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


Seeking Truth Through Experience

Life is made up of endless experiences. No matter how enticing or repelling they may seem, they are limited by time and space – their nature is to arise, linger, and disappear. Your true essence is that which knows all experience – that which exists prior to, during, and after any experience has come and gone. You can’t help but be that. You are that. This is your true nature and where peace resides.

If you are seeking spiritual truth, enlightenment, or just trying to lose yourself for a moment through experience – be it with meditation, chanting, mantra, fasting, yoga, sky diving, or psychedelics – ask yourself the question, who is it that is seeking? All experiences are sought on behalf of an individual self, and that individual self will never be satisfied for long because the memory, which is all that remains of any experience, fades and then another experience is sought. It’s an endless, ultimately frustrating cycle. But that which knows all experience, call it the Absolute or consciousness, does not want for anything, therefore it seeks no thing. It is all things.

The individual or separate self is a collection of thoughts, feelings, sensations, and perceptions, all experiences and thus limited by nature – appearing in the field of consciousness like images appear on a movie screen, play out their part in the story, and then pass off screen. But you, consciousness, the screen, remain untouched, undisturbed by any action on the screen, and, in fact, receive any and all manifestations equally. And, more importantly, you exist in wholeness totally independent of any activity on the screen.

In reality, there is no one who experiences. There is only experiencing. The insatiable seeker is only a concept, a collection of wandering thoughts, images, feelings, sensations, and perceptions, and is only truly happy when it no longer exists. That is why many seek out extreme experiences. It’s the quickest way to dissolve the separate self, at least momentarily. And with this momentary dissolution, ineffable peace and joy is experienced. But the truth is that true peace and joy are not experiences – they are inherent to our original nature, who and what we are at the core of our being. See this completely and it is no longer necessary to seek truth through experience – you are the truth to begin with.

Blasphemy vs. Free Speech

Webster’s Dictionary defines blasphemy as an ‘impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things; an act of cursing or reviling God; irreverent behavior toward anything held sacred or estimable.’ Free speech needs no definition. In any case, both are only concepts, and with any concept you can always find its opposite. Thus conflict is born.

There was a fascinating discussion on blasphemy vs. free speech on NPR (On Point with Tom Ashbrook, January 15, 2015). To quote Ashbrook: ‘Blasphemy can sound like a very old idea in much of the world.  But in the Islamic world, blasphemy is hot and very political.  In Pakistan, you can get a beating or worse in a hurry.  Saudi Arabia just sentenced a critic to 1000 lashes.  Mauritania has sentenced a blogger to death by firing squad for insulting the prophet.  And then there’s Charlie Hebdo.  This hour On Point: the blasphemy charge, inside the Islamic world and beyond.’

For starters, Ashcroft quoted the PM of Turkey saying, ‘Freedom of thought and belief ends where the freedom of thought and belief of others starts.’ Where is the freedom in this? But let’s move quickly beyond blasphemy and the Islamic world and approach it from a global standpoint. As one contributor to the show said, ‘There is no ultimate freedom of speech anywhere in the world.’

It’s obvious that there are an infinite number of opinions regarding the parameters of freedom of speech and what constitutes blasphemy – opinions primarily informed by any given culture’s religious and political views. And given the multitude of opinions, it’s obvious that they can’t help but be broken by someone. It’s like the old sidewalk game of ‘step on a crack, break your mother’s back.’ There are too many cracks.

In other words, the model is flawed – as long as there is a clinging to religious beliefs and political views there will always be conflict among and within all the cultures of the world. As long as there is an ‘us’ and ‘them’, a ‘me’ and ‘you’ mentality, we will forever tread on each other’s toes.

There is a solution: there is no other. When you discover this, understand it in the core of your being, there is never any reason, any desire, or even a way to offend someone else, because, in reality, there is no other to offend.

