Question & Answer (5)

This is the last Q&A part (for the time being)…

What do you mean when you say “we are enlightened by nature”?
When there is fear we see the world through the veils of Maya, the great illusion of separateness. When fear is absent, the veil is lifted, and we see the (same) world through our Buddha-eyes as it really is. So, enlightenment is nothing that can be achieved. It is the falling away of fear.

How to untrap myself from the ego?
You see, the trap and what is trapped are basically one and the same thing. It’s called the self or ego. That’s why “we” can never untrap ourselves. To try to untrap ourselves is to trap ourselves by believing in a trap from which we can be untrapped. The only thing that will help, is to realize that the self, the trap, only “seems” to exist separately but in reality it is a hallucination. This undermines any urge to do or to not do anything to untrap ourselves and, voilá, we will realize that we were never trapped. It was all an illusion.

What is the Buddha’s method to gain enlightenment?
Buddhism is a dialectic process. That means, one does not need to believe in dogmatic statements or follow any rules. The method is a dialogue between student and teacher. The process starts with a departure point, usually a problem. Now, the master will try to make the student intuitively grasp that there is no solution to the problem, because it is illusory. There are several techniques to do that but all have one thing in common: that the student is encouraged to persist in trying to resolve the problem intellectually or experientially until (s)he knows by himself that it can’t be resolved because it never existed.

Is humanity crazy?
Humanity is not crazy but ignore-ant of its oneness with what is and, thus, irrationally fearful of itself and its environment. That’s why Western man seems to keep getting busier and busier. The more he tries to escapes what is, the busier he gets escaping. The faster he hurries, the slower he goes.

If nothing can be done to enlighten oneself, what is your teaching?
The teaching is to undermine the illusion of “something to get” because the urge to seek it is what keeps us in bondage.

Tantra or renunciation, which method is better?
Both methods work because neither renunciation nor indulgence will bring you peace. But if followed to their respective extremes, you may realize just that and consequently be free.

What’s the problem with self-consciousness?
Self-consciousness is a feedback mechanism. It is the self being conscious about itself. The idea of self and consciousness, experiencer and experience, is the foundation of duality. Duality means that there is an (apparent) entity and there is what this (apparent) entity experiences. The more self-conscious we are, the more we feel to be a separate entity “having” experiences. Any feedback loop works like an amplifier. In this case it amplifies our illusory separateness and thus our fears.
Alan Watts once said that being conscious of oneself is like hearing your own ears due to a Tinnitus. Any organ ceases to work smoothly when it gets in its own way. It then becomes the potential source of all kinds of problems and hang-ups.
If that example does not make sense, think of a situation when you just seemed to “flow” with life, even if it was just for a short time, when there was no “you” being conscious about yourself. There was no duality, just what is, moment by moment, a sort of oneness of experience and experiencer. Or in the words of Zen-master Dogen: “to forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things”.
From what has been said it could be argued that the development of self-consciousness marks the “fall of man” as portrayed in the bible (knowledge of good and evil, introduction of shame, etc.). Does that mean, though, that we should strive to perpetually go with the “Truth” of “flow” experiences and “forget” about ourselves? Even if we could (which I doubt), my answer is no. Just as self-consciousness is the source of suffering, it is also the source of great joy, gratitude and appreciation for life. How would you know that you are happy, if you ceased to be self-conscious? Could you be grateful for life if you ceased to know you existed? To wholeheartedly stay with one leg in the “dream”-world of separateness is what makes life worth living. This is the teaching of the middle way. Separateness is samsara is nirvana. If we dropped out of the “dream” completely, we would cease to have a genuine human experience. That’s hardly what we want. Wouldn’t you agree?

Many Yogi’s are saying we should stop thinking. You say we shouldn’t mind our thinking…
When the Yogi’s refer to thinking they mean the conceptual, evaluative, judgmental function of the mind under the spell of Maya (the illusion of separation invoking fear). This sort of thinking is the source of the duality of “right” vs. “wrong”, “me” and “other”. By realizing non-duality, this comes to a halt, and there is no more minding of anything, not even our “ordinary” thinking.
Often the Yogi’s are misunderstood, though. We think they suggest to stop thinking altogether. That would be like trying to stop our blood from flowing; it can’t be done and it mustn’t be done.

“The goodie-goodies are the thieves of virtue”. What’s that supposed to mean?
The quote is from Confucius. It means that prescribed virtue is never genuine virtue. It is a form of hypocrisy which leads to inner conflict if not acknowledged. It also often brings about a “must-save-the-world”-attitude in people as the inner conflict is projected onto the outside world.
History tells us that “righteous” wars are always the longest and most brutal one’s (think of religious wars, or ideological wars like WW1 and WW2, etc). If one fights for the “good” it is easier to mobilize people and justify the means of war. The road to hell is indeed often paved with good intentions.

