Who’s to say that this life isn’t concurrently an entering into selfhood, and an ongoing impulse to naturally return to this true one-thing-we-know-we-really-are? Two inclinations happening at the same time. There are stops and starts–“I am this separate person.” Yet in the next step, “What was I thinking?” and then a brief a reprieve from the role, the falsity of it all. It seems that this becoming and unbecoming, pretending and clear seeing, has always been going on. There are constant rents in the fabric of reality, constant and obvious red flags, telling us that things are not as they appear. Read more
Facilitating, Teaching: A Walk in the Woods
There are a lot of discussions around, and derision for, the idea of teachers in the non-dual community. As a facilitator, I have an interest in the distinctions between the two titles, and in clarifying what we do. First of all, I’m not even sure what it means to teach. Seriously. I looked it up in the Online Etymology Dictionary and found that the Old English derivation of the word “teach” is “to show, point out.” And furthermore discovered that it shares its origins with the word “diction,” which comes from digit, or “finger.” Huh. The finger pointing towards the moon—there it is. And I thought it meant, as is noted on dictionary.com, “to impart knowledge or skill; give instruction.” It was the imparting knowledge and giving instruction parts that I was confused about. I could use instruction on how to tie a Gordian knot, but can anyone impart knowledge about that which is essentially unspeakable? Like they say in the writing world, “Show, don’t tell.”
I can say with complete confidence that, as a facilitator, I have no knowledge that you, or anyone who comes for a session, does not have. I mean “knowledge” and “don’t have” literally. The inverse is true, as well. There is no teacher, mine or yours, of whom this could be said. It is fundamentally dualistic to think otherwise. And by that I mean, it is inherently divisive to think in terms of a teacher with knowledge up here, and a student believing in his own ignorance out there.
That is not to say that there is not the appearance of teachers, and students going to hear what they have to say. And by using the term “appearance of” I do not mean some flakey version of no one here, nothing happening, transcendent foolish-wisdom-words. If a bird sings, there is a song to be heard. If a teacher teaches….No problem there. It is to say that the belief that someone has answers that you do not is the sticking point. It is the belief itself that is coming from a dualistic viewpoint and necessarily divisive. It is the belief, the concept, the culturally and socially condoned practice that, in effect, creates the appearance of teacher/student. If you did not have this particular belief, it wouldn’t be a part of your experience, and you wouldn’t care much either way. Is it a problem if you’re not thinking about it?
To facilitate is “to render easy.” The facilitators at Living Inquiries, to the best of my understanding, can and do render, or “give back,” the questions, and see to it that it is your answer to your question that is the imparted wisdom. Your experience is paramount, not the wisdom or clarity of any particular facilitator, and Scott Kiloby does the same. We’re all birds, just singing songs. Listen or doze off, as you please.
So what to expect in signing up for a session? (First, note the caveat here to drop all expectations.) But in a manner of speaking, what happens, from my point of view, during these sessions is that they are somewhat like a walk in nature. We walk through the woods or the hills, and like friends do, we point out to each other this or that tree, that bird, those tracks. It’s not a matter of labeling or categorizing the various appearances; not an expert on flora and fauna. A facilitator just happens to have made this particular walk many times before, down this particular trail, so may or may not see things that might otherwise be missed. However, someone new (or old) to this work often has the fresh eyes to see the trail in new ways, so the pointing is just as often mutually enlightening.
A friend once took me to see Black Canyon, the deepest canyon in the world. I never knew it was there, had never even heard of it before. He simply drove down a dusty old road, parked in a nearly vacant parking lot, and we walked through breezy evergreens toward a fenced precipice. I looked over, and stepped back from the edge immediately. This was, experientially, a whole new definition of “looking down.” I went back to look again, and the response this time was simply, “Oh.” We stayed awhile to gaze wordlessly at the wonder of it all. My concept of “deep” has been fundamentally altered. It doesn’t even mean what I thought it meant, at all. And the depth of the glimpse displaces any notion of this body as a limited container, or located vessel of consciousness. There, here, it is—in the looking. All distinctions fall away.
