The Despair of Enlightenment

by takuin on Tuesday, November 4, 2008 · 14 comments

This post is a response to a discussion in the comments of What Are You Thinking?

Kris,

You have said it all so beautifully. All of the teaching you could ever hope for is there, hidden within your words. You may not see it in this way, however.

I have absolutely no way of knowing if this freedom you talk of actually exists, and if it does, whether or not it conforms to the idea i have of it.

Fantastic. So what will you do now? You say you have seen no way of knowing. Where do you move from there? If you cannot possibly know, what does that suggest to you? Don’t bring despair into it just yet. We can get to that afterward.

You see there is no way of knowing. Now what happens?

Seeing this, i still search, still hope and there is still effort to try and make my reality conform to a mental picture, why?

All of this is within the field of the known, and there is nothing wrong with that. It is all based on your ideals, or ideas of ideals, your search, your result, your despair, and so on. Some say it is part of the process, and while that is not exactly un-true, it is not entirely accurate.

The idea of a process pushes things ahead into a pre-ordained future (at least in the way I am using the word). I will be better after a certain amount of time, or after I achieve this or that, and so on. But I question all of that. There is absolutely no way of knowing what may or may not occur. This thing takes hold instantly, and there is no way to see how anything could have led to it.

Now you have probably heard all of this before. And the diligent seeker will try to make it happen by creating a process to eliminate the process. It is madness. Davidya is right when he says you can only be the thing you seek, but when you read those words, what do you do? If you agree, you try to make it happen through those means. If you disagree you’ll try to make it happen in some other way.

So what do you do? Cast out all of it and begin where you are. You do not need anyone to tell you what is there. This is where despair might come in. But what is it? A despair of being alone? A despair that you might not get it right? A despair that says, this guy/gal is right, and if I don’t do it their way, there is less of a chance for success?

And what of this despair? It is not a natural state in the way we are speaking. All of the thoughts of despair, misery, and so on, arise from what you think may or may not happen. There is an idea in there somewhere that tells you to despair over this or that. You have seen yourself that there is no way of knowing. But you DO know, and what you know brings the despair and misery.

Perhaps it is the word “emptiness”? There may be some emotional charge around that word for some people. And like any other word, it is only accurate up to a certain point. I have said emptiness, and Davidya has said fullness (or something like that). Two different words, but used to represent the same thing. But regardless, the word is never charged, only your idea of it is charged.

Those words may have some meaning, a deep meaning, for all of us. Emptiness may equal: cold, loneliness, failure, isolation, or many other things. But they are only ideas of that end. What IS there, cannot be understood in the way of simple knowledge, like a solidification of some facts. And this is where so many people fall down. They get caught up in what they think is there, or what they think might happen. But these very ideas of what may or may not be, solidify the problem even more.

Maybe Davidya can speak some on this point, but this may be due to an insight, and the mind’s reaction to that insight. The mind may ask, What do I do now? but instead of sitting with that question, the mind instantly gives the reasons of what one can or cannot do, and the emotional consequences of such answers. (Mind might not be the right word here, but I think you understand what I am saying.)

It is the same problem as before, but one believes it to be more important because there seems to be more at stake. And there may be more at stake, but the answer is not to try harder, or do more. If there is an answer it may be to become very serious about it and find out what is really there. Not, take an idea and torture yourself by trying to create a specific result.

I have probably said this too many times, but in finding out, there is no expectation of what is supposed to be; just honest, passionate curiosity.

How do i know whether it is seen or it is simply second hand information? Is this what is seen, or is this what i think is supposed to be seen?

You will “know,” when there is no point of reference. It is an altogether different kind of functioning than what we are used to. There is no trying to get something out of it. There is no interpretation to gain from.

There will be nothing you can do about it, and no question about how to see.

This is all so wonderful and exciting. Can you feel some excitement, or is there too much of what should be? Enjoy this “process” and pay attention. You never know what may happen.

Someone may soon be asking you, “What is there?”

**********

There are many things one might consider. It is not for me to tell you what to do, but perhaps something of use may arise from all of this. I am certainly grateful we can have these conversations from time to time.

I see much clarity in your words, but something else restricts your movement. Do not believe in what I say, however. You’ll come to that end on your own soon enough.

