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#2293 - Friday, October 21, 2005 - Editor: Jerry Katz

This issue features excerpts from the new book SHINING IN PLAIN VIEW, by John Wheeler. You may read more about and order this book at   John's website is at, where there is a lot to read.  

Also you can hear John interviewed on a radio show. The links are at  

John Wheeler gets you to see that the frying pan of your life has all along been T-Fal, where no bits of your life escape down a blue Brillo brook and an egg fries in nothing.  


Trace the Root of Suffering



Question: I have enjoyed reading your articles, and things have begun to resonate. Reading them inspired me to purchase Bob Adamson’s book and recently your own. If you do not mind, I wondered if you could help with the following. I find that when I am at home away from the routine of work and computers and there is no need to communicate and relate with people and friends, it is so much easier to become aware.


John: Well, if you look at this more finely, you discover that, as has been pointed out, awareness is ever-present. It does not become more present. As you begin to notice this fact, the wavering quality ends.


Q: At those times, I actually think, ‘Hey, this is it. Yes, all is calm. The mind is quiet. I am aware, just aware. Oh, there goes a thought, oh, and another’. There is more silence and warm consciousness. I can almost see the ‘I’ thought fading away.


John: Just see that all these thoughts and experiences are appearing and disappearing in the undeniable awareness. It continues even when you are not thinking about it.


Q: As soon as I get back to work, the old conditioning just comes flooding back. I am that person again who needs to behave in the manner that others are used to.


John: These are just the old concepts. The main thing now is to see them as concepts. That is a good approach to getting some space around the experience.


Q: In those moments, it feels unnatural to be any other way.


John: You need to really see if the concepts are natural. In fact, they are highly artificial. They are conditioned ideas that we picked in life before we knew any better.


Q: Sometimes I get very frustrated and instead of being relaxed and calm. I can display all kinds of behavioral patterns, from low moods, to sulking, to sudden desperation and anger towards others. I know people can also sense this. I think I am missing it somewhere and maybe even afraid of change. Although I somehow know life could flow so much more easily.


John: The real resolve on this is to trace the root of suffering and really see the mechanism of it. Otherwise, you are buffeted about without really having any solid ground to stand on. Here are some tips. Suffering is generated in the mind, in thinking. It does not exist anywhere else. The thoughts that create suffering are those that revolve around the sense of a separate self. This idea of being a limited separate being is the root driver of all self-centered experience. By inquiring into the validity of this core concept you can verify whether it is true or not. If it is seen to be false, then the basic cause is removed (through the seeing). This pulls the plug on the cause of suffering. The fact of present awareness that has been pointed out is seen to be simply the case. There is nothing to do or attain in terms of your true nature. Tackling the suffering through investigation has the effect of removing any camouflage from the clear and steady recognition of the ever-present and clear awareness. Still, regardless of what comes or not, or what is seen or not, you never move from your true nature.


Q: Any additional advice you can offer would be appreciated.


John: The bottom line is that this naturally becomes clear as the understanding settles in.


Loneliness Arises Through Belief in Separation



Question: I like to shift into being the awareness only. It is the only relief I get from the human condition, which seems brutal, even among friends.


John: Well, this is not a matter of shifting, much less a matter of ‘you’ doing something. In this approach, it is simply pointed out that you are always that. Full stop. It is recognized. That is all.

If you are talking about suffering, suffering is subjective and caused by our own concepts and beliefs. The externals, including other people, are just fine, as is.


Q: The problem is that I am alone.


John: Loneliness is one of those self-centered states that arises with the concept of being separate. Once this erroneous idea is seen through, you are not plagued by these kinds of things. In the ultimate sense you are alone, because you are the sole reality. But that is also the source of peace and love, so there is not a sense of loneliness. Loneliness arises through belief in separation.


Q: When trying to find others to show them how to be awareness only, I run into problems.


John: There are no others. Everything is just an expression of the underlying oneness. Sometimes it comes up to share; other times not. Only the separate ‘I’ has problems. Take care of that and everything will fall into place. There is no need to show people how to be awareness. They are awareness. No techniques are needed. If anyone is interested, you can just point back to the basic facts. There is no need to seek out converts! Also, you cannot really help others until you are beyond the need of help yourself.


