a few months ago

The Pursuit of Truth Is Violence

It’s no secret that I have a history of extreme obsessiveness

So it probably comes as no surprise when I tell you that I was serious about getting to the bottom of things.

Let me give you an example. I became obsessed with yoga. Not in the casual sense of obsessed. Not merely “I’m going to yoga class and then pranayama every single day” kind of obsessed.

Not merely “In addition to the yoga class and pranayama I’m also going to stare at a candle flame for long periods of time and recite mantras for hours every day” kind of obsessed.

Not merely “In addition to all that, I’m also going to stick a string through my nostril and pull the end through my mouth so I can clean back there and I’m going to swallow a cloth and pull it back up to clean my stomach” kind of obsessed.

I was consumed. I read everything I could get my hands on. I went to every “authentic” yoga- or Hindu-themed things I could find.

I went to an all-day event with an Indian yoga-enlightenment-spiritual master so “authentic” even his translator needed a translator.

And I had to bring a coconut. It was one of the rules.

I attended pujas.

Ghee lamps.

The whole nine yards.

And, along with all of that, I became obsessed with eating a purely “sattvic” diet.

After all, I reasoned that I was trying to be as “sattvic” as possible in my actions, my thoughts, my intents, etc. So I didn’t want to screw it all up by eating, God-forbid, garlic or something terrible like that, which would throw off my spiritual energy.

If you’re not familiar with the idea, sattva refers to one of the three gunas in the yogic/Hindu/Vedantic system. The gunas are energies or attributes. Sattva is viewed as the energy of “purity”. Rajas is dynamic. Tamas is dull and violent.

In many schools of philosophy, people are encouraged to cultivate sattva.

Some yogic schools of thought take that to an extreme.

I took it still further.

I wanted to know what foods are entirely and always sattvic in their nature and what means of eating these foods is entirely and always sattvic.

I poured over lists I found in books and on the internet.

The lists didn’t always agree.

I meditated upon it. I read and re-read the lists. I read and re-read about those making the lists to determine their authority, their purity. I meditated upon it again.

Round and round and round I went.

I was determined to get to the bottom of it. I wanted the truth.

to discover what should have been obvious: there was nothing sattvic about my entire attitude and relationship with life/myself.

Talk about violence and dullness. Tamasic through and through.

The pursuit of truth seems so noble.

But it is a form of violence. In fact, I think it is the heart of violence.

Because it objectifies truth and the one who is searching for it.

It creates division where there is none.

It makes the end more important than the means.

It overlooks what is immediate and obvious and real.

It is ignorance in the most basic sense.

I’ve come to discover that truth is not an object. The division is a fiction borne of ignorance. The means are more important than the end. Because the end is a fiction and the means are now.

And if we want to say that there is truth, if we want to give a name to it, that is fine. But then “truth” is this right now.

Before it can be objectified. Before it can be ignored. Before the whole make-believe of truth out there.

Yet it’s ungraspable. So that whole paradigm of me searching for truth, acquiring truth, possessing truth turns out to be false.

My goodness, what an incredible, unthinkable, unbelievable, amazing, mysterious gift. Aliveness, truth, this. Already, indifferently here.

The ignorant pursuit of truth is all that seems to obscure truth.

And it cannot even do that. Because as soon as I stop, it’s clear that nothing ever obscured truth. Truth just looked like ignorance and suffering.

As I wrote in a recent post, to be willing to truly stop, to give up, to make no effort, to relax the conditioned self-protective mechanism against life happening, to release that fixation on thought and feeling and problem – that goes against the momentum of a lifetime. It goes against the identity I have mistaken myself to be.

And it is the most blessed thing that has ever happened in my life.

I don’t mean that it happened once in the past.

It happens now.

Just by looking honestly.

Just by admitting that I can’t figure it out.

I have failed. I can only fail. And that failing is a gift.

P.S. – This post was partially inspired by another blog post I published today on the website for the podcast I do with Luis Campos. You can read that post here if you’d like: http://completelyordinary.com/celebrity-dangerous-teachings-and-responsibility/

a few months ago

The Self-centered Pursuit of No Self

When I first heard of the idea that all of life doesn’t revolve around me – that the object/thought I had mistaken myself to be might not be findable – it simultaneously had two effects.

