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Highlights #629

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Wednesday, February 21


Jan Seeker wrote: "To give my example, I am reluctant to
meditate, to inquire the question of 'who am I' until I have
read enough on the subject. I fear starting out on the wrong
footing [so to speak]."

Suggestions will vary, but if you asked me I would say "jump
right in." That's what I did. Mistakes get corrected along the
way, it's easy to change directions as long as you don't get too
attached to anything. Exploring with a sense of adventure (to
me) seems the best way. Read, and try things out.

It's very important to get that first 'taste', so to speak. It
can't wait and it's not worth filling the mind with stuff you'll
never have a use for.

Now you may think I'm completely crazy for emphasizing "Just
stop seeking" and also saying "Begin," but self-inquiry and
meditation *ARE* in the direction of stopping that momentum. The
best self- inquiry might be as Nisargadatta Maharaj outlined it,
just BE (not being this or that, just "practice" existing)...
rather than using the intellect, actually "practice" *doing
nothing* (just being, attending to Beingness) all the time you
can spare. Ego will instantly say "this is a waste of time" and
may keep shouting, so it requires surrender and trust (sometimes
a great deal of both).


IMO the best "preventative medicine" for this "sickness" is to
not attach to the belief that there is any "end" to so-called
realization. There can be many "realizations," and the big
mistake is to attach to a "BLAMMO!" spiritual experience, and
get stuck there.

Looking at the history of the sages, it's interesting to note
that although Nisargadatta claimed realization at age 37, he
certainly didn't start any teaching until many years later. Same
with Ramana Maharshi, he described some event and everyone
believed that was "the end..." funny he sat alone for three
years before teaching anything, and he certainly didn't invite

"Realization" assumed as being something timeless, it seems very
foolish to place some event at some date and say "it finished
here." How can that be, if time (psychological or otherwise) is
no longer perceived? I submit that most who describe "supernova"
experiences and claim these as some sort of "finish line" are
doing a major disservice to the 'spiritual public', and may in
fact be caught in a lie themselves.

I also tentatively submit... the true 'realization' is -- there
was never a time when there was any lack of 'realization'. It is
ever- present, beginningless, a non-state non-place non-time
existing always... "before" and "after" so-called Realization.
This is apperceived when the whole movement toward "seeking
Realization" (or anything else, spiritual or nonspiritual) comes
to a halt.



The way it seems to occur to me is that a certain effort is
involved, asking the question "Who am I" or whatever variant to
turn attention to the basis of mind, until you see it
(thoroughly understand it intuitively). When you've seen it for
a while, the seeing becomes spontaneous, and no effort is then

" The dharma turns us around as we turn the wheel of the dharma
around. When we turn the wheel of the dharma around well, we are
strong and the dharma is soft. When the dharma turns us around
instead, the dharma is strong and we are soft. The Buddha dharma
has always existed on both of these occasions."




I've heard this called 'zen sickness', and it IS a sickness. The
point is not to dwell in the emptiness itself, but to notice the
pure limitless energy of being/becoming that is always coming
forth from emptiness. Then you may notice that you are none
other than that energy. Its a shift of perspective from small
intellectual mind to limitless omnipresent Mind. A taoist image
about this is the image of servant and master, the intellectual
mind is the servant, but has usurped the role of master, the
master that you are is waking up, and the servant must take on
its proper role as a helpful and loyal worker, but it can't act
as though it's the boss any more. In the state of being stuck in
emptiness, the servant is on strike, the inner master isn't
sufficiently awake to take command. There's a power struggle
going on. Needless to say, the above is a metaphor told for a
purpose, not ultimate truth.

"When you are quiet, it is then essential to find potential and
find its opening; don't sit inside nothingness or indifference
(so-called "neutral voidness"). Even as you let go of all
objects, you are alert and self-possessed. But don't get
enthusiastic about attaining the experience. (This easily
happens whenever reality is taken too seriously. That means not
that you shouldn't recognize reality, but that the rhythm of
reality is on the brink of existence and nonexistence. You can
get it by intent that is not willful.) ... If you tend to fall
into a deadness whenever you go into meditation and are
relatively lacking in growth and creative energy, this means you
have fallen into a shadow world. Your mood is cold, your breath
sinking, and you have a number of other chilling and withering
experiences. If you continue this way for a long time, you will
degenerate into a blockhead or a rockhead."

