On Beyond Seeking
These notes are in response to a question.
Namaste. [I am] curious to know how your seeking started? When it ended? Many stages you underwent? How you interact with people who are spiritually ignorant trapped in duality? I will be eager to receive your response. Thanks. – GM
Hi GM – I’ll answer in two parts. The first way I’ll call “The Direct Answer” because it is directed at what you are, as much as possible in words. The second part, simply called “Answer” is more for the mind, which is the more common way to go, satisfying a broader audience as it were.
The Direct Answer
There are no stages. It takes no time to be who you are.
So it’s more simply a matter of not reacting (mentally), since that’s the only freedom you have, to inquire into who you are, in the heart. There’s a calm, silent reality that Is, needs nothing added, since it is everything, or rather what every thing is appearing in.
But for the mind there appears to be stages, steps, change, to letting go of the mind and habits of feeling.
There can be as much elaboration and complexity in this as you want: see below under “Answer”.
It all depends on where you are in the de-evolution of the mind, the unfolding. For the more mature, they can go very directly, and one question like “Who are you?” aimed correctly will break down the mind and open up a new life.
Others may want to take years, decades, eons to play with studies, practices, magical powers and god knows what. I spent years studying philosophy and various forms of psychology and spirituality, and doing mindfulness type informal practices in everyday life. But all of it has to be discarded as scaffolding in “the end”, when you see there is no second to do or control, no two minds, only one aware being. (And who did it anyway? In this here dream it was all preordained in a sense, and so all is left for the mind are interesting paradoxes such as a seeming need to do something when there was in reality no separate doer.)
Then it’s only celebration to play with philosophy and contemplate reality, discuss it with friends. It’s not so serious. There’s no agenda.
The answer to dealing with the ignorant comes from that space, of calm and knowing there’s nothing wrong, all is perfect and unfolding as it should, of not reacting mentally. You will know what to do and not do. You can observe yourself doing the right things as a bodymind.
(Again, more elaborate answers for the mind are in my article)
I’ll break it down and answer each part. They are all inter-related in truth.
1. [I am] curious to know how your seeking started?
Since I do now know what your idea of “seeking” is, I’ll answer from what I see it as. I see seeking as an awareness that there is something more to life than what the society, the culture, the world, and the eye (senses and mind) presents, coupled with the sense of dissatisfaction, such that this dis-ease and dissatisfaction, which can be mild or extreme suffering, spurs one to look for something more, some solution that nothing in the world has been able to provide. Being an un-worldly or unusual solution that’s sought, it is called “spiritual”, or “esoteric” even though in the end you’ll find there’s no difference, that there’s only One reality. Also, all seeking, whether material or social or mental or spiritual, stems from the same inner source: it’s a seeking of happiness and peace, of reality calling one home to reality.
As far as my personal history goes, it’s not very relevant except as perhaps an inspiration, since there are no certain steps and no techniques. Every manifest being is unique. The story we spin about the past is made up in ways we barely understand: in other words, it can be spun in an infinite variety of ways by the mind: it’s arbitrary, and history may be changed as well, such as in a miracle (look at spontaneous recoveries from severe mental and physical diseases as an example of non-causal, unique events).
You and I know many people who have been searching for many, many years, twenty years, thirty years, forty years, for the answers to life, for reality, yet they’re still in the same place they started twenty years ago. They have gone through all kinds of things. They’ve been to many places. They met certain teacher, but they’re still the same. For they’ve never really investigated themselves. They say they do. They say they’ve been working on themselves for years, nothing has happened. But have they really been working on themselves? What they’ve been doing is sort of just thinking about it a little bit, reading books. But they’ve never dived deep enough in the Self to find the answers. And this is exactly what you have to do. You have to dive deep, deep, deep within yourself, deeper than you can ever imagine. And the only way you can do this is by giving up the external world, mentally, not physically. In other words, by not reacting to things. To observe things, watch the world go by, leave it alone. It’s neither good nor bad. It has nothing to offer you.
