The end of your world
Gullkorn fra boken "The end of your world - Uncensored Straight Talk on the Nature of Enlightenment"
Spiritual awakening is a remembering. It is not becoming something that we are not. It is not about transforming ourselves. It is not about changing ourselves. It is a remembering of what we are, as if we'd known it long ago and had simply forgotten... There is really no such thing as a "personal" awakening, because "personal" would imply separation. "Personal" would imply that it is the "me" or the ego that awakens or become enlightened.
In truth, we are not capable of imagining what it is that we are. Our nature is literally beyond all imagination... We are that which dreams the whole world into existence. Spiritual awakening reveals that that which is unspeakable and unexplainable is actually what we are... Full awakening simply means that we perceive from the perspective of Spirit— from the view of oneness— all the time.
We must give up the pursuit of positive emotional states through spiritual practice. The path of awakening is not about positive emotions. On the contrary, enlightenment may not be easy or positive at all. It is not easy to have our illusions crushed. It is not easy to let go off long-held perceptions.
The sincere call from reality to reality, the sincere call to awaken, is a call that comes from a very deep place within us. It comes from a place that wants the truth more than it wants to feel good.
With a true and authentic awakening, who and what we are becomes clear. There's no longer a question about it; it is a done deal. In this way, one of the hallmarks of a true awakening is the end of seeking. You no longer feel the momentum, the push and the pull.
I sometimes refer to this moment as the first kiss. Awakening is sort of like your first spiritual kiss, your first kiss of reality, your introduction to the truth of who and what you are... Things show up when they need to show up. Decisions are made without actually deciding them; everything has a sense of obviousness. It is the experience of Spirit completely unhindered, uncorrupted by illusion, conditioning, or contradiction.
It's only at this particular point that people start to realize that almost everything that previously motivated them in life was self-centered... Our motivations have bee fueled by "what do I want?" and "what don't I want?"... But with real awakening, that whole structure of separation begins to dissolve under one's feet.
But awakening itself is not the same as egoic dissolving. We can wake up whether the ego has dissolved or not. In fact, very strong and even destructive egos can awaken. Awakening begins the process. The result of the awakening— its fallout or aftermath— is a radical dissolving of ego.
In order for this deeper realization or awakening to happen, a six-year period of dissolving of ego was necessary. I can see that looking back. And so I'm not unlike the vast majority of people. After the first glimpse of awakening, we undergo a process that can lead to a clearer and much deeper perception of reality.
This gravitational force is really what one is dealing with throughout the entirety of the spiritual journey. Awakening is breaking free of this gravitational force. Initially, it may simply be leaving the dream state, awakening from the dream state of "me" and separation and isolation.
If it is a true awakening, we know that it is not the "me" that has awakened. Awakenedness woke up from the "me"; Spirit woke up from its identification with ego. The ego does not awaken; the "me" does not awaken. We are not the ego; we are not the "me". We are that which s awake to the ego and the "me". We are that which is awake to the world, and we are the whole world as well, when seen from the true perspective.
Or as I like to say sometimes— it's enlightenment that is enlightened. It is not the "me" that is enlightened. It is not the person that is enlightened. It is enlightenment that is enlightened. That may be hard to understand until one experiences it for oneself, but of course, all of spirituality is like that.
So with awakening, the stakes go up. The more awake we get, the higher the stakes get. The abbess at a Buddhist monastery talked about this process of awakening as climbing a ladder... the more awake we get, the greater the consequences are. Finally, the consequences of acting outside of truth become immense; the slightest action or behavior that's not in accordance with the truth can be unbearable to us.
There are consequences to everything, and they get bigger and bigger the more we behave in ways that are not in harmony with what we know is true. This is actually a wonderful thing. It is what I call fierce grace. It is not a soft grace; it is not the kind of grace that is beautiful and uplifting. But it is a grace nonetheless. We know that when we act from hate it's not true, and we will only be causing ourselves pain. That knowing is a grace.
This is one of the hallmarks of the awakened state— the sense that one could never again identify with the conditioned self. It seems unimaginable that we would ever go into a state of separation again. That sense of finality is inherent within the state of wakefulness.
When a person's awakening vacillates, he or she often asks me, "How do I stay in the awakened state?" That is asking the wrong question. In spirituality, it is important tha we ask the right questions... Spirit never asks itself "How do I stay within myself?" That would be ridiculous... We should not ask, "How do I stay awake?" Instead we should ask, "How is it that I'm unenlightening myself? How is it specifically that I'm putting myself back in illusion?"
What I am teaching should not be mistaken for a self-improvement plan. This isn't about becoming a perfect being. This is about seeing what causes division within oneself. That is very different from having the goal of becoming a perfect person, because awakening and enlightenment have nothing to do with becoming perfect, holy, or saintly. What is truly holy is perceiving from wholeness, which means not being divided inside. It is that which divides us inside that needs to be healed.
Side 46: I'm not telling the ego it needs to do something or doesn't need to do something I'm not speaking to any sense of a separate self. What I'm speaking to is reality itself. Spirit is speaking to Spirit here. Reality is speaking to reality.
The truly enlightened beings are often those who dedicate their lives completely to the welfare of others... They are open to perceiving the inherent compassion of reality itself.
