Observation, Emptiness and Dhyan – Vimala Thakar

What is involved in being an observer of the stillness?

When we sit in silence what do we do? We sit and observe the voluntary and involuntary activities of the body and mind.  Slowly the voluntary activities come to an end, but the involuntary activities we have inherited from birth, from our family, religion, race, nationality -which fill the mind – go on, and we sit and observe their unfoldment.

Since we are used to working all the time we may find it difficult at first to sit quiet, or the body may fall asleep due to accumulated fatigue. If it happens it is desirable to rest the body for a few days till it is fresh again. While you sit in silence, thoughts will arise, as the mind has been working for 24 hours. The thoughts cannot be suppressed nor can they be thrown away anywhere, you can only watch them, not naming them as good or bad. Then you are free from the roles of an experiencer and an actor, you enter into the state of an observer of non-reactional attention.

As soon as the mind begins moving and says: “I like” or “I dislike” what it sees, there is a disturbance, a burdening of the mind and the role of the observer is lost and you are once more immersed into the roles of an experiencer and actor. If you do not react to the thoughts you are observing, if they no longer have the power to elicit any reaction from you then they will subside of their own accord.

Effects of observation in relationships

We have to extend this attitude of observation in relationships. Once the observer state is awakened it changes relationships. It is a tremendous energy that is awakened. When observation becomes a continuous state throughout the day, then:
(1) There is no self-deception. We do not hide anything from ourselves. There is nothing left as subconscious or unconscious it being all revealed in observation. There is now only the conscious level.
(2) We stop deceiving others or presenting a different image of ourselves to others. The seeing of what is, without justification or condemnation shatters the image. We now have the courage to live and be what we are.
(3) We become aware of all that is happening within us, of the different emotions arising within us, for example if we begin to get angry we are aware of it and so the grip of anger loosens its hold over us.
(4) We recognise and admit our mistakes; asking for forgiveness immediately, thus freeing the mind from the burden of residue.
(5) Through observation thoughts subside, hence the strain and pressure they cause on the neurological and chemical systems is also lifted. It is this tension that brings about anti-social behaviour.
(6) Pain and pleasure are not taken further then the present moment; thus no grudges or attachments are formed. The art of living is to live completely in the moment, not carrying any residue over to next incident, person or day.

Emptiness

First we sat to observe our thoughts, which not being unlimited subside after some time. When they subside there is an awareness of the emptiness within. There is a dimension of emptiness, like there is a dimension of time and space. When we touch the dimension of emptiness and stay steady in it, nothing happens, there is only emptiness. The mind is then afraid, for it has not been educated to live in that motionlessness. When there is functionlessness of the “I consciousness”, the “I” feels as if it is dying, there is fear and one wants to return to the mind, to more familiar grounds. The first touch of emptiness is like death but there is not an experiencing of emptiness, there is no one to experience it; the “I” and its functional roles not being there any more, even the observer is not necessary any more. There is only a consciousness that this is emptiness and after some time even that goes.

To surrender all activity to the emptiness requires courage. Man must be able to stick it out and not to run away from this state, he must be able to digest it. After all, what is there to be afraid of? It is a fact of the organic Reality of Life. It is a phase that does not last but it comes in life and if man stays patiently with it, it will leave him as it arose.

We are in the dimension of silence, of space. In this state there is nothing to experience, nothing to gain, nothing to see, there is only emptiness. Whenever there is work to do, you do it, when someone comes before you, you respond, and when there is no need to act then the emptiness within becomes the abode of the “I consciousness”. The home is no longer the mind but silence. One lives in silence all the time. One remains steady in the emptiness.

Dhyan

From the attitude of an actor, of an experiencer we moved into the attitude of an observer. From the state of observation we moved into the dimension of silence. And from silence we move into the dimension of dhyan. We shall see what dhyan is and what dhyan is not.

The light or energy within us works in many different ways and can be utilised in many different ways. Some people develop this energy by developing the powers of the mind, or the powers of concentration or psychic powers, but all these are activities and not dhyan. You can awaken energies in the body but those who want to know what Reality is are not attracted or interested in such powers.

Dhyan is not an activity but a state of being, a dimension of being. It is a state of motionlessness where the ego is dissolved and you have let it be dissolved, where there is no experiencing but only a state of non-knowing, non-doing. Some have described it as the dark night of the soul. There is no tension at all in this state; the space within is being activated. It is a very delicate state that has to be looked after. You need to be alone then and need time to adjust to it.

In the dimension of dhyan you have let the activities of the mind come to an end. The conditioned energy of the mind is quiet. The unconditioned part of the energy, which is within and without, now begins to work. There is an awakening of the Perceptive Intelligence. There is a new freshness and ecstasy. Universal Consciousness has taken over. The mystics have called it the marriage of the individual and the cosmic consciousness and in India it is described as the union of Shiva and Shakti.

This is a new dimension and in this state it is difficult to function in society for some time but after a period of adjustment the individual can live in society, the difference will be that he will live in a state of egolessness. He does not want or expect anything from others or from society. There is a divine indifference, there is so much joy within that he needs nothing from outside or from anyone. Living is its own fulfilment.

There is no centre or circumference of the mind ever to come back. Since there is no centre or ego that desires things, there are no reactions of likes and dislikes but only a response to need. Nobody can make him unhappy though he will be affected by the unhappiness of others. There is a difference between suffering and sorrow. Suffering is a reaction of the ego, which is always fragmentary. In sorrow events are seen in the context of whole humanity and the response is to the totality of life.

One of the by-products of the state of dhyan is that fearlessness is awakened. Fearlessness is very different from bravery. Bravery is an attribute of the mind, which can be and has been cultivated by the state, religion and family for their own purpose, but it is an attribute that can also be lost. Once fearlessness is awakened it can never be extinguished, fear no longer enters the mind. Fearlessness is awakened when man has faith either in his own understanding or has faith in the Universal Intelligence.

The mind obtains knowledge by grasping ideas. If this knowledge is not lived it becomes a burden. But if it is lived in relationship then the knowledge gets converted into understanding. Knowledge can be forgotten but not understanding. Nothing is as sacred as your own understanding. You should start walking in the light of your understanding no matter how small it may be. Faith in one’s own understanding awakens fearlessness and it brings about choiceless action.

-Vimala Thakar

This post was first seen at:  http://www.ul.ie/~sextonb/vt/Observation.htm

For more posts on Vimala Thakar look here.

The Vertical Ascendance of a Sadhaka – Vimala Thakar

The following dialog took place between Vimala Thakar and Yoga teachers from all over the world in Mount Abu, Rajasthan, India on the 11th of September, 2000.

Question:  What are the most difficult obstacles that a Sadhaka has to overcome during his spiritual path?

It becomes very difficult to break the silence and touch the space with words; words feel very shy to encroach upon the emptiness of silence.  The science of consciousness, Atma Vidya has been the field of study, investigation, exploration, experimentation and verification through the act of living in Ancient India.  Naturally all the literature about Atma Vidya, Adhyatma -Spirituality is in ancient Sanskrit language, so the students of Yoga come across the Sanskrit words and terms when they study Yoga Sutras or Mantra Yoga, Tantra Yoga etc.

