A question has been asked in regard to my spiritual biography, or timeline, as part of an upcoming interview with Jerry Katz. All that I have been able to come up with is a kind of curiosity. Where does the impulse to seek, or anything else for that matter (to love, to work hard, to play, to learn to fly), come from? I don’t know where this came from, or where it started, was the best answer I could think of, but it seemed certain that a better response was hoped for, and that I should be able to come up with such. Read more
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
The Unfindable Inquiry (UI) is a useful, powerful tool that leads one to the discovery that the self is not an image, not a word or a thought, not a sensation. If you’re convinced that there is a deficient (or exalted) self in there somewhere running the show, consider a session with one of Scott Kiloby’s Living Inquiries facilitators. Any one of them can help you look for this mythical creature. “Is that it?” is the question. “No, it can’t be. I can’t find it,” is the usual response. Oh, what a relief it is!
If that dogged sense of self persists, consider this: The self is not an “it,” not a “thing” to be found. It’s an activity. An activity isn’t found, it’s observed. This pesky sense of self is not a noun; it’s a verb. Read more
That self is still unfindable, and Scott Kiloby’s Unfindable Inquiries can help to see that all our deficient selves are but one missing person. There are 21, and counting, excellent facilitators that can help you look to see if you can actually find, whatever seems stuck, problematic, needed, or believed in your day-to-day experience.
I am resigning from Living Inquiries, effective July 1st, and will no longer, or very rarely, be offering the Unfindable Inquiries as part of the sessions we all have been engaging in. I will continue to offer what I have been offering for quite sometime now, whatever you want to call it or name it. There was some veering off script, and many wonderful experiences had, but having veered off, there’s no pull to wander back. It has been a great trip, to be here with so many, other Facs and Scott Kiloby included, but someone seems to have left the island.
It bears repeating: There are many competent Living Inquiries Facilitators that are willing to look in this way. Take full advantage, fearlessly. I’ll still be continuing with sessions, just looking–in whatever way comes up. Feel free to contact me, and see what is new at The Deepest Peace. We have nothing to lose, because there is nothing or no one to defend, protect, or to promote.
Truman Burbank: Somebody help me, I’m being spontaneous!
Young Truman: I want to be an explorer, like the Great Magellan.
Teacher: [indicating a map of the world] Oh, you’re too late! There’s nothing left to explore!
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.
It’s been 7 weeks now since the house I lived in flooded due to a burst pipe. I visited it last weekend, and although the demolition had been completed, the restoration work had not even begun. It is a house without floors, without drywall in most cases, empty, except for one bedroom where most of my furniture and stuff is all crammed into a small space.
I’ve spent this time between two hosts; one family, the other friend. I’ve had offers to come and stay various places, but we (my dog and I) would have to get in the car and travel, again…and here’s the thing: you have to pick where you guest very carefully—because of what it’s like to take up another’s space with the sound & fury of who you appear to be. The utmost respect for others, for their preferences, their quirks, their need for personal space, is imperative. And without even thinking about it, even the idea of my preferences, quirks, and needs must necessarily not only become secondary, if not irrelevant, they also most humbly come up for review. What is needed/offered as a guest? You discover very quickly the answer is Read more
We don’t cause the planets to spin, our hearts to beat, don’t plan our time of death, or know what the weather will be for certain on any given day—yet still there is this feeling that what we do matters, has an impact, actually changes things. At the very least we can change our circumstances, or the circumstances of others, right? Sometimes it appears that we can, and very often it appears that whatever is going to happen will happen regardless, or in spite of, our best efforts. Does the fact that it appears we can make some things happen, but are utterly ineffectual in so many other situations, mean that we have some control over our lives? Or does it simply mean that we are in alignment (pleased) with some of what happens but not all of it? Do we take credit for that which occurs, that we wanted to happen and worked for, and then become mystified and blame others, or God, when the same degree of desire and effort comes to naught? Is it “even a blind pig picks up an acorn from time to time,” or “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit?” Is an answer or a certainty required in regard to who or what is in charge, or do we simply live as we do without knowing the answer but behaving as if we are in charge any way?