--Secret of the Golden Flower Thomas Cleary trans.



To seek or not to seek is the question

seek and ye shall find

as Rumi would put it: get thirsty, really thirsty... and God
will do the rest

I think the fear is, getting too used to seeking or to the
journey and not wanting to arrive

[These are not my opinions, friends ... just a newbie thinking
out aloud]

To give my example, I am reluctant to meditate, to inquire the
question of 'who am I' until I have read enough on the subject.
I fear starting out on the wrong footing [so to speak].

Though I do try it out for a few minutes every now and then.
Isn't the quality of meditation or inquiry more important than
the quantity?

I don't think controlling thought is that difficult. Shutting
out all sensation, etc. can be done. You get the blank mind than
what? Are we supposed to maintain this blank mind for a long

In fact why meditate at all? Isn't this freedom, this stillness,
this self-awareness supposed to be ever present even while going
about our everyday duties? Why cannot it just creep in
unnoticed? Cannot it grow from mindfulness, heedfulness,
constancy? Suddenly you realize that this stillness has always
been with you. It is just that you have not been paying
attention to it?

Isn't all achievement nonlinear? It comes to you out of the blue
when you least expect. As if it is not for us to achieve but for
God to grant in his sweet time? Or do we accumulate stamps of
some sort and when the required amount is accumulated, bingo!

forgive this slow newbie learner ...


Exhaustion or Stillness

I used to daydream a lot. In fact most of my spare moments were
spent day dreaming. Now with this new found interest in 'God' I
have almost stopped day dreaming. All I do is read and think;
download, read and think.

Sometimes my mind seems to rebel and just goes blank. Thoughts
do not want to come. Sometimes they start to form and disappear

Is this exhaustion or a precursor to 'stillness'? I suspect the
former, however couldn't it be an aid to stilling the mind?


Scientific proof of non-duality?

Simple. Look at anything, anything at all, at the subatomic
level and there is no difference! Under the most powerful
microscopes everything looks the same. Whether it is a piece of
orange, a piece of gold, a piece of air or a piece human being.
The different arrangements of the subatomic particles determines
what eventually a thing will look like!

It is like concrete buildings. They may look different but they
are all made of sand, cement and stones.

Isn't it the same with non-dualism. If you look deep down, where
everything is 'still' there is no dualism! Everything is [looks]
the same?

Why have I not read this comparison anywhere?

We will call my discovery Jan's Law? No! I forgot I am nobody. I
do not want to be anybody. We will simply call it 'nobody's

It is strange. I do not want to be anybody, I do not want
anything. Lethargy? Am I stuck in emptyness? [see next post]

"Stuck" in emptiness - Adyashanti

Many spiritual seekers get "stuck" in emptiness, in the
absolute, in transcendence. They cling to bliss, or peace, or
indifference. When the self-centered motivation for living
disappears, many seekers become indifferent. They see the
perfection of all existence and find no reason for doing
anything, including caring for themselves or others. I call this
"taking a false refuge." It is a very subtle egoic trap; it's a
fixation in the absolute and all unconscious form of attachment
that masquerades as liberation. It can be very difficult to wake
someone up from this deceptive fixation because they literally
have no motivation to let go of it. Stuck in a form of divine
indifference, such people believe they have reached the top of
the mountain when actually they are hiding out halfway up its


Dakini wrote: "Perhaps you could begin by #1 investigating the
nature of your own mind. Can you find your mind (heart/mind)? If
you think you can find it -- tell me, what location and
qualities does it have?"

Beloved Dakini,

Can you please explain the above further. The way I see it my
mind [where the thoughts occur] is in my head and my heart
[where I feel love] is in my chest? Sometimes when I meditate
and my 'mind' goes blank, my heart starts to get excited in
anticipation of something?

Scientifically, of course, every thought, every feeling, every
emotion, every pain is 'interpreted' or 'felt' in the brain.
When different areas of the brain are stimulated [in an
experiment] the person gets different feelings, moods, etc.
Recently even the activity of meditating Buddhist monks was
recorded in the brain in a scientific experiment. Mankind will one day be
able to transplant a brain into a whole new body and the brain
will continue to feel, etc. in that new body.



