Mind Control

‘To give your sheep or cows a large,

spacious meadow is the way to control them.

~ Shunryu Suzuki

You might hear a spiritual seeker, or possibly someone who meditates, say, ‘If only I could control my thoughts, stop my thinking, I could find lasting peace and happiness.’

To paraphrase Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki, if you want to control your sheep or cows give them a large pasture. If you want to control your thoughts, give them a vast space in which to go through their magical dance of appearing, lingering, and disappearing.

If you give your sheep or cow a large pasture, they will not try to break through the fence to find something to eat or a place to run free. They will be happy having such an expanse of land in which to graze, play, and rest.

Ultimately, there is no need to control your thoughts. In what do they appear? A limited, confined space? No, they appear in the unlimited realm of awareness. We think our thoughts are confined to the brain in our head, appearing in our mind, but if this were true, with the number of thoughts we have over the course of a day, month, year, or lifetime, our brains would explode!

All experiences occur in awareness, in which no limits have ever been found. All things, that is, all objects, that occur in awareness, including thoughts and feelings, have limits. There is nothing that we know that doesn’t have a beginning, middle, and an end. Except for awareness itself, the knowing element in all experience.

We don’t actually ‘know’ awareness, as it has no objective qualities and is therefore unknowable.

But awareness knows itself – knowing knows knowing. And at our core, this is who we are, who we all are. We think that we are a body-mind made up of a cluster of thoughts, feelings, sensations, and perceptions. And this is true on a relative level, that is, in relationship to other body-minds. But this is how all conflict and unhappiness arise – from the belief that we are separate individuals, who must defend our own particular positions and opinions, which are founded on the false premise that . . . we are separate individuals.

In fact, there are no separate individuals, only unique manifestations of awareness. Set aside your temporary attributes that make up your-body mind, as they are, in the truest sense, not real. Settle into your unshakeable self, that which knows all experience, yet itself is not an experience.

The terms ‘Set aside’ and ‘Settle into’ are a bit misleading. It implies that an action or actions must take place in order to be your, our, unshakable self, which actually takes no effort whatsoever. Think more of a raindrop falling from the sky and melting, dissolving, into the ocean.

R.I.P.

Die to your false identity as an individual self and rest in peace.

How do you do this?

There is no way.

Which is not very helpful.

So . . .

There is one way.

But no one knows it.

Very helpful!

‘Three Inch Scholar’

‘If one repeats what he hears from others or read in books, he is not spreading Dharma (the teaching), but adulterating it. In the Orient, we call such a person a “three-inch scholar.” He reads or hears, then speaks, and the distance from the eyes to the mouth or the ears to mouth is about three inches. Those who give lectures or write books on Buddhism with no attainment of inner light are working in vain.’ ~ The Iron Flute (p.26)

This can also be said about people who teach or preach Advaita Vedanta, or any other religious, spiritual, philosophical, or materialist tradition.

I measured, and it’s 5 inches from my ears to my mouth, and 4 inches from my eyes to my mouth. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

I can only conclude that I have a big head.

Two Things In Common

Every human being on the planet has two things in common: birth and death. We are all born and we will all die. Beyond that, whatever else our lives might share in common depends on our culture and conditioning, and there will be very little consistency in this area when you consider that there are almost eight billion of us.

Actually, there are three things that we all have in common: birth, death, and consciousness. The beauty of consciousness is that it isn’t subject to the laws of time and space. Our body-minds are born into a world, live for a period of time, and then perish. But consciousness is always present, and therefore is never born and never dies.

And what is this consciousness? It’s that element of our being that knows all experience, but is not itself an experience. The element of our being that allows us to say unconditionally, I am, or I exist. The element of our being that knows the coming and going of all things, yet doesn’t come and go with them.

Most importantly, consciousness is the element of our being that exists prior to our being, and then manifests as a body-mind, allowing us to experience thinking, feeling, sensing, and to perceive the world through sights, sounds, tastes, textures, and smells.