One effect was to begin an inquiry into whether ideas or thought are actually the final truth.

The other effect was to trigger the self-centered, possessive mechanism that wants to claim everything as its own.

And this second effect is one that I didn’t even begin to recognize as such until fairly recently.

There is a great irony – and one that was lost of me for a long time – in rooms full of people gathered in the self-centered pursuit of no self.

I attended such gatherings because I wanted to improve the object I mistook myself to be. I wanted a better me. A happier, more confident, better-defined self.

And I wanted to claim that self and hold it up and proclaim, “This better self has discovered that there is no self!”

Here’s the funny thing: the more I inquire, the more I “wake up”, the more I discover that there’s a great joy in throwing the central caution of self-centeredness to the wind.

My friend, John Veen, recently used the term “unreasonable” to describe this joy. And it really struck me when he did because that is how I experience it.

It is totally unreasonable. Reason/caution/self-centeredness declares that protecting my future self’s security is all important. That is all that is reasonable.

And from that perspective, to be willing to release this chronic fixation and the physical contraction/posture of that fixation is not only unreasonable. It is reckless. It is like stepping off the edge of a cliff.

But upon stepping off the edge in this totally unreasonable way, it seems abundantly clear that reason and self-centeredness are just this tiny speck in the totality of the openness of life.

Sure, we can cling to them, maintain this tense posture. But why bother?

There’s joy in finally admitting that my feelings, my opinions, my beliefs, and even my life aren’t worth fixating on in that way.

They aren’t bad or wrong either, of course. No more than a speck of dust is wrong.

But imagine clinging to a speck of dust as though everything hinged upon it. As though it was all-important.

And if anybody came near, you’d lash out in self-protective violence. “My speck of dust! Don’t come so close!”

The irony is, of course, even the speck of dust is harmed by this isolation.

Let it be free.

Another funny thing: much of my life I assumed that my wants, needs, preferences, and feelings were worth managing because they seemed to be fundamental to happiness.

Meaning: I thought I needed to feel good to be happy.

Turns out not to be true.

And that’s good news. Because I could never figure out perfectly what feeling good was or what I really wanted.

I don’t think any of this is a moral issue. So please don’t mistake it for that. I’m not saying that we should become selfless. And I’m not saying we must do anything.

I’m just suggesting that an honest inquiry may be revealing and surprising. It sure is surprising to me.

I wouldn’t have guessed that happiness could be apparently uncaused and independent of how I feel or my opinion of myself.

a few months ago

Back to Basics

Today I had a really nice Skype conversation with somebody, and it reminded me of the importance of “the basics”.

What do I mean by “the basics”?

I mean the recognition of the impermanent, ungraspable aliveness of this moment.

It is to recognize that the problem that seems to demand that we solve it is for a future self who will never arrive.

It is to recognize that the problem is a fiction.

This is not to negate the validity of the problems in their own domain – in time and space and for people who can and must do things.

But it is to recognize that simultaneously, there exists the domain – what my friend, John Veen, calls the vertical context.

And this domain is timeless and knows nothing of problems or solutions. It is a nondual domain. It is indivisible.

This domain is instantly obvious if I relax the chronic fixation on story.

Give it a whirl right now.

Just for a moment, relax the attention on thoughts.

Just for a moment, don’t try to solve anything.

Just for a moment, let all thoughts slip and slide and do whatever they do without following them.

And maybe you find that you naturally inhabit sensation. Direct. Raw. Unknowable. Indivisible.

Just this.

This is the basics.

Notice how this aliveness doesn’t actually know anything of division. It cannot actually know of problems.

There’s a tension, a focus, a fixation that is required to do that. That fixation narrows this open awareness, like squinting does to vision. It generates a kind of illusion of division – this and that, here and there, now and then. me and you.

But if I just let go for a moment, where are the boundaries? Where is the division? No such thing is found.