The technique is sincerity; we need to really want the truth. We need to want the truth even more than we want to experience the truth. This sincerity isn't something we can impose; it's inherent within reality itself.
I remember someone asking one of my favorite Indian sages— Nisargadatta Maharaj [1897-1981]— whether the egoic personality ever arose in him. He said, very casually, "Of course it does, but I see at once that it is illusion and I discard it." This was a wonderful thing to hear— that even someone of the spiritual stature of Nisargadatta was saying that there is always a possibility that an old-conditioned tendency can arise.
When these Velcro thoughts and emotions arise, the key is to face and investigate whatever belief structures underlie them. In that moment, inquiry is your spiritual practice. To avoid this practice is to avoid your own awakening. Anything you avoid in life will come back, over and over again, until you're willing to face it— to look deeply into its true nature... Only when we see that our thoughts, judgments, and opinions are just as true as their opposites are the polarities of thought balanced. If the opposing thought is just as true as the thought I believe, then the whole structure of thought collapses.
This willingness to not bypass illusion is very important. My teacher told me that we come to nirvana by way of samsara. We come to the truth, to freedom, by way of bondage. We come to see the true nature of things by seeing through the illusory nature of things.
Our illusions— the beliefs we hold on to— are the very doorways to our freedom. We simply have to enter through them, without grasping or pushing away. We must not believe them, but we must not run from them, either... I couldn't possibly emphasize this more: the texture and flow of our lives, from moment to moment, is itself what reveals freedom. Life itself shows us what we need to see through in order to be free.
Awareness is freeing itself, over and over and over. The key is sincerity. It's the willingness to meet, sincerely and honestly, what is happening in our body and mind. That is always the doorway to freedom—a freedom that only happens now and now and now and now.
Truth is a very high standard. Truth is not a plaything. To tell what is true withing ourselves is not to tell what we think; it is not to tell our opinion. It is not to dump the garbage can of our mind onto somebody else. All of that is illusion, distortion, projection. Truth is not unloading our opinions onto someone. That is not truth. Truth is not telling our beliefs about things. That is not truth. These are ways that we actually hide from truth.
Freedom is the realization that everything and everybody gets to be exactly as they are. Unless we've come to that point, unless we've seen that this is how reality sees things, then we're actually withholding freedom from the world. We're seeing it as a possession, and we're only concerned with ourselves. How good I can feel? How free I can feel? True freedom is a gift to everything and everybody. Upon his awakening, the Buddha said, "I and all beings everywhere have simultaneously realized liberation." From the conventional mind, that is impossible to understand. "If everything woke up," someone might say, "then why am I not awake? If the Buddha was correct, that the whole world woke up when he woke up, then why am I not awake?" I can't really explain the Buddha's statement to the conventional mind. What Buddha
was communicating was that it wasn't the Buddha who woke up— it wasn't this person who woke up—it was the totality that woke up. The totality was expressing awakening throught the being of the Buddha.
Sincerity Is the Key: Can you be totally sincere with yourself? Can you go to that place that is beyond blame, beyond judgment, beyond should and shouldn't? Can you go to that place that is so sincere you won't shy away from any part of yourself that is still in conflict; you won't use the perception of truth to hide from something that feels less than liberating?
This is where awakening moves; awakening moves toward and into that which is not awake.
Sincerity is what allows this movement to happen, and it does happen if you are real with yourself... A great Zen master, Huang Po [d. 850], said that you are no greater for being a Buddha and no less for being a human being. What he was saying is that a Buddha and a human being are not separate; they are not different. Although we awaken from the dream state and the illusion of simply being a human being, still there will be a return, as it were, until we see that our human nature and our divine nature are one— one being, one expression, one truth. Sincerity is the key. You have to be willing; you have to want to see everything. When you want to see everything, you will see everything.
Many believe awakening to be a transcendence of life, the finding of a safe haven in some inner experience where we don't have to deal with life as it is. Awakening is, in fact, quite the opposite: It's a state of being in which we find the capacity to deal with our lives as they actually are.
Ultimately, we find that enlightenment— if it's true and real— does not allow us to avoid anything. In fact, the enlightened perspective actually makes it quite difficult, and ultimately impossible, to turn away from any part of our life... I constantly tell people that enlightenment is no guarantee that your life is going to go the way you planned. Life will be much better than it was, but that doesn't mean it's going to go the way you want it to. In the end, it's about truth; it is about being truthful in all aspects, at all levels of our being.
Life itself is nothing but relationship. In the ultimate view of things, it's the relationship of the One with the One, of Spirit with Spirit. Then there is the appearance of this relationship— the dance of relationship, the dance of life. And in this dance, it is absolutely essential that we not hide from anything.
Ultimately, love and truth are identical; they are like two sides of a coin. You can't have truth without love, and you can't have love without truth... Awakening calls forth a transformation in both our interior and exterior lives. Again, please don't think this transformation is about having the perfect life or the perfect job or the perfect mate or the perfect marriage or the perfect friendship. This is not about perfection; it is about wholeness. It is not about having things exactly as we want them, but about having things exactly as they are.
