We Are Not Bodies

Last night after work I was sitting the chair I like to “meditate” in. What I call meditation is really just doing nothing. That is, as close to nothing as I can manage: letting the senses sense, the thoughts think, and so forth. For example, hearing happens effortlessly: none of us have to go to hearing class in order to have a perception of sounds. It just happens. Likewise we see things without effort. Seeing happens. Sensing our body happens. Now, you can seemingly direct your attention to different places, such as listening to sounds, or feeling where your butt is on the chair, or to what your eyes are looking at. But the sensing, feeling, thinking and perceiving in general happen by themselves. So my meditation is as much as possible letting it all happen. At other times, when not meditating, we may be under the impression that we are doing things and making things happen. We may be focusing our attention on tasks, such as at work. So meditation is a chance to relax the attention and let it open out to a wider aperture setting as it were. We then see everything is just happening in this “space”. The word “space” is a metaphor for the silent no-thing-ness that sees all things. Words fall short…

In any case, I was doing (this not-doing), and suddenly, imperceptibly, went into a “fugue” state: somewhat like the sense of starting to drift off to sleep, yet one is aware, but aware in a different way than normal waking awareness. You have access to a sense of self outside of, or rather dissociated shall we say, from the normal sense of self.

I suddenly saw the image of being in space, just beyond Earth, while at the same time my body was down in the chair. I was in both places at once. It was a nice feeling sense of detachment.

Here’s the insight I had: It’s funny how we talk about “connecting” with others, when the fact is there is no separation in the first place. No others. No thing to connect with. Connecting can only happen between objects.

You can prove to yourself you are not a body and not separate:
Imagine your body is like a plastic toy that has segments. Detach the lower part of your leg. Now is it your leg, or not? If you re-attach it, does it become you, magically? You could take your whole body apart. Where is “you”?

The point is, either it’s all you or none of it. Either the entire universe is you or none of it. Which is saying the same thing.
It’s self-evident “I” am not the body.

Then there is this sound in what we call the mind that sounds like “I” that we also associate with “me”. Listen to this sound. Watch it. What is it’s shape? Color? Where does it exist? I had assumed it moved through time, this sound, but if you watch it very closely you will see it’s very hard to pin down. What is it exactly, in actual experience? It has no consistent, solid, persistent, thingness about it other than any other sounds from outside or inside: it happens, then doesn’t happen, happens and doesn’t happen. It’s always in consciousness and the supposed line of time – the idea that time flows along a linear timeline – was only another image, a concept.

I hear birds singing and I hear the sound “I” which is like “eye”, and it’s supposedly some important designator, yet I can’t even find who is saying it, although “I” seems to choose to say “I” to “myself”.

This “I” that is the personal me just seems to be a myth, in “my own mind”, from nowhere built on nothing.

Suicide and The Cosmic Simulacrum

Simulacrum
1. An image or representation of someone or something.
‘a small-scale simulacrum of a skyscraper’

1.1 An unsatisfactory imitation or substitute.
‘a bland simulacrum of American soul music’

Oxford English Dictionary

Last night I learned of the 4th friend or acquaintance to commit suicide. Not to mention the list of celebrities.

This can be sad and tragic for the families and friends. I always wish that I could have said more to the friend or acquaintance, but of course the past is out of our hands.

What can be seen from this phenomenon?

I always see a pattern. It has to do with our basic outlook on life: what we think life is.

The first of them was a young woman in her 30s, a self-employed digital marketer and web developer, extremely intelligent and creative. I did some freelance work for her, and went out to lunch with and talked with her (or tried to) as a friend. She was caught up in time: time pressure, comparing herself to others, and competitiveness. She seemed to feel measured up or didn’t. She could not relax. I tried to get her interested in yoga or just doing something fun, and invited here, for example, to see a movie with me and a friend. She always had the same response: I don’t have time!! (she told me money was not a problem). It was self-created pressure, from how she was thinking about life.

Later, I heard some news about some neighbors who had become friends: a “hippie” couple in their early 60s, a freelance attorney by day and rock-and-roll drummer by night, and a housewife into gardening and her dogs. I perceived they saw one’s their lifestyle as the source of happiness: squeezing happiness from things, circumstances, or substances. The couple killed themselves together on camping trip in the mountains (a few years after I’d moved away): a suicide pact, well-planned in advance. All their friends were shocked, as they saw no warning. From our conversations, and what I gathered from friends of theirs, they had some losses from their lifestyle: a series of dogs died and they were experiencing some health problems. I also gathered from personal conversation when we were neighbors that they assumed reality was material, didn’t like religion or spirituality, and their happiness came from the health of the body, or rather was predicated on their body and the health of the body, and of their dogs they loved (their only family as it were). So they perceived losses as being related to where their happiness was coming from. When I ran into them later, after I’d moved, I noticed there was an undercurrent of fear and cynicism, a sense of drama beneath the surface friendliness and free-wheeling attitude.

Another, the latest, an acquaintance from my meditation group, a very intelligent man in his 30s, a self-employed programmer and long term yogi, widely traveled and supposedly poised to do spiritual teachings (an interesting contrast), was very serious in attitude. He appeared to be very concerned with the suffering in the world. I learned from a friend also, that sadly, he was also very preoccupied with his own psychological suffering. One’s personal misery and concern with the state of the world, as I see it, cannot be separated from what one assumes to be the cause of it’s conditions and one’s reaching for the key to freedom: if the cause is illusory and you reach within that mirage for the door, then your solution will never yield the fruit you desire.
In addition I perceived he had a sense of being somehow above it and able to know what the problem of the world was, and by and large he thought is was the capitalist political-economic-social system. Commendably, he wanted to bring balance to the world, yet could not seem to find it in himself.

Here I see a very common human practice: a habit of evaluation and judgement, of the world, of oneself and others (world & self & others) and a high regard for one’s personal opinions and beliefs. Are they really so precious such that their possible demise needs to be defended against at all costs?

But more essentially, who are these others and self and world? What is it made from? Where did it come from: are you going to believe what you were told or what someone said, that it came from a Big Bang, in time, a material process, and that is the end of the story, that science has, or even could have in theory, the final answer about ultimate question of who and what you are? Is it really believable that consciousness somehow emerged, local to brains, from what we call “matter”. Does anyone really even know what matter is? As far as we can tell it’s space with vibrations in it, a perfect dance of.. what? What we know of that dance is from math – math that came with a pre-existing harmony with a universe somehow – we can know from a mind we do not know the ultimate nature of in the first place. Mystery within mystery. Do we have to give it a name? Call it formless.

The current scientific dogma (or religion) is that consciousness arises from brains. A typical news article:

“…Consciousness is truly mysterious. It is the essence of you – the redness of red, the feeling of being in love, the sensation of pain and all the rest of your subjective experiences, conjured up somehow by your brain.” – from “Consciousness: How we’re solving a mystery bigger than our minds“, New Scientist magazine, FEATURE 20 June 2018, by Per Snaprud

Can science tell you what beauty is, what love is, and what truth is? Are you going to believe such a story, a made-up theory, so small as to be comic before the vastness of silence?

Seriousness and Control

It’s a big mistake – or should I say a basic misperception, since ultimately there are no mistakes – to take the world and oneself seriously. A mistake to feel sorry for oneself. It’s a fundamental error thinking one knows better how the universe should be according to you.

Lao Tzu, 2600 years ago:

Twenty-nine

Do you think you can take over the universe and improve it?
I do not believe it can be done.

The universe is sacred.
You cannot improve it.
If you try to change it, you will ruin it.
If you try to hold it, you will lose it.