~ Robert Adams
A rough outline of how it started for me:
When I was a teenager, and on into my 20’s, I knew I didn’t want to be like those around me in my family, or others in school, who were caught in the “rat race” seeking happiness in material and social status competitions, and were in fact never happy no matter what they achieved, be it money, career, marriages, family, property, travels, experiences, creative achievements (I came from a family of architects, artists and engineers), etc. I had a sense there was something else, some other truth, some other way to live. However I was brought up in a secular household, with an atheist, work-driven father – if you couldn’t touch it, see it, if it wasn’t scientific, it wasn’t real. And I had an anxious mother who had some vague spiritual feelings, but had no idea what to do with them other than go to a neighborhood Presbyterian church occasionally (mostly she just had a crush on the minister).
All my learning about reality was from family, friends, teachers, and observing nature and reading about science and science fiction. That formed my worldview, even though I had philosophical questions I couldn’t answer, and some intuitions of what the answers might look like, they were not at all clear.
When I was 21 I had a peak experience of the absolute, of God if you will life beyond life and death, beyond duality. I’ve described this experience in another article so won’t go into to depth here. It began with the silent and certain thought “Life and death are the same” of self-evidence, after which I dissolved into the infinite light and infinite knowledge and infinite love of the one, the Allness. No time and no space. It was the real, whereas this Earth life is like a play of shadows, a spreading-out and slowing down into an apparent, dense time dimension. That is, coming down into a seeming body.
However since at that age I had no background to understand, no spiritual training, no context, this Super-reality could not be integrated. So while I had a period of peace and lovingness, an afterglow if you will, this only lasted a short while before life began to teach me lessons – about the limitations of phenomenal world and taking it seriously – the errors of humanity – and the various forms of human suffering that arise from seeking happiness in this realm, from desire and fear of believing to be a separate entity, the human condition. This is how I see it now, in retrospect. It was like God was showing me – through felt experience – every kind of human misery, in its depths, so I could then transcend and describe the escape route (to some degree – it’s an impossible task in some sense).
As part of this seeking, I was inspired by a professor of Western philosophy at a college. He was impressed by my writing and understanding intelligence, and encouraged me to go on in the field and get a PhD. I had an intense curiosity and was obsessed with certain questions: what is the mind and intelligence? Could it be simulated in a computer or was there something about it that was irreducible? Who am I? This obsession with these burning questions went on for years and years and years, along with a deep inner pang of lostness, confusion and turmoil or mental suffering that was to eventually, towards the end of my university years, lead to a diagnosis of “clinical depression”. Philosophy had been a one-pointedness, and my research was the only thing that I felt was a focus that helped me rise above the pain and sadness of the world (relationships or lack of, breakups with girlfriends, fear and longing, lostness about my future, loneliness, inner conflicts and arguing and noise and angers, dislike of society and myself, criticalness, all this noise in the mind and feeling sense …). The reading and writing and thinking kept me going, like a life raft.
Finally after many many years of this research into the mind, and going to colloquia and classes and graduate seminars and having discussion one-on-one with philosophers of world-class renown, I had an enormous epiphany, an insight, a revelation. To put it into words, it was something like a “grand mal intuition” that “intuition was the way to go”. This direct seeing of direct knowledge, in this blinding light, took many years to unpack. But in essence I could see that the tools the professors, and their hard-held beliefs and faith in the vision of the religion of scientism and neuroscience, their loyalties, would never lead them anywhere except around in circles, forever chasing their own tails. They were living in a bubble, all using the same conceptual and linguistic tokens in a game (look at the kinds of debates that occur in the field of Philosophy of Mind: very technical and non-progressive) that was like a merry-go-round where one hoped to grab the Big Idea that made you famous and got you tenure.
