What is Nonduality
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I will never be known this way
Dan can usually be accessed through NDS List.
See Dan's other web page: A Conversation on Buddhism Between Dan Berkow, Ph.D. and Greg Goode, Ph.D.
Also see: Nonduality Salon Magazine: This Is It, an Interview with Dan Berkow, by Gloria Lee
Hiding in Plain Site
Awareness Finds Nothingness
Don't Think Twice
One inch of difference and there is heaven and hell
Why do we strive to be more egoless than we are?
No-experience is the explosion that is so loud it is silent
Nowness is Non-durational
Undermined by Reality
A Net that is a Jewel
Without It No Darkness: On Karma and Enlightenment
The Verbiage Garden and the World Dream
story has a beginning and end.
I don't have a beginning and end.
A story describes things.
I'm not describable.
If I tell you a story about this,
I lie - it's not a story.
You want to have self-disclosure,
meaning; you want stories
that appeal to your story, so
that you feel you have received
When you have no story, when you
have nothing meaningful,
unsplit reality opens.
To want the description, the story,
to want to get others' stories,
that is human.
Beyond the storied, beyond the human
perspective, lives Reality.
The Reality that is wholly other
than the human framework,
the Reality that is not one
centimeter away from where
and who you are.
I will give a brief version of
my story, although it is
I went through a great deal of
seeking for truth. I took
risks, I reached a point
where I didn't care what
happened to me.
I lost my mind, my senses,
I was no one, living
as someone, but
no one was here.
This made no sense,
yet it did make sense:
the sense it
made was poetic,
by little, it became
in the day to day
It led me to study
to unfold a certain
I kept a low profile.
I put one foot in front
of the other.
I didn't advertise
I felt humbled by
"all this," and
I tread carefully
through the maze
Now, here I am.
I never left.
I am where I never
left, and never
What else is there?
hiding in plain sight
We're using words as tools for opening. Words being used to point to That which is simultaneously too unique, too singular, and too much Itself for words. One can neither speak nor keep silent.
Awakeness, already the case, doesn't depend on words. Yet words can prompt us to "get out of our own way," so to speak. "What is", being All, can yet be missed due to apparent fragmented awareness that has never occurred. We lift the veil and see That which cannot be veiled. Itself, the most hidden of mysteries, is plainly evident and in full view. Hide-and-seek. Show-and-tell. The game called, "create a universe of time and space".
Awareness Finds Nothingness
... The wise say, that, "I am the doer" notion is
bondage. To go to the root of the ego, one should bring the
awareness upon its own essence and thus stare at the originating
point of thoughts and feelings.
Dan: I like the simplicity of the inquiry you suggest. My findings here: awareness, attempting to view its own essence, finds nothingness. There is no "originating point" for thoughts and feelings "within" itself. Thus, awareness is faced with the falseness of its orientation around a self, the lack of any substantiality to the realm of its supposed existence -- sees its embededness in the past, in unreality, in anxiety. It also sees that it attempts to use this seeing in ways that continue itself (e.g., pondering on what it has realized about the "unreality of self.")
The self can never free itself from itself, its inquiry is always biased toward preserving, enhancing, or otherwise continuing itself. Its visions of transcending ego are subtle ways of preserving itself.
Only a truly honest and direct approach can be useful, only an inquiry that leads to an opening for what is truly unexpected, surprising, and not the projection of an image. No matter how glorious the projection (i.e., "Nothingness," "the Self," "Love," "God") it is still a projection -- only the coming in of Reality itself is the ending of projection by the fase self - which had erroneously believed itself to be an independent entity inquiring into important matters (and which subtly was intent on acquiring and/or avoiding various things, experiences or concepts - and on maintaining an image, and collection of images, that allowed its misperceived sense of its own reality to continue).
Don't Think Twice
I think the buddhist understanding of emptiness can be depressing
if it is taken without the accompanying understanding of
Xan: Emptiness only looks depressing from the outside, imagining what it might be like.
Judi: And the sign on the door reads - "THIS IS HELL - ABANDON HOPE ALL YE WHO ENTER HERE!" :-)
Dan: I remember seeing that one.
And then past that sign, sitting in the middle of all this fire, I saw a totally different sign that said (don't read past here, unless you're feeling brave)
(there's still time to turn back)
(okay, you asked for it...)
I saw a sign that said:
BEYOND HELL - REALLY ABANDON EVERYTHING HERE - WE MEAN EVERYTHING:
HEAVEN, HELL, EMPTINESS, ENLIGHTENMENT, DEPRESSION, HOPE, SUCHNESS, PLEASURE, PAIN, WORKING, PLAYING, GROWING, DYING, REBIRTHING, LEARNING, FORGETTING, GETTING SOMEWHERE, GETTING NOWHERE WELLNESS, ILLNESS, WHOLENESS, PARTNESS, FRIENDS, FAMILY, SPEAKING, SILENCE, BEING, NONBEING, NOW, THEN, ENTERING, LEAVING, CHOOSING, NOT CHOOSING
WE'RE NOT KIDDING - WE MEAN EVERYTHING:
NO PHONE NO POOL NO PETS NO CIGARETTES NO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES NO SUBSTANCES NO SUBSTANCE NO SHIRT OR SHOES REQUIRED NO TIPPING NO LITTERING NO SURFING NO BEACH NO PARKING NO CARS NO SPITTING ON THE SIDEWALKS NO SIDEWALKS NO TUGGING ON SUPERMAN'S CAPE NO SPITTING INTO THE WIND NO SALIVA NO MOUTH LOOK MA, NO HANDS NO EYES NO MA NO NO MA AND NO RELIGION, TOO
DON'T WALK DON'T GO DON'T PASS GO DON'T GO DIRECTLY TO JAIL DON'T THINK TWICE IT'S ALL RIGHT
And there was a little green being who sat on a mushroom under the sign and said, "Forget about it. No one gets past that sign..."