So sometimes things are ahead and sometimes they are behind;
Sometimes breathing is hard, sometimes it comes easily;
Sometimes there is strength and sometimes weakness;
Sometimes one is up and sometimes down.

Therefore the sage avoids extremes, excesses, and complacency.

The Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu”

But who or what is this self, this “I” that wants to change things, this “I” who is supposedly, presumed or assumed to be, a persistent, self-existing (independent), bounded entity? Who has the problem, who or what created the world & self & others?

No he wasn’t attached to misery (as one fellow meditation friend claimed), he was attached to what was at the root of his misery: to who he thought he was, and therefore creating an idea of others and world.

No, it wasn’t because his family origins, or that he wasn’t “connected” with them. Psychology is not a solution nor an illuminator of cause. We must go beyond cause and effect.

If one takes seriously the possibility that there is universal consciousness, that the body is an appearance in it and not self-existent, then killing the body is not a solution. It merely perpetuates or changes the form of the currently appearing issue. In other words he was seeing it as an object problem.

But what if there are no objects (in reality)? What if this were a cosmic simulacrum?
It’s probably no accident that I watched this episode last night (nothing is random and serendipity abounds when allowed to be seen):
Existential Crisis: Black Mirror Pushes A Philosophical Hypothesis, Popularized By Elon Musk And Physicists

In this episode about a near future, a series of co-workers are placed inside a frustrated and repressed CTO’s computer game simulation, via stealing a sample of their DNA and scanning it. The simulations come alive, are sentient, inside his game world along with the creator’s character (captain of the starship they are all on). They want to escape, but cannot. They cannot even commit suicide, because they are all under the control of the revengeful techie. At the end they finally find a clever escape and get their comeuppance.

The we-are-a-simulation-in-someone-elses-computer game hypothesis veils what is more likely (and has been pointed to by sages for millennia): there isn’t a separate simulator: you are merely caught up (identifying) with your own simulation, the mind-projected self/others/world (and time and space). You are in fact the simulator and the simulated at the same time…

Therefore there is no escape from Reality.

But why would you want to escape, if what you are is causeless happiness: eternal, imperturbable, beyond space and time, absolutely free, not subject to cause and effect? We only pretend we are not happy. As hard to accept as that may be to many, I believe it is the truth.

I have glimpsed this causeless unbounded, unlimited free range happiness more than once, but am not yet living in it full time. But “I” will get there eventually, because it is who I am, already, if only the filters of thinking, the habits, the practice of self-ing, were to stop being held onto, repeated with memory and thinking. We all get there one way or another. It’s just a matter of time. Or rather, the timeless unfolding within the seeming boundaries of space and time: the infinite potential that manifests as you and I and all phenomenon, if you allow it. What are your real limits? How much love are you capable of? How much beauty can you experience? How much truth is there to be seen? Why are you here? Freedom is what we are made of. It’s a case of mistaken identity.

If you could only wake up and realize it. It’s that simple.

But this is one stubborn and incredibly detailed and compelling dream. One in which we are addicted to being a human, to being a person.
But the answer is not to try and kill one’s avatar, because it’s the nature of the game to have avatars and a world they play in. There will always be avatars in this eternal-now playing in the infinity matrix. Rather, see who is running the show.

There can be a three-part process: first you realize what you are not – the small self, the others, the world – then you realize what you are – Consciousness – then you realize they are one and the same: Self and phenomena (objects). As in the Zen parable: first the mountains are mountains…:

“Before a man studies Zen, to him mountains are mountains and waters are waters; after he gets an insight into the truth of Zen through the instruction of a good master, mountains to him are not mountains and waters are not waters; but after this when he really attains to the abode of rest, mountains are once more mountains and waters are waters.”

(D. T. Suzuki, Essays in Zen Buddhism, First Series, 1926, London; New York: Published for the Buddhist Society, London by Rider, p. 24.)”

In this I know I may be misunderstood, and a lot of assumptions and ideas and opinions and conclusions and knowledge will come into play for many readers, but I’m telling you it needs to be taken seriously: that there is, and what you are, is not what you think there is or what you are. It needs to be taken seriously that there is what we could call for lack of any adequate term for everyone for all time, Consciousness. Language is deceptive because it’s built to point to objects in consciousness (and processes in time, for bodies, selves, persons…), but in what do the objects appear? Could it be it’s not an object but the subject of all objects, and that the objects are made of this? Is it possible? Can you entertain that? At least for a moment in your busy days, with all it’s objects to attend to and evaluations going on? Yes, with all it’s seriousness about these objects and oneself and others? Is it possible you are taking the wrong things seriously? It may sound idealistic or “out there” but What If it were true – don’t wait until you are 70 years old and worried about dying, or near suicide, or recovering from a suicide attempt, or are a drug addict, or have lost one or more loved ones, or are in some other crisis like a financial or health one, to ponder these things. The time is now. Always now.

Just Say No to 3P Fundamentalism: Mistaking the Form for the Formless

 

“Your eyes must see in the singular if you want to find the truth.”
– Sydney Banks, The Missing Link, p.69

(Note: This essay has to do with The Three Principles Psychology or “The 3P”: a successful spiritual psychology teaching model used in life coaching and countless others areas of human relations, counseling and psychology worldwide. The profound epiphany of a man-turned-mystic philosopher and healer name Sydney Banks was the catalyst for what got formed into a psychology and teaching model).

Recently a long-time 3P practitioner made a post to his blog in which he “protested” the potential divisiveness and revisionism with the field, to not taint the message, and to keep the “purity”. One of the oft-heard concerns – not just from this person – is that practitioners are believing they need something else besides the 3P to help people, are are “mixing” things they learned that are “outside-in”, that practitioners are not understanding the inside-out nature of the understanding deeply enough.

This is confusing two different issues: 1. using outside-in stuff – practices, tools and techniques – and 2. understanding deeply enough. The latter issue will take care of the former. In other words, if you see deeply enough, understand the essence of the 3P, then “mixing” will not be an issue. One will see the truth (or lack thereof) across all models and within all teachings, and use whatever words are appropriate in the context of the situation and the moment, and your being-ness will be a teaching in itself. A good teacher of spiritual truth is not going to pull Freud out of the bag (except perhaps as an example of insanity). It will be obvious what is bullshit and what is real.

Others have commented or complained on confusion, divisiveness, diffusion, dogmatism, and so forth within the Three Principles Psychology. They are also concerned that it’s become just a coaching model, or a business model, and it’s getting diluted as it spreads. Of course, much of this is inevitable: a deep teaching is only going to be understood by a few, and of them a smaller number will be able to teach or write about. It took me 20 years to see through the “cruft” of my own thinking, stubbornness, social programming, bodily patterns of contractions, and the encrustation of added psychology of Syd’s message before I “got it”.

Rather than combine the 3P with something else, what is needed is to take things away from the 3P. In other words, to simplify the message to it’s essence. I’ll qualify that with “often” needed and “with many”. The 3P are seen truly only in simplicity (as Syd kept pointing out). New or fresh takes on it are helpful in this regard. But don’t mistake the form for the formless essence, the non-objective nature from which all appears.

Someone using the 3P approach and having some understanding, may eventually realize that this pointing away from or speaking out against practices tools and techniques, and pointing within, is really the same as the “direct path” spoken of by so many teachers of ancient and of today (Taoists, Buddhist, nonduality…). What we are is non-objective – in other words, alive in the moment and not a memory, not a concept. It cannot be formulated and stored away. This can seem tricky to convey since it can’t be held or grasped, but also means there’s nothing to fix, control, hold onto, solve, or figure out. You are whole and complete because you are that whole, living, free, unknowable yet all-knowing intelligent life, if you stop being that little self, that little thought…

The “old” forms that are not appropriate in this regard to combine with a spiritual psychology are the old psychologies (therapies, theories, models, practices, tools and techniques, etc.), that go into the past, focus on problems, pathology, cause and effect, and get one involved even more deeply in the endless games of the personal mind. But “old” forms of spiritual teachings, which also point to the formless, are perfectly in tune, once understood. Old spiritual traditions can be useful tools to help cut away that which is not essential, not you, not true. They also reassure us that truth is truth, tell us we are on the right track in triangulating on what is true, no matter what form it comes in, and that it’s timeless. Syd would often say “there’s nothing new” and what he was teaching has been around since time immemorial. 

