Sunday, November 16, 2008

Trust It

What we who have been 'seekers' have sought is the very thing that watches the seeking, that watches the stopping of seeking, that watches the frustration, the resignation, the eggs cooking, the Monday Night Football game, the dog sleeping, the stomach gurgling, the cold feet, the uncertainty, the bad money management, the opinions, the beliefs, the arguments, the peacefulness and violence, that watches the watching. 

What we really are - what everything really is - is this simple, uncontrived, undivided, unbreakable, unknowable knowing. I am not trying to be obtuse or poetic or philosophical. I really want to help you bring the searching to an end, if that is what you want to do. Right now, you are reading this and you are AWARE of reading it and you are aware of thinking, sights, sounds, and sensations right now. That simple awareness, which has always been here, is what we ALL are. 

Please see that there is nothing you can 'do' other than to just see that there is awareness here right now.  In fact, it is the awareness itself that is seeing the awareness!  

Resting in awareness is resting in God, Allah, Buddha nature, the Tao, Awareness, Mind, Knowing, Emptiness, the Great Spirit, Wisdom. No matter what name - or no name - just rest right now. This simple non-action of leaving everything alone just for a moment, is everything that all of the wisest people and most sublime scriptures have attempted to point out to us. We can relax. We are already home. We can trust It.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Some Random Pointers

Awareness is inseparable from phenomena and phenomena are inseparable from awareness - they are different aspects of Being.

There is no need to change anything that arises. Take refuge in Awareness. Awareness is always present. Rest there.

Regardless of what is happening, we are what Sees it. We can either rest as the Seeing or we can attempt to change, modify, argue, flee, accept, etc. - all ways of avoiding what we are. Relax and leave everything alone. Quit trying to create sculptures from clouds. One path leads to more and more entanglement and suffering; the other leads to more space and freedom. Another way of saying this is that we can either live as Velcro or Teflon.

When we can just rest, just relax with everything exactly as it is in this moment, we bring suffering to an end. The spaciousness in which all of this arises and plays out is Love. What we are is Love.

Jesus said (paraphrasing), 'Don't build your house on sand.' Most of us haven't really taken that to heart. From one perspective, the 'sands' he spoke of are the ever-changing phenomena of moment-by-moment experience that are constantly shifting, changing, and reshaping. Paradoxically, the most solid, most stable foundation for our lives is this complete spaciousness, this fertile emptiness that is without height, weight, width, depth, color, or mass in and as which everything arises. Yet, this is the very building material that is indestructible and is the foundation of everything with height, weight, width, depth, color, and mass. Our treasure lies in this warm womb of Emptiness, not in the world of form.

Don't make too much of this. In my experience, at least, there is no everlasting exalted state. All states, regardless of their character, are impermanent. What we are is the unknowable Seeing of all states. Rest as that.

Awareness cannot be 'accomplished.' There is no practice that can take you 'there.' What you are is what sees the striving, the frustration, the clarity. You are already It. It's just a matter of acknowledging what is already so.

Just relax. Regardless of what you are thinking, feeling, or sensing - leave it alone and relax. Rest. Rest as what you already are - it will teach you everything.

Take a look - is Awareness/Knowing ever not present now?

You don't need to change anything. You don't need to 'figure' anything out. You can just leave yourself alone, relax, drop the story (disregard the voice you hear narrating your life), and give all of it Space. You are this Space and Space is about as bothered by what arises within it as the sky is bothered by lightning.

Every thought, every emotion, every sensation - when we forget that we are the Seeing of them - becomes like a tiny room with a very tiny window through which we attempt describe and function in the world. As we relax as the Knowing of emotion, thought, and sensation, we realize that we were never really caught in the tiny room (there is no room!) - we just thought we were, and that made it so in our experience, but not in Truth.

We can't hold on to Awareness, just like we can't grab a handful of water. If you have ever tried to float, you know the harder you try, the quicker you sink! Instead, when you lean back, relax, and allow, you find that the water floats you. The same is true with what you really are - Awareness. Start by resting back, relaxing, and you will find you have never been separate from or other than the very thing for which you search - it is the 'water' being you!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Not Two

There is not KNOWINGNESS and the OBJECT of knowingness.

SEEING and SEEN arise together.

Has there ever been SEEING without AWARENESS of the SEEN?
Has there ever been HEARING without AWARENESS of the HEARD?
Has there ever been THINKING without AWARENESS of the THOUGHT?

Do you see what the seeming multiplicity share?

Awareness is the seeing and the seen.
Awareness is the hearing and the heard.
Awareness is the thinking and the thought.

Not two.

When In Doubt

If you are going to read this as theory, as something 'interesting,' do yourself a favor and go to another website.

I don't intend this to be mean or exclusive. What I am saying is that if you are just reading this out of interest, you won't find it that interesting. If you are reading this as theory, you will be bored with its simplicity. If you are reading this with the idea that 'someday' you will 'get it' and for now you just want to take in as much information about 'it' as you can, give up. If you are reading this and willing to DO what it suggests, keep reading.

Right now, in THIS very moment, notice...
Bodily sensations

What is KNOWING those things?

WHATEVER just came to mind - What SEES that?
And the flurry of thoughts that just occurred, what KNOWS that?
IT cannot be named.
IT cannot be seen, heard, felt, tasted, smelled or conceptualized.
Rest as that.
A million times identified as sound, sensation, sight, odor, thought...and a million times just rest.

When in doubt, read this again.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Futile Attempt to Change What Is Already Changing

There has never been any emotion, any thought, any sensation, any situation, that has remained the same. Never. Look into your own direct experience right now - this isn't some grand, esoteric teaching. Whatever you were thinking, feeling, or sensing when you began reading this paragraph has changed by now. That incessant, effervescing flow is happening all the time - bubbling, frothing, flowing and never staying the same. Notice, too, that the awareness - the Seeing - of these phenomena, has NOT changed. Experiences are just like the images appearing on the television screen; they are in constant motion, but the space of the screen doesn't change.

Regardless of what is happening, we can either be caught in phenomena and attempt to modify or change what is already constantly changing, or we can just rest, relax, and leave everything alone. Awareness is inseparable from thought/emotion/sensation and thought/emotion/sensation is inseparable from Awareness. It is one and the same. Focusing on trying to modify what is constantly modifying leads to more and more entanglement and suffering; no longer efforting reveals space and freedom already complete and whole. Awareness is always present - it IS presence - YOU are presence. Just rest there; and when you doubt that you are doing it right, rest there.

You are OK.
Everything is OK.
See for yourself.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Let Your Senses Point You Home

I am sitting on my porch on a sleepy summer afternoon here in
Springfield. I close my eyes and listen to the house wrens and
cardinals calling to one another. Now and then my dog, Shadow, barks at
a biker or another dog barking in the distance. A truck rumbles by on
the street at the end of the block. I feel warmth and tingling in my
feet, especially the arches. The bumpy wicker chair's arm presses
against my elbow and the computer heats my lap. Jenna, my neighbor,
walks out of her house while talking on the cell phone, opens her car
door, puts a bag on the seat, closes the door, and returns to her house
still talking. Two flies chase each other around the bird feeders. The
soft breeze moves the branches of the sycamore. A circular saw whines
down the block. Patterns of light and shadow wander over the green wood
of the porch floor. My stomach tenses thinking of some nebulous worry.
The sun shines on a spider's web between bricks and porch railing,
turning it into crystal. A thought of my cat, Pumpkin, who died Friday,
forms and dissolves. Another thought that my mother will die someday,
too, forms and dissolves. The red arm of the thermometer registers 82.
Bushes waiting to be planted lean against one another at the end of the
drive. The thought 'I see all of this' forms and dissolves. Now more
birds. Discomfort in the left elbow.

Is there someone
experiencing this? Look closely in your own experience right now.
Outside of the thought 'I am -----', are you? The thoughts, whether
they shout 'I am somebody' or 'I am nobody' or anything else, are just
like the wrens - flying back and forth through emptiness.

your senses to point you home. Come to your senses now. Listen. See.
Feel. Taste. Smell. Pick one sense. Notice everything arising as that
sense. Notice, too, the thoughts that arise simultaneously. The
thoughts just arise - there is no one 'deciding' to think them.
Thoughts are simply seen, too, just like the sense objects. Even the
thought 'I see them' is itself another thought and, upon direct
looking, is seen to refer to nothing other than this openknowingness .
Everything, absolutely everything, that has ever taken form (including
what we refer to as 'states')has arisen within this formless awareness.
What 'you' typically refer to as 'I' or 'me' has also always and only
taken shape within this same formless awareness.

