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#4856 - Thursday, February 28, 2013 - Editor: Gloria Lee

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  • Gloria Lee
    #4856 - Thursday, February 28, 2013 - Editor: Gloria Lee The Nonduality Highlights http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NDhighlights/ The peace that we are looking
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 28, 2013
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      #4856 - Thursday, February 28, 2013 - Editor: Gloria Lee
       
       
      The peace that we are looking for is not peace that crumbles as soon as there is
      difficulty or chaos. Whether we’re seeking inner peace or global peace or a
      combination of the two, the way to experience it is to build on the foundation of
      unconditional openness to all that arises. Peace isn’t an experience free of
      challenges, free of rough and smooth—it’s an experience that’s expansive enough
      to include all that arises without feeling threatened.
       
      ~ Pema Chodron
       
       
      Alan Larus Photography
       
       

       
      Joan Tollifson
       
       
       
      I just got word that someone I knew took his own life recently, someone who had a very clear nondual
      understanding. Many years ago, I remember hearing of a Zen teacher who committed suicide. His students
      found him hanging. What a teaching! Many people imagine that “enlightenment” (whatever that might be) means
      you wouldn’t do something like that – you wouldn’t kill yourself, you wouldn’t be depressed, you wouldn’t have
      financial problems or health problems or personal problems or problems of any kind—you wouldn’t need
      Zoloft—and if you were terminally ill, you wouldn’t want the morphine—you’d want to be clear and alert and
      “fully present” at the moment of your death (presumably so that you could get a good start on a successful new
      incarnation of your self – ho ho ho).
       
      In the world of meditation or “the Power of Now,” what people tend to mean when they talk about clarity or
      awakeness (or “enlightenment”) is being fully present here and now, awake to the nonconceptual, sensory
      reality of this moment, not entranced in stories and ideologies.
       
      But in my experience, the most liberating realization of all is the recognition that there is no way NOT to be
      here now—that EVERYTHING is included in What Is, even the EXPERIENCE of confusion, or depression, or
      anxiety, or apparent encapsulation in a separate bodymind, or even the compulsion to take your own life or the
      life of someone else.
       
      Unlike some radical nondualists, I do still talk at times about “being in the Now.” Maybe one day I’ll stop
      doing that entirely. I’ve mentioned in some of my writing that with my fingerbiting compulsion, whenever there
      is complete attention to the bare actuality of fingerbiting (i.e., the bare sensations without the storyline or
      the labels or the judgments), when there is total acceptance of it being just as it is, when there is no effort or
      desire or intention to change it, when there is complete awareness and total presence with the bare happening
      itself, the biting immediately stops. (It may start again a moment later, but in that moment of complete
      attention and total acceptance, it stops.) This experience is completely nonverbal and nonconceptual. It is
      concentrated but relaxed, alert but effortless, open and unbounded, free awareness. It is frequently called
      “being in the Now” because there is no story happening of past or future, no ideas about “me” and “my life” –
      just simple awake presence Here / Now. This kind of presence and attention to the present moment is what
      many schools of meditation aim to cultivate.
       
      And this can indeed be helpful for dealing with addiction, depression, anxiety, stress, physical pain and other
      forms of suffering. And as I have often said, sitting quietly, doing nothing, tuning into the nonconceptual
      sensory reality that is so easily ignored in our busy world of information bombardment MAY help to directly
      reveal impermanence, interdependence, the absence of any real separation between inside and outside, the
      mirage-like nature of the self, and the ungraspable, inconceivable and unavoidable nature of reality. All of
      this CAN be very liberating—it certainly seemed so for me—and for a very long time, I associated this
      experience of presence with true awakening or real clarity, and I had the sense that enlightenment or final
      liberation would be the state of abiding permanently in that kind of presence—being “in the Now” all the time.
       
      But of course, that kind of experiential "being in the Now" inevitably comes and goes. For some people, it is
      an easy state to access—for others, it is more elusive. Some bodyminds have more stormy weather than others.
      Some people naturally have more equanimity, greater calm, and a better ability to concentrate and relax and
      “be present” than other people. Some people are by nature more tightly wound, more hyperactive, buzzing
      with thoughts and impulses flying off in different directions, more easily “distracted” from what they are
      “supposed” to be concentrating on. Some people can happily sit quietly doing nothing for hours, while others
      can’t sit still and “do nothing” for more than a few seconds. And while training and practice may be able to
      alter our basic nature to some degree, it can never turn a turtle into a rabbit, a dandelion into a rose, or a
      shrub into a giant redwood tree.
       
      Some of us are given the abilities, the aptitude, the inclinations, the interests, the drives, the urges, the
      concerns, and the circumstances that compel us to join or lead a movement for social justice or environmental
      protection. Others of us are given the abilities, the aptitude, the inclinations, the interests, the drives, the
      urges, the concerns, and the circumstances that compel us to take up a spiritual practice such as
      meditation—and some of us have the interest and the ability to persevere at this practice, while others quickly
      or eventually lose interest. Some of us are compelled toward radical nonduality, many of us are not. Each of us
      is an expression of nature, just as each tree, each animal, each flower, each rock, each cloud and each
      rainstorm is an expression of nature. Some trees are tall and straight, some are short and gnarled. Some buds
      open and blossom, others die before that ever happens. ALL of these varied forms and happenings are an
      expression of nature.
       
      Nothing holds still. Every form is inseparable from everything around it, and each form is nothing but
      continuous change. Impermanence and flux are so thorough-going that no-thing actually forms as a solid,
      persisting, independent entity—except conceptually, as a mental idea. No-thing is actually separate,
      autonomous, or self-sufficient. Everything is one whole indivisible happening—seamless and
      boundless—ever-present and ever-changing.
       
