Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Slow Cook

Japanese Feather
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao

A complete recognition, maybe the recognition of seeing what’s not true, what’s not you - it can happen in an instant.
[Or] it can be a slow cook.
It happens in different ways, this recognition.
It’s not that the Self or Reality happen - but the recognition of it. The recognition of it can be something of an event, something falls away… a kind of peeling away of like a cataract of illusory identification…

But even if it happens quickly, there’s a slow cook aspect of it that continues.
It seems paradoxical even, but there is a sort of maturity that continues to happen, but against a background of unchanging awareness at the same time… a slow burning away of the noise of identity…

Anyone who are somehow in the taste of this self-experiencing recognize that something is dissolving by itself. And there’s a sense of an eagerness to be out of the way mentally with it.
If you’re hammering at trying to believe something, it doesn’t really work.
It’s a whole move where you find yourself somehow just like if you fall in love.
No one has to remind you to remember your beloved.
I’m comfortable with the word grace in this way. There’s something that you feel compelled to complete… so you go for it.
Mooji, Before I Am, video on Conscious.TV

I transcribed this segment from the video sometime last week, really appreciating the phrase slow cook.
And yes, something is dissolving. That’s another way of describing the flimsy cheesecloth sensation I wrote about.
So, I wanted to hear more.
A slow burning away, doesn’t sound that bad.
But, it doesn’t always feel that good.

Still, I loved the words, There’s something that you feel compelled to complete… so you go for it… just like if you fall in love.

I wouldn't trade this for the world.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Unenlightening Yourself

Claudia's rocks
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao

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… Spirit never asks itself, “How do I stay within myself?” That would be ridiculous. It just makes no sense...

What makes more sense is to ask how you unenlighten yourself.
What is still held on to? What is still confusing? What situations in life can get you to believe things that aren’t true and cause you to go into contradiction, suffering, and separation? What is it specifically that has the power to entice consciousness back into the gravitational field of the dream state? ...

How is it specifically that I’m putting myself back in illusion… even though re-identification is totally spontaneous and it’s not happening to anybody and it’s not anybody’s fault – we still need to investigate how it happens.
Adyashanti, The End of Your World.

As I took up my investigation into “witnessing” I saw clearly that my pattern for many years has been to have a period of intense witnessing during which I was sure consciousness had shifted. Then, after some time, I would begin to doubt the authenticity of both my experience and interpretation.

I would decide, “No, this isn’t witnessing,” but merely something totally out of kilter physically. In essence, I would pathologize the situation. And off I’d go, stewing in that direction. How could I mend my body? Then, hopefully, the gap of witnessing would close and the unreality of creation would feel real once more. And I would stop telling myself a pretty spiritual story when in fact I was “sick.”

But, when I decided to accept that witnessing was a foundation I could count on, a fairly permanent, consistent spiritual experience, and investigate into the nature of the witness, I had to drop the habit of pathologizing.

Not that the habit didn’t try to re-establish itself. But, now I see it as that – simply a habit, a pattern of thought. I also see the power this belief has to immediately unenlighten.
So, I let it go. Dropped it. And guess what:

Our ideas about what’s good and bad and what’s happening to us are TOTALLY conditioned. We prefer soft grace over fierce grace. But soft grace is actually no better than fierce grace. It’s all grace…

If you want it to become stable, as I said, don’t worry about trying to get enlightenment back. Look in the moment, this moment, any moment: How am I unenlightening myself?

If you want to become stabilized in It – That’s how to do it.
“Humm, how am I un-realizing myself right now?”
Cause you can always see that.
And when you see that, the realization reveals itself of its own accord.

Adyashanti, Omega Institute, July, 2007.

Adya was right.
I dropped pathologizing and the witness became “the stick that stirs the funeral pyre [and] is itself consumed by the fire.”

But, this still left the doubt of consistency and permanency in the experience of consciousness. There are varying levels of intensity to the witnessing.
And again, doubt would always enter: “Have I lost it?”
I must have been mistaken. I am not enlightened.