You have used the term “sadhaka” in your collective question.  But the investigation does not begin with Sadhana.  Investigation begins first on the theoretical, academic, verbal level.  One has to know with the help of words about what one is going to do as Sadhana.  .

This phase of investigation, this study through travelling, through reading books, through seminars, you may call it intellectual sadhana, but we call it JIGNASYA the urge to enquire, and one who does that is JIGNASU.

When a person living In Europe and America or outside Asia comes to know through scriptures on Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism or even Islam, when the person comes to know that there are different ways of living, where freedom from the prison-house of thought and from the clutches of the mind is possible, then the desire for liberation is born in the heart.  When he knows through that verbal investigation that a different way of living is possible, that people have lived that way, that it is possible for anyone and everyone to be liberated from the grip of the mind and the prison-house of thought structure, then the desire for liberation is born in the heart.  The desire for liberation is called Mumuksha – the desire for Moksha.   Moksha is liberation.  Mukti, Moksha, these are the Sanskrit terms.  One who has the desire for Moksha is called MUMUKSHU.

So the JIGNASU becomes MUMUKSHU.  First he only wanted to know; now he says I have known that It IS possible, so why should I continue living as a slave of the thought and the mind.  If there is a consciousness beyond, if there is a life beyond, well let me explore.  So JIGNASU becomes a MUMUKSHU; a person charged with the flame of enquiry, of exploration.  So he turns to those who have taken the pilgrimage, those who have followed the path of liberation and freedom.  He comes across such persons, sees their lives and he says that I want to educate myself in that way of freedom, in that life style of freedom, so he becomes a SADHAKA.

A Sadhaka is one who launches upon the extensive project of education, learning, discovery.  SADHANA is the process of education, the process of learning, a personal discovery of truth.  One who does that sadhana is called SADHAKA.  So JIGNASU; MUMUKSHU; SADHAKA.  When the process of education is gone through at the physical level, at the verbal level, at the mental level, at cerebral level, and in the movement of daily relationships, then he becomes a SIDDHA.  The education is completed, now it is mature.  SADHANA – SADHAKA and then SIDDHA.

Because you have asked the question and have used the term SADHAKA one must know the background.  SADHANA, SADHAKA is the third phase.  After verbal investigation, comes the phase where one is charged with the desire for liberation from mind and thought.  If that desire is not there, if the urge is not there, then one does not become a Sadhaka.  The Sadhana is for Mukti, Moksha, liberation, enlightenment.  That is the top priority; that is the first priority.  The person is willing to do anything and everything for that discovery of freedom and living in freedom.  So the Sadhaka is the student of life, learning and educating himself.  If the urge for liberation is not there, then you may do Yoga Asanas and Pranayama for 20 years, they will give you health, they will give you symmetrical body, it is a physical and cultural education, very necessary -but that by itself does not lead you to freedom from the mind.  YAMAH- NIYAMAH will give you a disciplined life, even Pratyahara can give you a disciplined life.  There will be a disciplined life at the physical level, at the verbal level.  You will be speaking Truth -Sat yam, you will be non-violent -Ahimsa, there will be Shaucham- cleanliness at the physical, the mental and the verbal level and modesty, humility.  So the Yamahs and Niyamahs will create a very orderly, disciplined person.  Asanas, Pranayama will change the quality of physical life and bring about a different freshness in body-brain complex but that by itself is not the totality of Sadhana, it is only a part.

Many people have a misconception when they turn to Yoga; they think that Yoga Asanas, Pranayama and Yamah – Niyamah, will naturally lead them to Dhyanam and Samadhi.  But that is a different education because with Yamah- Niyamah, Asana-Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana you have to exercise the physical, the verbal, the mental, the cerebral, you have to make an effort, you have to create an order in the chaos, in the disorder.  The “You”, the centre, the monitor is there, the method and techniques of doing away with disorder and creating order:  that is there.  Yamahs and Niyamahs give you direction for the Asanas, which must be done correctly, a Mantra has to be pronounced correctly, in the proper accent, intonation, punctuation, and articulation.  Even in Dharana, the science and the art of concentration, there is still something to learn – concentrate on the breath, concentrate on the movement of breath, concentrate on an idol, concentrate on the flame of a candle and so on, there is the centre, the knowledge, the direction of effort, the methodology of effort.

People find it easy up to there.  Education can go on smoothly up to the step of Dharana, if the person is really sincere and really very serious about changing the way of living.  It is an alternative way of living.  It is an alternative culture.  It is an alternative dynamics of relationship with your body, with nature, with human beings with non-human species.  It is a holistic change in the way of living, up to that it is comparatively easy and many serious, sincere students of spirituality in the various countries of the world have taken the journey up to there, but then comes the point of DHYANAM or meditation.

You say what is the most difficult obstacle?  I will not call it obstacle, but a difficult point that you have to cross.  If you convert it into an obstacle it can become an obstacle, otherwise it is something that you have to cross, to go over.  What happens is, up to Dharana, the ‘I’, the self, the me, the Ego, the Monitor whatever you call it, can assert itself, can make an effort, can see the result, the product, the result of its effort in time, it can even manipulate the result, so it is satisfied -I have done this, I have progressed.  And naturally through Yoga asanas, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, the dormant energies in the body, in the biological organism, in the psychological structure which were not tapped before, they are stimulated.  The manifestation of those activised powers is called VIBHUTI.  SIDDHI, VIBHUTI.  So up till there, the enthusiasm of the ‘l’, the ‘Me’ is tremendous, because it is doing something, it is getting something, it can measure it, people can see what you have achieved and you can teach it to others.  But then comes the point of DHYANAM, where the mind and the brain are to be educated in relaxation of all movement – that is the difficult point.  The body has to be steady, the speech has to go back into its source, and the mental movement and the movement of the brain have to voluntarily discontinue.  You cannot make them stop, because you are a part of that, you are a part of the past, of the thought structure, the conditionings, you are one of it, you are its product so you can not change it, the ‘You’, the monitor which up till now has been very active has to voluntarily discontinue its movement.

The difficult part comes now of educating the mind and the brain to voluntarily discontinue its movement in every direction.  If you tell the mind there is nothing to know, nothing to experience, nowhere to go, no experiencing, it runs back into the past.  Wants to chew into the memories of the past pleasure, of the past pain, or it wants to jump towards the future that is unborn, that is not here.  It does not give up easily its addiction to motion.  It has been moving, changing itself, changing others, getting something.  It has been busy with the acquisitive movement- acquire knowledge, acquire money, acquire experience, acquire powers, and people acknowledge you, you get social respectability and you can earn money by teaching them.

This part of self-education is a very tough part, because there is no doing.  You have to be with yourself whether you sit down, you stand up, and you walk.  No books, no reading, no knowing, no experiences.  One requires tremendous patience with the cerebral organ, which has been sharpened.  It has been made very sharp and sophisticated and you have purified it through your Yamah -Niyamah etc.  It is very sensitive:  one hundred times more sensitive than any of your electronic gadgets.  So when you sit down with yourself or spend some days with yourself, you notice that immeasurable velocity, that tremendous, fantastic momentum with which the thoughts come and go, the emotions come, the memories come up and the Seer has to be there just seeing it, not looking at it.  Looking is the activity of the monitor, the ‘I’, the ‘Me’, the mind.  Seeing is the energy principle of your life.  You don’t see because you want to see, but because you can’t help it.  It IS an involuntary action.  It is not a movement like thinking, feeling, willing.  It is an instantaneous action.  So be with oneself, be with the total human past contained in your body, not even to watch it, to observe it, but just be in the state of SEEING.  The seeing, the hearing goes on but you are not listening.  You listen to something when you have a motivation, but hearing goes on, you can’t help it, if you are awake, the auditory nerves respond to the sound, the optical nerves respond to the light, to the shape, to the colour of the objects.

