Is This Enlightenment – Osho

When the internal talking stops, is this enlightenment?

Parivesh, when the internal talking stops, who cares? Who is there to care? Who is there to raise the question ‘Is this enlightenment’? If you can still ask the question, then it is internal talking continuing.

If you can still see that this is enlightenment, then nothing has happened; then the mind is back from the back door. It has jumped upon your enlightenment too, and it has destroyed it.  Enlightenment is not an experience, that’s why nothing can be said about it. Enlightenment is not one of the series of experiences that you have lived through. Enlightenment is not something that happens to you like a content in the mind. When the mind is not there you don’t say ‘This is enlightenment’, you don’t feel it as an experience; rather, on the contrary, you see it as your nature.

It has always been so – just because of that internal talk you were too occupied and you could not see it. It is not a realization; it is only a recognition, a remembrance. It has always been so from the very beginning – just you had got lost into thoughts, fantasies. Now the fantasy is no more there, you are back home. It is your home.

Enlightenment is not an experience; it is your interiority, it is you. One does not become enlightened; one comes to know that one is enlightenment, one is light, one is consciousness. But, Parivesh, your question is philosophical. When the internal talking stops, you ask, Is this enlightenment?

Don’t be philosophical about these things – these are not philosophical things. You cannot think about them; you can only be, and know; be still, and know. If I say ‘Yes, this is enlightenment’ I will only be giving you an idea. That will burden your mind more, that will become part of your internal talk. Then you will not talk much about money, and women, and you may start talking about enlightenment, God, Buddhahood. But it is the same. The object of thinking does not matter much – you can give any object, and the thinking can weave and spin around it. The question is that the thinking should disappear, evaporate.

So, don’t make enlightenment in any way a goal. Enlightenment is the very source, the very ground, of your being. You consist of enlightenment; you are made of this stuff called enlightenment. So, naturally, when you are silent and there is no distraction – thought means distraction, thought means going away from yourself, thought means something has come between you and yourself, thought means you have moved into the future or into the past, thought means you are not here, you are not now: all this is implied in thought – when there is no distraction, you relax into your source. Slowly, slowly you rest into your being.

Martin Heidegger has called this resting into yourself ‘the releasement’. He has also called it ‘the enchanted regioning’. There is a region inside you, the enchanted region, a space where you are still God, where you have not fallen at all – where you cannot fall in the very nature of things; where you still live in the Garden of Eden, where the fall has not happened – cannot happen. One cannot fall from God and God’s paradise; one can only fall asleep. This is my interpretation of the biblical story. Adam has not been driven out of the Garden of Eden, he has fallen asleep. By eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge he has fallen in dreams, he has started thinking. That is the meaning of the whole parable. That is the meaning of the symbol of the Tree of Knowledge: he has started thinking. Thinking, he has gone away – in thinking only; otherwise, he lives in the same place. But he is no more available to God; he has moved into fictions, imaginations.

Wake up, and you have always been enlightened. Just wake up. Open your eyes. Don’t let enlightenment become an idea in you, otherwise you will think about it, and that will be a distraction.

-Osho

From The Sun Rises in the Evening, Chapter Four

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from Osho.com, or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

Many of Osho’s books are available online from Amazon.com and in the U.S. from OshoStore-Sedona and Osho Here and Now.

 

Right-mindfulness is the Flavor – Osho

Please explain ‘right-mindfulness’. If not a goal or something to practice, what is it? 

Sambuddha, right-mindfulness is a strange word.

First: there is no mind in it – hence it is called ‘right-mindfulness’. Secondly, there is nothing right and wrong in it – hence it is called right-mindfulness. This is a Buddhist way of saying things.

It can’t be a goal, because when there is a goal you are always in the wrong. Why are you in the wrong when there is a goal? Because when there is a goal there is desire, when there is desire you are unhappy, discontented. When there is desire, there is anxiety – whether you will be able to make it or not? Will it be possible or not?

When there is desire there is future, and with the future anxiety enters into your being. With the desire you have lost contact with the present.

Right-mindfulness is not a goal, cannot be a goal – because when all desires disappear and all goals disappear and you are here-now… that is the moment of right-mindfulness.

Why is it called ‘right’? It is called right be-cause it knows no division between right and wrong.

Nothing is wrong! And nothing is right. All judgements have disappeared. One is utterly innocent.

When you see a rose flower, does the idea arise in you: “It is right, it is wrong”? When you see the morning star disappearing, does the idea arise in you: “Is it right or is it wrong?” When you start looking at life with no judgement, with no prejudice, then you are in the state of right-mindfulness.

Jesus has said: Judge ye not. Jesus has also said: Resist not evil – not even evil has to be resisted, then arises right-mindfulness. When you are neither moral nor immoral, when you are amoral like trees and animals and birds and beasts, when you are like a small innocent child who has just opened his eyes, with no ideas… then, in that silence, in that purity, it is right-mindfulness.

Why is it called right? It is called right be-cause now it knows nothing as right and wrong – it knows no division, it is indivisible. The acceptance is total! – that’s why it is called right. You have fallen into the suchness of existence. You are no longer standing there like a judge.

Judging is wrong. To be in a state of non-judgement is right. Right, NOT against wrong right because all wrong and right have disappeared. You have no opinion. You don’t carry a philosophy in the mind.

You are simply a mirror! 

When you come before the mirror, the mirror does not say, “You are beautiful, you are ugly” – it simply reflects. It reflects without condemnation, without appreciation – it reflects choicelessly. It just reflects.

When your consciousness has become a mirror and simply reflects whatsoever is the case, it is right-mindfulness. That mirror-like quality….

And it is not a goal, because every goal will bring dust on the mirror. Every goal will stir desires, and desires surround your mirror like mist – then reflection is not true, then suchness is not reflected.

When you have some idea, you cannot be true to reality. You distort reality according to your idea.

You try to mold reality according to your idea. You are to modify reality. You go on looking for your idea. You are searching for support: you would like reality to support your idea, you would like reality to agree with you – -and then you distort. Then you start seeing things which are not there, and you stop seeing things which ARE there. Then you start living in a mind-world.

To live in the mind is wrong. To live without mind is right, because without mind, the consciousness exists in its purity, mirror-like – it simply reflects. It says nothing! It has no interpretation.

It interprets not.

And why is it called mindfulness? This is the translation of a Buddhist term sammasati. Samma means right – the translation is not very correct, cannot be. Samma is a very strange word, very significant, has many meanings; ‘right’ is only one of its meanings. Samma is the root from where samadhi arises; the word samadhi comes from samma.

Samma means many things. One: tranquility, silence, equanimity, balance, undisturbedness, undistractedness, centredness, groundedness – they are all aspects of samma. ‘Right’ is a very poor translation of samma.

And sati  – sammasati. Sati can mean mindfulness, can mean remembrance, can mean reflection, can mean recollectedness, can mean presence. All those meanings are involved in it. Mindfulness is only one of the meanings. It is a very potential and pregnant word—sammasati. It is the seventh step in Buddha’s eight steps – you are very close to reality. The eighth is samadhi.