The academic philosophers (and cognitive scientists and such attending colloquia) were using the only tool they counted as real or valuable within the scientific materialist worldview they were encased in: a problem-solving, cognitive instrument, an intellectual hammer. Therefore all they saw was nails, and never looked to ask deeply and see who or what was driving the hammer. According to the prevalent paradigm, we are some kind of meat robot, evolved by a semi-random mechanical process of competition, with the winners getting the best position at a university or other institution, using language to manipulate, control and gain power over other meat robots, under the auspices of the state and funding they were given access to, if they went along with the worldview and seemed to advance the cause of world domination and control through science, technology, political and social means. This was their vision if you scratched a little beneath the surface (or talked to them more privately), and it was a bit strange and dark. I saw that was all a projection that was made up by the human mind. At some level they probably knew it was a false game, but held out faith, as true believers, in their quest and goal. Besides it was making them a good living, getting them awards, and giving some (temporary) ego satisfaction (and pain and conflict too).
But where is the heart in all this? The happiness? The love and sense of freedom? Who “wins” in the end: the intellectual brain with the most book citations on its gravestone, the most buildings named after them? It’s a depressing vision. I know I had to get out of there, and never look back. I finished off my degree and got involved in the art and computer fields, and did research and writing on my own. Eventually I started my own business so I could be more free and independent.
I could go on and on about the errors of Western philosophy and how it has lost its way, and ego-based careerism of academic philosophers, but my interest is not in writing books about the past or engaging in the futility of righting the wrongs of a culture.
After I left the university, the question became less abstract and more “How to live? How to be happy? How to find love?” This too went on for decades. It took me through, for example, applied clinical psychology, psychotherapies and that whole world, both theory and practice, where I was eventually to discover its limitations, and a way beyond them (which is largely much he content of this blog or book, at least the earlier content). It was a pathway that took me through Zen, spiritual psychology, and many avenues of pursuit, including using substances – medicines, drugs, herbs to control or change moods, feeling, thinking (and all of this resulted in pile of boxes of journals and writings, and a personal library).
Just like in Western philosophy, in the end all the Eastern and spiritual concepts, practices and techniques, need to be dropped too, as mere scaffolding, as “mind stuff” – because that’s what they are. “The end” meaning seeing direct, being present, whatever you call this Now, the universal silence with no second, no opposite.
The key is to find your own burning question and pursue it relentlessly, above all other goals. If you don’t have a burning question that’s fine too. In other words if you’re already happy, enjoy it and follow your love. All roads lead to home, and that love and enthusiasm is a homing device as it were. And if you aren’t self-realized in this life, you will be in a future one. There’s all eternity to be and appear to not be. There’s nothing wrong, nowhere to go and nothing to do. Odd as that seems.
2. When it ended?
Again it depends on how one defines the “ending” of the seeking, as much as what “seeking” is. We could identify three stages of Seeking and Liberation – see the next question (I like “liberation” better than “awakening.” “Awakening” is more dualistic, as it suggests there can be sleep, states, and a person in the state).
3. Many stages you underwent?
It’s not a personal matter in truth, and therefore is a universal answer.
The three stages of seeking and realization can be seen as follows.
The first stage
The first step of starting a search for that which is (your) the Self, once one knows, or has an inkling, that at some level that “I” is not that which one assumed to be: not merely the body or mind. The seed of the “Who am I?” question has been planted.
The second stage
It ended many times. I know that’s a strange thing to say, but it’s more accurate than stating a date or an event in time. The ending of seeking doesn’t happen in time, but is opening to the unconditional, the nature of being. So in a sense it’s not an experience, it’s consciousness knowing itself. As such, there is no one (no person) to experience it. That (or those) glimpses could be called the second step. It is a permanent blow or wound to the ego. There is no going back, and this crack in the cosmic egg will some day develop into a broken egg and the hatching of naked awareness, unconstrained be condition-alities.
