Wednesday, April 17, 2019
A quote from Sri Nisargadatta ('I Am That'):
"The idea of enlightenment is of utmost importance. Just to know that
there is such possibility, changes one's entire outlook. It acts like a
burning match in a heap of saw dust. All the great teachers did nothing
else. A spark of truth can burn up a mountain of lies. The opposite is
also true. The sun of truth remains hidden behind the cloud of
self-identification with the body."
Some spiritual teachers seek to destroy the image or false idea of 'enlightenment', and thus give the antidote of 'non-existent enlightenment'. That is to say, they negate the possibility and existence of enlightenment, and explain it as a non-event, a concept and something that does not exist.
This can serve for those who have conceptual images of enlightenment that pertain to an individual attaining something extra on top of what the individual already is.
Unfortunately, non-existent enlightenment also becomes a belief, in that the individual then takes it that there is nothing other than the self-identified state of being an individual, and 'suffering' is a part of life etc. Nihilism and other philosophies often follow. Other solutions to this problem are then inadvertently sought after.
In contrast, Sri Nisargadatta explains that the idea of 'enlightenment' is very important. For the self-identified individual, this idea becomes a beacon of light in that it provides a 'way out' from suffering, limitation, and the mess that one inevitably finds oneself in as an individual in the world. Seeking may then happen, or not, but a shift occurs with the introduction of this idea. Of course, further down the track, this idea will need to be dropped, as it will become an obstacle in itself. But initially, this idea must be taken up, as the first step or first instant of a new direction away from the same beaten path that the conditioned individual has held for time immemorial.
As the individual comes to know itself as an image, and identified consciousness becomes purified from the habit of identifying with external objects and confusion, then it can be seen that there is nothing to attain apart from What is obviously apparent and existent, and has been so for all eternity. Until then, the idea of 'enlightenment' has an important place in the world of the individual for those who identify as an individual.
Monday, April 15, 2019
Some comments from Michael James on the question of why spiritual practice, or reflection is even needed (or anything) when "the world is just a dream, and the dreamer can't actually do anything"-- a common Neo-Advaita idea.
In this comment, the questioner puts forth the idea that it would be a mistake to even consider the world to be a dream, since the person or dreamer can't do anything.
MJ: “If that is your view [that it is a mistake to try to consider the world to be a dream], how would you explain what Bhagavan teaches us in the final sentence of the seventeenth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?, namely: ‘பிரபஞ்சத்தை ஒரு சொப்பனத்தைப்போ லெண்ணிக்கொள்ள வேண்டும்’ (pirapañcattai oru soppaṉattai-p-pōl eṇṇi-k-koḷḷa vēṇḍum), ‘It is necessary to consider the world like a dream’?”
Your central argument seems to be, ‘it is a mistake to try to see the world as a dream because it is ridiculous for the dreamer to “try” because that very attempt is part of the dream too’, but by that logic it would be a mistake for us to do any spiritual practice, including self-investigation and self-surrender, because whatever spiritual practice we may do is a part of whatever dream we are currently experiencing. The reason Bhagavan advised us to practise self-investigation and self-surrender is that they are the only means by which we can wake up not only from this dream but from the underlying sleep of self-ignorance, in which all dreams occur.
According to Bhagavan any state in which we are aware of anything other than ourself is just a dream, so we can practise self-investigation and self-surrender only in a dream, but that does not mean that it is a mistake for us to try to practise them. Quite the contrary, it would be a mistake for us not to try to practise them, because if we do not try to do so how can we wake up from this sleep of self-ignorance?
Tuesday, April 9, 2019
Q: Is there a place for Kundalini and "kundalini awakenings" in the nondual teachings?
A: No, not really.
The question of "kundalini" and "kundalini awakenings" often comes up with newcomers entering the nondual teachings, and especially those who may have encountered Hatha yoga, New Age teachings, and spiritual schools that arose in the 20th Century (e.g. Theosophy, Spiritualism, Western Occultism etc.)
There are scores of modern spiritual teachers who are still espousing much nonsense about kundalini, "raising consciousness", and the role of kundalini as a necessity in one's "spiritual progress".
Unfortunately, most of this is rubbish, and often dangerous, based on superficial readings of Patanjali, or misinformed teachings and bad translations of texts that entered the mainstream in the early 20th Century.