And what a world it is! As manifestations of consciousness, we have this unique moment in time and space to think myriad thoughts, feel intense emotions, sense pleasure and pain, and see, hear, taste, touch, and smell the extraordinary world around us.

And then it will be gone. Not consciousness, but the body-mind, with all of its fantastic abilities, limited as they may be, and the world, with all of its wonders.

Consciousness, as it is everywhere and, therefore, everything, never goes anywhere. It never appears or disappears. It just is. Can you find any place, any object or thing, any self, where consciousness is not present? No. It would be like saying you can find a wave without an ocean.  

Look at your experience and recognize that consciousness is not in you, us, but that you, we, are in consciousness. Therefore, none of us are ever born and we will never die. Yes, our body-minds appear at birth and disappear at death, but the stuff we are made of, consciousness, is ever-present and unchanging. Infinite and eternal.

As you, I, we, are that . . .

. . . be that.

All that is.

Be The Changeless

The phrase ‘Be the change you want to see in the world,’ commonly attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, is often heard around self-help and self-actualization groups, as well as in numerous spiritual and political circles. It’s a wonderful concept: instead of trying to change others to lead a better, more conscious life, change yourself first and lead, inspire, by example.

But change is just that, change. In other words, we change the image or behavior of ourself in the hopes that it will rub off on others. Who is to say that our ‘change for the better’ is good for someone else? And if we can change once, what’s to say that we won’t change again, perhaps in another direction?

For a more stable and conscious society, shouldn’t we be trying to locate that unchanging element which is common to all of us? Something that we can all relate to as a neutral starting point for dialogue and action?

Our body-minds, made up of mortal flesh and bone, are a constantly changing flow of thoughts, feelings, sensations, sights, sounds, tastes, textures, and smells. Granted, some changes are imperceptible or gradual, and others more obvious, but there is constant change, nonetheless.

But there is an unchanging element to our experience, an unchanging element to our being that has been with every one of us for our entire lives, and is with us now at this very moment.

What is this changeless element? How do we identify it? How do we identify anything? We acknowledge its presence and observe its behavior.

With a simple investigation, you can discover for yourself the changeless element to your being. Sit quietly for a moment. Notice a thought as it comes to your attention, lingers for a short time, and then disappears. The thought comes and goes, but that which notices the thought remains.

This changeless element is that which notices all experience of the body, mind, and world, but is not itself an actual experience. All experiences come and go, but that which knows all experience doesn’t come and go with them. This is the changeless element to our being.

Once we identify this changeless element to our being, we might think that it is unique to our personal self. But upon further investigation, we discover that this changeless element is not in our personal self, our individual body-mind, but that our individual body-mind, our so-called separate self, is in this changeless element.

You can check the validity of this for yourself. Ask yourself, can anything exist outside of this changeless element? If you say yes, where would it come from? If you look carefully, no boundary can be found to that which knows all experience, and there is no time when it is not present. In other words, it is infinite and eternal. We have to conclude that nothing can exist or come from outside of this changeless element, and, this being the case, we can further conclude that we all must be made out of it. We are all unique manifestations of the same limitless, timeless stuff. All one. Not two. 

Instead of being the change that you want to see in the world, discover the changeless being that you want to see in the world – the open-hearted, clear-seeing, right-acting being that we all are at our core. Maybe, just maybe, this might inspire someone else to do the same.

Meet Divine Awareness

‘The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware,  

joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.’  

~ Henry Miller (1891-1980) 

Not just ‘to be aware,’ as that infers that we might be something other than that, but to recognize that we are awareness itself.

You, I, we, are divinely aware of all things that come and go, yet this divine awareness, our essential being in which all appearances arise, are known by, and made of, doesn’t come and go with them.

To be aware is to be our self – our indivisible, unchangeable, ever-present self. And it is the same for all of us. Everyone on the planet is a manifestation of this Divine Awareness.

Look into the eyes of a stranger and say to yourself, ‘Divine Awareness, meet Divine Awareness.’

*Thanks to good friend Steve Donoso for sharing this quote.