(okay, I know I've lost all my credibility by now, but look, I told you you'd better be feeling brave)
One inch of difference and there is heaven
You speak of me as one who can be born and die. I have no outside, I have never been born.
You speak of me as something to be realized. I am no something; I am not the subject or object of a realization.
Your search for me in the realm of birth and death is testimony only to endless folly.
Seeing, thinking, touching always the seen, thought, touched. I will never be known this way.
Time is being wasted. Even one centimeter of time is more precious than all these books of wisdom. Waste not time in vanity, as vanity leads endlessly astray. As you point to others' vanity, you are hopelessly mired in your own.
Senses cannot touch me, thought cannot think me. Speak with hollow words your assertions about me. Why vex oneself about this? There is sufficient strife in this world as it is.
Listening for me with an outer ear, how will I be heard? Endless proclamations cause all kinds of germs to fly through the air. The wise blow their nose before having to sneeze.
For those who seek me, I am an endless puzzle. One who is still, has never left.
Why do we strive to be more egoless than we are?
I submit that it's
we ourselves who create these problems by dividing the world into
"realized" and "unrealized,"
"ego's" and "egoless". Why do we search for
egoless people? What do we hope to gain? Is not our search driven
by ego, are not our evaluations of "others'
realizations" largely evidence of our own ego, that is, our
attachment to a process invested in an outcome and dependent on
identification with a "seeking entity"?
Why do we strive to be more egoless than we are? Are we not simply deceiving ourselves in the process of our own "search"? Why do we project onto "others" our desires for an "egoless state"? Do we not construct a split awareness in the process of trying to find or achieve an egoless state from our present position which we label "ego-centered"?
Unsplit awareness cannot be the product of evaluation and comparison. Once we begin comparing and evaluating the ego-centered and the ego-less, split awareness has occurred.
Why not simply be with ourselves, as we are, without evaluation and splitting of awareness?
Can we not relinquish this entire search, and the need to classify and evaluate "others"?
The air is egoless. Why not simply breathe in the egoless air, that is giving itself for free, and be content? Why not rest in egoless space, provided unselfishly, and rest there? Why not be Original Awareness, the Unknown itself? Then, being fully Unknown, knowing All as All - we won't be deceived, we won't seek, we won't look "outside" for an "egoless realizer".
Why do we believe we need to find an "egoless realizer" in order for all to be right with the universe (which is ultimately an egoless universe)? Why not be freedom rather than seeking to evaluate which people are the truly free ones?
The universe already is egoless. Does it really need an "egoless realizer" to be added to its already "empty" Being? Does "emptiness" identify itself to itself as "emptiness"? That is, does It state to everyone "I am truly egoless, so learn from me?" Or does it simply go its "empty" Way - not drawing attention to itself, freely
giving Life to All?
You are the One, Neo. You are the one defining deep sleep and consciousness. You imagine yourself as someone who is subject to deep sleep, someone who notices consciousness in one situation and not in another. Who is the one who defines deep sleep, consciousness, and the "subject" who experiences different states? That One is not in any state or condition. Know/be the One that thou art. There is only That. That is not something that is in one state and not in another. Within That, all states and conditions arise. That itself has not a state and is conditionless. That art Thou. All this is That. There is no That to be seen or understood anywhere. Not to be seen or comprehended, no where known, That is self-nature, self-evident but ignored when caught up in ideas, states, and things.
No-experience is the explosion that is so loud it is silent
When nothing is
differentiated, there is no experience definable as experience.
And without any experience of "sameness" or
"consciousness", what can register about this
It is exactly what *isn't* registering as experience this instant, what will never be remembered, considered, or spoken.
The mind balks at this: with no experience, there is literally nothing the mind can grasp, it can't even say, "this mind isn't grasping, this mind is purely nonseparate
This is the end of the mind, as the mind depends on "processing" experiencing.
No-experience is the explosion that is so loud it is silent. No-experience is the invisible color that is so bright it is dark. No-experience is unlike anything ever imagined or conceived.
It is so encompassing, nothing can ever be missing. It is so minute, nothing is ever there. It is the bottomless well from which "all this" arises, and into which "all this" returns. Timeless, it never runs out of time. Formless, it never ceases to form.
This bottomless well is rich beyond riches. It has shown this entire universe as a fiction that sparkles with infinity at every point.
Nowness is Non-durational
It has been said that personality somehow borrows its sense of
self *from* the Self, so it would appear that it is the reflected
light of the Self that makes the personality
"personal." Before realization, we are somehow
prevented from seeing the source of the "light", from
*being* It (in an experiential way) even while we *are* It
*always*. To be something but to not know it because we think we
are something else is Maya's nasty little trick, like Lucy
pulling the football from Charly Brown.