Yesterday, I had a session with someone who wanted to look for the teacher. We went to where there was no teacher, internally or externally. And finally, no teaching…nothing…but, like the glimpse into the depths of the canyon, space, vastness, emptiness. Meh, those words don’t cut it either. Lose the words, any description, all points of reference. It was like that.
I have no special knowledge to impart, no claim to be anyone or anything different from you. I would like to take you to see that canyon, watch you step up to that precipice. The “oh,” is all yours—to make of it what you will. End of tour spiel.
Or, there’s more over here, just beyond that ridge, that you just might like to take a look at before you go home again. Let’s go see.
Teacher, Illusion; Where’s the Gold?
Perhaps the greatest gift any teacher can give is the gift of disillusionment.
If you’re looking to a teacher to show you what’s up, what’s real, you’re looking in the exact opposite direction of where any true teaching points to. What is true is not out there, ever, no matter how golden the words, how fine the robes, how magnificent the smiling eyes.
So when the teacher disappoints, shows his humanity, all that is being done is that those seemingly powerful, adored hands unfold to show you “This is life; it’s contradictions, it’s failure to provide the answers. This, what you see out here, is a failed promise. Always.”
And so you go back to the silence that quite naturally falls in the midst of utter disappointment. You give up. Good fortune is here in this moment of despair. Having nowhere to turn, no words of consolation, what’s left can be the way to go, or simply the way.
This state of misunderstanding is the gift. Outer authority is impeached because of its transparency. This Zen-like coup d’état creates the ideal circumstances for the new, the heretofore unseen, to be seen with unfiltered clarity. The lens is washed clean of refracted imperfections. Unclouded eyes reveal the brightest vision.
When the world loses its allure, what is just behind its provocative veil emerges. All teachers will spin you out onto the dance floor, disappear into the crowd, and leave with another. You’re on your own. Who are you now?
There is nowhere left to look but into this idea of a “you.” Is there a you if it’s no longer existing in relation to a teacher, a teaching, a lover or a friend? Loose the ties that bind and see what is left. No one is needed to describe this discovery. It neither requires nor lends itself to description. Words cannot express this. It blows the mind wide open, and renders it quaint, but thoroughly irrelevant.
Every disillusionment affords the opportunity for what the word implies–disengage from the illusion. Let there be a continual letting go of false expectations, based on a flawed premise: Me here; world out there. Feed me, world. And so you starve. That which is empty cannot fill the hungry belly. Phony is as phony does; and it takes one to know one.
There’s nowhere to go, no one to ask how to get there. It’s already here, in the seeing. It is the light with which you see that creates the gold in them thar hills.
“Live neither in the entanglements of outer things nor in inner feelings of emptiness.
Be serene in the oneness of things and such erroneous views will disappear by themselves.” ~ from Faith Mind, Seng-Ts’an
“Love is one of the names we give to this recognition. It is simply not to know an other.” ~ Rupert Spira
No self does not mean nothingness, or at least that experience does not stand on its own. The discovery that there is not a separate self also coincides (not always concurrently) with the realization of who you really are. It can be seen from this everythingness that the conditions we place on love, on the “other,” are basically the best we can expect from them. If we perceive an other as untrustworthy, we are holding them to the highest standard they can maintain in our relationship with them. The other is empty save for the perceptions that make them who they are to us. That’s why conditional love fails empirically, as a concept or an experiment. The inverse is equally true. If we see them as the source of our happiness, that is what they will be…until the projection breaks down, as all projections surely must.
All of this, the perceived untrustworthiness, and the expectation that another will make you happy, comes from within, from our own sense of deficiency. The realization that there is not only no self, but no other, frees your projections, or creations, from the conditions you impose upon them. When you trust who you really are, the everything and the nothingness, you can trust another without reservation. Change your perception of the other, and they change. Not just the relationship changes (although it may), but who you are perceiving changes as well. Because there are not two. There is only the One, playing as (projecting) the many faces you see.
The conditions placed on love, loving, and being loved, arise as pointers toward the conditioning that still exists. The other exists as a mirror only as long as that reflection is necessary to see what is being shown. Look for yourself to see if you can find the self that needs to be protected, from anything, and set yourself and the illusory other free from all expectation. This is the experience of love, unconditional love.