In other words, it’s “safe” to mix the 3P with teachings that point towards Source (formless, context) as long as you are clear with differing concepts and words, or definitions, but it is *not* safe (does not make sense, confuses or takes away from) to mix with content-oriented teachings and techniques. That would include almost all of the old psychology, which is based in theories from a personal mind of a theoretician and a divergent interpretation of phenomenon, with no underlying common framework of understanding of where all this content is coming from, or that it’s even content. Another way to say this is that these content and concept-oriented models are thought-based and not reality-based. For example all the descendants of Freudianism and other medical or quasi-medial models, and materialist belief systems (which is what most individuals in the modern Westernized world cleave to, like a religious faith) which is I understand around 3 to 400 different schools of therapy and psychology.

“To seek Mind with the (discriminating) mind is the greatest of all mistakes.” – Hsin Hsin Ming by Seng-T’san

“Wisdom is found before the formation of form.” – Sydney Banks, The Missing Link, p 132

Syd realized that the world is Consciousness in various forms, including thought-forms, and that the nature of the world is duality – suffering is built-in – as a game Consciousness is playing. Listen to early Syd tapes and you can hear him talk about poverty and sickness and wars and that there’s nothing you can do to change this. The whole point it to free yourself first, realize oneself and be happy, and that will change the world inherently, through your freedom, however that freedom manifests. The world is a sea of ignorance and bailing it out with a cup of wisdom won’t make a dent in the universe. For example, teaching is done for the inherent joy and love, the giving. Helping out of compassion happens spontaneously, if there isn’t personal thinking in the way. It’s natural to help a fallen person in the street, and does not need to be legislated by religion, psychology, or techniques.

I sometimes wonder then why there is sometimes an urge to save the world or “spread the message” by 3P practitioners. Sometimes it’s driven by compassion, or enthusiasm, or by being “true believers” that they’ve found the answer to all the world’s problems, or simply a professional desire for expansion, or a mixture. But there can be a subtle mistaking-the-form-for-the-formless again. Truth doesn’t need to be spread, it’ already here now. Removing the veils of ignorance happens in it’s own time (in the timeless) – this cannot be explained or made to happen from the small mind, their personal self. This is difficult to explain, but is worth mentioning because we have seen the dangers of those that want to save or change the world: the Hitlers, the Pol Pots, those with an agenda. Sometimes the fierce desire to change others or the world is a running from one’s own pain, grief, sadness and so forth, that has not been faced. It’s trying to change the show in the world when what’s not being seen is, where is the show coming from? The simple point of “heal thyself” first is missed because it’s unconscious, and projected outward. There are deep assumptions going on (about who one is, what the world is, what life is) and the need for escape. Spiritual leaders are not immune to addictions.

“…the purity of our understanding is the vehicle for change, nothing more. We can only change ourselves, we can’t change the world, and we can’t change other people. We can only get our minds very still, very pure, and then work through the feeling to lead others to their own wisdom.” – Syd Banks

Any teaching that shows you how to be yourself is naturally going to be paradoxical: there’s nothing to do and nowhere to go to be who you truly are. It’s like a Zen koan, yet that is the paradox that the mind sees, because the mind only sees in duality.

Come to know that you *are* the world, and not the world, in an absolute sense. That’s the whole game.

There is nothing to protect, either as an illusory person or as a field of psychology. However, if there are beliefs, and a sense of separateness, or a “brand” association (related to one’s business interests) one wants to protect, that is a tainted message with respect to Truth.

“Nothing real can be threatened, nothing unreal exists” – A Course in Miracles

What is essential in all this is to make the distinction between the 3P as a teaching model, and the spiritual truth or reality that it’s pointing to. If you don’t make that distinction you are heading to fundamentalism, or a religion. You will become bound again rather than free.

There are no authorities other than your True Self, the insights via the One Teacher: your own innate wisdom, what you are. Don’t be a follower. You have everything within that you need and want, and the whole universe as a creation from the one Mind.

Who Am I?

 

Who Am I?

If it’s not the bodily sensations, the thoughts, the perceptions
if it’s spontaneous, effortless
if it’s not focused or contracted but expanded and unfocused
if it’s not in time, or in space

Then it must be already that way: already witnessing, seeing, aware, boundless, ever-present, happy, uncaused in its nature,
It must be what Is,
But “it” implies some thing, some not-I, not-now, not-this
But it is that which contains all: all objects, all knowing
It cannot be figured out
or gotten to from here
It being already here
or rather, behind what is already here
and also what is in front

Can you turn around and see yourself looking?
you can only find out what you are from what you are not
which is everything
which implies to the mind that I am nothing
yet I am everything
*and* nothing.

This is why it is said: “Give up the search”
You will be searching forever…
in what you are not
for what you are
yet being it at the same time!
What a fruitless insane dog-chasing-its-tail game!

Frustrated, exhausted, the dog lies down
Relaxes for a split second or more
sheds a tear for the innocent mindless searcher
a sweet little funeral for ignorance
a smile at the corner of its mouth
giving away the funny joke it’s seen

of the seeker in the hamster cage
pursuing dreams of salvation
from a mirage
of its own making

Restless in his quest
He’s in the grip 
Of unseen knowledge
Relentlessly driving him on
Nectar so sweet once tasted never forgotten 
In the core

But commonly mistaken for a
Multitudes of loves
Variations of:
Madly in love with being a human
A comedy of errors, or
Tragedies of sorts

Playing out on the Time-screen
Of Identity
endless television for
writer, actor, stage, characters, scenes …
in the universally popular show called
The One Forgotten

Playing Now 
In a Mental Theatre Near You! 

I left the theatre
through the backdoor 
Wanting to meet the cameraman, the producer, and the studio
and complain
about the constant re-runs

Variations of who done it, why’d they do it, love me more, 
get me out of here, I’m going to die
I want more, less, give me something
In return for my goods and services 
because I’m more, or less, than they are, more or less…

But all I got was a notice
from the Owner-in-Chief
to meet him after the show
“The End of Forever”
Because he has a role for me to play
in his new production 

That has only one actor
Who gave up acting

So here I am
wandering like waves of the sea
alone and aimless like Lao Tsu
Waiting for my lines to appear
So I can write them down…

The first line now is:
“Do nothing”,
the second:
“Trust”
the third:
(Silence)

 

 

 

Fledgling Nonduality

Video: Bobby the Scrub Jay, one of my “gurus”, who I serve mealworms and peanuts everyday from my hand, had a couple of fledglings with his wife, and one of them has taken to taking baths in the water dish I put out. Kids these days…

Car notes from yesterday (digital recorder):

There is this inference, this false inference that we started doing because when we were little kids, there was a name given, pointed out as associated with this perception of sensations and associated with what was happening. It creates this concept of a self and a body, a name and a body, an “I” thought that gets reinforced as the illusion of time and space, and it seems to go on… 
Then there are various perceptions, sensations thoughts, memories arising, then we tack on a self, saying “I did it, I experienced it, I am this, I have this, I have a body, I chose this, I decided this… But there was never a border to any of these, never a separate thing in the first place.