Q: Some will even say that I am evil.


John: ‘I’, ‘others’, ‘evil’ and so on are just concepts! See your true nature and you will not be bothered by any concepts, not even your own.


Q: I like to use some of the Douglas Harding tools, such as watching the scenery move past me while walking (as if I am still). That shifts the mind into noticing awareness (awareness without me).


John: These are good pointers, but you can move beyond the need for any tools and just recognize that awareness is your ever-present true nature. This is the natural state.


Q: When trying to be with other humans in the human condition, I do not fit, from the position of being awareness only.


John: You seem to have some misunderstandings about this. There is no ‘I’ and nothing that needs to be done. It is only the ‘I’ that feels like it fits or not. If the ‘I’ is not real, then all of these problems are resolved.


Q: People pull me back in to being the human identity instead of being awareness only.


John: No, this is not possible. It is our own ideas, beliefs and concepts that obscure things. See through those first, then everything takes care of itself. You can never be pulled out of your real state, because you are never separate from your true nature. Nothing and no one can ever pull you out of this.


Q: As awareness are we destined to be alone? Is there something to do and, if so, how to find out what that something is?


John: We have taken ourselves to be something we are not and suffer. Once we see that we have never been a separate person or ‘I’, all the problems and questions are solved. As I say elsewhere on my website:


‘You are not the limited person you have taken yourself to be. Look for the separate self and you find it entirely absent. Seeing this, suffering, doubt and confusion effortlessly drop away, revealing your natural state of innate happiness and freedom’.


It may be good to talk to someone about this in person if the basics are not clear.


My sense is that you have some good insights but are not yet clear on the fundamentals, such as what is the root cause and cure of suffering. This is rarely communicated clearly by teachers (that I am aware of).


Talking About Spiritual Teachers



John: The tendency to talk about spiritual teachers, whether they are realized or not, which teaching is clearer and so on, is a complete diversion from the core understanding. It is a habit that simply diverts one away from the immediate and direct recognition of what is clear and available right in this moment.


There is no teacher outside and independent of us who ‘has the understanding’, has awakened, is enlightened or what have you. This kind of assumption leads to mistaken beliefs that just cloud the simplicity of what is being pointed to. There are a couple of problems with this way of thinking. First, the idea that teacher ‘so-and-so’ is realized has the implicit assumption for most of us that ‘therefore, I am not’. Thus the belief in the sense of separation from our own presence is subtly strengthened. Second, talking about teachers who have it (or not) reinforces a belief that what is being pointed to is outside of ourselves—again emphasizing a sense of separation. Third, the teachers being discussed are usually not in our immediate environment and we are simply spinning in conceptual thought about people that are figments in imagination in that moment. Even if there were such a being as an enlightened teacher, if you approached them, the most you would find is a physical form composed of matter, chemicals and cells—which are just transient appearances in awareness. So the whole notion of beings who are awake or have the understanding is a complete fiction when looked at head on.


What is happening in this kind of thinking is that the attention is simply wandering in imagination and concepts. And the belief that reality is not present and that we exist as separate beings apart from it goes on without being exposed. Yet we can easily slip into statements such as, ‘So-and-so is so clear’, ‘So-and-so has the understanding’, ‘Teacher X is realized, but teacher Y is not’ and so on. Utter bullshit!


So what is this all about? What is being pointed to? It is the very fact of present awareness, which is completely clear and fully accessible right now. It is illuminating every thought, feeling and experience. That is the one and only reality to be understood or recognized. No teacher has this. It stands on its own, completely free of any particular people or their experiences. At best, a teacher is simply a sign post that can point back to what is real and present within you. There is no enlightened sign post. There is only the fact of being-awareness itself. As soon as we begin to talk about others who have it or not, we overlook the fact that it is fully present and shining as our own real nature here and now.


You Are the Reality Itself



Question: I guess I am still expecting fireworks. I remember last year sitting outside my flat at three in the morning sharing a few glasses of wine with a friend, saying that the thing I wanted most in life was to experience enlightenment!


