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Nonduality Highlights: Issue #3071, Saturday, February 9, 2007, Editor: Mark
Addiction and Choice
(From the Meeting, Immovable Resolve)
San Diego, CA - January 18, 2001
Questioner: I know one hundred percent that this personal entity, this individuality, is in truth nonexistent. This is known. But sometimes I completely forget and get carried away, and I don't like the things that happen. Looking back, I wonder how I could have completely identified with my thoughts and my desires and forgotten what I know.
Gangaji: Yes, how did you do it? This is what you have to see, because there is a "how." For surrender, there is no "how." But there is a "how" to identification.
Is this identification also coming from Consciousness?
So it's not my fault. (Laughter.)
It is your fault, because fault also comes from Consciousness. "It's not my fault" is the slippery way out. It is a trick of the mind.
How can I be vigilant to not re-identify and have it be effortless?
There is only effort to vigilance if there is a "you" doing vigilance. Then vigilance is still the property of the mind. But who are you? If you are not this individual, then who are you?
I don't know how to describe myself.
I will name you then. You are consciousness. You are awareness. Vigilance is the very nature of awareness. The moment that vigilance is effort is the moment the mind has co-opted vigilance. Then vigilance is bound to be dropped for identification of yourself with your mind activity. You are not separate from your mind activity, but you are more than your mind activity. All mind activity appears and disappears. But you, as you truly are, is always here. Always.
Take a moment now and look back to one of those instances when you got totally identified with the drama, with the movie, and then did not like the behavior that arose. Can you see the moment that you left the truth and identified with the drama? There were so many moments leading into it, but there was a particular moment when there was a choice. It comes with the speed of light. The ego, which is false identification, appears with the speed of light. But you are present as it appears. When you look back in your mind to that moment, what occurred?
It looks like identification just happened, and I...
I understand it looks like that, but I am asking you to look a little closer at the more subtle mechanisms. When you look from the outside, it is the wheel just started turning. But if you look a little closer, you see, Aha, the wheel didn't just start turning. There was this little thing here, and that little thing there, and then that other thing. . . and then the momentum kept it going.
I am asking you now to look deeper for some pattern, fueled by some emotion, accompanied by some thought.
It looks like a past tendency.
And what is this past tendency?
A habit that might have gained power through the years.
Ask yourself how this habit got chosen in this particular instant. Maybe it seemed to just appear out of some past momentum, but there was a moment. It seems like a sliver of time, but if you actually put your magnifying glass on it, which is consciousness, you will see in slow motion there were many choices along the way.
First, there is an emotion, which can be big. Then there is a choice to indulge that emotion or to repress that emotion. If you repress it, it will simply squeeze out in another time. If you indulge it, then it is dramatized. This is universal.
The behavior of re-identification seems to have its own momentum - I am just being who I am - but in the moment we are speaking of there is no questioning of who you really are. Instead, you are acting out who you think you are, and this thought has been built up by millions of years of conditioning. This thought of who you are has a force. It has a power. But you are consciousness. You have the ability to examine in minute detail the choices of acting out.
First, there arises a very familiar pattern. It comes in blowing horns. You know it is coming. You feel it in your body. You are starting to think those thoughts again. You are feeling either self-righteousness or blame. I don't know what your particular pattern is, but I will use a pattern of anger as an example.
With a pattern of anger, you may justified in doing whatever you do, right? Then in the looking back, you might think, Well, I don't know what happened; it just happened. When there is a desire to know what happened, then there is the possibility of seeing that you, as individual consciousness, chose to re-identify with some old, dead movie. I say it is old and dead because you no longer have the desire to identify with the movie. It really doesn't thrill you any more, except maybe in the moment. You can see its destruction. You can see how it bleeds the life energy from you and the people around you and uses up the creative force in you life. Once you see that it is old and dead, then your power comes from seeing exactly where you are choosing to re-identify.
So if I am extremely vigilant, I can learn...
It is skillful means to assume that you won't be very vigilant, because then there is an openness to see how re-identification occurred. If there is vigilance, then there is no re-identification. And if there is not vigilance, then there is something to learn.
What you can learn, what is learnable, is the A, B, & C of how you re-identify. You cannot learn the Self. You cannot learn consciousness. You cannot learn love. You cannot learn trust. But you can learn how you deny all of that. For this denial, there are techniques and strategies. There is either indulgence or repression, and with both there is an avoidance of simply experiencing the power and the immensity of the moment.
There is a power, a force, that when it is experienced is then a force of light. It is a force of love, of consciousness, meeting itself here, deeper than ever before experienced. If it is denied or repressed, it is just the same old habit. When it is indulged, it is just the same old violence. We are speaking of a certain kind of addiction, the addiction to a pattern.
With addiction there has to come a point when you see that the desire is out of your control. Maybe the addiction is physiological. Maybe it has been practiced for so long that it has its own groove. But what is in your control, absolutely, is the willingness to not move when the desire appears. The willingness neither to indulge nor repress but to not move in the fire of this impulse of thousands of years. Have you ever experienced this?
Then you know the beauty of this fire. You know that in this moment, there is actually a willingness to die. Because the addiction to mind or to habits can be so strong that there is the sense if you don't feed the addiction, you will die. Eventually, through the maturity of the soul, there is a willingness to say, "Okay, if I die I will die. But I am not going to follow this demon down this road again."