To be in that austere state of seeing is the toughest part.  When the seen, that is the past, the known, the conditioned gets exposed to that seeing energy it gets exhausted, that is to say, the seen energy is not unlimited, it is vast, it is gigantic, but it has had a beginning and it can have an end.  One needs patience in educating oneself for being in the state of SEEING without looking, without listening, without comparing, without evaluating, without passing a value judgement on what is seen.  Nobody will know, but you go on doing that inwardly.  So no value judgement, no comparison, no seeking pleasure out of it, no feeling pain out of it.  The seeing is unrelated to that which is seen.  It is not a relationship, it is co-existence of the seeing energy and the seen energy -the DRASHTA, DRASHTUTVAM AND DRISHYA.

The body, the movement of the pranas, your breathing, the movement of the mind, the movement of the brain -all these are seen, they are not your existential essence, they are not the essence of your being.  The seeing energy is the essence, which you might call ATMAN and CHAITANYA.  You might give a variety of names to it, It is just an energy, where seeing and understanding are rolled into one.  It is a perceptive sensitivity.  Looking is an activity, a joint activity of the mind and the optical nerves, but seeing is unrelated to that which is seen, because one did not want to see it, wish to see it, expect to see it, it is there, therefore it is seen.  That is the toughest part, but if that is gone through, then the seen and the seeing energy subside into their sources and there is MAUNAM or silence or emptiness.

So the seeing and the seen are replaced by infinite silence of emptiness.   It is still tougher to be in that state if at all a Sadhaka has patience and humility to be in the state.  Nothing happens, no experiences, you come out of silence after 2 or 3 hours and somebody asks you” what were you doing?”  “I don’t know, nothing”. But you were sitting there with your closed eyes for 3 hours, what happened?”  “Nothing.”  “What did you get out of it?”  “Nothing.”

The immeasurableness and indescribable-ness of that emptiness!  How can you describe emptiness? You can describe an object.  So the ‘I’ consciousness, the Ego that had gone voluntarily into discontinuity jumps back.  It wants to claim and say “I have had an experience of silence”.  The ‘I’ can never have that experience, the ‘I’ can have experience of quietness, of abstinence from speaking, it can have an experience of non-motion but silence is something that cannot be experienced.  Nothing happens to the chemical or metabolic or nervous system.

What is the obstacle on the path of a Sadhaka? – This nothingness and nobody-ness.  To go through that period of solitary silence is difficult especially for those who are living in big cities, they have jobs, they have families.  Unless they move away from their working place and family atmosphere for some time this education from the doer, the experiencer to the Seer, from the Seer into the Silence and then into Meditation, this education cannot happen.  Devoting an hour a day while living in the family, while working at a job is easy, that can be done, but for the revolution to happen, for the mutation to take place, the Silence has to crystallise.  It is only when the silence crystallises as the normal dimension of consciousness that the mutation, the quantum jump into the state of DHYANAM occurs.  It is not the result of any human effort.  You cannot bring it about as the result of your action.  It occurs, it happens if this period of being merged into or being immersed into the ocean of Emptiness is gone through.

You may call it in your language the most difficult obstacle.  As I see it, it is a tough phase in education, because it is going beyond mind, it is going beyond brain into another dimension of consciousness -Dhyanajam anashayam (Patanjali Yoga Sutras IV.  6). Out of meditation is born a Chitta which has no content of thought, emotion, feeling, which has no past, which has no conditionings. The “Prakrit chitta” disappears with meditation and Dhyanajam chittam anashayam emerges.  Chitta, which is emptiness, emptiness as a dimension of consciousness, gets born.  In the beginning it lasts for say few hours and when you are busy in movement of relationships you feel it is slipping out, because that is a period of puberty from one dimension to the other -a touch and go, it slips back into the mental or the cerebral, it becomes aware of it, again gets back into the mental or the cerebral, it becomes aware of it, again gets back into the meditative dimension and then there is a growth into Samadhi, the dimension of invincible equipoise, invincible peace, invincible relaxation.  No action can damage the relaxation.  No speaking for hours can affect the inner state of silence and no relationships which one has to go through in society can even touch the solitude of the consciousness.

So it seems to me that the tough period begins in Sadhana or the difficult period or obstacle period, begins when one is busy educating oneself in DHYANAM.

There is a very well known Sadhaka poet in India, he is still living, he wrote to me that it is better to be in the dimension of the known where you know how to handle thought, emotions, reactions, defence mechanism, patterns of behaviour.  It is much better to be there and safer to be there, than to get transported into the unknown where everything is unknowable.  So the idea of psychic security, by which one has lived, has a strong hold over one.  Even in the study of Yoga, in the subconscious there is that sense of security with the known – the known place, the known people, and the known activities

Meditation –DHYANAM is a romance with the unknown.  I do not know if I have responded to your question, but this being the last meeting of this year, I thought:  let me share with you the journey from JIGNASA to SADHANA – sadhana as a process of education –self-education, mutual education, group education.  How you do it is secondary, but it is an educational process.  Not academic education, which gives you a degree and a job at the end of it.  At the end of this education there is the maturity of Samadhi, it is the consummation of human growth.  It is not an acquisitive movement but it is a movement of constant discovery of the different nuances of truth and reality, a discovery of the different nuances and shades of that cosmic energy which is playing even in your body.

-Vimala Thakar

As seen at:     http://www.ul.ie/~sextonb/vt/Sadhaka.htm

For more posts on Vimala Thakar look here.

Explosion – Vimala Thakar

EXPLOSION

On the 14th August I had another interview with Krishnamurti. While I was waiting for him his hostess was kind enough to come and have a word with me.

‘Do you understand what Krishnaji says?’ She asked.

I said: ‘I feel I do – If I may say so. But everyone can understand if one wants to, can’t one? There is nothing difficult what he says is so simple.’

Krishnaji came out in a little while and led me to a room where we settled down for a serious talk. Here are the notes of our conversation.

Vimala Thakar: I am sharing with you my experience. I have decided after great hesitation to tell you about the present state of my mind because it concerns you in a way…

Krishnamurti: You need not hesitate at all. You can say anything to me – for or against. Do you understand?

V. I have told you about the invasion of a new awareness, irresistible and uncontrollable.

I have told you how it has swept away everything. Now – this has something to do with that healing. If it had come independently I would not have felt as I feel today. If the mind had come by it, say, while listening to you, I would not have felt what I feel today.

Today I feel that the two are related. And I feel deeply indebted to you for both.

That feeling of indebtedness makes the mind heavy and uncomfortable. Your talks have helped me and I am deeply thankful to you for the talks.

But my love for you was never burdened with a sense of indebtedness before. Today it is.