Unless one is studying traditional Hatha Yoga, under a qualified and experienced teacher one-to-one, it would be well advised to leave aside completely the practices of pranayama, forced breathing, chakra work, and anything related to 'awakening the kundalini'. Sadly, there have been many who have not heeded such advice, or have been misled by 'well-intentioned teachers paving the road to hell', and who have ended up with permanent damage to their body-mind.
Back to the question.
The reason that there is no place for 'kundalini' or 'kundalini work' in the nondual teachings is that kundalini work and its related energy activities are nothing more than an arising, a temporary happening, that occurs in the body-mind as a result of the interplay of the 5 elements and 3 gunas. Consciousness as the mind-body identified individual has an experience, which it thinks is important, and thus builds up new experiences based on the belief that it has somehow progressed or changed into a better version of itself. This energy, of which, the individual believes it can manipulate, does give rise to temporary psycho-physical changes in the body-mind. Further, the ego-initiated effort of manipulating such energies in the body-mind strengthens the ego's belief in its own autonomy-- which is not helpful in bringing about its apparent end.
Since the individual and the body-mind are ultimately an appearance in the nondual field of awareness, their import is the same as per the results attained from activities such as jogging, climbing a mountain, swimming underwater, fasting, and other such actions that the individual thinks it can perform to change its apparent reality-- all of which have zero effect on the nondual situation as it is appearing here and now-- which is actually perfect, not in need of change, and whole.
Some sages, such as Sri Nisargadatta, have said that the jnani has no interest at all in Kundalini, since the jnani is completely beyond and prior to such activity. Knowing this directly, where is the need for any particular experience? Others, such as Sri Ramana Maharshi, have commented that the activity of self-inquiry would actually achieve the same result as any 'kundalini' experience, with the difference that any result would happen of its own accord, without the involvement of the ego, and in a naturally unfolding (and smoother fashion). "My own experience" here, has verified both of these comments. It was reported by some that Gurdjieff equated the experiences of kundalini with his literary invention of the 'Kundabuffer' and its maleficent effects on people (due to wrong use).
In summary, if a teacher starts talking about kundalini, and kundalini awakenings, then one should run in the other direction.
Tuesday, February 12, 2019
I happened to come across a video on YouTube entitled "Overcoming Addiction - The Root Cause of Every Addiction". It was about 40 minutes long, and the presenter is a skilled speaker who is coming from a self-improvement type background.
The main points in the video were that addictions can manifest in a variety of ways, but in fact all addictions really are the same thing and come from a root cause. That root cause (in the author's view) was the fear or desire to escape feelings of emptiness and the fear of 'doing nothing'. One of his main tests was whether someone could sit in an empty room for a period of time and do nothing, as it were, but sit in emptiness, quietly doing nothing.
There is some merit to this argument, and the fear of a perceived emptiness on the part of the individual is very common and probably universal. One of the seeming causes for incessant seeking, on behalf of the individual self, does seem to be a fear of emptiness, void, etc. which is remedied by action, external objects, etc.
However, there is more to seeking and the root cause of all addictions.
That "more" that the author of the video failed to identify is none other than the individual or sense of self. The root cause of any addiction must be the individual or person for whom the addiction appears. Craving arises for an individual. If craving and addictive feelings arise for nobody, then they also pass away as per any other arising phenomena.
This the real root cause of any addiction must be the individual or self for whom it appears. "Me" in other words. I have no addictions or cravings when in deep sleep. I had no addictions prior to birth, or the appearance of this waking state.
Many people can sit in a room and do nothing for a length of time. All periods of peace last for some time, and then a period of turmoil, craving, etc. may also appear and last for some time. Learning to sit and do nothing is certainly useful and may calm the body and mind, enabling one to carry on with life's activities in a more efficient, calmer way. However, these changing mind states are temporary and not permanent.
To gain a permanent solution, the root cause, being the sense of being an individual self, must be looked at. For whom do these cravings, happening right now, arise? To me. And who am I? What is this 'me' feeling?
I am 'here', and this 'me' feeling is there. I am here, and these craving feelings are there. The 'me', individual self-ing, and feelings all arise in this space of empty knowing spontaneously. But am I these feelings, and am I this sense of being?
By investigating directly into this sense of being, sense of being a 'self' that has cravings and addictions that are appearing now (or not), we may come to understand directly whether or not we are affected or attached to these feelings directly. We come to understand who or what we are, by directly looking at who or what is now experiencing feelings, cravings, lack of cravings etc.
