Friday, August 19, 2011

Chocolate Cake and the Spirit

Ask religious or spiritually inclined people if they believe in some essence called Spirit, and all of them will say YES.  Then ask them WHERE the spirit is located.

You're likely to get a bunch of blank stares as they ponder the question. 

WHERE is this essence called Spirit located?

The overwhelming majority of people believe that the Spirit is somehow located inside the skin line of the body.  They may explain that the spirit is not a material object, but they believe it is somehow hovering within the line of the skin and bones of each particular body.

Ask these same people where the Spirit goes upon the death of the physical body.  You'll get more blank stares.  They will be embarrassed to admit their belief that somehow the spirit jumps out of the body at death and enters some heavenly or eternal realm.  They believe the Spirit is eternal but haven't any reasonable explanation about how the Spirit "leaves" a human body and where it goes from there.

Is the Spirit located inside the body?  Does each person have their own Spirit? 

Isn't it amazing that we never investigate these crucial questions?  Is it possible that the Spirit is not located within the body?

Clearly, most people believe (and also FEEL) that the spirit is located inside their own body, whether they will admit this or not.

Let's assume there is a man named John who weighs 150 pounds.  John believes the spirit is somehow located within the skin line of his body.  Now, if John eats lots and lots of chocolate cake, and his body "grows" to 160 pounds, does his spirit EXPAND to fill out his "new" skin line?

Conversely, let's say John goes on a diet and eats only low calorie fruits and vegetables.  His body becomes smaller and he now weighs 140 pounds.  Did his spirit shrink to fit within the confines of his new slender body?

These examples are utterly ridiculous.  Yet hundred of millions, if not billions, of people have beliefs that correspond to the spirit being physically confined within the body line.

In addition, if you ask someone whether their own spirit extends beyond their own skin line, most will say NO.  Thus, John would most likely say that his own spirit is NOT located one foot outside the boundary line of his arm.  John will also say that his own spirit is not located in the body of his neighbor, Mary.  That's where HER spirit is located.

Do we have any proof at all that there are "individualized" spirits or that they are located within the skin line of each body?

When we are willing to investigate this issue, we are likely to conclude that spirit is not localized.  Many of our existing beliefs will have to be discarded, opening the way for a fruitful examination of our true nature.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Reaching for Blissful States

Most seekers equate enlightenment with feelings such as peace or happiness.  They believe that if they gain enlightenment, they will be peaceful or blissful all of the time.

All nonduality teachers are quick to point out that it is useless to try to reach any particular state.  What you are is not a state to be achieved and maintained.  All states come and go within YOU.

Peace comes.  Peace goes.
Happiness comes.  Happiness goes.
Anger comes.  Anger goes.

Put your attention on what is NOT coming and going.  Call it Awareness, Presence or whatever word you like.

In the early stages, and even in the intermediate stages of our investigation, we reach for blissful states.  We want to FIND peace or happiness, to somehow "connect" with it.  We think that nondual inquiry will bring us these states -- if not 24/7, then at least most of the time.

If you go to nonduality meetings you hear comments from participants such as these:

"I had this wonderful feeling of openness, joy and expansion....and then I lost it.  I can't seem to get it back, no matter what I do."

"I felt at ONE with everything.  I saw no boundaries and realized there was no separation.  It was pure love. Then I lost it and the separation returned.  I can't get back to that place."

This strategy of reaching for a state always fails.  The reaching is a trick of the mind, tempting us to search for something we think is NOT here now, but which can be obtained in the future. 

Whatever we ARE, we ARE right now.  Nowhere to go to "get it."  Whatever we "get" will eventually be lost.  We are focusing on the changing, instead of the changeless.

When you find that you are reaching for a blissful state, just STOP.  As you observe your tendency to reach for a state, you will start to get some distance from it.  You'll also be less likely to reach for these states in the future.  You'll drop the urge soon after it arises.

You will know that your investigation is maturing when you no longer reach for states, but allow whatever state is be as it is.