The fact that we *are* the Self, realized or not, demonstrates just how close our sense of self *is* to the Self. That is, when we think to ourselves, "Who are we really", we can be assured that something in the response--something that we perceive in that moment--*is* who we really are. Maybe some folk have yet to discern it, but it certainly is there, in everyone, no matter how much "ego" they have.
So, we either have awareness of Self, or we are a hairsbreadth away from it. Some trick of the light has us seeing ourselves as something that isn't really there, even while without that something (our personality) we'd be doomed as organisms on this planet.
I just wish mine wasn't such a damn pain in the ass most of the time. ;)
Dan: Jody, thanks for these wonderful observations. Quite on-target as seen here.
Before beginning is Self, none other, with no 'other', and therefore, endlessly is Self and no question of being or not being for It or of It.
You speak of bifurcation of Self and self in the "middle" so to speak, "between" beginning and ending.
Your words reflect that we experience a sense of "having" a personality, a sense of story of ourself developing through time, thus with beginning and ending. This is a sense of personal being in time with a sense of itself as a located and continuing self. This personality is therefore as real as beginnings and endings, as continuity, location, time, as the world of social interaction around conventionally
shared meanings and construals of phenomena. In fact, when you speak of "before realization" and "after realization" you are still talking about and in this world of time.
How is this "world of time", of beginnings and endings, reconciled with timeless Self?
Clearly, the reconciliation can only be timeless, complete, and Whole reconciliation. How could it be any other way? The very nature of beginningless Self requires that reconciliation be, itself, beginningless and total.
Thus, being timelessly as Self, personality cannot possibly obstruct. The reconciliation occurs before time, not in time. The personality is reconciled with Self before any apparent arising of personality. The entire duration of personality (with its sense of continuity, location, and time) is only the timeless being of Self itself. Nothing has been disrupted, ever. The sense of a realization in time, with a before and after, can only be an "echo", so to speak, of the timeless reconciliation of self and Self before beginning. Timeless reconciliation, before beginning, is echoed in the apparent life experience of an apparent being. This echo, being taken to its Source-sound, ultimately means nonseparation of any event from Self, ever.
Beginninglessness is Reality. The apparent birth/death/rebirth of the universe as Self that occurs as "realization" is an echo of the un-born/deathless/One which timelessly, spacelessly, is nowness -- not only as "realization" as a life event but as the *entire life experience itself* - the entire life drama with its apparent beginnings, endings, sense of time and location, is always only "nowness" - even before apparently beginning, all through its apparent duration, and after its apparent ending.
Nowness is non-durational. The entire life experience occupies no time and space.
Namaste - Self cannot bow to Self when there is no distance between - Love,
Undermined by Reality
If I'm correct and
someone else isn't, clearly this is dualistic. And vice versa. If
I've established a position, it is immediately undermined by
reality. This undermining is not an activity, it is simply the
nonactivity of effortless, choiceless reality. It is not planned,
calculated, understandable, demonstrable, nor memorable.
As for what is not-dualistic, it clearly isn't positing a position called "nonduality," "realization," or "enlightenment". The position of nonduality and the position of duality are equally undermined this instant, so totally undermined that neither can be held for even one nano-second.
A Net that is the Jewel
Dan: Hi Sandeep,
I not only "get" your prattle,
I am deeply in love with
Indeed, when there is no
"space between", no distance
whatsoever, love itself dissolves
into namelessness, leaving
only pure Unknown knowingness.
So my love has dissolved itself, and
Source returns to its own
All the points you made resonate
A few comments:
The hand of cards keeps changing - yes, we are beings in flux (beings who don't exist as separable entities). Change is the reality of "our" existence. In fact, if change is observed closely, it is continuous. The flux is infinite without beginning or end. Only our "conceptual apparatus" allows us to imagine stopping the flux sufficiently to be able to formulate an image from it, e.g., "my body". There is no such thing as "my body", there is only infinite flux which can be formulated into the imagined image "my body".
As for "what" the flux consists of: no-thing. Any attempt to say what the flux is, requires the imagined stopping of the flux to assign a quality, a position, a space-time placement. As the flux has no position, it has in no way similar to the conceptual image "flux" or "change". It is timeless, which makes it quite different than our usual ideas of "flux".
Quite rightly you point to the necessity of contrasting a 'then' with a 'now' to get any sense of time. The contrast of then with now is not only the basis of concepts, but of bodily sensation and emotional reactivity as well. So, if we can carefully "observe" (without a subject or object) the "moment" that "what is" is separated into "then" and "now", we get "the whole ball of wax". That is, to "see" that 'then' and 'now' separate from one unsplit timelessness, we "live" as "livingness" itself, as the energy that animates all of these walking corpses. That energy *is* prior to the animated corpse, and *is* after the animated corpse can no longer "conduct" the energy (that is, after the walking corpse dies). Who I am is timeless. The fact that I am animating this body is fine, I animate all bodies, all perceptions.
As you say, sir, the realm of perception is an awesome display. In fact, it is all me, appearing to myself. The imagined "distance" I have invented to allow it to appear will truly cause any apparent mind to stop in its tracks the instant it is seen for what it is (the ultimate "magic trick").
