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Perfect Brilliant Stillness
by David Carse
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This book, and the thoughts and concepts expressed here, /x-tad-smaller>are
not copyrighted. They are not mine. 'Understanding or
misunderstanding, interpreting or misinterpreting, quoting or
misquoting, using or misusing, appropriating or misappropriating,
may or may not occur. All is Presence, Awareness, in which all
apparent thoughts and concepts, events and actions, arise
/x-tad-smaller>david carse 2006
Printed in the United States of America
by McNaughton & Gunn, Inc.Saline, Michigan
/x-tad-smaller>Library of Congress Card Number: 2005902191
PO Box 925 Shelburne, VT 05482 2006
/fontfamily>The fine print:
/x-tad-smaller>/smaller>/color>/fontfamily>/center>There are many books out there that will help you to live a better life, become a better person, and evolve and grow to realize your full potential as a spiritual being.
/x-tad-smaller>This is not one of them.
/x-tad-smaller>At the time of this writing, almost every popular spiritual teacher in America and Europe is teaching that ultimate spiritual enlight-enment, once attained only by certain yogis, gurus and other extraordinary beings, can now be yours; and that reading their book or attending their seminar will help you toward that end.
/x-tad-smaller>This book will tell you that these ideas are absurd, because it's quite obvious that neither you nor anything else has ever existed.
/x-tad-smaller>In fact, notwithstanding the enthusiastic blurbs on the cover, I would actually encourage any reasonably normal person not to buy this book. I say this because there's no point in spending good money on yet another 'spiritual' book only to have it turn out to be of no use to you. The subject matter is such that only a very few will be interested in it. What is written about here, if it is really understood, is so genuinely strange that it is on the far edge of what the normal human brain can comprehend or accept. I wouldn't have understood it myself, or found it interesting, before what happened in the jungle.
/x-tad-smaller>In addition, if you do find yourself interested, and are able to see past the words to understand at least some of what they point to, you are likely to find it quite disturbing. Few people buy books on spirituality to be deeply disturbed, so consider yourself forewarned. /x-tad-smaller>
/x-tad-smaller>And finally, if you read it anyway, and what is hinted at here resonates and is by some remote chance followed to its end,
/x-tad-smaller>then that will likely also be the end of you. So again, a warning. With any luck, you will not come back from this with a life you can call your own; 'you' will not come back at all.
/x-tad-smaller>There's no way to know what the chances are of this happening, but the Upanishads say that "only once in a thousand thousand years does a soul wake up," so there's probably no need for concern. Probably.
/x-tad-smaller>/smaller>/color>/fontfamily>That said, enjoy.
1 Outpouring (see excerpt below)
2 A Thread
3 Telling the Story
5 The Jungle, Part I
7 The Jungle, Part II
9 The Jungle, Part III
10 Gone Beyond
11 The Jungle, Postscript
12 The Dr Bronner's Bottle
13 Deliverance (see excerpt below)
14 Spinning Out
15 No Guru, No Method, No Teacher
16 Free Fall
18 Morning Talks
19 Teaching Truth
20 Not Taxi
21 Don't Know
24 Incredibly Simple (see excerpt below)
25 Never Interfere
26 Dream Machine
27 Confused Thinking
28 Surrender Revisited
29 Too Many Words
31 Explode Your Brain
32 Exemplary Behavior
35 The Difference
38 An Impossible Weight
39 A Splinter
40 Still Expanse
41 Peripheral Vision
42 Dreams Within Dreams
44 How Can This Be Said?
45 Most Peculiar
46 Eternal Unborn
47 Magical World
48 All Is Well
49 A Parable: Wake Up!
Epilogue: An Eckhartian Ontology
/fontfamily>"Whoever brought me here will have to take me home."
there is only One
/smaller>/color>all else is illusion
construction in mind
there is nothing happening here
there is only
One Being Awareness
stillness silence perfection
and in the stillness
/color>a breathing perhaps
there is only One
and all this is that breathing
all this is That
we are That
we are that One
yet not -
not even we are One
because there is no we
nothing happening here
despite what it seems
the One breathing
is an Outpouring of
pure blazing compassion
love forgiveness beauty gift
and I find that I am not
who I thought I was
what I have called 'myself'
is nothing - is an idea is
an accretion of memories
attributes patterns thoughts
inheritances habits ideas
which I can look at and say
I am not this
as myself I simply
no self no me has ever existed -
there is nothing happening
there is only One
That is what I - is
I Am That
And That is All
and That is the Brilliance
which all this is -
life death love anguish
compassion understanding healing
/fontfamily>the Brilliance within
where the Heart opens and there is
Nothing no self no one
only aching beauty
and overwhelming gratitude
/fontfamily>"Please understand that there is only one thingto be understood, and that is that you arethe formless, timeless unborn."