K. Wait a bit. Who told you that the two are related?

V. No one. I feel it.

K. Your feeling may be wrong. Perhaps you are confusing the two. You don’t owe me a damn thing in the world. Do you understand it? The healing has happened. It has taken two persons – you and me – for it to happen. Why not let it remain at that? It is very simple.

V. Are you sure that the two are not related?

K. Yes. Quite sure. You have been listening to the talks. You have a serious mind. The talks were sinking deep into your being. They are operating all the time. One day you realized the truth.

What have I done to it? Look here- you were walking in a forest. You came across another person.

He said: ‘If you walk this way you might arrive earlier.’ You walked. You arrived. You thanked the person. It is as simple as that.

Why should you feel you owe something to me? Why make an issue of it?

V. I can’t tell you why. But I do feel obliged to you.

K. All right why do you feel disturbed over it?

V. Because my affection feels hurt by that. Obligation and indebtedness seem to have polluted love and friendship. Our very relationship seems to be changing.

K. Goodness me. Our relationship need not and should not change. It should be as free as it was before. I wonder if you are frightened…

V. Yes – Krishnaji. I feel a kind of awe, a kind of fear…

K. That’s the crux. There is nothing to feel afraid of. I have not done anything to you. I don’t know how the healing takes place. I know as much as you do. Do you understand? Shake this off. I shall be sorry if our relationship is affected by this. Vimalaji, the earth was ready to receive the rains. She has received with full abandon. No wonder there is new life.

V. So be it Krishnaji. Let me only confess that this sudden invasion does baffle me. It is not due to anything that I have done. As if it is not related to me as an effect is related to its cause. It has descended with an irresistible force. The intensity and the depth of the force know neither increase nor decrease.

K. It happens. Why not watch it?

I prepared to leave. Krishnamurti knew that I was leaving Gstaad for Zurich the same evening. So he said:

‘I hope to find you in excellent health when we meet in India. Have a pleasant journey.’

While I was walking back to the hotel I met Mr. B. who was practicing as a psychiatrist in New York. He had come all the way to attend the talks. He was putting up in the same hotel and we had met several times during the fortnight.

B. Vimala, I have been shaken all over by Krishnamurti’s talks. We had learnt that the unconscious is indestructible. Krishnamurti says: ‘It can drop away.’ I had learned that it has taken a million years for the human mind and the brain to develop to its present state. Krishnamurti says: ‘You can jump out of this mind and brain.’ It is fantastic and incredible.

V. It is neither incredible nor fantastic. He is not presenting a theory or an idea which you could accept or reject. He communicates his experience. He is a challenge to your science of psychology.

Why should not a group of you take it up for scientific investigation? Why not make a research into whether the conscious and the unconscious can be done away with?

Krishnamurti is no fool. He knows what he says and he says what he means.

B. Do you agree with Krishnamurti, that the unconscious can be destroyed completely?

V. I am not a student of psychology. And there is nothing to agree with. I see that what he says is true.

B. Excuse me for being personal. Have you destroyed it?

V. You can’t destroy it, my dear. It gets destroyed. One sees that it has dropped. That is all.

I left Gastaad in the evening and by midnight I was in Zurich. Next day I wrote two letters, one to my father and one to Krishnamurti.

To my father I wrote:

‘Everything has dropped away. A tremendous tempest has swept away everything with one stroke. It is not ‘The cosmic evolution become conscious of itself.’ It is life anew. A journey wither I know not! Why, I know not! No excitement! No enthusiasm. But an intense flame of passion is consuming the whole being. I wish I could describe the strength of integrity which makes me walk now fearlessly. I wish I could describe how I witnessed the ego being torn to pieces and being thrown to the winds. I wish I could communicate what this denudation is! Or may one call it ex-centration? The center of thinking getting dissolved into nothingness.

The words might sound familiar. Perhaps you would say Krishnamurti – type terms and phrases. But you are well aware that borrowed phrases cannot transmit life. Nor can they enable one to see the reality. They cannot give you the moral courage to knock down and pull down your house in which you have lived until now.

Only truth liberates. Only truth transmits fresh life. Truth breathes innocence into you.

Destruction and creation mingle in that breath.’

To Krishanmurti I wrote:

‘I am not making ‘an issue’ of the event. I am trying to understand it in relation to total life. You may tell me, ‘ It is simple.’ My mind looks upon it as something strange. Is it simple to see the total mind being born anew? If one who has suddenly witnessed it happening, feels overwhelmed, would you call it an emotional disturbance?

Let me assure you that it is not the personal aspect (It’s happening in my life) that overwhelms me. Life is neither yours nor mine. Life is life. This phenomenon comes as a challenge to the medical science and to psychology. Does it not?

It is true that I have been listening to your talks for five years. I knew that they were sinking deep into the very being. But surely, that could not cause this sudden explosion. Understanding does not explode; nor does love explode. Or do they? Not that I am sorry for it. Not that I am excited about it? Far from it. I am watching everything with a passionate interest.

I do not think I shall attend anymore talks. I would love, however, to come and see you when you are in India. I would love to sit quietly with you, provided you do not mind sparing some time for a person who wants to see you without any purpose whatsoever.

Thank you very deeply indeed for everything I have received through you.’

After spending three weeks in Zurich I left for India by plane. I was in good cheer. I was relaxed and happy. There was intense alertness to understand every movement of life. Life had fanned a glowing flame of passionate interest.

One could call that state of deep attention an absolutely new experience of meditation. I am sorry it is not quite correct to call it an experience or a state. Both have a beginning and an end. In my case, however, I did not know how it came about; nor had I any idea whether it would continue forever whether it would discontinue the next moment.

-Vimala Thakar

From On an Eternal Voyage, p. 31-34

The entire book can be downloaded here:  https://o-meditation.com/jai-guru-deva/some-good-books/downloadable-books/vimala-thakar/

For more posts on Vimala Thakar look here.

Growing Into Silence – Vimala Thakar

Growing into Silence

The voluntary cessation, non-action of movement, can become possible if the brain, the cerebral organ, is not a restless, disorderly, chaotic brain.

Orderliness

One doesn’t have to begin to learn how to be silent, but one has to begin with learning to function in an orderly, clear, unconfused way.  Every cerebral movement has to be clear, precise and accurate.

Accuracy, precision, is the breath of orderliness.

So I learn to be precise and accurate.

And in learning to be precise and accurate I learn to be totally present with everything that I do.

Eliminating Reactions

One will have to learn to reduce the area and the duration of reactions seeing the futility and seeing the harmfulness of this constant game of reacting, evaluating, comparing and judging.

You reduce your rapport and contact with the past:  the memory, the knowing, the conditioning, the motivations, the defences.

If one would be with nature, even half the time that one is with human beings, machines and gadgets, there would be an opportunity to enter into a non-reactional observation, a non-reactional attention.

Then the brain would get some rest.  When you are with nature:  the birds, the lakes, the sunsets, the beautiful moonlight, when you are with the aloneness of the woods – then the comparative evaluating process has no scope.

The motivations and defence-mechanisms become absolutely irrelevant and meaningless when you are with nature.

The reactional pattern has no function, and yet there is observation.  So the cerebral organ grows into a new faculty of non-reactional sensitivity.

Act On Your Understanding

Never argue with one’s own understanding.

The whisper of intelligence is always there, whatever you do.