Then, I recalled what “coming out” had been like. Discovering the truth in this instance had seemed a life and death decision. And I agonized for years.
Once I finally found the truth (and it wasn’t a decision- it was a seeing), I went through several days of fearing I would lose my realization if it slipped from my awareness.
So, I tried to hold it in my mind, “I’m gay. I’m gay.”

Well, guess what – sexual orientation doesn’t depend at all upon keeping it in your attention day and night. Which is not to say clearly knowing the reality doesn’t make all the difference in the world! It's just that the reality doesn't depend upon always noticing, "I gay."

Couldn’t awakening and enlightenment be similar?
You have to see and know. But, it needn’t be right there in your face every waking and sleeping moment.
Perhaps the Witness could also come and go in intensity without changing the reality of the situation. Because, whenever I chose to look, to pay attention, there it is unchanged.

I suspected that once again, holding an incorrect belief made me doubt my experience, made me unenlighten myself.
A couple days later I came across these words of Douglas Harding:

[Ramana] said when he was asked whether he was brilliantly awake or alert all the time that sometimes it’s like the treble melody in the piece of music which you attend to; if you’re attending to that music then that’s what you attend to, not to the bass accompaniment. But if the bass accompaniment were to stop you would notice it, and sometimes his experience is more in the bass accompaniment, and sometimes in the treble melody, and therefore there are rhythms of attention.

And the way I put it, is this. I think practice is enormously important indispensable to keep coming back to this. Coming back to it until it’s natural to be natural.
…it’s like my love for Catherine, for instance. For hours and hours, it might be the whole day when I didn’t think of Catherine. It doesn’t mean that I don’t love her anymore. There’s a level in my being where I go on loving her whether I’m celebrating it and spelling it out or not.

The love is going on anyway, and it’s similar with who I really, really, really am. I mean this deep, deep conviction of who I really, really, really am is not an idolatrous being hooked on all the time in being absorbed in that Reality… I’m convinced that it doesn’t have to be raised to consciousness the whole time. To think that it has to be raised to full consciousness the whole time seems to me a species of idolatry.

So, I was right. And Adya was right.
And, one by one, I have been examining how it is I unenlighten myself.
I am seeing what isn’t true.
Each “seeing” bursts a false belief and soothes my mind, my over active, scientific, skeptical, aggitated mind.

So, for most people some version of this is part of the phase of how awakening happens.
You know, awakening is sudden.
Enlightenment is the total harmonization of the Absolute and Relative so that we not only see and realize that the Absolute and Relative are One, but feel it, act it, and behave it on all levels of being.
Adyashanti, Omega Institute, July, 2007. CD 9 Track 6

Adya told me this three years ago. But, I hadn’t really listened.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Witnessing Part 2 or 3 or some such

Sleeping Buddha
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao

One way to see through this apparent watcher is to become absorbed into it, understanding that it will eventually collapse of its own accord. Ramana Maharshi referred to the Witness as "the stick that stirs the fire and is eventually consumed by it." When the Witness dissolves, you will find that you have naturally arrived at …the direct apprehension of buddha nature in your own being.

With this in mind, dwelling as the Witness is seen as a transitional step. It could be said to lie halfway … between the object-oriented practices of concentration/insight and the complete surrender to what is, also known as non-duality.

Kenneth Folk

I feel like I have fallen way behind on recording what I intended to here- a journal of sorts on what happened after I decided to stop “unenlightening myself.”
So, in an attempt to catch up, I am cobbling some things together. Let me begin by going “way back” to notes from maybe 10 days ago as I began to investigate “the witness”:

….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 from inside and outside simultaneously, because what is being witnessed is what is witnessing.

These words of Adya have stuck with me the past couple weeks.
When I first read, “witnessing is taking place from everywhere simultaneously – inside, outside, around, up, down….” I thought, “Oh my.”
I couldn’t conceive of such a witness.
My witnessing has been like that of the movie-goer staring up at the screen:
What is witnessed is seen to be like a dream, like a movie or a novel, unfolding in front of us.