This was before the teachings of non-duality found me and things became clearer. But the desire for an experience remains a sticking point to some extent. While I know that what this is about is ‘The Simple Feeling of Being’ (to quote the title of an excellent book by Ken Wilber), that brightly alive feeling of presence, a part of me is still expecting something different, something special, a shift in perception of some kind.


Maybe I have read too many stories by people who have experienced awakening, enlightenment, kensho, a loss of self or ‘I’, and a feeling of unity or oneness with everything. It seems these stories have created a set of concepts and expectations about what it must be like, which my mind still plays with. All I can do is be aware that they are just thoughts and concepts that have no reality and that the mind loves to play around with. How can it possibly be like anything the mind can conceive of?


There is still a groping towards understanding and clarity. There is still an idea that something will suddenly click and all will be as clear for me as it is for you. I sometimes wonder what the difference is between your understanding of this and mine and whether or not there is such a thing as a sudden shift in perception or recognition or understanding. Thanks once again for your good work.


John: Bob Adamson cured me of the concept of enlightenment. Basically, there is no such thing as getting enlightened as some future event. If you are sitting around waiting for something to happen, you are barking up the wrong tree. That would have nothing to do with what is being pointed to. In all truth, there is really no awakening or enlightenment at all. This is one of the last concepts that the mind hangs on to. So forget about that completely!

Being-awareness is here in all its fullness right now. That is it. That is what you are and always have been. Full stop. End of the road. Everything else that comes up is a false concept based on the belief in a separate individual that is apart from the real. You are not a limited person apart from reality. You are the reality itself.


As you sit with this and resonate with it, everything will spring from there without effort. The idea before was that you were not there. I assure you that you are there. So why are you waiting for some event or for something to click? If you feel you need to do something, then question, challenge and expose any concept that is contrary to this fundamental point.


Non-Duality, Suffering and What Is



Question: In your book, you say that there are non-dualists who say that suffering, war, killing, evil and so on are part of the divine or part of what is. You say that you do not really go in for that approach. Well, I guess I am one of those who see the ‘evil’ part of life as just an expression of awareness! It would be nice to say that the divine is all good and loving and that ‘evil’ and ‘suffering’ are just wrong thinking and ignorance that we can overcome by clear seeing, but this is just what Christianity and other religions are saying. A few word changes for non-dualism and we have separation, sin, the Fall and salvation. But who is it that is separate? And who is it that is in ignorance? And who is it that investigates? And who is it that sees? As non-dualism says, there is no person there, so why does non-dualism blame the mind, thought and ignorance for the separation when these are also just expressions of what is? Who is there to make the choice and who is there to be responsible? Non-dualism’s answer to this is no one is there. So how can anything, even the evil and killing and separation, be anything other than awareness expressing itself in life?


So the seeker, the thinker, the believer, the questioner, the person living in his mind and the person dominated by ego are all the actions of awareness and there is nothing wrong with it. Even one who sees reality as it is can still question, read, think and be in the mind if that is how awareness chooses to continue the role of that expression. It makes no difference. There is no one there other than the characters that awareness is expressing. That is all there is.

I find non-dualism falling just as short as all the other teachings. In the end, all we can say—if awareness so moves us to do so—is that all there is, is all that is. Hopefully, we can rest and live in that certainty and peace, living life to its fullness as awareness so expresses itself in each of us. In coming to see this, there is a knowing and confidence and peace there. I have come to live in an awareness of that presence. Nothing else matters any more.


John: Your understanding is very clear. I have no quarrel with it. My sense is that there is very little that I can point to that you do not already know. However, the following is coming up in response to your comments.


All words, teachings and pointers fall short. This you have seen. To try to get a clear and accurate expression is a futile effort. All that matters, if anything matters, is the direct non-conceptual recognition of present awareness and our identity with that. Even that does not really matter because whether there is a recognition or not, we are still only that. All teachings—even your own attempts to express how non-duality falls short—are provisional. There is no accurate pointer or word, none at all. You express your vision very clearly, but then, like all of us do, you lapse into hopeless contradiction, as in the following:


‘… hopefully we can rest and live in that certainty and peace, living life to its fullness as awareness so expresses itself in each of us. In coming to see this, there is a knowing and confidence and peace there. I have come to live in an awareness of that presence. Nothing else matters any more’.


