Thursday, June 30, 2011

koan of the month

any woman aware of her biological functions can tell you that almost every month things go a little nuts in her head.

everyone loves to joke about it, but i tend to think of it as a regularly scheduled reminder that i don't exist.

if i did exist, i'd be able to override my pms and avoid feeling like the world is falling apart when it's not, right?  but truly, there is absolutely nothing running the show here that is separate from life. 

what's amazing to me is that while we poke fun at the whole pms thing, this joke could be considered evidence that we do believe, as a culture, that our biological functions are to blame for our emotional state and that this emotional state colors our experience of reality. 

every time someone refers to an emotional female they could actually be considered to be pointing out the fact that there's no person in that woman, affecting her reality and experience.


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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Self-Inquiry Demystified

Look at your monitor.

Look at your hands.

Look at the thoughts coming up in your head right now.

Done that? Then you're ready. You have mastered the ancient and mystical art of looking.

Now look at the self.


"Enquiring `Who am I that is in bondage?' and knowing one's real nature alone is liberation."  -Ramana Maharshi


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Sunday, June 19, 2011


Check out these records:

Ten Successors

Zen pupils take a vow that even if they are killed by their teacher, they intend to learn Zen. Usually they cut a finger and seal their resolution with blood. In time the vow has become a mere formality, and for this reason the pupil who died by the hand of Ekido was made to appear a martyr.

Ekido had become a severe teacher. His pupils feared him. One of them on duty, striking the gong to tell the time of day, missed his beats when his eye was attracted by a beautiful girl passing the temple gate.

At that moment Ekido, who was directly behind him, hit him with a stick and the shock happened to kill him.

The pupil's guardian, hearing of the accident, went directly to Ekido. Knowing that he was not to blame, he praised the master for his severe teaching. Ekido's attitude was just the same as if the pupil were still alive.

After this took place, he was able to produce under his guidance more than ten enlightened successors, a very unusual number.

Hui-ke Offers His Arm

Bodhidharma sat in a cave for nine years gazing at the wall. Hui-ke arrived to inquire about the dharma, but Bodhidharma refused to teach him. Finally, taking a knife, Hui-ke cut off his own arm and presented it as an offering to Bodhidharma, who agreed to become his teacher.

Ryonen's Clear Realization

The Buddhist nun known as Ryonen was born in 1797. She was a granddaughter of the famous Japanese warrior Shingen. Her poetical genius and alluring beauty were such that at seventeen she was serving the empress as one of the ladies of the court. Even at such a youthful age fame awaited her.

The beloved empress died suddenly and Ryonen's hopeful dreams vanished. She became acutely aware of the impermanency of life in this world. It was then that she desired to study Zen.

Her relatives disagreed, however, and practically forced her into marriage. With a promise that she might become a nun after she had borne three children, Ryonen assented. Before she was twenty-five she had accomplished this condition. Then her husband and relatives could no longer dissuade her from her desire. She shaved her head, took the name of Ryonen, which means to realize clearly, and started on her pilgrimage.

She came to the city of Edo and asked Tetsugyu to accept her as a disciple. At one glance the master rejected her because she was too beautiful.

Ryonen then went to another master, Hakuo. Hakuo refused her for the same reason, saying that her beauty would only make trouble.

Ryonen obtained a hot iron and placed it against her face. In a few moments her beauty had vanished forever.

Hakuo then accepted her as a disciple.

Commemorating this occasion, Ryonen wrote a poem on the back of a little mirror:

    In the service of my Empress I burned incense to
        perfume my exquisite clothes
    Now as a homeless mendicant I burn my face to
        enter a Zen temple.

When Ryonen was about to pass from this world, she wrote another poem:

    Sixty-six times have these eyes beheld the changing
        scene of autumn
    I have said enough about moonlight,
    Ask no more.
    Only listen to the voice of pines and cedars when no
        wind stirs.

It seems to me that a certain level of urgency is required for the thought pattern of identification to 'gather itself' and truly gaze at reality without preconceptions and beliefs.

I've been remembering how desperate i was to find the truth, just before liberation.

How does this level of urgency arise?  Where did my agonies of existence come from?  It built up for years from the seeds of countless generations of human hypocrisy. 

In school, history lessons on slavery made me embarrassed to have been born white.
In church the violence of the crucifixion of Jesus captivated my attention with horror and intrigue in equal parts.  What would cause a human to allow something like that to happen to himself?  This dramatic story was balanced against the hypocrisy of the christians at my church who would talk shit about each other after Sunday service.

The desperation doesn't come to a head without a lot of distracting whining from the illusory self.  This can go on for years.

So far, there's one key contemplation that for me, seems to cut through and awaken the urgency and desperation well.  This is the reality of death.  when the impermanence of all things, including every single item currently assumed to be part of one's self, is faced directly, it seems the momentum of the identification patterns can be shifted.  One must consider that everything one thinks one loves will die.  saying goodbye is a moment by moment reality.  Everything that has been, has gone.  Hoping or believing in an afterlife for a personal entity does not really mean a you gets to go on forever, does it?  Question these ideas.  Face them.  Awaken the urgency. 

What would you do to know the truth?