The third stage
The third stage then is the clarifying and dissolving of all the inherited tendencies, the emotional habits, the subconscious, irrational “garbage” stored as patterns in the apparent body, the patterning of “mind” as it were. This goes on and on, as an investigation of embodied life in the dreaming of the dream. Freedom from reaction is the keystone, since reaction is the mechanical action of the programmed robot human maintaining the unreal, the illusion of a separate (id)entity, living in time and space, and the non-reaction corresponds to what is real, to what we are: no thing, not in time, instantaneous. So your only freedom is to not react (mentally).
To be clear there are no enlightened or awakened or liberated people, only awareness itself that is allowed to make noises through some instruments. Why? Who knows. There is no predicting such things, or any set steps. If there were, there would be enlightened beings everywhere.
The truth also is that all stages can overlap, or occur in different orders. For example, one can be dealing with samskaras, letting go of vasanas, releasing emotional baggage as a first step (such as in progressive paths). Just be careful not to get stuck in a self-improvement game: a person trying to get pure. This can go on forever, or at least a very long time.
4. How you interact with people who are spiritually ignorant trapped in duality?
First let’s be clear about what we mean by “ignorant” (and forget the word “spiritual” since everything is spiritual, therefore nothing is). Ignorant simply means not knowing who, or what, one is. And that is almost every human being on the planet. Can you forgive them for being normal, “for they know not what they do” having been learning the ignorance they (we) were surrounded with. What do you expect? For things to be other than they are? Can you see that as your ego, having an opinion or judgement about what God does, as being not quite up to your standards, that the world is not quite spinning the way you think it should? Hopefully this will give you a chuckle.
I would kindly suggest this: as a practice, start to see people as not others. In truth there are no others. Until you have that insight, align your thinking, perceptions, feeling and action, as best you can with that reality of the universality of consciousness, and make decisions from there, seeing as a benevolent judge as it were, what would be best for all parties. You will find that things go better.
Remember also everything is projection of mind. And behind these projections that have been created, there is one Being who is pure love, what we call Consciousness or intelligence, manifest in endless variety as the people, animals, plants, minerals and events of your life. It’s all unfolding for your spiritual growth. Live from your heart.
If you find some condition, such as being around an ignorant person to be bothersome, annoying, uncomfortable, you have three choices:
1. Accept and Release. Use it as an opportunity, to practice, to see deeper: see that there is a reaction happening, this reaction is from the past, from memory in other words (there is no past in reality), and in fully seeing, allowing, and welcoming the tendency, it will dissolve. You can call this “karma yoga” if you like.
2. Change it. You could change the uncomfortable situation (or try) by for example, saying something to the person seeming to cause a disturbance. This could create be further opportunity for karma yoga!
3. Exit. Leave the situation. This puts non-attachment into action: there may be no real reason you are in a situation that’s troublesome, other than fear or habit (for example).
In any case, always and only look within and be concerned with your own liberation, never mind what you may think or label about “people”, or what seems to be going on in the world. There are no people in this dream life. When you wake up it will all be gone in an instant. Find joy in that fact: you are only meeting yourself, your real Self, wherever you go. You can never really get lost because you never were lost to begin with.
Postscript on Seeking: Home seeks Home.
One of the things I realized being around a realized being, and listening to students of these kinds of transmissions of wisdom, is that it’s in the nature of such things that very few truly want to be around a genuine and deep teacher of realization. Why? Because it means obliteration of the ego (the belief and sense of being a separate entity), and how many beings have been around the block enough for that (especially in Western culture, where ego is everything)? And, no ego would go to it willingly – the vast majority hear about realization or enlightenment or awakening, and want it for the ego (despite their denial of such a fact). They want to enhance their humanhood. The fact is, it’s not chosen, it chooses you in a sense – like the the totality letting go of a ripe mango – because you have the maturity to know where true happiness lies. But this is again one of the paradoxes: who, or what is choosing? It’s a choice but not one willed in a personal sense, and in any case there is no personal will anywhere in existence. It’s a free choice to be in bondage and liberated, yet you have no choice as a person. Go figure.