"I don't have anything to say."
I've received a variation of this statement nearly every time I solicited something in writing from friends whose perspectives I value for inclusion in this monthly online forum.
I'm convinced the opposite is true. I believe that if someone steps up, bat raised, with the intention to give their absolute best, that they will succeed. The effort is success.
Everyone has an opinion. Not everyone gives their best to themselves in this moment. Every answer given in the true spirit is correct. Every response likewise given is sublime.
Maybe not everyone thinks this way. Maybe they should. Maybe you should. It's the difference between deferring to others' input on matters and trying, in this lifetime, in this moment, one's very best.
We owe it to ourselves.
Welcome to the Forum.
Please send us your thoughts on something—anything—important to you. Use the contact tab at the top of this page.
A letter and talk notes that Bob prepared for the recent spiritual intensive, Enlightenment & Grace: Removing Resistance to Destiny, suspecting that he wouldn't be able to make his presentation in person.
It turned out that he did make it, both to the retreat and to his place before the audience as a scheduled guest speaker at Durant Nature Park in Raleigh, NC on the weekend of October 10th, where he read this letter to us directly.
Why are you here? —At this meeting?
What exactly do you want? —And what do you expect to get?
Do you expect to hear some new combination of words that will evoke spiritual awakening?
As Pulyan said: "Words alone cannot do it. Otherwise, why tell only you. Let us publish them in the newspaper."
No doubt you have heard and read much about the subject of spirituality and you have formed various conclusions—some of which you are very sure, some of which fulfill your desires, and some of which are problematic because they conflict with your desires or preconceptions.
I agree with Pulyan that there is only one way—and that is to abandon the ego-centric position. (Do not let the active tense of that verb mislead you into thinking you can willfully abandon the ego-centric position. Any switch you spot for the robot has only two positions: "on" and "on".)
Listen to these words of Nisargadatta that headlined the advertising for this gathering:
"Do understand that you are destined for enlightenment. Cooperate with your destiny, don't go against it; don't thwart it. Allow it to fulfill itself."
How do these words affect you? How do they make you feel? Do they inspire something in you?
Now I'm going to change one word in this appealing sentiment and ask you to consider the same three questions.
"Do understand that you are destined for death. Cooperate with your destiny, don't go against it; don't thwart it. Allow it to fulfill itself."
Which of those two quotes are you more confident about?
I suggest to you that the contemplation of the latter will do far more to open you to the Grace that surrounds you at all times to which the first quote alludes, which does not come to you at your request, and which cannot be dispelled by anything you can do, think or say.
What is the most important and fundamental difference between these two phrases: "destined for enlightenment" and "destined for death"?
Perhaps no two ideas better indicate the ego-centric position is operating. You believe that enlightenment adds to you, while death subtracts from you. There lies the root problem for all soul-seekers. This is why you turn all the great and profound eye-openers found in the literature into ego-reinforcing lullabies. (Enlightenment is not an experience that happens to you—though you will react to the realization in the form of some experience that will mark you.) You seek to define yourself by addition, and with each addition comes a sense of further separation from that inner-most voice that ceaselessly calls you home. That voice gave [unhurrying chase] to Francis Thompson, with [unperturbèd pace, deliberate speed, and majestic instancy], when he wrote in The Hound of Heaven:
"All things betray thee, who betrayest Me."
"Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me."
"Naught contents thee, whoe content'st not Me."
"All things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!"
"Thou dravest love From thee, who dravest Me."
~ Explore the rest of the iceberg (Bob's letter): "Dear Soul-Seeker."
~ Excerpted from an Online Text source.
Questioner: I can always observe the observer, in endless recession.
Maharaj: You can observe the observation, but not the observer. You know you are the ultimate observer by direct insight, not by a logical process based on observation. You are what you are, but you know what you are not. The self is known as being, the not-self is known as transient. But in reality all is in the mind. The observed, observation and observer are mental constructs. The self alone is. (Ch. 48)
Q: I am full of desires and fears. Does it mean that I am not eligible for truth?
M: Truth is not a reward for good behaviour, nor a prize for passing some tests. It cannot be brought about. It is the primary, the unborn, the ancient source of all that is. You are eligible because you are. You need not merit truth. It is your own. Just stop running away by running after. Stand still, be quiet. (Ch. 74)
Save all your energies and time for breaking the wall your mind had built around you. Believe me, you will not regret. (Ch. 81)
Have patience with me and, above all have patience with yourself, for you are your only obstacle. The way leads through yourself beyond yourself. (Ch. 37)
Q: I have come to be with you, rather than to listen. Little can be said in
words, much more can be conveyed in silence.
