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In my experience suffering is complicated. Anorexia is complicated. Depression is complicated. Obsessive thinking is complicated. Compulsive behavior is complicated. Chronic Lyme disease is complicated.
But meeting what is directly as it is, in my experience, is utterly simple. It’s so simple that it’s effortless. There’s no doing whatsoever.
And in my experience, this is the end of suffering.
Does it mean that there’s no longer any pain? No thoughts? No loss? No sadness? No fear? No compulsions? No sickness?
No. Of course not.
But the direct, immediate simplicity of being is so utterly simple that there’s no room for any complications whatsoever.
So everything that happens is seen to be simply what is. Thoughts aren’t so much thoughts. Loss isn’t so much loss. Fear isn’t so much fear. It is just what is.
Which doesn’t mean that I’m indifferent.
It just means that none of it is happening to me. It’s not about me. The one who is supposed to be at the center of it all isn’t there. Never was.
There is this. Being. Happening.
Which may appear to be personal. It may appear to be about someone.
But upon looking, it is evident that there is only this.
So it is puzzling that there are so many complicated teachings. Even teachings of supposed non-duality and self-realization are often extremely complicated.
But there’s no complication in direct experience.
Whatever anyone else says, no matter how complicated they make it out to be, no matter how much you want to figure it out, no matter how afraid you are of not figuring it out…
Just become simple. Utterly simple. Just for one moment.
Let all of the rest of it go.
And become curious.
Look for yourself. Really. Literally. Look for the one you call yourself.
And see what you find.
It’s that simple.
Obsessive thinking and compulsive behavior used to dominate my life. If I wasn’t deeply asleep then I was involved in obsessive thinking and compulsive behavior. And it was hell.
This is why I’ve been so passionate about sharing with others the possibility of discovering true peace and freedom after suffering from obsessions and compulsions and the general hell of OCD.
Because hardly anyone else is sharing this information. And yet, it’s so much easier than you can imagine. In fact, it’s utterly simple. It’s so simple that you can’t do it. it’s not a doing.
Just notice that all the obsession and the compulsion is a doing. It’s very effortful. It’s hard work.
Hell. I used to work so hard at the obsession and compulsion – and the trying to get rid of it (which is yet another layer of doing!) – that I was exhausted before I even got out of bed in the morning.
“Oh, no! Not another day of hell!” I’d think. And then more thinking. And more trying to get rid of it. And more compulsion. And more trying to get rid of it.
For those who aren’t yet familiar with my story, let me briefly explain that it was extreme. I’m talking about sheer panic at least 50% of my waking hours. I’m talking about living out of a cargo van as a (very poor) strategy for dealing with anxiety. I’m talking about eating nothing but raw sweet potatoes for months at a time. I’m talking about paranoia so severe that I was all but certain that every drop of drinking water available was poisoned by someone or another…all one great conspiracy to cause me to suffer.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It was nuts.
It’s strange because after 20+ years of that nightmare, you’d think that it would be a big deal to now be completely and utterly free.
And it is.
But at the same time. It’s not. Because it’s now obvious that this is all that is.
When everything is seen to be simply this, then there’s nothing to compare anything to. I can no longer go back to any of those memories and compare them to the present. Because it’s obvious that the memories too are just this. They are not separate from the present.
And if that seems strange or incomprehensible to you. Then read on. Because I’ll explain.
What I’m talking about isn’t a theory. it’s not a new idea. It’s not a concept. It’s not a belief.
It’s direct experience.
And if you take a look right now then I’m betting that you’ll also find that it’s your direct experience.
Let me tell you my basic strategies that I used to use to deal with obsessive thinking. I would try to change my thinking. I would try to get rid of my thinking. I would try to improve my thinking. I would try to quiet my thinking. I would try to numb my thinking.
Any of that sound familiar to you?
And the same with the compulsions. I would try to get rid of them. Or change them. Or distract myself. Or numb them.
Again, any of that familiar?
If you said yes, then I suspect that what I have to say (or, more accurately – write) may prove to be very helpful for you.
None of those strategies worked. Ultimately. They failed. Because what I most wanted was true peace and freedom. And those strategies just resulted in more suffering over time. Louder, more disturbing thoughts. Increasingly more demanding compulsions.
Finally, I came to realize that all those strategies had at their core the same presumptions. And those presumptions are…
That thoughts have inherent power
That sensations have meaning
That thoughts can solve the problem
That action can solve the problem
That something was wrong
That it was about me
And more to the point, that there was a me separate from this present happening.