The seventh is sammasati. You have come very, very close; you are just on the threshold of reality – it has to be very, very significant. When you are utterly present in the presence, when you don’t have any past and don’t have any future… when this cuckoo calling, this train passing, this dog barking, is all… when THIS is all and there is no that, when the word ‘here’ is your whole reality and there is no there, when now contains ALL time and there is no then… then you are in the state of sammasati.

That’s what I go on calling ‘here-now’ – that is sammasati. Then you are utterly present, absolutely present. When something is going on in your mind about the past, you are not here; a part of you is travelling towards the past, and a part of you is travelling towards the future – only a small fragment is here.

When ALL the parts of your being are here, when you are totally at home, nothing is missing, when you are integratedly here, then it is right-mindfulness. In that moment you will reflect reality – as it is, without any distraction, without any distortion. Because you don’t have any thought in the mind, how can you distort it? Thought distorts, thinking is destructive. It goes on imposing – it does not allow you to see that which is.

Right-mindfulness is a state of no-mind, no-thought!

And remember: it is also a state of no-feeling – otherwise, you may think it is a state of feeling. No, it is not – because feeling again creates ripples and the surface of the lake is disturbed, and again the moon is not reflected as it is.

Neither thought disturbs you, nor feeling.

These are the three states: one is thinking – the most disturbed state; second is feeling – less disturbed than thinking, but still disturbed; third is being – no disturbance at all. One is in the head, second is in the heart, third is in your guts. Right-mindfulness is a gut-state: no head, no heart. You are simply there undefined, undefinable.

Sambuddha, you ask me:

Please explain ‘right-mindfulness’. If not a goal or something to practice, what is it? 

And, yes, it is not a practice. You cannot practice it, because practice brings goal! Practice is desire, practice is mind. And remember: whenever you practise something, you are imposing something against yourself, otherwise why practise it? Against whom are you practicing? When you practise truth, what will you do? You will repress the untruth – but the untruth will remain there, deep inside you, ready to explode any moment. It will go on accumulating.

When you practice love, what will you do? You will repress hatred. When you practice compassion, what will you do? You will repress anger. And all that is repressed will go on remaining in you, and all that is practiced will remain on the surface, and all that is rejected will go deep into your being. The rejected will become part of your being and the practiced will remain just a coating, a painting on the surface.

And remember: whenever you practice anything, you are angry at it. Naturally so – because all practicing divides you, makes you schizophrenic.

One part of you is trying to manipulate the other part. One part of you is trying to enforce some ideas on the other part. And the part that is trying to enforce is a very impotent part, but articulate – your head. It has no power, but it is very articulate, very clever, very cunning, very argumentative.

And the head goes on imposing on your body, on your heart, which are far more potential, far more powerful; they have energy sources, but they are not articulate, they are not argumentative – they are silent. And the head goes on pretending that it has practiced… and then a situation arises and all practice is thrown away – because the head has no energy.

You think for years that you will never be angry, then one day somebody insults you and in a single moment you have forgotten all that practice. And YOU ARE angry! By the time you come to know that you are angry, anger has already happened. You are burning, you are fire. From where does this fire come? And years of practice! That practice was just on the surface. Mind was pretending; because there was no situation provoking you, mind was able to pretend. Now the situation has arisen and mind is not able to pretend. The reality asserts itself.

That’s why down the ages, through the ages, the so-called religious people have been escaping from society, from life. Why? They are escaping from situations where their practice can be proved wrong; nothing else are they doing. Going to the Himalayas they are simply escaping from the world – because the world brings situations! And their so-called practice and their religion and their discipline is broken again and again. Somebody insults, or a beautiful woman passes by, and all their celibacy and all their brahmacharya and all their ideas are gone. A single beautiful woman is enough to destroy all their years of celibacy.

They escape from women, they escape from the world, they escape from money and the market – they know that they can be moral and religious and saintly only when there is no situation which provokes their reality. Then the mind can go on playing the game in a monastery. When there is no challenge, mind seems to be the master. When there is challenge, mind is no more a master.

Whatsoever you practice remains false. Never out of practice has anything real happened. Beware of this. The real happens only through understanding, not through practice. And what is the difference?

Understanding will say: Remain where situations arise, remain where challenges surround you. Be there where provocations and temptations exist. Test yourself there. Go into situations!

Understanding will say: If anger comes, then go into anger and see what it is. See yourself – don’t trust anybody else’s judgement about it. Go into it! Be burnt by it. Let it leave scars on your being – because one learns only through the hard way. Only your experience will tell you again and again and again that anger is stupid – not that it is a sin! It is simply stupid. And as the understanding grows deeper, anger will be coming less and less. One day… the understanding has touched your very core of being, the light has penetrated you. You have seen through and through that anger is futile: in that very moment anger has disappeared and there has not been any repression.

Remember this: repression is the pitfall for ALL those people who want to transform their lives – they have to avoid repression. Indulgence is not so bad, because indulgence can one day bring understanding, but repression can never bring understanding. How can you understand something which you go on repressing and you don’t look into? – you go on covering it, go on throwing it in the basement of your being.

And remember: the more you practice, the more you pretend, the more you are angry at your own practice. Your real parts, your guts are angry.

The intellectual young man was telling off his girlfriend. “Jane,” he remonstrated, “I don’t think you are the girl for me. My interests are in art, literature and in music. You are only concerned with sports, with gambling and with common activities that are altogether alien to me. In fact, to be blunt about it – you are downright uncouth!”

“Uncouth!” she exploded. “Me?! What are you talking about? Uncouth? Didn’t I go along with you to them operas, them concerts, them lectures, and all that sort of shit?!”

That’s what will happen. You can go on practicing, but deep down you know that you are repressing, that you are rejecting, that you are denying some essential parts of your being. Right-mindfulness is the flavor of understanding, not the outcome of practice. Right-mindfulness is the fragrance – the fragrance of seeing into things deeply, the fragrance of insight.

-OSHO

From Walk Without Feet, Fly Without Wings and Think Without Mind, Chapter Nine

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from Osho.com, or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

Many of Osho’s books are available online from Amazon.com and in the U.S. from OshoStore-Sedona and Osho Here and Now.

What is Satori – Osho

What is satori and how to attain it?

Pratima, satori is exactly your ordinary nature; it is not anything special. Hence there is no question of attaining it – it is already the case. You are in it, you have just forgotten. You have become too occupied with the outside world. You have forgotten your own kingdom, you have forgotten your own treasure, you have forgotten yourself. You have become too concerned with others. You are too much in the world and you don’t give any time, any space for your inner nature to have a dialogue with you, to whisper a few things to you. You have become artificial.

You have created a false ego because nobody can live without a center. You have forgotten your real center, and nobody can live without a center, so you have created a false center as a substitute. That’s the ego. Ego simply means living with a false center.

Satori is dropping the false, entering into the real; just being yourself, your natural self, your ordinary self.

The word “ordinary” has to be remembered because the mind is not interested in the ordinary at all; it wants to be extraordinary, it wants to be special. It is through being special that the ego survives.

It is constantly striving to be more special, more special. It wants to be more rich, more powerful, more respectable; it is ambitious. Hence the word “ordinary” has no appeal for the mind. And that is the beauty of the word “ordinary” – because it has no appeal for the mind.

