Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Just Bee Awareness

Once upon a time there was small bee enjoying the flowers and trees and summer breeze. In his bee-meanderings, he flew into a house...and could not find his way out!

He flew everywhere he could attempting to find a way out. He flew through the kitchen, the fruit bowl, in and out of clothes-filled closets. He flew through the curio cabinet and the television. He buzzed his way around and under the table holding the family photo albums. He landed on book cases and crawled over each and every book looking for freedom. He still remained trapped.

Over time, other bees - in fact, generations of bees - appeared in the house and attempted to find routes to freedom through most of the same places the first bee had looked - closets, clothes, couches, chairs, the alcohol cabinet, the kitchen, the bedroom, the book case. And, while their methods were more sophisticated than the first bee, they remained trapped.

Most bees made the best of it. They found partners, raised their bee young, built comfortable-enough hives and engaged in bee science, philosophy, education, commerce and industry. Yet, there still existed among some of the bees a sense of something missing. It sometimes seemed that they each possessed a distant and indistinct memory of openness and clarity and freedom that could not be found in the house.

Sometimes, small groups of bees would meet in the evenings to discuss their shared predicament. Many bemoaned their fate and suggested it was the will of the Great Hive itself that this should happen. Others philosophized that no real freedom existed and that it would be best to learn to be satisfied with the world of closets and books and the sugary treats sometimes available in the kitchen. Still others, admittedly a much smaller number, continued to look for the freedom that legend spoke of and intuition pointed towards.

One day, one of the bees thought she had discovered a way out! She saw the blue sky and sun shining brightly and - instinct being what it is - flew straight toward it and...bumped into it! Bumped into freedom? How could this be? She had heard the elder bees talking about a great, open, spacious freedom in which a few of the ancient ones said they had once lived - is this what she had bumped into?

She backed away slowly, looked carefully, and thought hard about what had just happened. She thought and thought and thought until she was so tired that her tiny bee-brain just could not think another thought when suddenly...what was that?

There was a kind of movement against her delicate bee-body. It was a gentle breeze coming from an area just a few feet below her first attempt at freedom. The breeze felt so nice, so inviting that, without thinking, she followed it. Before she knew it had happened, she was flying into open space! She flew and flew and found no walls, no boundaries - there was no place where this openness began and no place where it ended! Space was everywhere! This was the freedom of legend! Her tiny bee-heart was beating almost as fast as her wings.

She turned and looked at the house. She could see clearly the place from which she had come. As she flew back into the house, excited to tell all the rest how easy it was to find this freedom, she realized that the breeze which had led her to freedom filled the house! Without knowing it, all of them, every single bee whether big or little, old or young, male or female, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, worker or queen - every single one of them lived in freedom - they just didn't know it!

That night, she told the others what she had experienced. She explained the spaciousness and freedom that the ancient grandfather and grandmother bees of legend had assured them was available was, indeed, available. She told them that they were living in the spaciousness right now!

Most of the other bees scoffed and told her that her imagination had just gotten the best of her. Perhaps she needed some sleep? Others argued with her and told her that what she described was impossible. Others went to the book case to crawl over the books they believed held the secret to their freedom. A few shook their bee-heads and whispered how sad it was that she had lost her little bee-mind.

The next morning some of the bees asked her to take them to the spot where she had found the vast openness and freedom of legend. She immediately agreed and told them how easy it would be.

As she buzzed towards the place where she had flown into the vast, blue openness, the others followed her closely. As she bobbed and weaved, they bobbed and weaved. As she flew faster or slower, they flew faster or slower. They even mimicked her buzzes and clicks just in case these movements and sounds had something to do with discovering what she had discovered.

Once they arrived, she pointed them towards the openness and watched and waited expectantly for them all to fly through to freedom just as she had done. Go! she said. Just follow the breeze!

A few flew tentatively in the direction she pointed, but returned quickly. Many others began investigating what she had originally bumped into. They spent a good deal of time mapping it, measuring it and asking very important-sounding academic questions about it. No, she told them. You're looking in the wrong direction! Honestly, it is so simple. She kept pointing them towards the source of the breeze.

She tried to explain that the movement of the air they were all feeling was the spaciousness itself and it could easily guide them to freedom in fact, was freedom itself! She said it was right there, right now, moving around all of them. She told them it was the very thing that supported them in their flight! She told them that all along they had all just thought they were trapped but they were literally flying in freedom.