"No self, no problems" the saying goes. Solve the riddle of the self that has the addictions, and the addictions no longer have anywhere to stand. This may not be a "quick fix" and may take time for the understanding to settle, but the solution will be of a lasting nature, unlike quick fixes that the sense of 'self' takes on, and which are of a temporary nature.
Thursday, December 13, 2018
I've been listening to some talks and videos from Tony Parsons, Jim Newman, and lesser acolytes such as Richard Sylvester etc. lately. For some reason these radical non-duality (Neo-Advaita in some people's lexicon) popped up into my awareness.
Overall, I like the simplicity and directness of their approach. I also like their uncompromising attitude towards the duality of self and the non-duality of things as they really are. Just this. The hopelessness of the "I" projections and all its plans etc, and even its very existence.
However, there's a couple of ugly flaws in this 'non teaching', which probably serve to deepen confusion in some of their 'non-listeners', as is obvious with a few that have been attending for over 10 years with nothing to show. Obviously, the bodies talking at the front of the room are happy for such a comment, since they do confess that they have nothing to give, teach or impart for the hopeless individuals that attend.
- Direct, uncompromising teaching in contemporary language
- No cultural baggage
- Humour and laughs included, which is genuine and warm.
- No hope for the seeker, individual or self-improvement junkie
- Returns again and again to 'just this' as the end and reality of everything
- Great communication of how it is seen from 'their' end
- Good explanation of nonduality in simple, understandable terms
- Excellent attack on the "I am" and leaves no room for the "I" to escape
- Confusing use of some common words such as 'awareness'. Tony seems to only refer to this as pointing to self-awareness that arises with the individual. It seems he doesn't want to acknowledge that there's any awareness outside of the individual's seeming self-awareness (ie the individual being aware of itself versus the world as a duality). This seems ridiculous since it implies that the loss of the self/me entails a loss of awareness, or that awareness doesn't exist apart from the individual's perceived awareness.. so there's no awareness of objects in the room for instance. No awareness full-stop. (?!)
- One sided use of the word 'knowing' and 'know'. To know can mean intellectually know or comprehend concepts, but it can also mean to become aware of, or conscious of as a function. I can know mathematics, but I can also know that there's a screen in front of my face. This knowing or being conscious of isn't the same as amassing conceptual knowledge, it is just a registering in consciousness which requires no effort. However, TP and JN don't acknowledge this use of the word and slap it down at any opportunity. They seem to be equating it only with thinking, conceptualizing. Nothing can be known, registered etc.
- The insistence that the individual can do nothing at all and that nobody can do anything to alleviate their cause. This is 99% true, except for the fact that one's actual, undeniable reality can be investigated, looked at, inquired on. Perhaps that too is a non-event. However, from the point of view of the individual, that still remains a valid action to take; Looking at that which is already here right now. If the pointer or suggestion arises to investigate one's own apparent consciousness or beingness, isn't this worthy of mentioning, instead of the blanket there's no-one here who can do anything, the individual (you) are in a hopeless situation, so don't bother.. this will either happen or not. Of course, the whole "you can do nothing!" tip may be a teaching device or aid to 'giving up', which may or may not be useful for some, especially those hooked on the personal responsibility game. However, this isn't intimated in any way during these meetings, but enforced as a belief that the listener either accepts or rejects (since their own person experience won't tally with this, at least not in the beginning stages).
- Vague suggestions of 'this' and 'things' being both unreal and real, with no further explanation on what those words actually mean. Yes, this is meant to be a mind-stopper. But, his confuses most of the listeners into a dumb silence. By unreal, it seems they are referring to the conceptual story that is built up in the mind, in which the 'me' takes ownership and personal claim for. It could also refer to completely unreal concepts, such as unicorns flying past. By real, it seems they are referring to just this "spacious aliveness" present. Again, the word 'awareness' is shunned in place of "spacious aliveness" or "empty fullness". OK.
- Idiotic explanations and poo-pooing of time-tested tools such as self-inquiry, contemplative investigation, or pointers such being 'aware of being aware'. Tony points out that 'being aware of being aware' implies a duality or two awarenesses, and so rubbishes this approach for example as ineffectual. But for the life of me, I can't fathom what is so difficult about looking at the fact that one seems to be aware right now. Or that there can be a movement here and now to become aware of the fact that one IS aware and conscious (versus asleep). Besides, in addition to Tony's philosophizing, is there anything more dualistic than a guy sitting in front of an audience talking about how the 'me' is an energy contraction in the body?