Mind is an achiever and the ordinary need not be achieved; it is already the case. The extraordinary has to be achieved, the extraordinary becomes the goal. It is far away; you have to make all kinds of efforts, you have to struggle for it, you have to fight for it because there are so many competitors.

To be ordinary… and there is no competition at all. You can just be ordinary, nobody has any objection. People will simply feel sorry for you that you have dropped out of the competitive race.

One competitor less – they will feel good but sorry for you. They will say, “Poor fellow! What happened to him? Why did he have to drop out?” The dropouts are not respectable people. Buddha is a dropout. All real Masters are dropouts. To be a sannyasin means to be a dropout. To drop out of the rat race is to drop in, because when you are in the race you cannot enter in. When you are no longer in the race there is nowhere to go. You start moving inwards because life is a flow: if there is no outer direction it takes the inner direction. If the goal is not there far away in the future, then you start moving into your nature in the present. That is satori.

Satori is very ordinary. Satori means your nature. You have come with it; it is your original face – all other faces are masks.

Yoka says:

A disciple speaks in accordance with the ultimate, the absolute truth.

Remember that one should cut the root and not the branches and the leaves.

What is the root of your misery? The root is your ambition, desiring. One wants to be this and that, one wants to possess this and that, one wants to be somebody, one wants to be significant.

Yoka says: Cut the root… only then are you a disciple. And the moment you cut the root – not the branches, not the leaves – you attain the ultimate truth. The ultimate truth is not far away; it is the immediate truth, it is your truth, it is your very being.

Most people do not recognize the perfect jewel, the jewel of supreme wisdom, satori. It is hidden in the secret place of Tathagata, awaiting its discovery.

It is to live in your suchness; it is hidden in your suchness. Whatsoever you are, live in it. Don’t create any conflict, don’t live through the ideal. Don’t be an idealist, just be natural.

But everybody is being taught to be an idealist: “Become a Jesus” or “Become a Buddha” or “Become a Krishna.” Nobody tells you just to be yourself! Why should you be a Jesus? One Jesus is enough and one Jesus is beautiful – he enriches the existence. Many Jesuses just carrying crosses, and wherever you go you meet them… It won’t look beautiful, it won’t add to the beauty of existence; it will make the whole world ugly. Wherever you go you meet a Mahavira standing naked…. It is because of this that God never creates the same person again. He never repeats; he is original.

He always creates a new person. You have never been before, and there is no one who is like you, and there will never be anybody else like you again. In the whole of eternity you alone are just like you. Look at the beauty of it and the glory of it and the respect that God has shown to you! What more respectability do you need? See the uniqueness of yourself. There is no need to be unique; you are already unique, just as everybody else is unique. You are unique in your ordinariness, in your suchness.

Satori is hidden, says Yoka, in the secret place of your suchness, awaiting its discovery.

It has not to be created, it is already there; you just have to discover it. Go in and discover it! It is waiting and waiting. And centuries have passed and many, many lives have passed, and you have become addicted to extroversion. You never move in.

The first step towards satori is meditation. Satori is the ultimate experience of meditation when meditation is fulfilled, when meditation has reached to its ultimate flowering.

Yoka says:

The world is complete illusion, yet nothing exists which might be called illusion.

The world that you have created through your mind is illusory, but there is another world which is not your creation. When your mind disappears you discover that world: the world of suchness. That is a totally different experience. No words can describe it. Thousands of mystics have tried to describe it, but nobody has ever been able and nobody will ever be able to describe it. It is so mysterious; it is so beautiful that all words fall short. No poetry reaches to its level, no music even touches its feet.

The perfect light of this wisdom enlightens one.

The moment you have put your mind aside – mind means ambition, the ego trip of being this and that – the moment you have put the whole mind aside, a great light explodes in you and you are enlightened. This is satori. It does not come from the outside: you are not delivered by somebody else; you are delivered by your own being, by your own nature.

That is possible only by practicing zazen beyond speculation. You can see clouds naturally in the mirror but to hold on to the reflection is impossible.

That is possible only by practicing zazen… Satori is possible only by practicing zazen. Zazen means:

Just sitting, doing nothing, the spring comes and the grass grows by itself.

You are simply relaxing into your own being, not doing anything at all. It is not a question of doing; it is simply a question of being. You go on relaxing into your being. A moment comes when you are in your utter purity, in your utter simplicity, in your utter innocence. That is satori.

Zazen is a beautiful word. It simply means just sitting – not even doing meditation. In fact, you cannot do meditation. Meditation is just sitting silently; it is not a question of doing. If you are doing something you are disturbing your meditation.

Somebody is chanting a mantra; he is disturbing his meditation. Somebody is focusing on something; he is disturbing his meditation. Somebody is concentrating, somebody is praying, somebody is thinking of God: they are disturbing their meditation. All these are the doings of the mind, and if the doing continues the mind continues. Stop doing, and where is the mind? When the doing disappears, mind disappears. And the disappearance of the mind is satori.

It is beyond speculation, says Yoka. You cannot think about it, you can only experience it. It is the ultimate experience, and the immediate experience, too, of truth, of beauty, of love, of bliss, of God, of nirvana.

-OSHO

From Walking in Zen, Sitting in Zen, Chapter Four

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from Osho.com, or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

Many of Osho’s books are available online from Amazon.com and in the U.S. from OshoStore-Sedona and Osho Here and Now.

Absolute Perfection is Here and Now – Nisargadatta Maharaj

Questioner: The war is on. What is your attitude to it?

Maharaj: In some place or other, in some form or other, the war is always on. Was there a time when there was no war? Some say it is the will of God. Some say it is God’s play. It is another way of saying that wars are inevitable and nobody is responsible.

Q: But what is your own attitude?

M: Why impose attitudes on me? I have no attitude to call my own.

Q: Surely somebody is responsible for this horrible and senseless carnage. Why do people kill each other so readily?

M: Search for the culprit within. The ideas of ‘me’ and ‘mine’ are at the root of all conflict. Be free of them and you will be out of conflict.

Q: What of it that I am out of conflict? It will not affect the war. If I am the cause of war, I am ready to be destroyed. Yet, it stands to reason that the disappearance of a thousand like me will not stop wars. They did not start with my birth nor will end with my death. I am not responsible. Who is?

M: Strife and struggle are a part of existence. Why don’t you enquire who is responsible for existence?

Q: Why do you say that existence and conflict are inseparable? Can there be no existence without strife? I need not fight others to be myself.

M: You fight others all the time for your survival as a separate body-mind, a particular name and form. To live you must destroy. From the moment you were conceived you started a war with your environment—a merciless war of mutual extermination, until death sets you free.

Q: My question remains unanswered. You are merely describing what I know, life and its sorrows. But who is responsible, you do not say. When I press you, you throw the blame on God, or karma, or on my own greed and fear—which merely invites further questions. Give me the final answer.

M: The final answer is this: nothing is. All is a momentary appearance in the field of the universal consciousness; continuity as name and form is a mental formation only, easy to dispel.

