No Selfie

To discover the truth of the concept of self and other is to discover the truth of our essential nature, which is that of pure and indivisible consciousness, also known as love.

Self and other, subject and object, are simply waves on the ocean of consciousness. They are made of consciousness, yet think and act as though they are independent entities.

We take a picture of our self and call it a ‘Selfie’, when in fact there is no self to begin with. What is really happening is that no one is taking a picture of no thing.

When the notion, the shadow, of an individual self vanishes in the light of clear seeing, it becomes immediately apparent that there never was a self to begin with.

Who or what are you taking a picture of? Look at the components of the body-mind that ends up as an image on the screen or paper.

A body made of tissue and bone. A mind made of thoughts, images, and memories. An entity that perceives the world through sight, sound, taste, texture, and smell.

All impermanent qualities that come and go on a field of ever-present knowing. And we know this field of knowing because, before anything else, we are this field of knowing.

Our essential nature, ever-present knowing, experiences all that comes and goes yet does not come and go with them. Ever-present is ever-present. All-pervading. Never changing.

Not only do we not come and go with experience, we are the field in which all experiences arise, so all experiences come from and are made out of the same stuff.

Just as the waves are made of the ocean, all experiences are made of the knowing of them, of the ever-present field of knowing that is our essential nature.

It appears as though someone holds the camera at arm’s length, smiles, and snaps the picture, but it’s only emptiness seeing itself, being itself, and, of course, posting itself.

Guaranteed ‘Like(s)’.

For Beginners Only

Anyone who has embarked on a spiritual journey over the past fifty years has more than likely discovered Zen monk Shunryu Suzuki, first master of the San Francisco Zen Center and Tasajara Zen Mountain Center – the unassuming, unswerving man with a twinkle in his eyes.

His collection of talks in ‘Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind’ point directly to the source of our being and is considered by many to be essential reading for serious seekers. Below are some favorite quotes from this book as well as from some of his other works – ripples on the vast ocean that is Shunryu Suzuki.

* * *

‘In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.’

‘There are, strictly speaking, no enlightened people, there is only enlightened activity’.

‘What we call I is just a swinging door, which moves when we inhale and when we exhale.’

‘Treat every moment as your last. It is not preparation for something else.’

‘Actually water always has waves. Waves are the practice of the water. To speak of waves apart from water or water apart from waves is a delusion. Water and waves are one. Big mind and small mind are one. When you understand your mind in this way, you have some security in your feeling . . . Whatever you experience is an expression of big mind.’

‘When you do something, you should burn yourself completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.’

A student asked in dokusan (private interview), ‘If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?’ Suzuki Roshi answered, ‘It doesn’t matter.’

A student who had just concluded a thirty-day zazen (seated meditation) retreat with two enthusiastic dharma pals asked Suzuki Roshi how to maintain the extraordinary state of mind he’d attained. ‘Concentrate on your breathing, and it will go away,’ Suzuki said.

‘Wherever you are, you are one with the clouds and one with the sun and the stars you see. You are one with everything. That is more true than I can say, and more true than you can hear.’

Beyond Mind

“To locate a thing you need space, to place an event you need time; but the timeless and spaceless defies handling. It makes everything perceivable, yet itself is beyond perception. The mind cannot know what is beyond the mind, but the mind is known by what is beyond it.” – Nisargadatta Maharaj

A Case of Mistaken Identity

If you are a seeker of the truth then you still identify with a separate self. That is, you think of yourself as an individual body/mind with independent thought and free will. In this case, you might as well identify with the highest form of thought possible, that of being consciousness itself.

Referring to metaphors, as consciousness you are the ocean, not the wave, the sun, not the clouds, the screen, not the images on the screen. As a separate individual you identify with the wave, cloud, and image.

It’s all a matter of perspective, a shift in perspective. If you know your thoughts, then you are not your thoughts. Your thoughts arise in you. You don’t arise in a thought.

If you know you know your thoughts, then you are ultimately prior to knowing, before or beyond consciousness itself – consciousness being just a high concept.

You don’t have to make any effort to be. You know you are. That is enough. The biggest mistake, the true original sin, is that we mistake ourselves to be the thought ‘I am.’ But this is only a thought.

The thought ‘I am’ is the beginning of the end, the end of the beginning. A thought is no more real than a shadow. Nisargadatta Maharaj says, ‘The shadow cannot be there without the substance – but the shadow is not the substance.’

All thoughts are shadows and therefore we cannot be a thought. If you observe your thoughts, even casually, you find that one thought replaces another in an endless parade – ‘I am this, I am not this, I want this, I don’t want this, they are this, they are not this,’ etcetera. So ignore the thoughts and be that which you truly are – identify with that which knows all thought.

You think ‘I am.’ What is that? Exactly where is the ‘I’ that we cling to so dearly, that we stake our body-mind identity on? Where is it now?

Ever-Present Awareness

You recognize your sense of being, this ever-present awareness, and discover that it is eternal and infinite, without limits and not sharing the destiny—the coming and going—of the body or the mind. Does this ever-present awareness have a center?

Can you locate a center? Can you find a specific point that you can say here is where it all begins? Here is the center of my being?

In the same way, when you look at something—making the common false assumption that ‘you’ are a subject who ‘sees’ an object—can you find the point where the seer ends and the seen begins?

Or, upon hearing a sound, can you locate the place at which the sound and the hearing meet?

Is there any separation in any of these examples? Is there a center to awareness, a point from which awareness emanates? A division between the seer and the seen? A place where sound ends and hearing begins?

The answer to all of these questions is an emphatic no! As Rupert Spira says, ‘Locate yourself nowhere, find yourself everywhere.’ Actually, we don’t have to do anything. We don’t have to locate or find ourselves anywhere, as our experience shows that we are ever-present in all experience – we never come and we never go. We just are.