At this very
moment, the reading, the computer, the sounds, the smells, the
thoughts, the sense of 'I' - everything - is forming and dissolving
within and as this Great Knowing Formlessness. You ARE this Great
Knowing Formlessness. Relax. Enjoy the birds.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Better Living Through Chemistry

The following is a letter from a reader (Tim) that addresses a fundamental misunderstanding. I hope this article helps to clarify it.

Tim: I never wrote to you before - read your blog occasionally.

One thing I'm surprised at though is the fact that you take anxiety meds - I would have expected realizing "the truth" would relieve emotional tension most of the time.

VF: Overall, there is less tension - much less. However, the “realization of truth” is always here and now - it never begins and it never stops and never ends - it is always fresh. There is no longer (this will be awkward, but I think you’ll get my point) the experience of an experiencer in this experience - Whew!

Tim: At the very least, I would say that like a spinning wheel coming to a stop, you will eventually not need it - what are your thoughts on this?

VF: I may or may not need it – no idea. Who is there to care? Don’t get too hung up on some idea of ‘realization’ and what happens or doesn’t happen because NOTHING HAPPENS! The body/life continues along as before AND it is totally different. Realization is seeing that there never was anyone here to ‘become realized.’ There is just this, now, here and no one to see it.

It’s interesting that this idea comes up, about the medication thing, isn’t it? Would you be surprised to know that I take a cholesterol-lowering medication? Would you expect that ‘after realization’ one should come to a point where it is eventually not needed? Notice the artificial division that is created. Thought does this all the time. Recognizing what you are at a fundamental level does not exempt the body from the need for food, water, air, shelter, warmth, etc. Same here – the brain is part of the body – an organ just like the liver or spleen – and it benefits a great deal from the anxiety medication (an antidepressant)… better living through chemistry!

Tim, you know, I think your phrase “spinning wheel” fits what I am trying to say: the experience used to be one of being the spokes and the wheel and feeling very ‘dizzy.’ Now, the spokes and wheel continue to spin, albeit somewhat more slowly most of the time, but it doesn’t matter because now I see that you and I and everyone else who ever took shape on this earth(and the earth, too) is also – and most fundamentally – the space in the middle of the spinning wheel and the space in which the wheel spins. Nonetheless, my ‘wheel’ has always been a bit 'out of balance' (just ask my wife) and the medication helps to create a much more pleasant experience.

I hope this is useful and I hope that anyone reading this who is ‘searching’ and struggling with depression or anxiety (or any other physical illness) will get the help they need – ‘you’ are already ‘realized’ anyway - 'you' just haven't 'realized' it! There are no extra points for agony.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Drop It All and Take a Walk - A Response to a Reader

Raj: I can feel or let me say, I know I am 'aware' only when I see things around (visible world). Without them I do not even know whether I am ‘present’ or 'aware' (like in deep sleep). So is it correct to say: my Awareness = the things around when I am in my wakeful state?

VF: Raj, you write “without [objects] I do not even know whether I am present or aware. So is it correct to say my awareness equals the things around me when I am in a wakeful state?” Who possesses this awareness referred to? What is this “I” that is or is not in a “wakeful state?”

Please look clearly at your question and see the misunderstanding at its core. Seeing that, the question dissolves. So, let me add a little solvent to see if we can hasten the process!

Is there an 'I' who is 'aware'? That is, on direct investigation, can a separate entity be found who is aware? Or, is there just IT/Awareness in and as which ALL objects - physical, mental, emotional, visible, aural, textured, and odorous - appear? There is never a 'you' present whether in deep sleep or waking or any other expression of consciousness. There is no separation between objects seemingly arising 'within' Awareness and Awareness. They are one and the same.

Everything is an expression of formlessness. Everything is an expression of IT. There is not a reciprocal relationship between objects and Awareness - for this to be so would require separation between the seeming object and a seeming witness. Even this seeming reciprocity is part of IT. THIS/IT is causeless. IT arises immediately-spontaneously-completely-at once!

Raj: The so called end of seeking is: this body-mind exists with all the sensations sort of smeared somewhere in the visible world without my consciously feeling “I-ness" and it feels like an effort to call the "I-ness" into attention?

VF: It is much simpler. The end of seeking is simply the recognition that the seeker is the sought. The end of seeking comes when the fiction of a separate someone who is looking for a special something is seen for what it is - a phantom, a shadow, a vanishing echo, a dream.

Is there seeking right now? Or, is there just looking at squiggles on the screen and thoughts arising? What is seeking other than more thinking, more story about something to be found? Drop it now! Finish this! What is sought will NEVER be uncovered with more thought – only more deeply buried.

Raj: Even in that non-existent "I-ness", this body is still separate and distinct sitting in this space (India) and Vince is another body sitting in another space (USA).

VF: Interesting story!
Find something that is not IT. Separate something from IT and send it to me. Is there anything not IT, including the story of a separate body here and a separate body sitting there? Raj, I-IT is looking through your eyes right now and you-IT are looking through mine. Where is the separation? Remember, the role of thought is to divide. The ability to divide has its uses, but a thought cannot know IT even though thought is an expression of IT.

Better yet, drop all of this, including my response, and take a walk. Listen to the birds, to the wind, smell the air, look at the open sky, feel the earth beneath your feet. Leave these considerations alone and rest. IT is Raj-ing, Raj. Just rest as IT (there really is no choice anyway) and then see if there are any questions or if there is just relief!

Be well.

Monday, June 23, 2008

End the Search with THIS!

Right now, in this moment, aren't 'you' being?

Right now, in this moment, look directly and answer this question: does it take any effort to be right now?

Right. Absolutely everything else is a dead-end direction.

There isn't any more to IT than This.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Open the Door Even Wider

This pathless path is not one of perfection. As has been written by countless others, there is nothing that you need to do to recognize who/what you really are. Nonetheless, many of us are addicted to the idea of spiritual progress or spiritual perfection. We have been taught to look at everything we do – eating, sleeping, exercising, raising children, cleaning the porch, washing the dishes, making love, maintaining a relationship, dressing, earning money, decorating a house, driving the car, being a ‘seeker’ – through the eyes of achievement.

Achievement suggests that there is something that we must do in order to obtain some desired result in the future. We assume (read here, ‘believe the thought-story’) that there is some ‘secret way’ that will result in some kind of special and life-altering attainment. It is this very movement away from what is towards what we believe should be that creates the (seeming) barrier to our (seeming) ‘attainment'.

The only thing that ever needs to be ‘done’ (and it really isn’t a ‘doing’ so much as an ‘allowing’) is to open the door wider. This means to simply allow whatever is arising in this very experience to be as it is. Is there disappointment? Good. Open the door. Is there fear? Good. Open the door. Is there the story that ‘you’ will never ‘get it’? Good. Open the door. Is there disinterest in all of this seeking? Good. Open the door. Is there pain in the body? Good. Open the door. Is there joy? Good. Open the door. Is there frustration and disagreement in reading this? Good. Open the door. Is there a complete lack of understanding of what is being pointed to here? Good. Open the door. Is there recognition that weeds need to be pulled from the tomatoes? Good. Open the door. Is there boredom? Good. Open the door. Is there a desire to practice? Good. Open the door. Is there a desire to pray? Good. Open the door.

Just keep opening the door wider. Allow and welcome all of the ‘guests’. Especially, open the door to, and welcome, your own beautiful and bumbling humanity – the struggle, the worry, the pain, the upset, the miserable, the magnificent, the fearful, the loving, the transcendent, the daily grind, the conflict, the despair, the hope, the vindictiveness, the greed,the loss, the joy, the contentment. Seeing who You are doesn’t erase this life,this very moment. That is another belief,another idea – open the door wide to it, too.

If Beingness-Awareness is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, then IT is HERE NOW in this very experience! ‘You’ are ‘It’ NOW. No achievement or attainment can bring It to ‘you’ – It is you-ing you! There isn’t a ‘better’ experience to ‘work towards.’ This is it!

Open the door wide! Better yet, take it off its hinges and throw it in the fire. By the way, the belief in a separate ‘I’ is the material from which the door is made and is completely combustible – let it burn.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

No Effort Needed

If you really want to be done with the search, don't read this as an intellectual exercise. Don't read this as just another step on your way to "finally getting it."

