Question of the Week: 9/17 - 9/23

Can the self surrender? "I am free."

"I have let go of the self."

"I am free of ego."

"I am enlightened."

People throw these words around quite a bit. But is there meaning to any of this? Is there any merit, or can anything be expressed there in a natural way?

If one says, "I am free," what exactly do they mean? The "self" is free? Free from what? Is there anything to be free from at all?

You might say we can be free from sorrow or pain, greed or jealousy, or whatever it is. But in order to be free from it, we first have to be separate from it, which we are not. In the mind, it is always me and sorrow. It is always somewhere else, and it suddenly appears and attacks. That is all so silly. We are the very sorrow we wish to be free from. So how can we, the self, ever be free from it? Is it a possibility?

Why do we always see the sorrow and say, "I want to be away from that," and we think we are making progress? How can we, the self, ever be away from that? WE ARE IT. There is no separation here. It is not us and sorrow; it is just sorrow. One and the same.

Some might say that we need to surrender the self. Well what does that mean? Surrender the self to what? And this thing that we are surrendering to, is it also composed of thought? People so easily throw these words around. If it is possible for the self to surrender, it surrenders to nothing. It does not trade for something else, and it cannot surrender to an idea or concept. If the self surrenders to a concept, and that concept is absorbed and adopted by the self, then nothing has changed. Sure, the self has some new clothes, but it is still the self.

Can the self surrender?

That is the wrong question to ask. The better question is:

Can this organism be free of the self?

I look forward to your replies on this one.

The first is from Nur:

Thanks for the compliments, Nur. I appreciate it.

When I say I surrender I mean I let go of all wants and desires. I simply give in to what is happening and let it happen. I let thought be, and don’t interfere in the happening of anything. Internally or externally.

That is a wonderful way of putting it. But let's go into the language a bit. We are probably saying the same thing, though. If I say, "I am letting go of the wants and desires," and I really mean it, then there is duality present. In that case it is "I" and desire. But in reality the "I" IS the desire. Therefore, it is only desire (or maybe, "I" is desire).

But I think we are speaking the same language here.

Next is from Albert @ Urbanmonk.net:

Takuin, thanks for another great perspective into non-duality. But are you saying that in admitting we are desire, and so on, it changes? Let’s say I’m dealing with a problem of neediness, which stems from my childhood. I have this tendency to say “Oh I want to get rid of it.” But if I become and acknowledge that I am this neediness, what happens? Will I still be needy, display needy traits, and so on?

Great question, Albert. And you are right. But it is not enough for us to admit something on merely an intellectual level. Let's see what comes up.

There is no need to admit or concede to desire (or neediness). In those cases, either admittance or conceding, there is a being that is taking the action. "Someone" must concede or admit. If the self surrenders as an action (the self experiences pain, or whatever it is, and decides to see it in order to be free of it), then what will happen?

A step taken by the self, in order to gain liberation, is a step deeper in to the prison cell. The action of the self toward freedom is just a ploy to ensure its own continuity. "I am becoming free," and therefore, the self can continue to exist in a different pair of pants. But the self will carry with it those problems it wanted to be free from in the first place.

Now, if that is true, keeping in mind that no action of the self is possible, what will happen? If it is understood that any action of the self toward liberation is limited, and then "neediness" surfaces, what happens? Is anyone there to meet it? If no, then how is it observed, if no one is there to observe it? We could say that it is merely seen, but it is seen by no one. It is observed; the movement is observed, but nothing is going to record it.

It doesn't seem right that these problems come from being needy. Or even from the self trying to be free. The bigger problem seems to be the center itself. It sets itself up for business and tries to control everything.

If the center is the projector, the creator of the problems, then why is it necessary at all? Some might say, "If I have no center, I will live in chaos." Well, look at the world as it is. We are already there.

It is interesting to think; we are worried that we will live in chaos without the self, but we are already there. So instead of liberation, we remain within the chaos we have already created. Or you might say, by losing the self, we think we will get what we already have. Seems so strange to me.

Another way to look at it is how Byron Katie explains it. (You probably know this already, Albert.) "You walk through the forest and come upon a snake. You are instantly afraid and jump back to avoid being bitten. But upon closer inspection, you see that it is not a snake, but a rope. Now, is it possible to stand over that rope, even if for a thousand years, and ever be afraid of it again? No, because you have seen it for what it is. I have found that every stressful thought is a rope."

If you do this, the thing is seen for what it is. Once this comes to light, there is no way you will ever be able to stick your hand in the fire again. It won't move you at all because it is a rope.

I hope that made some sense.

And another set of questions from Nur:

"So you’re saying, (to Albert), that we shoudn’t try to liberate our self, or find a centre etc as this is also a trap and a deeper one at that. Also you’re saying there is no stressful thought, no negativity with potency to harm us, as harm is a product of our own perspective. All we have to do is see that ‘all is always well’. It just is and thats it. Please correct me."

The center is the source of the problem. It thinks itself separate from everything else. "I have misery," instead of the reality of, "The I is misery." It is not separate from its experience, but it believes it is. The self doesn't see itself as the problem, because it only sees from its own perspective. If one sees from the perspective of the self, then there is immediate separation.

It is within this rift, between the self and what it perceives, that the problems arise. "Things are this way, but they should be that way." There is immediate tension, as the self cannot reconcile itself with reality, for whatever reason. If reality is seen as it is, perceived without the prejudices of the self, then there is no tension. How could there be?

"Alberts’s blog introduction talks how one can be a monk (finding peace, the moment , etc) and also be urban (career, relationships). What do you think? On one hand, we accept the moment and be, and another we want to manifest better careers, love etc. If the organism is free of the self, to want to be somewhere is an indication of dissatisfaction, or need for more etc Or is it? I find this contradiction very difficult to grasp ? How can the organism be free of the self yet live with intentions, aims for the future."

I wrote a short post similar to what you are talking about. This is the link:

http://www.takuin.com/2007/08/28/living-in-thought/ I see nothing wrong with setting goals and doing things one loves to do. It would be wrong to limit one's expression simply because a guru told them to do it. I have seen this many times. Some guru, enlightened person, or whoever it is, says that in order to be free you have to do this, this, and this. You can't have a goal and you can't strive to change your outer world. Things are as they are, and you cannot take any movement toward a goal. (Or whatever it is they say.)

And what do the followers of the guru do? They immediately accept it as true, without trying to see it for themselves. They say, "He is over there and I am here, and he says if I do or don't do something, I can be with him." They become mechanical humans. Nothing natural is ever expressed because they are constantly trying to be something they are not.

And what happens if you should tell one of those followers about your goals? They immediately tell you it is the wrong thing to do because of this, this, or this reason. But they are just repeating something that was told to them. And they never looked into to it to see if it was true in the first place. They just repeat and repeat, ad nauseum.

The truth is, there is nothing the self can do to be free. But that doesn't mean that you can't freely express yourself. If one has a talent to do something, why not do it? People, for some reason, do not express themselves naturally. They instead focus on what they "should be" doing. I say, if you are going to do something, then damn it, do something! Don't talk about it or think you should be doing something else. When you take an action, be there within that action 100%. Be wherever you are, without thinking of the illusion of where you should be.

I hope that is somehow helpful to you. Thanks for the great questions, Nur.