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Nondual Highlights: Issue #2891, Saturday, August 4, 2007
The individual self can exist only as a process of becoming, whereas THAT WHICH IS is the perennial state of BEING. Therefore, its realization is the annihilation of the individual.
- Ramesh S. Balsekar, posted to ANetofJewels
The Absolute works with nothing.
The workshop, the materials
are what does not exist.
Try and be a sheet of paper with nothing on it.
Be a spot of ground where is nothing is growing,
where something might be planted,
a seed, possibly, from the Absolute.
- Rumi, from Mathnawi V: 1960-64, version by Coleman Barks, The Essential Rumi, posted to Sunlight
Stephan Bodian in conversation/intervies with Adyashanti:
What's the relationship, do you suppose, between all those years of sitting zazen and this kensho experience? Did they prime the pump of awakening? Were they steps leading to awakening? You now seem to be dismissing the concept of "stages of the path," yet there appears to be some causal relationship between your Zen meditation practice and your awakening.
I'm deeply grateful for my Zen practice. It ultimately led me to fail well. I failed at being a Buddhist, I failed at being a perfect exemplar of the ten precepts, and certainly I failed at meditation, failed at all my efforts to bust down the "gateless gate" to awakening that Zen speaks of. And the fact that I actually got to the point where I failed - and I failed completely - was useful. Zen provided a place for me to fail, and I needed that. In fact, I'd say my process wasn't so much a letting go as an utter failure. Zen did a good job of letting me fall on my face.
Stephan: What would have been a success - awakening?
Adya: Well, failure was the success - awakening happened through failure. In that sense I have a great respect for the lineage. What was transmitted was bigger than all the carriers, it was even bigger than the lineage, much bigger than Zen, much bigger than Buddhism.
Stephen: What was that?
Adya: I'd say a certain spark, an aliveness.
Stephen: How has your own enlightenment changed the way you function in the world: your relationships, your family life, your everyday behavior? Does being enlightened mean that you never get angry or reactive or make big mistakes?
Adya: There's no such thing as never getting angry. Enlightenment can and does use all the available emotions. Otherwise, we would have to discount Jesus for getting pissed off in the temple and kicking over the table. The idea that enlightenment means sitting around with a beatific smile on our faces is just an illusion. At a human level, enlightenment means that you are no longer divided within yourself, and that you no longer experience a division between yourself and others. Without any inner division, you stop experiencing most of the usual forms of reactivity.
Stephen: Could you say a little more what you mean by no "inner division"?
Adya: Most human beings spend their lives battling with opposing inner forces: what they think they should do versus what they are doing; how they feel about themselves versus how they are; whether they think they're right and worthy or wrong and unworthy. The separate self is just the conglomeration of these opposing forces. When the self drops away, inner division drops away with it. Now, I can't say that I never make a mistake, because in this human world being enlightened doesn't mean we become experts at everything. What does happen, though, is that personal motivations disappear. Only when enlightenment occurs do we realize that virtually everything we did, from getting out of bed to going to work to being in a relationship to pursuing our pleasures and interests, was motivated by personal concern. In the absence of a separate self, there's no personal motivation to do anything. Life just moves us. When personal motivation no longer drives us, then what's left is our true nature, which naturally expresses itself on the human dimension as love or compassion. Not a compassion that we cultivate or practice because we're supposed to, but a compassion that arises spontaneously from our undivided state. If we undertake being a good, compassionate person as a personal identity, it just gets in the way of awakening.
Stephen: In traditional Buddhism, at least as I practiced it, there's a taboo against talking openly about enlightenment, as we're doing now. It seems to be based on the fear that the ego will co-opt the experience and become inflated. In your dharma talks you speak in great detail about awakening, including your own, and in your public dialogues you encourage others to do the same. Why is that?
Adya: When I was sitting with my teacher, Arvis, we'd all go into the kitchen after the meditation and dharma talk and have some fruit and tea, and we'd talk openly about our lives. For the most part we didn't focus on our spiritual experiences, but they were a part of the mix. Then these same people would do retreats at the Zen Center of Los Angeles and have big awakenings, and the folks in L.A. began to wonder what was happening in this little old lady's living room up north. Arvis's view was simple: The only thing I'm doing that they're not, she said, is that we sit around casually and talk, and what's happening on the inside for people isn't kept secret or hidden. This way, people get beyond the sense that they're the only ones who are having this or that experience. They come out of their shell, which actually makes them more available to a deeper spiritual process. The tradition of talking about certain experiences only in private with your teacher keeps enlightenment a secret activity reserved for special people. I can understand the drawbacks of being more open, of course. Some people may blab on about how enlightened they are, and become more egotistical. But when everything remains open to inquiry, then even the ego's tendency to claim enlightenment for itself becomes obvious in the penetrating light of public discourse. In the long run, both ways have their strengths and weaknesses, but I've found that having students ask their questions in public breaks down the isolation that many spiritual people feel - the sense that nobody else could possibly understand what they're going through, or that they're so rotten at their practice, or that nobody could be struggling like they are. And when people have breakthroughs and talk about them in public, awakening loses its mystique. Everyone else can see that it's not just special people who have deep awakenings, it's their neighbor or their best friend.
Stephen: Would you claim that you are enlightened?
Adya: Well, no, not with a straight face. I would say enlightenment is enlightened and awakeness is awake. It's not an experience; it's a fact.
- posted to The_Now2
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.
"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.
- posted to The_Now2
Gently, but with undeniable strength
divesting myself of the holds that would hold me
I inhale great drafts of space
The North and the South are mine
And the East and the West are mine
I am larger, better than I thought
I did not know I held so much goodness
All seems beautiful to me
Henceforth I ask not for good fortune.
I am my own good fortune.
- from Song of Myself by Walt Whitman, posted to adyashantigroup
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