Question of the Week: 10/29 - 11/04 Although I am fairly certain you have a reasonable expectation of what you are going to find on this site, that does not necessarily mean non-duality or enlightenment, or whatever you call it, is your main interest. Of course, there is probably a high degree of interest, otherwise you would not be here at all, but that does not mean that this is all you are really into.
I have heard many sages of old saying, "If you want to make a change in the world, then you must first change yourself." I completely understand this, as the only meaningful change is inward. But their implicit message may be, Do it in the way that I am doing it. OR, Don't bother with your own selfish pursuits, be serious, go into yourself, and when you see yourself as you are, go and teach others. That is all well and good.
But what if I have no interest in teaching?
Am I to drop my natural talents in order to be enlightened the way it is supposed to be? People always think of enlightenment in terms of how it should be. And if, after all of this time, I am still only seeing what I think should be, then what is the point of it all? Once I follow the should, I am lost.
How many of us project, or have projected, thoughts similar to these?
1. The enlightened man or woman looks like this. (THIS = whatever you project about that kind of person.)
2. They have a warm smile and exude calming energy.
3. They wear certain kinds of clothes. (Based on their discipline).
4. They don't say "fuck" or "shit." (Nor do they write it. Oops.)
5. They are different from me.
6. I am different from them.
7. They are not over weight. (Or they ARE over weight.)
8. They don't work, or have a job.
9. They are only interested in teaching and freeing the rest of the world.
10. They won't marry, date, or otherwise be interested in a partner.
Here's what's thought about that.
1. How do I know what an enlightened person is supposed to look like? If I build the image, make it sacred to me, then rely on it like I do every other image, then what am I seeing? I could have seen one million enlightened people, but I have no way of knowing what I have seen.
2. I have known serial killers with warm smiles that exuded calm energy. That is one of the reasons why they were so successful at what they did. If you expect to see the smile and feel a shift in yourself, then you are not there at that moment; you are remembering what you think it should be, and are waiting for it to happen. Does that make sense?
3. Again, if I expect to see a certain type of dress, then I cannot be where I am. I can only be stuck in thought.
4. Who the fuck decided this one? OK, I am joking. But this is no indication of anything. It might seem like a lazy way of expressing oneself, but they are just words, after all.
5. The moment you think they are different from you, there is no relationship. There is no connection. And you will go on thinking that they have something you do not. The very thought that they are different, propels you into the belief that what you need is outside of you.
6. Don't trust me on this, but you ARE NOT any different. If you believe that you are, ask yourself this question: Am I really different? Then, after giving your favorite 100 excuses, ask another question: Do any of these reasons exist outside of my own mind?
7. How can anyone be over weight? They can only be the weight they are. If you think you, or someone else, is over weight, then you are only seeing what you think should be there. Go into it and see it for what it is.
8. This is true and false at the same time. If one loves to do what they do, they will do it. That is it. Most people think of work as something they are not really into; they would rather be doing something else. But there is no rather be doing. There is only what you are doing. Just being. That is all there can ever be.
9. If that is a person's true interest, then they will go sit on the stage or stand at the podium and talk. But if someone does it because they believe it is what they are supposed to be doing , then there is absolutely no meaning to it.
10. And why not?
The Mind is Slippery
These are examples of beliefs that most have, while on the spiritual path. But they are very slippery and drop in under the radar. Why? Because it is difficult to see a problem with the beliefs we hold about the enlightened. It seems less noticeable, and perhaps even, less dangerous. But those thoughts are just as insidious as any other.
When I see another person, why should I believe anything I think about them? Besides, I don't want to think about them. I can, after all, stay at home if I want to do that. It is more fulfilling and meaningful to see the person; to be there with them as being unfolds. It is a moment frozen in time, as the past falls away. But due to the nature of being, there is no moment to be frozen. It can only exist as a monument in our memories.
I am not interested in monuments. But I am interested in the people that build them.
The first is from Nur:
A question from those of us still learning to deal with suffering and enlightenment seems far away. How does one drop beliefs about anything? Very difficult and when one does, what then? Then you just do stuff, because you’re doing it? I don’t know if I am making sense.
I think I get what you are saying. And those are very reasonable questions. But the problem arises when one asks How? When you ask how to do it, you want someone else to show you. You want a method that is fixed, or some steps that lead to a solution.
It is easy to say, "Just look at the belief," or whatever it is, but what is it that sees the belief? If one says that they see the belief, what it is, how it works, but they have not changed or shifted in any way, could it be that they are seeing the belief through belief? Can you cast aside everything you are, everything you have learned, everything you have become, and see belief for what it is?
When you see belief with belief, you have a conclusion about whether it is good or bad. You might look at your sorrow, but if you look at it as a Christian, or Muslim, or Atheist, you already have an idea of what it is supposed to be. You already have an idea of what everything is supposed to be. Is it possible to see something without any of that?
If you look at the sorrow, or whatever it happens to be, without your ideals, or what you have been taught, then how does it arrive? Ask yourself. How is it seen?
(By the way, Nur, when I say You, I don't mean you personally. I just mean to say that it is a collective action within. Me or We, would also suffice.)
This bit from Alan:
It is helpful to me to drop belief about belief. If I believe that there is any thing or person to be believed as ultimate truth then that experience is all there is.
A thorough investigation of belief is wonderful, if one has the stomach for it. Looking at it now, it is a very superficial thing to realize. I don't mean to say that it isn't important, because it was something I went into right from the beginning. But seeing belief clearly is not THE END, as they say. But we have a tendency to be so cluttered up with all of the residual stuff from daily life, by the time we add belief into it we are ready to jump in front of a train. I found it very helpful to go into belief first, as it can take you (the self) out of the equation rather quickly. But I must have thought about it, explored it, and otherwise bored myself to death with it for more than a year.