Again, this doesn’t negate the domain of mind, of duality. It just reveals something of the nature of that “other” domain. Like waking from a dream doesn’t negate the dream. It just reveals something of the nature of that dream domain.

What it reveals, I cannot say. Because what it reveals is too immediate and ungraspable.

But it is obvious. Just go back to basics, and it’s obvious – obvious that it is always obvious.

a few months ago

Can We Move from the Heart?

Today I want to write about something uncomfortable for me.

It’s uncomfortable because I am asking questions in what I am about to write – not trying to answer them. So there is a lot of room for misunderstanding here.

But one thing I have discovered for myself is this: life is risky. There is no guarantee of safety. And the fullness of life seems to be found in the willingness to be exposed and wrong.

So here goes.

I’ve been contemplating something lately. And that is dangerous. Because when I contemplate things, I often get plunged into them directly, experientially, without any protection.

This was no exception.

What I’ve been contemplating is this: is there a kind of movement, of activity, that is not about right and wrong, good and bad?

I’ve been contemplating this very much since the incident that inspired my recent book, Wake Up Dream On.

If you haven’t yet read it, here’s a very, very short summary: I became suddenly extremely sick. I believed it likely that I would die momentarily. I survived. I mean, the animal survived. It is still animated. The idea of myself didn’t survive because it never was.

But I digress.

Point being, out of that came a new emphasis. Like a kind of dawning of something that I was faintly aware of, but now it is brighter.

And that is what I term “outer freedom” in the book.

This “outer freedom” is not separate from “inner freedom”. It is the same. But it is an aspect as both sides of a coin are aspects of the same coin.

And the realization is that “inner freedom” without “outer freedom” is a lie that eventually reveals a kind of bondage to an idea rather than the fullness of the vulnerability of being.

So my contemplation has been what is the nature of “outer freedom”. And we could call “outer freedom” by other names. We could call it spontaneous, nondual activity. We could call it, dare I say, happiness. Not the happiness of acquisition and protection. Rather, the happiness of – and here I’m going to say something really vulnerable and dangerous – the happiness of being, the happiness of open heartedness.

What is the nature of this kind of activity?

I don’t have the answer to that question. Not as something I can possess or formulate. But I do believe that I can now hint at it, talk around it, and maybe you’ll catch a glimpse.

As you may know – since I sent out an email to almost everybody on my email lists yesterday about this – yesterday I found a dog lying in the median of Interstate 25. Cars were zipping by at 80 miles per hour, and he was sitting there calmly, regally, as though nothing was happening.

I stopped, got out of my car, and crossed into the median to find out what was going on.

Long story, short, his leg was broken and he seemed to be asking for help. I managed – through the assistance of somebody I waved down – to get him in my car and drive him to the nearest animal hospital with emergency care (since it was a Sunday).

The surgery to help his leg heal is $2000 – something I don’t feel that my family can spare right now. So I set up a fundraiser online and sent an email.

Within 12 hours, people have contributed over $2800. Incredible. Thank you. Thank you.

I’ve paid for the surgery, and the vet will do it later on today.

Did I do a good deed?

I don’t know. I can’t know.

But I did do what my heart spoke.

Not what my mind said to do.

Because my mind said, “This is a mess. You can’t take this dog. Nobody wants this dog. This dog has almost certainly been abandoned here to die. You can’t afford to help this dog. It’s complicated. And you’re supposed to be in Colorado in an hour. You can’t do this. Just turn away. Just leave him. We all die. This may just be his time. You can’t save everybody.”

All true, perhaps. Or part true.

A good deed? Maybe not. How can I know? I don’t have enough information to know that. Maybe for him to survive, billions of beings have to die. The metal for the pin that will go in his leg is at the cost of environmental harm (mining). The drugs he is being given cause untold harm in their production process and disposal.

It’s all too complicated. I can’t know what is right. I can’t know what is good.

But right and good are in time. They are in thought.

Does that make them bad and wrong? I doubt it.

But they are insoluble (by me) because I don’t exist in time and thought. And I cannot possess enough time and thought to figure it all out.