Who is hopeful? Who is the ‘we’ that can hopefully rest and live in certainty? Who needs to live life to its fullest? Who has come to live in awareness? When all there is is that and there is no separation from that, there is no one there who needs to hope, rest, live and so on. I know that you realize this and have expressed the same. I am just pointing out the fact that all language and expression is appearing in dualism and tends, by its nature, to create false divisions. Once that is seen, you can use language, being fully aware of its limits.


Non-duality means no separation, nothing other than the one. Any appearance, thought or experience is only that. So there is really nothing to say or to express at all. It is like standing on the North Pole. Whichever way you move, you start heading south again. So once you start to say anything, you immediately suggest false dualisms. Even the teaching of non-duality is false. Like all paths, it is just a pointer. All pointers are false because there is only oneness. There is no need for a path because you are already what you are seeking.


Realizing this, there is no need to say or do anything. However, if there is a communication in speech, actions or writings, those expressions will carry a fragrance of living understanding. The words, though false in themselves, will awaken a resonance. If the words are left behind and the inner resonance is followed, the understanding will arise in the apparent other of something utterly beyond words and thoughts. In words, this is hopelessly incomprehensible. But those who relinquish words in favor of immediate inner knowing realize a depth of peace and certitude that is the most real and intimate experience of life.


Yes, ultimately everything is only the oneness, including war, crime, murder, brutality, mayhem and so on. However, these acts and expressions generally arise out of a fundamental basic ignorance, the belief in the existence of a separate ‘I’ apart from the oneness. Rather than speak of these things as an expression of the one, which is strictly true, I am inclined to trace their source to its root cause. I am more interested in the living experience of clarity and the resolution of human suffering rather than maintaining an extreme non-dual stance in language. That is just my expression of the oneness!


There is a style of non-dual teachings that say that all our ignorance, suffering, separation is just the one, therefore just accept them as ‘what is’. For some, this style resonates and works. However, I find that there is something too assertive and idealistic about it for my taste. The bottom line is that teachers in this vein still talk about people waking up, recognizing oneness, being lost in stories, oscillating between recognition and non-recognition, and all the rest. Plus they show up to teach apparent others and so forth. So the behavior actually contradicts the radical non-dualistic position expressed verbally. In some cases, the statement that ‘all is one’ is really just a mental assertion. Why tolerate separation and suffering when it can be directly resolved through clear seeing? If this is dualistic then so be it. It makes no difference to the oneness. Those who view their suffering, pain, separation and seeking as the divine are most welcome to keep them! For my part, I encountered a clear and decisive remedy for these things through the teachings and guidance given by Nisargadatta Maharaj and ‘Sailor’ Bob Adamson.


I prefer to be a bit more down to earth and practical, even at the risk of contradicting myself and compromising the adherence to non-dualism in language. There is no benefit for me to try to make my language free of contradictions. By virtue of my contact with ‘Sailor’ Bob Adamson, the basics are clear. I have no position to maintain, not even of being a non-dualist or being consistent with myself.


So everything that may arise is actually in response to a given question and questioner. It is given to dismantle the question and throw the questioner back upon the recognition of his true being as present awareness. Both the question and answer are dispensed with. Both are false. Once the task at hand is accomplished, both are discarded. Depending on where the questioner is coming from, the discussion of human suffering, for example, will come out entirely differently. For some, you may say it is all the oneness, so do nothing. To another, you will recommend that he trace the root of suffering and dismantle it through clear seeing. At the surface, these suggestions are totally contradictory. It all depends on the situation.


There is no teaching. There is no consistent verbal formula. There are no ultimately ‘right’ words. Everything that comes out of our mouths is pure bullshit. But the saving grace is that what is being pointed to has nothing to do with words. It is a communication of a non-verbal recognition of being or presence. The words are just the messengers. The real message is the source from which the words are arising. The actual truth to be known is the fact of your own being. Seeing this, there is a relaxation and release of the attempt to ‘get it right’ in words.


Well this is a lot of words to say that all words are bullshit, including mine! As Bob Adamson says: ‘All there is, is non-conceptual, self-shining, ever-fresh presence awareness, just this and nothing else. There is nothing other than this’. The rest is silence. You are that and there is absolutely nothing left to do or know. Finished!

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