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Nonduality Highlights: Issue #3246, Sunday, August 3, 2008
There is no such thing as a person. There are only restrictions and limitations. The sum total of these defines the person.
- Nisargadatta Maharaj, posted to ANetofJewels
It is so beautiful to be here in this holy place. I live near a church and I can hear them sing on Sunday mornings; it is beautiful. They are really good, really good. I will tell you that it is blissful to hear this beautiful singing; they really get into it. I am reminded that at the root of it is the same spirit that I experience here in this temple. And it is just like being in Ramana Ashram, or being in nature. There is some spirit, some energy that is known in the heart of hearts.
But as human beings (at least those of us in this room), we usually get very busy trying to know what that is. We try to know what it wants, how to get more of it, how to keep it, how to serve it. And that trying gets us into trouble. Maybe it is a necessary trouble, because there is a tempering of the mind (which is what is doing the trying). The tempering happens as we continue to fail to know it, as we continue to reach for it and come up empty handed, and as we continue to make mistakes. The soul gets tossed like a river rock, until you reach a point where you say, "I don't know." Many people reach that point and say, "Well, it is not worth it," and turn from it. Maybe you have done that at some point in your life too. But if the river of longing catches you, and it is strong enough, it keeps pulling you back. Maybe you go through cycle after cycle of trying to know and of being tossed, until once again you say, "I don't know anything" and it is not just a nihilistic philosophical overlay. When you say it from your heart, the mind bursts open. And, in fact, at that point you do know. The exquisite irony is that when you give up trying to know - open-heartedly, consciously, innocently - you know.
Whether it lasts for a moment or a week or a day or a lifetime, you know. Usually it is only for a moment, and then it becomes a moment in the past. I would guess that is true for everyone here. In an attempt to 'keep it", you got busy trying to know how you can get more of it, what caused it to be revealed to you, what you did, what you can do to get it back, what so-and-so says you should do...
When I met my teacher, that had been the pattern of my life. I can look back now and see that it was always operating: that same cycle, that same dynamic. And my teacher said, "Stop. It's madness. You will never know it that way. Give up your hope to know it." And I struggled with that, as most people struggle with it. But his ruthlessness, and his force, and his power, and his gaze, and his love, and the fact that I had really, truly prayed for a teacher, came together to reveal the capacity to stop. And in the moment of stopping, there it is.
And for you too, it is here now as alive as it was in the moment that you first discovered it. It is not alive like it was then, because that moment is now a memory. But what I am pointing to is not a memory. It can never be remembered. You can remember sensations, or insights, or the thrill, or the oceanic feeling, but you can't remember IT. Because It is free of all memory. And if you stop trying to remember it, then you will see you can't forget it either, because it is also free of all forgetting. This is very simple. What makes it complex is that we have very complex brains and minds, and that is a curse and a blessing. The curse is that we believe our minds, our thoughts, can deliver what they originate in. We believe that the mind can get what already has our mind.
So our meetings are about stopping. They are not about remembering how to stop (though you may have a memory of stopping). The stopping is also alive: you are consciously present, consciously not knowing, and yet consciously open to know, without any idea of what will be known. And that is a trick: because we have every idea about it. We have ideas that "knowing" will make us healthy and happy and rich, and that we will be healed, that everyone will love us, that we will be respected, that we will never have a bad mood again. We hope that getting that moment of true opening back will give us what we want. So the stopping is an invitation and a challenge to give up that hope, to not know what is revealed in a moment. Then you really don't know anything. And if you are able, because of grace, or by your own intention to surrender, (not to the mind, but to the source, to the deeper unknowing), then your mind is used. It is used quite beautifully in the revelation of insight, as your body is used quite beautifully as the vehicle of Samadhi. The moment you try to know it with the mind, to grasp it, to keep it, you will begin searching again, and you will, in that moment, be overlooking it.
- Gangaji, "Unremembered and Unforgotten," public satsang at Ashland, Oregon, August 14, 2005
Understanding can come only at the appropriate time, and no one can say when. All that can be said is that the understanding cannot come so long as there is expectation, so long as there is a "me" wanting it.
- Ramesh Balsekar, posted to ANetofJewels