Such witnessing has made it rather easy to realize that the world “out there” is somewhat less than “Real.” And this has been going on for years and years now, fading in and fading out of intensity so that I have finally adopted an attitude that mixes ignoring, frustration, amazement and pathologizing.

But then, my friend asked me, “What if you never decide?” And I realized if I simply accepted the status quo I could very well spend the rest of my life “unenlightening” myself.

So I took up examining the witness and things immediately began to shift.

Just those words from Adya, “witnessing up, down, outside, inside” while beyond my ability to imagine, started a kind of disintegration, a dissolving.
This is the power of words spoken from Truth.
They resonate with the Truth inside. They light the fire.

What I noticed after a few days was the world felt so much softer. Whatever was looking out through my eyes, that center of “me-ness,” no longer peered out across a great gap. The gap (between the movie viewer and the silver screen) was gone. “Out there” now seemed much more like a continuum with myself. Creation and I became a soft and somehow watery continuum.

But while the gap had disappeared, the Unreal nature of Creation was maintained. And, I couldn’t say that witnessing was occurring from everywhere. There was still a duality.

A few days after that, I began to notice that “I” (for lack of a better word) was beginning to disintegrate. I was losing the fabric of my individuality- not by merging into One, but through disappearing entirely.
A photo I’d made of the Buddha covered by cheesecloth came to mind. Yes, it seemed the fabric of “me” was becoming cheesecloth. Something un-namable was breaking through.
It wasn’t too uncomfortable. But, it was strange.
My stomach was having trouble: it began to love, it began to sob. It physically hurt most of the time and I was reacting very intensely to the simplest events.

Then, one day at work, I feel a bit on edge, a bit lost, and wanted very much to call a friend.
Not that I had anything to say. I tried to think of something worth a phone call and came up blank.
I just wanted to have her on the phone, to hear her voice. Finally, I realized that what I really wanted was to touch this most familiar someone whom I knew and loved; because now, the world had taken on that same rather cheesecloth-like flimsiness.
I felt like I no longer held onto anything: I couldn’t hold onto my self identity. I couldn’t hold onto Creation. I stood there in the middle of the lab frozen in place in a Void that still gave rise to appearance.
Then, I realized even a vague discomfort can be clung to and apparently, that’s my belly’s job these days.

After that I went about in a world gone soft and the gap closed. From my shoulders up past my head there seemed to open a vast beam of consciousness. Below my shoulders my belly periodically erupted with various emotions and nausea.
As a practice I just kept falling back into my self. At times I tried inquiry. That’s what Nisargadatta recommends.
Today I found this discussion by Kenneth Folk entitled “The Witness: Turning the Light Around :

…[So] far… it is as though we have been looking down from on high at this odd creature, saying “Ha ha. See how it does this? See how it does that?”
If we want to go to the next level…. We are going to turn the light of attention back on itself, and we are going to ask this question: “Who am I?” Or “Who is looking?”… There are various ways to get in touch with this. The simplest and most practical and consistently effective way is to ask the question “Who am I?” …
When you do “who am I?” and become absorbed as the Self you eventually transcend the Witness and get to this place where the kundalini energy comes back down from the head: it actually goes out the top of the head—you can actually feel this and see this—and circles back down to the body and comes to rest primarily at the heart center but also at all of the chakras along the way. It forms this kind of circuit, this kind of cocoon of energy… At this point you are no longer dissociated from your experience the way you were when you were dwelling as the Witness.

I found it impossible to do inquiry as it felt like “turning the attention around” and that seemed simply impossible. Perhaps this was because I conceived of inquiry as turning a skinny little beam of attention around to look within, as if the finger that I had been pointing out to Other, now turns to point in my own face.

I found that my awareness, or attention, or I could even call it “the light” (but don’t picture any beam of light) was far too unbounded to turn. I could no more shift the direction of my attention/consciousness around than the universe could turn around so that It might gaze at Its own navel.

I did the only thing it felt possible to do with this field I’d labeled as The Witness – I sank back into it. I allowed the wavelet of me to relax and melt back towards the ocean of Witness.

