Whatever

Whatever you perceive you are not.

You perceive a body that experiences pleasure and pain.

You are not.

You perceive a mind filled with thoughts, images, and memories.

You are not.

You perceive a world outside full of beings and objects.

You are not.

You perceive the wonders and horrors of humanity and beasts, nature and the universe.

You are not.

You perceive the observer of all these things.

You are not.

If you are not any of the above, what remains?

You.

Rules To Live By II

The Ten Commandments. The Five Pillars Of Islam. Maimomides’ Thirteen Principles. Buddha’s Eightfold Path. Thich Nhat Hanh’s Five Mindfulness Trainings. The Four Agreements.

A short list of the numerous rules to live by – moral codes that have been passed down through the ages from the many spiritual and philosophical traditions – wisdom to guide us in our everyday life, and, if all goes well, to lead us to the land of the pure after death.

Originally, these edicts described the qualities of an Awakened Being. They were not a list of goals to aspire to in order to become someone other than, better than, more perfect than ourselves, but the qualities of our essential being – who we inherently are.

Instead of starting from the point of view of a limited separate self that is always involved in the act of becoming, how about starting from the point of view of that which is always present, aware, and unchanging? From the point of view of that which has no agenda, no desires, and is inherently peaceful and happy? It can be such hard work trying to become a perfect person, and, in any case, impossible to maintain. The separate self is never satisfied – it can never be perfect enough. And beside, perfection is a relative concept, so what is perfect to one is imperfect to another.

Start from the place prior to any concept of good or bad, compassion or indifference, perfection or imperfection. It is from this limitless placeless place, the source of our being, that all these rules of proper conduct, these moral codes, have arisen in the first place. In fact, it is the place from which all appearances arise.

Setting aside the illusionary separate self – for who can identify with something that by its very nature comes and goes? – something like the Buddhist Eightfold Path – Right Understanding, Right Intent, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration – is revealed not as a collection of qualities you have to seek, or a path to follow, but as qualities that you, we, all seven billion of us, already embody as infinite and eternal beings.

And the sweet thing about something that’s infinite and eternal is that there is only room for one. Not two.

Don’t Take It Personally

We take things personally when, in fact, there is no person, no individual self, to take anything, or, for that matter, to give anything. This causes a dilemma, especially when it comes to relationships.

When someone addresses your ‘person’ they are really addressing a phantom, a shadow, and all attempts at clear communication are futile. Actually, in most cases, it’s phantom addressing phantom – two people coming from the limited point of view of an individual self. This is frustrating to everyone, often leading to major disagreements and, ultimately, separation, which makes perfect sense when we already live as separate beings.

This is particularly true when we are trying to ‘make things right’ – when we’re dissatisfied with how we are being treated and want to make sure that the other knows where we’re coming from – and, more than likely, to correct their behavior so that we feel better about our . . . phantom self.

When we take things personally we are kowtowing to an illusionary conditioned self that has innumerable likes and dislikes – an infinite number of deeply ingrained conditions that must be met in order for it to feel satisfied and happy. This is not a formula for liberation, happiness, and love, for our self or others.

Take a deep look at your own individual person and experience the irrefutable fact that there isn’t one. We find a mind consisting of passing thoughts and images, a body composed of perishable tissue and bone – all ever-changing attributes with no real lasting value.

And then look at who is doing the looking. Discover the source of being – an aware presence that knows the coming and going of all things, yet doesn’t come and go with them. It is not an individual person, a phantom self, or any ‘thing’, but an essence, a vibration of infinite light and eternal love. And each one of us contains this source of being. Actually, we don’t contain it – the source of being, by definition, contains us.

When we communicate from this source of being, as this source of being, whomever we address, we address as this very same source of being. It’s a unique expression of infinite and eternal aware presence addressing a unique expression of infinite and eternal aware presence.

See this, know this, be this, and you can’t help but fall in love with everyone and everything.

Beloved . . . Be love . . . Be loved

Just As The Snake

Just as the snake sheds its skin when it outlives its purpose, so too does the separate self fall away when it’s seen for what it is – an illusionary bundle of passing thoughts, images, sensations, and perceptions.

A snake’s skin doesn’t grow with the snake, just as the separate self is revealed as a limited entity under the bright light of ever-present awareness.

The snake grows a new skin under the old. When its growth is complete the snake makes a small rip in the old skin by rubbing on a rock or log. It then works its way through the old layer until it’s off.

In the growing light of awareness – the unbounded, ever-present sense of being that is the background of all experience – the separate self, or who we ‘think’ we are, turns out to be as useless as a snake’s old skin.

We outgrow the idea of an individual self, a temporary ‘skin’ made up of passing thoughts and sensations, rub up against the ever-present light of awareness, and the old skin falls away to reveal the infinite and eternal centerless center of our being.

Our one being, for how can there be two or more of something that is limitless?