{ 14 comments }

Eric November 4, 2008 at 8:51 pm

All that I perceive is filtered through my learned conceptualization of it. I layer meaning over a world that already has meaning. This brings comfort to me (my ego) even if that meaning is fearful. It takes courage to let go of that and jump head first into uncertainty, into the unknown, indeed into what might even be unknowable. And yet, this is what is happening every new Now, whether I agree to it or not. Realizing this brings more willingness to surrender to me.

The leap into a new reality is constantly taking place. I have merely superimposed my belief system upon it to make it more familiar, more “safe”. This is what occurred to me lately; another intellectual “belief”.

A comment would be most welcome.

Kris November 5, 2008 at 5:19 am

When you say ‘finding out’, the mind believes there is something of the nature of a problem to be solved.
All sorts of mental gymnastics take place where one tries to understand the dynamics of the identity, and its relationship to the mind.
It seems the ‘I’ is caught or trapped in the object, or believes itself to be trapped.
There is the effort to isolate the ‘I’ from everything else and peer into its nature.
This i have found to be impossible as it is constantly retreating back behind the perception and assuming the role of awareness or witness.
In fact it is like a vanishing point that cannot be seen directly, always residing in the peripheral vision.
I have read or heard that the ‘I’ does not exist and my experience seems to suggest this may be true, however it still lingers as a vague sense of a centre or reference point.
How to see deeply then, without expectation or bias seems to be the key.
Although there is definitley an increased clarity here, there remains some kind of barrier to a deeper penetration of my experience.
Aside from the mental contortions, there is an obviousness in the fact of sensory experience being the only valid content. (if that makes sense. I am striving for clarity as i write this so apologies if my words are confusing.)
More and more there is the feeling sense, relatively free of intellectual commentary, that this cant be worked out. Consequently awareness seems to be brought back to the immediate content of the senses, by what? i dont know.

“This is all so wonderful and exciting. Can you feel some excitement, or is there too much of what should be? Enjoy this “process” and pay attention. You never know what may happen.”

Emotions have been oscillating between despair/depression and a kind of peace, although not so much excitement. I would love to feel that i was reaching some kind of resolution but the mind does not want to believe it, using this to resist by claiming that depression and despair is a sign that the end is near. Believing excitement or peace to be indicative of illusion.
However, there is an increasing impatience and frustration at what seems to be a never ending battle to escape myself.

Kris November 5, 2008 at 6:03 am

‘there is no expectation of what is supposed to be; just honest, passionate curiosity.’

How does one come upon this curiosity without expectation?
It seems that any effort to be curious is ALWAYS for a reason aside from simple curiosity, and on the rare occasion when a genuine curiosity does arise it is always overrun by the mind suggesting the possibility of enlightenment.
It seems it is either a matter of grace or simply exhausting oneself to the point of surrender.
I really DONT KNOW if anything i say or think is genuine.

Davidya November 5, 2008 at 10:50 am

Beautiful, Takuin. It is there, right in front of us.

This is fascinating. I come from several lifetimes on a path with deep tradition and process. Takuin comes from a place of no process or tradition, simply the instant shift. The opposite part of the scale as it where. But both come to the same place.

Indeed, in my tradition, part of the process is to discover that you have to forget all concepts of process. (laughs) I was reminded of how deeply this is true by an excerpt from a new book coming out. In the excerpt, the author declares to the teacher that all of the ideas of different realities in different states of consciousness are a complete and total lie – there is only one reality. The teacher uncharacteristically pounds his fist on the table shouting “Yes, Yes Yes”. Essentially a process to transcend the process. Using the mind to transcend itself.

Many ways to the same place…

In a recent talk I heard, the teacher reminded everyone that the ideas of enlightenment are often the last barrier to being it. It is right in front of us – it IS us – but we fail to see it because the mind has a story about it. Often a BIG story. But it is NEVER what we think it is. All ideas about enlightenment are ALWAYS wrong because it has nothing to do with the mind.

Interestingly, the teacher also mentioned that Compassion could be a barrier to awakening as well. This is because the heart may be holding an idea of other. There is no other. Only love, flowing within Itself.

