Sunday, February 26, 2012

Part 1 - What you take yourself to be

More and more it seems that the traditional Vedanta method of slowing working through our identifications and illusions, slowing breaking them down and uprooting our default beliefs, is more helpful than just pointing out the ultimate which is that you are already whole, that reality is already whole.  Either that resonates and we're just nodding our heads in agreement, or we're left scratching our heads because from our perspective it just doesn't make any sense.  Unless we just make a leap of faith, these absolute pointers are somewhat limited.

So let's just have a conversation, over several weeks, about our ideas, our beliefs, our assumptions.  Let's start taking them apart - feel free to comment and we can have a discussion about it. 

The most important thing we can do in spirituality is to really be honest, really get to the bottom of our existing ideas.  We tend to overlook this and then try to plunge headfirst into the pointers or challenges - leaving these ideas in tact while trying to make sense of the teachings.  It's a recipe for frustration.  Therefore let's start by really getting to the bottom of what we now believe reality is, what we NOW believe that WE ARE, yes?  It is critical to really understand what we THINK we are.

We believe that the universe came about in a big bang, a infinitely small but infinitely powerful particle exploded and expanded in all directions - this became the universe - a collection of parts - each created individually - each existing individually - from nothing each part is created, then it runs it's course and eventually ceases, dies, dissolves.  This means the universe is an infinite collection of separate existences, THINGS, parts, pieces.  

Eventually bodies spring up one way or another.  A Body is a product of the mother and father, cells combine and that original "cell" fertilizes, grows, morphs into a fetus, the necessary organs form and eventually that fetus kicks it's way out of the womb - then we call it an infant.  After 9 months we say it's born. 

At this point we must stop and really take a good look at what our beliefs are about this "thing", this fetus, this infant, this mass of cells, this fertilized seed.  We believe the mother and father are "people" - what does that mean?  They are individuals, entities, which is a fancy way of saying - they are separate.  They were also born and grew to this point.  Once this seed is fertilized, it grows the proper way and eventually a "person" is formed, another "life".  Therefore this fetus is another person, another life, another entity, therefore another separate existence, yes?

From these two seeds, the mother and father, the new separate existence is born.  This existence was not there before.  It did not exist, then because of this process it began existing, yes?  From nowhere it came into existence - then it will exist a while and ultimately will cease to exist again.  Isn't this entity what you take yourself to be?  Isn't this root idea of beginning, this temporary nature of existence, isn't this the root idea you have about yourself?  Isn't it in fact the idea you have about reality?  This universe of things?  Isn't your root idea of reality that it is made up of separate, individual, temporary existences?

Now consider that you are entertaining spirituality, not just spirituality in general, not some New Age thing where we must all hug and get along, but serious spirituality where we are questioning your very existence as a separate being, inquiring "who am I"?  Are you running along in this search, trying to find Wholeness or Oneness or somesuch, while retaining this idea that YOU, in fact EXISTENCE itself, is separate?  

Can you see that continuing to have this default set of assumptions or beliefs in tact while pursuing and hoping after some generic idea of "Oneness" is fantasy?  We wonder why we "aren't there yet" or just have an "intellectual understanding".  We must really get to the root idea of what our ideas are, uncover them, really get a good understanding of this idea we have about ourselves and the universe.  We must be serious and earnest about it.

Consider what you take yourself to be, then consider what you are searching for, or consider what this teaching is telling you.  You were never born, you are not separate, you will never die.  How can you reconcile that with your beliefs about what you are?  You cannot do it, ever.  So something has to give.

The advice is to put all these pointers aside for a while, just do some serious soul-searching - pun definitely intended.  Don't stop until you have a crystal-clear picture of what it is you take yourself to be, of what it is you take reality to be.  For Vedanta says that reality is Advaita - Advaita means "not-two".  Reality is already nondual, not separate.  Reality is called "Brahman" - and ultimately there is no difference between Self and Brahman. 

So before we can really understand this we must truly understand where we think we are now.  Ponder that with earnest and we'll begin to dive into these ideas over the next several weeks.  

