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Nonduality Highlights: Issue #3935, Sunday, June 27, 2010, Editor: Mark
Because of our craving, the Buddha is saying, we want things to be understandable. We reduce, concretize, or substantialize experiences or feelings, which are, in their very nature, fleeting or evanescent. In so doing, we define ourselves by our moods and by our thoughts. We do not just let ourselves be happy or sad, for instance; we must become a happy person or a sad one. This is the chronic tendency of the ignorant or deluded mind, to make 'things' out of that which is no thing. Seeing craving shatters this predisposition; it becomes preposterous to try to see substance where there is none. The materials out of which we construct our identities become useless and broken when the ridgepole of ignorance is shattered...
- Mark Epstein, from Thoughts without a Thinker
Intelligent practice always deals with just one thing: the fear at the base of human existence, the fear that I am not. And of course I am not, but the last thing I want to know is that.
- Charlotte Joko Beck
Try to be, only to be. The all-important word is 'try'. Allot enough time daily for sitting quietly and trying, just trying, to go beyond the personality, with its addictions and obsessions. Don't ask how, it cannot be explained. You just keep on trying until you succeed. If you persevere, there can be no failure. What matters supremely is sincerity, earnestness; you must really have had surfeit of being the person you are, now see the urgent need of being free of this unnecessary self-identification with a bundle of memories and habits. This steady resistance against the unnecessary is the secret of success.
- Nisargadatta Majaraj, from I Am That: Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
Gangaji: 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?
Gangaji: 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.
Questioner: Yes, but those moments have happened, and the thoughts still come back. As you said, it is a conditional pattern.
Gangaji: 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.
Questioner: But there is a lot of suffering at that moment.
Gangaji: 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 corners, 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.
Questioner: If consciousness is playing this movie, why is consciousness making me go through this suffering?
Gangaji: 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?
- Gangaji, excerpt from the Meeting, Immovable Resolve, San Diego, CA, January 18, 2001
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