If you create a time lag between the whisper of intelligence and understanding in you and your action, then you are preventing the cerebral organ from growing into a new dimension.  When you argue with intelligence, when you postpone acting according to understanding then there is confusion, the brain gets confused.

The voice of understanding, the voice of intelligence has an insecurity about it.  How do you know that it is the right thing?

So we tend to ignore it.  Instead we accept authority.  We conform.

But the brain cannot be orderly, competent, accurate and precise if you do not listen to it, if you have no respect.  We are so busy with the outside world, and its compulsions, that the world that is inside us does not command that respect and reverence, that care and concern from us.

So one has to be a disciple of one’s own understanding, look upon that understanding as the master.

Sometimes one may commit a mistake, it might be the whim of the ego and we might mistake the whim, the wish of the ego for the voice of silence and intelligence, but that we have to discover.    Unless you commit mistakes, how do you learn to discriminate between the false and the true?  In learning there is bound to be a little insecurity, a possibility of committing mistakes.  Why should one be terribly afraid of committing mistakes?

So instead of accepting the authority of habits and conditionings, while one is moving one watches, and when there is a suggestion, a whisper from within, from one’s own intelligence, one does not neglect, ignore, or insult that.

To eliminate the time lag between understanding and action is the way to grow into spontaneity.

Keeping the Body and Brain Sensitive, Alert and Sharp

It is necessary to keep the body sensitive, alert and sharp, to feed it and to clothe it correctly, properly; to give it a chance to go through exercises which will mobilize not only the muscles, but also the nerves and be careful that the body does not become sluggish; to feed it correctly – not over- nor under-feeding it; to allow it to have sleep, necessary for its health – not to over- nor under-sleep; not to expose it to too much brooding, worrying, anxiety, which are impotent ways of wasting energy; not entering into excesses of indulgence and not denying and suppressing in the name of austerity, religion or discipline;  because the cerebral organ, the brain is woven into this biological structure.

It is very important, because in a sluggish body, in a lazy body, you can’t have a sharp, sensitive, alert brain, which would voluntarily go into non-action.

Self-education is vitally necessary in order to enable the cerebral organ to function in an orderly, quiet way.  When there is order, there is a quietness; an orderly person hardly gets excited.  It is disorder that leads to excitement, enthusiasm, depression which is the other side of excitement, passivity which is the obverse of enthusiasm.

When one has arrived at that orderliness in daily living, in whatever one does, then only one can talk about the brain voluntarily, relinquishing the outgoing and the ingoing movement, relinquishing voluntarily the hold upon the known and the unknown, the visible and the invisible, so that the infinite could be.

Summary: Four Approaches to Growing into Silence

  • Be precise, accurate and totally present with everything that one does.
  • Expose oneself as much as one can to nature, to the universe, all that is not man-made.
  • Be a disciple of one’s own understanding.
  • Keep the body and brain sensitive, alert and sharp.

This post was first seen at:  http://www.ul.ie/~sextonb/vt/silence.htm

For more posts on Vimala Thakar look here.

To read more of Vimala Thakar see:  https://o-meditation.com/jai-guru-deva/some-good-books/downloadable-books/vimala-thakar/

Notes from Yoga Beyond Meditation – Vimala Thakar

Pratyahara, dharana, dhyanam, and samadhi

Pratyahara is the state of the individualised mind where the movement of memory and the movement of the senses has discontinued.  So the mind is inwardly and outwardly surrounded by space.

Pratyahara equips the mind with the capacity to bring in dharana.  It enables the mind to be in the state of dharana.

The individualised mind is held by the inner and outer space:  that is dharana.

The individualised mind in its purified form, in its purified condition is there but now all its energy is focused on the inner and outer space.  Its attentivity is related to the inner and the outer space.  It is as if enveloped in space, in emptiness, in silence.  It has not yet assimilated the state of emptiness and peace as its experience, but it is held there.

If that state of the mind is sustained, then the individualised mind converts that state of being embraced, enveloped, wrapped in peace and emptiness into an experience and that experiencing of emptiness and peace is called dhyanam.

So there is only the experiencing of space, emptiness, silence.

In this state of the experience of silence, but still in its very subtle form, in a very purified state, the individualised mind is still there.  The subtle consciousness of “I am” or “I am experiencing space”, “I am experiencing peace or silence”, “I am in the state of dhyanam meditation” is still there.

When that consciousness disappears, there is the state of samadhi.

Though it is a very subtle, harmless centre, because it is not running in the past, with the past or running outside your body it is harmless but yet it is the individualised mind, it is not yet that universal mind stuff – the drashta, the authentic seer.  There are still the thoughts “I am”, “I am experiencing meditation”, “I am in the state of meditation”.  But when that disappears, when that gets dissolved, there is the state of samadhi.

Beyond meditation, beyond dhyanam, is the dissolution of the individualised mind.

So samadhi is now a new dimension:  in that state of meditation the sense of “I am” totally gets wiped out – the sense of “I am experiencing meditation” – that last segment gets wiped out.

Now the silence and the space have penetrated the sense of “I am” and dissolved it – that is samadhi.

-Vimala Thakar

The posting was seen at:  http://www.ul.ie/~sextonb/vt/Patanjali.htm

For more posts on Vimala Thakar look here.

To read more of Vimala Thakar see:  https://o-meditation.com/jai-guru-deva/some-good-books/downloadable-books/vimala-thakar/

Mutation of Mind – Vimala Thakar

The following is extracted from the book Mutation of Mind.

The conscious mind, realizing its own limitations, becoming aware that it hasn’t got any other channel or groove to function in, can become spontaneously quiet.

When all this investigation creates a humility in the conscious mind, and an awareness of its own limitations, awareness of the fortress in which it is imprisoned and which it cannot transcend, then that humility does create a silence in the mind.  This is not the silence of suppression or repression, compulsion or paralysis.  It is not an induced silence, whether that inducement comes through ideas, ideals, emotions or chemicals.

The immensity of the contents of the unconscious brings about a sense of humility in the conscious mind.  And a silence of the conscious mind flows out of that humility.  The next step is not going to be taken by the conscious mind at all.

We are saying that the very awareness of its own limitations can bring about a state of silence.

Then a direct communion with reality becomes possible.  In fact, that state defies verbalization.  The realm of the unknown defies verbalization.  Self-knowing is the essence.  Self-knowing is the maturity which one has to attain.  So we have been struggling with the limitations of the mind, but for the struggle we employ the mind.  Struggling against the limitations of the mind by employing the mind and exercising the will is not the right way perhaps.

When you realize that the mind is not equal to the task of communing with reality, the mind relaxes in silence.

It needs alertness; it needs intensity, which we lack.  Our energy is so much scattered, that this inquiry of truth becomes one of the many desires.  When one starts living every moment in the light of that inquiry, then the illumination dawns upon the heart. This creative understanding dawns upon the human heart, when the inquiry of truth becomes the top priority; when it becomes the all-consuming flame, in the light of which one lives.  It is not a pastime, a hobby, an amusement.  (The challenge needs to be formulated, then realised, then begun.)

The problem is how to break away completely from the conditioning in which the mind has been cultivated.

Truth (requires) the right approach, start, foundation.  We must become free from the urge for security; acquisition, accumulation, preservation is a hindrance to this transformation.  Emotions, feelings, thoughts and memories are mechanical actions, inevitable reflex actions according to conditioning.  The mind names, identifies, compares, judges on the basis of memory.