      At some point in my journey from Here to Here, it became clear that ALL states of consciousness ("being in
      the Now" AND being entranced by thoughts and stories) are equally included in What Is, and that ALL of
      them are passing experiences. All these different experiences are impersonal in the sense that they have no
      owner, no author, no subject—they are simply expressions of nature like the ever-changing movements of the
      outer weather. It was realized that biting my fingers is simply a compulsive happening of nature that is no
      more wrong or unenlightened or personally caused than a thunderstorm or a cloudy day or a gnarled up tree or
      any other expression of nature. It doesn’t MEAN anything “about me.”
       
      That discovery or realization was a big relief. The NEED to get rid of this compulsion and all the ideas about
      what it meant about me fell away. The biting continues off and on when it does, but there is no judgment or
      evaluation of it, none of the previous conflict with it that used to be present. The interest and the inclination
      to pay total attention to it in any given moment (to “be in the Now” with it) may or may not arise, and it
      doesn’t matter either way. There is no longer any idea that “being here now” is the superior spiritual state and
      that “I” must make that happen.
       
      It’s clear here that everything happens in the only way possible. Some people are compelled to do terrible
      things like child molesting and serial murder in the same way that I am still compelled to bite my fingers. Only
      by grace (aka luck) is my compulsion fingerbiting and not serial murder or molesting children. No one chooses
      to be a serial killer or a child molester, and although most of us find such behavior repugnant and disturbing,
      it is as much a part of nature as erupting volcanoes, earthquakes, tornados, plagues, and animals eating their
      young. That doesn’t mean we have to like it, or that we won’t put serial killers in prisons and do our best to
      keep child molesters away from children. But it does mean we may have compassion for these unfortunate
      people who are driven to do things that they themselves may find abhorrent, acts that make them social
      pariahs and outcasts. We don’t get to choose the part we play in the Cosmic Dance.
       
      The most liberating realization is that ALL of it is What Is – the parts we like and the parts we don’t, the
      “being here now” and the “being lost in thoughts and stories,” the calm experiences and the turbulent ones, the
      moments of heaven and the moments of hell, the heroes and the villains and the ordinary folk in between.
       
      And we really have no way of KNOWING what THIS (this presently appearing happening) is. We can only BE
      it. We ARE it. It is ALL there is. Our attempts to understand this happening, whether through physics or
      neuroscience or biology or philosophy or spirituality, are always limited. We can never stand outside this
      happening. Subject and object are not two. The observer is inseparable from the observed; they are one
      event. Any understanding we have is partial and always subject to doubt. But we cannot doubt BEING here.
      We cannot doubt this present happening, this aware beingness. We can doubt any explanations of it (that it is
      a dream, or a brain experience, or a bunch of atoms and molecules doing a subatomic dance), but we cannot
      doubt the bare ACTUALITY of the happening itself, the beingness of Here / Now – THIS, just as it is.
       
      And we can notice that it is no way in particular, for it is ever-changing. Anything we try to grasp will vanish
      and disappear. Anything we THINK is permanent (including any IDEA or any EXPERIENCE or any subtle
      IMAGE of the One Self or Consciousness or Primordial Awareness or Emptiness) will vanish and slip through
      our fingers like water, air or smoke. And yet….
       
      THIS is undeniable. You cannot NOT be as you are – this ever-unfolding, ever-present event that is always
      Here / Now. This event may show up as the mirage-like thought-sense of bring a separate-self encapsulated in
      a bodymind looking out at the world. It may show up as an experience of undivided wholeness. It may show up
      as the experience of “being here now,” or it may show up as molesting children, committing serial murders,
      planning a genocide, drinking yourself to death, committing suicide or biting your fingers. It may show up as a
      giant meteor hitting the earth and wiping out an entire continent, or it may show up as a gentle spring day.
      However it shows up, it is all one undivided happening without beginning or end.
       
      Of course, this begs the question, what do we mean by realization or enlightenment? We thought at first that
      realization meant “being in the Now” and that enlightenment meant “being in the Now” all the time. From that
      perspective, it seemed like we were going back and forth between “getting it” and “losing it.” It seemed that
      “realization” meant something experiential, something “deeper” than merely understanding all of this
      conceptually or believing it as a philosophy. But then we realized there was no way NOT to be here now, and
      no one apart from Here / Now to be in or out of it. There is no separate “somebody” to be lost or found,
      realized or not realized, enlightened or unenlightened.
       
      The whole spiritual adventure melted away. We were left with life, just as it is.
       
      That doesn’t mean being left in a state of perpetual bliss or having a continuous EXPERIENCE of “being in the
      Now” (except in the sense that EVERY experience is one of being in the Now). It doesn’t mean we are always
      calm, decisive, spontaneous, relaxed, fearless, happy and filled with love. Some people by nature have more or
      less stormy weather than others, just as some places are by nature sunnier and others more overcast and
      cloudy. Realization simply means it is ALL recognized as What Is, even the absence of that recognition. It’s
      not a perpetual EXPERIENCE – but rather, the understanding that EVERY experience is one whole happening
      without an experiencer, even the experience of apparently being a separate experiencer. Nothing is left out.
      Nothing is not it. And there is no “it” to be found!
       
      Like the edge of the earth that our ancestors feared they might fall off, the problem we’ve been trying to
      solve is imaginary. We are no longer seeking heaven without hell, or up without down. We don’t mind being the
      short tree instead of the tall tree because we know it’s all a play, and we’re the Whole Show. And this isn’t an
      EXPERIENCE or a special STATE of consciousness. It is JUST THIS, Here / Now, EXACTLY as it is!
       
      How is it? It just moved! And yet, Here it is!
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