But after awakening, the egoic mind can come in and start to feel a personal sense of betterment, as if awakening made oneself better than another. This is very common; it's almost a natural part of the process... There's nothing more distasteful than an enlightened ego. It's an ego that thinks it is enlightened, an ego that thinks it is awake, an ego that is using some of the energy and realization of awakening to construct a new and superior sense of self... When we are in a true state of awareness, we never use what we have realized as a way to hide from anything within ourselves. We welcome everything into the light of being.
This is a type of egoic delusion, based on superiority. This delusion is very common, and it's why I emphasize that on the journey from nonabiding to abiding awakening, our greatest ally is a deep and profound sense of sincerity. With sincerity, we're able to recognize that this superiority is a form of arrogance, a way the mind is using insight to hide.
We see that the ego's desire to find meaning in life is actually a substitute for the perception of being life itself. The search for meaning in life is a surrogate for the knowledge that we are life. Only someone who is disconnected from life itself will seek meaning. Only someone disconnected from life will look for purpose... When there is true realization, when we wake up from the dream state, we realize that to search for meaning is no longer appropriate. When we have a direct connection with life, all of a sudden the quest for meaning and purpose seems rather paltry and insignificant, It is no longer a motivator in our life... When we wake up, we see the dream state for what it is. How could a dream state have meaning? How could a dream state have purpose?
Another of the traps you may discover is similar to being stuck in meaninglessness: being stuck in emptiness. Being stuck in emptiness is a form of being stuck in the transcendent, being stuck in the position of the witness... The ego is constantly in flux. Once you're onto it— once you've discovered it in one aspect of your being— it will disappear, only to reappear somewhere else. It is very cunning, very subtle. In fact, as I see it, the ego's illusion is one of the most impressive forces in all of nature.
There's an ancient saying that the great sage Ramana Maharshi [1879-1950] used to talk sbout: "The world is illusion. Brahman alone is real. The world is Brahman." This saying speaks to certain insights that come with awakening. The first insight, that "the world is illusion", is not a philosophical statement. Seeing that the world is illusion is part of the awakening experience. It is something that is known; we discover that there is no such thing as an objective world out there, separate from us. This first statement, then, is pointing to this insight, which comes with realization. The next statement, "Brahman alone is real", points us toward the recognition of the eternal witness. The witness to the world is where all the reality is. From this perspective of awakening, the witness is experienced to be much more real than what is witnessed. What is witnessed is seen to be like a dream, like a movie or a novel, unfolding in front of us. But without the third statement "The world is Brahman", we would not have true nonduality, and the realization of true oneness. The witness position collapses into the totality, and suddenly we're not witnessing from the outside anymore. Instead, witnessing is taking place from everywhere simultaneously— inside, outside, around, up, down. Everything everywhere is being witnessed simultaneously. The seer and what is seen are the same. Unless that is realized, we can get stuck in the place of the witness. We can become stuck in a transcendent void, in emptiness.
A woman who shared her awakening with me had tears streaming down her face at the bliss and joy of realization of discovering our true nature. I said to her, "All that's wonderful, it's all beautiful, but don't get stuck in the deathless." What I meant by that was don't get stuck in the transcendent. The transcendent is real, and it's very beautiful, but don't get stuck there. There is no particular point of view that we need to hold on to and grasp. To be truly awake, to be enlightened, is to be free of all grasping— to be free of all points of view... A great Taoist sage [Lao Tzu] said, the Tao that can be spoken is not the true Tao [Tao Te Ching 1]. This is like saying the truth that can be spoken is not the true truth.
I want to describe something else that is not often addressed in spiritual discussions: How life itself, everyday life, can be our most valuable teacher. I'm going to use some of my own experiences to illustrate this point. By age 13, I was competing in bicycle racing at a high level. When I had my awakening at 25, a whole different process started in my life. Within a year of my awakening, I came down with a series of illnesses that really flattened me... I realized that I was no longer an athlete.
Many of us are using our spirituality as a way to avoid life, to avoid seeing things we really need to see, to avoid being confronted with our own misunderstandings and illusions. It is very important to know that life itself is often our greatest teacher. Life is full of grace— sometimes it's wonderful grace, beautiful grace, moments of bliss and happiness and joy, and sometimes it's fierce grace, like illness, losing a job, losing someone we love, or a divorce... The divine itself is life in motion. The divine is using the situations of our lives to accomplish its own awakening, and many times it takes the difficult situations to wake us up... This is something a lot of people don't want to acknowledge— that our greatest difficulties, suffering, and pain are a form of fierce grace. They are potent and important components of our awakening, if we're ready for them.
If we are willing to look, we will see that life is always in the process of waking us up. If we are not in harmony with lfe, if we are working in opposition to it, then it is a rough ride indeed, as my own life can attest.
The truth of the matter is that most people who say they want awakening don't actually want to awaken. They want their version of awakening. What they actually want is to be really happy in their dream state. And that's okay, if that's as far as they've evolved... I don't want to set up yet another idea that awakening has to be difficult. Even that is an illusion, an image. Awakening itself need not be difficult. But the transition from nonabiding awakening to abiding awakening often asks more of us than we can imagine.