Q: I am asking about the immediate, the transitory, the appearance. Here is a picture of a child killed by soldiers. It is a fact—staring at you. You cannot deny it. Now, who is responsible for the death of the child?

M: Nobody and everybody. The world is what it contains and each thing affects all others. We all kill the child and we all die with it. Every event has innumerable causes and produces numberless effects. It is useless to keep accounts, nothing is traceable.

Q: Your people speak of karma and retribution.

M: It is merely a gross approximation: in reality we are all creators and creatures of each other, causing and bearing each other’s burden.

Q: So, the innocent suffers for the guilty?

M: In our ignorance we are innocent; in our actions we are guilty. We sin without knowing and suffer without understanding. Our only hope: to stop, to look, to understand and to get out of the traps of memory. For memory feeds imagination and imagination generates desire and fear.

Q: Why do I imagine at all?

M: The light of consciousness passes through the film of memory and throws pictures on your brain. Because of the deficient and disordered state of your brain, what you perceive is distorted and coloured by feelings of like and dislike. Make your thinking orderly and free from emotional overtones, and you will see people and things as they are, with clarity and charity.

The witness of birth, life and death is one and the same. It is the witness of pain and of love. For while the existence in limitation and separation is sorrowful, we love it. We love it and hate it at the same time. We fight, we kill, we destroy life and property and yet we are affectionate and self-sacrificing. We nurse the child tenderly and orphan it too. Our life is full of contradictions. Yet we cling to it. This clinging is at the root of everything. Still, it is entirely superficial. We hold on to something or somebody, with all our might and next moment we forget it; like a child that shapes its mud-pies and abandons them light-heartedly. Touch them—it will scream with anger, divert the child and he forgets them. For our life is now, and the love of it is now. We love variety, the play of pain and pleasure, we are fascinated by contrasts. For this we need the opposites and their apparent separation. We enjoy them for a time and then get tired and crave for the peace and silence of pure being. The cosmic heart beats ceaselessly. I am the witness and the heart too.

Q: I can see the picture, but who is the painter? Who is responsible for this terrible and yet adorable experience?

M: The painter is in the picture. You separate the painter from the picture and look for him. Don’t separate and don’t put false questions. Things are as they are and nobody in particular is responsible. The idea of personal responsibility comes from the illusion of agency. ‘Somebody must have done it, somebody is responsible’. Society as it is now, with its framework of laws and customs, is based on the idea of a separate and responsible personality, but this is not the only form a society can take. There may be other forms, where the sense of separation is weak and responsibility diffused.

Q: An individual with a weak sense of personality— is he nearer self-realisation?

M: Take the case of a young child. The sense of ‘I-am’ is not yet formed, the personality is rudimentary. The obstacles to self-knowledge are few, but the power and the clarity of awareness, its width and depth are lacking. In the course of years awareness will grow stronger, but also the latent personality will emerge and obscure and complicate. Just as the harder the wood, the hotter the flame, so the stronger the personality, brighter the light generated from its destruction.

Q: Have you no problems?

M: I do have problems. I told you already. To be, to exist with a name and form is painful, yet I love it.

Q: But you love everything!

M: In existence everything is contained. My very nature is to love; even the painful is lovable.

Q: It does not make it less painful. Why not remain in the unlimited?

M: It is the instinct of exploration, the love of the unknown, that brings me into existence. It is in the nature of being to see adventure in becoming, as it is in the very nature of becoming to seek peace in being. This alteration of being and becoming is inevitable; but my home is beyond.

Q: Is your home in God?

M: To love and worship a god is also ignorance. My home is beyond all notions, however sublime.

Q: But God is not a notion! It is the reality beyond existence.

M: You may use any word you like. Whatever you may think of I am beyond it.

Q: Once you know your home, why not stay in it? What takes you out of it?

M: Out of love for corporate existence one is born and once born, one gets involved in destiny. Destiny is inseparable from becoming. The desire to be the particular makes you into a person with all its personal past and future. Look at some great man, what a wonderful man he was! And yet how troubled was his life and limited its fruits. How utterly dependent is the personality of man and how indifferent is its world. And yet we love it and protect it for its very insignificance.

Q: The war is on and there is chaos and you are being asked to take charge of a feeding centre. You are given what is needed, it is only a question of getting through the job. Will you refuse it?

M: To work, or not to work, is one and the same to me. I may take charge, or may not. There may be others, better endowed for such tasks, than I am —professional caterers for instance. But my attitude is different. I do not look at death as a calamity as I do not rejoice at the birth of a child. The child is out for trouble while the dead is out of it. Attachment to life is attachment to sorrow. We love what gives us pain. Such is our nature.

For me the moment of death will be a moment of jubilation, not of fear. I cried when I was born and I shall die laughing.

Q: What is the change in consciousness at the moment of death?

M: What change do you expect? When the film projection ends all remains the same as when it started. The state before you were born was also the state after death, if you remember.

Q: I remember nothing.

M: Because you never tried. It is only a question of tuning in the mind. It requires training, of course.

Q: Why don’t you take part in social work?

M: But I am doing nothing else all the time! And what is the social work you want me to do? Patchwork is not for me. My stand is clear: produce to distribute, feed before you eat, give before you take, think of others before you think of yourself. Only a selfless society based on sharing can be stable and happy. This is the only practical solution. If you do not want it—fight.

Q: It is all a matter of gunas. Where tamas and rajas predominate, there must be war. Where sattva rules, there will be peace.

M: Put it whichever way you like, it comes to the same. Society is built on motives. Put goodwill into the foundations and you will not need specialised social workers.

Q: The world is getting better.

M: The world had all the time to get better, yet it did not. What hope is there for the future? Of course, there have been and will be periods of harmony and peace, when sattva was in ascendance, but things get destroyed by their own perfection. A perfect society is necessarily static and, therefore, it stagnates and decays. From the summit all roads lead downwards. Societies are like people—they are born, they grow to some point of relative perfection and then decay and die.

Q: Is there not a state of absolute perfection which does not decay?

M: Whatever has a beginning must have an end. In the timeless all is perfect, here and now.

Q: But shall we reach the timeless in due course?

M: In due course we shall come back to the starting point. Time cannot take us out of time, as space cannot take us out of space. All you get by waiting is more waiting. Absolute perfection is here and now, not in some future, near or far. The secret is in action—here and now. It is your behaviour that blinds you to yourself. Disregard whatever you think yourself to be and act as if you were absolutely perfect—whatever your idea of perfection may be. All you need is courage.

Q: Where do I find such courage?

M: In yourself, of course. Look within.

Q: Your grace will help.

M: My grace is telling you now: look within. All you need you have. Use it. Behave as best you know, do what you think you should. Don’t be afraid of mistakes; you can always correct them, only intentions matter. The shape things take is not within your power; the motives of your actions are.

Q: How can action born from imperfection lead to perfection?

M: Action does not lead to perfection; perfection is expressed in action. As long as you judge yourself by your expressions give them utmost attention; when you realise your own being, your behaviour will be perfect—spontaneously.

Q: If I am timelessly perfect, then why was I born at all? What is the purpose of this life?