Is money “bad”?
Money is stored energy. You do something and as a compensation for the efforts you get this thing called money that can be exchanged for other people’s efforts.
Money is not something that can be experienced. You cannot touch, smell, see, taste or hear it. You can only see a number on a screen or a sheet of paper or cloth representing money. Money is not real, it is a symbol.
Symbols have the power to impoverish peoples lives. Symbols are lifeless, have no “soul” (because they have no experiential value). Thus, if we worship a symbol, turn it into our “God”, we, ourselves turn into lifeless zombies.
Wealth is appreciating what money can be exchanged for. If we don’t trade money for experiences, we have no wealth. To worship the symbol is to miss what it stands for (that’s what Buddha meant when he said that “the finger pointing to the moon is not the moon”). Money stands for wealth and wealth is (the experience of) being alive. So, money is not bad per se. But it is often mistaken for what it is not: a source of life in itself.

Ok, I am not doing anything anymore. I stopped seeking. Why am I not enlightened?
You still want to get it by trying to not get it. You are still seeking. Seeking means expecting results for your actions. You are deceiving yourself.

I am a mess. Will enlightenment settle things for me?
So, you’ve found out you’re a mess. Congratulations! You’ve already come a long way. Now, there’s an important last step to make. Ask yourself: what’s the problem with being a mess? Is there really a problem with being a mess or could it be that you only think it is a problem? Who says what is normal and what is messy? Have you ever seen a messy arrangement in nature? Or is nature beautiful exactly because it is not orderly and not all similar? You see “enlightenment” is not getting anywhere else or being anyone else than where and what you already are. There is nothing to be gotten out of it but the abandonment of our illusions.

How does non-objection and activism go together? They seem contradictory…
Non-objection is not becoming irresponsible or stop caring about the world. Non-objection is an internal alignment with what “is”. This alignment bestows peace. From this place of peace, activism is actually much more effective because it comes from the heart as opposed to from the mind. What does that mean? Activism which tries to change the world is usually ideological and, thus, from the mind. It purports ideas which are supposed to make the world a “better” place to live. But all ideologies create winners and losers, just as there is no action which is purely “good” or purely “bad”, ever. Activism from the heart is concerned with action to alleviate suffering of those who can’t handle it (anymore). It is not concerned with ideas on how to make suffering go away altogether. That’s a subtle but very important difference. If you want to make suffering go away, you are trying to do the impossible, to find a way of “winning” without “losing”. Thus, you keep yourself and all your followers in the wheel of samsara, the endless struggle to always stay up without ever going down.

Which level is real: the relative (personal) or the absolute (impersonal)?
There are no two levels of reality! This separation never took place other than in our minds. The only reality is “this” that you are now experiencing. What you can think of is conceptual and never real. That’s the whole teaching of non-duality in a nutshell.

What do you mean by “unknowing”?
Imagine you knew you were so intimately and seamlessly connected with the universe that you were in fact no different from it. And imagine you knew that the universe is the totality of all there is (without exception). How could you know anything about the fundamental nature of the world for certain? That which is everything cannot be identified, classified, observed, measured, etc, because there is no other, outside this totality, who could perform these tasks on it. It is the primordial and eternal (non-dual) subject-object. So, it completely defies logical analysis.
The universe as a whole will forever be ungraspable, just like the eye can’t see the eye. Whatever is said about it is speculation. What is it? Where does it come from? Where does it go? Does it have a purpose? Since we are the universe, there is nothing we definitively know about ourselves (our Selves!) either. This is the final frontier, the end of knowledge (“veda” = knowledge; “anta” = end) short-circuiting all seeking.

Your teaching implies an autonomous “I”. But there is no “I” who is doing anything!
What do you mean there is no I? IT is I, and I am IT. That’s why we talk of “non-duality”: no difference between I and other. To say there is no “I” would suggest there is only “other”. Everything is “other” is only one side of the coin of “Truth”. The other side is everything is “I”.
To realize that the “I” is not as real as we used to think is a good starting point, though. The great sage Ramana Maharshi outlined a three-step approach to non-dual realization:
The world is unreal (~the “I” is unreal)
Only Brahman is real (~awakening to the Absolute)
The world is Brahman (~the “I” and the Absolute are one and the same)
All seekers get stuck at level 1 and level 2 for some time. First we need to leave the relative level of reality to be open to awaken to its opposite, the absolute level. Finally, the journey after awakening takes us to consolidate these polar concepts. Non-dual realization is to know that these levels are not different. Never have, never will be. They are one and the same, because there is nothing apart from the totality of “this” reality. Separation never took place other than in our minds. Even to speak of “non-duality” is delusional because there never was a “real” duality ever! Wake up!
By the way, the “there is nobody home” and the “nobody is doing anything” kind of talk is sometimes called the “Lucknow disease” (named after the place in India where modern advaita “guru” Papaji used to teach) or the “advaita shuffle” (jumping to the absolute level at odd times).