What is clear, however, is the heart. It is timeless and thoughtless. It is yes. It is now.

But wait! Before I latch on to a new thought: “Thought and time are bad and wrong. Mind is bad. Only heart is good.” Let me pause.

That’s too rigid. The heart doesn’t exclude mind, thought, and time. It says yes.

See? I told you I wouldn’t have answers. I told you this would be questions.

And it opens me up. If you are willing, maybe it opens you up to what is happening. The fullness and murkiness of it.

Still, I explore this. Because I am curious. And because it seems so real in its impermanence. There is nothing to grasp. Grasp as I might, I am left empty handed and open hearted.

This play continues. And more and more it seems like a play. Not just play. But a play. The the thoughts and time aren’t bad. They are the play. Somehow they seem to open something up to a greater experience of itself – the fullness and richness of itself. The sadness, the anger, the fear all part of the happiness of the heart.

And here is something that is amazing to me – something that I cannot really put into words, but again, my heart is pouring forth, this uncontrollable deluge of ‘yes’ that seems to be related to this: through connection, through communication, through the willingness to be vulnerable and say yes, somehow not just me, but 78+ people came together through the heart.

I don’t know what that means. I don’t know, but it has had a major impact on me. And it causes me to wonder what is possible.

The world of mind – which we seem to see a lot of in the news and on social media and at work – creates a timebound spell of destiny and doom and hope and gloom.

But there seems to be something we all-too-often overlook. The possibility of tuning into the heart, which is now, which is yes. And this is connection and vulnerability and intimacy and tears and outpouring of unknowing.

Thank you. Thank you for everything.

a few months ago

Can We Master the Game of Life?

Can you name just one thing that you have completely mastered?

I can’t.

And every master of anything – guitar, woodworking, mathematics, etc. – I’ve ever met or heard speak about their craft has said that the more they learn, the more they realize how much they don’t know.

Those who have “mastered” a craft are merely practiced enough to recognize how insignificant their “mastery” is.

So why did I believe that I could master life?

How absurd.

If I’ve gained any wisdom, it is only to the degree that I have discovered what I don’t know.

In other words, in my experience wisdom is the name given to the natural, open state of not-knowing and not clinging to any answers or any insistence that one needs to or could know.

Yet this conditioned impulse to know, to understand, to name, to define, to solve often continues.

And it can take the form of “Now I know that I don’t know”.

It’s a kind of clinging to the promise of security. As if knowing that I don’t know offers me protection from life.

It doesn’t.

But here’s a radical notion: we don’t need protection from life. Not even from the most frightening aspects of life.

Because we are life.

This is life.

Not that recognizing this offers protection, mind you. Because it doesn’t.

But there is an opportunity to let go and enjoy the terrifying ride in all it’s mysterious glory.

Don’t think that is protection either.

It’s not.

No protection. And no protection needed. We’re being destroyed before we even existed.

a few months ago

A Very Revealing Experiment

I started to notice something really amazing a few years back.

Since then, I’ve continued to pay attention. I guess you could say that I’ve been conducting a long-term experiment.

It’s been so useful that I’d like to share it with you so that you too can experiment.

The convention when sharing such a thing is to first explain the benefit to you should you choose to do the experiment.

And this gets a little tricky because honestly, the benefit is not something most people would perceive as very beneficial because it involves a lot of discomfort.

Mostly, we are convinced that we don’t want discomfort. And we will go to great (and very uncomfortable) lengths in an attempt to avoid discomfort.

So let me say this again: this experiment involves a lot of discomfort.

But here’s the thing: all that discomfort was the driver of every behavior up until taking up this experiment. Every time there was discomfort, I predictably took evasive action.

I said a wanted freedom, but I didn’t see the irony of the fact that I was actually attempting to further enslave myself by avoiding a large swath of experience.

Do you see what I mean? Isn’t it odd that I said I wanted freedom, but I was trying to blot out maybe 90 percent of what is? Maybe 100 percent, to tell the truth.

Okay. So now on to the experiment.

I am not sure I can fully convey the experiment in a single post. So I’ll not endeavor to do so. But this will be a start.