This, too, is the mind, but it is the mind in service to what was betrayed. Vigilance was betrayed, and the mind humbled by this. It feels like a descent into hell because with any addiction, the impulse is strong to get rid of the craving, to get rid of the fire. How? How? How? There are millions of ways how, but to not get rid of it, to not go numb with it, to let it burn - this is the fire. This is the Buddha and the temptations of Mara. This is Christ in the desert. Everyone has to experience this - Oh my god, I am dying. Okay, so I am dying. I surrender. I surrender - and there is peace, there is freedom. You recognize what has never left. You recognize what is always here. In that moment, there is a break in the habit pattern. The habit may reappear, but there is something bigger than it, so it does not have the same hold on you. Do you follow this?
I want you to recognize that there are many moments before the acting out. There are many choices. They happen very fast. But if you will slow them down in your mind, just slow the film of this movie down, you will see where the choices were made.
Justification can arise, and a kind of thrill from the adrenaline and the power that comes with justification. There can be quick excuse making, such as, "Well, so-and-so did it," or, "It doesn't matter," or, "We're all one, it is all the Self," but this is all thought. It is all the sirens saying, Come, come back, back into where you were all-powerful, where you were in control, where you were God, where you got to say what happens. Don't follow any of it. DON'T MOVE. And an exquisite experience is revealed that can never be taken from you.
Yes, but those moments have happened, and the thoughts still come back. As you said, it is a conditional pattern.
Yes, good! This means that there is something still unseen, which is even more deeply humbling for the mind. Because all we are speaking of is the humbling of the mind. This is what the fire is. It is the resistance, the friction of the mind constantly seeking control of a particular situation. The refusal to follow the mind creates the fire, the burning, and if it comes back, well good! Then there must be more here to see.
But there is a lot of suffering at that moment.
Yes, but it is conscious suffering. This is very different from attempting to delay suffering. This is very different from following, indulging, or discharging suffering. Then suffering is spread out over time, and the suffering of the misidentification continues.
To get to paradise there has to be a descent into the hell created by the mind so that you recognize you are more than that. It can be a scary descent. There is the tendency to think, No, no, I don't have to do that. It is all Self. It doesn't matter. It is all just a movie. Well that is great if it is true, but if it is just another strategy, or a covering, then the habit patterns continue. If it is all Self, then what have you got to lose?
When you discover that in the midst of hell, here is God, radiant, then hell itself is liberated. Your demons, the hungry ghosts that have been haunting you and waking you up at four in the morning, get liberated. Self-criticism, self-hatred, and self-torture are liberated. The Self is not liberated. It was never bound. What gets liberated are the demons of your mind, as well as the gods of your mind. Set them all free. You are sick of them. You are sick of playing with them and being played by them. The way to set them free is to be willing to not play the game.
This willingness takes enormous resolve. Resolve is a little different from vigilance. Resolve comes after vigilance has been betrayed, after re-identification has set in. It is the mind's resolve to recognize the hell that has once again been created and to be here, to burn here, and in that burning, there is naturally redemption. No one is needed to come and redeem you. Redemption happens naturally.
You recognize that it is all a movie, God's movie, a huge movie, and it has corner, and surprises and slopes that are undreamed of, unheard of, that even our greatest movie makers and playwrights have never touched. It is your life.
If consciousness is playing this movie, why is consciousness making me go through this suffering?
Why not? In every movie there is someone suffering. Would you really be interested in a story if there was no suffering? The resolution occurs when there is suffering. Suffering and the resistance to suffering are one and the same. Isn't this what the Buddha said, "Life is suffering, and there is a way out"? The way out is in. Meet the suffering directly, consciously. Christ said, "If you know how to suffer, you do not suffer."
If you will recognize how it is you suffer, you will not suffer. But this must be recognized. Questioning "why" is an avoidance of knowing "how" it is that the suffering continues.
Right here, in this universe, patterns of war still appear, and war is what we are talking about, right? Even though you have tasted peace, even though this universe has tasted peace on earth, how is it that conflict still has its way? This is true of every mindstream, especially in humans. War is inbred, and it has gone unmet. Now war is being made on war, and the child of that is more war. So meet that war within yourself consciously, awake, refusing to budge. In meeting war, you will find peace. If you have tasted it, then you know it is so. If you have not tasted it, it may seem impossible, but taste it anyway and see. Just take one moment in the midst of one attacking pattern and don't budge.
Beneath the behavior is the energy of an emotion, and that emotion is fueled by some thought of protection from being wounded or hurt or not being seen. In the willingness to experience that wounded or hurt or not being seen, to really be wounded, really be hurt, really not be seen, then it is no big deal. Then the wound is nothing, the hurt is nothing, and you realize that you will never be seen. You are the Self. You cannot be seen. You are not an object. Do you understand?
I need the strength to find that resolve.
Give me your hand. Just take the strength from me to you, and with this strength, I give you the strength of my teacher, and his teacher, and his teacher, and all teachers throughout all time, dead or alive, past, present, and future.
It is very courageous to ask for help, but what is often neglected is to first check and see if help is already here. You have asked for help. The next thing is to see, is help here? In this moment of the need for resolve, help is here. It is here! There is a hand outreached to all you. The greatest and highest teachers from the past are alive in you. They don't die. They are your own heart. They are the Self, as are You.
A hand is being offered you throughout time. It is always there for you. I promise you this. You will see.
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