What’s your opinion on “direct pointing” exercises? Do you think they are futile?
The direct pointing approach tries to facilitate the intuitive experience of a very simple point: there is no individual person separate from the stream of consciousness. The sense of personality is a function of consciousness just as hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, seeing, feeling and thinking is. At the same time the approach tries to clarify who “you” actually are. The “real” you is something which can’t be experienced or pinned down for the same reason the eye can’t see itself: the source of measurement can never measure itself (in the absence of a reflecting device like a mirror that feeds the measurement back to its source). The fact that there is measurement, that there is seeing, implies a measuring source, an eye. So, the “real” you can never be experienced (or known) because it is that which makes experiencing possible. But the fact that there is experience implies that a “real” you (whatever it is) exists. So, all you can ever know is that you exist because you exist. I am that I am. Full stop.
All “pointing” then ultimately points to this: you are fundamentally that unknown thing which enables/ activates/ vitalizes everything. The social role you are playing in the game of life is not you, it is a mask (that by biological default cannot be removed but only glimpsed through occasionally). This insight is what “individuation” (as understood by C.G. Jung) is all about: you are not your social role, your mask, so don’t take it so damned seriously. An individuated person takes himself lightly and thus has an elevated sense of being. Or as D.T. Suzuki said “Satori is like an everyday experience, only two inches above the ground”.
Now, whether the pointing approach actually works or not, I have my doubts. As you try to realize the absence of a “you”, all you accomplish is a strengthening of the sense of you. Have you ever managed to relax by willingly trying to relax? All your trying will ever do is to prevent relaxation from happening by itself. You are getting in your own way. Thus, in my experience finding the trust to give up control is key to realization, not intellectual exercises in finding nobody (which in a way, though, could be seen as a method to get into your own way so consistently that you eventually give up and finally let “you” go).

What is your take on quantum mechanics, matrix, evolution of consciousness, etc.?
If you like to play around with these things, go ahead, entertain yourself. They won’t get you any peace, though. I am always amazed by all these complicated new-age theories. The “Truth” is so simple and yet everybody comes up with so much complicated stuff about it. Instead of reading about these things or watch endless Youtube videos, go out for a walk. It’s all always there in front of us. There is nothing “hidden”. Fact is that we can’t acknowledge reality as it is, as long as our selves feel threatened by it. You see, seeking “more” or “different”, is always an expression of fear, of not “good/ safe enough yet”.
Even if they claim otherwise, new-age theories are based on ignoring the unity of all things. What’s there to improve, develop, enhance, practice, etc. if we knew that we were that which is everything, which by definition is immaculate (because it has no opposite)? The benefit of traditional spiritual practice (like meditation) is that once we shut up for a while, be on our own and make our fears conscious, these new-age theories become completely obsolete. I guarantee you that if you actually had the guts to sit on your own for a few weeks or months, you would come to the same conclusion, that new-age is seeking for the sake of avoiding. Why eat candy when you can get a good meal?

What’s your message in a nutshell?
All is well, but our fears and insecurities suggest otherwise. The way to deal with our fears and insecurities is to look at them and to realize that a) they are ok, and eventually, b) they are based on an illusion.

Any last words?
Once you know you are god incarnate, you can relax and finally allow yourself to be a genuine human being. And once you allow yourself to be a genuine human being, you stop struggling to become a god.

End of Question & Answer



8 Comments on “Question & Answer (5)”

  1. Daniel – I want to run a somewhat long question by you – one that I sent to Mooji but haven’t gotten a reply for yet 😉

    As you may remember from our prior interactions – I used to think that I needed to experience inquiry to become more “aware” of the unchanging awareness. But soon, I realized that this was a trap. Something in me really enjoyed inquiry — because it felt good to feel the sense of my self fall away into emptiness – but I saw that I was becoming attached to the peace “I” experienced during inquiry. So I tried to let go of everything – inquiry, spiritual books, Youtube videos .. But I think I tried to let go of inquiry too soon and I realized that when it is time to let go, then “I” won’t feel like I am letting go, and whatever illusions that remain will simply fall away, without a sense of me being able to credit for it.

