Monday, August 28, 2006

The dream

And if you rise to that level in your own heart--the level where you and I are one--then this very world itself will start to take on the nature of a dream, a shimmering shining gossamer film, less and less to be taken seriously than to be rejoiced as it passes. Leave seriousness at the door, and please take off your shoes, for this is hallowed ground, and bow to the Lightness and Humor that begins to replace solemnity. The entire world begins to take on a glimmering transparency as material atoms are replaced by light, and the days and nights pass before you like so many wandering dreams, while attention increasingly turns to the divine Dreamer itself, your very own Self, radiant in the midst of the madness...

Ken Wilbur
Nondual Highlights 2566

The Way

is not something which can be studied. Study leads to the retention of concepts and so the Way is entirely misunderstood. Moreover, the Way is not something specially existing; it is called the Mahayana Mind - Mind which is not to be found inside, outside, or
in the middle. Truly it is not located anywhere. The first step is to refrain from knowledge-based concepts.

The Mind is no mind of conceptual thought, and it is completely detached from form.... There are those who, upon hearing this teaching, rid themselves of conceptual thought in a flash.... But whether they transcend conceptual thought by a longer or shorter way, the result is a state of BEING: there is no practicing and no action of realizing. That there is nothing which can be attained is not idle talk; it is the truth.

If you would spend all your time - walking, standing, sitting or lying down - learning to halt the concept-forming activities of your own mind, you could be sure of ultimately attaining the goal.

Ordinary people look to their surroundings, while followers of the Way look to Mind, but the true Dharma is to forget them both. The former is easy enough, the latter very difficult. Men are afraid to
forget their minds, fearing to fall through the Void with nothing to stay their fall. They do not know that the Void is not really void, but the realm of the real Dharma.

~Huang Po

Friday, August 25, 2006

God

is only a concept, though the highest the human mind can make. But you are not a concept.

Atmananda Krishna Menon

Friday, August 18, 2006

Human all too human

"I was telling them this morning - for seventy years that super-energy - no - that immense energy, immense intelligence, has been using this body. I don't think that people realize what tremendous energy and intelligence went through this body - there's twelve cylinder engine. And for seventy years - was a pretty long time - and now the body can't stand any more. Nobody, unless the body has been prepared, very carefully protected, and so on - nobody can understand what went through this body. Nobody. Don't know what went on. I know they don't. And now after seventy years it has come to an end. Not that that intelligence and energy - it's somewhat here, every day, and especially at night. And after seventy years the body can't stand it - can't stand any more. It can't. The Indians have a lot of damned superstitions about this - that you will and the body goes - and all that kind of nonsense. You won't find another body like this, or that supreme intelligence, operating in a body for many hundred years. You won't see it again. When he goes, it goes. There is no consciousness left behind of that consciousness, of that state. They'll all pretend or try to imagine they can get into touch with that. Perhaps they will somewhat if they live the teachings. But nobody has done it. Nobody. And so that's that." (Lutyens, Mary. The Life and Death of Krishnamurti. London: Rider. 1990. page 206)

The above exchange took place between a group of people and Krishnamurti shortly before his death. It was recorded verbatim and later included in the biography by Mary Lutyens. Though the statements are not altogether coherent, one is left with the impression is that Krishnamurti is suggesting here that, after all, man cannot be free.

A frequent response to this passage is one of fear: Does this mean there's no hope for transformation? Does this mean I am doomed to live in pain and suffering? Does this mean that I have understood nothing? Is Krishnamurti's message flawed or does its delivery have some serious shortcomings?

However, perhaps a more important question has to do with authority and the solidity of one's own understanding of the teachings. Do I see something clearly or do I just agree with Krishnamurti that the teachings are valid? If I really see something clearly, that passage makes no difference. Does my understanding of division, relationship, the nature of time and self change because Krishnamurti said these words?

If by exposure to the teachings, there should result a real and acute awareness of the disorder in the human mind then the theoretical question of whether transformation is possible or not falls away. There is no choice but to respond to this essential discontent by continuing the inquiry - the urgency of the situation demands it.

Then, if my interest in "living the teachings" is not invalidated because Krishnamurti spoke those words, how can I look at the reality that apparently "no one has changed" from the point of view of the teachings themselves? Minds of varying abilities and dispositions, ranging from the extremely intelligent to the highly sensitive, have invested a great deal of time and effort in the teachings without effecting a radical transformation.

"Change implies a movement from what is to something different. Is this something different merely an opposite, or does it belong to a different order altogether?"

It would appear that something extraordinary is required, though not in a linear sense. It is not a matter of trying harder or trying better but of doing something entirely different, unrelated to anything attempted previously. Indeed, Krishnamurti corroborates this himself when he speaks of the need for "change that is total, completely radical and revolutionary".