Most listened politely. A fair number of the other bees nodded their bee-heads knowingly and returned to the book shelves to crawl over the words of the ancients who must certainly know better. Others asked her about her particular flying technique and how that related to freedom. She assured them that she wasn't a particularly good flyer - that many of them were much better flyers than she - and that it didn't really matter if they would just quit thinking it to death and just follow the movement of the air into freedom.

A few of the other bees asked her exactly what she had been thinking before, during, and after her experience of freedom. She was baffled! Why would they be interested in this? It didn't have anything to do with the space that she found and, in fact, was swirling about them and supporting them as they talked. She said she hadn't been thinking anything in particular. She told them she had gotten tired of thinking about it and that it was then that she had just followed the breeze that took her to freedom and showed her that they were all already living in the freedom that they imagined was elsewhere.

She promised them that they didn't need to think anymore about it. The tiny bee told them that their thinking was getting in the way of noticing and following the breeze that was supporting them right then. Oh, I see, many said. Yes, indeed, said others...but how do I do it?

Many bees nodded their bee-heads sagely and asked more questions. They took good notes. They told her they would like to meet with her again to investigate this further. They asked if she was planning to offer a more formal and structured freedom-finding class in the future.

She blinked her black bee-eyes and asked them if they would like to just follow the breeze to complete freedom now and be done with it? Most thanked her for the opportunity and told her they were very interested but would need to talk with her more and perhaps listen to the opinions of some of the more experienced, better-educated bees before they made a decision. Study groups were formed.

As it happened, a few of the bees who were not particularly well-read and tended not to think too much about things - you know the type - followed the breeze to freedom themselves. They, too, came back to talk with the rest of the bees about how easy it was but they weren't listened to because they just didn't have the right bee pedigree.

All of the very brightest and accomplished bees knew it just couldn't be that easy.

Could it?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Thinking It Is Not It

Sometimes, people ask what Awareness is. Hmmm. How do we describe what is essentially indescribable? How do we describe the eye to the eye? How do we describe water to the fish? The ocean to the wave? Air to the breeze? How does thought describe Awareness to thought with more thought?

You know the answer. It cannot be done. At best, words point us in the direction of "seeing" Awareness (another completely inadequate description considering it is Awareness itself which does the seeing). It might be better to say these pointers help us intuit Awareness, our real identity.

Another question that might help point us in the right direction is this: Can you think Awareness?

If you can "think" It, it is not It. Instead, if you ask the question, it can point out that which cannot be thought, seen, felt, smelled, heard, tasted, broken, burnt, injured, or smeared - the Big Nothing. Funny enough, Nothing turns out to be Everything.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Much Ado About Nothing

Helma: I'd like everything to be totally clear. No residues in believing things that aren't true. No more lies to be believed in. It's like I won't rest before everything is seen for what it is.

V: Might I suggest that belief is completely unnecessary? Forget belief completely. This is a completely existential understanding - there is absolutely nothing you need to "accept" or "believe." Look to your own direct experience, moment to moment.

Helma: Secondly: to be totally present and not go into the thoughts of past and future is much more relaxing.

V: Absolutely!

Helma: No things to deal with. But it feels like I am not allowed to let go of thoughts. There seem to be things to be dealt with first. Whe I speak with friends we talk about things we have learnt from life. It is almost as if we have to learn things, e.g. in my case, to be more assertive, to not be a perfectionist, etc.

V: There is no "have to." Notice that in resting as awareness, simply and naturally in a completely uncontrived fashion, learning happens, responses happen in conversation with friends, etc. Just relax as awareness (it's what you already are anyway!) and you'll find that assertiveness and ease will arise as needed.

Stay with the simplicity of Awareness, as often as you remember, and what needs to be addressed will be clear and it will be handled from the wisdom and spaciousness of Awareness - the real "you."

Helma: There's much tension in my body and it feels like I have to learn things so that the tension will fall away. There's the idea that when I am stronger as a person, not so insecure or when I have brought some changes to my life, my body won't be suffering from the stress it is in now.

V: That is quite a story :-) Isn't awareness present for all of those thoughts, too? Stay with the awareness and leave everything else alone.