This isn't a journey about becoming something. This is about unbecoming who we are not, about undeceiving ourselves. In the end, it's ironic. We don't end up anywhere other than where we have always been, except that we perceive where we have always been completely differently. We realize the the heaven everyone is seeking is where we have always been. It's one thing to say that everything is already heaven, that everybody is already awake, that everyone is already Spirit. It's true, but as one wise Zen Master said long ago, "A fat lot of good that does you if you don't know it."
At age 32, the awakening that happened was extraordinaryily clear. It was an irrevocable and irreversible event, an irreversible seeing. What I saw, which was not essentially different fro what I saw at age 25, was that I am everything and I am nothing, and also I am beyond everything and nothing. I saw that what I am is inexpressible. It had the sense of going through and through and through— right to the very root of existence... In many ways, it is only in retrospect that we come to understand that the dream state itself, the state of egoic separation, chews up a tremendous amount of energy. Only once it dissolves can we see th immense amount of energy required to continue the perception of separation that most of us live with.
After a couple of years I noticed a much greater capacity for clarity and simplicity. My mind became a more subtle tool, a more powerful tool; it could be used in a very precise way, like a laser. Before this transformation happened, I wouldn't say that my mind operated on that level, so there was some sort of transformation that led to a new sense of clarity and focus.
p. 123: In order for the mind to be brought into harmony with what has been seen, the mind and the brain need to be restructured. I heard a recording by Eckhart Tolle [b. 1948], a popular spiritual teacher, who said that for a good two years after his awakening, he had a hard time using his mind. The work he was doing at the time required him to use his mind, so it was a real struggle for him.
If the ego structure rebuilds itself around being a healer, that itself will cause difficulties. For these reasons, it's important not to become infatuated with this new level of energy. If we do become infatuated with various capacities that may arise— what are sometimes referred to as siddhis or spiritual powers— it can become another spiritual trap.
Being undivided has nothing to do with being perfect or saintly. Also, there is no guarantee after awakening that, in any particular moment, you will not experience division in some way; there is no guarantee that division will never happen again. In fact, to be free, to be awakened, is to let go of concern with such things, with how awakened one is or isn't. One of the great poems of the Zen tradition ends with this description of the awakened state: "To be without anxiety about imperfection." So to be undivided does not mean to be perfect. [Dogen: "To be in harmony with the wholeness of things is not to have anxiety over imperfections."]
Awakening on the level of mind is the destruction of your entire world. This is something that we can never, ever anticipate. What is destroyed is our entire worldview— all the ways we are conditioned, all of our belief structures, all of the belief structures of humanity, from the present time to the distant past.
Buddha himself said that all dharmas are empty. The dharmas are the teachings. The dharmas are the very truths he was speaking. One of the truths he was speaking was that all of these dharmas, all these truths that he just told to his students, are all empty. The truth of who you are lies far beyond even the greatest dharmas, the greatest sutras, the greatest ideas that could ever be spoken or written down or read. This is experienced inwardly as destruction. I often tell people to make no mistake about it— enlightenment is a destructive process. It has
nothing to do with becoming better or being more or less happy.
Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It's seeing through the facade of pretense. It's the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true— from ourselves to the world... Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz expects to see the Great Oz, but when the curtain is pulled back, it turns out that the Great Oz is a little man pulling levers. Seeing through the nature of mind is like this. It's a radical thing. It's unexpected when we see that everything that purports to be truths is actually part of the dream state and is holding the dream state together.
Most of our emotions— especially so-called negative emotions— can be traced back to anger, fear, and judgment. These three are generated when we believe our thoughts. Our emotional life and our intellectual life are not actually separate; they are one thing. Our emotional life reveals our unconscious intellectual life. We react emotionally to thoughts that we often don't even know we're having, in that way, those unconscious thoughts are made manifest.
Arguing with something doesn't help us get beyond it; it doesn't help us deal with it. It actually imprisons us; it ties us to whatever it is we're arguing with.
The body and mind are connected; they're two sides of one coin. We feel what we think. When
we have an emotion, what we're actually experiencing is a thought... In truth, we are life itself. When we see and perceive that we are the totality of life, we are no longer afraid of it; we no longer feel afraid of birth, life, and death. But until we see that, we will se life as intimidating, as a barrier we somehow have to get through.
Side 149: When the truth is awakened, it loves everything; it loves the people that your personality likes and it loves the people that your personality doesn't like. The awakened heart loves the world as it is, not just as it could be.
Side 151: The very act of trying to get rid of, you tend to sustain. The very act of trying to get rid of something sustains it. By trying to get rid of something, you're unconsciously granting it reality.
Side 154-155: True realization, true enlightenment, comes through a complete relinquishing of personal will—a complete letting go. Of course, this often generates fear in our illusory sense of self, which can only interpret the letting go of personal will as traumatic... The loss of personal will isn't really a loss at all. It's not as if we become the doormant of humanity, that we stop knowing what to do or how to do it. Quite the opposite happens. By surrendering the illusion of the personal will, a whole different state of consciousness is born in us; a rebirth happens. It's almost like a resurrection happens from deep within us.
If you read through the Tao Te Ching or look at some of the Taoist teachings, you start to get a feel for how willfulness is replaced by a sense of flow... Life becomes almost magical. The illusion of the "me" is no longer the way. Life begins to flow, and you never know where it will take you.