Vajrayana buddhism and the highest schools of dzogchen and
mahamudra address all of this, in a rather formal way actually
in the texts. How to unite emptiness AND bliss (aka compassion
aka skillful means) -- otherwise, yes, one could succumb to a
very nihilistic path. These apathetic solitary realizers are
known as the shravakas and pratyakebuddhas.

That's one of the reasons I prefer the words space and
spaciousness (not emptiness). Kind of like cyberspace -- Nothing
is there, but look how much is arising / being born /
manifesting out of that invisibility of nothing! So. for me (I
sure am a stickler and hair-splitter on the lingusitic thing,
huh?) sky-like space/spaciousness a closer description of my
experience of this ... The ground of being is FULL (of
potential, possibility) -- it's effulgent.

Buddha didn't call it The Middle Way for nothin' ya know -- The
Middle Way between (transcendent) Eternalism and Nihilism. Don't
go to those extremes. Shoot up the Middle. With the exhortaion
that this path is narrower than a hair's breadth and sharper
than a razor's edge.

This is also the reason that we cultivate bodhicitta -- the
ultimate aspiration for enlightenment for All Beings, from the
word GO. Bodhicitta is the most skillful and compassionate way
to avoid this happening. One is working for the Enlightenment of
Everyone from the very start.



I recently posted the following to another list. I am someone so
addicted to the momentum of seeking that I have to exert effort
to remain still. That does not mean that to conceive of
stillness is impossible, just difficult. And while I do act
foolishly now and then I am not a fool. I suggest that calling
others fools is the act of a fool. Why there is the need to
imagine that there are folks all done with seeking and folks so
caught up in seeking that they can never be done with it, but no
folks in the process of breaking the habit is unclear to me.
Perhaps this position is adopted just so that you may enjoy
yelling at each other. Well, enjoy.... Here is the post I made
earlier at the Way Station:

Hi Gang,

I was once given a visual image of this. It's like you are the
coaltender in an old steam locomotive, and you have been
dutifully shoveling coal into the boiler all your life. Then one
day you realize that this very feeding of the fire is what is
making the locomotive go, and the locomotive's motion is what is
making you unhappy, so you stop stoking the fire, but stoking
the fire is such a habit that seconds later you are back at it.
So, as Tim is suggesting, all you need do is stop stoking the
fire, but since it is a habit to do so, and it's so easy to fall
back into it, it takes vigilance and a willingness to keep
stopping the shoveling each time you notice that you are doing
so again. Even once you stop stoking the fire, the locomotive
will keep going quite awhile because of its momentum, but if you
train yourself in the new habit of not stoking the fire, it will
eventually stop of its own accord. I hope this helps.

So what am I saying? I suggest that Tim is right that the only
thing that needs to happen is to stop the shoveling of coal, but
I also suggest that a practice is helpful if it is used with
awareness that the purpose of it is to help to stop shoveling
the coal. If the practice is not mindful, it can become just
another way of shoveling.



As seen here, it's not a question of
whether to seek or not to seek.
It's a question of who is seeking for what,
and whether there is a choosing entity involved.


If there never was a time when there
was a lack of realization, then
how could "seeking" interfere?

To clarify:
If the concept of lack isn't based on
anything real, then the "creature"
that can exist lacking something
is imaginary, and any "seeking"
activity supposedly done by this
creature is also imaginary.

What is the difference between
"apperception" and "this"
exactly as it is, regardless
of whether "this" be
defined as "seeking",
"nonseeking", halting, or
not halting?



You must balance practice with knowledge. Each thing will give
impetus to the other. Sometimes, meditation will take you some
place, and you will need to research or study to better grasp
what happened. Sometimes, you will read, and wonder what that
was all about, and meditation will reveal the truth of it. And
as you say, sometimes, the light will go on, all by itself. If
you are conscious of these issues, it is all good. You are
helping yourself and others. So keep up the good work.



Tim wrote: "Admittedly, I am often very much a fool... I intended to mean
"it's foolish" but chose to use a stronger word, in order that
someone might pay attention. Sometimes using strong words is a
challenge to the ego, which often gets offended at being called
a "fool" and may look into it(self). Saying something like "it's
foolish" may get ignored completely or doesn't seem to fit with
the situation.

"Bruce Morgen (a friend who posts mostly on Usenet, and my first
introduction to 'nonduality') had something to say about this:"

"What is the nature of pain?"

What is the nature of pain? Is it all the same or is the
category of "pain" too general to be useful?