Instead, right now, look directly at this very moment. Take your time and really look.

Listen to sounds.

See color, shape, and movement.

Sense pressure, texture, and temperature.

Notice that absolutely no effort is required for any of this to happen.

Sensing, seeing, hearing are all happening, right now, effortlessly.

Notice, in this moment - right now - reading is happening. Squiggles are seen on the screen and thoughts take shape.

Notice thought in this moment...picture, word, sound.

The content of some thought refers to activities that have already occurred - the past.

The content of some thought refers to activities that may occur - the future.

Notice that regardless of the content of the thought, the thought itself is arising in this moment - right now.

Notice that there is probably an assumption that 'I observe the thought...I hear...I see...I sense...'

Notice that these assumptions are also thoughts arising in this moment - right now. They are seen by...?

Notice that any answer given is another thought arising right now and seen by...?

It takes no effort whatsoever to simply see, simply listen, simply sense. If efforting arises, that is simply seen, too. It takes no effort to notice effort.

This is Awareness. This is Beingness. This is Isness. This is It. This is what you are. No effort is needed to see this. No effort is needed to get here. No effort is needed to be.

Attempt to not be aware. What happens? Try to not be here. What happens? Try to not be. What happens?

Let effort be the reminder that no effort is necessary to be what you already are.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Good News

There is nothing to do that can take you any closer to where you already are.

What if everything is already alright? What if you are exactly where you need to be? What if life is living you perfectly? What if it is seen that the ‘you’ is just another thought arising in…?

You are already whole, already complete. There isn’t anything you need to change or improve or understand in order to rest as this vast Natural Intelligence that you are. It is only a thought that says there is a ‘you’ who is ‘alive’. The Knowingness that you are recognizes that ‘you’ are really being lived.

You can relax. It is already done. You are already a Buddha, already an expression of the Body of Christ. There is nothing more that can be done to improve upon it. Notice this now and simply rest as this Natural Great Perfection. Attempting to improve upon it is like trying to increase the height of Mount Everest by dropping a grain of sand at its base.

This is good news. You have arrived. You never really went anywhere to begin with. It is only the character in the story that has traveled. We are all dreaming until realization. Then, the dream continues as before, but there is a knowing that the dream is happening. Nothing changes and everything changes. This can all be seen from the very spot on which you now stand. You are already on Holy Ground.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Nothing Needs to Be Done

Nothing needs to be done to simply rest as the awareness that You are.

No practices are needed. No special breathing. No need to sit in the lotus posture. No more books to read. No more talks to attend. No more weekend workshops and trainings are necessary. No particular geographical location is more auspicious than another. No special clothes need to be worn. No need to wear Birkenstocks. No need to become a vegetarian or a vegan. No need to join the Green Party. No need to stop smoking cigars. No need to only wear natural fabrics. No need to Wabi Sabi or Feng Shui your home. No need take a month long retreat. No need to stop listening to jazz and start listening to Indian ragas. No need to look for a blessing from a spiritual teacher. No particular type of thinking is necessary. No particular order of thinking is necessary. No need to have a flexible body. No need to be in good health. No need to sit zazen. No need to watch Nisargadatta on YouTube. Understand, you may do any or all or none of these things – nothing wrong with any of them – but none of them can take you anywhere or make what You already are more available than it is in this very moment.

You absolutely, unequivocally, already are the vast, open, clear, unstained, unnamable, unknowable, inexperiencable (is that a word?), beyond-intelligent, unendingly creative emptiness. Everything else, absolutely everything else is a seeming-object/form arising within You…even the seeming-you.

Whenever doubt or worry or urgency or straining or efforting or hopelessness or certainty or ease or, well, anything arises, do nothing. Rest. Notice that it arises, has its moment, and dissolves again into…what? You. In fact, even the objects/forms are Awareness – are You. Even the sense of separation is Awareness/You. You can’t get away from You. Everything arises within and is dependent upon You. Give up. There is no escape. Another way of saying this is…aaaaahhhhhhh…rest. No matter what thoughts or books or self-improvement programs tell you, You are already fine the way you are.

You are already what you are looking for – but only right now.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Space: The Antidote

I frequently get email questions from people who read the blog. I really appreciate the questions; they are a great help in clarifying what is written.

I also hear in many of the emails a great deal of frustration and efforting and pushing to "figure it out." What I came to see, thanks to so many who graciously gave of their time and insight, is that there is no way to "figure it out." That came as a great disappointment to me. It was tremendously frustrating and I thought that people were just hiding something from me because they didn't think I was "ready" or maybe I was just asking questions in the wrong way.

The attempt to "figure it out" is at the heart of what the Zen tradition refers to as the 'gateless gate' that keeps us locked out of the garden (our true nature). Of course, the joke on all of us is that we have never left the garden; it is impossible for us to not be our true nature. However, we frequently remain mesmerized by the pictures and sounds that play in the fully-equipped theatre of thought. It was certainly no different in my experience.

Allow me to suggest something that is somewhat difficult to explain, but if you "listen softly" - as William Samuel used to say - I hope might be helpful in bringing the search and suffering to an end.

Notice that space surrounds and interpenetrates everything. In fact, it is accurate to say that everything is composed of space, a great emptiness. As the Heart Sutra says, "Form is emptiness and emptiness is form." Both interdependently co-arise. All form exists within space and all space exists within form, and while there appears to be a separation, that, too is an arising of space-form.

Why am I pointing this out? Because all suffering (confusion, struggle, efforting, pushing, grasping, aversion, attachment, etc.) involves awareness "collapsing" around an object. We mistake ourselves and the Open Knowingness that we are for impermanent, object-arisings. It is as if awareness is 'shrink wrapped' around a particular arising and space is 'lost'. Of course, in absolute terms, this is not at all the case; everything takes shape within infinitely clear, open space - even the experience of losing infinitely clear, open space! Nonetheless, our experience is frequently that of collapsing around some emotion-thought and being squeezed into some uncomfortable shape (like being stuffed into your school locker by seniors when you were a freshman!). Our most common reaction is to fight against the capture. This struggle against the experience tires and frustrates us, encouraging further collapse and more suffering.

Try this antidote: simply 'give space to' whatever is arising. Do nothing other than allow. A driver cuts you off in traffic and anger arises? Give it space. Frustration arises because you tell yourself the story that you shouldn't be angry? Give it space. Your hands grip the steering wheel with a vengence and your jaw clenches? Give it space. You forget to give it space? Give that space, too. Just keep allowing, 100,000 times a day. You will never run out of space to give.

Keep giving space to whatever arises - anger, irritation, frustration, worry, sadness, judgment, love, passion, excitement, confusion, criticism, forgetfulness, discouragement, laughter, attraction, focus, memories, uncertainty, numbness, tension, pain, sounds, odors, sights, sensations, thought, emotion. All of it, including uncertainty about how to do it and worry about whether or not you are doing it right. Give space to the search. Give space to the concern that you will never 'get it'. Give space to other people who are not doing it (whatever it is) 'right'. Give space to your unreasonableness.

Giving space to these seeming objects/events will come naturally (go ahead now and give space to the thought that you don't think it will and that you really don't get it). Giving everything more and more space will come naturally because you ARE space, too, not just form. Allowing space is simply a recognition of the full emptiness of your true nature.

You don't get it. Neither do I. You are a lost cause. So am I. Let's give that space, too.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What IS the Point? Part II

The point is Love.

As long as we remain caught in the fiction of separation, there is fear and defending and attacking to maintain the form - and there are countless forms: people and dogs and nations and ideals and philosophies and theories and property and mine and yours and certainty and right and wrong and Christians and Jews and us and them and Democrats and Republicans and conservatives and liberals and educated and uneducated and rich and poor and beautiful and ugly and man and woman and terrorist and freedom-fighter and war and peace and on and on and on - the history of humanity.

The point is Love.

As soon as we SEE, as soon as we SEE that there is no one to awaken, then we SEE that there is no "we." There is only just THIS. The Great Empty Knowingness that is looking through the eyes of the 'One' typing this is the same Knowingness looking through the eyes of the 'One' reading this. There really is just this One. There has never been anything else. There has just been an ongoing story. It is the belief in the story, the fiction, the movie of separation, that allows us to hurt and kill "the other."

There is no 'other.' Seeing that directly eliminates the fear that drives the need to protect the fictional 'me' from the fictional 'you.' We, you, I am not two. There is no multiplicity. There is just the complete Allness. You are It and I am It and she is It and he is It and they are It and we are It and this is It and that is All.