By All Appearances

By all appearances, there is an individual self, a ‘me’ made up of a body-mind, in here, and a ‘world’ of people, places, and things out there.

By all appearances.

And then there’s that other old nugget: appearances can be deceiving.

By all appearances, it looks like there are two or more things going on – me and you, us and them, inside and outside, this and that, etc. But is this our actual experience?

Not only can appearances be deceiving, they are deceiving.

Just as a magician pulls a coin from behind your ear and then makes it disappear in his hand, all appearances of the mind, body, and world appear and disappear. Deception at its finest!

Check it out. Thoughts come and go. Feelings come and go. Sensations come and go. Perceptions of the world are constantly coming and going. But what one thing does not come and go with them?

The presence with which they are known.

Ask yourself the question, who or what is this knowing presence that is aware of the coming and going of all things – thoughts, emotions, sensations, and perceptions of the world – yet doesn’t come and go with them?

You don’t have to search for this knowing presence, because you are this knowing presence. Relax in this, your essential nature, and its qualities of peace, love, and happiness will permeate your entire life, especially when it comes to relationships and actions.

A Knotted Rope

Your essential being is ever-present Awareness that only knows itself.

You exist prior to anything manifest in the phenomenal world.

Anything you can observe, you are not.

You exist prior to your heartbeat, during your heartbeat, and in the space before the next heartbeat.

You exist prior to space.

You are before the are that you think you are.

Just as a knotted rope is still a rope, a tangled Awareness is still Awareness.

You can tie a hundred knots in a rope and it’s still a rope, just as you can flood our shared essential being, the infinite and eternal space of Awareness, with countless objects – from fleeting thoughts and painful feelings to flowing rivers and shooting stars – and it’s still Awareness.

What we crave most is going home to love.

Love loving Love.

E Pluribus Unum

During Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech for presidential candidate she talked about ‘working together so we can rise together.’ She said, ‘Our country’s motto is E Pluribus Unum: out of many, we are one. Will we stay true to that motto?’

If we do stay true to that motto there will be a problem. Or, more accurately, the ongoing (for millennia) condition of worldwide divisiveness and conflict will continue to be a problem.

With a slight shift in perspective, we flip the motto to E Unum Pluribus – out of the One comes the many. Isn’t this closer to our actual experience? In fact, isn’t this our actual experience?

We are not the many coming together to create oneness, be it of thought, word, and deed, or the pursuit of happiness. We are each a manifestation of oneness, or, as the sage might say to erase all confusion, we are each a manifestation of that which is not two.

As long as there is an individual self who holds a belief, opinion, or position over another individual self, the human race will remain on its dubious and often desperate path.

Look at your experience and see that there is no division between self and other – where is the borderline between not two? – and you quickly see that working together, rising together, is not a problem. It’s no longer a joint effort. In fact, it is no effort – it is oneness being oneness. Love loving love.

In closing, our candidate for President of the Universe and Beyond implores us to ‘Vote today, and every moment, for E Unum Pluribus!’

Such Is Life

A dear old friend died recently, and when the news was relayed to a mutual friend, he said, ‘Such is life.’

Such is life. Impermanent. Fleeting. Our body-mind is made up of temporary thoughts, feelings, sensations, and perceptions, all bound by the limits of time and space.

Not so Awareness.

If we look closely at our experience, there is an unchanging presence from which we actually view this life. A presence that cannot be denied. An unchanging presence, without beginning or end, without limits or boundaries. An unchanging ever-present knowing that is infinite and eternal.

While alive, or as Mooji likes to say, ‘while our body is still warm,’ recognize this Awareness, this being-ness that exists prior to, during, and after ‘life’ as we know it begins and ends.

Acknowledge the aware presence that knows the coming and going of all things – including the body-mind with its ephemeral qualities and so-called birth/life/death cycle – but doesn’t come and go with them.

Everyone’s essential being is this unchanging, knowing, aware presence that exists even before we utter the words ‘I am.’ Recognize this, and then discard the notion of any presence, even the thought ‘I am’, as ultimately we are prior to the idea of . . . anything.