Mind becomes silent, temporarily, only when it is confronted with something which it cannot interpret, something unprecedented.  Realizing its own limitations, understanding that truth and reality are something very vast, immeasurable by the human mind and that the mystery of life cannot be discovered by ideas and concepts, the mind becomes silent.

The mind could understand its own nature, find out the conflicts between the conscious and the unconscious; find out the impossibility of a total action on the mental plane; realize the limitations and become quiet.

Whether you try to influence the mind through ideas and concepts, or through discipline and vows, or through drugs, you are trying to stimulate artificially a state of silence.  Perhaps if we are friendly with the mind, if we watch the mind, if we understand the mind, if we let it wander, let it roam about wherever it wants, let it exhaust its momentum by wandering, without scolding, without praising, without condemning it might exhaust its momentum and arrive at the simple innocent silence.

The subconscious and the unconscious contain the known.  The implication of the words total silence is silence of the subconscious and the unconscious and the conscious.  We will have to allot some time in the beginning to sit by ourselves and find out if the mind can be silent.

All our emotions and thoughts are conditioned reflexes, reactions.

This non-identification with ones reactions … brings about a sudden change in the level of consciousness.  This non-identification with the subconscious world, non-identification with the momentum of the whole subconscious and unconscious results in creative silence.  The creative alternative is to refuse to identify oneself with the mind.  This cannot blossom in a day, if we do not know what mind is.

One has to begin with being introduced to one’s own mind.  To watch how the mind works, to watch how we live second-hand through emotions, feelings and sentiments.  How we call them our own and identify ourselves with them. To watch all this, will be the beginning of meditation.

-Vimala Thakar

This posting was seen at:   http://www.ul.ie/~sextonb/vt/MutationofMind.htm

For more posts on Vimala Thakar look here.

To read more of Vimala Thakar see:  https://o-meditation.com/jai-guru-deva/some-good-books/downloadable-books/vimala-thakar/

Consciousness is Not an Object

An interview with Roy Whenary given by Ben Hassine

Can you give us a short biographical sketch with emphasis on the spiritual aspect of your life? For example which teachers and teachings inspired you and can you recount some of your encounters with them?

I don’t know if it’s possible to do this without over-emphasizing the ‘personal’, so briefly I will mention my main influences as J. Krishnamurti, Nisargadatta Maharaj and Jean Klein. I came across Krishnamurti when I was 20, and reading his books and attending his talks had a profound effect on me. After reading a lot of varied spiritual literature before that, Krishnamurti was like a breath of fresh air … uncomplicated, obvious and clear from the start. At Brockwood Park and Saanen, I met many new friends, with whom there would be endless discussions about things, albeit adopting Krishnamurti-like terminology. Then, in the mid-70s I was made aware of an Indian publication, which was not easily available in London at the time. It was called ‘I Am That’ and was by Nisargadatta Maharaj. I had previously read Advaita books by Ramana Maharshi, but somehow ‘I Am That’ had more of an effect on me. What that was, I don’t know. Maybe it was because it was more contemporary to the time, whereas Ramana’s works were from another era. Although I had met a few people who had sat with Ramana, I was often meeting people who had been to see Nisargadatta. However, I was never tempted to go to India in person, understanding from the start that there was nothing that was available there which was not already available here. In the early 70s, I also met Vimala Thakar, who was very popular in Holland. I first met her in 1972, then 1974 and in 1976 spent a week on retreat with her in England. Many of the people I met on that retreat I am still in contact with. I found Vimala to be very attentive to my sensitivity, and awake to my need for personal contact with her, and we had several helpful chats about what now would seem to be very basic questions I had at the time, but her response to me was very warm and open. In 1980, the lady who organized Vimala’s visits to the UK informed me that there was another teacher who was very much worth going to see, called Jean Klein. It turned out that she was organizing his visits too. I went along to a talk he gave at Friends Meeting House, Hampstead, in London, and was immediately impressed by his calm presence and clarity of mind. There was a lot of silence in his talks, and at the time his English was not so brilliant, although it improved over the next few years, as he came to England more frequently. At one time I offered to drive him around when he was here, which was accepted – so I would take him to and pick him up from the airport and drive him to restaurants for meals, etc – a job that I did for a couple of years, quite willingly – although we never talked about spiritual philosophy at all during these times. I found that in his presence there were no questions, and all was self-evident. I really feel that he had no agenda at all. He wasn’t out to convince anyone of anything … it was a case of here it is … take it or leave it. I couldn’t help contrast this approach, and his calm presence, with that of Krishnamurti, who was much more passionate and lively in every sense, and maybe a little angry at times. This was the complete opposite to Jean Klein, and yet Jean, who had spent some time travelling with Krishnamurti many years earlier in India, always heaped the highest praise on Krishnamurti, and Vimala Thakar for that matter. I remember him describing Vimala Thakar as “a beautiful Being”.

You spent a longer period of time with Jean Klein. Can you go a little bit deeper into the affect this teacher had on your outlook on life and spirituality at that time? [Please note I am referring to the affect Jean had at the time you met him, so we are going into history and are not yet covering your current outlook]

Well, I spent just as long listening to Krishnamurti, and they both had a profound effect, maybe in different ways. I don’t know even if it is the words that had the greatest affect on me … because the presence of these two teachers had at least an equal affect. With Krishnamurti one could not ignore how seriously he took the spiritual life and how passionate he was about everything he said. His presence was over-powering in that sense. With Jean, it was his quiet, calm, simple and direct clarity of expression that impressed. He showed, by his own example, how utterly available and effortless ‘realization’ is. He was not a man of ideas, he was a man of wisdom, and there is a great difference between the two. When you have met a true man of wisdom, you are never again fooled by men of ideas.

Yes I think I can understand what you are saying. I would like to go into it later on. Still you didn’t answer my question. What exactly was this affect you are speaking about? How did Krishnamurti and Klein change the way you saw life and spirituality?

Sorry to sound so evasive, but I was 19 or 20 when I first came across Krishnamurti, and there wasn’t much to change, I suppose. I had not formed any fixed view or attitude by then, so I sort of grew up with Krishnamurti in that sense. It is not like someone suddenly coming across this approach when they are 40 or 50 years old, having lived a life and made mistakes, etc. At 16 or 17, I started reading Kahil Gibran and some Buddhist and Hindu literature, just out of interest. I came across them in my local bookstore, and began exploring different ideas. I also started reading Plato and the Socratian dialogues … and when I first came across Krishnamurti I noticed a distinct similarity between his philosophy and that of Socrates. But the effect that it had on me? I suppose it gave me a clear direction, when many of my contemporaries were getting into heavy rock music, relationships, carving out a career, etc. I always preferred a quiet life, and especially walking in nature, to experimentation or planning too much for the future. Krishnamurti clearly helped me in that direction and Jean Klein deepened that tendency. I suppose that what these teachers were giving was a route into the deeper layers of mind and feeling, which gives rise to conscious awareness.

Yes. The deep layers of mind and feeling. I feel that at a certain point one will face not only the deeper layers of mind and feeling but also the deep layers of the body. Jean Klein’s approach also included ‘body-work’. Did this part of his teaching appeal to you? Can you expand a little on this aspect?