And the point of All of It is Love.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What IS the Point?

The following is an email exchange from a reader.

To the sender of the question: I am sorry I was not able to respond to you privately via email, but the comment you left was anonymous. I hope this at least begins to address your question.

(Matthew): Nice post, Vince, but let me challenge you a bit. You say there's no problem without thought. Obvious enough -- but let's say I have a son with leukemia who is going through painful and sickening chemotherapy. Am I not going to think about his suffering, and therefore see no "problem"? So what is your point? Saying that there's no problem without thought strikes me as saying that there's no pain in the leg if you don't have a leg.

(Vince): Hi Matthew - thank you for your note. Let's see what comes regarding your question.

I know that when members of my family (and friends) have been very ill, I have certainly thought about them. There is a kind of thinking that is very functional and helps us deal with the present moment (and bake cakes, clean kitchen counters, organize the garage, create spreadsheets, etc.). This thinking simply arises, serves its purpose, and evaporates. "I" don't collapse around it.

My dad died from a degenerative neurological disorder that caused significant deterioration in nearly all areas of functioning for him. I certainly thought about it and thought about him. He died. I miss him every day. So, what is the point? The point, is bringing an end to psychological suffering. The point, in my experience, is that as long as I mistake myself (or my father) for this limited physical experience rather than this beyond-infinite beingness in which every thought, experience, dad, vince, son, etc. arises, problems continue to arise. Suffering is created and perpetuated by the collapse of a seeming "me" around a story - a story constructed completely of thought, completely conceptually. I see in my direct experience that there is never a problem now. Never. However, substitute this very life in this very instant with the pseudo-life of thought, then problems materialize in every direction.

So, if my son was living with leukemia and painful, sickening chemotherapy, I would do everything in my power to help rid him of the disease and the pain. I would think about him. I would probably feel sad and desperate and angry. I would feel like my heart was breaking. I would probably have the thought that this shouldn't be happening. All of this, is the livingness that we are. Where is the problem in this?

Where is the problem in going to the hospital, remembering to bring the clean pajamas, calling the pediatric oncologist, holding my son's hand while he cries or moans, wiping his forehead, giving him a sip of water, crying when I see him, holding my wife, and on and on? There is no problem in any of these moments - there is simply the direct experiencing of what is. This IS livingness. If we remain only with what is, there is a richness and depth and kind-heartedness that permeates all of existence - even pain, and tragedy, and death. We cannot point to "a problem." We can point to a boy, a hospital bed, a catheter, a nurse, wet hair - but "a problem" only exists in the realm of concept.

I hope this clarifies what I wrote and helps in some way. Please feel free to write again if I have only confused the matter or if you have other questions.


Monday, May 19, 2008

There Is Nothing to Be Done, and Yet...

There is nothing that needs to be done about “the world.” The world is a concept. It arises in this present awareness as various combinations of sensation (read “sensing”) and thought. Look into your immediate experience. Can you find “a world” anywhere other than in this present awareness? There is no world – there are old quilts, paper cuts, sleeping dogs, dry skin, train whistles, darkness, dandelions, purple paint, pagers, pain in the back of the arms, thoughts about the weather and the middle east and strawberries. What is your world right now? See that it has died and arisen a billion times. It arises from nowhere and dissolves back into nowhere.

There is nothing that needs to be done about “other people.” Other people are experiencing of combinations of light and shadow and physical sensation (i.e., seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, tasting) and thought. “Other people” arise only as these combinations presently. What other people do you see right now? Do they come to you in any way other than as combinations of sensing-thinking in this moment? They arise from nowhere and dissolve back into nowhere.

There is nothing that needs to be done about thoughts. They are picture and sound. They exist for an instant and evaporate. They arise from nowhere and dissolve back into nowhere.

There is nothing that needs to be done about physical sensations. All sensing – seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling – is sensation. Itches, contractions, tingling, coolness, softness, pinching, heating - all arise from nowhere and dissolve back into nowhere.

There is nothing that needs to be done about emotions. Emotion is nothing more than a combination of thought and sensation. Notice that emotion is sensation linked with a story. The building blocks of emotion arise from nowhere and dissolve back into nowhere (see above). Emotion does the same.

There is nothing that needs to be done about “problems.” What are they? Can there be a problem without a thought? Is there anything, in your direct experience right now, which can be called a problem without the judgment of thought? Is there any “problem” that has not arisen from nowhere and dissolved back into nowhere?

There is nothing that needs to be done about “you.” What are you, anyway? Is there anything “wrong” with you without the judgment of thought making it so? In direct experience in this very moment, is there anything other than sensation and thought?

Yes, there is.

What is it?

This is not a game. Answering the question with your blood and bone will vaporize you.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Mistakes (In no particular order)

You mistake yourself for the sun
but are Space;

You mistake yourself for the wave
but are Ocean;

You mistake yourself for a body
but are Being;

You mistake yourself for alive
but are Never Born;

You mistake yourself for a seeker
but are the Sought;

You mistake yourself for a student
but are Knowing;

You mistake yourself for a name
but are Unknowable;

You mistake yourself for opinions
but are Silence;

You mistake yourself for imagination and memory
but are Thoughtless;

You mistake yourself for yesterday and tomorrow
but are Now;

You mistake yourself for here
but are Placeless;

You mistake yourself for a child
but are the Mother;

You mistake yourself for fears
but are Love.

Stop mistaking yourself for something!
Admit that you don't understand!
There is no map.
Live Not-Knowing.
You are already home.

Some Advice When Drowning

Give up.
This body never
had a chance.
Born in the deepest ocean,
it began sinking
before its first breath.

Stop thrashing.
Breathe in what you fear.
The water will dissolve
what you never were,
leaving only Love.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Something To Do

There is nothing to do.

Watch the imposter's belief-thought that much can be done to "awaken." Watch the thought 'there are books to read;' watch the thought 'there are practices to do;' watch the thought 'there are films to view;' watch the thought 'there are conversations to have;' watch the thought 'there are tapes and talks to listen to;' watch the thought 'there are satsangs to attend;' watch the thought 'there are websites to search;' watch the thought 'there are techniques to master.' This imposter lives, moves, and has its being in, by, and as thought - nothing more.

Look. Can 'you' find the 'you' that tells 'you' that there is much 'you' can do to awaken anywhere other than in and as thought? Right now, awareness SEES the thinking that has stirred as a result of these word-thoughts. Is SEEING another thought? Can thought SEE thought?

Look; REALLY look. Watch the imposter's facile explanations and claims - all thoughts. These habitual thoughts are the story, the spell. SEEING does not require thought. No doubt, thought will continue to arise; but, what cares other than another thought that says "I care?"

What can be done? Some suggestions that may help, unless they don't...
Don't move, unless movement happens.
Don't talk, unless talking happens.
Don't eat, unless eating happens.
Don't breathe, unless breathing happens.
Don't sleep, unless sleeping happens.
Don't work, unless working happens.
Don't search, unless searching happens.
Don't read, unless reading happens.
Don't touch, unless touching happens.
Don't choose, unless choosing happens.
Don't live, unless living happens.
Don't die, unless dying happens.
Don't care, unless caring happens.
Don't be, unless being happens.
Don't do, unless doing happens.
Don't not do, unless not doing happens.
Don't think, unless thinking happens.
Don't you, unless you-ing happens.
Just watch, and nothing happens...
except for everything.
Watch that, too.

Friday, April 11, 2008

You Are a Finger in Your Eye...Seriously!

Bring a finger (your choice) up to one of your eyes - very close - notice that your entire field of vision is 'filled by finger'. There is nothing but finger. If you get it close enough, you will discover that it cannot even be recognized as 'finger' any longer. Slowly, move your finger away from your eye - notice that more and more objects are now seen - the finger is still there AND there is recognition that there is SEEING of the finger because it no longer fills the entire eye screen.

Thoughts are like fingers poking us in the eye. Until we recognize the fact THAT there is thinking, we (seem to) live in the dark with a lot of suffering. As soon as we recognize that thinking is always happening, identification with thought dissolves (the finger moves away from our eye) and in THAT instant a new Buddha is born. Notice that the finger may still appear in the SEEING, but at a distance; 'finger' no longer 'fills' the seeing (our world) or seems so important.

