Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Who's Suffering?

Question: What I’m finding confusing is that I still experience suffering, even though the fictional self has been seen through.  I've read that once true nature has been recognized, it’s the end of suffering. Since suffering is still experienced, I believe I must not have had the recognition or there is something more to realize.  I know that this idea is just a thought that comes and goes, but, so far, suffering is still a regular experience. I thought the realization dissolved suffering all at once, rather than it being a gradual process that takes place over time.

If suffering is still happening, it indicates that some remaining concepts are still running. First, to clarify what suffering is not: If in a given moment something uncomfortable arises, that’s not suffering. Suffering is the additional component, the add-on that arises in thought in response (or rather resistance) to what is happening. It shows up in the belief that I am suffering; this is happening to me. So here again all that is required is to recognize this for what it is: thought. The direct method is to immediately inquire: who is suffering? This creates a space in which you, consciousness, can recognize there is no such entity. Upon investigation, the me/I cannot be found. You find only empty, aware space, which is what you are.
The other thing to look at is if there is some sense/idea that things should be different. If that arises, that is the evidence that the I-thought, or sense of being a separate self, has snuck in again  as the one who fights against what is. It is common for that to arise because we have picked up a lot of concepts along the way about what it will be like once we are liberated. Everything we read or hear is interpreted by the mind. This creates an idea or image of how it’s supposed to be once “I” am awake.  However, the experience never matches what the mind thought it would be. After this realization EVERYTHING still appears, just as before. The only difference is the absence of the sense that it’s personal.
This realization is not the end of pain or “problems”, only the end of suffering. So look into the idea or belief that things should be different (or I shouldn’t be experiencing this now that I’m awake). Then look to see who....who doesn’t like it, who thinks it means you’re not “finished” yet, etc. That is the inquiry that ends suffering. In finding there isn’t anyone there after all, the whole structure collapses.
You may have to look at it a number of times. As Sailor Bob says, you see through this fictional sense of self over and over until you can’t believe in it anymore. That part may unfold over time. But your freedom is established already. You are that which is aware of the arising thoughts/self; you are already that free, clear space that is untouched by all of this. You are constant. These self appearances are what are coming and going. Not you. See for yourself.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pain-body - fact or fiction?

The pain-body is just a concept. Honestly, folks, it’s true. But don’t take my word for it. See for yourself.
One of the ways that the whole pain-body idea is reinforced is through the belief in it as an entity, a lasting entity with a past and a future. It is assumed to be in semi-permanent residence (i.e., once I liberate this creature, it will no longer live here). But where, exactly, does it live? What reality does it have? What evidence is there that it is real or substantial?
A definition of reality is that which does not come and go, that which is constant or unchanging. One way to end the pain-body ordeal is to look to see the facts of your experience. Upon investigation, you will soon see that what we’re calling the pain-body is not in fact a continuous or lasting thing.
Begin this investigation by looking into what is changing and what is not. What is constantly changing is the content - thoughts, emotions, sensations. What is constant is the quiet, ordinary knowing of all the changing content. This is sometimes referred to as presence or awareness.
Examine your actual experience and you will see this directly. Important note: Your actual experience is not the same as your assumed experience. Seeing through false assumptions is a key component to getting to the truth of your actual reality (which, by the way, ends the pain-body drama).
The mind will come up with all kinds of evidence to support the idea of the pain-body as something real, as a lasting entity. It will list this evidence for your review, probably on a frequent basis. Examples: I keep having this same pain-body reaction when I visit my mother. This emotion keeps getting triggered. There is an assumed continuity in these thoughts. If you just listen to thought, you will automatically agree with the assumption. It sounds so convincing. I can say from my own experience that I believed the assumption that the pain-body was real for a very long time. I believed it for exactly as long as I had a pain-body. Coincidence? Nope.
We need to look in a different way in order to see the truth and thereby end the pain-body drama. It’s pretty much over the first time you clearly see what is actually happening, the first time you choose fact over fiction.
What we call pain-body is actually just an emotion/thought/sensation combination that arises and subsides. It helps to highlight or notice the absence of the ‘symptoms’ of the pain-body. This will quickly reveal that it’s not always present. If it isn’t present in the moment, where is it? You won’t be able to locate it. The mind will offer some convincing statements to support the assumption that it’s just in abeyance. Believe that, and you are granting reality to the pain-body, which keeps the drama alive. Go on actual fact (i.e., it ain’t here at the moment) and freedom is already alive as the recognition of this truth. This is a very potent recognition.
Further, by reducing a so-called pain-body episode down to the simple facts of what is arising (sensation in the chest, intense energy moving, thoughts about the situation) you immediately step out of the story. This is important because story thoughts are like a magic spell; when they are believed without thorough examination, they perpetuate the belief in the pain-body and create the illusion of continuity. You break the hypnotic spell through investigation.
Finally, once you clearly examine what is actually happening, then notice what is aware of all of these arisings. All of this stuff is appearing or arising to you, the awareness. What you actually are is what is seeing the stuff, not the stuff itself. 
 See for yourself. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

