(excerpts from letters to the I AM Mailing List)
I would say that you are correct, humility is "impossible to achieve". It is not a state of *becoming* but rather a state of *BEing*. We can not think that we are humble any more than we can think that we are not humble, for in either case we have missed it. We are all humble in many respects and in many ways and at many times, but never when we profess it or deny it. It is something that can only be Observed in others, for if we Observe it (or the lack of it) in ourselves we are deluded.
"No one Saves us but ourselves,
No one can and no one may --
Others can point to The Path,
But we ourselves must Walk The Way"
->Speak to me of emptiness...
Why *speak* of it when you seem to be on the way to Directly Realizing it yourself ? Words will not tell you of Emptiness, only Realizing it will tell you. Another's words will only add to the *fullness* that we must discard to Realize Emptiness. Your preliminary Observations and Realizations show that you are well on your way to DOing just that -- Realizing Emptiness. Emptiness IS a state of BEing and not a state of *becoming*.
What is breathing ? That is, other than an autonomic response of the human organism to get oxygen into the organism or a focus of concentration in some meditation techniques or setting up particular harmonics in the various huma n energies. Is not the experience of breathing, the experience of breathing ? If we are taking short breaths, is this not the experience of taking short breaths ? If we are taking long breaths, is this not the experience of taking long breaths ? If we are driving a car, is this not the experience of driving a car ? If we are cooking, is this not the experience of cooking ? If we are washing the dishes, is this not the experience of washing the dishes ? Whatever we happen to be doing, is this not the experience of whatever we are doing ? Is this not the experience of What-IS ?
We have a tendency to projects our ideas and images and meanings into any given experience, thereby distorting the experience of What-IS. Distorting it toward our way of thinking -- a conditioned way of thinking. And yet we wonder why it is so difficult to experience What-IS IN the Moment. What-IS IN the Moment has nothing to do with our particular conditioned way of thinking, so it is only a defilement of What-IS IN the Moment by our projections. Perhaps if we discarded the arising conditioned images and ideas and meaning and Observe What-IS AS-it-IS for what it IS of itself and by itself, then we may be able to Dwell IN Awakening. Then we may be able to Dwell IN the Moment. Then we may be able to Experience What-IS. The experience IS the experience of experiencing an experience, and nothing more (or less).
It is conditioned thinking that says "But we don't know that", because we are fully Aware of it. It is because of the conditioned thinking that we do not Realize that we are Aware of it. And so we *go* on *quests* try to "Discover it for myself", all time under the auspices of our conditioned thinking. So it is a conditioned quest and a conditioned discovery.
When all we have to do is drop the conditioned thinking about quests and discoveries and knowing, we will begin to Awaken to the fact that there is no quest or discovery or knowing at all. We Awaken to the fact that it was all a rue by the Grand Trickster the mind to keep us occupied and away from Awakening. You say that many tell you the same things and this is in your head -- you have heard, but you have not *Listened*. Hearing is the resonance of sound in the ear-drum assembled parts, Listening is the resonance of sound in the Whole Being. So if I may offer: first learn to Listen, then Observe the conditioned thoughts as they arise and why they arise. Perhaps the quest and discovery and knowing can be foregone for a slight duration.
The practice can lead to Awakening but if the practice IS the Awakening, then we are still Sleeping. The experience of the practice IS the experience of the practice, just as the experience of Awakening IS the experience of Awakening. One can compliment the other, as the Two are One, but one can not BE the other for there can be no *other* (there can be only One).
Being Open and Honest with ourselves and in our Observations of our conditioned thinking would do more good than any *practice* could do, though this is one of the things that a practice should do. Is not *practice* an activity to prepare us for an *actual Action* ?
It is offered that we all are *ready* to Awaken, but we all are not ready to give up our conditioned thinking (not ready to give up the Causes of our Suffering). Openness and Honesty with ourselves about ourselves will give us the impetus to Observe our conditioned thinking, and hopefully the sense to discard it. And it is only through struggle with and eventual discarding of conditioned thinking that we Realize our Self (Self-Realization). The Self is not assertive, but rather patiently waiting for us to Wake-Up from the delusion of conditioned thinking (Sleeping). For once the Veils of conditioned thinking are lifted, the Self simply IS and emanates/manifests as such. "No one saves us but ourselves, no one can and no one may -- others can point to the Path, but we ourselves must Walk the Way".
IF we Realize that we are automatons programmed to follow the ebb and flow of our conditioned notions (the contents of our mind, which include memories and emotions), then and only then can we Openly and Honestly stand before the Mirror of Truth. This is not to say that we will remain standing there, because the reflection may be to scary so we may turn away. If we do not recognize the despicable controlled and manipulated puppets that we are, we are resigned to *follow* or remain controlled and manipulated by our conditioned perception. Now, if we get disenchanted with that which we follow (that which controls and manipulates our perception), we simply start following something else. In following a different set of conditioned notions, we are still following conditioned notions. The Key is to get away from conditioned notions, therefore get away from following.