We All Appear To Die

Death surrounds us. It’s featured daily in the national news – 30 dead in a terrorist attack; 6 die in fire; reported 1200 dead in early figures following earthquake; 17 gunned down in a movie theater; a famous actress dies at 97. We see, hear, and read about death so often that it’s easy to tune it out. Death is a part of life, but in many cases we don’t want to dwell on it. It’s not a pleasant subject, after all. It’s just too final. But when someone close to us dies it tends to bring our own mortality into sharper focus.

Death surrounds us. But do we actually die? Aren’t the seeds of birth and death contained in our essential being, the ever-present Awareness from which all manifestations arise, linger, and disappear?

We all appear to die. Eventually our minds give out, our bodies give out, and everything ceases to function. The body-mind ‘dies’, but does Awareness, that which know the body-mind, die with it?

Awareness, the sense of being that has been with us as far back as we can remember, exists prior to, during, and after any experience of the body-mind has come and gone, be it a thought, image, feeling, sensation, or perception of the world through our five senses.

If Awareness is our essential nature, we, in the absolute sense, do not die. Death is just a concept within the vast ever-presence of infinite and eternal Awareness.

Were you a witness to your own birth?

It might seem obvious that you couldn’t witness your own birth, as you, a separate self, were not conscious enough to know anything. But the reality is that you would have to be present and aware to answer ‘No’.

Could you ever witness your own disappearance or death?

Conceptually, it makes sense that you couldn’t witness your own death because you are the one that appears to be dying. But, again, you would have to be present and aware to answer ‘No’.

Stick to the facts of your own experience and live your ‘life’ as your essential Self: ever-present Awareness. Not as a temporary, and thus illusionary, separate self we call a body-mind that appears to be born, live, and die.

When you do this, life turns into timeless, wondrous moments of endless discovery. Actually, you don’t have to ‘do’ anything because this is your original nature. No doing, no effort involved in being who you already are.

One Step Back

A popular televangelist preaches to his flock on the ‘power of I am.’ The jist of his sermon is that anything is possible if you have the faith to believe it. Instead of saying, ‘I am weak,’ you say, ‘I am strong.’ Instead of thinking, ‘I am stupid,’ you think, ‘I am smart.’ Instead of thinking, ‘I am a failure,’ you think, ‘I am successful.’ Instead of thinking that everyone hates you, you think that everyone loves you. In other words, if you don’t like who you are or what your circumstances are, all you have to do is change your way of thinking.

It certainly is possible that following this formula could temporarily alleviate the suffering of the illusionary separate self, or, as Richard Sylvester might say, at least make our personal prison a little more comfortable. Apparently the pastor’s message has helped millions to more fulfilling lives. But if he truly wanted to free his flock, he could take it one step further. Or one step back . . .

To cling to the idea of a personal self that has ‘the faith to believe’ is like identifying with a wave on the ocean – a wave rises from the ocean, flows for a time on its surface, and then is absorbed back into its depths. And that is the nature of all experiences of the body-mind. No matter how hard we try to hang on to our qualities, our activities, our relationships, our beliefs, they are no more lasting than a wave on the ocean.

Staying with the same metaphor, if the ocean is the source of all waves, what is the source of all qualities of the body-mind, of all appearances of the world?

We can say I am this or I am that, but what happens when we take one step back and simply say I am? What is the essence of our being when all attachments are set aside and we stand alone as I am?

The power of I am is . . . I Am. Period. Not I am this or I am that. Simply I Am – that knowing presence that exists in you, in all of us, prior to, during, and after all appearances arise, linger, and disappear. Actually, this knowing presence doesn’t exist in us. We, that is, the idea of we, exist in it, as it.

And just as the ocean continues to be itself regardless of the waves that come and go on its surface, I Am, or pure knowing, is unwavering and ever-present regardless of whatever appears to be happening in the body, mind, or world.

Relax as this unencumbered I Am-ness. Explore its boundaries and find them non-existent. Explore its origin and find it has no beginning or end. In the instant recognition of its infinite and eternal nature, experience that there can be only one, and with this understanding, dissolve into your, our, essential nature of limitless peace, beauty, and love.

This is the true power of I Am.

It’s Only The Separate Self

It’s only the separate self that feels challenged by an uncomfortable situation. That feels resistance, frustration, fear, anxiety, anger, and hate.

It’s only the separate self that needs to be right.

It’s only the separate self that needs to hear things in the correct tone of voice.

It’s only the separate self that thinks others are projecting their thoughts and feelings onto them.

It’s only the separate self that feels put upon and misunderstood.

It’s only the separate self, the thought that says, ‘I am this, I am that,’ that sees itself as separate, divided from the outside world of others and things.

And yet when we look in earnest for this separate self, our experience shows us that there isn’t one.

A separate self cannot be found, yet we live our lives under its spell.