Enlightenment (finger-in-the-eye-free living) is available now…and now…and now… SEE that the word "I" followed by ANYTHING is just another thought (finger). Whether the 'finger in your eye' comes in the shape of 'I am enlightened' or 'I am the Light of the world' or 'I am horrible' or 'I am wonderful' or 'I am hungry' or 'I am smart' - no matter what - is thought(potential fingers in the eye) arising NOW.

Seeing thought as thought - not being hoodwinked by the finger in the eye - IS enlightenment, but only right NOW. SEE that 'you' (a thought arising now, a finger in the eye, arising NOW in SEEING) cannot be enlightened because the 'YOU-Thought' is just a shadow arising after-the-fact of SEEING (which only happens NOW)and is 'done by' no one. Resting as THIS (really, literally, THIS SEEING now, now, now, now, now!) - Right Now - is complete and full enlightenment - but ONLY NOW. YOU won't find it tomorrow, or ever again, but NOW.

Where is your finger right now?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Your Life is a Wreck

Life is a wreck. Nothing will ever go right - at least, not for long. Rain will fall on the picnic. The basement will flood. The car tire will go flat. The computer's hard drive will crash. The light in the kitchen will burn out. The ceiling fan will stop running. The refrigerator will stop cooling. The sidewalk will crumble. The roof will leak. The check will bounce. The shoestring will break. The pot will burn. The cup will crack. The shirt will shrink. The blanket will unravel. The garbage disposal will stop working. The dryer will stop producing hot air. The water heater will stop heating water. The boss will criticize the report. The kids will leave. The milk will spoil. The silver will tarnish. The cheese will mold. The ice cream will melt. The car lock will freeze. The brakes will squeak. The flowers won't bloom. The paint will peel. The photograph will yellow. The page will crumble. The house won't sell. Interest rates will fall. The market will crash. The flight will be delayed. The crop won't come in. The clock will lose time. The candle will melt. The chain will rust. The vacuum will clog. Partners leave. Hair will thin. Muscle will atrophy. Joints will ache. The dog has fleas. Eyes lose their focus. Ears lose their hearing. Teeth loosen and fall out. Kidneys produce stones. Bowels get constipated. Reactions slow. Arteries clog. Unwanted growths grow in the wrong places. Discomfort and pain become intimate companions. Waist lines increase. Sex drives decrease. Memory dims. Liver spots darken. Skin thins. Mucus thickens. Retirement income is too little. Loneliness is too great. Property values diminish. Friends die. Careers fizzle. Livers stop cleaning blood. Lungs stop charging blood with oxygen. Immune sytems fall into disrepair. Neurons fire haphazardly. Hearts stop beating. Money or no money, property or no property, health or no health, peace or no peace, it all falls apart. Nothing will go right. The imagined you will not make it. The imagined you is doomed. Doomed. The imagined you that struggles and fights and argues and works at it and analyzes and plans and postures and gesticulates and makes itself into somebody will blow away like a thin pall of smoke from burning leaves in an autumn wind. The imagined you will dissipate like fog on a summer morning. The imagined you will melt like the last patch of ice at the corner of the field at the beginning of spring. Everything imagined, thought, felt, seen, heard, smelled, tasted, sensed in any way passes away like the last beat of the heart. All hope, all fear, all ignorance, all knowledge, all ideas of a "you" die presently to blossom as this unborn, unknowable, unsensable, spacious clarity reading these completely meaningless words. Better to give up now - who you think you are doesn't have a chance. Go outside; smell the earth. Listen to the birds. Feel the breeze. Watch clouds.
You are the Livingness.
Isness being All.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Put the Snow Globe Down

Imagine that whatever you are looking for – let’s call it ‘The Answer’ - is in the middle of a toy snow globe (you know, a clear glass globe with some sort of picture or figure in the middle and filled with tiny, white flakes). Now, imagine that thoughts and experiences, all objects, are like the flakes in the globe.

We believe that if we can just get a better view of the flakes, they will finally reveal to us The Answer. Most of the techniques we learn when we begin searching, deal with the flakes, the contents of the globe. We learn practices to help us in our attempt to take a look at every flake. We mindfully describe them all, often with the subtle belief that we will be able to control each flake and its thousands of siblings.

We try to get the flakes to arrange themselves in a particular order. We share with others the patterns we imagine that we see; and, we imagine meanings in their swirling, floating, fleeting dance. We decide that some of the flakes are “positive” and some are “negative” and we do our level best to make them ALL positive.

We introduce New Age flakes. We criticize some of the flakes. We worship some of the flakes. We think that by focusing more and more on the flakes, we'll finally "get it."

We investigate each flake because we think The Answer must be hidden on one of them, maybe written in some secret code. We search online and read what others are saying about their flakes. We join flake discussion groups.

Some claim to have found very special flakes; they describe these special flakes and suggest that only if we are able to remake our flakes into flakes like theirs will we enjoy the infinite, unending, bliss that they enjoy. Some sell their very valuable, bliss-producing flakes as well as their techniques for creating or finding the Right Flake.

Others suggest that only with - until now, secret - physical, mental, and emotional techniques, will we be able to get our flakes into shape so that we will be more available to receive The Answer. Ancient and revered teachers tell us that, if we are lucky, our flakes might evolve to the necessarily sublime level of existence after hundreds or thousands of reincarnations. We secretly hope that, if we really work at it, others will envy our flakes and want their flakes to look the same as ours. Then, we'll be able to write a book about flake-improvement, getting your flakes into shape, improving your flakes, reshaping your flakes, working with your flakes so they manifest even more interesting flakes and, yes, living as enlightened flakes.

Working with the flakes to find The Answer, the end of suffering, is folly. We keep shaking and shaking the globe in the hope of finding just the right flake at just the right time. We shake and shake in order to see every flake from every angle. The answer must be there, we think. More flakes. Shake harder. Change the rhythm of the shaking. Get up early in the morning and shake. Shake at least twice a day for 20 minutes. Get together with other people and shake and then talk about the shaking. Write about the shaking. Draw images of the shaking. Worship particular forms of shaking. The Answer must be there - we just need to try harder. Shake more. Take a seminar on shaking. Wear flowing clothes and crystal jewelry that opens our energy centers to create better, more loving, more creative shaking and flaking. Go on retreat to shake with expert shakers. We think, ‘I know if I just keep shaking it will become clear’ – that is what the flakes themselves tell us, after all.

Finally, perhaps, we tire; we are at the end of our rope. We've tried it all and to no avail. No flake, no matter how profound or sublime, is The Answer. We are ready to hear a simple suggestion: Just Rest. Quit shaking the globe. What you are looking for is already what you are. It surrounds you and interpenetrates you. In fact, the flakes themselves exist within what you are searching for - they are inseparable from that for which you are looking. Peace is already here. Clarity is revealed when we STOP shaking, not when we shake harder or longer or with better technique.

Someone tells us, ‘Put the snow globe down.’ We put it down. The flakes settle. We leave them alone. They no longer interest us. We realize that there is no end to the amount of shaking that can be done. As the flakes settle, we discover that there is no answer waiting inside the globe. Instead, we find a pristine clarity in which all of life is reflected. We enjoy looking at all of the shapes and colors and movement reflected in the globe’s clear, open space. Now and again, flakes are stirred up. No matter. We enjoy watching them, too. Even snow can be beautiful. We no longer focus on the flakes; they are just part of the entire scene. We rest. Clarity and silence shyly shine forth. We disappear.

Quit shaking the globe.
Put it down.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

You Can't Drain the Water from a Mirage

VF: Hello Sam - good hearing from you again. I'm sorry this response is so late in coming, but I haven't had much of a chance to do anything other than my "paid" work recently.

Sam: Thank you for your prompt and generous response.What I get from your reply is that the endless flounderings of my personality are beside the point, and the only thing that matters is to see who is seeing, NOW.

VF: Yes; but you're not going to leave it there, are you?!

Sam: Again it's my smart intellect getting it all 'intellectually' while going on much the same way as before, but am I right in assuming that what I am as a person doesn't matter, that I can be good or bad or indifferent, the only thing is to SEE that it's all a mythical self, and so not different from Mother Teresa or Hitler, or you?

VF: It isn't that what "you" are as a person doesn't matter; it is that there is no you, no person. The believed-in "person" Sam, whom you mistakenly take yourself to be, doesn't exist other than as a swirling, buzzing, vaporous group of thoughts and sensations that arise presently. There really is no one to choose good, bad, or in-between. It happens that seeming choice may arise in this simple, unbroken, space that we are, but there is no choice in whether or not a seeming choice arises or is made (by no one).