    What I came to see – and what I want to check with you – is that the unchanging awareness is only presumed to be the background – but it cannot be continually experienced as such, because the “One-Who-Has-Experiences” is not continual. Very often, things are just happening, but there is no sense of registering what is happening, not even registering Awareness. Sometimes the Background Awareness is recognized, but often it is not noticed. And it seems not to matter if it is noticed or not, even though “I” feel better when it is noticed – ultimately I must let go of the attachment to feeling good. Right?

    But what is so strange about this, is that before I began to consciously “awaken” – I had been living in an unconscious state, totally identified with my ego, but also unaware of what was going on in life. I didn’t know anything about Pure Awareness. And while being identified with the ego caused great suffering, it seems that my “not knowing” anything about awareness is the state I’m trying to go back to now. The state of just allowing things to be and not attempting to “know” Awareness.

    So my question is – am I right that I should forget even about Pure Awareness? Does it matter if the Pure Awareness is acknowledged or not? Should I just know that “I” am That — even when the sense-of-myself “forgets” who It really is? Should I simply accept by faith that no matter the state of my consciousness, I am always That and forget about trying to make life feel a certain way (for example: peaceful, clear, enlightened)?

    • Thank you for the question my dear.

      My 50cts:
      It’s not been long since this question used to bug me a lot. I remember having once come across the following quote from Adyashanti:

      “There’s a point when you intuitively realize that to be free you have to give up your attachment to freedom. You have to quit asking yourself: Is it still there? Am I okay? You have to decide to never look over your shoulder again to see if you’re free or if others know you’re free. You just have to let yourself burn there – no matter what. This isn’t something I can help you with.”

      I thought “wow, this sounds very liberating but isn’t that falling back to where I came from?” I didn’t like that place so the quote kept puzzling me. First we practice and realize and then we somehow forget about it? How should that make sense? Well, it became clear to me later. This is how it makes sense to me now:

      The unconscious place we come from is a place of unconscious fears and resistance (“ego”) to certain aspects of life. They are the reason for our suffering. Now spiritual practices make us turn inside and help uncovering these fears. This can be painful in the beginning and we may think our lives actually got worse since we had embarked on the journey. It’s usually a confusing time because we were confused about the spiritual path. We signed up for bliss and for escaping from our suffering, not knowing that to get there we have to face our fears first. To transcend our fears we need to find a way to a) not mind them to let them surge into consciousness and b) realize that they are grounded on an illusory duality of good vs. bad. Inquiry, meditation (or what have you) can do this job. They not only provide a way to not mind fears but also to see that life is the whole works: good and bad (“all is One” / “not-two”). The message of awakening experiences are thus always similar: “it’s all good in the hood”, that is, all is well including the “negative” side of it all. The totality is perfect as it is. The journey into wholeness is to accept the whole (and thus ourselves!) completely. That’s deeply healing because it eradicates our fears and thus our resistances. Now until the message has been truly understood and integrated, we usually seek to go back into it over and over again. But isn’t the message of non-duality not exactly that the “usual” mind-states and experiences are also part of the whole? Nothing can possibly be apart from the whole, can’t it? So as we burn our dualism of “this I want, this I don’t” (aka “I got it, I lost it”) by more and more deeply understanding the message, we settle into the peace of flowing with whatever is (even the “I lost it” part). Once we don’t resist and fight any experience anymore, we are healed. So, this process does not lead to going back to the place of unconscious fears but to a place of freedom from fear and resistance. As long as you feel you need to hear the message again, please go ahead. It will burn whatever resistance is left to burn until you don’t feel the urge to seek for any particular experience anymore.
      The fact is, though, that as long as you seek to get anywhere, you have not yet digested the message, that is, you are not yet accepting it all because you still reject certain aspects of the universe. What these aspects are, nobody knows. But they will become clear on the way and as you can embrace them as “w-holy” you’ll have less and less drive for seeking and more and more peace. I think there is nothing that you can do to accelerate the proces but to allow it to happen and give it room to unfold. It will take as much time as it takes.
      So I guess what Moji will come back with is something along the lines of “keep inquiring”. Not to trap you into it, but to burn your residual resistance to whatever is.

      • Daniel, from what you’re saying, it seems that even seeking to stop seeking is a trap, right?

        And can you tell me more about what it’s like to not resist unpleasant experiences? In detail? Because I notice that no matter what I do, I always experience initial resistance to unpleasant experiences. Even though I “know” that such resistance is counter productive .. It’s there. And I think it’s basic psychology of any sentient organism – every living thing seeks to feel good and to avoid those things that feel bad. But you and others who have realized seem to speak from a place where resistance to”negative”/”bad” things isn’t experienced? I want to know more about what it’s like to actually live like that.. Or is it that even resistance is allowed?