Sunday, February 19, 2012

That Which Is Present

Where can this entity be found?  Is it in the neuron?  The cell?  The nerve?  The atom?  The blood?  The bone?  Is there some "one" located in this body?  Are you in the mind?  Do you have a mind?  Do you use a mind?  Are you in the head?  Are you in the middle of the head?  Behind the eyes?  Between the ears?  In the left lobe?  The right? 

If we cannot scientifically locate the individual in the brain, even though we can zoom down into the subatomic level, then where exactly is it located?  

There is a presence - you are there.  You are confident about that, as you should be.  You know you exist.  That cannot be denied.  However to tie that existence into some entity abiding in the brain or head is complete mythology, no different from some God which lives in the sky.  There is no entity there.  

We get confused when we hear that - it makes sense but then we say "yet I'm here!"  Yes - but can we disconnect the obviousness of present existence/awareness with the mythology of individuality?  Can we lay aside this idea for a bit, detach completely from it so that a genuine inquiry can be made into what you might be?  In the absence of some individual entity, yet in the obviousness of aware presence, we might intuit that there is an intelligence present, that which we call Life, THAT which is presently aware.  

The leap is truly that short - THAT which truly IS - that singular existence or essence - THAT is presently aware - if we speak of a body-mind organism, of Consciousness, then we can say that Life is aware because of that mechanism, because of that capacity called Consciousness.  

The obvious begins to sort of open up - what-I-AM is THAT which IS, that existence - that essence.  Life, if we must give it a name.  This realization dissolves the myths I have about myself and the obvious becomes obvious.  I didn't have to do anything to BE that.  I already AM that, only the idea that I am an individual precludes the obvious truth that I am Life itself.  

So THAT which you know as "I", that which is always present and aware, THAT is not a mythical person but Life itself, aware of itself.  Realization is simply the falling away of the false.  The true isn't added or changed but only realized.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


We can go on forever in spirituality, seeking out answers.  It is always something like:

I am seeking
I need to find answers
I have this problem
I had this experience
I want that experience
I need to find Peace
I need to find out what I am

So the entire thing revolves around that entity, that "I" you take yourself to be, that person, that independent existence, that thing which was created anew, that being which stands apart, which began on such-and-such date and time, that seeker who was born and will someday die.

The point isn't to somehow find a way to be a successful seeker, to find answers FOR this "I".  The point is to realize what it is you take yourself to be - to realize that the entire thing revolves around this idea of an independent, temporary being, something which began, someone who is finite.  It is that idea of yourself which is the problem.  Finding success in spirituality isn't FOR that "I" - it is in seeing through that "I" - seeing through that idea itself.

So if you're plodding along with that idea completely intact - averse at even questioning it - then you're going to be frustrated eventually in spirituality.  "Why can't I get it?"  Yes?  Isn't this a common question?

Instead of leaving that entity intact - dive into that entity - the idea of it - what is it you truly take yourself to be?  What is that idea you have of your Self?  Come to recognize fully the idea you have - then question it.  See if it's true.  Notice how the idea you have about yourself is the very definition of separation - how can you find so-called Oneness or Wholeness if you are separate, your very being is independent, finite?  Do you expect spirituality to somehow heal this separation?  What should happen - some sort of cosmic superglue to bind up all the separate entities?  

Isn't this the real fundamental problem?  The most cherished and root belief you have is that you were born, that you began, that you came into existence and will someday cease to exist?  Isn't this the idea that is the basis for all your ideas about the world?  Isn't your most basic, fundamental idea about reality that it is divided, separate - made up of independent things?

So how do you expect to resolve spirituality when you are pointed to nonduality or no-separation?  By marching along, ignoring this most basic contradiction?  Wondering why you continue to be confused and frustrated?

Stop ignoring it and face it.  Were you born?  Did you begin?  Is existence something which starts and stops?  What is it that begins and ends?  

Forms or patterns begin and end, come and go...  what is a pattern?  What is the source of this pattern?  What is the source of that pattern?  What do you know of the world that isn't a pattern?  What is the source of the world?

Can you be something other than that source?  

The entirety of this search isn't really much more complex than that.  Answer it with confidence and you're done, one way or another.