Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Engine of Duality

As the mind rocks back and forth between seeking something objective, to looking within and finding nothing at all, the spiritual search is like a journey.  The quest is to come to know this "state" of peace, this final situation where I no longer suffer.

We investigate the sense of Self to no avail - because we're forever trying to objectify it.  That's what the mind does.  It's job is to objectify, to classify, to divide.  The mind is itself the engine of duality. 

As we watch the mind, tossing and turning, bouncing off the walls, analyzing paradox with a sharp intellect, there may come a sense of frustration and confusion.  This is natural because the mind can never figure out that which is beyond it's scope - beyond it's capabilities.  Any understanding that could come can ONLY be a conceptual understanding, because understanding happens in mind. 

So can we get out of mind?  Can we make it stop?  No.  We either remain locked into identification with this duality machine or we realize that what we are is already beyond.  There is no process to becoming NOT mind, because what you are is already NOT mind.

And this isn't a milestone, not an achievement - it's recognized to be the case already.  The fact is that you do nothing but describe thoughts, describe states of mind, describe concepts and ideas.  The only way this can happen is if you are already prior to mind, observing mind - what you are is the background on which mind plays.

So as this swirling mind runs about - bouncing around, circling over and over - there comes a sense of futility and frustration at the mind.  It wants to take apart everything - analyze it - break it into parts and see how it works, like a small child with a new toy.  At some point this activity may pause.

And in that pause, in that mental sabbatical from the search, the slightest thing may be seen - a sunrise, a face, a tree - without that engine raging, without the automatic and habitual conceptual creation of the insistence of subject and object, no one can be found to be looking at a tree.  No tree can be found - there is only the looking, only the present THIS-ness, before the mind can rebound and come rushing in to split it all up.

It is in the abeyance of mind which brings the absence of the idea of separate self-ness.  It is in the absence of thought where duality falls away as mirage.  And then it comes rushing back.

Is this a failure?  Is this just another sign of your continued failure in the spiritual search. No!  In this, it may be seen that it is the mind itself which creates this idea of "thingness", of separation, of subject-object, of "someone" looking and a "tree' to be seen. 

While mind was absent, there was no tree and no looker.  Even calling it looking or knowing or awareness was too much.  There was only the immediacy - the totality - which included the absence of mind and presently includes the presence of mind.  Once mind returns that engine of duality is back hard at work.  But it is no longer spellbinding.  The mechanism has been recognized.  The snake is seen to be only rope, and no matter how many times we turn out the lights, we can never again really be fooled by the shape of "snake".

Recognize that it is only the idea in mind of "thingness" which creates the idea of separation, subject-object, etc.  And even if mind is actively dividing everything, analyzing - the idea that it's a separate mind or "thing" is another one of it's products.

Right now, just pause thought.  As often as you can, just pause thought.  Pause the incessant activity to figure it all out, to solve the "advaita puzzle".  It doesn't need to be figured out.  In that pause, no idea of becoming is there.  No idea of separate self is there.  No idea of thingness is there.

All that is there is indescribable being.


No Plane Zen said...

The little engine that could; "I think I can, I think I can."

No One In Particular said...

This is an interesting post.

The loop, difficult to grasp, of the mind objectifying itself, perhaps is also seen as just fine. Those mindless states of presence - no looker, no object - are great, yet the dividing mind is no less oneness.

Poor old mind. We're very hard on it!

Randall Friend said...

Hi Suzanne,

Yes... the dividing mind, duality, is the very way you know yourself. The beauty and ugliness found through this process of division is the very experience of Life. As you say, it's no less oneness. It IS Oneness, only dividing itself, so to speak.

And that's the celebration, the miracle - every blade of grass is a beautiful expression of Oneness appearing as manyness. The physical body is only a small aspect of the "universal body" - at first, nothing can be found to be what I am. Ultimately nothing can be found to be NOT what I am.


No One In Particular said...

Totally, Dude.

michael.o said...

Hi Randall...

from cape town, many thnx for the clear succint writing.

in light of yr advice to pause thought as often as possible was curious to know yr thoughts on candice o'denver's sole advice to students namely "short moments of resting AS awareness repeated many times becomes automatic". i feel this to be a really skilful way to acclimate & become accustomed to the natural state, to relax into what already is, and always has been the case, to relax the gyroscopic momentum of seeking & truly see one's nature as infinite
aware space, no-thing appearing as everything....

much love from "down under"

Randall Friend said...


Hello my friend. Good to hear from you.