- Nisargadatta Maharaj
"Here is just emptiness. There is no getting my ego out of the way, and all that stuff. There is just the seeing, shining in great brilliance and clarity."
- Douglas Harding
/fontfamily>Look, it's all so incredibly simple. There is no one here. This is not a figure of speech. I mean there is truly no one here, no person, no individual speaking to you. You look at me and think there is a person here talking to you, trying to tell you something. I assure you, there is not. Look at me. If there were not Consciousness streaming through this body, what would be here? What would this body be if Consciousness were not here? A corpse, of course! Dead matter. There is nothing else here. There is only the appearance of a body, and Consciousness which animates it. You, along with the rest of the world, have assumed that there is a discreet individual person here: that the Consciousness which is the animating force here is an individual consciousness, unique to this body and separate from the consciousness in other bodies.
/fontfamily>This is based on appearances: there appear to be separate bodies, so the assumption is that there are separate consciousness-es. The belief in this assumption blinds you to seeing What Is, and is also the cause of your experience of this life as disquieting, confusing, unhappy, and generally full of fear and suffering. But it is not the case. There is in no way an individual sitting here talking to you. This body is nothing, an appearance in the dream. All there is is Consciousness, and it is Consciousness which is streaming through this appearance.
/fontfamily>There is nothing here that exists in and of itself. What we call the human being is not an independent being, not an originating mechanism, not a transmitter. It is a relay station, a pass-through mechanism for Consciousness, the One Consciousness, All That Is. That is what I am, talking to you. And it is the same One Consciousness listening to this, looking back at me out of those eyes you call your own. What I am when I say 'I Am' is exactly the same as what you are when you say 'I Am.'
/fontfamily>Once seen, the irony of the situation is staggering. Look: what you think of as your'self,' what you perceive as an individual person, this idea of being a separate entity, a body-mind-personality-soul-intellect: this is a subsequent by-product, an artifact, an almost accidental side effect of this streaming, this flowing of Consciousness. It is the streaming of Consciousness in this organism which the organism inaccurately perceives as a 'mind' which it thinks is its own: it is the very Consciousness streaming in this organism which allows this perception at all, which makes it possible for this organism to think it is other than that same Consciousness. A simple, innocent misperception. And a silly one, because the very One who appears to be thinking this, who appears not to see, not to understand that it is not as a separate individual and is only as All That Is, is Itself the very I-ness that is the only Is-ness of all seeing, of all understanding.
/fontfamily>Look into what is behind this perception. Investigate what you think of as your'self.' This is the purpose, the meaning of all spirituality, of all seeking, of your very being: to understand this amazing intricate play of Consciousness by seeing what is this illusion, this mistaken perception, and what is its source which makes it possible. What you are, you always already are. It is by seeing what you are notthat there is a stepping away from it, stepping out of the misconceived role of a separate fearful individual.
/fontfamily>When you step out of what you are not, what remains is not something you have to become, but what you always already are. That is why there is nothing you have to do, or become, or learn, or practice, or work at, or purify. It is completely effortless to be in your natural state. What is full of difficult, constant effort is maintaining this false and unnatural idea of being somebody, of being an individual, a separate something. You are a non-entity! Let it go! When it is let go of, you rest in the effortlessness of All That Is, of what could be called your natural state.
Effortlessness is not something that can be attained by effort. No-mind is not a state that can be achieved by the mind. Peace cannot be achieved by striving. Trying to be aware of 'just being in the present moment' is a contradiction in terms; being 'self-consciously' aware of it takes you out of it. Trying to be awareof "I Am' is a similar contradiction, and for the same reason. You can't try to be happy any more than you can try to go to sleep or try to act naturally. You only act naturally when you're not trying, not thinking, but simply going about life. People would come from all over India and the whole world to see Ramana Maharshi and ask him for advice on the spiritual path. His advice? "Just be yourself."
This is what Nisargadatta Maharaj said of your natural state, of what you are naturally, spontaneously, without effort:
"This state is before the appearance of beingness.
It is prior to or beyond beingness
Am, in that state which existed before the arrival
of beingness and non-beingness.
With the arrival of the waking state, all the world
because of my beingness, my world is manifest.
That also is observed by that state which is prior
and you are That!"
"Whoever discovers the true meaningof these sayings will never die:Let the seeker not stop seeking until he finds.And when he finds, he will be greatly troubled.And after he has been troubled,he will be astonished,and he will reign over the All."