Upon discovering that there is only this, and that this is all there is – that there is no me separate from this – then all the presuppositions fell apart. It all becomes quite transparent. And then there is clarity.
The thoughts don’t have to change or go away. The sensations don’t have to change or go away. It’s all welcome. Because finally it’s seen that it’s all just this.
And this is not a thing. It’s not THIS. It’s just this. Exactly what is right now. Exactly this.
Before the thought about what this is there is just this. And the thought is just this.
Here’s my recommendation. If you suffer from obsessive thinking and compulsive behavior. Then start to notice that before the thoughts about what it is and what it all means, there is actually the direct, immediate experience of what is. It is so close and so direct that if you look to thought to describe it then you’ll overlook it. So just notice that there is a direct experience that you cannot describe or understand. But you know that it is happening because there is undeniable experience.
Then notice that what you have tried to solve with various strategies isn’t actually a thing. Notice that there is no such thing as a compulsion. There is only a sensation. But even the sensation is ever-changing. So to call it a compulsion or even a sensation is to miss what it actually is.
The only way to know what it actually is, is to remain with it directly.
Which is always happening. So just notice. And don’t try to add to it.
Begin to take a look and see who is it that all these thoughts and sensations belong to?
You assume that it’s you. You assume that it all is about you. It’s your experience. Your thoughts. Your sensations. Your compulsion. Your life.
But just look. Start to see what all of this actually refers to.
What do you find? Do you find anything there?
I discovered that there is no one there.
This discovery doesn’t change anything. Because this is always what is. There is only ever just this.
So don’t look for fireworks or psychedelic experience or out of body experience or any of that.
It’s just seeing what already is. There is no separate thing called me. It was only ever just a phantom.
Thoughts happen. Sensations happen. All of it happens. But it doesn’t happen to anyone. It doesn’t belong to anyone.
This doesn’t mean anything. It’s not about a better you. Or a new, improved, “non-existent you.” It’s just seeing what is as it is. Which is all that ever is. It’s not different than before. Because now it’s clear that there is no before.
“Before” is just this. Always this. And it’s not about someone. It’s just this.
And, incidentally, in my direct experience, it turns out to be the end of suffering. It’s not that thoughts stopped. Nor did the sensations of compulsion stop. But it is now clear that it isn’t about me. It isn’t happening to me. None of it is mine. That doesn’t mean that sometimes the same old patterns and behaviors don’t seem to happen. But there’s no suffering. Because it’s seen simply as this. And, strangely, it seems that the patterns and habits that you might call obsession and compulsion happen much less.
But that’s not important. That’s not the goal. It seemed like it before. But it turns out that in my experience true peace and freedom has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with less obsession or less compulsion. It’s just that those things show up less when it’s seen that they aren’t any big deal. They are just what is.
As always. Your comments and questions are welcome.
We’ve all heard plenty about the power of positive thinking.
But not so much about the power of negative thinking!
What? You think maybe I’m just pulling your leg. But I’m not. The power of negative thinking is often overlooked. And it’s a secret that hardly anyone else will ever tell you.
I’m not suggesting that you try and think only “negative” thoughts. Good luck with that anyway. You can’t do it. Go ahead and try. I’ll give you 30 seconds right now to think only negative thoughts. Go ahead…
Okay. And we’re back. How’d you do? Not so well, eh? Yeah. I bet at least one positive or neutral thought slipped through the cracks. Or, perhaps a moment of silence? Or confusion? Or disorientation? Or floundering?
And this is the whole point. There’s no way to control your thinking. The only thing you can do is layer on more crap and end up severely mentally constipated. It’s not a fun way to live.
And it’s pointless.
Because all that they teach you about the power of positive thinking is just nonsense. Even if you could think only positive thoughts (which you can’t) then the only thing you would have achieved would be to think positive thoughts! That’s it.
Why? Because contrary to popular opinion. thoughts are just thoughts. They don’t mean anything. They are not creative. They are merely thoughts.
The power of negative thinking isn’t so much that negative thinking is inherently powerful. It’s not. It’s just thoughts. But because we have either an inherent or a conditioned reaction to negative thinking: we try to avoid it. And this is a tremendous distraction from the peace and freedom that is already what is.