This last step has been described like jumping off a cliff into the unknown. Once we step, we discover that the empty space is all there is. There is no falling, just letting go. In that sense, there is no step. Some call this a stopping. The undoing.

And always, there is surprise. What? This? Often great laughter. So many concepts and none of them are true. It simply is, very simple, natural. And the beginning of a richness…

Yes, very exciting. For it is not one allowing. That is only the first. Then, there is another, another, until it is a perpetual surrender to what is. A continual journey deeper and deeper into nothing.

And this is one of the cosmic jokes. In emptiness we find everything.

Davidya November 5, 2008 at 10:56 am

Hi Eric
You too are seeing it clearly, but still there is holding. Fear of the unknown seeks comfort in its misery. The mind plays all kinds of tricks, even pretending to be silent emptiness. Dwelling in a mood of peace.

You mention “Realizing this brings more willingness to surrender to me. ”
Perhaps think of it more like surrendering to what is. How can you surrender to an illusion? Just a word perhaps but look at the thought that arose in.

We do surrender to all of it, including the me. But the key is beyond me. The key is to surrender to what is, or perhaps to who is aware you are reading this.

Davidya November 5, 2008 at 11:40 am

Hi Kris
You will find that you cannot grasp identity as it is mostly subconscious until after you awaken. There is a mental concept of me, as separate. There is the vaguer emotional drivers of that. Then, underneath it is the grasping, the holding to a sense of identity. Yet curiously, we don’t usually observe how that identity shifts all the time, by different circumstances (at work, with a lover, etc) and by different qualities of awareness (tired, etc) . You do notice this – and this is why it cannot be held. More deeply, it practices the art of hiding – it does not want to be seen. For when it is fully seen, the grasping ends.

But don’t worry about that yet. It will be seen after awakening. First thing is to know who you are. Then what you are not is easy. Don’t look for the I, look to the witness. That is where the shift goes. This is about attention.

Mental ideas or beliefs are held by the mind. Identity is held by fear. This is usually not obvious yet. This fear is powerful enough to create our perception of an inside and outside of me. The thing that divides it is identity.

The senses will always be there. That’s fine. They are not a barrier. Indeed, the I is not really either. It’s not that we have to destroy the I to become Self, its that we become Self we already are and the I is no longer needed.

The mind does not want to believe it as it threatens its story, it’s construct. But the mind doesn’t have to believe it. Just to get out of the way fully for a millisecond when the Self steps forward. You cannot escape it. The mind is a maze without an exit. Just notice who is watching, who is thinking these ideas. Who is the witness. That is the ‘escape’.

Ignore (but don’t resist) the thoughts about genuine. That’s just the mind kicking up fear.
As Takuin observes, its all there in your words. Very close. You already are that. It is only for you to accept it. (laughs) Get out of the way long enough.

You may find being around someone awake will make it easier, if that is possible. When consciousness has an example, it’s easier to emulate – if that’s the right word.

takuin November 5, 2008 at 3:12 pm

Eric

The leap into a new reality is constantly taking place. I have merely superimposed my belief system upon it to make it more familiar, more “safe”.

You have seen it. Now, the questions arise.

You have superimposed the belief onto reality, and that is the way of seeing for the self.

Is that system, action, superimposition, or whatever you call it, capable of seeing beyond what it knows? If it is indeed seeking security, that security can only come from what it believes to be secure. These things are already known.

Again, can this take place outside the field of the known?

When you have gone through that question, having sat with it, ask this:

Is there a way of seeing that is not dependent upon the known? Is there a perception beyond your system of belief?

These things may be important for you.

takuin November 5, 2008 at 3:43 pm

Kris,

It seems the ‘I’ is caught or trapped in the object, or believes itself to be trapped.
There is the effort to isolate the ‘I’ from everything else and peer into its nature.

Is the I trapped in the object, or is the I the very object itself?

There is an effort to isolate. Effort is itself separation. But is this effort something outside of the I? Something the I is doing? Or is it all one and the same?

However, there is an increasing impatience and frustration at what seems to be a never ending battle to escape myself.

You see it clearly. Now what do you do? You see what it is, where it goes, and the futility of this search. Why hang onto it?

