#3380 - Saturday, December 13, 2008
Nonduality Highlights: Issue #3380, Saturday, December 13, 2008
The birds have vanished into the sky,
and now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains.
- Li Po and Tu Fu, from Endless River:A Friendship in Poetry, translated by Sam Hami and posted to DailyDharma
A quiet mind is all you need. All else will happen rightly, once your mind is quiet. As the sun on rising makes the world active, so does self-awareness affect changes in the mind. In the light of calm and steady self-awareness, inner energies wake up and work miracles without any effort on your part.
- Nisargadatta Maharaj, posted to ANetofJewels
The questions I am most frequently asked are related to the emotions. Many people seek to be free from difficult emotions such as anger, fear, and grief, and seek the more pleasant emotions such as joy, happiness, and bliss. The usual strategies for achieving happiness involve either repressing or expressing negative emotions in the hope that they will be pushed from sight or released. Unfortunately, neither way reflects the truth of one's inherent self, which is an unmoving purity of being that exists deeper than any emotion and remains unaffected by any emotion.
There are certainly times when it is appropriate to repress or express an emotion. But there is also another possibility: to neither repress nor express. I call this "direct experience."
To directly experience any emotion is to neither deny it nor to wallow in it, and this means that there can be no story about it. There can be no storyline about who it is happening to, why it is happening, why it should not be happening, who is responsible, or who is to blame.
In the midst of any emotion, so-called "negative" or "positive", it is possible to discover what is at the core. The truth is that when you really experience any negative emotion, it disappears. And when you truly experience any positive emotion, it grows and is endless. So relatively, there are negative and positive emotions, but in inquiry, only positive ones: that is the positivity that is absolute consciousness. Because there is not much in our culture that confirms this astounding revelation, we spend our lives chasing positive emotions and running from negative emotions.
When you fully experience any negative emotion, with no story, it instantaneously ceases to be. If you think you are fully experiencing an emotion and it remains quite intense, then recognize that there is still some story being told about it--how big it is, how you will never be able to get rid of it, how it will always come back, how dangerous it is to experience it. Whatever the story of the moment may be, the possibilities of postponing direct experience are endless.
For instance, when you are irritated, the usual tendency is to do something to get rid of the irritation or to place blame either on yourself or someone or something else as the cause of the irritation. Then the storylines around irritation begin to develop. It is actually possible to do nothing with the irritation, to not push it out of awareness or try to get rid of it, but to directly experience it. In the moment that irritation arises, it is possible to simply be completely, totally, and freely irritated, without expressing it or repressing it.
In general, direct experience often reveals a deeper emotion. Irritation is perhaps just a ripple on the surface. Deeper than irritation, there may actually be rage or fear. Again, the goal is neither to get rid of the rage or the fear, not to analyze it, but to directly experience it. If rage or fear is revealed to be beneath irritation, then let your awareness go deeper; let yourself be absolutely, completely angry or fearful, without acting out or repressing.
Fear is often the biggest challenge because it is what most people habitually attempt to keep away. Of course as they try to keep it away, it grows even larger, hovers even closer.
What I am suggesting is that you can actually open to fear; you can experience being afraid without any need to say you are afraid, and without following any thought of being afraid. You can just simply experience fear itself.
When I speak of directly experiencing fear, I am not speaking about physiologically appropriate fear. The response to physical danger, fight or flight, is natural and appropriate to the human organism. It is hardwired into the body for its survival. For instance, it is appropriate to get out of the way of an approaching bus. But the fears that I suggest be directly met, all the way through, are the psychological fears, the fears that keep our energy and attention bound unnecessarily in protection and defense, such as the fear of emotional pain or the fears of loss of death. When a psychological fear is met rather than resisted and run from, it often reveals an even deeper emotion.
A deep sadness or hurt may be revealed under fear. This, too, can be directly and completely experienced with no need to a storyline. If you are willing to experience these emotional layers all the way trough, you will finally approach what appears to be a deep abyss. This abyss is what the mind perceives as nothingness, emptiness, nobody-ness. This is an important moment, because the willingness to be absolutely nothing, to be nobody, is the willingness to be free. All of these other emotional states are layers of defense against this experience of "no - thingness"--the death of who you think you are. Once the defenses are down, once the door is open, then this nothingness that has been feared can be met fully. This meeting is the revelation of true self-inquiry, revealing the secret gem of truth that has been hidden in the core of your own heart all along. The diamond discovered is you.
This is an immense discovery, but you have to discover it for yourself. If you are willing to deeply, completely experience any emotional state, you will discover at its core the same pristine awareness meeting itself as both the experiencer and the experienced. If you can discover this truth first hand, you will be freed from running away from so-called negative states and running toward so-called positive ones. You will be freed from either rejection or clinging to what is inherently impermanent. You will be freed to truly meet yourself and rejoice in this meeting.
Whatever emotion arises in consciousness can be fully met by consciousness, with no need to hide in stories or analysis. In your willingness to not follow the workings of the mind, but just to be still and completely experience whatever emotion is arising, you will see that it is nothing. Emotions are only held together by thought, whether that thought is conscious or subconscious.
You have the power to simply stop and say, "Fear, anger, grief, despair--okay, come." When you say, "Okay, come," and you really mean it, and you are truly open, the emotion cannot come because in that moment because you are not telling a story about it. I invite you to check this out for yourself. Fear, anger, grief, or despair only exists when linked to a story! Yes, this is an amazing, simple, yet profound discovery. It is huge! You can actually recognize that what you are running away from does not, in truth, finally exist, and what you are running toward is already always here.
When Columbus and other explorers discovered the "New World," they all came back and said, "There is more out there than we know about, the earth is not flat." But many people responded, "Oh no, I am not going there." It is with this same primitivism that we view our emotions. If you are willing to fall off the edge of the earth, you will see that you yourself hold the earth, and you cannot "fall off" from yourself; you can only go deeper into yourself.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, in the Western spiritual subculture in particular, people are fairly open to experiencing their emotions because it gives them a sense of depth and a sense of freedom. But this can become a cover for the fear of experiencing no emotion whatsoever. Defining yourself as an emotional being is perhaps a step deeper than defining yourself as a purely mental being, but it is not all the way home. What you avoid in defining yourself as an emotional being is emotion-less-ness, nothingness, emptiness. Once you have experienced pure emptiness, you know directly that who you are cannot be defined by any mental or emotional state, and this knowledge is freedom.
When you do not define yourself by emotional states, then the emotions are free to arise because they don't mean anything about who you are. You know directly that all states are simply passing through the pure space that is your true nature.
I invite you all the way in to the heart of pure being, not to get rid of any emotion, not to dramatize or glorify any emotion, but to discover what every emotion is calling for, to die to whom you think you are before who you think you are dies.
- Gangaji, from A Diamond In Your Pocket, posted to The_Now2
Happy is the moment, when we sit together,
With two forms, two faces, yet one soul,
you and I.
The flowers will bloom forever,
The birds will sing their eternal song,
The moment we enter the garden,
you and I.
The stars of heaven will come out to watch us,
And we will show them
the light of a full moon -
you and I.
No more thought of "you" and "I."
Just the bliss of union -
Joyous, alive, free of care, you and I.
All the bright-winged birds of heaven
Will swoop down to drink of our sweet water
The tears of our laughter, you and I.
What a miracle of fate, us sitting here.
Even at the opposite ends of the earth
We would still be together, you and I
. We have one form in this world,
another in the next.
To us belongs an eternal heaven,
the endless delight of you and I.
Rumi - Ghazal 2214-- Version by Jonathan Star, posted to Sunlight