Middle of the night notes:

So in the spiritual search or seeking in general, there’s a seeking for some thing (an emanation from our own thinking: money, fame, relationships, sex, drugs, alcohol, God, enlightenment…) because there’s the assumption that what “I” am is a thing as well. 
So theres a seeking from an assumed thing for an assumed thing. If there was not a thing being sought from in the first place there would be no thing being sought in the second place. They arise together, along with apparent time and space.
It’s a case of mistaken identity since there is no thing in the first place. It’s the illusion of a thing seeking a thing to complete the seemingly incomplete seeker. 
As it’s been said a million times, the seeker is the sought.
However it’s usually not mentioned that there *is* no seeker.
How could something that’s infinite in being go out of being? It’s always here. Nothing can be lost. Or gained. 
There is: a vibration of sound. A vibration of light. Of sensation. Of smell. Of taste. Inside and outside all happening at once: all the identifications of these seem to separate them out but they must be happening in the same place, the same time, here and now or they could not be perceived.

This is all rudimentary and self-evident, “Spirituality 101” if you will, by I have fun spelling it out for others, even though there are no others. Then we get into this game of thought and language…

Love and Freedom Cannot Be Separated

 

Freedom and love can’t be separated. 

By “freedom” is meant true inner freedom, and by “love” is meant impersonal love, the nondual living truth, not human love. 

A lack of love and freedom is experienced as darkness, pain and suffering. 

But if love and freedom is who are, then how can there be a lack?

In fact there can’t be a lack, but there can be a perceived lack. 

Why is there a perceived lack? Because who we are is obscured by what we are not. 

What we are not can be characterized in various ways: as something learned, as a movement of thought, as a forgetting one is caught in a dream, as an effort. 

If what we are is effortless freedom, how can there be effort? It doesn’t seem possible for a being so powerful, so limitless, to be able to make an effort and be limited. How can it fool itself? Well, in order to create a world, a universe, a perception, there has to be a difference somewhere. There has to be a somewhere, and and if there’s a somewhere, then there is space, a here and a there. And if there is a here and a there, then there is movement. If there is movement, there is something perceiving movement, and change, and therefore the possibility of time. 

So we have a world and some kind of being in time and space, perceiving and moving about. In this world of differences, you have bright and dim, awake and asleep, good and bad, easy and hard, effortless and effortful. In other words, in our case we are experiencing what is presumed to be a person, a human being. The human being is thinking, perceiving, deciding, willing, acting doing,  having things happen to them, and so forth. 

But wait, back up. Who is experiencing a human being? A person can’t be experiencing a person, or they would be two beings: an experiencer and an experienced.
Something is going on here: more than meets the eye. 

So what do I know?

I know there is awareness, and it’s hearing sounds we call “words” in an “inner” space where other sounds appear, and I see and have the sensations of hands typing them, and the visual perception of hands and fingers moving. There are also sounds “in my head” we’ve learned to call “thoughts”. And there are also sounds that seem to come from “out there” that we call “noise’ or “music” or “speech”, but are actually experienced in the same inner space as the “thoughts” sounds when I really am honest. And there are also images and sounds we call “memories” that are “thoughts” that are repeated. They are associated with images from what we call the “past” but are experienced now.

Where are the boundaries to these perceptions? That is to be investigated, first-hand.

In the meantime, the presumption of a self can be examined on it’s own.

From these raw facts of first-hand experience outlined above, various false inferences are made.
First let’s look at examples of true and false inferences, so we are clear what is meant.

Valid inference:
You see many examples of fire, and smoke happening together, and never smoke without fire, and you infer, “where there is smoke, there is fire”.

Invalid inference:
Someone told you in childhood that smoke is caused by the Goddess Prahali from Venus, and you infer, “Where there is smoke, there is Prahali in action”.

The false inference in question is: “Where there are perceptions happening, or thoughts, or decisions, or choices, or actions taken, there is a separate self responsible, a thing, a doer of the actions, a willer of the choices, a person”. That perceiver, thinking, decider, chooser, will-er is the god we call my “self” or “me” or “I” (in the personal sense).


Love without Freedom playing out in the world is rules, religion, conforming and following…

Freedom without Love is endless seeking, wildness, chaos, instability and lostness…

True freedom is like a child running and laughing in the sheer joy of being alive, in love with Life, just Being. 

In maturity true freedom expresses as knowing one’s own nature, which is the same as love:  being aware of Being, nameless and formless. 

Love and Freedom married, lead one’s world into a self-perfecting life, ever-evolving, and
growing anew: infinite potential manifesting, the form and the formless dancing in celebreation of peace, love and beauty.

However, they were never separate to begin with…

 

On Beyond Limitations of the Three Principles Psychology Model

  

‘There’s no limit to how much you’ll know, depending how far beyond zebra you go.’ – Dr. Seuss

This post arose from a post I made to the spiritual psychology FaceBook forum “What The F*#$ Are The Principles?“. 
https://www.facebook.com/groups/299806010361726/permalink/622340784774912/

I’d like to share something, for whatever it’s worth, about the Three Principles Psychology (3P) model that has been vague for a while came into sharper focus yesterday, in large part because of participating in an online forum and becoming familiar with how people are responding to, using, and (trying to) live the 3P.

I’ve been involved with this field for about 21 years, since it was called Psychology of Mind, and then Health Realization (as student-participant, writer and occasional counselor).

Here’s the rub: the emphasis on Thought as a power, or Thinking as a function (in the moment, forming one’s perceived reality), can be powerful, if contextualized properly – which is what Universal Consciousness and Universal Mind are supposed to do – but not enough emphasis or intuitive energy is given on who or what the “I” is that thoughts occur to. So what happens is people fall back into the psychological and personal. This is especially true if one is intellectually oriented, as we generally are in this culture, some of us more than others (like me!). So we remain more or less, off and on, trapped in thinking, one’s experienced filtered by thinking and habitual, unconscious tendencies. The blind spots remain.

We respond with, or plateau at various levels off and on, of, for example “I know it’s just thinking but… How do I get out of thinking? How do I change my thinking? Can I stop thinking? I know it’s just my thinking, but that’s not helping?”… and so on, often not sure how to transcend thinking. And of course telling ourselves or them it’s just their thinking (especially without a broader, deeper understanding first) often doesn’t help, and may even irritate or frustrate (especially if it’s a loved one!).

Meanwhile we are not seeing in unity and simplicity, but in duality: A thinker with it’s thoughts, and a (separate) world.

I myself was fairly stuck, off and on, with slow progress of my understanding over the years – more often talking the walk than walking the talk – and didn’t get zapped in the way I needed until a very direct teacher said “Who are you?!” in an energetic way that shocked my thought system, and eventually led me to go hang out with non-dualists. Then the scales started to fall from my eyes. (This “zap” was by a coach who uses the 3P but was grounded in his own totally physically-lived Zen-like experience of life prior to learning about Syd Banks’ beautiful teachings, which helped him give form to what was an extremely direct and energetic understanding, for use in coaching).

I realize this is my path, and everyone is unique, but thought I’d share how I see it now: this caught-in-thought phenomenon and the sense that something isn’t quite as simple or direct as it could be in the 3P, has been bugging me for a long time.

It’s not clear yet what the solution is yet – how to introduce a kind of self-enquiry to “bring it home” – I’m just starting to explore this… and of course it all depends on the student, the context.

It does occur to me as I write that the basic situation is that the 3P are heard as a kind of objective model or description – which is made worse by it sometimes being called “scientific” – when what is needed is to point out somehow the radically subjective nature of experience. (This objective-seeming model is also why it can easily be taken on as a belief, to replace other beliefs).

