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Nondual Highlights Issue #1742 Saturday, March 20, 2004 - Editor: Mark

It is when pure consiousness gives rise to concepts and notions within itself that it assumes an individuality (jiva). Such individuals wander in this samsara (world-appearance). In an eclipse what was unseen earlier is seen: even so it is possible to perceive through the individual's experiences the pure experiencing which is the infinite cosciousness. But this self-knowledge is not gained by study of scriptures or with the help of a guru; it can only be gained by the self for itself.

Regard your body and senses as insturments for experiencing, not as self. The notion 'I am the body is bondage; the seeker should avoid it. 'I am no-thing but pure consciousness' - such understanding when it is sustained is conducive to liberation. It is only when one does not realise the self which is free from old age, death, etc., that one wails aloud, "Alas, I am dead or I am helpless". It is by such thoughts that ignorance is fortified. Free your mind from such impure thoughts and notions. Rest in the self free from such notions. Though engaged in diverse activities remain established in a state of perfect equilibrium and rule this kingdom in peace and joy.

The Lord sports in this world-appearance and then withdraws it into himself. The power or energy that creates and brings about bondage is also the power or the energy that dissolves creation and liberates. Just as the tree pervades all its parts and leaves, this infinite consciousness pervades the entire universe. Alas, the ignirant person does not realize it though it is in every cell of his being. He who sees that the self alone is all enjoys bliss.

One should gain this understanding through study of scriptures and company of holy ones. This is the first step. Reflection or enquiry is the second. Non-attachment or psychological freedom is the third. The fourth is snapping of the bonds of vasanas (conditioning and tendencies). The bliss that is derived from pure awareness is the fifth; in it the liberated sage lives as if in half-sleep. Self-knowledge is the sixth in which the sage is immersed in a mass of bliss and lives as if in deep sleep. The seventh state which is known as turiya (the transcendental) is itself liberation; in it there is perfect equanimity and purity. Beyond this (still the seventh stage) is the turiyatita which is beyond description. The first three states are 'waking' states. The fourth is the dream state. The fifth is the deep sleep state because it is full of bliss. The sixth is the turiya or the non-dual consciousness. The seventh is indescribable. One who has reached this is established in pure being devoid of subject-object division. He is not eager to die nor to live. He is one with all. He is free from individuation.

- Vasistha's Yoga, translated by Swami Venkatesananda, and published by State University of New York Press.

The ego is entranced by ... names and ideas... (However) names and concepts only block your perception of this Great Oneness. Therefore it is wise to ignore them. Those who live inside their egos are continually bewildered.

- From the The Hua Hu Ching

The other side of the coin is that I am not it. What we normally define as who we are, this particular body and mind, is not it. The light, the divine, Buddha-nature, no matter what you call it, only comes through me, as it comes through you. When we drop attachment to body and mind there is no distinction between it and self. As the Third Patriarch (of Zen Buddhism) says, any distinction we make sets heaven and earth infinitely apart. If we attach to the notion that "I am it," then our egos swell up and we become very arrogant. We must avoid clinging to the experience of enlightenment, the realization of being it. It flows through me; I am just a conduit.

- Dennis Genpo Merzel

The recollected soul (an-nafs al-mutma'innah) is the one whose enlightenment is brought about by the light of the heart until it is stripped of blameworthy attributes and takes on praiseworthy virtues. Then it turns in the direction of the heart completely, following it in its ascent to the regions of the world of Holiness (`alam al-quds) far above the world of impurity, diligent in acts of obedience and tranquil in the presence of the "Exalter of ranks" until its Lord addresses it by His words: "But, ah! thou soul at peace! Return unto thy Lord, content in His good pleasure! Enter thou among My servants! Enter thou My Garden!"

- From Ahmad Ibn `Ata'Allah

(The) soul is in itself a most lovely and perfect image of God.