To Practice or not to Practice.....

Question: Is practice required?

The idea of needing a practice in order to achieve spiritual enlightenment is based on a couple of faulty assumptions: 1) That you are an entity separate from life, and 2) that you are not yet free (and therefore need a practice in order to get free). For most seekers, these assumptions drive the whole seeking process and its activities (including spiritual practices). Through these activities, attention is largely focused on doing, analyzing, and thinking. There is nothing wrong with that in itself. In terms of self realization, it causes you to overlook the ever present aware beingness that is already established as your true nature. It’s here, but you’re looking elsewhere. 

Normally we keep pursing the activities in an attempt to get enlightened. This keeps us looking away from the very thing we are seeking. Let’s call this approach Plan A. I invite you to stop and consider that, despite years (or even decades) of Plan A, enlightenment is still elusive. I know, I can hear it from here, the mind immediately comes up with protests in response to that. I have made progress. I have more peace now and less suffering. Uh huh. Maybe so, but that ain’t the point. The point is total freedom. Now. The gradual path cannot deliver the goods. I know this from my own experience. I admit, until I faced this fact fully, I was still seduced into believing “it” (path, practice, technique) would work.  This belief ensured that I continued to suffer, and struggle, which led me to continue with spiritual practices. The seduction of the gradual path is that it seems like you are getting “there”. What isn’t usually seen is that it will go on forever; there is no end to the process. There can’t be because the goal is in the future. Freedom can only be known now. If you take an unflinching look at your experience, you will likely find that this is true for you also – what you were hoping to get has not yet arrived. Seeing this is a turning point. It becomes impossible to continue committing yourself to something that you’ve admitted isn’t working. It’s a bummer to the mind, but it’s THE turning point for you. If you’re not convinced, and this doesn’t resonate with you, carry on with Plan A.

If you can already see that Plan A is not producing the desired results,  perhaps consider Plan B. I will warn you, though, Plan B is so simple and effortless that the mind won’t believe it’s for real. Hint: the mind will never get it, so instead of listening to it yet again, ignore it and check out Plan B. You’ve got nothing to lose.

So, here’s Plan B: Do nothing. That’s it. Truly. Stop pursuing enlightenment for a moment. I mean, really stop. When the seeking activities of thinking, analyzing, and practicing stop what remains? Stop and see what is here, now.

See that before any practice begins/continues, you already are. Look into your own beingness here and now. See that in this quiet space that is you, there is peace; awareness is present. If you take a moment to linger in this pause, it becomes clear that nothing is lacking here and now. Aware beingness, your true nature, is already established. This is the goal of all practice and is in fact your starting place. You already are the free aware beingness. Now. Before anything else is studied, practiced or understood.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Gift of Disappointment

If you are in a spiritual teaching or practice, or following a teacher, you will at some point be disappointed. The teacher is going to let you down, betray you, or turn out to be only human. The practice is not going to lead to the promised result.  It’s inevitable that this disappointment will happen. The sooner the better.

