– V. Ganesan
former head of Ramana ashram at Arunachala,
editor of Ramana journal, The Mountain Path
Hopefully, this overnight reversal of directions ought to serve as a reminder of several spiritual principles.
“All things change”—and the change itself continues to change. Not anything can ever be taken for granted. A psychologically unstable idealist now will have his finger on the red button. A “great nation” may now experience a drastic descent, as has every haughty nation throughout history. Americans may come to know the internal insecurities and brutal ravishment that every European country has known. Your very life (let alone way of life) may be in jeopardy in ways you’ve never imagined. Change can not only be a surprise but it can be surprisingly swift. This is a fact of life which an aware person never forgets.
And, there are our expectations: circumstances should be this way, they should not be that way. We expect that a more experienced and pragmatic candidate should win, and not lose. We expect that our elected proxies will acknowledge the changes which are obvious in our collective present, rather than to attempt to turn the clock back to distant time. We expect our fellow countrymen to be reasonable, sociable, peaceable, unselfish. And we don’t expect that our expectations are subject to change. Any expectation we have that conditions should develop this way, and not that, is another spiritual lesson for us.
The unfolding of reality occurs on a moment-to-moment basis, not merely on that of a four-year cycle. Moments from now, you may not even be alive—in fact, possibly none of us will. “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,” Jesus reportedly said. Live each day as if it were the last, is the meaning. The future is no more certain than is tomorrow. In fact, tomorrow is an idea—in a world and universe which are themselves fundamentally an idea. Recognizing the impermanence of reality is a final spiritual lesson reminded to us in the present uncertain situation.
If you concern yourself with whether you are thought-free or not thought-free, would it be possible to be “thought free”, in that circumstance?
As the Dzochen Rinpoche Tulku Orgyen has commented:
“Checking, ‘Is there a thought now; or (am I) free of thought?’— isn’t that just another thought?”
These teachers speak of a “natural” mind. During your day, all sorts of thoughts come and go, spontaneously arising and dissolving, like surf washing up on a beach. Isn’t this what is natural to all of us?
Tulku Rinpoche has said, “ it is not beneficial to continuously pursue a special, thought-free mental state. Rather, simply allow yourself to be in naturalness, free of any fabrication”; that is, conceiving of, and attempting to engineer, some special state of mind or condition for thought. “Thought-free means free of conceptual thinking,” he states.
Tulku’s eldest son, Chokyi Nyima also speaks of the dualistic distinction between “thought” as compared to “thought-free”.
“What is to be practiced has nothing to do with thoughts and conceptual mind…The main practice is to simply rest vividly awake in this nondual awareness. Relax loosely, and remain naturally. Totally relax and do not check or question; remain totally free from accepting or rejecting—that is the conducive situation for meeting the natural face of awareness. Apart from this, you don’t need anything else to meditate upon.
“Whenever something is denied, something is affirmed at the same time. Whenever something is rejected, another thing is automatically accepted. This dualism is the very nature of conceptual judgment.
“When not involved in any kind of conceptual judging, that itself is innate suchness, thought-free wakefulness, and genuine ordinary mind.”
He has further stated:
“When leaving this fresh ordinary mind as it is, without correcting or modifying it, without altering it in any way, without accepting and rejecting, there is no fixating on anything.
“In the guidance manuals for meditation, it is often phrased like this: do not alter your present fresh wakefulness. Do not rearrange even as much as a hair tip. Just leave it exactly as it is. This is very profound, and there is a lot to understand here…
In the present moment, do not correct,
Do not modify,
Do not accept or reject.
Don’t try to rearrange your present wakefulness.
Instead, leave it as it naturally is
Without any attempt to alter it in any way.
That is called sustaining your natural face.”
Another son of Tulku Rinpoche, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, speaks in detail about the innate naturalness of the mind free of such dualistic concepts as thought versus no thought:
“Like many of the people I now meet on teaching tours, I thought that natural mind had to be something else, something different from, or better than, what I was already experiencing. Like most people, I brought so much judgment to my experience. I believed that thoughts of anger, fear, and so on (that came and went throughout the day) were bad or counterproductive—or at the very least inconsistent with natural peace! The teachings of the Buddha—and the lesson inherent in this exercise in non-meditation—is that if we allow ourselves to relax and take a mental step back, we can begin to recognize that all these different thoughts are simply coming and going within the context of an unlimited mind, which, like space, remains fundamentally unperturbed by whatever occurs within it.
“All you have to do is rest your mind in its natural openness. No special focus, no special effort, is required. And if for some reason you cannot rest your mind, you can simply observe whatever thoughts, feelings, or sensations come up (hang out for a couple of seconds and then dissolve) and acknowledge, ‘Oh, that’s what’s going on in my mind right now.’ Wherever you are, whatever you do, it’s essential to acknowledge your experience as something ordinary, the natural expression of your true mind. If you don’t try to stop whatever is going on in your mind, but merely observe it, eventually you’ll begin to feel a tremendous sense of relaxation, a vast sense of openness within your mind—which is in fact your natural mind, the natural unperturbed background against which various thoughts come and go.”
Anything which we view as not that actuality is not true. All—each and everything—which we say exists is imbued with that singular actuality. Everything, in other words, shares in—or as—this one Truth.
So, it is said—and understood by the enlightened—that “all that is, is That”. In this understanding, there cannot then be conflict: there are no two (or more) things to be in opposition, competition or contention.