- Confusion over the word/concept "I am". I think most people having spent some time within the Nonduality teachings understand the difference between the concept "I am", which equates to a separate entity 'me' that appears temporarily, versus "I am" pointing to the wordless presence in which the concept appears and which appears on waking from sleep- the beingness. For some reason, Tony & friends only acknowledge the conceptual "I am". In one talk he seems to be criticizing: "teachers who teach people to be in the "I am" state - (pointing to his head and laughing) I mean most people are in the 'I am' state anyway.." -- This is false. "Most people" have no idea about the nature of their existence or "I am" state, being totally absorbed in external objects. Most people are NOT in the "I am" state, but identified with the conceptual "I am" and in the mind identified state of being an individual. If they were only in the 'I am' state they would be residing as just the beingness or existence that's happening now, and have no need to attend satsangs etc.
Overall, these talks are great value (and freely given), and worth taking the time to enjoy if one is so inclined, but just be wary of some potholes in the road when travelling along.
Friday, November 30, 2018
Maharaj: All is His doing, no doubt. What is it to me, since I want nothing? What can God give me, or take away from me? What is mine is mine and was mine even when God was not. Of course, it is a very tiny little thing, a speck — the sense ‘I am’, the fact of being. This is my own place, nobody gave it to me. The earth is mine; what grows on it is God’s.
God or Ishwara is equated with a principle that exists within the world, phenomena and affects the individual. As such, it appears within the “I am” or self-aware consciousness, wakefulness. This “I am” was not given, but appeared spontaneously when we were around the age of two. Prior to this, there was no self-awareness, no God, no world etc.
M: Without you is there a world? You know all about the world, but about yourself you know nothing. You yourself are the tools of your work, you have no other tools. Why don’t you take care of the tools before you think of the work?
Since the world depends on our self of being, “I am” for its existence, the advice is given to examine and understand one’s own self first. The “I am” here is referred to as the instrument used to perform any work. Understanding the instrument is necessary before attempting to carry out any work. How is this done? By taking the time to notice it, live with it, abide in it, and understand it completely. By understanding it and living with it, ultimately it is seen through as not our true identity. This is an initial step from the object-identified state.
M: Within the prison of your world appears a man who tells you that the world of painful contradictions, which you have created, is neither continuous nor permanent and is based on a misapprehension. He pleads with you to get out of it, by the same way by which you got into it. You got into it by forgetting what you are and you will get out of it by knowing yourself as you are.
M: The gnani is the supreme and also the witness. He is both being and awareness. In relation to consciousness he is awareness. In relation to the universe he is pure being.
The Jnani or Self-realized state is always prior to any manifestation and stands as the primary principle. From the point of view of the world, that state is consciousness or “I am”. From the point of view of consciousness, wakefulness or “I am”, that state is the Absolute or all-inclusive awareness.
Friday, November 16, 2018
There is a wonderful little practice called "Practicing the Presence of God", as described in an old little booklet by Brother Laurence.
The practice at first looks dualistic. There is the devotee and there is an external God. The devotee is instructed to think of, talk to, and feel the presence of God all through the day and while in activities.
It is much like bhakti yoga, making a connection with a deity; conceptual at best.
However, the practice works its magic by training the mind to focus on a higher concept (or singular concept) versus distracting thoughts. Further, some feelings of devotion and love are cultivated in the practice towards something other than one's egoic self.
On further investigation, it can be experienced that "practicing the presence of God" becomes more of a "practicing the presence.." or just practicing and feeling presence only. What could this presence be, except that of the "I AM", or beingness. This was pointed out by Nisargadatta. Ramana also pointed out that the Biblical phrase "I am that I Am" was of the highest import.
After a while, practicing the presence becomes an excellent path to abiding as the I AM. Initially, the I AM seems to be either a foreign concept or external to oneself, or else, appears as a localised feeling of body-consciousness. After a while, it is experienced as a much larger, all encompassing field of beingness, which also engulfs the minute individual or egoic self. Further, it comes devotional and loving, and fulfills the injunction to be "affectionate towards this I AM".
Practicing the presence of God -> Practicing the presence of "I Am" = Practicing presence.