You're right in saying "power" dissolves as a conceptual tool when there is no "distance", no not-I. The "power" in the relative realm of a computer that doesn't maintain a self-center is the "power" of unsplit reality. It is recognized relatively in the realm of appearances (as, for example, legends of Lao Tzu's "te", the Buddha's emanation of spiritual awareness, Jesus' healings, Moses' power in confronting the Egyptian magicians, etc., etc.) Yes, all this is "show," "display". Ultimately, power is a non-issue. Controller is the controlled and vice versa.
Can the program erase, yet invent itself afresh to play the game with no attachment? Why not? What is the game other than the Game Player, pretending to be "other"?
The Verbiage Garden and the World Dream
with Neo and Gene Poole
Neo: There seems to be quite a bit of discord here between different aspects of ourself. For our benefit I would suggest that each party apologize to the other and ask for their forgiveness. If that is not possible and you feel you have to get the last word in, you do us all a disservice. At the very least, just do not respond to the next attack.
Dan: Now, neo, have you made yourself one of the "parts" attempting to suggest how the other "parts" would relate beneficially? That may work, but how well and how long will that work?
If there are no parts in reality, then how is it that so much verbiage is strewn about this garden, as if to raise one part up higher, place another lower, to affirm the existence of one part as special for knowing it doesn't exist, or to affirm the special nonspecialness of a part for knowing pure existence? I suggest that all of this haphazardly strewn verbiage eventually decomposes and becomes the fertilizer for organic verbiage that is beneficial and cleanses the air.
Gene seems to have proposed a theory that might help make sense of the verbiage garden that grows here.
Gene: I am attempting to point out that for most humans, all decisions are made on the priority of _keeping the original _identity_. This original identity (not to be confused with 'original nature', which itself precedes identity) is our 'ticket of acceptance' to family and to society. To lose identity is equated with psychosis; it is probably the most stress-producing event a person can experience.
Dan: So, some may be evading personality/identity disintegration while being attracted to the philosophy of personality/disintegration. Others may be building a personality on ideas about no-personality, an identity of specialness based on the idea of having no identity. Still others may be maintaining an "I am right" identity by taking the position of ultimate truth, or being beyond relative true or false. Yet all of these poses are simply the human being attempting to avoid disintegration, perpetuate existence, and achieve significance. Very natural. The breaking apart of self and world can only occur as a chick breaks out of the egg - when the shell has weakened sufficiently, the newborn feels strong enough, and there is readiness. So all of the thrashings and strewn verbiage can be viewed as pangs of birth.
Gene: Yes. Held criteria validate the 'owner'. Remember that the 'owner' is a character in a dream, and because the identity of the 'owner' is valid only in the dream, the 'owner' is heavily invested in maintaining the dream. Hitting upon others with emotion-producing word-attacks is the attempt to include others in one's 'family way' trance. Once this family is properly identified, the 'father' and the 'scapegoat' instantly materialize; the vertical rankings of family hierarchy will appear, to the extent that each member reacts in such a way as to stabilize or protect identity.
Dan: We do see attacks and counter attacks that create emotional "pull" and a family scenario with roles based on words. This does not seem far-fetched here.
Your statement of 'hypnotic trance' is accurate; world-dream identity (which is the only kind of identity) depends NOT ONLY upon individual trance, but also, on the cooperation of all other dreamers to _remain in trance_. It is only the collective trance which can be called the 'world-dream'. The world-dream is a transpersonal trance, and the 'vast tacit conspiracy' to maintain this collective dream, is what we call 'society'. Historically, we see vivid examples of what happens to anyone who attempts to awaken masses of people, let alone individuals. That is why I favor the idea of 'awakening to the dream' rather than 'awakening FROM the dream'. As is cogently pointed out in several spiritual traditions, there is no-one to awaken 'from the dream'.
Dan: The idea that one must awaken is part of the trance. The intent to stay asleep is part of the trance. Only awakeness is non-trance. Many verbal formats are ways to keep the trance going, to reinduct those whose trance slips. Some verbal formats move toward awakeness and back toward trance in the same paragraph. No verbal format can serve fully as catalyst to awakeness, as processing verbal statements requires a degree of trance, even to "get" the meaning. However, words are great catalysts because they are so integral to the trance. Of course, many other non-word events can be great catalysts, too. Timing and readiness are more important than the particular catalyst.
Aware of the factors of identity-trance, both individual and collective, our movements become guided less and less by _criteria_ and become more and more a matter of conscious choice. Eventually, we become aware that the pain of the sufferers within the trance of the world-dream, is an emanation of the original agreements which resulted in _accepetance_ into family and society. Acceptance of an _arbitraily assigned position of inferiority_ is a bad agreement to make. Acceptance of the 'scapegoat' position is even more painful.
Dan: And the orginal trance factor - acceptance of the idea of "positioning", that there is a body and space-time within which a self can be positioned. That trance factor is the basis for the development of the rest of the trance reality.
Certain cultures maintain 'rites of passage', in which the painful submissiveness of the child is exchanged for equality in the world of aware adults. Our western cultures seem to lack this event of disposing of interim identity, thus dooming members of our cultures to perpetual warfare in the fight for dominance. Remember, it is one who assumes the reality of identity, who seeks to change that identity. We can fight among ourselves for the identity of supremacy, OR we can give up the need for identity.
Dan: Yes, that very struggle is evident here as in the rest of the human community.
To me attack is not justified in any form.
Perhaps we can agree to disagree on this one.