M: It is like asking: what does it profit gold to be made into an ornament? The ornament gets the colour and the beauty of gold; gold is not enriched. Similarly, reality expressed in action makes the action meaningful and beautiful.

Q: What does the real gain through its expressions?

M: What can it gain? Nothing whatsoever. But it is in the nature of love to express itself, to affirm itself, to overcome difficulties. Once you have understood that the world is love in action, you will look at it quite differently. But first your attitude to suffering must change. Suffering is primarily a call for attention, which itself is a movement of love. More than happiness, love wants growth, the widening and deepening of consciousness and being. Whatever prevents becomes a cause of pain, and love does not shirk from pain. Sattva, the energy that works for righteousness and orderly development, must not be thwarted. When obstructed it turns against itself and becomes destructive. Whenever love is withheld and suffering allowed to spread, war becomes inevitable. Our indifference to our neighbour’s sorrow brings suffering to our door.

-Nisargadatta Maharaj

From I Am That, Chapter 82

Matter is Consciousness Itself – Nisargadatta Maharaj

Questioner: I was lucky to have holy company all my life. Is it enough for self-realisation?

Maharaj: It depends what you make of it.

Q: I was told that the liberating action of satsang is automatic. Just like a river carries one to the estuary, so the subtle and silent influence of good people will take me to reality.

M: It will take you to the river, but the crossing is your own. Freedom cannot be gained nor kept without will-to-freedom. You must strive for liberation; the least you can do is uncover and remove the obstacles diligently. If you want peace you must strive for it. You will not get peace just by keeping quiet.

Q: A child just grows. He does not make plans for growth, nor has he a pattern; nor does he grow by fragments, a hand here a leg there; he grows integrally and unconsciously.

M: Because he is free of imagination. You can also grow like this, but you must not indulge in forecasts and plans, born of memory and anticipation. It is one of the peculiarities of a jnani that he is not concerned with the future. Your concern with future is due to fear of pain and desire for pleasure, to the jnani all is bliss: he is happy with whatever comes.

Q: Surely, there are many things that would make even a jnani miserable.

M: A jnani may meet with difficulties, but they do not make him suffer. Bringing up a child from birth to maturity may seem a hard task, but to a mother the memories of hardships are a joy. There is nothing wrong with the world. What is wrong is in the way you look at it. It is your own imagination that misleads you. Without imagination there is no world. Your conviction that you are conscious of a world is the world. The world you perceive is made of consciousness; what you call matter is consciousness Itself. You are the space (akash) in which it moves, the time in which it lasts, the love that gives it life. Cut off imagination and attachment and what remains?

Q: The world remains. I remain.

M: Yes. But how different it is when you can see it as it is, not through the screen of desire and fear.

Q: What for are all these distinctions—reality and illusion, wisdom and ignorance, saint and sinner? Everyone is in search of happiness, everyone strives desperately; everyone is a Yogi and his life a school of wisdom. Each learns his own way the lessons he needs. Society approves of some, disapproves of others; there are no rules that apply everywhere and for all time.

M: In my world love is the only law. I do not ask for love, I give it. Such is my nature.

Q: I see you living your life according to a pattern. You run a meditation class in the morning, lecture and have discussions regularly; twice daily there is worship (puja) and religious singing (bhajan) in the evening. You seem to adhere to the routine scrupulously.

M: The worship and the singing are as I found them and I saw no reason to interfere. The general routine is according to the wishes of the people with whom I happen to live or who come to listen. They are working people, with many obligations and the timings are for their convenience. Some repetitive routine is inevitable. Even animals and plants have their time-tables.

Q: Yes, we see a regular sequence in all life. Who maintains the order? Is there an inner ruler, who lays down laws and enforces order?

M: Everything moves according to its nature. Where is the need of a policeman? Every action creates a reaction, which balances and neutralises the action. Everything happens, but there is a continuous cancelling out, and in the end it is as if nothing happened.

Q: Do not console me with final harmonies. The accounts tally, but the loss is mine.

M: Wait and see. You may end up with a profit good enough to justify the outlays.

Q: There is a long life behind me and I often wonder whether its many events took place by accident, or there was a plan. Was there a pattern laid down before I was born by which I had to live my life? If yes, who made the plans and who enforced them? Could there be deviations and mistakes? Some say destiny is immutable and every second of life is predetermined; others say that pure accident decides everything.

M: You can have it as you like. You can distinguish in your life a pattern or see merely a chain of accidents. Explanations are meant to please the mind. They need not be true. Reality is indefinable and indescribable.

Q: Sir, you are escaping my question! I want to know how you look at it. Wherever we look we find structure of unbelievable intelligence and beauty. How can I believe that the universe is formless and chaotic? Your world, the world in which you live, may be formless, but it need not be chaotic.

M: The objective universe has structure, is orderly and beautiful. Nobody can deny it. But structure and pattern, imply constraint and compulsion. My world is absolutely free; everything in it is self-determined. Therefore I keep on saying that all happens by itself. There is order in my world too, but it is not imposed from outside. It comes spontaneously and immediately, because of its timelessness. Perfection is not in the future. It is now.

Q: Does your world affect mine?

M: At one point only—at the point of the now. It gives it momentary being, a fleeting sense of reality. In full awareness the contact is established. It needs effortless, un-self-conscious attention.

Q: Is not attention an attitude of mind?

M: Yes, when the mind is eager for reality, it gives attention. There is nothing wrong with your world, it is your thinking yourself to be separate from it that creates disorder. Selfishness is the source of all evil.

Q: I am coming back to my question. Before I was born, did my inner self decide the details of my life, or was it entirely accidental and at the mercy of heredity and circumstances?

M: Those who claim to have selected their father and mother and decided how they are going to live their next life may know for themselves. I know for myself. I was never born.

Q: I see you sitting in front of me and replying my questions.

M: You see the body only which, of course, was born and will die.

Q: It is the life-story of thus body-mind that I am interested in. Was it laid down by you or somebody else, or did it happen accidentally?

M: There is a catch in your very question. I make no distinction between the body and the universe. Each is the cause of the other; each is the other, in truth. But I am out of it all. When I am telling you that I was never born, why go on asking me what were my preparations for the next birth? The moment you allow your imagination to spin, it at once spins out a universe. It is not at all as you imagine and I am not bound by your imaginings.

Q: It requires intelligence and energy to build and maintain a living body. Where do they come from?

M: There is only imagination. The intelligence and power are all used up in your imagination. It has absorbed you so completely that you just cannot grasp how far from reality you have wandered. No doubt imagination is richly creative. Universe within universe are built on it. Yet they are all in space and time, past and future, which just do not exist.

Q: I have read recently a report about a little girl who was very cruelly handled in her early childhood. She was badly mutilated and disfigured and grew up in an orphanage, completely estranged from its surroundings. This little girl was quiet and obedient, but completely indifferent. One of the nuns who were looking after the children, was convinced that the girl was not mentally retarded, but merely withdrawn, irresponsive. A psychoanalyst was asked to take up the case and for full two years he would see the child once a week and try to break the wall of isolation. She was docile and well-behaved, but would give no attention to her doctor. He brought her a toy house, with rooms and movable furniture and dolls representing father, mother and their children. It brought out a response, the girl got interested. One day the old hurts revived and came to the surface. Gradually she recovered, a number of operations brought back her face and body to normal and she grew into an efficient and attractive young woman. It took the doctor more than five years, but the work was done. He was a real Guru! He did not put down conditions nor talk about readiness and eligibility. Without faith, without hope, out of love only he tried and tried again.