What I started to see was two very significant points, though I never formulated it as such until just now.

First, there was the insight that my suffering involved avoidance/rejection/resistance.

In other words, suffering wasn’t something that was done to me. Suffering was something I was doing.

This is a very important point.

I started to notice that I was conditioned to resist my experience whenever certain feeling states occurred.

I mistakenly believed that the feeling states were a problem. And for years I had been at war with the feeling states, thinking that would solve the problem.

But once I saw that the feeling states weren’t the problem – that it was my conditioned response/behavior that produced the suffering – I couldn’t go back to fighting with my experience in the same way. I had seen too much.

The second point is this: that conditioned behavior that produced suffering was unconscious. However, once it became conscious, it unraveled.

When I say that it unraveled, I don’t mean that the behavior instantly stopped. Much of the behavior has not stopped even now.

But something changed, and the momentum of the vicious cycle of suffering had been undone.

The experiment goes something like this: whenever I notice that I am suffering, I simply look and pay attention to what is actually happening.

This is not something I do in thought. This is direct.

I simply pay attention to what is actually happening.

Sensations in the body. Conditioned contraction. Rejection. Resistance.

I just pay attention.

And in this seeing, something is released. In that, it becomes clear that there never was a problem. There never was suffering. There never was anything happening.

This is why I can say in the same breath that I no longer suffer and simultaneously whenever I suffer I inquire.

Let me give you a specific and mundane example from this evening.

I was making dinner. I was hungry.

My daughter began telling me what she wanted me to do for her. “Get me water”, “I want an egg now”, “Give me bacon”.

Each time she made a request I was irritated.

She wasn’t asking in the “right” way. She wasn’t playing the game according to my rules. She wasn’t attempting to be pleasing to me.

My conditioned response was resistance.

But what was actually happening?

Nothing. Nothing at all.

Nothing graspable, at least.

My best attempts to grasp and give words to it can only extend so far as to say sounds and sensations were happening.

But even that is too much. That is stretching the truth.

Because the truth is that I cannot grasp or objectify what was or is happening.

To be willing to really inquire in this way without an agenda, without looking for the answer that will satisfy me or give me the results I think I want, is supremely uncomfortable.

And it is supremely delightful.

a few months ago

Why wait? Why plan for freedom?

I received a really wonderful email today. The person wrote that “seeking seems to be [an] addiction”, then proposed a solution to this problem by abstaining from reading for four weeks.

I love this email and thank this person for giving voice so clearly to the core of the dilemma.

I recognize this so well. Here’s an example of how I used to play this game.

I was living in the Los Angeles, California area at the time. One day I decided that I was done with suffering/seeking.

So I concocted a solution: “I’ll drive to Malibu Canyon and hike up to the top of a big hill and sit there until I wake up.”

I drove to Malibu Canyon, hiked up the hill, and sat down.

Then I waited.

“Am I still suffering?,” I wondered.

“Must be,” I thought. “I don’t feel any great, cosmic, psychedelic release yet.”

I continued to sit there.

Pretty soon I started to get cold. And hungry. And uncomfortable.

I hiked back down the hill, got in my car, and drove home. I felt disappointed in myself because I felt that I hadn’t performed the right ritual in the right way. I had failed to have enough endurance to see it through. I had done something wrong.

This played out in small and big ways daily.

Sometimes I’d go on a “spiritual retreat”, expecting that it would give me that great big cosmic, psychedelic release, the enlightenment I thought I wanted.

Mid-way through the retreat I’d start to get nervous. Why hadn’t anything happened yet?

On the last day I was really anxious. Why hadn’t it happened?

As I would drive home from the retreat I’d be really discouraged. Would I never get the enlightenment I wanted?

Thankfully, I never got the enlightenment I wanted.

Instead, I got to discover the obvious gift that I had been overlooking that is in plain view in every moment.

Right now. This right now. Here it is.

The unsettled, insecure, open-ended, unresolved, unclear, confused, uncomfortable feeling that is this right now.

The inability to possess this or know this.

This is the gift.