Dan: Attack, counterattack, fantasies of revenge, fantasies of superiority, the wish for invulnerability, the desire for an unassailable being. These arise together. It's not so much a matter of justification, although rationalizations abound (of dual and nondual persuasions). It's more a matter of awareness. If awareness is attached to a position, how can it *not* function defensively, in one way or another?
Within It No Darkness: on Karma and
Dan Berkow (D) with Terry Murphy (T)
I wonder: How can there be a disagreement, if there is no
"you" proposing anything and no "me"
T: If there is a difference between our views, it perhaps involves this idea of simultaneously discriminating and transcending. Do events have their consequences? Or are there no events, and no consequences?
D: If there is a seamless nondivisible reality at work here, what is the need to form a view about this? Once we engage in that exercise, I can only see it as free expression of energy and love.
As far as simultaneously discriminating and transcending, yes - I agree, that is a difference in how we were speaking of the situation. My words come from here: there are events and there are not events. As there are events, we can discuss karmic repercussions or consequences. As there are not events, we are not contained by cause and effect realities.
As the world is seamless, no discussion of cause and effect or karma pertains. As the world has differences, and we act perceiving differences, in the practical world of human interaction we can discuss cause and effect and karma. To be simultaneously aware of both realities, without there being two realities, is what I was expressing, although I'm not sure the words I used conveyed it perfectly. The One reality, subsumes and includes the other reality (time and consequence), and this for me is transcendence.
It doesn't negate time and karma, it subsumes and transcends that world. Thus, ultimately, nothing is split or divided. However, being infinite, we can act "as if" there were a world of time and phenomena. In other words, you and I can write these words as if there were such a thing as forming a view, and there will be repercussions to how we view each other's words - and at the same time - no views are formed, no repercussions are concerns.
T: Does time really exist,
D: No thing "really exists", no time "really exists" - but time is perceived to exist, and we communicate in that "realm" - the realm of words and thoughts - "as if" time exists
T: or is it true that there is no time, only the unfoldment of Now?
D: The reality of no-time cannot be described - "the unfoldment of Now" is probably as good a description as any - if any were possible.
T: Is there simultaneously a phenomenal world and an absolute, essential world, or is the absolute world the True one, and the phenomenal world a convenient illusion which is used by the enlightened and uses the unenlightened?
D: Part of the problem is that I was using your words about "the enlightened" and "the unenlightened" whereas I wouldn't speak this way myself. It's an artificial distinction and leads to the problems coming up here. There is only Reality. The "phenomenal world" is itself Reality, when seen as Infinity; however - interpretations bound to phenomenally perceived distinctions, that is "objectification" considered a reality, without awareness *as* Reality, lead to erroneous imbeddedness in thought-processes as reality. To say this simply, everything is perfect as is, yet everything needs work, particularly identifications with thought-processes as being "for a self". Being is perfect, with becoming, work is needed - and Being is becoming. The work involved in becoming involves awareness of karma; that if I do this, that will result.
At the same time, there is no "I", no doing, no result, no separation between now and then. No one becomes enlightened. Enlightenment works on us so that we provide an opening for enlightenment to operate, for the Timeless to work in time. Simultaneously, there is no time. Words are a clumsy vehicle for what is multidimensional and timeless.
T: I can say to you that karma neither exists nor does not exist. *In essence*, there are no actual discrete events that may be truly abstracted from the flow of universal energy; on the other hand, *in practice* it is useful to regard certain inputs as being causally related to certain outputs.
D: Your saying this resonates with me and, at least as perceived from here, confirms the words I spoke previously. We live "in Truth" because we "are Truth"; we interact in the world in practical ways. Being is universal, becoming is particular. Being is becoming.
T: I can also say that karma, like ego, is a genuine illusion, a self-created prison for many people who constantly punish themselves for imagined sins, and keep themselves down. If one truly knows the absolute truth, does one really need to view things in terms of cause and effect, or personality? Is the enlightened view ('transcendence') a dual awareness of both seamless whole and events with consequences, as you appear to claim?
D: Well, it came across in words that way. The "dual view" is simultaneously one view - so there's no interference between time and eternity, karma and seamless all-at-onceness. In answer to you here, if one truly knows the absolute truth, there is no one knowing anything, only "pure knowing" with no separation of knower and known - thus there is no enlightened view or unenlightened view. This "knowing" isn't an awareness of a doer, so no karma pertains.
There is a perspective oriented to a body, a culture, and a time and seeing that simultaneously there is no perspective, no culture, and no time. If there were no body, you couldn't type this, if there were no culture, we couldn't use these words, if there were no perspectives, we couldn't have this discussion. There is cause and effect here: you type, words come up. If you typed different words, the message would be different. Your words have an effect - this is "karma". At the same time, no typing occurs, there is no perspective, logic and karma *ultimately* don't pertain. So *ultimately* karma is perception, perception depends on perspective, and perspective doesn't pertain. Your words and my words are exchanged, but Reality remains the same before, during, and after this exchange. No view is formed and none is sought.
T: I don't think so, dan. I can sign that paycheck, I can press down on the accelerator and make it on down to the airport to pick you up, without ever varying my continuous awareness that reality is a seamless whole and Now is the only time.