Of course they all Understand about the influences of a conditioned perception -- unless they lived there lives in isolation they would have to go through and discard or overcome these influences themselves. So I did not mean to indicate that they were unaware of such conditionings. What I was indicating was that what they do not Realize before coming to the West is the extent and depth and completeness and strength (to say nothing of the continual bombardment) of our conditioning. This is what they are overwhelmed by. Most do not give up their Mission, they do not give up on us as lost causes, Bless them, but their Work tends to take more the shape of gathering followers than Unfolding Awakening. Even the quote that you offered does not reflect the awesome power of our conditioned perception that is a major struggle to overcome or discard. The quote indicates that our conditioned ways are but bad habits that we have to stop giving energy to. But the roots of our conditionings fill our whole being and so are the very platform of our lives. And to extricate these roots, to transmute this lead to Gold, is a battle not second even to the battle Arjuna faced in the Gita. It is a battle no less that Blake's battle of Heaven and Hell. This is not a minor struggle that we face, but rather such the awesome struggle that 99.99% do not even attempt. Though they follow the beat of a different drummer, they are still following someone else's music.
If we can start to recognize our conditioned notions we will be aware enough to contrive ways to discard them. For once recognized for the control and manipulation we Suffer as a result of clinging to these conditioned notions we reject them almost immediately. It is almost an autonomic response to the recognition. As more of a general rule, it is all about Observation. Observe our activities, or thoughts our reactions and responses. Observe these as and before we do them and what as well as how we are programmed to think and interact the way we do. When we Observe any conditioned notion that has been *installed*, with that program there will also be an *uninstall* feature. Some are quite easy to get rid of, others are to dear to us and it will take more effort to *let them go*.
I always suggest that people study conditioning and behavior modification, their techniques and practices, AND how this vast field can be applied to each of us and in a global sense to humanity as a whole. Most everyone has ran across the study of how Pavlov was able to make a dog salivate without having any food present, but few has ran across how it came to pass that we react in predictable ways to particular stimuli.
Much conditioning is quite overt (monkey see, monkey do), but there is much that is quite sneaky and subliminal (so much harder to recognize).
On this Path effort never goes to waste, and there is no failure. Those experiences did set up the very experience that you experience NOW. Such as the Realization that you have still been clinging to conditioned notions that have hitherto prevented you from Truly Awakening. Practices 24 hours a day 7 days a week for a life-time will not get one to that Realization IF there is but a single Toxin (conditioned notion) in our BEing.
The harder you look, the less you will see. Observing a bird in flight, for example, without projecting any notion into/onto the experience IS experiencing What-IS in the very instant Moment. You are Observing another element in manifestation DOing what it DOes the Moment it DOes it, without effort or judgement or projections. This is Pure Observation -- Observation without our input or influence. Now, when we can do this when Observing ourselves, our thoughts and behavior as well as reactions and responses, we will make progress IN our Awakening. Observe in this way and you will See through/past the "dark spot" that Veils your Inner Vision.
Establishing the *Ideal* is not a *practice* my Friend, but rather a state of BEing or as is often said a state of mind. There is nothing to practice, but rather putting forth the effort to rid oneself of conditioned ideas and images and meanings and Dwell IN the Moment with nothing projected into/onto that Moment. This is done through Open and Honest Observation of every aspect of one's thinking and behavior and discarding that which is conditioned. And there are no *quick-fixes*. And Hell has no fury the likes of a conditioned notion being discarded. Most often, it takes all our strength to discard this vermin.
We do not have to spend years in monasteries or ashrams to Observe our conditioning and discard it. We do have to recognize it and then we have to discard it, but this can be done in the interactions of everyday life for this is where the most Help is needed. We are here, so we may as well be IN the world, but we do not have to be OF the world. OF the world is to be controlled and manipulated by it via our conditioning, IN the world is just being here. So we can be IN the world yet not OF the world IF we discard the conditioned thinking and behavior that attaches us to this world.
Is *discard* to harsh a word ? Perhaps *let go of* would be a more palatable phrase ? Is *conditioned notions* to harsh a phrase ? Perhaps *influences* would be a more acceptable word ? Is the word *toxic* to harsh a word ? Perhaps *bad* or *unhealthy* would be more tolerable words ? These alternative words and phrases have been used in the past and the present by many, but for naught save those dedicated followers of some particular discipline. But for the general public, these alternative words and phrases are interpreted by each individual in the meanings that they understand (that they are conditioned to understand). So, the Game goes on and Awakening continues to be postponed. I tend to try to call a spade a spade, rather than call it a square-nosed shovel. For at the same time that I use such abrasive phrases as *discard toxic conditioned notions* I also say that we must Observe our thoughts and reactions to such a phrase. For it is IN that Observation of our conditionings *before reacting* that we will Realize that the reaction is toxic and is conditioned and must be discarded because it stands in the way of our Awakening.