- Jesus of Nazareth (The Gospel of Thomas)
IT'S APPALLINGLY HARD TO DESCRIBE or explain this no-thing, which after all is why it's called ineffable. Basically either there is seeing or there isn't, either the veil is dropped or it isn't. Just being a mystic or a yogi or a shaman of course means little: more dream roles for more dream characters. As long as there is anyone here to understand, there is not understanding. As long as there is anyone here to awaken, there is not awakening. The message of the sutras and the shamans is the same: the person of understanding is the one who dies before she dies, who leaves no footprints, who travels no path, because she knows that as a person, as an entity, she is not. But who can do this, what self can cease to be? None, as Wei Wu Wei would say, because none is: it can only happen. Then there is no one to know but only the knowing, and all this world is as in a dream or a vision; only Brilliance beyond light, Love beyond love, clear knowing pure beauty streaming through these transparent forms and no one here at all.
After the jungle, there is an intensely odd and very beau-tiful quality to the experience of life. In one sense I can only describe everything, all experience, as having a certain emptiness. This is the sense in which everything used to matter, to be vital and important, and is now seen as unreal, empty, not important, an illusion. Once it is seen that the beyond-brilliance of Sat Chit Ananda is all that is, the dream continues as a kind of shadow. Yet, at the same moment that all of what appears in the dream is experi-enced as empty, it is also seen as more deeply beautiful and perfect than ever imagined, precisely because it is not other than Sat Chit Ananda, than all that is. Everything that does not matter, that is empty illusion, is at the same time itself the beyond-brilliance, the perfect beauty. Somehow there is a balance; these two apparently opposite aspects do not cancel each other out but complement each other. This makes no 'sense,' yet it is how it is.
There is one tradition within Advaita which says that maya, the manifestation of the physical universe, is over-laid or superimposed on Sat Chit Ananda. I'm no scholar of these things, and can only attempt to describe what is seen here; and the Understanding here is that there is no question of one thing superimposed on another. Maya, the manifestation, the physical universe, is precisely Sat Chit Ananda, is not other than it, does not exist on its own as something separate to be overlaid on top of something else. This is the whole point! There is no maya! The only reason it appears to have its own reality and is commonly taken to be real in itself is because of a misperceiving, a mistaken perception which sees the appearance and not What Is. This is the meaning of Huang Po's comment that "no distinction should be made between the Absolute and the sentient world." No distinction! There is only One. There is not ever in any sense two. All perception of distinction and separation, all perception of duality, and all perception of what is known as physical reality, is mind-created illu-sion. When a teacher points at the physical world and says, "All this is maya," what is being said is that what you are seeing is illusion; what all this is is All That Is, pure Being Consciousness Bliss Outpouring; it is your perception of it as a physical world that is maya, illusion.
Of course in truth there is no gate that opens into All That Is, and no path leads there. There can only be the shift in perception to see maya, the unreal, as unreal. Still, for this dream character the Understanding occurred in the context of indigenous spirituality, and so what is known in the dream as 'shamanism' in this case turns out to have been the pathless path to the gateless gate that swung open to reveal what was never hidden, never on the other side. Like any other form of religion or spiritual practice on the planet, shamanism is mostly nonsense, something for the dream characters to do to try to make sense out of it all and comfort themselves while the dream lasts. All that trying and all the trappings of shamanic practice exploded, dissolved in the light of Presence, of All That Is.
Yet there are a very few even in shamanism who also know and have seen: that it is only a dream, and that nothing matters, and that all there is is Awareness, and that they are not. And they go through the motions for others, or perhaps with the passage of time in the dream they do so less and less until no more, and are seen as crazy fools. Who cares? For, while it is known beyond doubt that as a person, an individual, an entity, as 'david,' even as 'spirit,' I am not, do not exist, nor does any other: nevertheless it is equally obvious that as All That Is, I Am.
The seeing that occurred in the jungle was and is self-validating in the sense that it is absolute and needs no confirmation. Everything is seen in its light; it relativizes everything and is itself relativized by nothing. Nevertheless, in the dream, the dream character continues to func-tion as such. And that dream character, that body/mind instrument, will be impacted by the occurrence of the Understanding.
It seems that in most cases the Understanding comes after some period of seeking and of coming to an intellectual understanding of the teachings of the perennial wisdom, and in such cases there would likely be at least something of a recognition when it happened. In this case however there was very little if any preparation in terms of being exposed to the basic concepts. In one way this was a deep and beautiful grace and blessing; I have seen the intel-lectual comprehension of the concepts involved become itself a tremendous block to many spiritual seekers, and in this case I was spared that, the Understanding happening naturally, spontaneously and innocently.
But in another sense it made the impact greater, and without preparation the body/mind was thrown into a kind of chaos. For this reason I find Suzanne Segal's account quite poignant; there is a deep appreciation of what she went through. Although in a sense she had more prepara-tion than in my case, having trained in Transcendental Meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, still it did not seem to have provided her with the necessary parameters to comprehend the awakening when it happened. Perhaps even more significantly, she was not provided with any meaningful support after it occurred, and spent the next twelve years with psychotherapists engaged in "an all-out effort to pathologize the emptiness of personal self in an effort to get rid of it."