Helma: To let go of thoughts seems like I am not helping solve those issues, so they will remain. Although I realize it is the other way round. But still... it won't let me go.

V: There is no "it" and there is no "you" - see right now that these are both ideas taking shape in present awareness, just like turbulence takes shape in a river. The turbulence isn't separate from the river - it has no independent existence apart from the river, and it disappears back "into" the river - its source. The turbulence in the river is not an issue to be solved for the river, is it? And yet, by simply leaving it alone, the turbulence is completely "solved."

Helma: Although I don't like it, I feel like I have to investigate where the stress comes from etc. and have to put time into it. Much more pleasant it would be to not have to worry or think about the personality stuff and to just be...enjoy being, being empty.

V: Yes. And the only thing stopping you is your belief in your own story that something must be done about it. Relax. Just rest as this vast openness that "you" already are. Everything is already OK.

Is Awareness Chronically Shy?

M: Hi! My name is Michele; I am so happy you have started a blog and shared your insights. I have been reading your posts for a couple of months, following the link from Annette’s site.

V: Annette was a HUGE help to me.

M: I decided to put myself at the keyboard this morning to write you after ending up on your blog again, and reading your profile, (with the complicity of a cold that keeps me home). I found a warmth in your message so disarming that I felt I wanted to come in contact with you.

V: I'm glad you did.

M: To briefly introduce myself, I am 28 and live in Sweden. My biography includes 8 years of seeking (Nisargadatta, Watts, U.G., R. Guenon, Annette, Hartong, Jeff Foster, DH Harding and others I forgot in the years), depression, and an underground feeling of dissatisfaction and not being able to find "my place in the world".

V: This sounds very familiar! Perhaps we were separated at birth!?

M: I wanted to bring up some issues about the spiritual search I find myself in. For example, I have a difficulty in understanding what I have often heard teachers say: that the presence of awareness is unchanged by the particular states that occur, or that nothing needs to change. When I deal with afflictive states, vicious circles, defensiveness, etc., the more I try to notice this awareness the more I feel it’s just another ego activity.

V: The "presence of awareness" or the "awareness of presence" or "presence" or "awareness" all are imperfect attempts at describing THAT which KNOWS/SEES everything that you wrote including afflictive states, vicious circles, defensiveness, and the thought story "this is just another ego activity."

Right now, at this very moment as you read this, isn't awareness present? Really look. Awareness is immediately and constantly present. There has NEVER been a moment during which awareness was not present in, as, and through this character "Michele."

Awareness/Seeing/Knowing is the natural state (not really a "state" but you get what I mean). By simply resting, leaving absolutely everything alone, letting everything be as it is, we rest in and as Awareness. There really is no choice to do or be otherwise although I know there seems to be for a while.

Nonetheless, don't bother with that question of choice or no-choice. Just rest as awareness - let everything be as it is just for this instant.

M: I also suffer of chronic shyness and it looks like this entire spiritual search is just a way of topping this up with a lot of adornments that doesn’t change the substance of things.

V: Chronic shyness is a thought story, right? What is shyness? Isn't it a collection of thinking that says something like "maybe they won't like me, maybe they will, maybe I'll look foolish, maybe my feet are too big," and on and on along with particular sensations? More to the point, we believe the thought story and mix it with the thought story "me."

In order to say "I'm chronically shy," there has to be something there that is AWARE of or KNOWS the thoughts and sensations labeled "chronic shyness," doesn't there? That AWARENESS, which KNOWS the thought story, is what "you" are! It is that simple! You (Awareness) have simply mistaken yourself for a description - "you" are what is aware of all description! And, truly, there is no description without Awareness - they are one and the same – there is only a seeming separation.

For now, just keep resting as the awareness that knows/sees absolutely everything occurring, whether thought or sensation. Relax it all a thousand times a day.

M: On the other hand it seems like living in peace, and accepting oneself are possible things and many reached the “goal”.

V: Of course it is possible, but it is a myth to believe that stories of shyness or anger or sadness - or any other story - will no longer coalesce. It is just that as it is seen that these stories have no existence independent from Awareness, there is less and less identification with any of them and a greater experience of spaciousness. It is true always, but you will know it as you continue to practice leaving everything alone and resting as that which is aware of it all.