Thursday, November 15, 2012

Talking About Nonduality

Is it helpful to talk about non-duality with others who share an interest in this subject?

Yes... and No.  Let me explain.

In the early stages of our investigation, we tend to talk a lot about non-duality and how we can realize our true nature.  We have lots of questions and want answers.  The mind is very engaged and believes it can learn this new thing called non-duality.

We may attend meetings with non-duality teachers where non-duality is discussed and questions posed by the attendees are answered.  This type of discussion is usually quite helpful if the teacher is self-realized.  In these instances, much more than words are communicated and you can feel it.

As for talks between students of non-duality, I think this is less helpful than most people think.  Such discussions are very active at the level of the mind.  After a discussion with friends (including those who are well versed in non-duality), we may think that we have gained momentary clarity on a particular issue.  However, it isn't long before the mind seeks answers to other questions, and may even re-visit the issue we thought had just been resolved.

I've found that eventually talking gives way to silence and contemplation.  I'm not saying that talking is the enemy or that we should never talk about non-duality.  I'm still drawn to talk about non-duality from time to time.  However, it is for the love of discussing the topic and NOT because I think the talking is going to explain anything new to me.

If you like to gather online or in person for non-duality discussion groups, go right ahead.  That is just what you need right now.  It can be a lot of fun, and there is great comfort in finding others who are interested in this subject.  As we all know, non-duality isn't exactly the most popular topic on the planet, and most people think you're crazy when you speak about your new view of reality.

For those whose goal is self-realization, I think the talking eventually slows down.  You will come to a point where the mind's questions no longer entice you.  You KNOW the mind can't provide you with answers.  Silence will be of more interest, and you may find yourself contemplating the nature of your own experience.

By the way, not everybody who attends meetings or becomes interested in non-duality is earnestly seeking self-realization.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  Some people enjoy being part of the community and discussing this subject. 

Follow your heart on this issue.  If self-realization is your goal, consider whether talking about non-duality is really helping you -- or if it is keeping you in an endless mind loop.  You'll find the balance of talking and silence that is right for you.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Reaching a Plateau

Self-inquiry.  Books.  Meetings.  Web videos.  Non-duality blogs. You've probably used these resources for years, and feel that you have made progress in understanding your true nature. 

I admit it's difficult to discuss self-realization in terms of "reaching" or making progress, since all of the teachings clearly tell us there is nothing to attain and no progress to be made.  We already are what we are seeking.  However, on the relative level, we've all had the feeling of making progress -- and most of us have also had the feeling that we are stuck on some kind of plateau, unable to access the higher understanding we wish to realize.

What is holding us back?  We understand it mentally.  We have allowed feelings to surface.  What is the stumbling block?

In many cases, I think it comes down to this:  We have not allowed ALL feelings to surface.  There are some we simply don't want to face.  The unwillingness to allow all feelings to be as they are will short-circuit your investigation.

At the outset, almost everyone who engages in non-dual investigation allows many feelings to be there -- and that includes feelings they would never have welcomed previously.  But few people allow this process to go all the way.  In other words, they reach a point where the feelings become very uncomfortable, and they resist sitting with those feelings.

In my experience, (and I have seen this with most others) in the early period of self-inquiry, many of the "standard" feelings start to arise.  These are the kinds of feelings (and beliefs) you recognized even before you learned anything about non-duality.  "I'm not good enough," "I'm not loveable,"  -- stuff like that.  However, as the investigation continues, deeper and deeper layers of feelings come to the surface.

With many of these, there is no specific reference point or explanation for these feelings.  You might feel scared, angry, depressed, jealous... and have no reason why such feelings are arising.  You can't point to something in your childhood or adult life that explains it.  These are raw emotions coming up, and they invite you to let them be welcome.

And that is when some people pull back.  And that is often when the investigation stalls at what seems like a plateau.

There is nothing wrong with pulling back.  You may not be ready to take those emotions full force right now.  When you're ready, you will allow them.  You won't know in advance how long the uncomfortable emotions will be there, or how strong they will be. 