We’re all likely familiar with the now-famous Jung quote: “what you resist, persists.” And as far as it goes, this seems to be true. So notice in your life how much energy you invest into trying to avoid all things “negative.”
Even overwhelming negativity such as deep depression or anger or the like. See how you still offer up resistance to it. Depression is rarely truly welcomed. Anger is rarely truly welcomed.
Even the habit of naming and labeling is a form of resistance. It’s like a shield or a wall of defense. As if the name could protect us from the actuality of depression or anger…or anything else.
So the power of negative thinking isn’t about trying to think negatively. It’s about welcoming all thoughts…including those that we think of as negative. It’s about welcoming all experiences, including those that we think of as negative.
And the reason that this is so powerful is that when we truly welcome everything without resistance, then we get to be free. Or, rather, we get to recognize the freedom that is ever-present as all that is.
Let it all come and go as it does. Notice that it’s all happening without your direction or your control or your permission. Notice that you’re not the one thinking the thoughts. You don’t create them. You don’t direct them. They’re not even your thoughts.
Let the negative thoughts arise. And let them linger. And then when they do so of their own accord, let them fade away.
And notice that before the thought that this thought is negative, it is merely this. In fact, it’s not even a thought. It’s just this.
Notice that the same is true of so-called positive thoughts. They are merely this. That is all. Nothing else. Not something apart from this. Not something we can compare against something else. Just this.
Notice how pleasurable it is to let thoughts come and go as they do. Remaining as this ever-present awareness that you always already are.
What will this mean? What are the implications? Will I die because now I won’t care about anything? Will I let trucks run over me for lack of care? Will I lose my job? Will I finally tell my boss what I really think?
All just thoughts. Let them come and go as they do. And notice that this which is before thought, this which is the very substance of thought, this which is all that is remains unchanged regardless of what happens.
The power of negative thinking is the power of true acceptance. This is wisdom because this is recognizing that the only true power is the power of being. And this power is uncaused. This power is undirected. This power is all that is. It is already here. It is already what is happening. And this power is infinitely alive and intelligent. Vastly more so than anything you can imagine.
Finally, simply rest here. This is all that is ever happening anyway.
This is hard to believe, I know. But take a look right now. Just notice that you experience sensations in your body. And then notice how instead of just staying with the direct experience, you have a habit of turning to thought to give you a meaning instead of the experience.
This is a well-known phenomenon among fine artists. Ask most adults to draw a human face or a cat face or just about anything, and they will draw something that looks not too dissimilar to what they drew as children.
That’s because we are in the habit of turning to thought to give us symbols instead of staying with direct experience.
So right now there is sensation. Notice how you want to label it or evaluate it. Sharp. Dull. Big. Small Good. Bad. Pleasant. Unpleasant. Pain. Pleasure. And on and on.
Then: what does it mean? What caused it? What should I do about it? Or how can I maintain this?
Meanwhile, there is simply this immediate and direct sensation. It’s not even a sensation when you look closely enough. Because even to call it a sensation is too much form. Too conceptual. Even to call it an experience is too conceptual.
It is just this. Whatever this is.
So without turning this into a compulsion or a rule or a new thing, can you right now in this moment simply notice what is? Just become curious. Simply experience this sensation directly. Notice the thoughts and the concepts. And let that happen. Stay here.
Notice that staying here requires no effort. This isn’t so much about restraint as it is resting.
Before the concepts and the thoughts and the meanings, what is this?
It’s not what you thought it was. It’s just this. And it’s always changing. It cannot be defined. It is this. It is the totality of what is. There is nothing else.
And this is always what is. Not as you imagine it to be. Not as you try to grasp ahold of. Not as a concept. Not as a thing. But just this. Pure. Raw. Immediate. Total.
So now you know the secret! This is always here. This is always available. This is who you are. And you can know this instantly simply by exploring direct experience. Simply by exploring with true curiosity. Not to get “back to that peaceful state” or anything like that. Because that is just another concept. But always staying with this exactly as it is. Before thought. Before concept.
And here’s a video I put together that is about this subject of Direct Experience as a Gateway to the Simplicity of Being.
I lived for years in a chronic state of terror of all the possible dangers in the world. My own experiences may seem a bit extreme, but I believe that we can probably all relate to the experience of being afraid of things completely out of our control. Muggers. Rapists. Murderers. Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Tornadoes. Tsunamis. Car accidents. Freezing to death when the car breaks down in the middle of nowhere in subzero temperatures. House fires. Carbon monoxide poisoning. And on and on.