Does the idea that all happens in its own way and in its own time and no amount of effort or belief changes that in any way; that this or that happens without regard to the personal, without any apparent cause and effect, suggest meaninglessness?
If cause and effect, and time & space are purely conceptual, if the world as we know it is ultimately impersonal, and thus nothing benefits or hinders any-one, anywhere, there are some who would conclude that life is essentially meaningless.
If there is nothing you or any other individual can do to change the course of nature, or life itself, is there a connotation of “why bother?” or an aggravating insistence that of course there is something you or I can do? Will either a laissez faire attitude or redoubled efforts change anything?
Meaning is unavoidably personal. Our idea of ourselves, our persona, comes from the conceptual, from the mind. Only the mind would come up with the idea of meaninglessness, because it is the mind’s job, it’s raison d’etre, to confer meaning. Mind is the activity of bestowing meaning, which arises simultaneously with judgment. Meaning and judgment are inextricably linked. This is how we create the self, the personal out of the impersonal. This is how we seem to be separate and divided.
In the Unfindable Inquiries, we discover over and over again that no deficient self exists, until ultimately no self at all, and no other, can be found anywhere. Yet the idea that there is someone here who can make something happen, or keep something from happening, persists regardless of all the evidence to the contrary. We think, “Maybe I should try the UI,” for instance. And since I had that thought, obviously I can choose—to improve, to fix, to try something new. Looking into all the circumstances that led to that thought, and what happens between the thought and actually making the appointment, it can be seen that the “do or the do not” is a matter of incalculable influences, circumstances and happenings over which we have no control—including the response, emotional or intellectual, that arises right now to this idea.
So, is life meaningless? From the perspective of the individual, only if circumstances can be altered (usually for the better) by our actions, or a reason is given for an occurrence, or a purpose is found for our existence. From the broadest perspective, beyond “me” and any sense of personal agency, life is unfathomable, to use a word. The very concept of meaning becomes meaningless, irrelevant, once the concept of the individual self is seen through, once the mind and the body are returned to their proper places, as servants to the Kingdom that is this life force. That is the origin of the word “purpose;” to put in place—in this case, from master to servant. The world as we understand it from this little head could be said to be meaningless, but it is the very same little head that attempted to give it meaning in the first place.
To search for meaning is human, a very deep yearning that propels us…where? Keep looking until there is no meaning to be found, for you. See the indescribable as it is revealed beyond words, beyond the personal. Perhaps you will be relieved of the interminable burden of seeking for meaning in a meaningless world. Keep looking until “The undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns,” is found.
“I have given everything I see all the meaning that it has for me.” ~ A Course in Miracles
If meaning is self-generated, where do you go to find it? And why for so long, and so far?
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.
Christmastime and the winter holidays invoke sensations that could be labeled anything from anxious and fearful, to joy and warmth, or even indifference. When you break it down, as we do in inquiry, it’s all perception–with an overlay of personal meaning. The taste of nut-buttery cookies; the scent of pine; the vision of colored lights that glow everywhere in these long, dark nights; the sounds of voices singing; and the touch of friends and family who come to share all of this. The perceptions themselves are neutral. We give them all the meaning they have for us. Hence, there are Scrooges and there are jolly old Saint Nicks, and everything in between.
For as long as I can remember, there has been the ongoing discussion of the “true meaning” of Christmas, how this not-really-agreed-upon meaning is overshadowed by commercialism and the glaring poverty of those who are unable to even participate in the excess of consumption. Tiny Tim and the Little Drummer Boy weigh in on the side of that spirit of Christmas that has nothing to do with money, though the Madison Avenue contribution is a very loud drumbeat, if not a deafening roar.
It is, officially and nominally, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Not everyone who celebrates goes to church, but many do pay homage, in their own private ways, to the underlying message of love, forgiveness, and peace on Earth.