The gift of disappointment is that we finally see that what we were hoping for, what we were relying on to deliver us to freedom, isn’t working. This is a profound  recognition. It also happens to be true. No one, no thing, can take you to freedom. There is no practice, no teaching, no technique, no teacher who can give it to you. Once this is seen, you are on the threshold of the ultimate recognition – that you already have it. You already are the awake awareness and ever have been.

When we’re looking to external experts or systems, that keeps us looking away from the immediacy of what is already present. We overlook the aware beingness that is ever clear and present as our true nature. 

Friday, July 2, 2010

Constant Presence

What you are must be constant.

This is so obvious that we often overlook it, but, whatever it is that we are, it must be ever present. What we are does not come and go. An easy way to investigate this is to begin by noticing what fluctuates, what comes and goes. You can immediately verify that appearances are transient. Appearances include thoughts, bodily sensations, and emotions.

Take a moment to confirm that this is so. Thoughts only last a moment. Emotions arise and subside. Sensations appear and disappear.  Notice what is present before the thought, sensation or emotion appears, and after it subsides. There is something (which is not a thing) that is constant in the presence of all of the appearances and disappearances.

Look into that which is not fluctuating. Be curious about it and really look. This kind of looking is intuitive, not thought based, and results in immediate recognition of the truth.  

Monday, June 7, 2010

Thoughts Are Not a Problem

Question: When I am caught up in my thoughts, how do I return to the awareness that watches the thoughts?

What I would investigate first is the idea that you are caught up in thoughts. Who is it that is caught up?  Is there a separate entity (separate from awareness)?

Take a closer look into the reality of the situation. You are ever present as the awareness of thought. Otherwise, how could you know that thoughts are happening? You can confirm this in your own experience by looking directly into the truth of it. If you look closely, this will become clear. Any sense of a separate self needs to be investigated thoroughly. Put it under the microscope; look right at it until you see for yourself that there is no separate entity. It's only a collection of thoughts that are arising to you, the awareness. All thoughts, including the thoughts about a separate self, are arising to you. You are the all-seeing awareness itself. Now. Always.

What is often hidden in this kind of situation is the idea that "I shouldn't be thinking". This idea is the only problem (not the thinking itself). It is based on the assumption of a separate self who gains and loses presence/awareness, and that thinking is an obstacle for this fictional self (preventing it from getting back to awareness). The idea that I shouldn't be thinking causes a resistance towards thought and reinforces this sense of the separate entity. 

Thoughts are not a problem. They arise and subside in you. All the while, you are the constant knowing presence of all appearances (thoughts, sensations, events, etc.).

Thursday, May 27, 2010

See For Yourself

After years of spiritual endeavours many do not find the lasting peace for which they are seeking. It is hard to believe that we can spend so much energy, time and money on teachings, teachers, retreats and other spiritual experiences and still after years (in some cases decades) still not ‘get’ what we’re searching for.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can stop seeking right now. No further understanding is required. Just stop and take a really close look at what is already here, already so. What you are must already be present. Take a moment to pause and investigate this truth. One clear, simple moment of directly investigating your present reality is all that is required. Let it be this moment.

Can you sense the subtle reality of your own beingness? Now. Not after you’ve cleared your karma, healed your wounds, uncovered all of your false concepts. Right now. Take a look to see what your actual reality is. It is so obvious and familiar that we overlook it. Yet what we’ve been looking for is right here where we are as our own beingness. One useful pointer is to notice the undeniable fact that you know that you are. Somehow you know that you are here now. The way that is known is through your own ever-present self as the aware presence. You are the knowing, the awareness itself.

One of the reasons this is overlooked is that we have read such spectacular accounts of people’s awakenings in spiritual literature. We imagine so many things about what it will be like when we get it. This leads us to search for the imagined fantasy of ‘awakening’ instead of what is plainly here.

Another reason is (for those following a teacher) we are referring to an external authority. We may overlook that hidden in this is the belief that the teacher has it but we don’t. Once this concept is believed we delay or avoid the direct investigation that leads to the end of seeking.

The bottom line is that we must see this for ourselves. Direct investigation is required. No one can do it for us. Any external search for something is an avoidance of this investigation. Ironically, the end of the search is ever available and only takes a moment of examination of the facts.