My biggest fears were complete fabrications for the most part. I was terrified of being drugged without my consent or being poisoned. I was paranoid that UPS and FedEx carriers were applying poisons to packages they delivered. I was paranoid that every public bathroom that I entered was filled with drugs in the air. I was paranoid that every public building that I entered was in the process of being fumigated. And on and on.
So, you see, I had taken this fear of danger to a new level.
But had I really? Or are most people walking around in this sort of constant fear of danger? Will they judge me? Will they like me? Am I good enough? Am I too fat? Am I too ugly?
My fears were unconventional. To be sure. But perhaps the more general pattern isn’t all that uncommon.
And what I’ve noticed is that by and large our strategies for dealing with potential danger is to avoid it as best as possible. Or, if avoidance isn’t possible then to armor against it – physical tension, emotional offense.
But finally, what is all this about?
What is the real danger? That we might be found out? That we might be killed? That we might be destroyed?
And what happens if you offer up no resistance or defense to any of that?
What I discovered is that always there was the presupposition that there was a center that I thought of as me that I had to protect and defend and watch out for. But upon closer inspection, this “me” is merely a fabrication!
The “me” is implied, but it’s not there.
Take a look and see what you find. Look right now. Look to the center – the one that you imagine yourself to be. And see what you find,
We can invest a great deal of effort into trying to prop up or defend or protect or inflate someone that isn’t even there. Why? Because we assume there is someone there. The mere fact that thoughts arise does not mean that they are about anything or about anyone. Nor does the appearance of thoughts actually mean that they belong to anyone. Thoughts are uncaused. Take a look. See for yourself. The thoughts don’t reference anyone. They only seem to. But upon closer inspection it turns out to be a mirage.
Oh, and then there’s the other strategy that we often use. We try to improve the me. Perhaps at some point we realize that we cannot adequately protect this me. So instead, we devise a strategy to better the me. To strengthen the me. To make a super-me. This super-me doesn’t worry. This super-me doesn’t think paranoid thoughts. This super-me doesn’t get irritable or angry or moody or upset. This super-me is never weak. This super-me is perfect in every way. And this is the new defense.
But this doesn’t work either. At least it didn’t in my case.
And for this, I am grateful.
Because truly, discovering what is here as it is turns out to be liberating beyond belief.
When I go into public buildings I still have the thought that the place is probably being fumigated.
It doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t reference anything. It’s not about anything. It’s not my thought. It’s merely what is happening.
And there is only this. There is no other happening. There is no better happening. There is no worse happening. There is only this.
What a relief.
This is true freedom.
Last night I had a lots of active dreams.
One of the dreams was about my father. He was very sick. In the dream my mother said that he was about to have a massive heart attack. He was going to die, she said.
In the dream my parents were still living in my childhood home. In waking life they moved from that house 20 years ago now.
In the dream I walked over to visit with a friend of mine I haven’t seen in ten years now. In waking life he lives in Los Angeles – just shy of 2000 miles away from where my parents live.
In the dream I felt surprised that I hadn’t seen him in so long when he lived so close!
By the way. In waking life I live close to 1000 miles from both my friend in Los Angeles and my parents.
In the dream all of this made perfect sense. In the dream the backstory supported everything that happened. It made perfect sense that my mother knew that my father was about to have a heart attack and die. And in the dream I also could look back and see that everything had led up to this. There was continuity. It all fit perfectly. It made sense that everyone was living there in my childhood neighborhood. Everything in the dream was coherent.
It doesn’t seem coherent now from the waking perspective. But it seemed coherent in the dream.
Waking life is no different. It makes sense in the context of the experience. It seems coherent.
At least, until you start to look more closely.
Then it all falls apart. It dissolves into nothingness.
And from what we might call the “perspective of the simplicity of being” then there is no such thing as any of it. There is just this. There is no backstory. There is no coherence. There is no sense. There is just this. This is not a thing. It is not knowable. It is not in time. It is not separate from anything else. This is it.
We’ve all had (presumably) enjoyable dreams as well as nightmares. Within the context of the dream questions such as “what should I do?” or “what does this mean?” make sense. But upon waking, these questions are irrelevant. What do you do about a nightmare after you’ve woken? Nothing. There is no nightmare.