It could be said that the last temptation of Christ was, metaphorically and literally, bearing witness to his humanness, in giving up his personal will to live and die as a man. As men and women we have no other choice but to celebrate this humanness–because we live as human beings. We can come to see both the divinity and the humanity in life, by forgiving and honoring the differences in expression that are the foundation and inexorable beauty of our fleeting personhood. The inclusion and acceptance of both, of all the contrasts is the miracle. Nothing less than the whole enchilada will do.
There’s going to be no exhortation here to live or celebrate one way or another, no plea to “love one another.” Buy big-ticket items, or ladle out food in soup kitchens. Neither one makes for a morally superior person. They’re both expressions of giving that seem to go along with the-not-really-agreed-upon meaning of Christmas. All else is opinion, that which divides and separates. Opinions are also part of this, though held lightly as opposed to fiercely.
If we can’t agree upon the true meaning of Christmas, perhaps we can agree to dispense with all judgment, and certainly any judgment about those who, either by choice or religious affiliation, do not celebrate it at all. If we refuse to give in to the temptation of believing that there is a right way to do Christmas–or anything else–then there can be no wrong, or not-quite-right way. This is how conflict is born, and world and personal peace are thereby sacrificed. We can refuse the temptation to judge in the same way that Christ refused temptation in the desert–all appeals that succumb to human frailty and neediness are responded to with trust, and the unwavering commitment to that which sustains us.
Or we simply surrender to the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and the feel of the season. These freely-given and always-present perceptions are all we ever have. That is the celebration. There is no other to judge in this or any other regard. Whether the sights and sounds evoke joy, sorrow, or grumpiness, may you embrace (hug) it all, and may peace be with you in the midst of Christmastime, wintertime, and in all the seasons of (your) life. I bang this drum with solemn yet gay reverence for all the beats that have ever contributed to the symphony and cacophony that is this life. Bang that drum, however the spirit moves. There’s the meaning, whatever it means, however it manifests. Shall I play for you?
What are objects but a combination of sense perceptions? What is awareness but this sensing, or experience itself? Objects and awareness are inseparable. If you cannot see, hear, touch, taste or smell a cup, it doesn’t exist. Awareness is the experience of seeing, hearing, tasting, and smelling. Thus the body is also awareness precisely because it is all about sensing. The cup exists because it is experienced–not by the body as a separate sensing subject, but as the experience itself, ipso facto.
Close your eyes and touch the cup. Is there, in the tactile experience, a cup and a hand? There is only an unnamable sensation. The words “cup,” “hand,” “touch,” are added on, a mental, linguistic overlay, dividing a singular experience into three things. It is this mental overlay, the naming that divides, and creates the appearance of separation. The cup and the hand are therefore inseparable, and inseparable from the experience of touch. There is only this experiencing.
This could sound like boring non-dual gobbledygook. But when you drop the words, you have the wordless, unnamable experience of inseparability. The experience itself is not boring; a sensation itself cannot be bored. Try and find boringness without the idea that there is a separate, individual, experiencer.
Or try wrapping your arms around something or someone you love. (And there can always be that, words pointing to separate something’s, or not.) There is touch, smell, sound, sight, and even smell. That’s it! And that is everything. All else is added on, is a mental overlay, a conditioned response to a belief in separation. And there is that wonderful thing we can agree to call love, just for fun. Wrap your arms around the world as it presents itself to you now, eternally now. Just love, by seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling all of it. No need to add a separate someone into the mix. Experience stands alone, and neither requires nor creates an other to behold. Only beholding.
And this is boring non-dual gobbledygook until it is experienced…and it is known that there is no experiencer…only experiencing. Loving arms, loving nothing, but everything. My love for you knows no bounds. Take out the “my,” the “you,” and all boundaries–what have you got? Poof! Love. Then put them all back together again, just for fun.
Object/awareness inquiry is not the only way to experience the inseparability of the mind/body/world. See that if you smile, the whole world smiles back; if you scowl, the whole world scowls back…with a wink. This is the only tenable use of the concept create your own reality. Take the you out of the equation, a smile emerges, and there it is–smiling world.