One of my favorite definitions of enlightenment comes from a Jesuit priest named Anthony de Mello [1931-1987]. Someone asked him to define his experience of enlightenment. He said "Enlightenment is absolute cooperation with the inevitable." I love that, because it defines enlightenment not just as a realizatio, but as an activity. Enlightenment is when everything within us is in cooperation with flow of life itself, with the inevitable.
I'm often asked how much of the process of awakening is grace, and how much of it requires a certain conscious diligence or effort. To be honest, that kind of question is very difficult to answer. The radical schools of nonduality would say that everything is up to grace, and there is no place for effort... The more effort-centered schools would say that you must strive to transcend your own illusions; you must have a great amount of spiritual discipline... the truth never lies in any polarized statement or dualistic formulation... the most useful pointer I can offer is to look within for the answer.
This is the discipline, the effort part of the process of awakening: the willingness and the courage to question. Sometimes it is necessary to move beyond a sort of inner slothfulness or laziness and challenge ourselves to look at something with clarity... If we're listening deeply, we'll also feel when it is time to let go, when it's time to let grace do what only grace can do.
I think one of the teacher's primary tasks is to help students connect to their own intuitive, natural sense of direction— "the inner teacher", as it is sometimes called... Too many people in spirituality want someone to tell them what to do. They want the teacher to say, "Do this or don't do that. Meditate this much or meditate that much." If we get caught in his habit, we can stay in a sort of spiritual infancy. At a certain point we need to grow up; we need to look inside ourselves for our inner guidance.
There's a time to make effort and to be disciplined. There is a time to let go and realize you cannot do it alone, that it is up to grace, that effort and struggling and striving play no part... the trajectory of our spiritual lives and of all spiritual awakening is toward surrender. Ultimately, that's the name of the spiritual game. Everything we do spiritually is leading us to a spontaneous state of surrender— to letting go. That is where it all leads, no matter what the path is, no matter what the practice is... ultimately the whole of spirituality boils down to letting go of the illusion of the separate self, letting go of the way we think the world is and the way we think it should be.
Goals in the mind are, of course, great hindrances to becoming fully conscious and fully awake. Yet there is indeed a trajectory to awakening; there is a maturing from awakening to what could be called enlightenment. It is very hard to say what enlightenment is. Enlightenment is not really different from awakening, but it is what awakening matures into. It is the same way that we mature from a child into an adult human being, into an old human being, and who knows what beyond that.
The deeper we move into the direct experience of being, of the unborn, undying, uncreated that we are, the more we start to move into a true sense of nonduality. By nonduality, I mean living beyond relative and absolute. In a certain sense, our experience opens up even beyond the perception of unity, even beyond the experience of oneness... We realize ourselves to be pure potential, before it has become anything— before it has become the One, before it has become the many, before it has beomce this or that... This state is not a mystical state. It is not a state of immensity or a state of specialness. It is a state of naturalness and ease. On the human level, it is experienced as deep ease and deep naturalness and deep simplicity.
At a certain point in one's spiritual life, it is as if everything is spontaneously put down... It is necessary for us to be free of our need for freedom, to be enlightened from our need for enlightenment... We even lose what I call the spiritual world, because the whole idea of spirituality is itself a fabrication... We see that, as the Buddha said, everything is ephemeral. Everything is fleeting; everything is of the nature of a dream. We come to realize that even our greatest realizations, our greatest moments of "aha", are actually dreams within the infinity of the unborn. It is almost like we realize that even one's own great awakening was just another dream that never happened. And even so, there's a sense of shining reality; there is a shining presence through it all.
It's described in one of the Buddhist scriptures as "Gone, gone, gone beyond, completely gone."
[Heart Sutra: "Gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate"]. Our own awakening takes us beyond everything. It takes us even beyond awakening itself... We must leave it so we can return anew. As Jesus said, we must be "in the world but not of the world", which means to be in the world but not caught by the world.
It is also a reentering, coming back down from the summit of the mountain, as it were. As long as we're staying at the summit of of awakening, in the transcendent place of the absolute, where we are forever unborn and forever untouched and forever undying, there is an incompleteness to our realization... Enlightenment is dying into the ordinary, or into an extraordinary ordinariness. We start to realize the ordinary is extraordinary. It's almost like catching onto a hidden secret— that all along we were in the promised land, all along we were in the kingdom of heaven. From the very beginniing, there was only nirvana, as the Buddha would say.
We didn't realize we were in heaven; we didn't realize we were in the promised land. We didn't realize that nirvana is right here, right now, exactly where we are... The conventional mind would say, "Well that all sounds wonderful, but there are still people starving; children are still going hungry. There's abuse, violence, hate, ignorance, and greed." Certainly, there is the experience of all those things; that is undenable. But simultaneously we see that all of this division is the product of dreaming human minds... What we see is the underlying perfection of life. It is from that groundwork of seeing, experiencing, and literally knowing the underlying perfection of life that we are moved by an entirely different force. No longer are we pushed or pulled; no longer do we feel like we need to achieve. No longer do we feel like we need to be known or recognized or confirmed or loved or htred or liked or disliked. Those are simply states of consciousness within the dreaming mind. Once we have reconciled all those opposites, and they've been harmonized within our system, something else move us in life. It's something extraordinarily simple. That force, that energy that moves us, is at the same time the very substance of our own being, our own self.