M: Yes, that is the nature of a Guru. He will never give up. But, to succeed, he must not be met with too much resistance. Doubt and disobedience necessarily delay. Given confidence and pliability, he can bring about a radical change in the disciple speedily. Deep insight in the Guru and earnestness in the disciple, both are needed. Whatever was her condition, the girl in your story suffered for lack of earnestness in people. The most difficult are the intellectuals. They talk a lot, but are not serious.

What you call realisation is a natural thing. When you are ready, your Guru will be waiting. Sadhana is effortless. When the relationship with your teacher is right you grow. Above all, trust him. He cannot mislead you.

Q: Even when he asks me to do something patently wrong?

M: Do it. A Sanyassi had been asked by his Guru to marry. He obeyed and suffered bitterly. But his four children were all saints and seers, the greatest in Maharashtra. Be happy with whatever comes from your Guru and you will grow to perfection without striving.

Q: Sir, have you any wants or wishes. Can I do anything for you?

M: What can you give me that I do not have? Material things are needed for contentment. But I am contented with myself. What else do I need?

Q: Surely, when you are hungry you need food and when sick you need medicine.

M: Hunger brings the food and illness brings the medicine. It is all nature’s work.

Q: lf I bring something I believe you need, will you accept it?

M: The love that made you offer will make me accept.

Q: If somebody offers to build you a beautiful Ashram?

M: Let him, by all means. Let him spend a fortune, employ hundreds, feed thousands.

Q: Is it not a desire?

M: Not at all. I am only asking him to do it properly, not stingily, half-heartedly. He is fulfilling his own desire, not mine. Let him do it well and be famous among men and gods.

Q: But do you want it?

M: I do not want it.

Q: Will you accept it?

M: I don’t need it.

Q: Will you stay in it?

M: If I am compelled.

Q: What can compel you?

M: Love of those who are in search of light.

Q: Yes, I see your point. Now, how am I to go into samadhi?

M: If you are in the right state, whatever you see will put you into samadhi. After all, samadhi is nothing unusual. When the mind is intensely interested, it becomes one with the object of interest — the seer and the seen become one in seeing, the hearer and the heard become one in hearing, the lover and the loved become one in loving. Every experience can be the ground for samadhi.

Q: Are you always in a state of samadhi?

M: Of course not Samadhi is a state of mind, after all. I am beyond all experience, even of samadhi. I am the great devourer and destroyer: whatever I touch dissolves into void (akash).

Q: I need samadhis for self-realisation.

M: You have all the self-realisation you need, but you do not trust it. Have courage, trust yourself, go, talk, act; give it a chance to prove itself. With some, realisation comes imperceptibly, but somehow they need convincing. They have changed, but they do not notice it. Such non-spectacular cases are often the most reliable.

Q: Can one believe himself to be realised and be mistaken?

M: Of course. The very idea ‘I am self-realised’ is a mistake. There is no ‘I am this’. ‘I am that’ in the Natural State.

-Nisargadatta Maharaj

From I Am That, Chapter 61

Find Out Who You Are – Jean Dunn

Jean Dunn speaks about life with Nisargadatta Maharaj. This interview was recorded by Malcolm Tillis in 1981, while Jean was living in Bombay, India.

Jean Dunn: I am just a normal person of fifty-nine who has been searching all her life until, ten years ago, she heard of Ramana Maharshi. She visited his ashram, went back to the States, then returned to India, where she has been living for the past four years. Two years ago she met Nisargadatta Maharaj, and he became her guru.

Did he give you some form of initiation?
He gave me a mantra and initiation.

How did you first hear about him?
At Ramana Maharshi’s ashram. Many people come to see him; ­there seems to be a tie.

Is it because of the similarity of Self-Inquiry?
It’s no longer that. Maharaj has had cancer of the throat for the past year, so his teachings have been polished; he is saying he’s no longer the consciousness, he observes the consciousness—he’s the Absolute. His teachings are now on that line.

Can you tell me something about his book, I Am That?
It’s in the form of questions and answers. The fifth edition is just coming out. It came out in two volumes in 1973, having been collected and edited by Maurice Frydman, who in late life became a disciple of Maharaj. There has been no further book published. Last year I asked Maharaj—I had been recording all his question and answer periods—if he wanted me to put them together for a book. He said yes. So Seeds of Consciousness will come out this year. Another volume will appear later: Beyond Consciousness.

In spite of his illness he gives darshan every day?
He is in much pain at times but manages to talk twice a day. He is one of the hidden saints, so he only draws a few people at a time. His teachings aren’t for the general public—we are blessed to listen to him.

How does he usually teach?
Up until his illness, it was by questions and answers. Now he will no longer teach the ABCs—he doesn’t have the physical strength; ­ he tells us the position, then it’s up to us.

He seemed to insist that I ask questions.
He wants questions to come out; then there will be silence so that remaining questions will be answered within yourself.

His following is mainly Western, by what I saw.
Westerners are in predominance; thousands have seen him—some for a few days, some stay for months. Some he makes leave at once. He says he doesn’t know why he sends people away, although they want to stay.

Are you living in India on a permanent basis?
Yes, I have a residency permit. I have finished work on the second book; the work is complete. Everything he has to say has been said.

Do you ever miss Western society, your home life?
Never.

Can you say something about your personal relationship to your guru?
There are no words to describe that . . .

Do you have an aim in life? For instance, to become one with him?
My aim in life is to lose an aim in life—that’s his teaching. There’s no purpose to this life; it’s just entertainment. That’s all.

That sounds rather Krishnamurthi-esque.
Many of Krishnamurthi’s followers come here—ten came recently.

How did Maharaj attain enlightenment?
You will find that in the first part of I Am That. I can tell you this: the first time he met his guru— his friend insisted on taking him; he even had to buy the garland to present to the guru—he never wanted to go.

Was he very young then?
He was in his thirties. The bidi (Indian cigarette) shop at the corner belongs to him; his son runs it. He had eight shops, but when his guru died, he left everything—his family and business. He wandered for months all over India, until he met a fellow disciple who convinced him it was better to live in the world. He returned to Bombay, but all the shops had gone except this one. He didn’t want anything; all worldly ambition had gone. When people started coming to him, he built that upstairs room.

It’s minute. What are the dimensions?
Oh, about nine by twelve. I’ve seen that room crowded, mostly by Westerners. He says Indians are not ready for his teachings.

Do you think it was because he didn’t want personal publicity that he appeared to be annoyed with me?
That’s correct. I feel sure that was the idea. He doesn’t want disciples—if they come, it’s fine; if not, that’s also fine. He gains nothing. He has reached the peak because he isn’t enamored of any­thing the world can offer.

Does he ever talk about other gurus and their methods?
He talks about the self-styled gurus who propagate their own con­cepts; but there’s nothing wrong with that at that level.

