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.