There seems to be one kind of pain that is indisputably actual,
and that is physical pain, which includes everything from a
stubbed toe to the throes of childbirth or the inconceivable
agony of a body torn asunder by torture, accident, or dread
disease. All pain other than the physical is of a different ilk,
which is not to say that the associated suffering is any less
"real" to the sufferer, but clearly the source of the suffering
is not a physical injury or malfunction.

An example of this psychological pain is the feeling of having
been "insulted." If we are referred to as a "FOOL," we feel a
kind of pain. What is it about us that turns a simple syllable
into a torture device? If I believe I am not a "FOOL" surely
another's wrongful assessment cannot reach me in such a visceral
way unless my "reputation" -- my image in the eyes of others --
is seen as under attack. If I am truly not a "FOOL," then my own
actions and words prove my judge wrong on an ongoing basis, but
the part of me that is concerned with such matters, my "self" or
"ego," is never quite sure of itself and perceives a threat,
which manifests as "insult" or psychological pain. Therefore I
lash out, I use all the tools at my disposal -- "knowing" words,
dismissive gestures, facial contortions, even physical violence
-- to discredit the source of the perceived "insult" rather than
to honestly look into the internal process that actually results
in psychological pain. In pursuing this conditioned reaction, I
miss a valuable opportunity: to deeply enquire as to whether I
am, by whatever definition applies, actually a "FOOL!"

Does my world collapse if it turns out I am a "FOOL," or is an
honest (neither prideful nor self-hateful) realization to this
effect a gift, the beginning of something quite extraordinary?
What happens when one clearly observes that which makes "FOOL"
an accurate assessment? Once this is clearly seen, does the
label "FOOL" any longer apply? Let the word "FOOL" be an opening
into enquiry, and perhaps the nature of the whole edifice of
psychological pain will become apparent. This is the response of
intelligence to "insult."

... Bruce Morgen



Master Pham was born in the 1940s in Hanoi, North Vietnam in a
religious and devotional Buddhist family. Both his mother and
father had an unusually strong interest in Buddhism and Master
Pham's father had many spiritual experiences including a NDE
which he described later. After the Geneva treaty in 1954 that
divided Vietnam in two countries, his parents along with their
large family fled to Saigon in South Vietnam to escape the
communists. Master Pham has written, "The background of our life
for many generations, my parents and us, is always wars. The
independent war 1946-1954 against the French and the fratricide
war 1960-1975 between communists and nationalists with the
intervention of the Americans. Because of so much suffering
caused by wars, many Vietnamese turn into religion and
spirituality to look for refuge"

Master Pham's has described his awakening and deepening in clear

Now in Master Pham's own words:

"Until 1977, I had absolutely no interest in religion as well as
spirituality. The corruption of some religious men made me think
that religion is only hypocrisy and fake. Sometimes I thought of
the Truth but I thought that Truth is out of the capability of
men. My knowledge about Buddhism was only the life of the
Buddha! But little by little, some conflicts inside my heart and
in my life as well as the conflicts outside in the world made me
think that something must be wrong. Suddenly in 1977, a friend
of mine wanted to teach me a method of Buddhist/Taoist
meditation. So I began to practice. But the most surprising
thing is that there was an incredible, burning, passionate and
permanently present but never known before, flame for Truth in
my heart."

"I began to read every book about religion and spirituality I
could find. I studied different religions and paths. But what I
really "put in practice" are Buddhism, Ch'an (Zen),
J.Krishnamurti, Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj,
Gurdjieff, Ouspensky. I continue to deepen those teachings
nowadays. I also discovered a profound teaching in Dzogchen."

"But by reading J.Krishnamurti in 1982 I had some insights that
affected me profoundly, at least all my views were transformed.
I first read JK in 1973 when I was still anti-religious. I had
no idea who he is and didn't understand all what he said, but he
gave me profound impressions. When I began to practice
meditation in 1977, I reread JK but always had a feeling that
something was lacking. So in a vacation in 1982, I decided to
give up one week in the library to read carefully all JK's
books. I was in a strange state during this week and at the end
of this week, it was as if I became a completely new man. My
friends also noticed because suddenly what I talked was
completely different. I have a friend with whom I've tried for
many years to explain what is the Buddha-nature, but he've
decidedly refused to understand. One day as usual I tried to
explain to him again, using another explanation. Suddenly, he
had a "satori" as in a Zen story! (incredible!) He've remained
in that state for one week."