Does he admire any living teachers?
As far as I know, J. Krishnamurti. In the past, Ramana Maharshi. The other day he said, “Krishnamurti, Ramana and myself are one.”

Does he advocate a vegetarian diet?
That pertains to the body; he doesn’t teach anything to do with that. All he wants you to do is find out who you are.

His followers can drink and indulge in free relationships?
Whatever comes naturally to each person, he should do.

He gives no ethical guidance?
No. As long as you think you are a person and this world is real, then you live by certain rules. Once you understand the complete thing, your life lives itself … There are no rules, no good, no bad—I should do this, I shouldn’t do that. If you think about it, all this is taking place in this life span, in this span of consciousness, and when this consciousness goes, what difference does it make?

Does he not advise detachment from worldly activities?
This comes naturally. The main and only thing he teaches is to find out who you are. The closer you come to this, the more detached you become from the world; that will happen naturally. You can’t do anything to make that happen. This idea of doing something is an ego idea “I” can accomplish. Maharaj says the consciousness drags you there by the ear because it wants to know about itself, your true nature.

What has he said about leaving the body at physical death?
For him, it will be a great festival— he’s looking forward to it. For those thinking they are the body, it will be a traumatic experience. For an enlightened person, it’s a joyous time.

When he gives you meditation, does he ask what you see inside?
There has to be somebody to see something! (laughter) . . . No, he doesn’t. Visions and experiences take place in consciousness; they have no meaning whatsoever. Before you were born, did you know anything about this world? When you die—will you know anything about this world? You didn’t know you existed—you exist as the Absolute, but you aren’t aware of your existence. When this con­sciousness comes, spontaneously, you know “I am.” You grab a body and become identified with that. He wants you to go back, back, away from this into your true nature. Right now it’s consciousness; the longer we abide in that consciousness only and observe it, we see that everything we see is not ours—there’s a “you” seeing this.

But what does he teach about God?
Without me, there’s no God.

Really?
Yes.

And he’s teaching that?
Yes. Was there a God before you were? Without you, is there a God?

What brought me back into this body?
Do you remember a previous body?

Many people have that recollection. Are you saying we have never taken birth before?
There’s no “we”; there’s no entity; there is universal consciousness, which is continually expressing itself through these bodies.

Maharaj doesn’t believe in karma and reincarnation?
Correct.

Ramana Maharshi taught that, surely?
They will talk to you on this level if this is your level. But if you un­derstand what I’m saying—there’s only universal consciousness ex­pressing itself; there’s no individual—then he will bring you there. He will no longer speak of this. If you die with concepts, these concepts take another form, but they will not be you— you don’t know what that form will be. Concepts will come again until they are all gone.

What does Maharaj teach about selfless service, helping others?
On their level, it’s good. But his teaching is that there are no others, no individual entities; everything happens spontaneously; there’s no doer. He teaches: Let this life live itself and understand you are not this.

We are not “this” then we are “that.” What is “that”?
“That” is consciousness right now.

Right now? What will it be when we leave the body?
The Absolute.

Then what comes back?
Consciousness is continually renewing itself. You throw a piece of food into a corner; within a few days, worms will come—life, con­sciousness. The same consciousness in that worm is in you. It’s not “my” consciousness, “your” consciousness; it’s one universal con­sciousness, and that universal consciousness is you.

At our level of understanding, aren’t all these concepts? Didn’t you find these theories confusing at first?
The first day I came to Maharaj, he said, “My beingness is a product of food . . .  and the same consciousness in the donkey was in Sri Krishna.” I went to get a reservation back home; none was available, so as something inside knew this was true, I went back. He had jerked the rug from under my feet, and he kept on doing this until I lost any place to put my feet. He forces you to let go of all concepts.

Does he often send people away who come to see him?
Often. He never knows why, though. Every moment watching him is like a spectacular movie; every person’s need is taken care of­. I’ve watched that happen. You can sit quietly, but questions you have inside will be answered. Everything happens according to your need. There’s no him; he has no purpose of his own: that’s why this can happen. There’s no ego there to bump against.

Living so close to an enlightened being can’t be easy.
It’s not easy if you have any ego left.

Can you say something about the positive side?
There are no words for it; everything is taken care of automatically. There’s no “you” to thank God for anything anymore. You let go of everything. There’s no you, no separate entity; everything is hap­pening spontaneously. It’s like there’s a quiet space where you are, yet everything is happening around you.

What work did you do in America?
I worked on newspapers.

Is there a reason why people get involved with imperfect teachers?
We as human beings think there’s a reason for everything; there are no reasons, no causes—it’s a causeless happening. As long as we are on this human level and think there’s a cause, we will be able to come up with one. If some people are taken for a ride by false gurus, you can say this is happening to them to get rid of something­—whatever happens is perfect. We are just to understand there’s no personal consciousness; everything is impersonal, you see.

But when we meet a perfect teacher, it’s our consciousness which recognizes that, surely?
Yes.

Then our lives change.
Yes.

That’s the new life?
Correct.

That’s part of the divine plan requiring no effort?
No effort.

To round off, could you say what are the benefits gained from coming into contact with your guru.
I’ve gotten rid of the idea there’s somebody going to benefit from something . . . (much laughter)

Discovering Who You Are – Douglas Harding

[Text from a handout designed by Douglas Harding in the mid-1970s and distributed in workshops organized by Werner Erhart.]

1. Cut a head-sized hole in a card and hold it out in front of you.

2. See how empty that hole is – and how full of the scene. Now slowly put it on until your face fits in the hole. Or is it still empty? What’s happened to its boundaries?

3. Try putting it on again to make sure that, right where you are now, there is this boundless emptiness you can fill with anything you like. This is WHAT and WHO you are!

But (you may say) I can feel my face.

Right! Try fingering your face and head all over and see whether you can fill your space with a coloured, opaque, complicated, limited thing for living in. Is it dark, sticky, small in there? Aren’t you as faceless, transparent, open and vast as ever – with a lot of touch sensations in the nearer regions of your vastness?

But (you may go on) I can’t rely on vision only. How could you show this to a blind man?

Shut your eyes, drop memory and imagination, and notice whether you have any limits now, are in any kind of box. Aren’t you more like room – silence for these sounds to happen in, space for these passing sensations of warmth, pressure, etc., this flow of feelings and thoughts? Just room or capacity – but aware of itself now as that!

Peeling The Onion

But (you may say) everyone else can see there’s a human being here.

It all depends on how far off they are. Seen from a distance of 1,000,000 light years you appear as a galaxy (the Milky Way), from a distance of 1 light year as a star (the Solar System), of 100,000 miles as a planet (the Earth), of 10 feet as a human, of 1/1000 inch as a cell. Nearer still you read as molecules, atoms, particles… Only you can complete their outside story and view yourself from 0 inches, as No-thing – and Here is the central Reality, of which all those regional views are your appearances.

But (you may go on) I feel like a human being.