However, this is all impersonal, everything that’s happening. It is happening to you, as a perceiver at the same time as it’s completely universal. The mind can’t grasp it, but you can start to chip away at the armor, the false beliefs. Eventually one will be open to see in unity, in truth.

You can also start to see why it all depends on the teacher: their “grounding” (here we go again, haha…) and what they “transmit” via their presence, life, who they are. Their happiness and love and psychological freedom are the most important substance of their message. The form (the 3P, the teaching action, the person) is just a way to try and communicate the formless. Sydney Banks always kept reminding the psychologists that it’s “spiritual”.

My two cents of the moment…

Some Notes on the Three Principles Teachings and it’s Origins

Because it came from a spontaneous realization (for the most part: Sydney Banks did say he had read some Krishnamurti that a work buddy at the mill lent to him, but he certainly wasn’t a student of spirituality or a seeker or knowledgable) – and he had no tradition other than some standard Bible-based teachings in the orphanage, his teachings don’t belong to any tradition or lineage. He also had only a 9th-grade education. A formal education however is not a prerequisite for spiritual insight, in fact it can get in the way. The intellect, speech and the learning are mere tools for expression and investigation.

This is evident in the language Sydney Banks used in his early talks (tapes from the 70s), which are a profoundly heart-felt mix of language that he picked up, or that occurred to him, or Christian metaphors (e.g., “Christ Consciousness”). They were used spontaneously to try and convey his mystical insights.
This, like all teachings, is a double-edged sword: whereas traditions (like Advaita from Hinduism) have the drawback of all the baggage and concept, religious attitudes and ornamentations (not to mention schisms between interpretations), a new spiritual teaching has the drawback of being difficult to interpret and understand clearly. On the other hand it has a freshness and power that is felt at the level of feeling and intuition, when the mind can’t hold onto the words.

Such new teachings do not come through a lens that has not been refined through the ages. However it may have an impact in the way it addresses people in the current concerns and pre-occupations of the time – which for example for many Westerners is psychology, psychotherapy, counseling, the world of self-improvement, New Age teachings, and so forth.

That Syd then happened to meet some psychologists (George Pransky, Roger Mills, etc.) who, along with Rick Suarez and others were able to help shape the teaching into a model over the years, was a fortunate “accident” of history. There are no accidents however. In retrospect it was fate, and seems perfectly fitting. For this wisdom to go out into the world in a way that is digestible – with Thought as the bridge – by a very broad audience is an amazing, well, miracle if you will.

What “reaches you” and opens your eyes depends on your propensities, what resonates with you, what you feel you can trust. With the Three Principles, I could feel something that the intellect could try and deny but it was obvious Syd was onto Truth in a deep way. Then years later, the clarity and precision of the teachings of Francis Lucille, and Laura Lucille (Advaita vedanta mainly, non-dualism) and others from a that school of teachings, that lineage, helped open the doors and clear the way conceptually and in terms of a felt presence, since I have been able to spend time with them (Syd died physically in 2006 and I only saw him once, at a conference in 1997, from a distance).
Having a formal background in philosophy (and philosophy of science), and an intellectual bent, meant I needed that precision and clarity in order to have my questions answered, and fortunately, Francis also had a background in Western as well as Eastern philosophy and science.

I still have a way to go in the terms of the body, relationships and certain emotions (which are interrelated) but at least I know that light needs to be shed there… 

Mind, Consciousness, and Thought are training wheels.
Non-duality is the ground on which they stand.

Q: I really enjoyed reading the history of 3P and your take on non-dualism being the foundation. I agree that ultimately what Syd was pointing to was non-dualism. I have studied with Rupert Spira and really enjoy Francis Lucille as well but I have a question for you. Where in non-dual teachings is there any reference to circumstances having nothing to do with experience. I have never heard or read any non-dual teacher saying anything like that? The reason I ask is I think the Inside Out understanding is very helpful and I would like to anchor it back to spiritual truth but I can’t find it.

A: Thanks. The answer to your question would depend on the non-dual teacher. I’ve heard Laura Lucille (Francis’ wife and a “spiritual friend” as she puts it) talk about how the world we experience is a projection of mind. Her last teacher (for one year before he died) was Robert Adams. However Robert Adams saw the reality of the world differently than how Francis Lucille sees it, since Adams was more pure Indian Advaita, and Francis is influenced also by the Kashmir Shaivism school as well as Western philosophy, physics, etc. But none of the traditions matter so much as what we can uncover via this dialogue, using the 3P and nonduality as mirrors.

I could try and answer what I think they would say but it’s better to ask them. As I pointed out, it would take some time and effort to get the language and definitions straight. I tried to do this with Francis when I first met him, but quickly realized it was better to understand as best I could what he was wanting to convey than try and get him to understand 3P. That approach has worked well, because I can now shine a light back on the 3P.

I would start by saying that you could see it like this (partly tongue-in-cheek): Mind, Consciousness and Thought are like 3 training wheels. Non-duality is the ground on which that trike stands. The direct path (Francis, Laura, Robert, Ramana Maharshi, etc.), is the quickest way to get to that ground (situated on a mountaintop), but it’s a very steep path, and not very many desire to go that route.

I would say the emphasis is a little different with the 3P, and since Syd’s insight came through psychologists (in order to get it out into the world on a wider basis), there is more of a concern with an application to what is seen by psychologists and in areas where there is dysfunction, conflict, and suffering, or less-than-optimal functioning, and a greater manifestation of human potential is wanted: namely in a person or in communities. So there is more of a concern with the human than with the absolute or with looking at the ultimate nature of the self and reality. In Advaita and Buddhism the concern is with enlightenment via undoing the mistake of identification, and realizing in essence that you are not human, but a figment of imagination as it were, in the cosmic dreamer.

Given this emphasis on the human and relieving their suffering via a spiritual psychology, the powerful tool of 3P can spark the insight that one is not a victim (of circumstances or anything) because you made your experience up via the power of thinking, and it’s brought to life via the special effects department called Consciousness and the energy and intelligence of Mind behind it all. What it meant by “universal” however, in my view is played down (by psychologists, coaches, practitioners, etc), partly in order to sell the medicine, and partly because it’s so darn hard to comprehend and really “see” and live what is meant.

But this universal aspect is what answers your question: the common ground between Syd’s teaching and direct path teachings is breaking down thought patterns that are in the way of realizing what you are. In the direct path they are called “beliefs”. They both point us “inside” until we see the nature of the true self, and then that evolves to seeing the nature of the world as well, as also created and empty of objectivity.

They also show us not to take life seriously, and stop focusing on and trying to solve problems. They both point to the ego as the troublemaker. The ego is just an image – made of thought, propped up by beliefs – all supporting the belief in a separate self.

Syd and the non-dualists both point out that we have free will as universal consciousness-mind, and whatever we experience we are responsible for it. It all comes out of nothing (I heard Syd say this in an early tape) which is exactly what the Buddhists and Advaitans say too. But you have to have a proper understanding of what “nothing” is: the source that is not an object. What we are.

You have to be careful about setting up a dualism regarding thought and circumstances. You only know of circumstances via experience. The point is it’s all created, and it’s all you – you as Mind, Consciousness, thought – so take responsibility for your experience, both of circumstances and reactions, since you chose, as absolute freedom, to create it (ask yourself why you did create it if it’s problematic, and enjoy it if it isn’t problematic).