This energy is undivided. It is forever completely transcendent and forever completely right here, right now, this moment. There is never a need for a different, better moment. When we see this moment as it truly is, we see something extraordinary. We dn't feel the need to turn this moment into anything other than what it is, because it is extraordinary as it is. When we perceive this, we have healed the illusory split within ourselves, and we have started to heal the illusory split within the greater consciouness of humanity... That's the ultimate gift we can give to humanity; that's what's going to change humanity.
True transformation always comes from the inside. It comes from awakening. We come to see that the outside world is nothing but an expression of the inside. What is manifest is nothing but an expression of the unmanifest... The great definition of enlightenment is simply the natural state of being. We have been hypnotized into thinking that the perception of division and fear and conflict is actually the natural state of humanity... Contrary to a popular misunderstanding, enlightenment has nothing to do with an altered state of consciousness. Enlightenment is an unalterd state of consciousness. It is pure consciousness as it actually is, before it is turned into something, before it is altered in any way.
Here I am at this wedding, and there are all these wonderful people having different interactions. But in that moment I saw that the way most human beings view the world was no longer the way I viewed it. And I knew I'd never view it that way again. Whatever had happened, there was no going back. Even if I wanted to go back and see things as I used to see them, I couldn't do it. Somehow a bridge had been crossed, and in crossing the bridge it had been burned
Side 179 - 216
Gjengir et intervju Sounds True hadde med Adyashanti
Side 179 - 216
Et intervju med Adyashanti
Questioner: Let's return to your metaphor of awakening being compared to a rocket ship achieving liftoff. How do people know if their rocket ship of being has actually taken off? I could imagine some people being deluded about this. Maybe they have read lots of books about spiritual awakening so they make the leap in their mind that awakening has occurred, but perhaps in reality they are simply sputtering on the ground. How do we know for sure that we have attained liftoff?
Adyashanti (side 180):
It's not an easy question to answer. The moment of awakening is very similar to when you wake up from a dream at night. You feel that you have awakened from one world to another, from one context to a totally different context. On a feeling level, that is the feeling of awakening. This whole separate self that you thought was real, and even the world that you thought was objective, or other, all of a sudden seems as if it's not as real as you thought.
Not to kill the metaphor here, but is it possible to say that the rocket ship requires a certain kind of fuel, and if so, what kind of fuel?
Adyashanti (side 182): I wish I could say what the fuel is. I don't know that it's really possible to say what the fuel is, because it's not limited to something personal. Awakening does not happen just to people who really want it. Awakening does not happen just to people who are sincerely looking for it. It happens to some people who were not on a spiritual path at all. In fact, I've met people who were in denial of spirituality, and then boom— out of nowhere— awakening hits them... Awakening is a mystery. There is no direct cause and effect, really. It would be nice if there were, but there really isn't a direct cause and effect.
Questioner: When you describe the rocket ship, you use the metaphor to talk about nonabiding awakening versus abiding awakening, with the idea that abiding awakening means you are permanently outside of the gravitational field of the dream state, outside of our habitual tendencies to constellate as a separate self. Are you outside of that gravitational field?
Adyashanti: (side 183-184) I always hesitate to answer a question like that. I don't feel that I can say, "Yes, I am outside of the gravitational force." It's not really like that. That's where the metaphor breaks down... That is why I hesitate to say, "Oh yes, I have crossed a certain goal or finish line", because I don't see it that way. It sounds like that when I'm teaching, but that is the limitation of speech. What I really know is that I don't know. What I really know is that there are no guarantees. I don't know what may happen tomorrow, or the next instant, whether I'll be deluded one instant fro now. What I do know is that I can never possibly know that.
Questioner: I am curious what kinds of situations are troublesome and difficult for you. You told me of getting frustrated at your computer, when your Internet connection or printer is not working. What do yu do in those moments? Do you do something to close that gap, or is it just automatic?
Adyashanti (side 185-186): Well, usually the frustration is there, and it's experienced. I experience it, but there's no judging thought about it. That's a real key... There is no secondary thought pattern, "Oh, I shouldn't have gotten frustrated", or "Why did I get frustrated?" or whatever it may be. Seeing that thoughts are not true dissipates the frustration... That gap has narrowed down now, so things happen almost automatically.
Questioner: But if there are feelings that are not derived from thinking, then perhaps there are gut experiences that also aren't derived from thinking?
Adyashanti (side 187-188): The gut is just another way in which we sense the world... When we look at huge expanses at the edge of a cliff, often we breathe in, right? In the breathing in, we're feeling our consciousness open to that environment. We breathe into our lungs, into our heart center, into our gut. Our whole being, our whole body, is in tune with the environment. This kind of opening of the heart— when the lungs go "aah" as consciousness expands— isn't happening because we're thinking. This is what I meant by pure sensation or pure feeling. And yes, it happens through gut sensations as well. It's very powerful, and it's very beautiful.
Questioner: Is it possible to have a pure feeling when it comes to an emotion like anger? Do you think it's possible to have a feeling like anger that isn't a duplicated thought?