I'm not suggesting that everyone has to go through a "dark night of the soul" with crippling emotions and anguish.  The severity of the emotions will vary in each case.  Don't compare yourself to anyone else. 

However, if you find yourself at a plateau and stalled in your inquiry, consider the fact that you may not  be allowing all of the emotions to surface.   You may be hoping that you can somehow bypass these feelings and come to self-realization without facing them. 

I think that any self-realized teacher will advise you that there are no shortcuts or bypasses that work. Sooner or later, these feelings have to be faced.  ALL of them.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Joy of Self-Inquiry

Much of what we read in non-duality books and blogs focuses on the challenges and uncomfortable aspects of self-inquiry.  We are warned about the confusion that will arise during our investigation.  We hear about the uncomfortable feelings (including intense fear) that will surface as we probe into the nature of our own being.

In other words, we hear a lot about the "dark" side of self-inquiry.  Without question, a good portion of what you find in this blog addresses the challenging nature of non-dual investigation. 

However, there's another side to self-inquiry -- and I'm referring to the exquisite peace, joy and love that one glimpses during self-inquiry.  No challenge and no discomfort can stop this yearning for peace, happiness, and love. 

What is there to say about the peace and joy that we feel as we begin to quiet our minds and catch a glimpse of our true nature?  We come to know a peace that is deeper than any we previously experienced. 

Our time sitting alone on a chair or couch becomes precious.  Sitting in the presence of a loved one, a friend, or even a stranger, can be filled with love and contentment, even if no words are exchanged.

We read passages in a non-duality book, or listen to a skilled teacher during a meeting, and our hearts melt as we get a taste of our true nature. 

We feel the lightness of being as our judgments slow down and we get some distance on our raging thoughts and opinions.  Our bodies begin to taste this lightness and peace, and significant physical changes in the body, a softening, often takes place -- although never as soon as we want!

There's no doubt that most people will have some dark, challenging moments during self-inquiry.  But the reason we are drawn to self-inquiry comes from grace.  It is love and peace calling us home.  We know at our core that love is the strongest force and is going to win.  And fortunately, we are given a taste and a glimpse of this peace and love throughout our investigation.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Dropout

Almost everyone who is drawn to self-inquiry, will find, at some point, that interest in certain things begins to fall away.  What was important before no longer seems important.

The job or career you invested so much in now brings less satisfaction.  There may be little motivation to continue to do the same kind of work.  You may find that material possessions have less significance than you once thought.  You may find that you no longer seem interested in spending time with friends who had been such a big part of your life for years.

It's as if you are shedding much of what seemed significant in your life. 

What also may happen is that you begin to see the insanity of the world's behavior.  You always knew there was an element of craziness to the world, but now you see it oh so clearly.  Such madness!  You say to yourself, "How can people think and act in such harmful ways?"

I think it's natural for those engaged in self-investigation to be somewhat disoriented or disturbed by what they see going on in this world.  Self-inquiry often leads to a heightened awareness of the dysfunctions of society.

However, some students of non-duality take it even further.  They become dropouts.  The lunacy of human behavior leads them to drop out of society.  In essence, they say, "This world is crazy and I just can't participate in it.  I no longer see things the way others do."

Consequently they withdraw and live as a dropout -- showing no interest in much of life.  It's a very passive stance and it isn't particularly pleasant living that way.  I've spent some time in this dropout position and know many others who have experienced it.

The dropouts tend to think they are advancing spiritually and hanging out in some type of holding pattern before enlightenment arrives.  Then they will be rescued by peace and happiness, and find relief from the lunacy of the world.

Of course, it's a trap, a trap of the imaginary ego.  The dropout is the ego taking up a spiritual position.  In one of Adyashanti's messages, I recall him saying that some seekers spend decades trapped in this position, withdrawing from life.

Who is this entity that wants to drop out of society?  Who is this one that is judging the crazy behavior of the so-called other people?

It is only the imaginary personal identity that could have such thoughts. Once this is clearly seen, the dropout position is weakened, and seen for what it is.  A phantom.

Simply investigate this dropout and it will disintegrate.  Clear seeing is all that is needed.