        Also, to be clear.. I didn’t mean to suggest that I imagined going back to living in unconscious fears.. So much as going back to a state of just sort of not being aware of awareness ;). Just as you said – the whole idea of sort of “forgetting about it” .. I think you’ve understood me, me i just wanted to clarify. I’m encouraged that this kind of question puzzled you not so long ago.. I would say that you give me hope and that I’m trying to get to where you are, but I know that’s a trap 😦

        ps – warm thanks for the quick reply.. Mooji may never get back to me 🙂 also – how does a Swiss guy know about “it’s all good in the hood”? That made me smile 😉 you’re awesome.

      • Thank you!

        Well, I used to listen to hip-hop/ rap music when I was younger and somehow I must have picked up the line 😉

        All I can say is that I do experience unpleasant experiences but don’t mind them that much.

        Initially, yes, I may resist as a habit. But very quickly I can let go of it. That doesn’t happen willingly. I don’t do anything to let go of the resistance. It just happens as I know that it’s ok to feel like that.

        I think of it as a feedback cycle:
        unpleasant experience resistance
        They feed on each other. The resistance makes the experience “heavy” and that’s where the suffering comes from. The experience itself is just an experience. Our frontal lobe creates the suffering.
        Now, to get out of the cycle a “yes” to the unpleasant experience is required. Resistance feeds on a “no”. A “yes” short-circuits the feedback loop and we are left with the bare experience and without the suffering. The unpleasant experience will run its course and leave.
        Suffering about the pain is optional. Not minding the experience eliminates suffering.

        Inquiry, silent witness, meditation etc are effective ways to not resist. And as long as it is not entirely integrated into our bones that resistance always fails to better the situation, we may resort to these techniques. For me, I don’t use these techniques anymore. I somehow gave up resisting along the way as I made friends with the unpleasant side of existence/ life.

        Obviously, as we realize more and more that the light and the dark are both necessary parts of the totality as it is, we will run into less and less unpleasant experiences as they are not triggered as easily anymore. All fears are ultimately ungrounded in reality, and as they are burnt, less and less unpleasant experiences arise. On the other hand, the interesting thing about being human is to take risks and gamble a bit with life. Eradicating all fears may ultimately take away the adventurous aspects of life. So, for me, I decided that I want to live like a human being. And since I think I can handle fears and unpleasant experiences, I want some desire and fear, attachment and grasping to stick around for the time being. I don’t think it is in my hands, though. And I feel that I am slipping more and more into losing them. I guess that this is also what age does to people if their psyche moves along with it and does not get stuck…

  2. I think the most helpful thing in what you wrote was that you don’t do anything to let go of the resistance – it just happens on its own.. and also that some resistance may come up out of habit.. that’s great to know. Very helpful..

  3. Oh one other thing – your comment made me wonder.. what’s worse – being stuck in a nightmare but not knowing it’s a nightmare, or waking up inside the dream, and wanting to get out of it, but knowing that there’s no way out until it’s over? When I was a child, I used to have these terrible episodes where I would mentally wake up before my body – so I would be paralyzed – and sometimes I couldn’t breathe. The worse thing was fighting against it, because I would panic and feel like I was dying. My spiritual experience is kind of akin to that. The only way out is to relax and let it ride its course, but it’s kind of awful knowing that you’re stuck.

    • I had a similar episode once, when I woke up before my body. It was very interesting. For a split-second I thought I was dead and relaxed very deeply…
      Anyway, I’d much rather have a dream and know its a dream. This is sort of how I feel. All this, life, is not serious. It’s a show, but a great one. And yes, there is no way out. We are stuck in a human body-mind. So, we either play along and have a good chance to enjoy the ride or we resist and get dragged along. Whenever we want to get out (which is the same as feeling awfully stuck) we fall into the latter category (see my blog post on depression). Our resistance to certain aspects of life is exactly that: the wish to escape or get away from. So what spiritual practice tries, is to change: “I want to get out” to “I want to go more in!”.
      Life is what happens in the dream. Everybody plays a social role. But the realized people know it is a mask of the Absolute, so they can take their role lightly and have a ball playing along (“genuine fake”). Who has more fun playing his part on stage, the actor who knows it’s for fun, or the actor who is completely identified with the role? I’d much rather know I am just playing my role on stage (“have a dream and know it”)…

  4. […] as Truthless Truth so aptly put it: “The message of awakening experiences are thus always similar: ‘It’s […]

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