When the light is turned around, the energies of heaven and earth, yin and yang, all congeal. This is what is called "refined thought," "pure energy," or "pure thought." When you first put this technique into practice, there is seemingly nonbeing within being. Eventually, when the work is accomplished, and there is a body beyond your body, there is seemingly being within nonbeing.
The Secret of the Golden Flower, translated by Thomas Cleary

I'm not so sure what Cleary has translated here. But I hope it will become clear.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Florian Schlosser: The Subtlest Identification

Fall petals
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao
In that realization that nothing is real, all reference points disappear.
Yet, the Nothingness itself becomes a new reference point.
And this is the subtle identification.
I see it in other teachers. I see it in people going to satsang… If they speak with you… “It’s not real.”
But this is a concept, a reference point.
Florian Schlosser

Something has been bothering me about some of the teachers in the new crop of non-dual (Neo-Advaita) teachers. Something about their teaching doesn’t always ring quite true…at least not to me.

It got me thinking about a story Maharishi once told us. His point was that there was historical precedence for groups of people to practice together and become enlightened together. He told an ancient story of a group of sages who did many austerities and became so pure they ascended to heaven. There they joined in the banquet that the gods were enjoying, until one god stopped everything cold declaring, “I smell a human.”

The other gods alerted, then sniffed and the three sages were summarily tossed back to earth, betrayed by the stink of the last vestiges of their human impurity. So, they rededicated themselves to purification and in the end once more ascended, this time for good.

So, see, Maharaishi said, we can meditate in groups and together rise to heaven. Well, to me, the story also speaks to this feeling I have of “something fishy” about these newly realized teachers. And I’ve begun to think that perhaps I am simply noticing that last little trace, “a whiff” of ego. When I first realized this, I had to laugh. Of course!
“Takes one to call one,” we used to retort as kids. And wouldn’t that be just the way of egos- to be very sensitive to and ready to bust another ego.

Well, Florian Schlosser has made very good sense of all this for me. And then, I realized Adya also has spoken of this trap that awaits many after an awakening.
After realization of Nothingness, the ego then identifies with Nothing.
Florian Schlosser:

That realization is the absence of, the complete vanishing of the sense of me, together with the world. Nothing remains. All that is there is consciousness. Yet, as long as the body is alive unavoidably there remains a last sense of indestructible identification (…that would be the end of the body.)
I still was able when someone called my name to turn around and recognize them. So, that is indestructible. As long as the body survives we are literally bound to a certain limited degree of identification. [Otherwise] we wouldn’t be able to function. I was hardly functioning anymore. Yet, what I saw is that that subtle sense was (and I saw this about half a year later) [it] started to pick up that Nothingness, and the sense of me sneaked in through the backdoor and now identified itself with the Nothingness.

So now, it was, “I am Nothingness.”
It was not Nothingness. It became a subtle identification with the Nothingness…

I’ve written before about my own mini-version of this locking onto a realization and how my Taoist teacher broke me of it. Even a moment’s insight can be grabbed up by the ego. So, I’m very grateful to be clear on the mechanics.
So, let’s go on with Florian:

When the residue of the sense of me identifies with Nothing it experiences everything as Nothing, and it also responds as if it it’d be Nothing.
So, you don’t hear anymore. You don’t listen.
Everything that people say, it’s just nothing, because that’s your nature. You’ve become nothing. And the seeing from Nothing means there’s no way to relate…
it was the ultimate way to protect my heart from meeting other people…
It was bliss inside, but it didn’t have relation to anything because everything was unreal.
So, why should I relate with something? Not even my partner…

And guess what? His partner fell in love with someone else and left him.

It was like someone taking the Zen stick and hitting me. And I fell from that Bliss bubble. It was a dropping from paradise… Even that ultimate realization of Nothingness is another way [of] protecting yourself from being visible, from what you really are…

Florian goes on to speak about embodiment- consciousness coming down into the tissues. He slaps his leg as he says this, but also waves his hands around his belly.
I hope to speak more about the belly… but that will have to be another day.
Meanwhile, I hope you can find the time to listen to all of Florian’s interview. I love what the Iain and Renata McNay are doing with Conscious TV.