Krishnamurti sometimes uses the metaphor of starting "on the other side of the river", to suggest that we turn towards what we don't know rather than putting more effort into modifying our understanding. He also refers to this as the "ending of time" or "freedom from the known" - quite enigmatic statements when taken in isolation. What does Krishnamurti mean by "the known"? Rather than just an inanimate reservoir of knowledge, he is using the term "known" to mean human perception, our very experience of living, the totality of our consciousness.

"I am asking what is consciousness. Consciousness is made up of content. Without the content, is there consciousness at all? The content of consciousness is consciousness. "

To Krishnamurti consciousness as it functions in most of us is inherently "corrupt". This basic corruption manifests as human conflict, both individually and collectively.

The teachings view conflict as an ever-present factor in the mind and not something that intermittently overshadows our daily life. As Krishnamurti puts it, there is "no interval" in pain and confusion and "our living is always on the border of sorrow". Unlike Krishnamurti, most of us take the possibility of human happiness for granted and as such have a more differentiated view of conflict. It is our feeling that conflict can be negotiated, mitigated and in certain instances overcome.

To Krishnamurti, the core misapprehension lies in this assumption that conflict is something separate from us, something that can be worked on. "Where there is division, there is conflict. That is a law." He maintains that as long as a division exists between us and our experience, conflict must continue. Conflict can beget many things; not, however, its own resolution.

Externally, in society we can see that conflict as it manifests as war, for example, is born of division as nationality, religious identification, etc. In this realm, conflict and division are perceptively linked. As it gets more and more personal, this clear connection becomes blurred and eventually disappears altogether. The base division between "me" and my experience is not seen to be a factor in creating conflict. On the contrary, we feel that it is this very separation that makes for the possibility of remedy. However, the unfortunate fact is that, despite our best efforts, conflict persists within and without.

Krishnamurti points out that dealing with conflict in this personal, piecemeal manner, although possibly bringing short-term relief, does not address the root cause of conflict. Given the limited success of this direct attack on the particular, he suggests that the only thing to do is to step back and gain a better understanding of how the mind works. To this end it would be helpful to consider what occurs as we meet a particular problem. First of all the problem is identified, for example as fear, jealousy, grief, confusion, etc. This is followed by the various internal responses - resistance, justification, resolution and so on. All along, the problem itself appears to float in a watertight compartment isolating it from our ideas of how best to deal with it. Unconsciously, we relegate the problem to a place outside of ourselves which then allows us to tackle it. Thus, what is missed is that the problem is itself also part of the mind. As Krishnamurti puts it, they are "all in the same field and on the same ground" - the problem, the understanding of the problem and the reactions to that understanding.

The significance of this realization is tremendous. It brings into serious question my very sense of reality, namely, that the "I" is at the center of my being, my ideas are in my head and that the facts are somewhere outside.

"The fact is not outside the field of the mind. It is still within the field of the mind, as interference is still within the field of the mind."

Seen in this light, human consciousness can be described as an animated wonderland, a dynamic interplay of alliances and oppositions between groups of images that are constantly shifting affiliations. Suffering results from the continual assault on the central hub of imagery which we call "I".

Krishnamurti uses the term transformation to mean the ending of conflict and not changing from one state to another in order to gain wider experience. This may explain why no amount of effort to execute what Krishnamurti is saying seems to "work". For transformation to be, experience has to end. It is because we are not finished with experience that we keep moving, analyzing, talking, struggling to effect experiential change. From the point of view of the teachings, what is not seen is that the motivating factors of desire and fear are ever present alongside the subtle expectations of what should happen when "it works".

Krishnamurti maintains that radical change cannot be the result of first understanding and then acting from that understanding. In the field of experience, even the most lucid understanding is bound to create further division by separating itself from that which it understands. It follows then that the ending of experience cannot be brought about through reaction, through compulsion, through newer and more innovative permutations of thought. In other words, transformation can have no cause. The question of transformation becomes then an impossible one, one that has no answer.

The teachings maintain that if one were to remain totally with the impossibility of transformation through the known and not budge from this crisis that there would be the birth of a unified awareness - an innate human quality wholly devoid of personal agenda - that can "see" the spurious divisions in the mind.

Any question directed at finding a way or a method to end experience is an escape that strengthens experience further. This is certainly not meant to be taken as a directive to simply wait for transformation to happen spontaneously. Waiting, a state of expectation, continues the thread of time and causality which is the very fabric of experience. "When I say, 'What shall I do in the meantime till the explosion takes place,' the interval between that moment and now, waiting for that explosion, is a deterioration." Doing nothing is not the same as waiting.