When you realize that there is only an other from the point of view of an individual self – whom most of us take ourselves to be – and then try to locate this individual self in earnest and can’t find it except as an impermanent cluster of thoughts, feelings, sensations, and perceptions, and therefore, ultimately unreal, where is the other?

In other words, if there is no self how can there be an other? We are all considered an other from the point of view of another individual self, and, conversely, everyone else is an other from the limited view of our individual self. When you know, feel, understand, that this so-called opposition of ‘other’ and ‘self’ is just an appearance, where is the animosity, the fear, the anger? Who is there to oppose? Blaspheme?

When the separation between self and other dissolves in understanding, in the knowing of our essential nature – which is that which knows all appearances, yet itself is not an appearance –all that remains is true freedom, or love.

Rules to Live By

‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ is the familiar form of the Golden Rule. If we all followed this ethical code of behavior there’s no doubt it would be a better world. But why don’t we? It doesn’t seem as though it should be that difficult.

All of the major religions and philosophies have some form of the Golden Rule at their core, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Sikhism, Christianity, Unitarianism, Native Spirituality, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, Judaism, Islam, and the Baha’i Faith. The majority of the seven-plus billion people on the planet adhere to the beliefs of one of these groups. So why is the world in such a state of perpetual turmoil? Where is the love?

It seems as though these days ‘an eye for an eye’ is an even more popular moral code, ignoring Gandhi’s clear warning, ‘An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.’ If you tune in to the world news, you hear the terms revenge, retribution, and retaliation far more often than you hear the words peace, love, and happiness.

So throw out the Golden Rule, live by ‘an eye for an eye,’ and continue on our path of destruction, with past and current events the irrefutable proof of our willingness, on the one hand, to commit inhumane acts in the name of some higher being, and on the other hand to accept these acts as just the way things are.

Really? This is all the human race has to offer?

After thousands of years of religious indoctrination and philosophical rhetoric, all in the name of peace, love, happiness, and ultimately Oneness, you’d think that we would have worked things out, but in spite of the obvious failure of these efforts on behalf of some deity or special knowledge, we continue on this dead end path.

We could say that it’s all about power, about the control of the few who are rich enough and smart enough, strong and manipulative enough to convince the majority of the rest of us that they know what’s best for us. And we buy into it because we don’t know what else to do, and, of course, it’s easier to be a follower than a leader.

In the end, the joke is on us because the misery and brutality will endure as long as we consider ourselves to be individuals. And this has nothing to do with being faceless drones or sheep led to slaughter. This has to do with realizing the truth of our own nature, that there is no other to do upon, and that the eye cannot kill itself.

‘I and the Mother/Father/Self/Other are one.’ Period. Set aside your beliefs, for, as history shows, they only bring about endless suffering. Set aside all ideas of being a separate self and let your true self, that of infinite and eternal consciousness, be revealed.

Stop thinking of yourself as yourself. There is no self. If you would simply pause for a moment and look, you can’t possibly find this aggrandized or persecuted self. It doesn’t exist. I, we, you, are just a cluster of passing thoughts, images, feelings, sensations, and perceptions, with no more strength or staying power than a cloud in the sky.

And when this is fully understood, experienced, known for absolute fact, all separation falls away, all divisions vanish like a mirage in the desert, and you, I, we, stand revealed as one indivisible entity whose qualities are peace, love, and happiness. And no rule can ever give us this.



Deeply Buried Within You

“Deeply buried within you is the conviction that all objects and your surroundings are separate from you, outside you. In the same way, feelings and your body are just objects amongst others, which can also be considered separate from you. If we adopt this point of view, the ego loses its substance. You will come to see that your thoughts, your I-thought, emotions, likes and dislikes are equally only perceived objects. This standpoint will lead you to realize spontaneously that you are the ultimate knower, and your notion of being a personal entity will thus lose all meaning.” ~ Jean Klein

No Effort Required

“Since all is empty from the beginning, where can the dust alight?” – Hui Neng

All effort of the separate self to become liberated or enlightened is futile. Actually, all effort to become anything, ‘become’ being the key word, is futile. The act of becoming is a never-ending uphill battle that cannot be won. Yes, you might meditate, chant mantras, go on a spiritual retreat, take a self-help course, improve your self-image, your position in life, your relationships, even your mental outlook, but none of these have any lasting effect or enduring qualities. To paraphrase Wei Wu Wei, the ‘action which is not action’ man, we are unhappy because everything we do is for our self, and there isn’t one.