Self-esteem is shattered or aggrandized, relationships are overly possessive or torn apart, wars are waged, and senseless destruction, internal and external, prevails, and all on behalf of a non-existent entity.

See the truth, the truth of your own experience, that there is no self – only fleeting thoughts, emotions, sensations, and perceptions – and therefore no other. No inside. No outside. All that can be found is limitless consciousness, the source of all experience.

Our true identity is this limitless consciousness, this one and only limitless consciousness. Our essential nature is that of boundless and loving openness. We have nothing to achieve, nothing to fear, and no belief to cling to. We, you, I, are free.

Same Old Same Old

(Conversations with Rad Dad)

Q: Every time I ask you a question you give me the same old answer.

RD: You know you’re interrupting my Monday night poker game, right? Just kidding (not). Maybe I give you the same old answer because you ask me the same old questions.

Q: I ask you a different question every time.

RD: They might sound different – a lot of words spew from the human tongue – but you’re always asking from the point of view of a separate self.

Q: So what am I supposed to do?

RD: There you go again.

Q: Seriously. I’m really trying to understand.

RD: Ask me the right question.

Q: You always tell me that the source of I, you, we, me, all things, is unlimited consciousness.

RD: That’s not a question.

Q: That’s true, but I just wanted to say that over the years I’ve come to believe you.

RD: What? Did I hear you correctly? You’ve come to believe me?

Q: Yes.

RD: Okay, I give up. Beliefs are for amateurs and a dime a dozen. Every belief – no more than a muddled collection of biased, fleeting thoughts – has its opposite and equally absurd counterpart. Simple observation is all that matters – seeing what is. If you don’t know that by now, it’s hopeless. Go and leave me to my poker game. You’re wasting my time and I’m getting blinded out.

Q: Rad Dad, please! Just one more question. I promise it will be a good one.

RD: (Looks at his hole cards – 7 2 off suit – and folds.) Shoot.

Q: Why do I continue to ask the same old questions?

RD: (Wry Smile) Because you come from the same old place – a limited sense of self must ask, by nature, a limited question. Same old same old. But experience shows that the mind can’t go beyond the mind. My old buddy Nisargadatta used to say that all the time. As a side note, besides selling some fine cigars he could play a mean hand of poker.

Q: So you’re saying don’t ask any questions?

RD: Close, but no. I’m saying that if you can find the one who asks the questions I’ll eat my . . . cards.

As I Move Through The Day

When the I is divested of the I, only the I remains.’ ~ Sri Ramana Maharshi

We say, ‘As I move through the day’, or ‘As I travel through life.’ But this isn’t our actual experience. We don’t move through the day. We don’t travel through life. The day moves through us. Life travels through us. And there is only one ‘us’ or ‘I’ that can be found.

Of course we think ‘I’ move through the day. But what I are we talking about? If it’s the individual I, the separate self made up of a cluster of fleeting ideas, images, and feelings that perceives the world through the senses, then yes, that I moves through the day, subject to all its whims, all its limitations, ups and downs, joys and sorrows and everything in between.

But if it is the I with nothing attached, the I at the source that precedes all else, the I that is ever-present and aware, that knows the coming and going of all things (even the individual I) but doesn’t come and go with them, then we know our actual experience.

All things, including the separate self, arise in and pass through this original I. Actually, that’s not quite right. All things arise in and are therefore made of original I, the source of our being, so nothing really passes through anything. There is nowhere to come from and nowhere to go because everything is always already here. Just this.

Whatever happens, original I, the source of our being, remains untouched, unblemished, unchanged, and unmoved, never going anywhere or becoming anything other than itself. It stands alone, not two – only one thing going on – and you, I, we, all things, are that.

The Mother of All Containers

We are conditioned, in many instances quite lovingly and with good intentions, to believe in our identity as an individual self – a body-mind made up of a collection of fleeting thoughts, images, feelings, sensations, and perceptions. But this is all it is, a belief. This is not our actual experience, not our actual identity.

If ‘I’ am aware of my body-mind, what is this ‘I’ that is aware? Where is it? Can it be located? No. It can’t be found in any particular place, yet everywhere ‘I’ looks it finds itself. It is ever-present, aware, and holds everything. Nothing comes from outside it because there is no outside. No inside either. No boundaries. It is the mother of all containers.

Instead of placing our identity in something as fragile and impermanent as a body-mind with its limited thoughts and perceptions, we can pay attention to that which knows the coming and going of all things, yet never comes and goes itself. In this we discover a genuine security, which, in turn, reveals an immutable background of peace, happiness, and love that is our original nature. And this is cause for celebration!

All Appearances

All Objects, All Things

Are Held, Contained, Embraced, Loved

By a Seemingly Endless Universe

That Stretches Back in Time for

Billions of Years

And Into the Future

From Here to Eternity

Yet No Actual Limits Can Be Found

No Inside

No Outside

Only Boundless Awareness

The Mother of All Containers

THIS