D: This is fine, yet as in your story - the post is a post. The paycheck is a paycheck. Don't sign it and you don't get paid. Drive drunk to the airport and you may get in an accident, perhaps kill someone in the other car. This person who was killed has relatives who will grieve that death. Tell the judge you're enlightened, living in reality as a seamless whole, and karmic rules don't apply to you.
See what difference that makes to the judge. See what difference that makes to the grieving family. Because there is awareness of consequences, I don't get drunk when I drive to the airport. I don't claim that karma doesn't pertain to me, although *ultimately* it doesn't. I have respect for the family that would grieve the death, and don't tell them that they don't exist because phenomenal reality isn't real. This is the point I have been attempting to put into language - and it seems to me the basis for whatever "disagreement" there appeared to be in our views.
T: I may appear to 'others' as an Actor performing an Action, but may myself only be aware of everything happening interdependently with everything else in an utterly choiceless unfolding.
D: What you say here seems on target to me, essentially. Yet, as there is no one there to make a choice, choice or choicelessness aren't categories that seem to pertain. There is no one there being aware of anything. Once you say that you are aware of everything happening in a certain way, there is a "someone" who has an awareness of "something" which has some kind of quality (e.g. interdependence). Because there is awareness of things happening in a certain way, there can be the thought to write, there can be speech and thought. There can be writing. In Reality, no one is doing the writing - from what I understand of your position, we agree on this.
T: I'm not sure that you are not kind of mushing together the absolute and the relative into a meaningless hash.
D: LOL - you give me powers I don't possess. After all, no one is here who could do anything to the absolute and the relative, let alone superhumanly make them into a meaningless hash. The relativeness of relativity is the Absolute. The Absolute doesn't dwell somewhere other than here. There is a plant on my desk. The texture of the leaves is the Absolute. The color that my walls are painted is the Absolute. The desk is the desk and the computer is the computer. This is the Absolute. Am I saying that the Absolute is a computer, and is a plant - no, not at all. Am I mushing together the Absolute and the relative - no, that can't be done. Yet, there is nothing apart from the so-called Absolute. Whatever we happen to be labelling as phenomenal reality or relativity is nothing other than Absoluteness.
T: We may have an intellectual grasp of the philosophical advantages of monism while personally actually experiencing ourselves as individual egos. If you experience "one person's seeing" as "interactive karma" in a really existent "'realm of interaction'"; in other words simultaneously experiencing personal ego and intellectual knowledge of some notion of universality, then we might be sounding similar but actually be worlds apart.
D: How can we be worlds apart when the world is seamless? Your stance seems to contradict itself. If there is no "you" and "me" how can there be any personal experiencing of ourselves as individual egos? How can there possibly be a "me" experiencing a really existent realm of interaction that isn't there?
T: Again, the reality of 'karma' is a psychological sense of justice, or sin-and-its-consequences, which is almost universal at a certain stage of human development.
D: I see karma as the mutual arising of phenomena when understood in the thought-realm of perceived actions and consequences of actions. It's a perception that all events are interwoven in utter order, an order that includes everything that we perceive as "random". Ignoring or avoiding this order because you think it doesn't pertain to you is the "stench of enlightenment", at least as seen from here.
Problems associated with this stance occur in antinomian religious groups, and there have been many, only a few of which we've discussed recently on this list. It's not uncommon for leaders of these groups to claim themselves to be beyond karmic consequences, to be God incarnate, beyond the reaches of time or karma, or when Christian, to refer to themselves as being in a state of grace where human laws and understandings don't pertain to themselves or their actions. My expression was an attempt to show why such endeavors and philosophies tend to go astray, how they miss an aspect of reality - how such groups can bear fruit that doesn't taste good. To say there is no such thing as karma is true in terms of pure awareness, who one really is. But to say there is no karma as one interacts day to day is often the philosophical refuge of one who is intent on blindness about the hurts others deal with. I'm not saying this is true of you at all - I'm philosophically addressing the point in a way that confronts its shortcoming in the world of day to day human interaction.
T: Just as people powerfully feel that criminals should be punished for their actions, they similarly judge and punish themselves, using their own unconscious behavior to modify their own conscious behavior. The 'unenlightened' are not consciously aware that they are doing the best they can for the sake of all sentient beings, though in actual fact they are. When they become aware that they are actually doing their best for all beings, that they are infallibly designed that way and can't do anything else, any inner need for self-punishment falls away and 'karma' as a psychological reality no longer applies. Just as ego is transcended and realized to be an illusion, so the sense of oneself as a sinner in need of punishment is realized to be an illusion as well. Continuing to maintain these illusions once they are realized to be such is delusion.
D: I find your statement above to be very clear. It fits well with my perception. Thank you for stating it so clearly. My resonation here is real to me. I see you stating very well what I meant to say when I spoke of the "enlightened one" as encompassing and transcending the entire world of karma. The "enlightened one" doesn't destroy karma, but transcends it. This is equivalent, in my view, to seeing that all beings are actually working toward the enlightenment of all beings, or "doing their best for all beings". However, seeing this, really, will be evidenced by fruits of compassion. Compassion includes awareness of temporal things, such as how to use language, cultural meanings, etc. This is why I said the "enlightened one" would operate in time while not being in time.
If there were not awareness of karma, the enlightened would, without any discrimination about repercussions, do whatever they felt like doing - and I agree with you, "they" don't do this.
