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Nondual Highlights: Issue #2937, Tuesday, September 25, 2007, Editor: Mark
The path to full enlightenment generally proceeds from a heavily conditioned state of consciousness, in which attachment and aversion rule our behavior, through an initial glimpse of unconditioned aware- ness, to repeated peak experiences of unconditioned awareness that increasingly infuse our conditioned existence. This path ultimately culminates in complete freedom from conditioned patterns and an unbroken resting in the nondual state of consciousness.
- Peter Fenner, from Radiant Mind, posted to DailyDharma
The First Instant is this ever-present actuality - which is nothing other than this boundless beingness - the essence of what you truly are. You cannot move away from this instant and you never have been anywhere other than right here `in' and `as' this one and only first instant. This, as a concept, appears to be considerably challenging for the mind, even though this obviousness is undeniable for anyone who really examines the present evidence of what is immediately appearing as the `presence of what is' which is this world and its nature. From the individual perspective, one's whole life has been a never-ending appearance and disappearance of objects in this immediate living-ness - this first instant.
The direct unmediated knowing is always the primary awareness. It only appears to be hidden for the `individual', by the habitual ways of looking, a continual series of fixations on mind content, and the constant referencing to the `me'.
This immediate awareness, this directness, is the ever-present actuality and this does not change at all - ever. It is very subtle compared to our usual habitual ways of looking at the world, which is nothing much more than `objects' in mind. Words, names, descriptions and the like are all objects in mind and none of these actually obscure awareness at all, even though we believe that they do.
- Gilbert W. Schultz, from The First Instant
To practice anything in order to change oneself is a process of becoming. A process of becoming involves time. Being present "this moment" is a timelessness.
But this deserves a deeper discussion:
I've been on a "spiritual path" for my entire adult life (over 40 years). I am able to look back and see how differently certain concepts have appeared to me at different stages. The concept of "living in the present" was one that was presented to me from very early on. My understanding of what that means has changed dramatically over the years. This tells me that saying something like "being totally present" means widely different things to different people. How am I to make clear what I really mean?
Early on I understood the notion of "being present" as simply noticing my sensations in a given moment. I experienced that as me being in the moment *for a moment*. Being in the moment in a sustained way -- such as what Tolle talks about -- I didn't have any notion of.
Being in the moment in a sustained way requires a losing of any sense of "self". In the moment there are only sensations. There is no time, nothing persists. All is totally immediate. To go from experiencing as with a sense of self to a total immediacy without a sense of self involves a profound transformation. It is not something that can be comprehended intellectually, nor can it be "tried" experimentally to "see what it is like".
As I see it, complete honesty in the face of experience leads to an end of sense of self and the total immediacy of what is. By "complete honesty" I mean a dedication to honesty, to truth, that goes beyond concern for outcomes.
For me experience has totally changed to where I can't really even speak of "my experience" per se. When sense of self has died into "immediacy of now", it becomes such a profoundly alive depth, it is utterly undescribable. It is continually astonishing, and yet never the same. The very notion of "what it is like" is even meaningless. Yet that last statement will be incomprehensible to all but those who already know directly for themselves. There is a real difficulty in speaking of that which is beyond description!
Immediacy, what is, the present... is a richly deep and dynamic vastness (though a vastness that is not a "space" in that there is no sense of location nor even of "inside" of...; so the word is used here for its connotation, not its denotation.). But when experience is through the lens of a sense of self, it is as if seeing through a tiny straw, and the fullness of "what is" not beheld.
When experience is fully confronted with complete honesty the illusory nature of "self" comes (eventually) to be realized. It comes to be seen that the nature of things already is detachment, that nothing needs to be changed. A notion of "waking up" then, is a coming to see unflinchingly what is, as the distorting lens of "self" dissolves and "what is" comes to be seen ever more directly.
The account above is not based on ideas or theory, nor is it based on accounts by others. It cannot really be said that it is based on "my experience" in the sense that in a very real way what is written here comes from a place of "absence". These words come forth from imponderable silence.
Presumably the sceptical reader will be dissatisfied with this account. But nothing can be done.
A reasonable question remains to be addressed, if not answered. If "the moment", Now, is timeless, and so nothing persists in Now and there is no continuity in Now... then how is it that things appear to continue? The clock on the wall continues to tick, the refrigerator continues to hum. Or, what is perhaps the same question put a different way, if the moment is only sensation, how is it that there is what is not only sensation, such as ideas, and things (in the world)?
That is perhaps the most difficult question for which I have sought an an explanation for some time. The short answer is that things only "appear" to exist and continue. [Note that to exist and to continue are essentially the same, hence the two quesions above are essentially the same.]
There is at this moment alive, vibrant sensation... "what is" teems with sensation, yet the typing goes on. There is no "sense" of the typing as an "act", there is no "sense" of a "someone" doing the typing, there is no "sense" of a topic or of a point being made. There is no "steering" involved. All is happening of its own. If there is any magic, that is it. But it has always been happening of its own. Before it seemed as if there were someone doing what is done. Now it is clear there is no one doing.
The difference between "normal functioning" and "selfless functioning" is in the absence of a sense of self as driver of what is going on. The sense of "oneself" as a driver is an unnecessary encumberance that clouds full, open consciousness and creates distortions in both perception and action.
- Bill Rishel, posted to The_Now2
Wisdom occurs when you drop barriers you have erected through your concepts and conditioning. Wisdom is not something acquired; wisdom is not experience; wisdom is not applying yesterday's illusions to today's problems. As somebody said to me while I was studying for my degree in psychology in Chicago years ago, "Frequently, in the life of a priest, fifty years' experience is one year's experience repeated fifty times." You get the same solutions to fall back on: This is the way to deal with the alcoholic; this is the way to deal with priests; this is the way to deal with sisters; this is the way to deal with a divorcee.
But that isn't wisdom. Wisdom is to be sensitive to this situation, to this person, uninfluenced by any carryover from the past, without residue from the experience of the past. This is quite unlike what most people are accustomed to thinking. I would add another sentence to the ones I've read: "If the heart is unobstructed, the result is love." I've been talking a great deal about love these days even though I told you there's nothing that can be said, really, about love. We can only speak of non-love. We can only speak of addictions. But of love itself nothing may be said explicitly.
- Anthony de Mello, S.J., posted to The_Now2
How can I turn myself in all
Why does the sitar
fill my heart?
How does the hollow flute
Where can I call Home?
There are no walls here.
i can not kiss your lips
with this mask
i can not write
to remove your name
like lines of poetry in
the hands of water,
burn with me
in this pyre of desire,
let nothing stand
between us, not even
through this opening
in the sky.
- Anna Ruiz, posted to The_Now2
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