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Commentary on the Delusion

There’s been some chatter lately about the hesitancy of many speakers and sharers of enlightenment to point their followers toward a direct investigation into whether or not a self exists in real life, despite their talking around and about the concept of no self.  Each of the ‘professionally enlightened’ that I have explored over the years has, at one point or another, talked about the lack of separate selves in reality, and the concept of no self is all over the place in all the respected literature of Advaita and Buddhism.  Writings attributed to Jesus also contain this idea.  Taoist texts and Sufi poetry point this way, too.  Yet, this simple item is being surrounded and covered over with the flowers and perfume of ‘being present in the moment’, ‘dropping attachments’ and ‘learning to let go’. 

Let’s walk through the technical application of looking for the ‘me’ in my own experience and see how I got from endlessly and hysterically watching video after video; reading article after article and endlessly circling the world of spiritual reference material, looking for the central point of it all, to finally doing the one simple thing anyone needs to see this and be done.

I’ve been exposed to the full run of living spiritual teachers out there: Gangaji, Byron Katie, Tony Parsons, Mooji, John Sherman, Jeff Foster, Stephen Wingate, Sailor Bob, Francis Lucille, etc.  I’ve pored over all the interviews on the Conscioustv and Never Not Here websites.  I’ve read zen koans, ‘I am that’, all U. G. Krishnamurti’s books, the Tao Te Ching, Ramana Maharshi, the Bible, the Gospel of Thomas, Douglas Harding, etc.  What do they all have in common?  No clear directions.  I do not count being told to sit down and watch my thoughts as a clear direction.  All the directions about submitting or dropping the ego reinforce the idea of a ‘me’ who has to do something to get the Truth.  The headless experiments of Douglas Harding are fun, but do they really explain that what you are seeing is the totally verifiable absence of a YOU?  Not so much.

In my search, things had come to a head.  I was about to turn 35, and I told myself I would get this thing before my birthday.  I was frustrated in every avenue of my life, both in the spiritual search and outside it.

I watched four specific videos, that had a deep impact on me in my condition at the time.  Two were Mooji videos, and the dialogue between the seeker and Mooji really struck home for me.  I saw that there was a belief in a something at the center of my search, and this belief was prolonging the search. 
Key thoughts from the videos that were relevant: “all your life you’re trying to let go but, let go of what?  You’ve not looked.  But just this hum is there “I have to let go”  I do all these things to let go.  But is this not just an idea?  What is being let go of?”  The entire identity is this core feeling that I must let go, but of what?”

The other two were john Sherman videos.  John’s pretty good at asking people to drop all their notions and beliefs and just look, but sadly, he tells people to look at themselves.  This doesn’t help people to realize they don’t exist.  This just reinforces the idea that they do exist somewhere if they could just look directly at the right place.  See what I mean:
Key thoughts from the John Sherman videos:  “all I am suggesting is that if you want to know the truth about what you are, stop and look.  You are here, are you not?  How do you know that?  The reality of how you know you are here is here and needs no explanation.  Consciously feel and taste it.  The false belief that you are the story of you, will disappear.  The story won’t go, but the belief that it is you, will.”  “Ramana says the belief that I am this story, set of thoughts, conditioned behaviors, stimulus and response, character with hopes dreams and memories, is the problem.  What happens inside the story is not a problem.  The only problem is the belief that I am that person, mind, story, history, bundle of thought, reaction, and conditioned behavior.  Replacing the old beliefs with new ones is not the solution.  The sense of lack comes from the false belief that I am the story.  All of human suffering is caused by this false belief.  The solution?  The truth about what I am – the direct unmediated experience of what I am.  Knowing what I am is really easy.  I am, after all, here.  All that is needed is the direct unmediated uninterrupted un-storied experience of what I am and the certainty that it is me.  What is the raw naked experience of being me?”  You can see the confusing directions here.

Now, for a few days prior to watching these videos, I had been reading the Ruthless Truth blog and forum posts.  I was very excited by what I read there.  After reading what I did, I could put a name to the thing I was trying to liberate, the object that the entire search assumed existed, and what I was reading was helping me to see that there was nothing there.  There was no self.

I started interacting with the folks on Ruthless Truth, and as I expected I was encouraged to look and look deeply, clearly and honestly, for this self within the direct experience of the current moment.  As this was accomplished, the missing piece fell into place, or out of place, as the case may be.

When John Sherman says to look for the raw naked experience of being me, he should be telling people to look in the raw naked experience and see that there IS NO ME.  When Mooji talks about how the core identification of the search hasn’t been examined, he should be telling people to see how there’s nothing there; no center at all!

So why, why, why, is this delusion of self being perpetuated by those who claim to have the answer?  I don't know, but I do not intend to join them.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

excerpt from Flora Courtois, “The Door to Infinity,”

There’s a bit of Faust in us all, believing as we do that the more we learn about something the closer we are to it. Not so. Any event, fully attended, uproots all our knowing at the source and carries inexhaustible surprises.
True attention is rare and totally sacrificial. It demands that we throw away everything we have been or hope to be, to face each moment naked of identity, open to whatever comes and bereft of human guidance.
Nor is the potential for pain to be underestimated. Now we come face to face with the radical fact that there is nothing, however dear, that cannot be taken from us from one moment to the next; nothing, however sinister or horrifying, from which we will be permitted to recoil or separate ourselves. All the dreadful, mute suffering from which inattention shielded us will now be seen and heard.