Adyashanti (side 189): Of course, of course. This idea that enlightenment is about people having beatific, silly little smiles on their faces all the time is simply an illusion. When Jesus kicked over the money changers "How dare you defile my father's house!", he was throwing a holy fit. He was upset and expressing his upset. So one can be upset from a nondivided state. To be awake doesn't mean we have fewer emotions available to us. Emotion is just a way that existence functions through us. There is a divided form of anger, & there is an undivided form of anger.
Questioner If all of me feels angry, then it's undivided?
Adyashanti (side 190): I think we've all had the experience where we feel completely angry, but it still feels divisive, conflicted. There is a kind of anger that is— how can I say it?— a good work. In the Tibetan tradition, they have certain depictions of wrathful deities with flaming swords and fire coming out of their hair and their eyes, looking very angry and fierce and frightening, but there is something that's hard to describe, but if you look at these depictions, what's being shown is a different kind of anger. It's not an anger that's tearing apart in a negative way; it is an anger that is tearing apart in a positive way. But what I am trying to communicate is that even the experience of anger can come from a pure place.
Questioner: What about pure perception at the level of the mind? Is there some experience of "awakened mind" in which the mind functions not only as a fabricator of concepts and abstractions but also as a pure sense organ?
Adyashanti (side 192): On the level of mind, there is the pure perception of infinity, or what Buddhists call emptiness— the perception of vast, vast, vast, vast vastness. It is being perceived not through the mind in terms of thought, but we could say that section of the body, the mind area, is literally where we are taking in the vastness of infinity, the vastness of space, the pure light of being, the almost blinding light of being. That is being seen on the level of mind, not on the level of thinking.
Questioner: You mentioned that all spiritual paths ultimately bring us to a state of total surrender... I know what it means to throw myself down on the ground, But what about the parts in me that won't surrender?
Adyashanti (side 193-196): There may be nothing you can do about it. This is the thing that people avoid the most... This may not be the empowering spiritual teaching you are looking for, but everything has its time; everything has its place. Ego is not in control of what's happening. Life is in control of what's happening...
There's a transformation that starts to happen that is not contrived; it is not practiced; it is not technique oriented. To me, spirituality is a willingness to fall flat on your face. That's why, although my students often put me upon a pedestal and think I've figured out something wonderful. I tell them all the time— my path was the path of failure. Everything I tried failed. It doesn't mean that the trying didn't play an important role. The trying did play a role. The effort did play a role. The struggle did play a role... I failed at meditating well; I failed at figuring out the truth. Everything I ever used to succeed spiritually failed. But at the moment of failure,
that's when everything opens up.
Questioner: You suggested that we ask of ourselves, "What do I know for certain?" I would ask that question of you. Is there anything you know for certain?
Adyashanti (side 197) : Only that I am; that's it. One thing. So in many senses I'm the dumbest person on the planet. Literally. Everything else, to me, is in a state of flux and uncertainty. Everything else we only dream that we know. I don't know what should happen. I don't know if we're evolving or devolving; I don't know any of that. But the thing is, I know that I don't know. And contrary to what you might think, that knowledge hasn't disempowered me. I haven't gone to sit in a cave in the Himalayas or to just sit on the couch and say, "Oh well. There's nothing for me to do, because I don't know anything." Quite the contrary— life has a part to play through me, and so I play that part. I'm in union with the part life plays through me.
Questioner: I loved your teaching on the cul-de-sacs that people can get into after an initial experience of awakening... I see people take on some kind of special mission to save the world after they have an initial awakening experience. Do you see this as a cul-de-sac, a way that the ego has claimed the awakening experience for its own aggrandizement?
Adyashanti (side 198-200): Awakening didn't engender that sense for me. I didn't feel like I needed to go out and save the world, but strangely enough, when my teacher asked me to start teaching, to start sharing the possibility of this realization, what arose in me was a sense of possibility. I saw that awakening was possible for anybody and everybody. There was a certain sense of missionary zeal about it, which can be alluring and empowering. There's something wonderful in that inspiration when it comes from a true place... After a few years of feeling that missionary zeal myself, I noticed it started to ebb... At this point in my life, the sense of missionary zeal is pretty much gone. There is no sense that something needs to happen. I see the potential in everybody, but there's no sense of hurry about it... We've seen this from time to time in disastrous cult like behavior. This can happen when there is a lot of energy flowing into the ego and deluding it. Before you know it, you think you are te savior of humanity... If any of us start to think we are playing a bigger part than we are— if we see ourselves as anything but a small part of an infinite mosaic— it seems to me we're starting to become inflated and deluding ourselves.
Questioner : At age 25 you had your "first awakening" and heard an inner voice "Keep going, keep going" that your realization was not complete. But does everyboday possess an inner voice like that?
Adyashanti (side 202-203): In one sense, I would say yes... What is this inner voice of wisdom? It is what I am pointing to when I talk about sincerity. It is the intelligence within us that keeps us on track, keeps us in alignment... One of the good indications that the voice within us is authentic and sincere is that it will never justify itself, If you ask it, "Why?" you'll get silence. If you ask it to explain itself, it won't. The stll, small voice doesn't need to do that— and it doesn't.
Questioner: Is that voice like a guide, a protector, or just part of our mind, part of who we are?