If what you are referring to by “circumstances having nothing to do with experience” is the fact that happiness doesn’t come from circumstances, I’ve heard this mentioned many times by Francis and Rupert (e.g., seeking happiness “person place or thing” is setting yourself up, etc.), or if you mean, how our feelings and experience in the moment are coming from thinking and not from “out there” then I’d say this is true but can be heard in a limited, psychological sense, and thus can be a slippery slope, heading towards solipsism or the the personal and the worldly, and I doubt Syd would put you on that slope. To put it more bluntly, experience has *everything* to do with circumstances, because they both arise from the same source (Syd used to say the material and spiritual are One, and give examples from Native American or Hawaiian spirituality teachings where they would use their own metaphors for that). In other words, absolutely everything is included in the experience you have created – thoughts, feelings, sensations, perceptions, a body a world, a universe – and nothing is excluded in non-dual spirituality. This is the ultimate inside-out understanding: no inside and outside.

So instead, look up-slope towards the vertical dimension of the reality of Consciousness-Mind (or “awareness of being aware” as Spira puts it), once freed from its own creations of thinking patterns (beliefs), will reveal the truth of what you are: perfect, without attributes, boundless, and free.

Postscript

I should point out there is no real “going beyond” the Three Principles – all these wisdom teachings and religions, underneath, are pointing to the same (non)-thing: they are (talking about) the “beyond”. Syd said that all the time, and would talk about Native American spiritual wisdom, Hawaiian kahunas, and so forth, or say things like “keep going to your church” and listen, beyond the words, to the essence.

All I’m saying is, the form, whatever it is, isn’t it. Go beyond the form, to the spiritual (origin, essence … all just words and concepts). Syd kept saying this over and over and over again, in a thousand different forms. Find it for yourself because the form is the outer, the formless is the inner, and they are the same thing. It’s a paradox to the mind and the mind can’t hold it.

It takes no time to be who you are.

Jumping the Boundaries of Time – Syd Banks

 

Silicon Life, Consciousness, and Miraculous Intelligence

“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” – Matthew 22:21

The following is based on a fascinating email exchange with a friend with an interest in science & technology, and a deep interest in spirituality.

The origins of the dialogue was that it became ever more clear to me that true general AI, and AC (Artificial Consciousness) were not possible because of fundamental misconceptions about intelligence and the nature of reality (see my in-process article “There Is No Such Thing as Artificial Intelligence: Notes On The Myth of AI” and Kastrup). My friend goes to the same meditation and dialogue that I do, and we started discussing this: I had a notion that AI may be possible, despite his observation of the misguided ego-based aims and unconscious drives of the Singularity-believers (who he is personally familiar with, having attended Singularity University). Thus arose a discussion in person that continued via email. Block-quoted paragraphs are the friend:

“One argument I have is that if there’s no personal doer then consciousness is creating the play as it chooses so why not Silicon or machine based perceptual apparatus.

Maybe this is not a good argument, I am not attached to it.

Maybe unrelated but on ways consciousness expresses itself there’s a lot of that in Eastern philosophy. It is interesting how many Western folks cherry pick Eastern non-dualism. For instance, how about mantra and prana the animating power in all beings and their relationship. Nisargadatta talked a lot about that. Also, Ramana hailed his Guru as mountain Arunachala. It was the mountain that pulled him in that direction. There is mount Kailash recognized by non dual indian saints as well, who are very popular in the west.

An artificial holder of consciousness is also known as Shiva Lingam. Here a few articles that I can think of along these lines,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prana_Pratishtha
http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/yoga-meditation/science-of-yoga/science-history-creating-lingas/

On the jewish side, there are golems
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golem

Eric:
The following quote to me addresses pretty well the projection of a notion of consciousness onto inanimate objects, as is done in idolatry (lingas, etc.):
“The problem with panpsychism is, of course, that there is precisely zero evidence that any inanimate object is conscious. To resolve an abstract, theoretical problem of the materialist metaphysics one is forced to project onto the whole of nature a property – namely, consciousness – which observation only allows to be inferred for a tiny subset of it – namely, living beings. This is, in a way, an attempt to make nature conform to theory, as opposed to making theory conform to nature. (Page 19)”
from: THE COGNITIVE SHORT-CIRCUIT OF ‘ARTIFICIAL CONSCIOUSNESS’ by Bernardo Kastrup

“I am not sure if there is such a thing as inanimate object. What’s a living being exactly? [Nikola] Tesla said that crystals have an experience but we don’t know what their experience is.”

No one knows what life is, or how it arose, or where it begins or stops (is a retrovirus “alive”?), in space or on this planet. But rather than concluding it has no definition (both conceptually and materially as a boundary), one can look into the intuition and see that the arising of life and of consciousness were co-occurrences. Since consciousness is in the eternal Now, so is Life. Life arose on the planet as a necessary pre-condition for the mind that contemplates its existence, which is using this organic form to write these words. The universe reflects on it’s own nature via this vehicle, which has eyes, vision, hearing, arms legs, language, tools, and the whole play of phenomenal existence arose in this field of consciousness of this planet that finds expression here and from within you. Minerals, rocks, plants, trees, animals, primates, humans are all needed in that one concert and dance. They are all part of consciousness. They are not all sentience though. They are orderly, and follow the laws of nature, which is the spiritual laws of thinking. But the projections we call rocks are not mind-like in the mind-like of sentience that arose via animals to create egos. An ego is a point of view created by a perceptual apparatus – these perceptual apparatuses are a linear point within the non-linear reality, that create the illusion that there is a point of view and a sequence to perceiving, like a delay or slowing down hat gives the appearance of time and cause and effect. The infinite has to be somehow limited in order to play this game. The infinite that writes these words is not different from any other part of the infinite: nothing is excluded, yet everything has it’s proper and perfect place in the whole at every moment. So since “inanimate” (an old and not entirely useful word in this context, since all it really implies is movement, as in animals – but plants are alive and slowly moving) objects are part of this play, they play a role that at the same timeless time both conscious in an absolute sense, and unconscious in a relative sense. So a crystal would only have an experience is so much as it partakes of one’s interaction as potential in a moment, such as a scientists doing a quantum experiment on it or an artist using it to refract light. But a crystal does not have a point of view – there is not something it is like to be a crystal. It experiences no qualia, other than in your imagination.

“For Ramana, Arunachala was his guru.”

Sure, anything that inspires one can be your guru. A mountain, a book, a scarab, an obelisk, nature, another apparent human… “Guru” just means teacher. But the insight is coming from within – “in-sight”: sight from within. In other words, and ultimately, life is an inside-out experience. There’s nothing out there that isn’t a projection of the mind – universe and mind arise together when there is a movement we call thought. When there’s no movement then there is no apparent any-thing (localized). There is only one teacher – that is why Robert Adams, Laura and such always say you are Robert Adams, you are Christ, you are Buddha, and so forth.

“Also, why is it that the structure of a human exhibits a certain behavior and a rock doesn’t.”

See answer 1. above.

“What does it have to be Carbon?”

It doesn’t have to be in theory, except that it *is* Carbon-based, as this writer and the reader of this right now (though “carbon” and Carbon-based are concepts). Everything else is imagination. Spirituality (and science) is about facts, not imagination (though the imagination can help at times, then is discarded). But you could have non-Carbon life, Silicon life or whatever you want in science fiction (which I love), or in theory.

“This by the way is not my argument supporting panpsychism. I am not saying a rock is inanimate, I would say it has a different kind of experience (I am not eager to verbalize what that experience is). If it doesn’t satisfy my sense organs that doesn’t mean the object is inanimate or lacking life.”

Not sure what you mean by “satisfy”: an aesthetic experience, or a conceptual criteria? Most of my views above on Life are either via intuition or a combination of intuition and knowledge of natural science, and my own observation of nature.
I wouldn’t call your view panpsychism so much as good old-fashioned idolatry, which can be of material objects, concepts, practices, systems, the body, the brain, or any objects at all in consciousness, even values. It just mean a projection of the divine outward, to my way of seeing it. To put it in religious language “…idolatry connotes the worship of something or someone other than God as if it were God” (Wikipedia)

“The psychedelic and meditation communities and the tantras , Kashmir Shaivism , Tibetan buddhism are full of literature on this by the way).”