Upon waking from the sense of separation all the questions we ask within the waking dream are also seen to be irrelevant. What should I do? From the perspective of the simplicity of being there is only this. There is no one to do anything. There is just this.
Of course, this sort of advice tends to be frustrating to people who imagine that they are separate individuals. I know. I used to get angry. I was trying so hard to figure it out. And this sort of information only made everything seem futile and pointless. Which it is. But not as I imagined. It’s not futile and pointless in that there should be something else, something better, and I just couldn’t figure it out. It’s future and pointless just as asking what should I do about a dream is futile and pointless. Or, what should I do about a mirage?
But the good news is that even though it’s futile to try and figure this out, there is something that you can do! You can begin to investigate. Become curious. What is this? Just as some people train themselves to dream lucidly, so too can you train yourself to have lucidity in waking life. Just start to look more closely. Notice how you jump to thoughts to interpret everything and give you symbols and meaning. But what happens if you remain with what is closer than thought? Stay with the direct experience. And become curious. What is this before thought? What is this that you have called anger or sadness or glee or frustration or happiness or pain or chair or butterfly or window or apple? Just start to look more closely.
Not to try and find a new thing or a better thing or a more mystical thing. Just to look without presuppositions. Just to start to become so curious that you start to notice that there’s nothing here as you have imagined it to be. And that includes who you have imagined yourself to be.
When you look closely enough, you start to notice that there is no center here. Before it seemed that everything revolved around this center that you thought was you. But now it is evident that there is nothing here.
Yet it is not nothingness. Because nothingness is just another concept. It is simply this. But it is not a thing. You cannot see it. You cannot touch it. You cannot grasp it. You cannot understand it. But it is undeniable. It is unavoidable. It is what is always here.
Here’s a video I just put together on this subject of Dreams as a Gateway to the Simplicity of Being.
There’s an odd parallel between so-called waking life and so-called dreams.
Did you ever notice that all the seeming “others” in your dreams – the characters with which you don’t identify – seem to function perfectly without any effort on your part? I mean, maybe I’m the only one, but for me, I don’t have to exert any great effort to control and direct every character in my dreams. In fact, it all seems to happen rather effortlessly. Sometimes the characters in my dreams say incredibly eloquent and wise things. Sometimes they make up and perform amazing music, including rhyming lyrics and all. Completely spontaneous. Totally effortless. And magical.
Similarly, all the characters with which I don’t identify in so-called waking life function perfectly without any great effort on my part. I don’t wonder at how my children manage to function seemingly independent of my will and power.
So here’s the question: many of us imagine or have imagined that dreams are merely figments of our imaginations, creations of our psyches. But why do we then imagine that so-called waking life is any different?
And then even more to the point: where is the substance of the central character? The one who is central to both the dream and the waking life? You know. The me? My life. My dream. So where is the one all of this refers to?
None of it refers to anything.
Take a look. See for yourself. It appears to refer to something. Everything appears to refer to something. But take a closer look and what do you find?
It quickly becomes evident that all this is merely one indivisible happening right here and now.
Just as the dream is one dream happening here an now. So too is the waking life one happening here and now. And the one around which it all appears to revolve is not separate from the happening.
Just take a look. See this for yourself. Do it right now. It becomes evident that there is only this.
Can you find anything apart from this? This right now. Whatever this is? Isn’t it true that there is only this?
Sure, there are memories of something else. There are ideas of something else. But where are these happening? Take a look. They seem to point to something. They seem to reference something then and there. But look closely. They are merely this. They are this present happening. And it becomes evident that they couldn’t be otherwise. Because this is all there is.
So even the idea that someone else just did something amazing – like spontaneously creating magical music – is merely this. No such thing ever happened. Nothing ever happened. It’s all just this.
We all think we have problems. I do. 30+ years of strengthening the habit of worry and fear doesn’t necessarily disappear in the blink of an eye. Sure, it can. But that’s uncommon.
There are plenty of stories from people who have had these instantaneous collapses of the mind in which there is no longer anything but pure, silent awareness.
But then we turn those stories into another thing. Another goal. Another way to compare our present experience to something that we imagine is better.
And then we’re off searching for that. Whatever we imagine that will be.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. If you want a silent mind then brain damage is probably the surest route. But then, when I put it that way, it doesn’t sound so appealing, does it?
Some seeming people have seemingly silent minds. Some seeming people have seemingly loud minds.