Sometimes. But aren’t you capable of so identifying with your family, your organisation, country, species, or planet (in case of threat from outer space) that you’d die (as man or woman) for them? And in your best moments don’t you embrace the universe? Other times, don’t you narrow down to (say) an aching tooth? You take responsibility for – you become – as much of the world as you choose – because already you are it all. So your feelings about yourself are as elastic and changeable as your appearances. What they are appearances of never changes.

All the same (you insist) I belong, physically, to the human layer of the onion.

As a mere human body you don’t exist. What is that body without its substructure of cells, molecules, atoms, particles? You could spare a kidney, a lung and all four limbs, but what if your Earth and Sun were cut off? The whole of your body is the Whole. As for your mind, don’t your thoughts and feelings cover all layers of the onion – from its empty core?

But what happens to personal relationships, to love, to all communication, if I disappear?

Look at a friend’s face. Dropping memory and imagination, is there anything where you are to shut out that face with? Or are you empty for him or her? Aren’t you built open, built for welcoming, for loving?

Growing Up – Or Down?

There are four stages of your growing up:

1. As an INFANT you were for yourself No-thing.

Like any animal, you were faceless, immense and at large, unseparate from your world – without being aware of all of this.

2. As a CHILD you were for yourself No-thing and something.

You learned to look at yourself from a few feet away “through others’ eyes” and see yourself as a human being – a special one at that. You came to identify with that face in your mirror, and answer to its name. Yet you remained, for yourself, at large, space for your world to happen in. You may occasionally have become fully aware of your space, of yourself-as-you-see-yourself (a child is apt to ask why others have heads and she hasn’t, to protest that she isn’t a girl – she’s not like that at all! – or declare that she is nothing, not present, invisible). Both views of yourself – from outside as a small thing and from inside as this vast No-thing – were true and needful.

3. As a GROWN-DOWN (so-called adult) you are now for yourself that small thing.

Your learned view of yourself from outside has come to overshadow and practically blot out your original view of yourself from inside. You have grown down, not up. Instead of containing your world, it contains you – what’s left of you. Shrunk from being the whole into being this tiny part, you grow greedy, resentful, frightened, unsuccessful, tired, stiff, out of touch with your Source, plain crazy:

Greedy – as you try to regain as much as possible of your lost empire,

Resentful or aggressive – as you seek revenge on a system that has cruelly cut you down to size,

Frightened and lonely – as you see yourself a mere thing, at the mercy of and up against all other things,

Unsuccessful – because working for, and taking responsibility for, yourself as a mere individual human is making sure of failure: the end of all your personal enterprises is death,

Tired – because it takes so much energy building and rebuilding this imaginary box for living in, right where you are,

Stiff, unnatural, phoney – because you act to impress, not express,

Uncreative – because you have cut yourself off from your Source and Centre and see yourself as a mere regional effect,

Crazy – because you “see” something that isn’t there and imagine (contrary to all the evidence) that you are at 0 feet what you look like at 6 feet – a solid, opaque, coloured, outlined lump of stuff. How can your world remain sane if its very Centre has gone insane?

Insofar as you don’t suffer from these handicaps you remain “a child at heart,” more or less unconsciously in touch with the truth of who you are.

4. As a GROWN-UP (truly adult) you are for yourself No-thing and all things.

Stuck at Stage 3 you are a case of arrested development. The experiments show how simple and natural it is to go on to the next stage and truly grow up. In fact, carrying out the experiments and taking their point you have already made it to Stage 4. Congratulations!

Stage 4 isn’t, like the infant, losing yourself in your world. Nor, like some meditators, finding yourself within and letting the world go by. It is simultaneously looking in at your Space and out at what fills it – two-way attention. This means you have nothing left of your very own to shut the world out with – and so it’s all yours!

And this means you go on to take responsibility for those “others” out there, for suffering mankind, the living Earth, all the way to the Whole – because you lie at the empty Source of it all. But you don’t lie back. You find yourself loving and serving your neighbour (Who isn’t your neighbour?) as yourself, because he or she is yourself.

And, sooner or later, you may discover that your overall aim is assisting him or her, and all mankind, and ultimately all beings, to come to this 4th Stage and really grow up. This is a big job – the toughest adventure of them all. (Paradoxically it’s also the easiest, already in the bag, seeing that no being ever strayed from Home or left its Source, anyway.) Meantime your own entry into Stage 4 is natural and obvious. All you have to do is look at the spot you occupy right now, at what’s 12 inches your side of these words, taking in these marks on the screen. And what presently will take in the people around you, houses, animals, stars, the lot – at your pleasure.

You are a Grown-up, no longer a Grown-down.

Again, congratulations!

In Practice

Okay, I’ve got it. But seeing What/Who I am comes in flashes. How to maintain and strengthen this seeing?

The answer comes in 3 parts:

1. Make full use of techniques which re-direct your attention to this neglected spot at the Centre of your Universe. Some simple reminders are given below. Eventually everything you experience takes you back to yourself, its Source, and life becomes one big “workshop exercise.”

2. Spend as much time as possible with friends who share this seeing. The condition is infectious.

3. Above all, work with such friends – performing the humblest or grandest of tasks – at clear-cut goals whose ultimate aim is not “your own” achievement of Stage 4, but the world’s. The marvellous thing is that what’s best for the world is best for you – the best therapy, discipline, work, fun – because you are the world! And this includes all the world’s resources of modern science, communication, organisational know-how. If you are serious about this great enterprise you will neglect no means to its success.

It may well be that the survival of the Species – let alone its progress – depends on its growing up to Stage 4 within a relatively short time, so that this stage is regarded as the norm, the standard against which maturity is reckoned. This doesn’t mean that everyone, or even the great majority, will get there so quickly. (After all, though Stage 3 – the Grown-down – is now regarded as normal, huge numbers of people are still more or less at Stage 2, and not yet capable of clearly seeing themselves from out there, as things in the world.)

REMINDERS

Face-to-No-face – So much of your time is spent with people – either imagining you are confronting them face-to-face, or seeing it’s never been like that at all. The most available of all pointers to what you are is also the best recipe for good “personal relationships.”

Single Eye – How many eyes are you looking out of, in your own experience, right now? Check up by slowly putting on your glasses and seeing what happens to those two “windows.” If you don’t wear glasses, make up a pair with your thumbs and forefingers. Outline with your hands the extent of this huge window – frameless, spotless, with nobody looking out of it.

Pointing – Point at your feet, legs, torso… noting how you’re pointing at something, and this something is distant from your finger. Now point at your “face”. What are you pointing at now, dropping memory and imagination? How far is it – are you – from that finger?

Neck-line – Look up at our heavenly bodies, out at your earthly body, down at your human body. Outline with your finger the boundary of that body, on present evidence – the place where it meets your Space.

Travelling – Spinning, driving your car, walking, see whether you are moving in the world, or the world in you.

Other Senses – Observe what happens to the food that goes into holes in people’s head, and what happens to the food that actually has taste. Listen to the Silence-you-are, into which sounds are now popping.

Thoughts and Feelings – Can you discover any thoughts and feelings which aren’t fleeting and don’t belong to the world of objects (ranging from your human to your cosmic body)? Is anything central and permanent except this Awareness, this sense of Being, or I AM? YOU ARE THAT!

-Douglas Harding

As seen at The Headless Way