The separate self, or Little Me, or ego, can’t become something else because it’s nothing to begin with. It’s like a shadow trying to become the phantom that created it.

If you look closely, all qualities of the separate self are temporary. Any substances that they appear to be made out of are ultimately no more real than a shadow.

Your true self, essential being, needs no help. It already is and always will be. It is inherently liberated and enlightened, peaceful, happy, and loving. It is untouchable, unmoving, unchanging.

In the act of becoming, the separate self will endlessly create new obstacles to overcome, new goals to achieve, and will forever be chasing the carrot dangling just out of reach. That’s what the separate self, the ego, does. This is what gives it life. And this is what causes all of our psychological suffering – trying to cure our problems with that which caused them.

The phantom and the shadow, the seeker and the sought, all vanish in the brilliant light of awareness, of simply being, and all effort ceases. And in this effortlessness there is a resting, an abiding in that which is nameless, can never be found, and yet is everywhere. And you, I, we are that.

No You

What ever you think, feel, sense, or perceive, this is not you. There is no individual self to make choices, to feel pain, suffering, or joy. If left to its own devices, the separate self will reinvent itself in any way possible. It will find any reason, any excuse, to say, ‘Here I am, look at me! I am this, I am that, I like this, I don’t like that,’ etc.

The separate self is also known as the ‘I’ thought, the ego, Little Mind, the individual self, or even that which identifies itself as the observer or witness (although these might be considered the brightest manifestation of the wily little character).

There’s one problem here. Krishnamurti says, ‘Thoughts create the thinker.’ In other words, if you look closely at this I that you identify with as your being, you find that it is only a creation of thought and can therefore be only a thought itself. And what is the true nature of a thought? It is a ghost. It arises in that which knows, in that which is aware of all coming and going, in that which never comes and goes itself.

Whatever you think of yourself—I am good, I am bad, I am smart, I am stupid—it’s just one thought replacing another. Your opinion of yourself or another has no basis in reality because there is no you or other to begin with. There is no ‘me’ to become anything, to achieve anything, to do anything, to lack anything, to gain anything.

You may feel a sense of unworthiness, or a grand sense of purpose, but either way there is no you to suffer or succeed. Where is this you? Find it right now. You can’t because it is just an idea, and all ideas, thoughts, come and go. Your actual being is that which never comes and goes, is unmoving, unchanging, and limitless. True, you can never be found, yet you are everywhere.

Am I A Limited Separate Self?

Ask yourself, am I really the limited separate self that I have come to believe, been taught, conditioned to believe by my family, friends, culture, and world? Is it really a fact that seven billion conscious beings see one sunset, or could it be possible that one consciousness sees seven billion sunsets?

The self as we’ve come to think of it is made up of thoughts, images, feelings, and sensations, and perceives the world through the five senses of sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. All are phenomena, objects arising in limitless conscious awareness, lingering for a period of time, and then disappearing, dissolving back into the boundless space from which they came. All things that we know, that can be known, experience an endless cycle of coming and going, but that which knows all things never comes and goes with them.

In the purest sense, we – are – that – which – never – comes – and – goes. You can think about it up to the point where thought becomes useless. What is it that knows the coming and going of all things? What is it that knows thoughts, feelings, sensations, and perceptions, yet is not dependent upon any of these things? What is nameless yet holds all names? I, you, we, are that.

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?