Why wait? Why put off recognizing this?

Don’t wait for cosmic, psychedelic release or anything else.

Because if freedom is dependent upon cosmic, psychedelic release, that’s not freedom.

Freedom is the freedom that includes it all. Nothing is excluded.

And that’s good news. Because you cannot screw this up.

You don’t have that power.

And this is always the case. Now just as much as four weeks from now. Just as much as after the retreat or ten retreats or a gazillion experiences of grooviness.

The gift is always here.

It is the gift of being vulnerable to this. No guard. No belief that “I know”.

Just not knowing. Just you as you are.

a few months ago

There’s so much less to this than you think

The title of this post happens to be the title of a song off Wilco’s album A Ghost Is Born.

It’s a good song on a good album.

And it’s true.

There’s so much less to this than you think.

Than I think. Than anyone could think.

We’re taught to look for more.

We’re supposed to expand. We’re suppose to become. We’re supposed to grow.

That’s what we’ve been taught to value. That’s what the culture says to do. That’s what spirituality says to do.

But there’s so much less to this than you think. So much less than you’ve been taught.

Stop trying to become. Stop trying to expand. Stop trying to know or understand or comprehend.

Just for a moment.

Just for a moment.

Just be.

Don’t do it because you’re going to get something from it. Don’t do it because I promised you something.

Just do it to discover for yourself. Do it as an experiment. Do it with me.

Right now I’m going to let go of becoming for a moment. I’m going to let go of understanding. I’m going to let go of protecting myself, being something, knowing what I am, getting out of this, transcending, and all the rest.

Just for a moment, I wonder, can I simply be?

Not because this is something to get and know and own and use as a new shield.

Just to let go of the burden for a moment. To discover what it is to simply be.

Because I have what seems like lifetimes of experience trying to become. But now it is the chance to be without needing to become something.

Not because being is better than becoming. Not because becoming is the new enemy I need to protect myself from.

That’s more trying to figure it out and become something and protect myself.

What is it to simply be for just a moment?

Can we just be together now for this moment?

Whatever is here, can we make no effort to do anything about it?

Whatever feelings or fears or thoughts or stories, can we just be without trying to grasp at any of it or wrestle with it?

Just for this moment now.

There’s so much less to this than you think.

7 months ago

Instant Enlightenment

Instant enlightenment sounds cheap in the worst sense of the word. Like something you could get in a drive-thru at a fast food restaurant.

Or like bad coffee. Or mashed potatoes in a box.

“For a limited time only, instant enlightenment is only $1.99. No fuss, no muss. Just add water.”

But I am proposing that instant enlightenment is available, and it is not what you would imagine.

Whereas instant enlightenment conjures an image of some cheap consumable, what I am talking about is that which consumes you.

It consumes you, leaving no trace. And it does so in an instant.

But the catch is this: it is only instantaneous. Try to grasp it or possess it, and it disappears.

First, Let’s (Un)define Enlightenment

When I was most desperate for enlightenment, my sense of urgency was so  great that I didn’t take the time to patiently contemplate what the problem really was and what the supposed solution (enlightenment) would be.

All I knew was that I was experiencing what seemed like unbearable, chronic psychological torture. And I wanted relief.

I first started experiencing strange obsessions and compulsions – such as feeling that I must do things to the count of thirteen or that I must turn clockwise only – when I was still a child.

And over the years it had grown into an unthinkable nightmare. Everything I did in an attempt to cure the problem only worsened the problem.

I meditated for hours each day. I prayed and chanted for another few hours every day. I read spiritual books. I attended satsangs and retreats.

Yet things grew worse, not better.

It wasn’t until I had given up everything and lived out of a cargo van, roaming the country on a bizarre search for perfection that I really warmed up to the idea that I might have defined enlightenment incorrectly.

And it wasn’t until I was practically paralyzed and starving from Lyme disease that I was actually willing to begin to explore directly what the actuality of enlightenment might be.

I had, as many of us innocently do, defined my goal – enlightenment – as the extermination of the unwanted states.