Yes "they" do! :-) They have no awareness of karma at all, and do whatever pops into their minds, without thinking. This is why *siddhis* operate, because without any thought, with any breaking of the connection with the infinite, the enlightened spontaneously reflect the harmony of the cosmos.
D: You seem to imply that thought is bad, that being able to reflect negates Infinity. You seem to dichotomize people again, into the enlightened and unenlightened, with the enlightened never having a thought and manifesting siddhis, while the unelightened think and don't manifest siddhis. This is the kind of dichotomization that I don't find useful, and I'm happier with your statements that don't rely on such dichotomies. I think it's this dichotomization that underlies the "disagreement" you initially noted. It contradicts your previous statement that *everything* is manifesting the order of the cosmos perfectly.
People who act on whatever pops into their head are impulsive. You seem to equate impulsivity with no-mind. No-mind is no awareness of a separate self, and thought associated with nonawareness of a self tends to be focused toward immediate issues, then dropped when not needed. Nonetheless, I agree that spontaneity manifests universal order, that no thought is needed to behave in perfect accord with the cosmos, and karma has no "real" application to the "enlightened."
T: Rinzai says ('The Zen Teachings of Master Lin-chi,' trans Burton Watson, p44):
"Followers of the Way, you take the words that come out of the mouths of a bunch of old teachers to be a description of the true Way. You think, 'This is a most wonderful teacher and friend. I have only the mind of a common mortal, I would never try to fathom such venerableness.' Blind idiots! You go through life with this kind of understanding, betraying your own two eyes, cringing and faltering like a donkey on an icy road, saying, 'I would never dare speak ill of such a good friend, I'd be afraid of making mouth karma!' "Followers of the Way, the really good friend is someone who dares to speak ill of the Buddha, speak ill of the patriarchs, pass judgment on anyone in the world, throw away the *Tripitaka*, revile those little children, and in the midst of opposition and assent search out the real person. So for the past twelve years, though I've looked for this thing called karma, I've never found so much as a particle of it the size of a mustard seed."
D: Obviously this is Zen teaching, which is fond of negating precious assumptions, intending to provide direct access to enlightenment. No system is perfect. Drawbacks of Zen are an anti-philosophical philosophy (leading to hundreds of thousands of texts showing why texts aren't needed), overemphasis on the self to achieve no-self (leading to exhortation, recrimination, bullying applied to a self that isn't there), and a ritualistic reliance on paradox. Having said this - I enjoy Zen stories very much and thank you for posting this and others. Clearly, Buddhist writings could be cited ad nauseum on the other side, showing that karma is considered an established and vital aspect of the Buddhist darmha.
Zen is the only Buddhist school I've found with teachings that negate karma and rebirth. The Tibetan school is based on these concepts. So, it comes down to what is useful, what works. Does saying there is no karma, and Love will spontaneously provide at all times work? Perhaps for some, certainly not for others. I wanted to show that awareness of karma can be useful, at least in dealing with practical "worldly" realities. Is there great value to the teaching that Love is All, the no knowledge is needed, that spontaneously the Way will manifest? Yes, I believe so. I find myself essentially in agreement with you concerning *ultimate* reality. The question I raise pertains to how best to voice that awareness in the world - the world that includes logic, time, and consequences, as well as transcends these.
Without awareness of karma, they wouldn't care about any apparent beings being hurt (or any apparent beings learning anything either) because they would see no existing beings. So, why do they teach, and why do they interact compassionately? Because they see karma, at the same time they see no entities suffering from karma.
They see the illusion of ego, and the consequent operation of 'karma' as a psychological effect, a delusion. Very real to the suffering being, yes; this 'cannot be obscured.' But entities and karma canot be separated, they go together as causes and effects do; if there are causes, there must be effects. If there are no entities to have karma, there is no karma to have.
Dan: You say this well. I am essentially in agreement with you here, although I worded it differently. The karma, seen from an *ultimate* perspective is unreal. That is why there is no one suffering from it. Yet its effects on perception in the phenomenal world are real. That is why there can be said to be karma, and why teachers teach and interact out of compassion. No karma - no compassion needed.
Dan: Transcendence is to see that from the first not a thing is, and yet, simultaneously see that "this is". To see that there is no cause and effect, and simultaneously, actions have repercussions.
Terry: Pardon me, my friend, but this just sounds like nonsense.
Dan: Pardon me, my friend, but how do you know this "nonsense" isn't the spontaneous manifestation of Love, which as you say is always operating perfectly for the well-being of all? Well, if what you say is true, then how "nonsensical" could it be?
T: What is a 'repercussion' but an 'effect'?
D: I don't know - you tell me. I never said a repercussion was not an effect. You seem to miss my point. My point was "not a thing is" and "this is". There are no events, and this occurs. There can be no karma *ultimately* and karma *relatively*. Remember, it was you who said karma cannot be said to exist nor not to exist.
There is no "me", yet the perception of a "me" is real to "him" and to "her," and how they see "me" behave (and experience "me" to behave, will affect "him" or "her"). This is true even though there is no "him" or "her". All is perception, there is no perceiver and no perceived object, and love functions in this perception with awareness of the ripple-effect of actions.
