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In this issue are some excerpts from Leo Hartong's new book, From Self to Self.
The following is from the website which publishes and sells the book:
From Self to Self contains a compilation of expressions, questions and answers that came about in response to Leos highly praised first book Awakening to the Dream. Leo writes with characteristic insight and uses metaphor to illuminate the paradoxical and apparently confusing nature of non-dual reality.
His original writing is reinforced by a wide knowledge of non-duality in other spiritual traditions and he weaves these together with his own direct path to present clear pointers to contemporary seekers. Each short chapter concludes with an appropriately chosen quotation taken from various sources. Also included, as the final chapter, is the full text of the Hsin-hsin Ming by the third Chan patriarch Seng-tsan.
The words in this book repeatedly point to the essence which knows the reading as it takes place. Rather than an encouragement to follow a lengthy path, it is an invitation to step off the path. It does not point to your awareness, but to Awareness itself in which the idea of you appears. It does not point to your beingness, but to the undeniable Beingness that appears as you.
You may order From Self to Self, by Leo Hartong, at http://www.non-dualitybooks.com/
Leo's website is http://www.awakeningtothedream.com . His weekly newsletter, whose spirit is like that of the Highlights, is excellent: http://www.awakeningtothedream.com/newsletter/
Excerpt from chapter 13
No Claim, No Blame, No Fame
As I am sitting at my computer writing these words, I become aware of the sensation of thirst. Simultaneously comes the thought, "A cup of tea would be nice." This all happens spontaneously without me first deciding to be thirsty and then to think of tea.
If you watch your mind, you will see that thoughts arise of their own accord. Please, do not simply accept or reject this. When you honestly observe and investigate, it will become clear that you are not the thinker of your thoughts. What this chapter will try to show is that you are also not the doer of your deeds. This may go against your deepest convictions and beliefs, so I ask you to suspend the judgment that may come up as a reflex and see what is really being offered here.
All apparent decisions and choices are thoughts. To act upon a thought feels like choice and is labeled choice by the language, but choice is really just the expression of whatever thought arises most predominantly. I did not choose my desire for tea, nor did I choose the stronger desire that I should finish the paragraph first, but that is what is spontaneously happening.
This is not to say that I am an apparatus without free will. There is actually no individual here to be deprived of free will. The thought of "I" and the thoughts of tea and typing merely unfold as a manifestation of the animating energy of Pure Awareness.
From this perspective, there is a sense that life is simply living, thinking, and acting through you and as you. The Taoists call this Wu Wei, which loosely translates as non-doing. This does not mean doing nothing in the sense of inertia, but rather that everything -including "your" thoughts and actions- is happening naturally and of its own accord. Lao Tsu describes it in the Tao Te Ching as follows:
Tao, without doing anything,
Leaves nothing undone (37)
Less and less is done,
Till only non-action remains.
Nothing is done, yet nothing is left undone. (48)
In Buddha's words:
Suffering exists, but none who suffer,
The deed there is, but no doer thereof.
We all know the feeling of being in the flow of things. At such times, we lose ourselves in our activity. Writers frequently have this experience when the words seem to simply pour onto the page and they have no idea what the next line is going to be until they write it. Most athletes also have moments when suddenly everything clicks and they manage to perform beyond their normal capacity. There are sometimes moments during lovemaking when lovers melt into a union that knows no separate individuality. Or what about narrowly averted accidents on the highway where you later wonder just who was steering the car? I'm sure if you think about it, you have had several such experiences in which you forgot yourself and everything seemed to magically fall into place.
This forgetfulness is very different from forgetting your friend's birthday or where you put your glasses. Nor is it like the absentmindedness induced by too much booze or too many tranquilizers. It is a forgetfulness that is alert and alive. This losing oneself in the flow is a taste of what is meant by "the action of non-action."
All works are being done by the Gunas (or the energy and power) of nature, but due to delusion of ego, people assume themselves to be the doer. (3.27) *
Although being in the flow feels wonderful, the idea of our actions happening by themselves instead of through our free will can be upsetting. This is especially true for the western mind, which tends to view free will as either an inherent quality of one's prized individuality or a gift/test from God to see if one is strong enough to do the right thing. For the atheist, his doing or failing to do the right thing may be a measure of his true character; for the religious person there is a lot more at stake, since for him it determines the quality of his after-life.
From the free-will point of view, the idea that something is living through us can be quite objectionable. It seems to reduce us to mere marionettes, implying a helplessness, which is hard to accept. Furthermore, there arises a fear that if nothing we do is truly our own action, then people have an excuse for undesirable behavior. What is overlooked in such arguments is that all activity is of the one Self, appearing as the multiplicity of characters that apparently do the thinking, acting, and choosing. To excuse our undesirable behavior on these grounds does not work, for there will still be consequences. You may protest that the thought that led you to steal from your employer simply arose, and you are not responsible; but then neither is your employer responsible for the thought that led him to fire you and press charges.
Ultimately, since the ego is an illusion, it cannot be deprived of free will nor can it be the victim of predestination. The ego is neither the doer nor the non-doer; it simply does not have an existence independent of the Self, any more than a character in a novel exists independently of the author who portrays him. He and all other characters in the story arise from the imagination of the writer.
* The Bhagavad-Gita Copyright 1988 by Dr. Ramanand Prasad
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