I innocently believed that it was possible and desirable to get rid of fear, anger, sadness, anxiety, depression, unworthiness, and all the rest of what I didn’t want.

And that was how I defined enlightenment. That was my goal.

Everything in my life was based upon achieving that goal.

I was failing to achieve that goal, and I believed that was a problem. The more I failed, the harder I tried. But eventually there was no more to try. I was too exhausted.

So I had to look right in the face of what I’d been trying to avoid. And not only look it in the face, but welcome it with open arms as I might welcome my own children.

Welcome it so thoroughly that eventually I realized that it wasn’t the face of fear, anger, sadness, and all the rest of it that I was looking at. It was myself. I was looking at my own face.

This is my own face.

And this is what I would call true enlightenment. In many respects it is the opposite of what many of us have imagined enlightenment would be.

This is the complete allowing of whatever feelings and emotions that may happen.

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How to Do Instant Enlightenment

I have claimed that enlightenment – the enlightenment of complete allowing – is instant.

“Okay, prove it,” some might say.

Okay. So now that I’ve talked about what enlightenment is (or is not), let’s talk about how to do it (or not do it, as it were).

Fundamentally, enlightenment – at least what I am talking about – is an undoing. It is the release of all unnecessary effort to resist what is happening. Or, more accurately, it is the discovery that the effort is unnecessary, the problem is not real.

So it begins (and ends) with seeing how you make this unnecessary effort.

Once you see the unnecessary effort, in a sense, that is enough. Because simply knowing that it is unnecessary Is all that is needed. Then you know that it is not being done to you. It is no longer suffering.

But in the beginning, most people will dismiss this seeing. It is so easy to dismiss because it does not produce the euphoric absence of unwanted feelings that we are typically conditioned to expect and seek after.

In essence, we respond with a kind of, “Just this?” And then we’re off and looking for a euphoria, an absence of unwanted states.

Even if this single glimpse is, in fact, instant enlightenment, we once again resist whatever is.

Remember, in the beginning of this post I warned that instant enlightenment is instant and if you grasp at it or make any effort, it seems to disappear.

If you want instant enlightenment to persist, the secret is to remain as this instant. Not *that* instant. Not the one that is a memory. But this instant. This right now.

And the best way I know to do that is to simply attend to what is happening directly.

Most of us are accustomed to thought fixation. We habitually look to thought to give us a story about what is happening.

But if you attend directly to what is happening, without a commentary, without a story, you will begin to see the impulses to resist or escape what is happening.

And remember, just that seeing is enough.

Sometimes people who aren’t yet willing to actually try this experiment for themselves will instantly turn to thought and fixate on objections. One of the most common objections (but certainly not the only one) is that what I am proposing sounds difficult and dull.

All I can say is that is not my experience at all. To resist what is happening is difficult and dull. To simply attend to what is relieves that difficulty and dullness.

What I find is effortless aliveness.

But don’t take my word for it.

Try it out for yourself.

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9 months ago

Realizing Who You Are & Certainty

I received an email today from a reader with a few excellent questions in it.

One thing he asked is “how did you know that you realize who you are?”

Another related question he asked is “what makes you so sure about ‘that’ to start to talk about it?”

Here’s what I wrote in reply.

People do often speak about “realizing who you are”. I don’t tend to do that very much because I have lost interest in knowing who I am in the conventional sense.

Most of the time when we speak of realizing or knowing something, we mean distinguishing between objects. And when I was concerned with realizing who I am, that was the sense in which I wanted to realize something: I wanted to know something distinguishable from something else.

And to be honest, that was a big part of the problem for so long. I was very concerned in every aspect of life in distinguishing between self and other, this and that, here and there. I wanted to know to protect.

Now I find that this kind of “realization” or knowing is uninteresting. It requires straining to conjure up false senses of separation that aren’t believable.

What makes me so certain is, paradoxically, my complete lack of certainty. It is because I cannot find any reference point for any supposed object that I write and share as I do.

I’m not really a scholar or a philosopher. I don’t know much in that sense. I am more like the child in the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes. I just point out what should probably be obvious but isn’t because of conditioning.