My inferred conclusion as I read your perceptive and thoughtful writing is that sometimes the actions of one who is aware may appear paradoxical, yet the reason for the paradox is that the love expressed is transcendent of norms, not confined by norms, but comes from recognition of the entirety of karma as a whole, from being the entire pond, all of the ripples, and yet expressing simultaneously as a particular ripple interacting with other particular ripples.
Terry: The whole pond with all its ripples is the universe of dependent origination, where everything depends on every other thing, where a kingdom may be lost for the want of a horseshoe nail, and a typhoon in the sea of japan may be traced back to the flapping of a butterfly's wing in the amazon river basin.
In practice, however, I do not deny that if you go out and shoot someone, you are likely to get busted.
Dan: It's not only that, Terry, it's that "you" are going to "cause" a lot of grief for a lot of "people".
T: But even then, to apply single causes to single outcomes is simplistic.
D: I agree wholeheartedly. Events are overdetermined. But in the practical world, try dealing with people who have no sense of responsibility, no concern about the consequences of their actions, and behave toward "others" as if there were no "others" there to have feelings or reactions!
T: Confucius comments on the first line of the second hexagram of the I Ching:
"A house that heaps good upon good is sure to have an abundance of blessings. A house that heaps evil upon evil is sure to have an abundance of ills. Where a servant murders his master, where a son murders his father, the causes do not lie between the morning and evening of one day. It took a long time for things to go so far. It came about because things that should have been stopped were not stopped soon enough."
D: Quite so - call it karma (which never belongs to one isolated individual), call it the unfolding of Now considered from the perspective of Time, or don't call it anything. The truth is, we use language and thought, so we call it something, we reflect on it, we throw the I Ching, or read a book about antisocial behavior. Human beings use thought and language to understand and respond to events in terms of their view of situations and feelings. *Ultimately* Reality can't be understood in these terms.
Dan: There's no way around it: how this can occur is a great mystery!
Terry: I suppose you could say that our intuitive, natural abilities to be in harmony with the universe, which are similar to those of every other aspect of creation, living and non-living, are a 'mystery.' But only to the logic-chopping, practical, imaginary false self.
Dan: I meant "mystery" this way: totally and completely unknown and unknowable - completely beyond logic. And yes - this refers to the "little self," not the Big Self. And yes - the little self, poor fellow, ultimately doesn't have a leg to stand on. But this Big Self, doesn't he know without any entity being there, doesn't he manifest perfect Wholeness with no effort - now if that's not mysterious, what is? To me, the sense of mystery and awe is a great gift, along with peace and simplicity these are wonderful gifts of the Spirit. Gifts from no one to no body. Like Love.
Dan: It transcends logic without destroying logic, just as it transcends karma without destroying karma. Karma and logic are the same thing: awareness of cause and effect perspectives. Karma and logic continue to function, are used when their framework is useful, and simultaneously are seen in no way to define the nature of "ultimate reality".
Terry: As you wind it up here I quite agree, and could have stated it in practically the same terms as you have. It just doesn't seem mysterious to me. Our practical, task-oriented, tool-using skills coexist with our intuitive, natural identity with the universe. I guess my perspective differs in that I regard the latter as Real and the former as an illusion at best and a delusion causing great suffering at worst.
Dan: Okay I'll buy that. How about this - nothing is unreal. There is only what is real. Infinite universes manifest from this point. .
Nothing manifested anywhere is unreal. There is no delusion to combat. Seeing delusion is the only delusion there is.
T: To see the phenomenal and the absolute as equal or in some sort of harmonious balance is a dangerous view, tantamount to regarding god and the devil as equal powers and granting negativity equal say in what you do. It is just this granting of autonomy to the ego which is the essence of delusion and the cause of suffering.
Consider light and darkness. You can turn on a light, and darkness instantly vanishes. But darkness has no powers of its own, you can't turn on the dark, the dark is simply the absence of light, it has no qualities of its own. This is what nonduality is all about, there are "not two" substances in the world, it is a world of light only. The Absolute is True, and phenomena are a convenient illusion, to be used but never given power over us.
Dan: Of course, nonduality has "within" it no darkness that needs to be combatted. That is what is so difficult about it with regard to orginary thinking and morality. Any darkness that is shadow of a light, is Light in nondual view. No outside, thus no inside. No separation, thus no negation, thus no affirmation. Thus, perfect Peace. Thus, no possibility of "us" disagreeing ever. You say "black" and I say "white". No disagreement.
T: Jesus, the great nondualist, explicitly rejected karma, considered absolute by the rabbis, and embraced forgiveness.
D: The rabbis in no way considered karma absolute. No way, Terry. It is for this reason that the Day of Atonement is considered the greatest Jewish holiday. It is a day of universal atonement (at-one-ment) and universal forgiveness. The rabbis didn't like Jesus's presumption of authority to tell them what is "true", particularly didn't like the way he claimed revelation as his source of truth.
He undermined their whole established socio-political system. But his views about forgiveness are an extension of views expressed in traditional Hebrew teachings - only carried to a more universal and Total Beingness.
T: How could we be forgiven if karma were absolutely true? Taoism embraces forgiveness, and buddhism does as well. Karma is a fetter, and justice may be tempered by mercy. Logic won't get you to heaven.
D: Karma isn't a fetter. Karma is the justice that is tempered by mercy, the law that is transcended through Love and mutual forgiveness. Remember, Jesus also was said to have said, "as you sow, you shall reap." "I have not come to end the Law, but to fulfill it.