On Finding Fear

An interesting addition to the growing number of ways to use the inquiries is to actually look for the experience, the emotion itself, instead of, or in addition to, the self that seems to have or be that. For instance, in working with someone recently who had looked several times for various deficient selves, it was seen that FEAR was the common denominator, whether it was the in regard to the abandoned self or the one who fails. So we actually went looking for fear.

Not being able to find the fear was immediately disarming to a sense of identity in general. If there’s no fear, then…what?

Having personally been facilitated in looking for doubt, I can attest to the fact that just because the concept exists and has a label does not mean, in the end, that there really is such an animal. Apparently, the emotional spectrum has its share of unicorns. In fact, doubt wasn’t even the focus of the session, but rather added on at the end of an insight so uncanny that it evoked some doubt. And then the question was asked—just because the thought is there, does it really refer to anything objective? In other words, the thought “There is some doubt,” went unquestioned, but in looking, it was seen that it only refers to some idea in the mind. There was a lot of laughter around that one. No doubt; really?

So perhaps if looking for, and not finding, the one who is not enough, or who is unlovable, brings great relief, yet fear, anger, or doubt persist in other circumstances, try to find fear, anger, or doubt itself. What you see might surprise you. Maybe all you will find is crocodile tears and a jabberwocky, or two.

Nobody Wants to Wake Up

 In nondual speak this could mean, to some, that well, yeah, there is nobody here to wake up. Even the term “wake up” is under suspicion. But beyond that nobody-home assumption is the empirical observation that truly, most just want a better life, or what A Course in Miracles refers to as a “better dream.” Cool story, Bro.

A better dream is still a dream. And in that dream, there is still a separate individual who is prone to death, loss, loneliness, and poverty, mixed in with occasional bouts of happiness, and even bliss. It’s the intermittent reinforcement of such bouts of bliss that keep the dream alive and the dreamer curled up, bedcovers pulled over her head, in an effort to shut out the light of day.

When the bliss or the peace of mind fades, seeking for the next hit begins in earnest again, and again. The inquiries can be used to get high, as in that belly laugh that often accompanies the experience of no-self, or the extremely pleasurable sense of relief that comes from not finding the never-enough persona that has been carried around like a ball and chain for decades.

Or, like a woman in an abusive relationship (the one who stays beyond all reasonable definitions of what love is), it can be seen that the infrequent moments of pleasure and comfort are not worth the inevitable pain that follows stingy allotments of affection.

There is nobody here that wakes up. But it sure seems like there are a lot of somebodys out there scrambling for the next better experience. The inquiries can be used to feel good for awhile, or as a way to step off the wheel for good. When hell becomes the occasional glimpse of heaven, refuse to settle for small favors. Go the distance; beyond nightmares and worldly dreams. Seek no more for the temporary pleasures of this world.

The Day We Finally Get Tired of Our Story…

That is the day we glimpse freedom. When you’re ready to let it go, because you’ve told it so many times, to so many people, that it sounds boring even in your own head, look behind the story to see the indescribable wonder that is truly here now.

The story is the lie of who you are. That’s why it becomes heavy and tiresome, unreal even. It’s an aggregate of infinite images, thoughts, and emotions welded together so haphazardly that, while it might appear to be true, it’s a tad hideous in shape and smell.

Memories are nothing more than unreliable interpretations of fuzzy images, random thoughts, and fairly convincing emotions and feelings. They’re all thrown together to make a strange-tasting soup we call “me.”

It could be the story of unprecedented success accompanied by a lurking feeling that some kind of mistake has been made. It could be a story of all the ways life has cheated and defeated you. It could even be a story of “I’m happy just the way things are…” with the silent subtext “…so ask me no questions and leave me the hell alone.”

It doesn’t matter who the characters are, or whether it’s a comedy or tragedy. It’s the acting, the role, that becomes oppressive—to the point that you finally must look at the truth of it all.

Is this who I really am? Stop playing the role, if only for an instant, and see what happens in that seemingly infinite space before you pick it up again. Could that feeling be it? Is it really that simple?

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts.~ Shakespeare

Who’s in Charge?

If you identify as a seeker, the presumption is that there is something you are looking for, somewhere you’re hoping to get to? From the outset, the assumption would be that it is not already here. Oh, and that you are going to find it. Added onto that assumption is the possibility that there is something that you can or must do to get there—that you are driving the search?

There is an age-old debate: There is nothing you can do, vs the Practice/Process model. This post does not attempt to resolve that seeming paradox. However, it might be asked if the “path” you are on, whether it involves going to satsang, reading books, meditating, or going on retreat (all of these are activities in which the author has engaged), does this behavior reinforce the perception that there is an actual self, person, or separate entity who is in control of this apparently directional activity?

Just ask. Who is in charge? Don’t answer with the mind. And perhaps you’ll know if the mind is attempting to answer if a random “Yeah, but…” comes up. Yes but, so and so meditated for 30 years…and then you are back in the unresolvable paradox treadmill. Get off the wheel and simply ask, rather than when is (fill in the blank with whatever teacher comes to mind) coming to town? Look in your direct experience:  Can you actually find this character that is running the show?

The Unarguable Experience

Find the teacher who will set you free from teachers and teachings.

To experience the place beyond concepts, beyond dogma of any kind, is to be free of doubt, seeking, conflict, and ultimately the sense of separation that fuels all of these states.

Life is to be lived, not missed. If there is a focus on what could be or should be, or on who or what can give it to me, then what is right here and now is overlooked.