In fact, to Krishnamurti the main and perhaps the only issue is to see the necessity of doing nothing, of actually retreating from what we know, of having leisure. The beauty of leisure derives from the impossibility to cultivate it. It comes into being unobtrusively when all seeking has ended.

Question: "It seems to be a paradox. Unless you see it, you are not able to perceive it totally; you see it verbally."

Krishnamurti: "Seeing verbally, seeing emotionally, seeing partially, you do not see it. Then what? Do pursue it, go to the very end of it."

Question: "It comes to the end, there is nothing there. I do not know what to do."

Krishnamurti: "Then, do not do anything. You laugh! I am saying something very seriously: do not do anything except the mechanical things. But you are doing, all the time, something else. Do not do anything psychologically, inwardly; do nothing except what you have to do ordinarily in daily existence. Have you ever done it, and not go off into a mental hospital? I do not mean that way; but actually do nothing, inwardly."

Kinfonet Newsletter - July/August 2006
www.kinfonet.org

Is it possible for the human mind to comprehend truth?


Krishnamurti: Can a human mind comprehend truth? I do not think it can. What is the human mind at present? Is there a human mind, or is merely the instinctive response of the animal still continuing in us? It is not a sarcastic remark.

First of all, to comprehend anything in life, let alone truth - to comprehend my wife, my neighbor, my child - , there must be a certain quietness of the mind, not a disciplined quietness - then it is not quiet, it is a dead mind. So, a mind in conflict prevents observing anything, observing myself. So, I am perpetually in conflict, perpetually in motion, moving, moving, talking, endlessly questioning, explaining; there is no observation possible here at all. That is what most of us are doing, when we are face to face with 'what is'.

So, one sees that there can be observation only when there is no conflict. To have no conflict one can take a tranquillizer, a pill, to become tranquil, but it is not going to give you perception, it will put you to sleep; and that is probably what most of us want. So, to observe, there must be a certain tranquility of mind; and whether you see what is true depends on the quality of the mind.

Truth is not something that is static. Truth is not something that is fixed - which has no power. It is something which must be alive, must be tremendously sensitive, alive, dynamic, vital. And how can a putrid, puny mind which is in turmoil, everlastingly bitten with ambition - how can it understand that? It can say there is truth and keep on repeating it and putting itself to sleep.

So, the question is, really, not whether the human mind can perceive truth, but whether it is possible to break down the petty walls that man has built round himself which he calls the mind - that is really the issue. One of the walls which we all like so much, is authority.

Kinfonet Newsletter July/August 2006

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Paradigm collapse

Every word, thought, name, idea, concept and paradigm is dualistic and as such distracts from the actuality of what is.

The most accurate description can never be more than a vague approximation and is therefore worthless, except as a pointer to what is beyond.

'Consciousness' is not it.
'Nonduality' is not it.
'Oneness' is not it.
'Presence awareness' is not it.
'Life' is not it.
'God' is not it.
'Just this' is not it.
'What is' is not it.

It is indescribable.

Realisation of this is paradigm collapse...the end of seeking, the end of the seeker.

Paradoxically, it is now seen that for the human organism living in duality there is only a story, without choice.

No blame, no judgement, no becoming.

Just being.

Changing what already is

In physical terms, has any human being ever stepped out of the world of duality? I suggest not...as long as the heart beats there's a knowing that one day it will stop. Physically, existential duality is inescapable except through death, even for the self-styled 'enlightened' ones.

Ultimately, reality is nondual. This offers a different perspective on life. Separation is seen as false. The self is seen as no more than a mind-made concept. There is no one to become, no one to blame. Hooray!

The concept of nonduality, seen clearly, opens a door to freedom from fear. The search ends and we can get on with just being.

We are life expressing in one of a myriad forms...unique organisms with different inherited genetic, physical, psychological and socio-economic characteristics living our apparent stories.

So, there's ultimate reality, to which nonduality points. Oneness, if you like concepts. And there's duality, from which in a physical sense there's no escape until death.

From the perspective of ultimate nondual reality there is "no need for security or to change what already is". There's just this, what is, unfolding through us in mysterious, unfathomable ways.

However, in the everyday reality of inescapable duality - the organism and its story - there may be a need for security and improvement to circumstances.

This organism here has a natural need for security, as per Maslow's "hierarchy of needs". Without a basic level of security its humanity is reduced to the animal. Each organism's security needs differ...and of course, this individualistic consumerist society does its damndest to convince us that our needs are much greater than they actually are, and then fails in so many ways to provide support for those who lack the life skills or capacity to meet even their most basic survival needs.

So in order to survive, some organisms have a need "to change what already is"...not that "oneness" cares a damn about whether an organism survives or not (there is no "oneness" to care or not, there's just what is).

Venture onto any estate in any area of socio-economic deprivation on this planet and you will see a need for individual and community change to what already is.

