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Nonduality Highlights: Issue #3345, Saturday, November 8, 2008, Editor: Mark

You cannot be conscious of what does not change. All consciousness is consciousness of change. But the very perception of change - does it not necessitate a changeless background?

- Nisargadatta Maharaj

How Do You Feel?

What do we want, for ourselves as individuals? We just want to be happy, mostly. What does that mean? We want to have this one particular feeling all the time, one we call "happy." Does that mean we somehow expect to go the rest of our lives only having happy thoughts, and not ever having a sad or bad thought cross our mind?

Maybe it would be more reasonable to look at the anatomy of feelings, and whether it's all that important what the content of our thought is. Maybe there can be a happy or a sad thought, a charitable or a judgmental one, and it's all the same. Perhaps looking into this idea and seeing feelings for what they are might allow us to see our own ignorance about them, and see how our true nature is obscured by the fog of this ignorance.

Bliss seems to be a common feeling that is lusted after. This is probably why "enlightenment" is thought of as a desirable goal - because it promises to bring us permanent bliss. Permanent bliss. The problem with pursung "permanent bliss" is that bliss is simply a state of feeling, and no state of feeling is ever permanent. You may feel bliss for a little while, but it is sure to shift to something else. This is what feelings are - they are impermanent, like clouds in the sky. Asking for permanent bliss is like asking for one particular formation of clouds in the sky to stick that way forever. It can't happen.

But what does feeling blissful mean, anyway? Does the feeling of bliss change the clear, present-time awareness that reflects everything that appears? No, it does not. And nor does a feeling of anxiety, or a feeling of depression, a feeling of hopelessness, or despondence. Nothing changes that clear, shining consciousness which you notice right now as being the ground on which everything appears.

Does feeling worthy, loved, or self-assured change the clear, bright presence that is watching this all, through your own consciousness, right now? No, it does not. So any pursuit you have in your life that i for the purpose of feeling happier, or feeling loved, or feeling self-assured, or anything else - none of it amounts to anything. Nothing of substance improves when you improve the quality of your "feeling."

And yet this - feeling - is all that changes when we change the circumstances of our lives. All that work to change our circumstances! And nothing changes but the thought, the idea, the feeling you have about yourself and your life. Look for yourself. All that effort to make it big, get ahead, get rich, get a lover, look good, have all the right friends, be a good person, help the planet, be "spiritual" - none of it does anything except change how you feel, or how you think about yourself. And your feelings are changing from moment to moment, no matter how hard you try to grab onto a particular one, and no matter what the circumstances are.

I'm not telling you anything you don't know. You've tried this already - you've tried for years to have your actions and accomplishments in the materil world satisfy your hunger, and they never do. And the reason they never do is that you keep wanting to have a better feeling resulting from what you accomplish, earn, buy, give, understand, create, seduce, control, fix, etc., but no lasting feeling ever materializes. There is no such thing as a lasting feeling. The object may last - the boat you bought last year is still there, but the feelings about it have changed from elated to encumbered. The person you fell all over yourself to win the heart of is now making you miserable. Material objects and acquisitions, be they things or people, do not create anything lasting.

And because you've figured this out, and know at some level that you can't get what you want in the material world, you invent a goal that trumps all others: enlightenment. This goal is not about "stuff," this is about truth! Truth! So you feel perfectly justified in turning your sights to this lofty goal. And you're off to the races.

But you're just back in the same old trap gain. Wanting to feel "done,- enlightened, awake, realized" wanting to feel a permanent sense of bliss, peace, and freedom. Wanting to understand the big mystery once and for all, so that all anxiety about your unworthiness can be put to rest. But hitching your cart to a feeling is asking for trouble.

"I want to be enlightened" is a feeling - a feeling of frustration. "I want bliss" is a feeling of lack. Right now you feel lack. Right now you feel frustrated. It's fine, the feelings change. In a minute you will feel something else. But the story, repeating "I want to have bliss," "I want to be awake," brings back the feeling of lack again. As soon as you try to grab bliss, it turns into lack. No problem, it will soon change. But the point is, nothing you fix in the story is of any use. It's shifting and changing under your feet all the time. Nothing in the story lasts, not even "I understand it all now!"

So, what then? If not feeling good, feeling blissful, feeling awake, then what?

Wha is. What you are. This, just this, now, this aware space noticing all the feelings, all the thoughts, all the sensations. Permanent. Never changing. The mirror that is not changed by what shows in its reflection. Just this, and observable by you right now in your own experience.

Not bliss, not a lack of bliss. Feelings have no way to touch this, which is the wellspring from which all feelings arise. This is not divided by labeling it happy and sad. This is One, undivided, unchanging, eternally now.

As this, you notice that you are alive. You notice that life is happening, dramas are unfolding, stars and galaxies are swirling in the heavens. As this, you notice that you are aware: without interference from any feeling or judgment about it, you are simply aware. And as you are, the universe is. And as the universe is, God is. Brahman is. Oneness is.

There is no such thing as enlightenment, folks. Desire it for one second and here you are feeling lack again. Stop. The light you are seekin is already you. You. This. Always. Already. Now. Is it hidden from you, from your human consciousness? No. It is all there is! It is all you are ever noticing. You name it a million other things, and create stories about those million things all day long, but it is only, always, just this. And you are that.

- Annette Nibley

We are the one's we've been waiting for.

- Hopi Wisdom

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