In this video, it could be said that there is a teacher and a seeker. It could be said that there is a teaching, or a transmission that is happening, as if it were a causative relationship. It could be assumed that Papaji has given the woman something. But all he asks her to do is look. First, he asks, “What do you want?” This creates a willing suspension of the mind, or a state of wondering, perhaps. “Where are you,” he says? That is all. That is all that is ever being asked of anyone in any given moment: Look, right here, right now. Who are you? Where are you? The mind stops for an instant, and you know the answer that cannot be put into words.

What if the experience itself renders any idea about transmission irrelevant, and any distinction between teacher and student absurd? Quarrel with what is given, by whom and to whom, and that very argument will obscure what is already present and accessible, what is ultimately unarguable because it is beyond any position the mind could attempt to hold. Experience trumps the reasoning mind every time. Let this laughter be your experience.

If You’re Suffering…

Flower Sermon
That’s the only criteria that matters. There are no levels of clarity, no others that know more, no time in the future when clarity happens, or an imagined “state” of abiding in, or achieving a “solid” realization. But yet there is the appearance of such levels, realized beings, time, and stability.

If any of those appearances are accompanied by a sense of suffering, there’s the rub. The above distinctions come only from the realm of seeking. In life itself, there is suffering having to do with poverty, loneliness, health, and so on. In the words of Pema Chodron, “start where you are.” If there is the experience of suffering, then quite simply, something—a thought, an identity—is not only being believed, but cherished.

Trust not your thoughts or your understanding; trust your experience. People balk at the idea of self-generated suffering, but is it possible that the suffering being experienced is a kind of identity? For instance, it was seen here that a sense of longing was the experience of being. Longing was familiar, was in fact, an experiential identity. Things, situations, people were longed for that could not be had because that maintained the longing, and essentially the personhood. Failure, victimhood, and a sense of injustice can also all be dearly-held experiences of identity. When in these states, you feel as if you exist. As long as any identity, or a sense of me-ness goes on, there is the possibility for suffering. Is there a clinging to a familiar sense of suffering as that-is-who-I-am? You are not that.

And for those for whom the seeking manifests as a constant need to understand, an intellectual foray into teachings and concepts, suffering arises (or not) from feeding the mind that will never take the step through that gateless gate. Peace, compassion, love, and clarity are lived experiences. Conceptual understanding actually impedes the experience—and experiencing is all there really is. Suffering in this case comes from identifying with a negligible, but illusory identity with the intellect, oftentimes manifesting in the form of emptiness, aridity, and ultimately a sense of failure, because the mind is and always will be insufficient to the task at hand.

None of the posts here are true. You can’t take any of them to the bank, or out to dinner and a movie. The inquiries are a way of experiencing, of looking beyond the concepts believed and identities assumed. As Jac O’Keeffe says (loosely translated), everything you experience comes from the conceptual and into form. So if the experience is suffering, STOP, right now, and let go of all ideas, needs, opinions, and identification. Drop everything the mind and the world it generates has to offer, and lookis not the peace and clarity you are seeking already here? If this is seen even if only for a second, trust that experience. Follow that.

Can You Find the Phony?

We spend our whole lives trying to be something we’re not. That is the state of human relations, in a nutshell. Everyone is a phony; otherwise known as the false self, because it is, well, not real. At some level this is always known. It is the creepy background that clouds all our interactions with others. This is why we seek approval relentlessly, why we are in continual need of validation. Because whomever we think we are is a fiction that we’re making up as we go along. We desperately want others to believe our story because in our hearts we know it’s not true, but seemingly, our survival as a person with an identity depends upon its acceptance. Some spend their entire lives looking outside of themselves for this acceptance. We call them extroverts. Others hide, or hole up and keep to themselves, so that their fragile/flimsy self image will not be challenged. We call them introverts.

The need to convince others that we are who we think we are is an aspect of what Alan Watts calls “the unsolvable problem.” Even if we manage to convince, there is always this lurking terror of being discovered. So in relationship, as a survival tactic, we must necessarily withhold some part of ourselves, and we must also pretend to be a certain way, to the point of exhaustion. And so the trouble begins. This is perhaps what is meant by Byron Katie’s phrase, “No two people ever met.” Phonies get married and then unavoidably, yet understandably, end up miserable. We also become, or feel as if we are, inadequate parents under the same ruse.

Essentially, the deficient self is the phony self. The deficient self is what Scott Kiloby calls that persistent sense of not being enough, not being lovable or likeable, of being inauthentic and dishonest. It is a doorway. Try to find the phony, the impostor, the wizard behind the curtain. You are not that. You are ultimately and utterly free–free of pretension, free of the fear of intimacy, free of the fear of betrayal and abandonment.

That sense of inauthenticity is the source of fear behind the mask, and how the fear of failure is born. Do the inquiry on the phony, whether he parades as a wizard or a cowardly lion. Take off the mask and be fearlessly authentic. You don’t have to pretend to be anything any more. You can simply be.

All Things Beautiful

Look, with eyes closed, or eyes wide open. It is all around, within and without. And then the line between the two disappears, and there is just the heartbreaking beauty of all things. No here, there. No within, without.

Look, wherever you are, and see the fragility and the overcoming. A branch breaks; a bird flies away; and the sky will never look the same. Everything in this phenomenal world, without a doubt, comes and goes. Allowing that, seeing that flux, the inevitable impermanence in each movement, is a thing to behold. Even that which appears solid and unchanging, like an immense brick wall, reveals the crack of its transformation somewhere.

Look, and let the vision of suffering crack your heart wide open. Let the rejuvenation of spring–a robins egg, a bright poppy–bring you out of winters cave. Let it all in. Let it all pass through on its way to what was. Let the heart translate what words cannot describe. It’s there on the tip of your tongue, at your fingertips, and it smells so sweet.

Look. Listen. It is all you. Let yourself disappear into it and become it. All things beautiful passing by, here and now.

Listen here while you look, if you wish: All Things Beautiful ~ Nick Cave