This has a couple of profound effects, from the start, for the inquisitive human mind: where and when can this ultimate reality be discovered to be present?
Every where. All that is to be sensed is That. The sensor too is That. “Nowhere is it not,” Vedic scriptures tell us.
When can I come to discover ultimate reality? Time is meaningless here. You are already marinating in ultimate reality. And it is already present in anything which you sense.
In the simple recognition that everything conceivable is that One ever-present actuality or Truth, every other aspect of enlightenment will be revealed as evident. This is the first and last “step”.
I stumbled across your interview on Buddha at the Gas Pump. This led me to purchase your book entitled “One Essence”. I read the poem as well as your commentaries and was floored by one clear realization: ‘There are no distinctions.’
The essence of what non duality is talking about is not difficult. The whole of what it is pointing to can be wrapped up in the phrase “not two”. The very essence of the teachings is that there is no separation:All distinctions are the essence, or absolute.
I was struck a few moments ago at how the petting of my dog, and viewing of the body and mind, are just that essence of all that is, and is not, expressing itself in this very moment. This implication is both ordinary and astonishing. Ordinary because of the simplicity of the phrase not two; and astonishing because everything experienced is not separate.
I have been seeking non dual wisdom for over 4 years, and am blown away that what I have been searching for, all along, is the essence of what I am. The seeker is truly the sought. There are no distinctions between seeker, seeking and sought. They are the same!
Links mentioned by Simon
Being the fundamental factor, or first principle, it can be said to be the pre-existing condition in which (or out of which) all existent things arise. While all things derive their existence as a corollary of it, it—uniquely—is self-existent.
At age 19, Adyashanti (Steve Gray) began a Zen practice, sitting in meditation sometimes three or four hours a day. During the sixth year, he had a deep insight that the seeker (himself) could not be apart from the sought (transcendent Being). As he described what occurred to him:
“I am what I’ve been seeking…[But] what is this that I am?”
If the illusion is seen as an illusion, then why does it not end immediately?
YouTube Play list: Emptiness and ActionEmptiness and Action
Because it is so much at the very root of spirituality, an entire book could be written on how love is perceived by an enlightened being. As a pastor, you are asking how love is expressed in the context of nonduality.
Also, my book One Essence deals with this matter of one's tendency to accept/reject particular conditions which appear in our consciousness. It's also the subject of page 23-24 in Always—Only—One.
Is the "deep sleep" state any different from the after-death state? or from the pre-birth state? The bio-chemical chain reaction that is the body-mind/organism, it comes and goes of course.
Thanks for your query.
I have written a section on the Self-Realized view of death on page 204-208 of Living Nonduality, and in the subsequent companion volume Abiding in Nondual Awareness on page 49-52 and 194-195.
If you'll peruse those, we can then consider any specific questions.
I found your way of interpreting nonduality very close to my experience and I like the way you explain it. Somehow, I still have one question: can you have more than one liberation?
My personal experiences is full of imbalance, equanimity then fear, peace then fear, nervousness, and so on. Is there a such a thing as permanent state of peace without ups and downs?
Robert: One way to put it is that the "permanent state of peace without ups and downs" occurs when one is completely at peace with any ups or downs.
The idea of ups and downs is a dualistic premise. Nonduality means the transcendence of the supposed dualistic polarizations, such as good/bad, better/worse, ups/downs. Where there is simply one condition (nondual), any and every condition is that condition: this is the "equanimity" that you spoke of.
When everything which presents (to you) is recognized to be that one condition, the tendency to characterize or categorize what us present as "up" or "down," or "in between" dissipates. You no longer are invested in whether you could call it "this state" or "that state"—even if you desired to. When that equanimity is present, that is the "permanent state of peace": at peace with what could be labeled ups and downs if you were to lapse into duality and do so.
My book One Essence focuses on the above matter.
Robert: When "conditioning" is spoken of, it basically means the inculcation of the training we've received since our birth and into our lifetime. When a lab rat imprints the route of a maze on its consciousness, we say the creature is conditioned.
Our primal conditioning is the I-thought: it occurs to us, early on, that "I am someone," I am a "me," an "individual"; and this conclusion is immediately assented to and reinforced by our guardians and society.
With the internalized establishing of the I-thought, all else, externally, is not-I, not-"me." "You," for example are "not me." So, our perception of a pluralistic--"dualistic"--world is based on a conclusion of "self" identification which conditions (and is conditioned by) our daily experience and activity. Our conditioned mind, Krishnamurti says, is at the root of our divisive and selfish behavior.
And the Reality he is speaking of is the nondual Reality (or ultimate truth). So, when he says that the conditioning of the mind must end if one is to realize the truth, it's essentially a way of saying that it is your ingrained dualistic perspective which is to be deconstructed if you are to be capable of perceiving nondual Reality.
The reason why this can be said is because Self-realization is merely a profound insight into the total and complete absence of limitation. In other words, it is entirely outside the bounds of both experience and knowledge.
In fact, to the Self-realized, the word which comes closest (to the condition described above) is nothingness.
In actuality, it is not a matter of "knowing Oneness" or "experiencing sublime consciousness." It is an irrepressible realization that the ultimate condition is of no-thing; nothing.
In other words, in this absolute awareness there is not any thing about which we suppose we will be certain, as a conceiver knows a concept.
It may sound peculiar, but this is the Self-realized state.