The literature, scriptures, and communities are full of all kinds of spiritual errors or limitations of view. They aren’t wrong and serve a function within the whole, like parts of a cosmic puzzle. Awake-ness wants to awake by going to sleep first, and dreaming a dream as convoluted and intricate as can be spun as an infinite mind that arose from infinite intelligence could, then make it conscious. That’s the story in my book anyway…

The Three Principles and The Direct Path

What is the difference between the Three Principles psychology (3P), a spiritual school that uses the model of Universal Mind, Universal Consciousness and Thought, and direct path methods? The direct path is a path of spiritual enquiry wherein one goes directly to truth, rather than through steps (also called the “progressive path”). It is a process of seeing through the beliefs of who and what you thought you are, and being pointed (by a teacher, if you want to go faster) to what you actually are. Paths that are indirect use various practices as well as (sometimes) objects of devotion. The practices are meant to purify, prepare, and undo conditioning. They happen through time. The direct approach is, well more direct (hard to describe how something can happen outside of time! that’s where “transmission” of truth comes in, and unconditional, impersonal Love). Practices can include meditation, bodywork like yoga, chanting, lying on a bed of nails or various forms of asceticism. There are as many forms of practices and techniques as there are potentials in the mind for creating things to get rid of (endless in other words), and ways and means of preparing a person. The direct path gets straight to the point and informs you there is no person to begin with.

Mind, Consciousness and Thought are training wheels. Non-duality is the ground on which they stand.

The common basis with the 3P then is there is no reliance on techniques or motivation, but rather the attempt to impart an understanding. The understanding – a moment of suddenly seeing for oneself, the Aha! moment – that there never was a problem to begin with, were it not for your use of the power of mind (thought), the gift of universal Consciousness, and the infinite intelligence of Mind. The traditional direct path teachings put it in terms of Consciousness, folding in Mind as that aspect that is the infinite innate intelligence of life (which is in consciousness), and talk in terms of the “bodymind”: the sum of personal thinking, feeling and perception we place in an arbitrary and illusory container we call ourselves, which really only exists *within* consciousness. Consciousness is the only reality.

The 3P are not usually taught in such a bold way as to come across as a spiritual teaching, given the secular context of our Western culture, and the psychological context of it’s origins and name (not to mention it’s taught as self-improvement, such as for business performance or in schools). For example, students will usually assume “consciousness” means some localized, personal phenomenon, probably coming from the brain. Likewise the notion of universal mind will seem a little strange, unless put in terms that sound religious, like “God” (which is also dualistic: there is a “me” and a God somewhere). Given the contexts of teaching, there are concessions made to an audience that for the most part couldn’t swallow something as direct as a direct path teaching. The 3P are also, more and more, being adopted as a coaching model, and so starts to become, or seem, as akin to a technology or system. It is sometimes even called a technology or as “scientific” (it’s not: science is about phenomenon, and consciousness is not a phenomenon, it’s what appearances take place *in*).

There is also the fact that the 3P originated, or were catalyzed, in the response of a enlightenment experience (of Sydney Banks) and his early exposure to modern psychology. This exposure came in the form of psychologists like George Pransky ( a very ambitious man) and Roger Mills, who came to visit him, curious about reports of people getting happier. Thus their form reflects the history and the intent. While the field has changed in the 20 years I’ve been observing or participating in it, I did witness a liberating focus on the contrast with traditional psychology and therapy (something I also had exposure to, as a patient of therapists and as a student of psychology). Sometime this contrast was put in terms of, seeing how psychology looks to ones’ past, digs into memories, and tries to solve problems using the tools of the mind, thus re-creating the very source of the problem in the first place. The analogy is telling someone that the cure to burning one’s hand on a stove is to place the hand back on the stove! Sometimes the contrast was in terms of “processing thinking” versus “flow thinking (or experience)”. Indeed, it was a 180 degree turn from traditional therapy to not be directed to get involved in memory, and be told one is already healthy. Most importantly, the attention was directed to the function of thought, and the total context in which thinking in the moment is taking place, rather than the content of thought. Almost all other approaches are focused on content: how to change it, fix it, explain it, access it, talk about it, control it, and so forth. Indeed, for some it is so eye-opening to be told they are the thinkers of their thoughts and that this is what is creating their experience, that it totally transforms them. For others, it was little more difficult (myself included: I needed a more direct and intellectually clear teaching).

One can start to see what some of the difficulties are for a teaching model that tries to get at the core of what we are, in order to release greater human potential, such as happiness, love, harmoniousness, creativity and peace of mind. What is being pointed to will be taken in by the “small self” – the mind, or “ego” – and turned into a new set of beliefs, or rules to follow, or something to be understood by the mind. This is the model we grow up with: we go to school to gain some knowledge and skills and get a grade and award and stamp of approval. But here we are asked to stop believing things, unlearn what we learned, and let go of who and what we thought we were. Such a thing has to be introduced gently and gingerly. It is as radical as you could get. The word “radical” come from “forming the root’ and ‘inherent’”. It is being pointed towards what is inherent: freedom and happiness.

The false self is akin to an entrenched political bureaucracy. It will do anything it can to preserve itself, including lying, trying to control, manipulate, beg steal or borrow another day of existence. It will absorb any new teaching and claim it as it own. The ego will morph into infinite forms to pretend to be what it is not: real. It will even pretend to be spiritual in the name of a new self, trying to get out of self by more self-ing. What a cosmic joke! What it fears s non-existence: absolute disappearance. Ironically, the functioning of the false self just is this movement of thought: a self-preserving illusion. As such, it takes effort to maintain, and this energy and effort is felt in the form of tension, stress, depression, conflict with others and with oneself, and a million other symptoms of unhappiness and dis-ease of body and mind. This goes on outside of the direct awareness, and thus is called “unconscious” or “blind spots”, and is the reason why becoming conscious of these patterns and games spells their dissolution. When light is thrown on a shadow that looked like a snake, suddenly the snake disappears: it was never there in the first place!

This message is quite in contrast to the culture at large, which trades in what are supposed to be the objects of happiness: persons, places, and things. But many come to feel at a loss for why they are not happy even though they have it all. Or, they are at a loss to why they can’t get anything at all, the things according to which they were told or assumed, would make them happy.

Notes:
see also Direct vs Indirect paths. (Immediate vs Progressive paths)

What is Spirituality?

 

“It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere”  – Agnes Repplier

It’s interesting to see how much misunderstanding of the word “spirituality” there is in Western culture. And, I believe that same reasons that people are not truly happy are the same reasons that there is a misunderstanding of the word.

To give the simplest definition possible: spirituality is about happiness. It is about knowing who you are, and what reality is. It is living with facts instead of abstractions and projections (thinking and imagining).
This serves as a good definition because what we learn from the culture is how to be unhappy and how to be something we are not.

Indeed, we are born into this world open and innocent, naturally loving and free, and through socialization we learn how to be unhappy. And so spirituality could be said to be an unlearning: a finding out who we are instead of who we *think* we are, or are supposed to be. What we learn, see, pickup from socialization, the formula that we learn from parents, schooling, friends, the church, the culture, and so forth, are like a misdirection: a pointing away from our natural selves, our innate intelligence, freedom and love. This is not a call to become childish again, but a reminder of what one can find anew: that fresh and alive essence of what we already are.

