Unshakeable Inner Peace

When we peel away the layers of the temporary qualities of the body-mind – thoughts, images, feelings, sensations, and perceptions – at the center of our centerless being we find an unshakeable inner peace.

Do this now. Set aside your thoughts and images, memories of the past and dreams of the future. Set aside your feelings – your anger or happiness, your anxiety or depression. Set aside your gender, your age, your occupation. Set aside your beliefs, opinions, and positions. Set aside your prejudices, bigotry, and racism.

Anything you can conceive of, anything that you perceive yourself, others, or the world to be, set it all aside.

Now ask yourself, what is left?

What is left when you are void of all thoughts, feelings, sensations, and perceptions?

A vast nothingness, quiet and still, infinite and eternal, undisturbed by any appearance or activity in the world, unaltered by any desire of the mind or body.

An unshakeable inner peace.

This is not to disparage thoughts, feelings, sensations, and perceptions, but to acknowledge the irrefutable fact that at their source is an unshakeable inner peace. When this is recognized, all action is based on spontaneous love.

Consciousness Stands Alone

            “Either the truth can stand on its own or it’s not the truth.”                                                                                                                   ~ Francis Lucille

Can you truly claim consciousness or awareness as your own? Is consciousness, that which is reading these words, a self-contained, personal attribute of your body-mind? And, if so, can we conclude that an individual consciousness resides in each of the seven billion different body-minds on the planet? This is the common belief, but if we look at the nature of this so-called individual consciousness it doesn’t seem to be our actual experience.

Does consciousness share the limits of a body-mind? Does it have a beginning or end? No. There is never a time when you can say consciousness is not present. It does not come and go like the birth and death of a body-mind – it is beyond time. Does it have an edge or a boundary? No. You cannot find a place where consciousness ends and something else begins – it is beyond space.

Something that is beyond time we call eternal. Something that is beyond space we call infinite. If something is eternal and infinite, where is there room for two?

Consciousness stands alone at the heart of our experience. You can take nothing from it and add nothing to it. It is complete in its emptiness, which makes it absolutely full. It is everywhere in its nowhere-ness.

We don’t need some special knowledge or mystical transmission to know this. A simple, earnest, honest investigation is all it takes to see that within the realm of concepts all there is is consciousness or awareness.

And there cannot be two. No separation between anything, any thing. All made of the same stuff. No self, no other. Just this. And you, I, we, are this – seven billion unique expressions of one consciousness whose essence is love.

And then we smile as even this idea dissolves in the spaceless space of absolute freedom.

Ice On The Pond

“All exists in awareness and awareness neither dies nor is re-born.                                          It is the changeless reality itself.” – Nisargadatta Maharaj

In the pale light of dawn a thin patch of ice floats on a nearby pond. The warmth of the rising sun melts the ice and transforms it into a delicate mist that floats upwards and dissolves in the clear Vermont winter sky. A wild duck lands on the pond with a splash and sends a lazy ripple of concentric circles towards its edge.

What is the difference between the water in the pond and the ice that forms on it? Or the mist that rises from it? The flowing ripples? Ice, mist, ripples, all varied substances arising from the same source – all manifestations of water. Different, yet the same.

Likewise, what is the difference between a thought and the knowing of it? Or between an image, a feeling, a sensation, the sights and sounds of the world, and the awareness of them?

The pond, of course, is a metaphor for awareness, our essential being, in which all appearances arise. All manifestations of the body-mind – thoughts, images, feelings, sensations, and perceptions – arise in awareness; can only arise in awareness. All objects, subtle to gross, arise in, are made of, and known by awareness – source and substance. Different, yet the same.

The interesting thing about these relationships is that the source does not depend on the substance for its existence, but the substance depends on the source. Water does not depend on ice in order to be itself, but ice depends on water in order to become ice. Awareness does not depend on thought in order to be itself, but thought depends on awareness in order to become a thought.

If something is both the source and the substance it’s obvious that there can be no separation between them. Whatever manifestation of the source, that is, awareness, there is nothing new added – source always remains itself regardless of its apparent appearance. Our essential nature is that source, and as that source, although we may manifest as ten thousand things, we are unchanging, ever lasting, ever-present.

Rest in the understanding that all things arise in that which knows, but that which knows, which is ever-present, does not arise in any thing. This knowing exists before, during, and after all appearances arise, linger, and disappear. And you, I, we, are that knowing.

Actually, that’s not quite it. We are that which exists prior to the arising of anything, even the knowing. But don’t take anyone’s word for it. Trust only your own experience.

 

Homage to a Mantra

If you are truly seeking to uncover the mysteries of the universe, discover the meaning of life, you have to do something, right? You can’t just sit around and wait for the answer or answers to come to you. Most of us consider that to be counterintuitive. Or is it? We’ll find out sooner or later: you have to do until you don’t.

The seeker turns to study, yoga, various meditation techniques and practices, possibly to bask in the grace of a guru, and/or spend time in retreat with a group of like-minded people. The seeker does these things to become a better person, to gain wisdom, and in many cases, to reach the ultimate goal of becoming an enlightened being.

If drawn to mantras, the great and powerful mantra of the Prajna Paramita (The Heart Sutra) sings:

Gate, Gate, Paragate,

     Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!

Gone, Gone, Gone Beyond,

     Gone Beyond the Great Beyond, Rejoice!

In other words, as a spiritual seeker, whatever your thoughts, feelings, or sensations, whatever you perceive in the world, no matter the content, positive or negative, do not be deluded into believing that they present an insurmountable obstacle, or the way it’s going to be forever.

In Ram Dass’s Be Here Now, the mantra is followed by:

Beyond even conceiving of a place beyond which you can go beyond.

Let’s rest there for a moment . . .

As they say in poker, that doesn’t leave us (the mind) many outs.

No matter the circumstances, the beauty and grace, the clarity and truth of this mantra will hold you lightly, warmly, gently in its loving heart and reassure you that regardless of whatever you are experiencing, on either end of the suffering/joy spectrum, it’s never the final answer.

Do not stop

     Do not think you have arrived

     Anywhere

Go beyond

     Go beyond all points beyond

Little mind is left behind

     Gone as far as it can go

     On this journey beyond it

From now on we travel

     Lightly

And as you free fall into this limitless, boundless world, everything does stop, and all is silent and still.

And in this instance of surrender to the mother of all mantras, sound of all sounds – beyond all belief and disbelief – you, I, we, vibrate, disperse, dissolve, and ultimately meet, join together, in the centerless center of infinite and eternal peace. And all is well.