Yes, it did appeal very much, and I did a number of residential Seminars with him, in the UK and France, in which Yoga/Bodywork was a major part. There are others who are better qualified to comment on this aspect of his teaching than myself, so I will offer my own personal take on it. In my book ‘The Texture of Being’ I often refer to “going into the feeling” of something. There is a tendency, in a mind-dominated culture, to always think things through. This is fine when dealing with practical, mechanical things. But when dealing with personal issues and philosophical subjects, it is helpful if you can not only ‘think’ things through, but also ‘feel’ them through. This takes one into the realm of what is usually referred to as ‘intuition’ or ‘gut feeling’. But, in order to access this kind of intelligence, which is what it is, it is necessary to be able to go into the body-feeling, which is deeper than just ‘thinking’ about something. In Jean’s Yoga and other bodywork practices, conscious awareness of the ‘feeling’ was cultivated through gentle exercises. Being in the ‘feeling’ at each moment, in the body, was encouraged. This was done in a very casual, non-competitive way. Each participant in the bodywork was encouraged to work within whatever limitations their body dictated. Emphasis was always on being consciously aware of the movement and the space around the body, but also in the expansion of what we felt our physical limits were. He encouraged a stretching of the body and expansion of the limits of the body, in the creative imagination. This had  the affect that one did not have the feeling of being confined within the body – there was a feeling of lightness and openness. Others could express this particular aspect more clearly, I am sure. But, it made me very aware that bodywork of some kind – be it tai chi, yoga, free-movement, or whatever, is a good counter-balance to what can become an intellectually dominant philosophy such as Advaita. If one is living in the world of ideas, and not grounding those ideas, not embodying them, then it can be like living in a kind of dream-world, where you may think that you have all the answers, even though you haven’t yet explored all the questions.

I have the feeling that the grounding or embodiment you speak about is all about facing and understanding ‘what is,’ is that right? I feel this is the stage where the shift from the verbal, conceptual level of understanding to the energetic level of non-verbal recognition, understanding and realization of reality takes place. As I see it, the body is also part of ‘what is’ and it is not just an illusion or a bag of bones. How do you see the role of the body in the non-duality you write about?

Without the body, where are you? Any answer that is given to this question is the product of a mind which is connected to a particular body … which we may call a ‘body-mind mechanism’ or some such similar term. This body-mind mechanism also contains ‘personality’ and ‘ego’. There is a constant feedback and updating going on between body and mind, from second to second. In facing ‘what is’, if there is fear at that moment, it will be mirrored in the body. If ‘what is’ is a poisonous snake, then the body will be prepared, via perception, memory and various chemical changes to respond instantly. In normal everyday life, we are not always facing poisonous snakes, but the memory is so full of conditioned influences that conditioned responses are continuously taking place without our conscious awareness. When I meet someone I have decided I don’t like, there is an inner response which relays itself into my body. I may smile and be polite to that person, but my body knows the truth, and in some way, health wise, I will almost certainly pay for such dislikes. Over the course of many years and millions of such reactions, my body will bear the scars of such unseen reactions. Maybe my joints will seize up, or I will develop an illness related to some other part of my body. There are some very good books which go into this subject more deeply than I could attempt here.

But, back to your question: how do I see the role of the body in the non-duality I write about? The body-mind mechanism is a part of the play … one of the actors. The phenomenal world is the world in which the body-mind mechanism has its apparent existence. Without that phenomenal world, there would be no question, or anything else. For the sage, everything appears out of nothing (including himself) and has no real substance, but he is happy to act out his part in the play of life, responding to whatever arises as appropriate. He knows that ‘what is’ is a temporary arising in perception, in the moment. Life flows through him, as if he were not there. Ultimately, all is One, but in the phenomenal world it appears otherwise. Identification and attachment within the phenomenal world will create suffering for the identified and attached, but of course this suffering is only apparent. In reality there is no permanent entity to suffer. Suffering arises and subsides, as do all other phenomena. In the sage, there is liberation from suffering because there is no identification or attachment. Ultimately, because he is not a fixed, permanent entity, this absence of suffering could also be viewed as something which arises and subsides within the body-mind mechanism. Ultimately, nothing ever happens, and there is neither duality nor non-duality, which are merely concepts. But in this life, this phenomenal life, the actor does appear to suffer, and a fine-tuning of the gap between body and mind will reduce the experience of suffering in the actor. In this sense, the traditional approaches, such as yoga, that work to refine the body-mind, are very appropriate. They make the life, the phenomenal life, more joyful … bringing us back to our natural state, before the mind began impeding the free-flow of energy. Emptying the mind of its ‘stuff’, its psychological hang-ups, likes and dislikes, resistances, attractions and aversions, is important work in the life of a body-mind mechanism – it will lead to freedom and joy, in this life, here and now. But, if it is entered into with an acquisitive spirit, as a way in which the ego is going to show how clever or powerful it is, then we are not talking about the same thing. The ego is a key part of the problem in the first place. An essential quality of freedom is humility … a complete letting go, or surrendering, of the egoistic impulse.
Many seekers believe that they have ‘got it’ when they first understand the basic principles of advaita, or non-duality. But understanding and accepting the concepts and living them, are two different things. For the living of them, there needs to be an emptying of the old conditioned thought patterns. Simply believing that ‘I Am That’, for instance, is not enough, if the memory keeps pushing up, in every moment of every day, ‘I Am Not That’. Saying “all is one”, then behaving as if all is not one by concentrating all one’s energies in self-centered activities is merely self-delusion. The memories and patterns are not just in the mind – they also appear in the body, in the muscles, the joints and so on. I would say that ‘Inner Work’, which is essential for a clear understanding, necessarily involves some kind of bodywork that allows for the letting go of dysfunctional thought and behavioural patterns, which get in the way of clear seeing and living in one’s true nature. Liberation is not just a flip in one’s thinking process, from the belief in the ego to the belief in no-ego. If you believe in no-ego yet still act from ego, then there is an immense conflict in your life, which needs to be addressed.

What is thought?

A6: I would say that thought is simply a function of the mind, which allows the body-mind mechanism to survive in the phenomenal world of duality. It allows the body-mind to interact with the outside world in such a way that it builds up a memory bank of experience and knowledge, which should help it to function more successfully in the future. Of course this is not always the case, because if you feed rubbish in, then you will usually get rubbish out. So it is important to encourage the right thoughts and experiences, otherwise the memory bank will contain material that may contribute towards its own downfall. But thought always operates within the field of the known, because it must always refer to the past, to memory. But, it can become modified through its interaction with others, such that specific limiting patterns of thought may be completely undermined to the extent that ‘realization’ may occur.
Now, when we understand the limitations of thought, we can also utilize its incredible ability to explore its own environment, by exploring the subtleties of our ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ worlds. The mind can easily get fixed into certain patterns of thinking and behaving, but it can also create strategies for disentangling itself from these fixed patterns. Whilst the mind may be burdened with negative thoughts, which may weigh heavy on the heart, it is also possible for the mind to express the most beautiful poetic descriptions of the world we know, and beyond. Thought can be our downfall and source of suffering, or it can take on all the lightness and beauty that there is. When we realize the incredible power of the mind, we will maybe treat it with more respect, and feed it well, so that our thoughts become an expression of the inner beauty that we essentially are.