Adyashanti (side 204): I think it's all of that. It is a guide. It is a protector. It is the flow of existence... Many of us aren't sensitive enough to feel that, and so the flow appears as a voice. But at this point, for me, it's much more like following a natural flow. As the Taoists would say, follow the flow of the Tao.
Questioner: The legend is that Buddha, sitting under the Bodhi Tree, saw his past lives flash
before him as part of his awakening. I'd like to know what you saw.
Adyashanti (side 208-210): At the moment of awakening, it was as though I was completely outside who I thought I was. There was a vast, vast, vast emptiness. In that vast emptiness, there was the smallest, smallest, smallest point of light... it was a thought "I"... The whole world was contained within that "I", within that little point called "me". There wasn't really an I, but an emptiness that could go into and out of that point, in and out of it, and it's like the whole world could flicker on and off, and on and off, and on and off... In one lifetime, I drowned and did not know what was happening, and there was tremendous terror and confusion as the body disappeared into the water. Seeing this lifetime and the confusion at the moment of death, I immediately knew what I had to do. I had to rectify the confusion and explain to the dream of me that I died, that I fell off a boat and drowned. When I did this, all of a sudden the confusion from that lifetime popped like a bubble, and there was a tremendous sense of freedom. Many past life dreams appeared, and each of them seemed to focus on something that had been in conflict, something that was unresolved from a different incarnation. I went through each one of them and unhooked the confusion.
Questioner: Was there a sense when you looked at each of these dreams that there was some kind of resolution occurring?
Adyashanti (side 211-212): Yes. Not only a resolution there, but also a resolution now... One of the reasons I haven't talked much about past lives is that some people who are extraordinarily awake have never seen a past life at all. Being aware of past lives is not a necessity. I'm not a particularly mystical person. There was a relatively short period of time, a few months, when I had these kinds of experiences happen occasionally, and since then, every now and then, but not with any great consistency... As one great Buddhist abbess said to me, "You usually don't have a past life that shows you what a sterling example of enlightenment you were, because enlightenment leaves no trace; it is like a fire that burns clean. There's no karmic imprint it leaves behind."
Questioner : I have heard several people say "Adya must have been a realized being in a past life, and that's why he's had such tremendous breakthroughs at such an early age and is able to articulate teachings on awakening in such an original way." What do you think about that comment?
Adyashanti (side 212-213): I've seen myself doing something similar to what I'm doing in this lifetime many times before. But again, I don't know the whole metaphysics of past lives and how they work, and I don't see things happening in terms of linear cause and effect... It's like in your dream you remember fifty past lives very intimately, very clearly. And it seemed like it happened in the past. Then you wake up from the dream, and you're lying there in your bed and, "Wow, that was an interesting dream. I dreamed that I was somebody who had all of these past life experiences." It may occur to you, "Wait a minute, I was dreaming up those past lives, all at once. All of them were being dreamed right now. They didn't have any existence before I dreamed them." That's kind of how I see it. I don't see them as past, because they're all simultaneously occurring, all simultaneously interacting.
Questioner: What do you think will happen— and don't say you don't know!— when we die? What do you think that experience will be like?
Adyashanti (side 214): And I can't say I don't know? Well now you've really tied my hands, Tami. My mind doesn't go to what will happen when I die. If I think about death, the only place my mind goes is that death is just the next experience— that's all it is. It's the next experience: it is a different experience than sitting here talking to you, undeniably, but ultimately it's the next experience that consciousness has. Nothing dies. Spirit doesn't die, but it does have the experience that we call death— the dissolution of a body, the dissolution of a lifespan, of personality— all that dissolves. And Spirit or consciousness has that experience, just like it has the experience of being born and living, and talking to you at this moment.
Questioner: Do you think there's any quality of experience that's available after death that's not available when you are incarnate?
Adyashanti (side 215): Waking up is dying. That's what it is. When the awakening happened, I died. Everything disappeared, blanked out. Everything that everybody fears the most is what happened to me. Total blankness. Absolute nonexistence. Nothingness, nothingness, nothingness. At that moment, no past life, no present life— nothing— no consciousness— no birth, no sickness, no nothing. Zero. It's everything that everybody is terrified of. That's what happened to me; that's death. And it just so happens that death is itself life. We must die in order to truly live. We must experience absolute nonexistence in order to truly exist, in a conscious way.
Questioner: I'v heard people say, "Such and such will become available after you die, but while you're in a human body, you can't know this or that. Once you're not in a body, then there'll be enough freed up for you to know.
Adyashanti (side 215-216): All of us will experience exactly what we believe. If you believe that, that's what you will experience. Remember, there's no such thing as "objective" reality, an objective way that everything must work. It works the way you dream it to work. That's the only way it works. That's the only thing that's happening. So if one believes that, it means that's the dream that consciousness is having through them, but that dream has no more validity than any other dream. Of course, at the moment of physical death, there is the dropping away of the physical experience. In a sense, it's a forced awakening. When the physical body drops away, the personality structure is going to drop away as well. It's not that you are going to be detached from it; it's just going to be taken away. At that moment, a lot becomes available, because a lot of what you grab hold of is no longer there. You're no longer dreaming the body into existence— it's just not there. So does a lot become possible? Of course.