaps magical powers and of course the jealous admiration of your friends. This is why the search for liberation can be so desperate and the question “Will I get it?” so powerful.
All that prevents the seeing of liberation is the thought “I am not liberated”. So some say that what you must do to see liberation is to drop this thought. But there is no one who can choose to do this. The thought that this is not liberation, which is the same as the thought “I am separate” or “I am searching”, continues until it drops away. The apparent self can do nothing to discover that it is itself an illusion—an appearance cannot discover reality.
Liberation is seen either while the body-mind is still functioning or at the death of the body-mind and it does not matter which, except in the story. “At death there is only liberation. It is just more chic to see liberation when you are alive.”
In liberation it is seen that there never was anything to seek. What you seek has always been with you, what you are has always been what you are. When this is seen all searching ends.