In order to reach the summit of this high mount, (the soul) must have changed its garments (resulting in) a new understanding of God in God, the old human understanding being cast aside; and a new love of God in God, the will being now stripped of all its old desires and human pleasures, and the soul being brought into a new state of knowledge and profound delight, all other old images and forms of knowledge having been cast away, and all that belongs to the old man, which is the aptitude of the natural self, quelled, and the soul clothed with a new supernatural aptitude with respect to all its faculties. So that its operation, which before was human, has become Divine, which is that that is attained in the state of union, wherein the soul becomes naught else than an altar whereon God is adored in praise and love, and God alone is upon it ...

- John of the Cross

As Antony, the great servant of God, said, "Holiness is achieved when the intellect is in its natural state." And again he said: "The soul realizes its integrity when its intellect is in that state in which it was created." And shortly after this he adds: "Let us purify our mind, for I believe that when the mind is completely pure and is in its natural state, it gains penetrating insight..." So spoke the renowned Antony, according to the Life of Antony by Athanasios the Great.

- St. Hesychios the Priest in On Watchfulness and Holiness: in Philokalia (Vol. 1)

What is this new mystery which concerns me? I am small and great, lowly and exalted, mortal and immortal, earthly and heavenly. I share one condition with the lower world, the other with God; one with the flesh, the other with the spirit. I must be buried with Christ, arise with Christ, be joint heir with Christ, become the son of God, yea, God Himself.

- Gregory of Nazianzus

Let me address this question of: What's the difference between dissolving the barriers and setting good boundaries?

This came up in some of the discussion groups, and this question also comes up - you won't be surprised - in many of the places where I do this teaching. I've given this some thought - and I've heard a lot of other people's views on this too, so I've been educated by other people's thinking on this. Currently, this is my answer, and I'm sure it's a work in process.

I feel that setting boundaries, good boundaries - the intention of that - is to allow for communication to happen. And, barriers are shutting down communication.

To set good boundaries takes a lot of courage. And you have to be going through this process of acknowledging your pain, and also what triggers you, and acknowledging how much you can handle and how much you can't handle. Theres already a lot of courage that's gone on in coming to the place of setting boundaries. But, the intention is to make communication clearer.

For instance, the classic situaton of you're in a relationship where you're beaten. And, all your friends are saying, "Why do you stay in that relationship?" Well, it's because of barriers, and turning away, and all of this stuff. Because, why do you to allow this to happen to yourself again and again? Well, it's very complicated, and it has to do with the ego structure and how we are afraid to actually to go into this, and we're hoping that this time the happiness that I'm seeking will come from staying in this destructive relationship.

A barrier is this turning away and staying stuck. There's ignorance involved in barriers. Maybe that's one of the main ingredients of the ego and the self-centeredness, or the barriers, cocoon - however you say it- is ignorance: not really looking at what's going on. So, then, usually with a lot of help from other people, and your own reservoir of courage beginning to come up, and your own reservoir of clarity and sanity and self-compassion getting stronger, you get to the place where you actually say: If you hit me again, I'm leaving, and I'm leaving for good, and I'm not coming back unless you do some work with a therapist, or whatever, around the fact that you keep hitting me. But, from my side, I'm out of here. And then you do it. That's an example of setting good boundaries. But it takes a lot of courage to do that, because that may mean the end of this relationship, which represents a lot of things.

Setting good boundaries is actually pushing you more and more towards going into it. And it's clarifying the situation. It is the most compassionate thing you can do for the other person and for yourself, because it's frightening because the other person is often not going to want to hear-- your boss, your spouse, your child, or whoever it is, is not going to want to hear your boundaries, and they're going to get angry with you.

If you've ever been on the receiving end of someone setting their boundaries, and it provokes you and makes you angry, but at least you know what you're working with. And you can even say, This doesn't work for me, I have to go-- or you decide to stay and work with it. But, at least, there's clarity.

Whereas, with barriers, and the whole way ego works, it just causes a lot of confusion - mixed messages are a sign of barriers - and so the suffering just escalates with barriers.

The idea of setting good boundaries is to provide clarity, communication, and it takes a lot of bravery to do it.

- Pema Chodron from Transforming Confusion into Wisdom, City Retreat, Berkeley Shambhala Center, Fall 1999

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Jerry Katz
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