"I am now always in constant awareness and self-enquiring. I am
very peaceful inside, there is no striving, no becoming, and I
am very happy with the simplicity of life. I enjoy very much my
inside stillness, silence."

"Everyday I ask myself this question: "Don't delude yourself,
Luan! Are you REALLY, REALLY FREE ?"

Master Pham's words touch my heart and even reciting them again
has moistened my eyes. I have to stop now and will continue the
introduction in my next post.



"Simple. Look at anything, anything at all, at the subatomic
level and there is no difference! Under the most powerful
microscopes everything looks the same. Whether it is a piece of
orange, a piece of gold, a piece of air or a piece human being.
The different arrangements of the subatomic particles determines
what eventually a thing will look like!"

Here the concept is applied to the physical world alone.
Non-duality is applying it to mental processes and Consciousness

The following article which I posted to some other non-duality
lists might be relevant here.

With regards, Gomu.


What is Reality ?
All that is percieved, imagined, dreamed, etc are through the
mind only. There is no proof of "real" objects existing apart
from what is seen through the mind. This implies that there is
no more reality which can be attributed to the percieved world
than to the world that is seen in dream or voluntarily imagined.
This shows the non-reality of space.

Similar argument holds good for time also. The appearance of
time is due to the faculty of memory. Without being able to
remember the past, there cannot be a perception of time. So time
is also in the mind only. Assignment of a "name" to an object or
an event arise out of the concept of time. A name is necessary
only to relate or narrate an object or event experienced in the

Thus, whatever is seen or thought of is through the mind only.
The world is seen as what the mind shows it to us, irrespective
of what the "real" nature of the world is. The only way to see
the reality is to "see" beyond and without the mind. This world,
this body, the senses, the intellect, the memory, etc are all in
the mind only.

The only "seeing" without the mind is the feeling of existence -
the Consciousness. This is a big jump. This needs explanantion.
We said that all perception is as the mind is showing us. The
world seen is no more real than the world seen in a dream. I can
be a pig dreaming itself to be an elephant dreaming itself to be
a mosquito dreaming itself to be what I see myself as. There can
be any level. But, irrespective of how many ever levels of
unreal world appreances are there, one thing certain is that I
am the dreamer. In which ever world, I am the seer of the world.
The world itself might be unreal and non-existent. But the basic
dreamer cannot be non-existent. This is the key.

Thus, the only absolute reality is my own existence - not as
this body or as this mind or with this intellect - as pure
consciousness. Everything else exists because the mind is
showing things like that. Now the question is, isnt then the
mind also an absolute reality ? The mind is when the world is
seen. When the world is not seen, the mind is also not there.
So, if there exists a time when the world is not percieved, then
the mind can be said not to be absolute. During deep sleep, the
world is not percieved at all. So there is no mind during deep
sleep. When there is no mind to perceive, there is no world to
be perceived also.

This leads to a complication. This means when I was sleeping,
there was no world. How can that be ? I see the same world after
waking up, which I saw before going to sleep. How do you say
that the world was not there when I was asleep ? The answer is
"How do you know that this is the same world, in which you went
to sleep ? Your statement is based merely on a memory of a world
in which you went to sleep. There is no more proof. If your
memory is manipulated, then you will not know." This leads to a
still complicated situation. There is no sureity that even the
previous moment actually existed. This world might have been
created in the mind just this moment with all the memory of the
past preloaded. The answer given by the Indian Scriptures is
that it is exactly so. Every moment worlds are created and
destroyed by the mind before the Consciousness. There is no
continuity at all. The apparent continuity is only due to
memory. The question is "Can there occur two successive moments
which are 'logically' sequential as being perceived ?" The
answer is by pure coincidence, it may happen so, but it has no

There is another interesting corollary. If at every moment, the
world is created, then there can be no state called deep sleep.
We know of the state only after we have woken up. The state
called deep sleep is only in memory. There is no mind present to
perceive the state of deep sleep. So there cannot be such a

Thus, the question is "Can there be state when the mind is not
there ?" If you say that you see people sleeping or in samadhi,
then that is mere perception. You have to accept the existence
of such a state by the fact that Consciousness does not depend
on the mind for its existence and also the "knowledge" of its
existence. "You do not need a mirror to know who you are." is a
classic quote.

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