What is the thinker, the observer, the controller? How do you see the thinker, or the ‘me’ comes to an end?

First there is consciousness, then the thinker, the controller, is created in the mind. We are not automatically born with the ability to think. This is taught to us, as we are gradually conditioned into living in the world as a separate body-mind. Always, underlying thought, there is ‘consciousness’, which is our fundamental aspect. But the thinker is the product of the past. The past is a synthesis of many strands of social evolution. What strands we become conditioned with will depend on what kind of family we are born into.
When you ask somebody “who are you?”, they will automatically reply with their name. If you ask them to define it even further, they may say that they are a man or a woman, etc – but all the time they are describing the ‘clothing’ that consciousness has taken on in expressing itself through their particular body-mind. To think that this expression is a permanent entity in time is a mistake that nearly every body-mind makes. In this life, there is a great effort to accumulate more and more, to reinforce the notion that I am a somebody. But then, a great wave comes along, and suddenly there is nobody there.
What you are and what you appear to be are two different things. One is real and the other is an illusion, created within your own imagination. This trick has been taught to almost everyone, because it is tradition not to look at who or what you really are. You are not your name, your occupation, your body, your bank account – these are just tools for consciousness to express itself to itself. It is all a play, a great universal play of consciousness. Fundamentally, you are nothing but consciousness. But consciousness is not an object. You are conscious, you are receptive, but when you begin to think, you then begin also to think you are a separate entity. You then start to get involved and identified with the images that pass through your brain, and you believe that you are a controller, a doer. But who is there to control or do anything? It can be, and will be, wiped out suddenly. All it needs is one great wave, then where is the doer? Then, the doer is itself done. At any moment, we are solely reliant that our next breath comes – and one day it won’t come.
So, finally, to answer your question as to how I see that the thinker comes to an end. When the thinker comes to an end is of no interest. The thinking process is a natural part of life as a human being. When we see that this is how it is, we can be at ease in the understanding that all this play of the mind will come to an end. It doesn’t have to be ended as a deliberate act. Its end is already clear and will certainly happen when it is due to happen. Our true nature lies in consciousness, which is non-specific. When a life is born, it is naturally and automatically imbued with consciousness, because consciousness permeates all. When all this is known, there is naturally no more attraction for the mind to identify itself with what is going on in the play. It knows that it itself is a temporary blip on the all-encompassing background consciousness, so the mind naturally stands back from involvement. There is an awareness of the play, and the actor in the play, and it is never forgotten who or what it is that stands behind the actor.

You seem to suggest consciousness is a kind of screen on which thought moves. As I see it, thought itself is consciousness. Consciousness is dependent on the body and mind. Without memory and thought there is hardly any consistent notion of existence, which is what consciousness is after all. So consciousness is limited, relative and temporary.
When consciousness understands its own nature it is also emptied of the false sense of self or separation constructed and imagined by thought. Consciousness is transformed and empty. This emptiness is not an entity. It is without sense of self. This empty consciousness is like the dew drop in which the moon is reflected; the moon being absolute reality. This reality is beyond being or non-being. It is not an entity and is not a state which can be experienced. It is beyond consciousness and experience. What would you say to this view?

Consciousness is the substratum of all existence. It underlies everything in the physical world. At least, this is one use of the word. I am not attached to any particular concept regarding Consciousness. As far as I am concerned, consciousness is not an object. What we point to in our discussion can never be it, because ‘it’ is not an ‘it’ at all. It has no separate existence. Now, I know that one of Krishnamurti’s favourite phrases was “consciousness is its content”. This is a totally different concept, and use of the word. If you are saying that thought, mind is consciousness, then I can accept that, but we are not talking about the same thing. We are attributing different meanings to different words. Maybe you use different words to describe what I am trying to describe?
From my starting position, consciousness is not dependent on the body and mind – in fact, quite the opposite. But I am also happy to use your concept of consciousness. Both are valid. These are not opposing views. We are merely using different concepts in different ways. In the sense that I am using it, consciousness cannot be transformed, because it is beyond time-space and causation. It is not an object. If we say that consciousness is its content (i.e. memory and thought) then we maybe call what I call consciousness “God”. I am happy to do that. Or we can call one ‘Consciousness with form’ and the other ‘Consciousness without form’ – as you wish. There is black and there is white. Without black there is no white, and vice versa. Without the relative there would be no absolute, without me there would be no you, and so on. But is there something beyond this? Or do we simply need to accept that there is existence and there is non-existence? Today we converse … and tomorrow we are not here. Today we read Rumi, Hui Neng, Buddha, Jesus … where are they now? Are they not merely concepts in our minds? Tomorrow … in ten thousand years, maybe someone will read our dialogue, and it will be relevant then, as it is now, but neither Ben nor Roy will be around anymore. Where have we gone? Who in fact are we? Or is what we take ourselves to be merely a wave arising in the great ocean of consciousness?

In all schools of traditional Buddhism and Vedanta precepts for moral and ethical conduct are the cornerstone on which the more advanced teachings are founded. In popular Advaita these basic teachings are often frowned upon. What is your view on this?

 

The precepts are there for good reason. The mind, the ego, is very adept at deluding itself into thinking it has grasped the ultimate truth, when in fact it has only grasped the basics of the philosophy. I would not suggest that everyone practice traditional spirituality as it has been laid down through the ages. It may be appropriate for some, but is not necessary for everyone. However, I have become aware of a number of people who consider that once it is realized that the ultimate nature of reality is non-dualistic, that there is then no need to question one’s behaviour or attitudes at all – that, basically, any kind of behaviour is acceptable, as there is no one there in ultimate terms. So, such people become unwilling to question their anger, their fear, their sexual behaviour maybe, or their offensive use of language. As all is One and as this ‘person’ here really doesn’t exist in ultimate terms, anything goes, according to this view. Whilst there may be a certain amount of philosophical truth in this view, in terms of helpfulness for daily life, I would say it is a way of burying the head in the sand, whilst at the same time claiming to be able to see beyond the stars. If there truly is ‘realization’, in the traditional sense, there is also transformation on every level. It doesn’t just affect one’s ideas and concepts. If there really is selfless awareness, then where is the room for selfish behaviour? The mind and emotions are automatically transformed by ‘realization’. Otherwise, it is a new meaning that is being attributed to the word ‘realization’, to suit a less demanding group of people. Realization, in the traditional sense, changes the centricity of the ‘person’ entirely. Yes, his behaviour may then be unpredictable, but how can it ever be ego-centric again? This is the difference. There is freedom to do anything (the new approach), and there is also freedom from the need to do anything (the old approach).

What is the nature of reality? Can it be experienced?

It may sound like an evasive answer, but I would say that the nature of reality cannot be accurately described. It can be experienced, but not by ‘you’ and not by ‘me’. When there is mindfulness, but no sense of me or you, there is a meeting with reality. It can be hinted at in poetry or art, but not directly, not by way of trying to pin it down, describe it or somehow grasp the meaning of it. It has no meaning, as we know it, and it is not fixed in such a way that any philosophy can accurately represent it in words. Anything that we say that reality is, is merely a concept, a poor representation. When we truly have been touched by reality, we will completely let go of trying to pin it down.

This interview can be found online at:  http://www.awakenedawareness.be/roy.html