You could call this misdirection by the culture “materialism”, but that word is so easily misinterpreted: it can be heard as anti-materialism, or as anti-consumerism, or as some kind of philosophical stance about matter. Materialism and spirituality are not in opposition but two sides of the same reality. In my definition for the purposes of this essay, materialism simply means the belief that objects in consciousness are what make us happy. By objects is meant not material objects out there, but what one is aware of in one’s experience as not being oneself. For example, you are sitting in a chair in your livingroom. You see a chair across the room. Most of us usually think of that chair as being a separate object “out there”. Or, we see an image in our imagination of a chair (such as you might be imagining right now). Or you see an chair in your dream at night. That image in all three scenarios is what I am calling an object in consciousness. Your awareness of the object occurred in your experience within your consciousness: the livingroom chair as an experience in consciousness as a perception of a chair (projected into the living room), then as an image in your mind as an imagined chair, then as an image in a dream. In all three scenarios there was a perception of a chair but in three seemingly different locations. I’m simply pointing out the location was the same all three times: in consciousness. Slow down and read the paragraph again if you don’t understand.

We do the same thing when we think of who or what we are as a person. We have an image of ourselves in the mind, based on what we see in the mirror, and on concepts and imagination, and what people have said, and what we would like ourselves to be. So we are an object, or are defined by objects of consciousness as an idea of “person” or “human being”. And therefore this naturally plays into how happy we are. Not only do we feel what we think, but since nothing in this perception of the world is fixed or unchanging, and we are holding an imagined image of who we are and what would make us happy, feel free, or safe, there is bound to be a disharmony between reality and our imagination that is experienced: either a discomfort, a confusion, a wanting, a seeking, or things not going our way. Why? Because we can’t hold into it but want to. We think we are the doer, want to be the doer of our lives but it constantly gets away from us and we feel frustrated.

True spirituality in fact it doesn’t say anything about what we should do or have, or not do or not have. In fact you could say spirituality is about living according to facts instead of theory.

Religions and cults (religion is a cult, as is materialism) says “We know what’s going on and what’s real, so you should love like this, you should do this…”. But true spirituality says “OK, you came here and are asking how to be happy. So investigate yourself, and see what actually and truly know, what makes you happy and who you are. No one can find it for you.” It says, be open to the possibility that what you are is universal and you are not who you think you are. Don’t be afraid of the unknown and unexpected. Religions claim they know. Spirituality is being happily adrift on an ocean, alone but not lonely. It is a friendly universe: you may discover it’s not out to get you.

So you can see spirituality has nothing to do with religion, but that religions grew up around spiritual insights, trying to claim them as their own, and dispense them, control them and people, and get paid for what they supposedly give the seekers.

On Materialism

You could be a billionaire and not believe in materialism, and you can be an impoverished poet living in a shed and be a materialist. The billionaire who knows who he is, is unattached to what’s happening in the contents of his consciousness, and could walk away from his millions and not be affected in his happiness, because he knows what he is (there are examples of men like this, such as Lester Levenson). The poet on the other hand, when a single cloud passes in front of the sun, could get depressed because he sees his circumstances, surroundings as being who he is and where his happiness comes from. Dropping his pencil could trigger a cascade of depressing thoughts (about himself, his life, his past and future) which he might not recover from for weeks. Or, you could have a billionaire, in fine health, who is terrified of losing his fortune and his health, and worries day and night about it, and pursues more and more money trying to fill the emptiness that lurks in his psyche or the dread just around the corner, the fear of dream of absolute disappearance. He gets a brief hit of excitement and “happiness” when a new check comes in, but then he has to set another object of acquisition or achievement, as the underlying dissatisfaction covers any new thing. He could be paranoid that enemies are after him and his money. Or, our poet in the shed could be blissfully happy, even when it’s raining and he can’t find his pencil, and his body in in pain, or whatever is happening. You get the idea.

It’s very interesting also to meet people who are judgmental or presumptuous when they find out you are into what they are calling “spirituality”. Or what they think “spirituality” is when I use the word, or that you go to a meditation group or satsang. They assume there is something wrong that started you doing that, or that you are weird or a loser or whatever – but you look at their life and they are not happy. They may claim they are happy, they may hold onto a  happy idea or image of themselves, or say that to themselves,  but if they stop doing what they are addicted to – be it working as a real estate agent and being busy busy every minute, or retired and chasing after one pleasure or another, or having to be fully engaged with family or social activity, with periods of depression cured by some kind of stimulation – their claims to be happy are seen to be hollow, or very shallow at best. Underlying it is a fear, and/or a sadness, or an anger, or a need to control. They need something outside themselves to be “happy”.

The other common interpretations I hear is that it has to do with ethics, or with religion, or with spirits, or with New Age beliefs and practices. 
I frankly think we need another word.

However, the path or practice of self-enquiry I also see as synonymous with spirituality, as long as it is bearing fruit and is not just a practice. 

If I could be happy just sitting in my living room in a chair, and looking at whatever there is, seeing the play of light, or closing one’s eyes, listening to the sounds the ears hear, or from the ears (if they are buzzing slightly) or the sounds of one’s thoughts… if one were to feel bliss or joy or happiness doing that, it’s not the usual definition of happiness. In fact some people might think you are crazy. If one could feel and see, or simply sense the perfection of all things, the totality, sitting in a chair, or just lying in a bed, the wonderful aliveness of being, that’s not the usual American definition of happiness.

Going a hundred miles an hour in a sports car, or making love to a beautiful babe or winning a huge contract and making a million dollars are more the usual definitions. I am not saying those aren’t happiness, but rather that those can be experienced in different ways. The excitement or pleasure can be experienced as happiness to different degrees by different people and will fade or might be followed by depression or let down to different degrees also. Someone who is genuinely happy, will be happy doing those things, and also happy afterwards not doing those things.

My definition of spiritual is a happiness that doesn’t go way, because it is innate, it is knowing what you are. It’s very simple, but oddly, seemingly very radical.

For most people, the body and the mind are all there are (to them, to being a human). And the material world is real, is a material thing out there. Made of matter. And spirituality often seems to mean being good or ethical, or has to do with religion, or with some separate immaterial spirits or essence … there are all kinds of ideas. But religion has to do with beliefs and old knowledge, old ideas, and social conformity to those ideas, or various schools of traditions and practices, rites and activities in the world.

But a few who start to dig into spirituality deeply realize it’s about reality. In a way genuine spirituality is more like a kind of science that looks at the ultimate nature of what is, form the inside-out. Or like a kind of philosophical journey in the search for true wisdom. But instead of being speculative like philosophy in the West, it’s is based in experience.

It’s about who you are, not as a person, but as an experience. It’s taking a look from the inside-out instead of the outside-in, the way we are taught to look.

So how is spirituality (what I’m calling it in my book) different from psychology? Well it depends on the psychology, as there are some edge-cases of psychology that are turning in a different direction from the mainstream (Three Principles Psychology for example), so for the purposes of this piece, we’ll call psychology the traditional mainstream form of it. Psychology focuses on the mind or the brain, as well as behavior. So in psychology one is examining the contents of the mind: one’s thinking, motivations, emotions, feelings, and the world of relationships, and the dynamics thereof. One could be looking at skills, and coping. One could dig into the past, into memories, family, friendships, sexual relationships, and so forth. It’s an endless game. The mind can always create new things (it doesn’t actually create, it’s just a tool for consciouness) or has an endless store of nooks and crannies.

It’s also useful for some readers (and interesting to me) to look at how spirituality is different from self-help as well as the large industry of various kinds of seminars, services and products out there. This is a large space, so it’s difficult to sum up, but we will look at patterns. Among the largest defining characteristics of these are techniques and motivation.

Why not go directly for happiness? It could save a lot of energy and heartache…