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Nonduality Highlights: Issue #3422, Saturday, January 24, 2009
Let Everything End
There is a great momentum of suffering and confusion that every spiritual seeker encounters. It is the momentum of ignorance which manifests as the experience of conflict and confusion and which causes suffering. In order to discover the perspective of liberation, which alone transcends this entire movement of ignorance and suffering, one needs to let everything end. "Letting everything end" means to stand in the moment completely naked of attachment to any and all ideas, concepts, hopes, preferences, and experiences. Simply put, it means to stop strategizing, controlling, manipulating, and running away from yourself--and to simply be. Finally you must let everything end and be still.
In letting everything end, all seeking and striving stops. All effort to be someone or to find some extraordinary state of being ceases. This ceasing is essential. It is true spiritual maturity. By ceasing to follow the mind's tendency to always want more, different, or better, one encounters the opportunity to be still. In being still, a perspective is revealed which is free from all ignorance and bondage to suffering. From that perspective, eternal Self is realized. The eternal Self, the Seer, is recognized to be one's true nature, one's very own Self.
This is an invitation to let all seeking end, all striving end, all efforting end, all past identity end, all hopes end, and to discover That which has no beginning or end. This is an invitation to discover the eternal, unborn, undying Truth of being. The Truth of your being, your own Self. Let the entire movement of becoming end, and discover That which has always been present at the core of your being.
Searching, claiming, denying (and other pastimes)
There is what I call "an essential experience", a moment in which there is a shift in consciousness. And it is essential because until that moment, all talk of being "true" or "vigilant" or "telling the truth" is abstract - like something you would learn in class. None of this can have concrete meaning in your life until you have had this experience. With this shift in consciousness, what was not known is suddenly seen. And this recognition is the luck of a lifetime. It is a blessing of a lifetime. It is grace coming out. The grace that was covered comes out in that moment.
That recognition is the beginning. It may be the end of misidentification. It can be the end. But with most ordinary human beings, it is the beginning. We are so addicted to the powers of mind, that what usually occurs right after that experience is a thought: "How do I keep it?" or "It couldn't be that simple" or "I will never lose that". Whatever the thought, it is followed by another thought. And eventually, the thoughts lead to: "Well, what happened? Did it happen? Was it real?" Then there is the sense of being "lost". And the searching begins again - the outward search. Or, there is the thought, "I remember what I did. I faced my emotion. I went into my fear. I'll do that now and get it back. I'll get it back again." This is the same search, but now you are using an inward motion to go outward. It becomes an exercise, a process, something to do to get what you are. And maybe it seems to work half a dozen times. But it gets stale because it is based on a lie: you are still attempting to get what you are. You can't "get" what you are. Is that clear?
You cannot get what you are. To get something, there has to be "you" and "it". And you reach and you "get" it. How do you get what you are? Where are you going to reach? And you can't "understand" who you are. You can read the words "I am Truth, I am consciousness" and that can feel good. You can vibrate with that. You can chant that. It feels good. You can pray for it. You can read about great saints and sages. It feels good, it is helpful, and there is nothing wrong with any of it. But finally, there has to be a willingness to be who you are. And for most people, that is absolutely terrifying. Because what most people suspect they are is the worst thing imaginable: a creature of imperfection and lack and ugliness and stupidity. Even if there is a cover of superior knowledge or accomplishment, under that is the belief that you are this gnarled, ugly, irredeemable, lost soul separate from God. Right? You have to know this.
All of our activity is an attempt to escape that. Even after the "essential moment", the effort to escape continues: trying to "get" the moment back, claiming it so that you can "keep" it. All of this is fueled by a deeply entrenched belief that who you are is an ugly, unlovable something that is separate from God. And you can never work hard enough or be good enough to be reunited.
So this is the dilemma. This hidden belief conflicts with the enormous, cosmic yearning to discover who one really is. And the spiritual life often becomes a life of torture, self-torture. This battle between ego and superego, between the "higher" self and the "lower" self, between me and I, is just to avoid experiencing the ugliness that you believe yourself to be.
I remember reading once that Trungpa (a spiritual teacher) said "Don't ever encourage your friends to get into the spiritual life; it is a rough life". And most of us enter it very haphazardly or lightheartedly with the idea that it will make us forever happy. But then something grabs you by the throat and says "stop here, tell the truth, face the truth, be yourself".
So I invite you to be willing to be grabbed by the throat, to be held to the ground until you surrender to Truth regardless of outcome. Ready? (laughter) You would not be here if you weren't. Because you already discovered that the investigation into the truth of you will not give you great powers or wealth, or happiness. In fact, nothing is offered. Everything is taken away; everything you have accumulated, everything you have learned. Everything you've stored is revealed as empty, as an illusion that just keeps you from yourself. This is a radical business. It is extremely serious. It is a joyful business, a simple business. But it is not for the faint of heart. It takes the courage of a lifetime, because everything in us, all of our conditioning says "No, no. Don't go there. Don't touch that. Don't do that." And yet when you reach a certain stage of yearning, everything in your lifetime is saying "have to, have to discover the truth, have to know, have to be true." And then you will see where your allegiance is, where your attention is.
- Gangaji, Sydney, Australia, November 19, 2005
When you are present in this moment, you break the continuity of your story, of past and future. Then true intelligence arises, and also love.
The only way love can come into your life is not through form, but through that inner spaciousness that is Presence. Love has no form.
- Excerpt from Eckhart Tolle's Stillness Amidst the World