Sam: One thing that has bothered me about being undifferentiated consciousness is how, if everything is awareness, there is no difference between me and a piece of wood, both are equally enlightened, and so what is the point of it all?

VF: This is only an issue for the believed-in separate person, the idea of an independently existing individual who believes itself to be separate and aware. To that imposter, just being awareness and no different from a piece of wood sounds horrible - understandably! Look at this directly right now! See that these are just ideas arising from nowhere and dissolving back into nowhere - they are seen, but they are seen by no one.

If you just rest as awareness, you will see clearly that all of this is just more of the same conceptual argument and struggle - it is one thought seeming to struggle with another thought. In fact, there is no struggle between thoughts; there is just this thought, now this thought, now this thought, and on and is only another thought that says thoughts struggle. Just rest back, lean back into awareness, and leave thoughts alone. Thinking is none of your business!

Sam: Another point is about us all getting there in the end, after death, so what is the point of struggle?

VF: Good! There IS no point in struggle. What you really are, this clear, open space of awareness, doesn't struggle. What you are is the space in which the story of struggle arises, is seen, and dissolves back into formlessness.

Sam: I like the way you throw me at the NOW!

VF: You've never been anywhere else. Even thought - whose content is typically either struggling with now, arguing with now, regretting the past, or imagining a fearful future - is still arising now.

Sam: But is there any point in formal meditation, and do you advocate any practice, a daily sitting?

VF: Where do you imagine daily sitting will take you? Do you imagine it will deliver you to some other "state" of being? Every state just arises and passes away in this open, clear, spaciousness - states come and go - what is aware of the changing states never changes.

So, if the imagined separate person sits in order to no longer be a separate person, well, as one japanese zen teacher put it, it is like polishing a brick to create a mirror. You can polish a long time, but the brick will never become a mirror. I once heard Catherine Ingram say that it's like trying to drain the water from a mirage - the premise is completely wrong. So if you sit as the imposter - the believed, separate me - you will likely just reinforce a belief in the mirage being full of water. If you sit as this open awareness, fine; but if you're already resting as open awareness, then any activity is meditation - sitting, standing, shitting, stirring the soup pot, drinking tea, wiping off the table, writing a note, smoking a cigar, looking at the sky, listening to music, lying sleepless, sweeping the walk, paying the bills, arguing with the landlord...everything, everything, everything arises in and as this clear, open, space. Try resting! Lean back into awareness (it's already where and what you are anyway); rest as awareness right now. Leave thinking alone, leave sensation alone, leave emotions alone, leave hearing alone, leave seeing alone, leave tasting, alone, leave smelling alone - leave everything, including the idea of a "you" alone. Just rest and watch.

i hope this helps. love, vince

Monday, March 17, 2008

Quit Playing and Run Home to Your Mother

VF: Hi Ron. Good to hear from you again. Let's clear this up so you can get on with things!

Ron: I am fully clear in my head that, as you put it, "thought" is not necessary to know 'I exist". I can also see that 'sensations' coalesce to produce the body and the sensations are transitional. I fully understand when you say that forms take shape in the smoke. But these 'forms' demand to be fed. The body is not like a plant to get by itself 'freely' energy from the Sun. Body has to depend on some others.

VF: Everything depends on everything; and, if everything depends upon everthing, then nothing depends on nothing and all arises IMMEDIATELY in THIS NOW - including the seeming Ron's seeming questions!

Ron: Any sort of dependency implicitly removes one away from total Freedom (Independence).

VF: Total Freedom is a concept whose existence depends up another concept - Total Bondage. Struggling with these concepts keeps the seeming you trapped in duality - this approach is like trying to escape from a house of mirrors! There is no freedom - there is ONLY THIS. Right now! Leave the thinking alone - let it ramble on - it always has and always will. Stop!

Ron: But isn't one forced to see a distinction of this body versus that (bringing in otherness). Another aspect highlighting otherness (Not Oneness)?

VF: "Otherness" and "oneness" are both ideas, constructs, concepts, arising in this complete and total cognizing (thank you, Gilbert Schultz) emptiness that is beyond concept, construct and thought. This ground of being is our mother. There is no doubt that you and your mother are, in some relative way, separate. At the same time, can you deny your oneness? Of course not. What I am pointing you towards is the Mother of all - the Mother of the ten thousand things, as it is referred to in Taoism. Ron, "you" cannot know it or experience it - you can only give up and rest AS it. Trying to "know" or "experience" it via more thought only takes you further and further from home. Rest. Quit playing the game, and run home to your Mother. You've never left her, anyway.

Ron: Isn't this staring right in our face: if Vince feeds his body, this ron-body does not get fed. It still needs separate food. So Ron and Vince are two -- not one there!

VF: Try an experiment. Hold up your left hand, palm facing your face. Now, with a piece of paper, cover all of the palm so only the top half of the fingers are visible. Do the fingers appear to be separate? In some relative sense, are they separate? Remove the piece of paper. Are the fingers really separate?

As long as you identify yourself as a finger, these questions will continue to arise. Unquestionably, from the standpoint of a separate finger, these questions are legitimate and, seemingly, of great importance. See clearly that your premise is wrong. Your premise is itself a conceptual construct, "I am separate." You can ask as many questions as you'd like from the wrong premise and you will get a myriad of interesting and useless answers.

Begin with the premise that doesn't rely on any mental construct or fabrication - YOU EXIST. Before the thought "I AM," you are. Begin there and stay there and see what (if any) questions arise. When in doubt, just rest as awareness. Thought is a hungry ghost - to borrow a term from Buddhism - it has a voracious appetite but cannot find satisfaction.

Ron: Of course, I can develop an attitude of being unaffected and lead a 'what if' sort of life. But then it is an "Attitude." Not beingness, Brahman!

VF: No "attitude" will be necessary if you change your premise to what is without question.

Ron: Another serious doubt : Is that "SEEING" so called "Brahman state"? (I know state is a wrong word but used here to express that condition). Does not Brahman state imply omniscience, omnipresence etc. etc.?

VF: Is there any doubt that there is KNOWING right now? Can that be doubted? Isn't even the doubt KNOWN? Forget all of this and return to resting as awareness - simply rest as what you already are and let thought do whatever it does - there is no choice. Conceptual explanations such as "Brahman" are meaningless and worthless without resting as what you are BEFORE the concepts can arise. Rest; just rest. I hope this helps. Get back to me with more questions, as necessary. Be well.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Do Nothing - Or Less

I wanted to end seeking. People who had come to an end suggested that there was nothing I needed to do. They said,

Do Nothing.

Thought interrupts and asks, “What do you mean, do nothing?” Thought is itself, a doing. Even the thought, “OK, I get it. I’ll do nothing,” is doing. Then the thought takes shape, “OK, I’ll just give that up. I’ll just keep doing things.” That, too, misses the point; more doing.

We begin the search, finding a never-ending library of techniques to “do nothing:” art, meditation, prayer, therapy, and more. These techniques are, of course, more doing. We find techniques for doing nothing mentally. We find techniques for doing nothing physically. We try to do nothing emotionally. All of the trying, all of the ways of “not doing” amount to more doing.

We stumble upon the direction to “let go.” How DO we “let go?” There must be a way to DO it. Is it by thinking certain thoughts? Thinking the right thoughts in a particular order? Not thinking at all? Good luck. Maybe it means learning to relax the body at all times? We learn how to DO that. We DO it sometimes and beat ourselves for not DOING it more. More trying. More doing.

If we are lucky, we realize that we are in deep DO-DO. Then perhaps, grace arrives in the form of exhaustion or head-crunching frustration and we just give up. We quit the impossible game. Sometimes doing happens; sometimes doing doesn’t happen. We leave the thought alone that “I can DO” or “I can not DO.” We quit trying. We quit not-trying. We quit looking. We quit not-looking. We quit caring. We quit caring that we care. We quit thinking. We quit not thinking. We quit quitting.

Thinking and trying and techniques have done all they can do – taken the vaporous idea of a separate ME to the portal through which it cannot step and survive (though it has only ever been lived, anyway – but it will never be convinced of that). Beyond this threshold blazes the pure light of awareness – so bright it illuminates even the sun – and no vaporous form survives the transit.

When will you get to the threshold? You’ve never been anywhere else.

Where can you find it? Always right here.