But so what? You’ll never have anyone else’s experience. You only have this. (And more truthfully you don’t even have this. This has you!)
My mind still reports problems. As I said, those decades of conditioning continue.
But I remain here. As I always have. As always will be the case. It’s just that now it is evident that this is what is.
At first it seems like a doing – staying here. Until you realize that it is not a doing. It is all that is.
So notice that thoughts happen. Notice that sensations happen. Notice that what you think of as the mind seems to report problems. Notice that it all happens. And that still, you remain here.
The pursuit of some better, perfect, pure you with no problems and no thoughts is just a a recipe for suffering. Instead, recognize what is already here. Recognize what is unchanging. Recognize what is unavoidable.
Notice that thoughts come and go. Sensations come and go. Problems come and go. Bodies come and go. Everything comes and go.
And yet there is a changelessness that is this ever-present reality that is not separate from all apparent happening. You already are here. There is nothing apart from this. There is only ever this. And you can somehow, miraculously recognize that this is what is.
When problems seem to arise, notice what is closer. Turn to the sensations. Become curious about the sensations. What is the direct experience of sensation before thoughts? What is even closer than the sensations? What is even closer than the experiencing? What is even closer than awareness? Here is what is. And this is always what is. Here it is evident that all is simply this. Remain here.
In my writing lately – both online and offline – one of the things that has come forth lately is a lot of mention about how nothing has any inherent meaning.
Because it’s true.
Yet that is only one side of it. What I haven’t often mentioned is that meaninglessness is also true, expansive, infinite joy.
Nothing means anything. These words don’t mean anything. In fact, even though I sometimes suggest that words point at something, even that can be misleading. Because the words don’t mean anything. They don’t point to things. Rather, every seeming thing, including words, merely points to nothing. Everything points to the source, which is not separate from the totality of what is.
But then I realize that all this emphasis on the essential meaninglessness of things can seem rather nihilistic. Which it is not. Because none of this points to nothing. Because nothing then becomes yet another thing. We conceptualize it.
But nothing is not a thing. It is the totality of what is. It includes all apparent things as well as the space within which all is appearing. It is one totality. You cannot ever conceptualize it because a concept is merely what is arising in this ever-present moment. Stay before the concept and you know the totality. But follow the concept and you are merely imagining what the totality might be.
When those who speak as awareness of the simplicity of being use words such as stillness, peace, love, joy, freedom, wholeness, etc. to describe the simplicity of being, none of these words mean anything. But they point to the essential reality of what is – before any thought about what it is. And I haven’t emphasized this often enough.
Non-conceptual reality, which is all that is and which you are always directly experiencing in every moment, is meaningless. Meaning is added on through thought and concept. Meaning is about comparison, and the totality cannot be compared to anything because it is all that is. But nonetheless, before meaning there is still a sense of uncaused joy, peace, stillness, freedom, wholeness, love, abundance, clarity, wonder, power, and spaciousness. Those words are meaningless. But notice what they point to. They point to the source from which they arise. And when you simply remain with what is directly as it is – before thought -then what these words point to is evident.
Staying with what is before thought is not a doing. It is what is already happening. Simply notice that you are already aware of what is happening. Notice that this awareness is before any conceptualization. You are aware before any analysis of what it all means. You are aware before any names or labels. In fact, even before your sense of yourself as someone you are aware of being. You are before you are someone.
Notice that right now there are sensations in your body. Notice that you are aware of these sensations before any labels or meanings about them. There is simply the raw, pure sensation.
See the habit of turning to thought to give meaning to the sensations. But notice what happens when you merely remain with the direct experience. Notice how this direct experience is always happening whether you are noticing it or not. So staying with the direct experience is not a doing. It can see like it at first because of the habit of going to thought to supply meaning. But as you stay with the direct experience notice how it is actually far easier than doing anything.
Here, before thought, there is no meaning. There is just the direct immediacy of what is. Without thought you cannot analyze it or separate it. But you still function. You still see colors and shapes. You still seemingly interact with the world. You still can enjoy a sunset or a moonrise or the sounds of rustling leaves or cars driving by or children crying or refrigerators humming.
Everything still happens as it always has. Yet you remain here with direct experience. Notice that before meaning there is still something. But it isn’t a thing. It is just this. And whatever this is has no meaning, but somehow, mysteriously, there is a sense of joy and of peace. This is not because of anything. This joy and peace isn’t because of conditions or because of meaning. It is simply what is before any meaning.
