There is much talk, many words written, not only in an effort to describe an “indescribable experience,” but also in an effort to point the way towards the indescribable. Perhaps we have heard the words, “who you really are,” or “you are neither the thinker or the doer,” enough times. Are these oft-repeated phrases doing the trick? We presume to know, or not know, because of the lulling tone of a familiar language. Presumption is approximation, like having a berth on an ocean liner that is eternally headed toward an ever-disappearing coastline. Thus at this juncture, the language can become a hindrance, a conveyance that fails to deliver.
Do you know who you really are? No? Then begin there, in that “no.” (If yes, no need to read further.) This is usually the point at which the neti-neti, or via negativa, dialogue begins. Do you know who you are not? A well-versed nondualized mind knows the answer straight away. Does that help? Not this, not that, and so on, but still, “who am I?”
Beginners mind–fresh, unencumbered by shoptalk–is a good place to start. First off, no one else actually has an answer to that question, and no one ever will. There is only the asking. This is why all the best books, satsang, retreats, and even trips to India, rarely provide the answer to this mysterious question. But they are fun to read and attend on occasion, so in all seriousness–let us read, go, do, practice, find a sangha, discuss. It’s all great fun, and life might as well be that, even in the absence of knowing our true identity. It’s not all that different from joining a traveling theater troupe. Revel. Enjoy. That’s all most of us are really after isn’t it? A life enjoyed, lived fully, with no regrets? Do it all, and regret nothing. Don’t let anybody tell you it’s a waste of time if you’re having a good time, following teachers, getting to know some of them, having great flashes of insight, bouts of peace and clarity. It’s just life. There is no correct way to live. There’s no folly bigger than another when its a folie à deux world.
Keep the question close to your heart, and be immensely curious. Let everything you do be an open-ended question, and everything that happens becomes the benevolent response. Life is a call and response kind of activity. Be a lover, not a worrier of things. And when you just cannot love, let your annoyance and your distrust steer you towards new beaches and alleyways. Catastrophes and disappointments are nothing if not serendipitous detours to wholly new terrain. Is this not the promise of world travel, Gypsies?
I write this because there is a weariness with nondual blah, blah, blah. Yet the moment the language ceases to appease the mind, and reason fails, there is a very clear window of opportunity. When a natural curiosity replaces the habitual tendency to conform to industry standards, the answer is here in plain view, unfettered by conceptual jibber jabber. This is the strength and the promise of the inquiries–questions are posed rather than answers given. The experience is the answer, and it is beyond even Advaitic and nondual terminology. It is a wordless knowing, related to no perceptual framework. “Oh,” is the most appropriate, immediate response–or simply laughter.
Beth Bellamy and I are offering another Deepenings Course beginning in late January/early February. Neither of us will provide second-hand answers, but we may attempt to disabuse cherished beliefs. And as always, if you’re interested in inquiring one-on-one, contact me for further details. We have only our most obscuring and possibly erroneous assumptions to lose, and who knows what lies underneath the dust of our convictions?