I found that beliefs are easy to see, but the movement, or belief itself, is hard to get a hold of. I'll take it slowly, because it can be confusing. When I say "beliefs," I am talking about what you might expect; I am a Hindu, Christian, Republican, Wiccan, etc. This also includes thoughts such as, "I am not good enough." "Women are bad drivers." "Asian girls are easy." I am this, you are that, etc. Anything we build up and trust, regardless of reality.
But when I say belief itself, I am talking about the underlying pattern that makes beliefs possible. I know it is terribly confusing, and I should just choose a word other than belief. I'll think it over this weekend.
You could also see it as, beliefs are the programs we install, but belief itself is the machine that allows the programs to run. (Some might say that belief itself is the programmer that wrote the program.) If you just look at the beliefs as they come and go, but never see the mechanism that makes them possible, you are still there within the program. I suppose there are a ton of analogies we could use for this, so insert your own if necessary. (And if you have a better one, let me know!)
In the beginning, there is a tendency to just look at the beliefs that have little value to our identities; the ones the self won't mind giving up. We see the "progress" and pat ourselves on the back thinking that we are doing it. So many people are there, but it is a trap. The self is still in operation picking and choosing the toys to play with.
This tendency, to investigate only certain beliefs, keeps the self held firmly in place. There is almost a twinge of pride in there, right? "I am doing well. I can feel a difference." Your chest swells up and you feel like telling your friends about what it is like to be different. DON'T FALL FOR IT!!
Of course, that is not necessarily every one's experience, but I am speaking for myself, after all.
And back to Nur:
When one sees the sorrow as sorrow only , the sorrow still remains. The pain doensn’t dissipate when one looks at it without a belief system. Is enlightenment painlessness or acceptance of pain? Is it that when we see the pain as pain only , it dissappears. how can it?
There may be a sorrow that is not dependent of thought, but I will not go into that right now. That is not really what we are talking about anyway.
It is not as if the pain stops, but no one is there to receive it. Pain or sorrow is actually more intense on this side, because it is naked. There is nothing that gets in the way. The self is not there to cushion the blow, so to speak. But at the same time, the self is not there to attach itself to the pain, so it is not experienced. (Again, we could get into the whole meaning of the word "experience," but we can do that later.)
If I may, I will give an example from my own life. Recently, my uncle (the only uncle I ever really knew) died suddenly of an aneurysm in the brain stem. One moment he was eating dinner, the next moment he was down. Death was not instantaneous, but the point of no return was passed within a few minutes. My mom called me a few hours after, and gave me the news. I knew him well, and there are many memories of our time together.
Upon hearing the news, there was sorrow, but no self could take it. It was not as if I was saying to myself, "Look at the sorrow, look at the sorrow." Sorrow was present, but it was like the wind on your face; how can you take it and attach to it?
There is great love for my uncle, but there is no sadness or sorrow at the end of that love. There is no opposite to it. There is only the expression of love that would be there, in life or death.
Which brings me to the point, often enlightenment is sought so the pain of our lives may vanish and one live in peace in bliss. But even that is a belief?
If one seeks enlightenment, what will the result be? If it is sought for any reason, then that implies that it is not here now. Any search automatically brings in the notion that there is something missing. Is that true? What is missing? Is there anything we need other than what we have? I am not talking about physical needs, or perhaps going out to get a new job, or moving to a new apartment. Anything we need, that we can get physically, is not the same as enlightenment. You can go out and makes sales and buy a new house, but you can't go out and buy, get, coax, or otherwise bully your way into enlightenment. If you could, we would all be there.
You cannot "get" what you already have.
But I think you understand this, and I am not talking to you, individually.
What happens then, when we simply learn to be.? Is sorrow still painful?
I can give you a good example of this, although it might not be what you are looking for. What are you doing right now? As you read these words, what is it that you are doing? Sitting, standing, lying down, or whatever it happens to be. THAT is what happens in enlightenment. YOU ARE THERE.
Are you frustrated at reading these words? Then sit with that and be enlightened. Do you think I am wrong? Then go there, see it, and be enlightened. This state is nothing different from what you are already doing. There is no difference in the way we function. If it is here, then is it also there.
We cannot "learn to be," because we already are. Being is here at every moment. What is it that tells you differently? Question it. Find out why you need to be somewhere other than you are. Find out why you cannot see yourself as already present.
And this from Albert @ Urbanmonk.net :
Nur, I am getting the impression that you expect pain to disappear instantly when accepted. With smaller pains, it does, and you have acknowledged that in your emails. With deeper pains, it takes a lot more time, and also you might have to do some exploring to get to the root of the problem.
Hey Albert, I really like the redesign of your site. It looks great.
Something I have noticed over the past year is, when pain comes there is no longer any resistance. There is nothing that desires to resist, anyhow. Pain, or whatever, is there, but nothing can attach itself to the pain. There is no motive, or anything that might view the experience of pain as being important. So if someone asks me "Do you have pain?" I can say yes. But if there is no one to receive and hang on to it, is there pain? I could just as easily have answered No.
There is a problem with answering those kinds of questions. When someone asks me How or Do You or Why Does questions, is it because they want to know, or do they want to use my answer as the truth? As I have seen, it is not necessarily because they want to know. If someone wants to know, they will find out, without relying on outside authority. But if I give an answer, what will they do with it? Use it like a formula? What will happen then? Will anything change?
I will say this; if you want to know, then find out. But don't rely on anyone else to give you the answer. Look within. You already have just as much wisdom as any sage on the planet.
So, get to work!