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Nonduality Highlights: Issue #4346, Sunday August 21, 2011
Editor's note: In the Saturday, August 30 edition, I misformatted the link to the Robert Saltzman interview in non-duality magazine. Here is the correct link:
Behave as best you know, do what you think you should. Don't be afraid of mistakes; you can always correct them, only intentions matter. The shape things take is not within your power; the motives of your actions are.
- Nisargadatta Maharaj, from I Am That: Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, posted to AlongTheWay
Take the first step in faith.
You don't have to see the whole staircase,
just take the first step.
- Martin Luther King, Jr., posted to The_Now2
Be soft in your practice.
Think of the method as a fine silvery stream,
not a raging waterfall.
Follow the stream, have faith in its course.
It will go its own way,
It will find the grooves, the cracks, the crevices.
Just follow it.
- Sheng-yen, posted to The_Now2
Ask yourself repeatedly and directly, What do I really want? Let the answers flow freely, rising up effortlessly from the unconscious without censorship. There are no right answers.
Consider these questions a game, a game that can expose whatever beliefs and concepts all still buried in your subconscious. As you inquire within, let whatever sensations, emotions, and insights that arise wash through you. If you have discovered that what you finally want is peace, happiness, love, or enlightenment, now is the opportunity to see where you have been searching for them. You can investigate even further by asking: Where have I looked for what I want? What activities have I pursued to get what I want? Where do I imagine I will finally find it? What do I imagine obstructs me from it right now?
Are peace, happiness, love, and fulfillment conditional on some outside circumstance, or are they already alive within you? In this moment, be willing to tell the truth, which may at first be the relative, most apparent truth. For instance, your truth in this moment may be what you believe is necessary for your happiness. If your loved one is ill, you may be certain that you want only for him or her to get well, and then you could experience happiness. This relative truth can open the way to telling a deeper truth that reveals the paradoxical, causeless nature of true happiness, present now, whatever the circumstances.
Tell the truth fully, whatever the cost, whatever the risk, whatever the consequences. Investigating deeply into what you really want opens the door to discovering the truth of who you really are.
In our traditional Western understanding of psychology, personality is often used as an indication of who we are as individuals. But personality is actually a very superficial costume or mask that can easily be changed.
If you want to change your personality, there are many books you can read, or workshops you can go to, or instructions you can follow. There is nothing wrong with working on or changing your personality. It can be very useful. For instance, in order for human beings to gather peacefully in a room, it is helpful if their personalities have been conditioned enough so that there can be common courtesy and respect. This is all in the realm of personality.
Working on personality doesn't cause any harm unless you somehow believe you are your personality. You may have already noticed that no matter how much you work on your personality, or how great a personality you have finally achieved, you are constantly frustrated in your efforts to discover the deepest fulfillment of yourself. More primary than personality is a basic sense of ourselves as separate individuals, as separate "egos." What is the ego, really? Can the ego be directly experienced? Does it need to be eliminated or augmented in order for us to be happy?
Ego is the Latin for "I". It is actually the thought of "I", a thought that couples with the sensation, "I am this body", and from this starting point expands into endless complexities. In our experience of human incarnation, we have the natural capacity to identify ourselves as individual egos. This is an enormous power, and there is nothing wrong with this power. It is a delightful power, an evolutionary adaptation that has given the human species an advantage over other species in almost every circumstance. However, ego has also generated the root of all self-hatred, self-torture, self-love, and self-transcendence. If our individual body/mind/ego is believed to be our final truth, this belief subsequently gives rise to enormous, unnecessary suffering.
If you base your life on the belief that you are limited to a body, then both consciously and subconsciously the preservation of that body becomes the overriding concern. In the growing recognition that there is no real guarantee for your body's safety, great fear arises. The body is obviously subject to a multitude of attacks - genetic, environmental, and accidental. Finally, it is subject to the inevitable exhaustion of its functions. Obviously, any attempt to preserve and keep the body safe gives rise to strategies of self-protection or defense such as hiding or attacking.
These strategies give rise to both aggressive and submissive traits, to social and sexual skills - all as a way of defending the thought, "I am a body." This is ego. When preservation of the body is primary, we live in a fearful and defensive universe. Defensive action - whether in terms of "me first", "my tribe first", or "my nation first", at the cost of all other people, tribes, and nations - gives rise to tremendous suffering...
At a certain point the reality of the death of your body and all bodies, all forms of every kind, becomes apparent. Although much of society, particularly in the West, seeks to keep this fact hidden, the death of the body cannot finally be denied. This demon death, which has been feared, denied, and run from, is called out of the subconscious to be faced in the light of conscious awareness.
At this point, you can realize the undeniable presence of permanent, eternal awareness: the truth of who you are. This realization is the death of believing in the ego as reality, and the revelation of what is deathless. It is easily apparent that you are much more than a body. You are actually that which animates the body.
- Gangaji, from The Diamond in Your Pocket, posted to The_Now2
We think that there is something hiding our reality and that it must be destroyed before the reality is gained. It is ridiculous. A day will dawn when you will yourself laugh at your past efforts. That which will be on the day you laugh is also here and now.
- Sri Ramana Maharshi, from Be As You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, posted to AlongTheWay
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