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Friday, June 10, 2011

boom, boom, boom

““You’re really just an ongoing set of events: boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, one after the other. The awareness is keeping up with those events, seeing your life unfolding as it is, not your ideas of it, not your pictures of it. See what I mean?””

- Charlotte Joko Beck

now take that idea, and consider this one: the 'you' you think you are, the 'self' you assume exists, is just one of those ideas; one of those pictures. 

this can be physically seen and felt within the presently unfolding event. 

look at what's happening right now.  look at the direct experience; don't think about it.  just feel around and find that 'you'.  is it really there?

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

whoso knoweth himself

a modernization of a quote from 'whoso knoweth himself" by ibn el'arabi:

you are not a you.
this is life, without any you.

this is not life inside you,
nor is it you in the world.
you don't cause events,
and life is not forcing you into certain actions.

you are not all that exists,
nor are personal traits proof of a you.

you never were,
and you never will be.
not by your own volition,
not by life's movement,
and not with life's movement, does a you exist.

you can't cease to be and you can't continue to exist.

there is only life
without separation.


"And for this the Prophet (upon whom be peace) said:  "Whoso knoweth himself knoweth his Lord." And he said (upon him be peace): "I know my Lord by my Lord."  The Prophet (upon whom be peace) points out by that, that thou art not thou: thou art He, without thou; not He entering into thee, nor thou entering into Him, nor He proceeding forth from thee, nor thou proceeding forth from Him. And it is not meant by that, that thou art aught that exists or thine attributes aught that exists, but it is meant by it that thou never wast nor wilt be, whether by thyself or through Him or in Him or along with Him. Thou art neither ceasing to be nor still existing. Thou art He, without one of these limitations. Then if thou know thine existence thus, then thou knowest God; and if not, then not."

-- from a translation of an Arabic manuscript in the Hunterian Collection, Glasgow University. Translation by T.H. Wier.

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Saturday, June 4, 2011

dead and undead at the same time

it's hard to argue with how things are, even if i want to tell someone how i think they could have a better experience
its like how sages don't go around telling people 'look you will just die and be gone so chill'
the program runs too deep and there's just rejection
so we are left just having to love unconditionally
everyone gets 'liberated' eventually

Yeah, one way or another!
that's a dead certainty!

i am feeling something coming on, from that angle
not sure i should go there tho


for the same reason no one else goes there. it's too direct. people turn away.
even after realizing no-self, i was not able to really see it that way. not until life arranged for experiences to show me, you know?

Yes. But not facing up to death as a reality may be the whole reason for a belief in a self. Or perhaps belief in a separate self comes out of the fear of death.... hmmm.

yeah it's a powerful koan
for me, the most powerful so far
i'm actually planning to go do some 11th hour vigil hospice work as a result
it's literally outside verbal expression

Fantastic. We do try to hide death away don't we. We don't realise that we're already dead in the sense that what we believe we are never existed.

yes, exactly
walking dead

So there are zombies!

there are only zombies

That's where it comes from doesn't it? Zombies and vampires - but we've made that into a horror story!
Fear of the truth.

the lie of self has made it into a horror story

Wow. Fuck.

zing, right?

I've never been able to understand this fascination with the whole zombie/vampire thing, but now it makes sense ... in a twisted kind of way!
It really is a morbid fascination.

its like looking for home from a different angle is all
its made me take lovecraft from a whole new angle
embracing this awe-striking void from a sense of fascination in a way
if you read lovecraft you can feel his passion for those ancient evil gods he invented

I've never read lovecraft... but Yes, what you say is true. Yeah, zombies, frankenstein, vampires, ghosts, angels - all created as a form of undead. Immortal, but never human.
Because humans can't face being undead. Such a strange thing, because it's all undead. Dead and undead at the same time.

paradox and mystery

I mean there is only life (or whatever label), Death is life. I mean, when the animating 'whatever' seems to leave something, the form carries on changing. Death is a continuation of changing form.

and it happens without 'us'
it's hard to face, but that's it

Yes. And that's what we think death is. The end of me. But it was never there in the first place. Oh, what a strange, strange thing.

i'm always amazed
tonight we ate outside and watched a spider build a web on the table on the patio...
i could have torn the web apart so easily... the spider didn't know we were watching...
something animates it...
same thing that animates me watching it...
it's just insane

it's inexplicable. That great quote (Francis of Assisi, I think) What you're looking for is what's looking. Boom!

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Fierce Freedom

Make the lie big,
make it simple,
keep saying it,
and eventually they will believe it.

. . Adolph Hitler

Why are you unhappy?
Because 99.9 per cent
Of everything you think,
And of everything you do,
Is for yourself —
And there isn't one.

. . Wei Wu Wei

To write something and leave it behind us,
It is but a dream.
When we awake we know There is not even anyone to read it.

. . Ikkyu
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