Good question and well put. We might say short moments of resting AS awareness and pausing thoughts are the same thing. Or we might say that resting AS awareness is redundant - you literally cannot do otherwise - it is the mind, as you point out, that is swirling in seeking and analyzing - so the one who rests IS the seeker, the very idea of the individual.

As well it is the seeker who pauses thought. Yet when thought is paused, when we "rest AS awareness", we become familiar with that background, that stable and rock-solid presence which is the true Self or "I". When the habitual "gyroscopic momentum", which is identified AS what we are, rests, then we know that what we are is that which knows the event called "mind", the event called "thinking" or "seeking", even the event in thought called "me".

We see that we are already aware of that passing content - it's beginning and end. Then we know that what we are IS that awareness.

love to you

michael.o said...

thnx for clarifying....

again, would like to express my gratitude for the clarity of yr sharing of what this is about, has aided me greatly over the last few weeks and mnths.

still trying to get my "head" around this, so the ONE is infinite universal intelligence, aware space, no-thing ; which permeates all forms and IS all transient forms, appearing to itself as seemingly diverse phenomena.It is literally doing everything from exquisite flowers to white phosphorous bombing of civilians in Gaza.

"we" begin by thinking we're individuated fragments in a potentially hostile universe, then we believe we're swimming in an ocean of consciousness & finally we realise "we" are the ocean itself, the salt doll dissolves into the vastness of the impersonal.

love & peace

Randall Friend said...


Yes. Nicely put. When we walk outside and look up at the trees, the sky - Life is looking at itself. The idea of "me' as a separate entity obscures this boundlessness of Being. Any attempt at being "this" or "that" necessarily limits.

You are the timeless and limitless "awareness" or Being - it is the activity of Mind or Consciousness, itself not separate from Being, which brings about the idea of limitation.

Then within that same Mind or Consciousness, there is the attempt at escaping or realizing the falseness of limitation.

When we realize that the limitation is false and self-imposed through conceptual thinking, through the idea of "thingness" - then this conceptualizing can go on without being captured by it, without holding identification with it. Then the flowers and the bombings are simply something the Self is doing, something Life is doing.

It is, as it is, until it is, no longer.


Anonymous said...

Hi Randall, I also have had the "thought" what is the point to all of this. Knowing and seeing what I truly am doesn't seem to be "enough" sometimes. I am still exisiting in this appearance and with no seeking going on and that is actually amazing and then there is this thought arising "something is still missing". What do you think about that?

Roeland said...

Dear Randall,

Thank you for your wonderful post. I have realized it is very simple.
We are the awareness in which everything appears.
This everything includes feelings, thoughts, sensations of the body, the voices of others, a tree, the computer screen, the world.
There is no distinction at all between what the mind calls the inner world and the outer world. It is all simply stuff that appears in awareness.
Now the only real question is why did it take so long for me to realize that?
By the way it is your wonderful blog that made this clear to me the first time and then the 'ball' kept rolling'.
My gratitude to you cannot be expressed in words.



Randall Friend said...


Even the thought "what is the point to all of this", the thought "something is still missing" is included in knowing what you truly are.

Have these thoughts ever appeared outside of what you are? It is your very presence, the unchanging background upon which these thoughts come and go, no matter if they are "what is the point" or "there is no point".

We still are trying to manipulate the mind into always falling within a certain template, within a certain pattern. If we are on a self-help path, we might demand that the mind is always positive or goal-oriented. If we are on the spiritual path, we might demand that thoughts are always saying "this is it" or "this is oneness" or "there is not-two" or "brahman is reality" or whatever it might be for the moment.

So seeking is always trying to manipulate the mind to behave in a certain way, and then when it doesn't cooperate then we are frustrated.

True freedom is seeing that the mind is like a passing cloud - sometimes light and fluffy - sometimes dark and stormy. Yet that appearance of cloud or thought can come and go as it likes - you are and always have been unaffected by them. You are like the sky which, while necessary for the cloud to appear, is never touched or affected by them.


Randall Friend said...

Hi Roeland,

Yes, very nicely put.

Awareness IS Being - pure Being. The content of Being takes infinite shapes, sizes, appears within time and space - while never once separating FROM Being.

And even the word Being is too much.

love to you

Anonymous said...

Thanks Randall, I appreciate the clarity of your pointers. It was while listening to a UGC podcast of yours in the midst of 3 days of intense investigation that a flash of recognition occured. I remember just hearing you talking about how every thought was just an appearance including the thought "me", it was that pointer that worked. This "happened" about 6 weeks ago and I suppose I am in a hurry to never be fooled into believing I am a "me" again. Thanks