How can you cross? You already have – it is from the other side of the threshold that You-being-Isness watch the “doing” of this vaporous bundle of thoughts that believes itself to exist.

Do nothing? Even that is too much.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Is-ing All-ness: A Response to a Reader (R)

R: It was thrilling to find a newly minted awakened person, whose blog started 2 days ago (yesterday) thanks to Randall Friend's blog. I too have been accessing Annette Nibley's site for years.

VF: Hi Sam. Thanks for writing. I’m happy to share what I can with you. As I mentioned in the blog, several people were very generous with their time and attention - Sailor Bob, John Wheeler, Stephen Wingate, John Greven, Annette, Randall, and many others with whom I never spoke but read.

R: Somehow, this "you're it" thing doesn't seem to do it for me, as it apparently didn't for you, for a long time.

VF: Indeed not. All of this is paradoxical - there is nothing "you" can "do" and yet, there are some things that you can do - more on this later.

R: [It is] reassuring that it does happen, but WHEN?

VF: The frustratingly advaita-ish answer is, of course, NOW – and, while it can seem glib, this is a central pointer. Let me try to fumble my way through an explanation.

I once wrote to Annette, basically begging her to tell me what I was missing. I’d gotten to a point in seeking where it seemed clear that there really couldn't be anything that Sailor Bob, or John Wheeler, or Stephen Wingate, or Annette "had" that made seeing “this” more possible for them than for me.

Putting aside all the "there is no you" bundle of pointers, Annette said something to the effect of, 'look, they/we don't see anything that you don't see! The deal is that they see it NOW - literally - NOW. There is literally NOTHING beyond this moment.' Ok. What does this mean? It just means that THIS moment - literally THIS moment - is the only time there is and the only time anything is happening.

It is the nature of thought to string itself together in such a way that it creates a mirage of continuity and, specifically, the continuity of a separate person. However, in this very moment, isn't there awareness of thought? Whether that thought is "gee, I’m an enlightened master and should go live in a Himalayan cave" or "I’m a stooge and will never get this" or anything in between, it is still JUST A THOUGHT arising in THIS moment. WHAT is aware of the thought? What KNOWS the thinking? It isn't the thinking itself, right? Thought can't be aware of thought. The SEEING is happening NOW - RIGHT NOW! Don’t overlook this Sam! The next thought may be, "sure, but what about..." or "I still don't get it" or "well, that makes some sense but..." it doesn't matter what the content of the thought happens to be - it is still just another thought arising NOW, and the thought still arises within THIS awareness! What is seen by everyone offering these pointers is just seen NOW. It’s like my mom used to say to me when she was irritated, “Now see here, young man!” Little did she know she was giving me deep spiritual direction!

NOW. There is no other time.
SEE. There is no other activity.
HERE. There is no other place.

So, right now, you know you exist. This knowing is empty; there is no "person," no separate entity, who is “doing” the knowing. The knowing is just happening - the idea of a "you" is just another thought arising NOW. Sam, "you" can't see this tomorrow – seeing is NOW. So, stick with right now. You exist and there is a knowing. That’s it. Stay there. Just rest there. Thoughts - very enticing thoughts - likely continue to arise - no matter. Just stay with this simple (simple in the sense that it doesn't require thought to just QUIT) resting NOW. There is no way for thought to SEE this. There is no way to understand it. It can only be seen.

R: I am into Jed McKenna now and while he is the original myth buster, paradoxically, he too makes Enlightenment to be the big daddy - saying only a couple of dozen or so people have got there. But then I saw Charlie Hayes getting IT, and Annette herself, and scores of her students. Maybe it's not Enlightenment proper? Ok. I, too, know spiritual experiences are ephemeral andall that, the bells and whistles. But I wouldn't want anything like that, only what Annette, and you, now have; a serene understanding.

VF: But for the thought, "I don't really have it. I don't care about bells and whistles, I just want a serene understanding like Annette and you have," is there a problem? Is there something to have or not have? What is aware of that thought? But for the unquestioned thinking that there is a separate entity called Sam, does one exist? Please don't bypass these questions as "interesting" - I did that for years! If you want the search to come to an end, really look into these questions. As Annette told me very recently, this search has to become VERY personal. I know there are those who were just out for a walk on the beach when this understanding broke through, but that was certainly not the case here! Investigate!

R: In fact, I am not driven the way Jed McKenna makes out you have to be; I am more an off and on guy. The reality of my being is that of a supremely lazy guy,who finds most other kinds of reading useless and un-nutritious. So I read advaita.yes.

VF: There can be a kind of reading that happens as entertainment - nothing wrong with that. The complication comes when the idea of a separate, independently existing "me" is not directly investigated. So, when you just read this, what is aware of the thought that just arose? And now? And now? A better word might be "awaring." Awaring is now, and now, and now, and now..."you" are the awaring. The objects/phenomena - no matter how subtle or seemingly concrete - take form and dissolve within (and as) the awaring. The idea “I understand” or “I don’t understand,” are no different than any other phenomena that take momentary shape.

R: There was a time when I thought [Advaita] would make a good second career - start my own practice, so to speak, once I have IT. But no longer. I am already 48. Been on the path for close to 25 years. So how do I see it?

VF: Oh my, I hate to say this but...YOU don't see it. The seeing reveals the lack of YOU! YOU will never see it - nonetheless, SEEING is happening RIGHT NOW, Sam. Seeing "sees" the thinking "how do I see it?" I am not trying to be obtuse, or spiritual, or clever. The SEEING is so obvious, so “plastered to our eyeballs,” so to speak, that it cannot be pointed out. It’s a little like trying to describe the hole in a donut. We can do a great job describing everything about the donut – size, taste, texture, smell – and we hope that all of that will somehow make the “w-hole” of it clear. That was really bad, wasn’t it?

R: Meditation doesn't appeal. I get lost in thoughts.

VF: WHAT gets lost in thoughts? WHAT is aware of the thought, "I get lost in thoughts?" Does WHAT is aware of "getting lost in thoughts" EVER get lost in thoughts? Or, does the sniveling little bundle of thought “I get lost in thought,” appear and disappear in the very awareness that is registering these words right now?

R: So could you help me?

VF: It took me quite a bit of back and forth, but recognize that thought may well continue to bring forth arguments and reasoning and objections, etc.; that's fine. Thought is useful and there is absolutely nothing wrong with thought (it gets a bad name in some circles) - it is thought that allows this discussion to happen. But, thought can only take us to the edge of the cliff, you know? Finally, one needs to step beyond thought, which is just another way of saying REST as awareness (of thought, bushes, mourning doves, flat screen TV’s, ants, dirty dishes, iced tea, lips, gun shots, Venetian blinds, etc.) no matter how sublime or clunky the thought-object-sensation may be. We need to give our pea-brains a rest and just SEE – the entirety of Isness is happening – is is-ing allness – right now. Rest assured, what “you” think of as “you,” Sam, is included in the is-ing allness as is the Reality of You which cannot be thought.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Response to "A Glorified Coping Mechanism?"

From a Reader (R):

R: I also read with interest the postings by both of you at Randall’s blog site, particularly your light bubbly words (It’s Very Gentle). It is quite clear and I can easily see the fact of what you say. I address you this mail, however, out of some genuine concerns and NOT to pick an argument.

VF: I'm going to attempt to respond to your note. Thank you for writing. I hope what I say might be somewhat helpful. I understand your question and the struggle it produces and struggled with the same concerns and questions for years. I appreciate your sincerity.

R: “Just resting” and “SEEING” by the Awareness, as you can know happen, if and only if supporting organism (a life-form, a body or a body-mind entity) exists. The organism (body) needs food for its existence. ALL THE DAMNATION STARTS THERE!

VF: The Awareness is prior to the form and the form arises within Awareness, just as shapes take form in smoke - but the smoke is prior to, during, and after the dissolution of the form. The body does what it does and what it needs to do, no differently than a plant grows toward the light and moisture. This is only a problem when identification as a body is central.

R: After all, the body feels ‘hungry’. Dependency of mind-body on food implies the predator-prey pyramid. Violence and aggression to acquire the prey, the destruction of prey by the predator by devouring, the run for life by the prey to save itself, search for security, camouflage, deceit, exploitation, cheat will all ensue. Misery for the prey is guaranteed. The whole conundrum of grief and the rigmarole of ‘samasara’ begin there.