In my case, the shamanic context could not itself provide an adequate system of ideas and experience in which to ground and comprehend and express what had happened. I knew that there was "nobody home," that there was not and never had been a 'david,' that what I had always thought of as 'myself' was a fiction. I also knew that Brilliant Presence was All, outpouring. This was beautiful and perfect, but at the same time it produced what at the time I called a severe 'disconnect;' a sense of discontinuity not only from any sense of personal past or history or beliefs or purpose, but also a total disconnect from what was apparently the experience of every other being on the planet, as far as I knew. Within our social and cultural context, the possibility that there had been some kind of psychotic dissociative break and that the david thing had gone quite insane seemed a very plausible explanation.
And so what followed was once again miraculous, unearned
Grace. As a result of the unconventional way in which the
Understanding occurred in this case there was not the discovering
of the relationship with a guru in the traditional way. Yet there
is something, perhaps similar, as this unfolds: simply being,
resting, in this Brilliance, letting this tremendous Grace take
hold: clearing, opening into this Peace that passes
Almost everyone I've heard of for whom this nameless thing appears to have been genuine seems to have gone into a long gestation period. Robert Adams, Tony Parsons, Suzanne Segal, Douglas Harding, and others; even Ramana Maharshi: ten, twelve, twenty years before any 'coming out.' In the Zen tradition, when a student monk comes to awakening he stays on in the role of student for another ten years of 'stabilizing.' Even Hui-Neng, the Sixth Zen Patriarch went and hid in the mountains for fi fteen years after it happened.
Makes sense here. Jed McKenna calls it a "damn peculiar ten years" and I'd have to agree. It simply takes a while for the body/mind organism to adjust. Everything that people think is important and makes sense, is seen to be completely absurd, meaningless. And what people don't even see, is Perfect, beautiful, complete, needs no words. There is an inclination, even greater than previously, toward silence and solitude even though there is obviously no such thing.
Hui-Neng says that while the Understanding is sudden, what he calls 'deliverance' is gradual indeed. Near as I can figure, the mind/body thing is impacted by the happening of the Understanding, and that can take some adjustment. How can it be otherwise? In some cases perhaps the transition can be smooth: if for example you live in a culture and a time in which you are saturated in the the basic elements of the Teaching all your life, the period of adjustment in the body/mind organism may be very mild.
Clearly in my case it was different, almost the complete opposite. After a lifetime of experiencing life as almost unbearably confusing and painful, of fighting against life and everything it brought, very different patterns and habits and ways of thinking were laid down in the condi-tioning. There was no background of the Teaching to fall back on or refer to. And, there was no community or other resources for support immediately after the happening.
There is a tradition in Buddhism of something called Pratyeka-bodhi, 'solitary realization.' It refers to Awakening when it occurs outside of the usual transmission of teaching from master to disciple, and without the usual background or preparation or support. In such a case, the road to deliv-erance might well be even more "damn peculiar" than otherwise. Perhaps Ramesh was thinking of something like this when he said to me,
"So, the Awakening can be of different kinds, yes.
The experience you had was, as you said, 'no one
home;' there is, truly, no david. And that is truly
when there is no identification. And because that
happened in your case, you had a problem living
your life... therefore yours is a unique case."
When I came across Jesus' comment at the beginning of The Gospel of Thomas, it was the first time I'd found a teacher saying that after the 'finding' of awakening, one can be greatly disturbed, greatly troubled. Depending on the conditioning of the body/mind in question, this may not always be the case, but it was the case here. This period of disturbance is itself 'deliverance,' the rearranging of the patterning and conditioning of the life of the body/ mind in the light of the new conditioning provided in the Understanding. And underlying it all is the constant, total amazement of awareness as the All, which never dies.
But this all has to do with how the body/mind organism
responds and adjusts to the varying ways in which the
Understanding occurs. It has always been quite clear that the
Understanding itself is ultimately complete and simple and total.
Those who argue that there is gradual awakening, or awakening in
stages or degrees, or a even some process of deepening into it,
seem to me to be missing something very essential and integral to
the Understanding itself. It is not something of time and space,
and it cannot take up time or space. It is not an experience, is
not a process. It is a piercing of time and space by the pivotal
intuitive insight that all time and all space and all things and
all entities including the one in whom the insight is occurring,
all are not. How can this be other than instantaneous, immediate?
It can't be partial; it's either/or.
And all this is apparent only; it is seen that there is nothing here: words, ideas, thoughts, all meaningless; "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound a fury, signifying nothing." What Is, is great beauty, great love, great silence, and that really is all. Once again it doesn't translate, doesn't seem to be communicable, expressible.