Now, meaning is seen to be merely what is. You cannot get rid of meaning. There is no need. Meaning is simply an expression of this uncaused joy and peace.
Without meaning, ironically, everything may seem more meaningful! But it’s not because of thought. It’s not because anything is seen to suggest anything or imply anything. Rather, it is because everything is seen to be non-separate from the totality, which is uncaused joy and peace. Everything is seen to be truly alive – not as separate things, but as what is. Without needing to add meaning, the inherent richness and depth of all that is becomes evident.
This is how to discover true joy in meaninglessness.
People make such a big deal about experience. Good experience. Bad experience. Ecstatic experience. Horrific experience. And we seek out the good and the ecstatic while trying to avoid the bad and the horrific.
But this is the mistake. Because there’s something much closer than experience that you can seemingly (thought not truly) miss out on when you’re seeking to get and get rid of certain types of experience.
The reason that this has been on my mind lately is that I’ve been reading more than usual about so-called “spiritual awakenings.” (I’ve been researching to find good places to publish some of my writing, and I’ve read bits and pieces of what appears in these publications.) And frankly, I think that many of these accounts, are still deluded. Any time there is an emphasis on the experience of oneness or the experience of peace or the experience of wholeness – complete with the dissolving of boundaries and the flow of love and the profound sense of stillness and all the fireworks then at the very least these sorts of stories are misleading.
They are misleading because they speak of extraordinary experiences. The sorts of experiences that we are conditioned to seek out. This is why LSD or MDMA is so great – because they can provide these types of experiences. But if you’ve ever come down off of LSD or MDMA then you know that there’s an end to the trip. It’s an experience.
There’s nothing wrong with experience. It’s happening all the time. And I sure as hell would rather pleasant psychedelic grooviness to, say, a fork in the eyeball. So we naturally have preference for what we perceive to be pleasant or at least neutral experience instead of what we perceive to be unpleasant experience. If you have followed this blog long enough then you already know that I’ve had my share of unpleasant experience. And by no means do I actively seek out those unpleasant experiences.
But the idea that experience is “it” – the answer, the solution, the thing to end all suffering – is deluded. The end to suffering is not about experience. It’s about what is closer than experience.
And that is why so many of these so-called “spiritual awakening” stories are just rubbish. It sets up the “spiritual teachers” as someone special who has attained something you want. But what you most want isn’t a thing. It’s not something that anyone has. It’s not about being special. It’s about the utter lack of specialness. It is completely ordinary. It is this. Already this.
If you want to see visions and be blissed out then there are plenty of ways to do that. A good strain of cannabis perhaps? Bhagavan Das kirtans that last all night? An ayahuasca ceremony?
But just because something produces visions and feelings of bliss doesn’t mean it has anything to do with recognizing the simplicity of what is – which is the end of suffering. It doesn’t even mean that it’s good for you!
So the question is: what do you most truly want? Do you want blissed out feelings and visions and extraordinary experience? Or do you want true peace and freedom.
Because they’re not the same thing.
Then again, they are. Because all that is is true peace and freedom.
But as long as you are seeking some extraordinary experience, something other than this, something for a special you to experience, then you’re overlooking what is closer.
What is it that is here regardless of experience? What is it that is here regardless of whether you are feeling special or not? What is here regardless of whether you are even aware of yourself or not?
This. This is always here. Not this that you can give a name to. Not this special experience. Not this idea of who you are. Not this place. Not this vision.
It’s so simple. Whatever is, is it. High as a kite or bored out of your mind. This.
My upper back and neck feel like shit. My hands and fingers ache. Sounds. Kids crying. Dog wants to be fed. Feel of air on the nostrils. Saliva. Eyes blinking.
Whatever this is.
It’s never what we call it or imagine it to be. It’s not upper back and neck feel like shit as an idea. It’s the direct, immediate meeting of whatever it is that then gets called something.
It’s not a thing.
This is not special. There is nothing other than this. You cannot compare it to anything else. All comparisons are just this.
You still want something special. You want something other than this. You want psychedelic grooviness. You want great orgasms all the time. You want to never be constipated or get hemorrhoids. You want to never get cancer. Just endless bliss and goodness.
You’ll keep searching. Until you stop. And then there is just this. And it is clear that this is all that ever is. And this is true peace and freedom.
What a relief.