The idea that everything's just perfect as it is may be true at the level of ultimate nondual reality, in the sense that nothing can ever be any different to what is.

However, contained within the holon of ultimate nondual reality is everyday inescapable duality, where nondual gurus drive BMWs and children are bombed to death on a daily basis. Both dreaming and
waking stories are real to the characters in them.

Confuse these levels, apply the higher truth to the lower level, and you find delusional ostriches with their heads buried in sand. Nondual philosophy is a highly inflammable substance in the hands of people who fail to make this distinction. (Perhaps it should be added to the list of banned materials on air flights :-)

The nondual truth of no-self has only limited relevance to the need for security and change in the world of everyday inescapable duality.

All that changes with genuine nondual awakening is a paradigm shift that evaporates inner conflicts, releasing energy for whatever actions or non-actions arise from the organism's preferences.

Chopping wood and carrying water may be carried out with renewed vigour, or something new may arise, or not.

Life is, well, extraordinary and ordinary...magnificent in all its dual and nondual respects.

Or so it appears from here...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The art of not being offended

There is an ancient and well-kept secret to happiness and well-being that the Great Ones rarely talk about but frequently utilize, and is one which is fundamental to good mental health. This secret is called The Fine Art of Not Being Offended. In order to truly be a master of this art, one must be able to see that every statement, action and reaction of another human being is the sum result of their total life experience to date. In other words, the majority of people in our world say and do what they do from their own set of fears, conclusions, defenses and attempts to survive. Most of it, even when aimed directly at us, has nothing to do with us. It usually has more to do with all the other times and in particular the first few times that this person experienced a similar situation, usually when they were young. Yes, this is psychodynamic. But let's face it, we live in a world where psychodynamics are what make the world go around. An individual who wishes to live successfully in the world as a spiritual person really needs to understand that psychology is as spiritual as prayer. In fact, the word psychology literally means, the study of the soul. Those of us who are either ignorant of this fact or who believe this is not true often tend to have unnecessary suffering where there could be joy.

All of that said, almost NOTHING is personal. Nothing. Even with our closest loved ones and beloved partners and children and friends. WeĀ are all swimming in the projections and filters of each other's life experiences and often we are just the stand-ins, the chess pieces of life to which our loved ones have their own built-in reactions. This is not to dehumanize life or take the intimacy out of our relationships, but mainly for us to know that almost every time we get offended, we are actually just in a misunderstanding. The true embodiment of this idea actually allows for more intimacy and less suffering throughout all of our relationships. When we know that we are the one who happens to be standing in the right place at the right psychodynamic time for someone to say or do what they are doing, we don't have to take life personally. If it isn't us, it will likely be someone else. This frees us to be a little more detached to the reactions of people around us. How often do we react to a statement of another by being offended rather than seeing that the other might actually be hurting? In fact, every time we get offended, it is actually an opportunity to extend kindness to one who may be suffering - even if they themselves do not appear that way on the surface. All anger, all acting out, all harshness, all criticism, is in truth a form of suffering. When we provide it no velcro for it to stick, something changes in the world. We do not even have to say a thing. In fact, it is usually better not to say a thing. People who are suffering are usually not keen on the fact of someone pointing it out. We do not have to be our loved one's therapist. We need only understand the situation and move on. In the least, we ourselves experience less suffering and at best, we have the chance to make the world a better place.

This is also not to be confused with allowing ourselves to be hurt, neglected or taken advantage of. True compassion does not allow harm to ourselves either. But when we know that nothing is personal, a magical thing also happens. All the seeming abusers of the world start to leave our lives. Once we are conscious, so-called abuse can only happen if we believe what the other is saying. When we know nothing is personal, we also do not end up feeling abused. We can say, "Thank you for sharing," and carry on. We are not hooked by what another says, does or believes, we can take the world a little less seriously. And if necessary, we can just walk away without creating more misery for ourselves.

The great challenge of our world is to live a life of contentment regardless of what other people do, say, think or believe. The fine art of not being offended is one of many options for being a practical mystic. Yet I suspect it is the task of a lifetime. It certainly is for me.

By Jodi Shams Prinzivalli
 posted by Gill Eardley on Allspirit
Nondual Highlights 2553

Dolphin wisdom

For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always
assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins
because he had achieved so much--the wheel, New York, wars and so on--while all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time.  But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man--for precisely the same reasons.

— Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Without understanding

nature of these two truths-the conventional and the ultimate-it is difficult to fully appreciate the distinction between appearance and reality, that is, the discrepancy we experience between our perception and the way things really are. Without a deep understanding of this fact, we won't be in a position to get at the root of our fundamental ignorance.

The Dalai Lama, Practicing Wisdom,