VF: Samasara is "continued" and "fed" with the mistaken belief in the individual, separate self - this belief is the source of suffering - do you see that what you are is prior to that? Prior to samsara? Do you see that even samsara arises within this simple presence that you are? Samsara, itself, arises only after the mistaken belief in/identification with the body. The cycle of birth and death ends each moment that we rest as the unborn beingness.

R: Surely, we cannot say all that non-dualistic philosophy is only for one whose belly is full and doesn’t have to look for feeding himself/herself.

VF: Of course not - Presence/Awareness is there registering hunger, illness, starvation and death.

R: The moment you look to feed yourself, somebody has to cook, somebody else has to fetch what is cooked, still some other has to grow what is fetched, growing food/crops involves killing, dependency on irrigation, externally imposing certain disciplines, etc., etc.; the cycle goes on! The non-existing zombie-like “I” neither understood the mechanisms of existence nor has "I" solved the misery of the body by dissociating itself from the body.

VF: There is no separation between what you call "the zombie-like I" and the activities of form. They are one and the same. Do you see that it is only believed concepts, arising now, that create this seeming difficulty? The body will experience pain and misery - there is no denying that - but will you?

R: So Sir, what I suggest is: Are we here talking merely about an escape technique, a “coping mechanism”, a survival tactic suitable for a few clothing the method in mystical and eulogized terms of advaita?

VF: Look, while I understand it can come across as mystical, there is really nothing mystical about this! The mystical approach is what has hidden this from so many - certainly Nisargadatta didn't approach this in a particularly mystical fashion! Please keep this very simple: You exist and you know that you exist, yes? Is thought necessary to know this or is there a knowingness that is not dependent upon thought acting here? After that knowingness, everything else is conceptual and open to argument. There are many who are very skilled at arguing about this - that is not my interest or my strength. See that this SEEING is here, right now (there is no other time) - within this seeing there are certain tensions, contractions, sensations, etc. that we have LEARNED to call "the body." However, notice that even now, these sensations, etc. coalesce and dissolve with no one there to "control" them. Notice that even the sense of "you" arises and dissolves. If you are trying to find a way to convince thought of this understanding, well, good luck. That certainly did not and has not happened for me!

Stay with this simple, direct, uncomplicated SEEING. Within that, the desire to feed others, change political systems, fight for justice, etc. may arise (that has certainly been true here - I work as a social worker) - the dream is certainly "real enough!" But, SEE that it is a dream and that all of us are dream characters within it. Within the dream - otherwise known as samsara - the drama will continue. Fair enough. Don't mistake what you REALLY ARE with this character. Investigate for yourself. This must become intensely personal or it is worthless. As long as it remains an interesting philosophy you would be much better off spending your time at the movies! I hope this helps in some small way. Please feel free to email me again if none of this makes sense or if you have further questions.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It's Very Gentle

This "awakening from the dream" is really a very gentle happening (or non-happening). It is simply a recognition of what has been SEEING everything all along, and recognizing that the SEEING is what you are. Everything seen - absolutely everything - including these ideas about seeing - are more dream images arising in you. Trees, sounds of cars, the dog breathing, shadows on the floor from the lamp, the cramp in the big toe, the neighbor walking in front of the house on the sidewalk, the pressure of the keyboard on the fingers, starlings on the birdfeeder, your partner in the chair across the room, stomach rumblings, thoughts of work, thoughts about God, thoughts about getting it or not getting it, feelings of sadness, feelings of anticipation - all of these things coalesce in Awareness (including the concept "I am aware") and dissolve. The SEEING of them is what you are - and the SEEING can't be seen because the SEEING is not an object.

There is nothing "you" need to do in order to SEE. Isn't it happening right now? No fanfare, nothing earth-shattering, just simple, clear SEEING right now - RIGHT NOW in this very moment. SEEING only happens now and has never and will never happen at any other time or place (because there isn't any!).

Relax as the SEEING that you are. Just rest as SEEING. Everthing arises, has its moment, and passes away. Let it be - you only think you have some choice in the matter. The great good news is that there is absolutely nothing you need to do other than REST, right now, in THIS moment.

"Getting" It

This is a copy of the letter I sent to Annette Nibley as an update to our last conversation. I'm posting it here because I think it provides some explanation of what "getting it" has been like here. While I would love to tell you that energy has been flowing through my body and exploding out of the top of my head and that everything is glowing, that hasn't been the case; and yet, something is very different.

hi annette - here is the update we discussed.

i really don't know what to say. it is utterly obvious that this open, clear awareness is and always has been here. but from here it is seen that EVERYTHING - including openness and clarity and spaciousness and timelessness are all concepts that seem to take form within this awareness (another concept). everything continues - traffic, noise, bother, happiness, hunger, pain in the hips, interest and disinterest, certainty and doubt, a "sense" of me and no-me, cold feet, the sound of the exhaust fan, the color of the walls, the walls, epsom salt in a plastic container, the hands on this keyboard, worry, irritation...and there is a recognition that the knowing of all of this is formless, timeless, spaceless, never-ending, and unchanging.

Just RESTING as this - and leaving absolutely everything else alone - while itself a conceptual and imperfect pointer - is all that ever needs to be done (in fact, it is all that is ever being done - the rest are the shadows and colors on the screen - there is just thinking that something else is happening).

look, even as I read this over, I think it sounds like just real, unadulterated and incredible bullshit - but it is the absolute truth - not in some plato-esque philosophical way but from the standpoint of simple, direct, first-grade level observation. this little pea-brain will never "get it." for all i know, it may well continue to try - but the SEEING of the trying or not-trying is what NEVER changes. the angst may never end for the mind (what mind?) - oh well. there is still no suffering.

as long as there is recognition (by no one) of this big, open, clear, no-space in which everything and absolutely nothing happens (that really makes no sense to the little brain, does it?), then, well, then nothing. i still have to clean the cat poop in the basement and the checkbook is still chugging along on fumes until the middle of the month.

that doesn't sound too thrilling, does it? it isn't. it's very ordinary AND wonderful. no kidding. wonderful. i should stop before i sound even more psychotic than i already do. i think this all fell into place just as a result of you giving me permission, annette. there was something about that that allowed me to know what i know and see what i see; and , i really appreciate that you made this so ordinary and so available. i really can't thank you enough.

your slow-learner advaita student,

Monday, March 10, 2008

Start Here

Why are you reading this? If you're similar to me, it is because you're searching for something - you may not even know what it is. All you know is that "this" - whatever "this" is - can't be it. While you may not realize it, you believe the answer to everything is always around the next corner, on the next page, in the next book about awareness or nonduality or will all become clear after reading the next post, viewing the next movie, after the next conversation with the next nondual teacher. I know. Me, too.

I am writing this in the hope of helping you bring your search to an end as mine has come to an end. I am a "slow-learner" advaita/nondual student! I am the guy who got it, didn't get it, got it again, argued about it, forgot it, remembered it, suffered over it, lost it, begged for it, cried about it, dismissed it, said "screw it," intellectualized about it, tried to "feel" it, questioned it, threw it away, talked about it, thought about it, dreamed about it and more...and finally realized clearly that I AM IT - AS ARE YOU!

What has become obvious is the ordinariness of IT. IT is so obvious, so clear, so present that it is UNKNOWABLE. IT is immediate - that is, unmediated - KNOWING. IT is what SEES that IT cannot be known. What you are is the awareness reading these words, hearing the sounds in the environment, feeling the gurgles, tingles, and tensions in the (seeming) body.

IT is completely obvious - but not if you are looking for IT. IT is doing the looking. IT is what registers the seeming you looking.

As I struggled with all of these pointers, these cryptic descriptions, I became more and more frustrated. Finally, with the help of many people - John Wheeler, "Sailor" Bob Adamson, John Greven, Stephen Wingate, Joan Tollifson, Gilbert Schultz, Jeff Foster, Randall Friend, and especially Annette Nibley - who compassionately pointed me again and again and again and again (I could add many more 'agains'!) in the direction of the utterly obvious, it clicked. What is seen is so very ordinary that it is almost embarrassing to have missed it for so long!

Nonetheless, miss it I did, for years and years.

What I am pointing to has been pointed to for eons by many more practiced and eloquent than I. There is nothing I can say that is new. My hope is that there may be something that I write that might be the straw that is needed to tip the scale for you, just as the generous writings and conversations of many teachers tipped the scale for me.

I have nothing special to offer you - I have nothing that you don't already have. However, as was the case for me, you probably don't recognize that you have it!