Could that be a part of the inner conflict? You see it is futile, but at the same time, you think you need it in order to get something. Is there conflict in the “process,” or is it in hanging on to a concept you have already seen to be useless?

I am not saying it is one or the other, or that you have any kind of problem. But it may be something that many of us have never questioned.

**********

How does one come upon this curiosity without expectation? It seems that any effort to be curious is ALWAYS for a reason aside from simple curiosity, and on the rare occasion when a genuine curiosity does arise it is always overrun by the mind suggesting the possibility of enlightenment.

Then we are using the word “curiosity” in different ways. It is an interest without expectation. You may have an idea of what is there, and you may have an idea of what will happen, but it is only your best guess, and not an expectation.

You probably have an inkling of where you are going, or what you might find, and that is fine. You may even have a great interest to see whatever it might be. That is fine, too. But once you expect it to be there, it becomes a search for security, and not a quest to find what is really happening.

Does that make sense? In one, the end result is not known or expected, even though you may have an idea of where you are going. In the other, there is the fear of not getting what you want, so you decide what is there and then torture yourself by trying to make it appear.

Curiosity implies you really want to find out what is there; not find what you already believe to be there. One is full of life, the other is dead.

I really DONT KNOW if anything i say or think is genuine.

Perfect. That is where you begin.

takuin November 5, 2008 at 3:53 pm

And this is one of the cosmic jokes. In emptiness we find everything.

Davidya,

That has always interested me. We think we can have everything by having everything. And I suppose many people think it a very reasonable way to live. But as we look into the world, we must question if it is beneficial.

Kris November 6, 2008 at 5:09 am

Davidya,
‘Don’t look for the I, look to the witness. That is where the shift goes. This is about attention.’
Firstly, apologies for my choice of words, it is often difficult to get a handle on this.
When i say im trying to see the ‘I’, what i really mean is that i am trying to remain as pure perception, it seems that this involves keeping ones attention on the sense of me or I, in all its various forms and disguises.
How can i look to the witness? Surely, only the witness has the power to look?

A recent insight has made this a little clearer- there is no need to, nor is it possible to silence the mind in order to see this.
The mind has a job and thus there is no problem with it’s activity. Awareness is aware, the mind minds, the eyes see etc, etc.
It has its place and cannot be used to go beyond it’s function, and more importantly, it’s function is not a problem.
It only becomes a problem when there is identification with it’s obsession about obsessing..
‘Where is the silence? where is the silence? why is there thinking?’
There is thinking because that is it’s job, and it cannot be used to do anything else, let alone become the subject.

Over the last couple of days there has been a ‘sense of something’. I have no idea what, but through these interactions there is a ‘something’ occuring, becoming clear??
So, Takuin, Davidya, thankyou…

Davidya November 6, 2008 at 10:34 am

Hi Kris
Yes, words are difficult and don’t meet the intended meaning as what we talk about it partly beyond the symbols words represent.

Don’t try. Don’t try to hold the witness. It is simply a noticing, see it is there.
Yes, only the observer can look. But what is the observer? If everything is formed in awareness, what is not the observer?

It is very clear when you can notice observation of the observer. Deeper still when you observe awareness aware of itself. The whole mechanics of creation. Soon you may notice what is looked upon looks back.

Yes- the something – it is so hard to give it words.
You are most welcome. It is remarkable that we can have this conversation.

takuin November 7, 2008 at 5:23 pm

Keep going, Kris. Feel free to drop in any time to leave comments, or send an e-mail if you want.

I am sure this will all be clear for you. It would seem that you have already passed the event horizon, so to speak. Sit with it all and see where it goes. Don’t expect to watch the I; watch whatever happens to be there.

It is all on the table in front of you.

Ryan February 24, 2009 at 3:38 pm

I am amazed you guys are having this conversation as well. Words have never been my friend, and often leave at the most impromptu times

takuin February 28, 2009 at 10:44 am

Ryan,

I understand what you mean, and that is not an uncommon observation. I wouldn’t say (for Takuin) that words are, or are not, my friend. I must remember to be thankful for that portion of the mind.

It is a process that is out of my hands, and it becomes easier to appreciate as the years pass by.

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