M: First words, then silence. One must be ripe for silence. (Ch. 45)
Q: Is there no need of effort then?
M: When effort is needed, effort will appear. When effortlessness becomes essential, it will assert itself. You need not push life about. Just flow with it and give yourself completely to the task of the present moment, which is the dying now to the now. For living is dying. Without death life cannot be. (Ch. 33)
The seeker has only one goal in view: to find his own true being. Of all desires it is the most ambitious, for nothing and nobody can satisfy it; the seeker and the sought are one and the search alone matters. (Ch. 48)
The mind is like a river, flowing ceaselessly in the bed of the body; you identify yourself for a moment with some particular ripple and call it: 'my thought'. All you are conscious of is your mind… (Ch. 48)
Q: How can I possibly enjoy pain? Physical pain calls for action.
M: Of course. And so does Mental. The bliss is in the awareness of it, in not shrinking, or in any way turning away from it. (Ch. 59)
Do what you feel like doing. Don't bully yourself. Violence will make you hard and rigid. Do not fight with what you take to be obstacles on your way. Just be interested in them, watch them, observe, enquire. Let anything happen—good or bad. But don't let yourself be submerged by what happens. (Ch. 48)
Accept your destiny and fulfil it—this is the shortest way to freedom from destiny… (Ch. 94)
Our minds are just waves on the ocean of consciousness. As waves they come and go. As ocean they are infinite and eternal. Know yourself as the ocean of being, the womb of all existence. These are all metaphors of course; the reality is beyond description. You can know it only by being it. (Ch. 48)
Q: In the beginning we may have to pray and meditate for some time before we are
ready for self-enquiry.
M: If you believe so, go on. To me, all delay is a waste of time. You can skip all the preparation and go directly for the ultimate search within. Of all the Yogas it is the simplest and the shortest. (Ch. 71)
….By being with yourself, the 'I am'; by watching yourself in your daily life with alert interest, with the intention to understand rather than to judge… (Ch. 59)
The mind and feelings are external, but you take them to be intimate. You believe the world to be objective, while it is entirely a projection of your psyche. That is the basic confusion… (Ch. 51)
You will recognise that you have returned to your natural state by a complete absence of all desire and fear. (Ch. 69)
There is always something to witness. If not a thing, then its absence. Witnessing is natural and no problem. The problem is excessive interest, leading to self-identification. Whatever you are engrossed in you take to be real. (Ch. 72)
Q: No question of reconditioning, changing, or eliminating the mind?
M: Absolutely none. Leave your mind alone, that is all. Don't go along with it. After all, there is no such thing as mind apart from thoughts which come and go obeying their own laws, not yours. They dominate you only because you are interested in them. It is exactly as Christ said 'Resist not evil'. By resisting evil you merely strengthen it. (Ch. 72)
The body appears in your mind, your mind is the content of your consciousness; you are the motionless witness of the river of consciousness which changes eternally without changing you in any way. (Ch. 44)
Undeceive yourself and be free. You are not a person. (Ch. 34)
There are no steps to self-realisation. There is nothing gradual about it. It happens suddenly and is irreversible. You rotate into a new dimension, seen from which the previous ones are mere abstractions. (Ch. 69)
Q: Then, what am I to do?
M: Try to be, only to be. The all-important word is 'try'. Allot enough time daily for sitting quietly and trying, just trying, to go beyond the personality, with its addictions and obsessions. (Ch. 98)
What can there be but your real being, that is timeless; mind and mindlessness are one to it. (Ch. 69)
Unwillingness born out of fear is the only obstacle. (Ch. 38)
M: …I offer you an alternative. Accept my words on trust and live anew, or live and die in sorrow.
Q: It seems too good to be true.
M: Don't be misled by the simplicity of the advice. Very few are those who have the courage to trust the innocent and the simple. To know that you are a prisoner of your mind, that you live in an imaginary world of your own creation is the dawn of wisdom. To want nothing of it, to be ready to abandon it entirely, is earnestness. Only such earnestness, born of true despair, will make you trust me. (Ch. 83)
Within the immensity of space floats a tiny atom of consciousness and in it the entire universe is contained. (Ch. 55)
To find reality you must be real in the smallest daily action; there can be no deceit in the search for truth. (Ch. 99)
M: ….The world is made of rings. The hooks are all yours. Make straight your hooks and nothing can hold you. Give up your addictions…
Q: Life is effort. There are so many things to do.
M: What needs doing, do it. Don't resist. Your balance must be dynamic, based on doing just the right thing, from moment to moment. Don't be a child unwilling to grow up… Rely entirely on your clarity of thought, purity of motive and integrity of action. You cannot possibly go wrong. Go beyond and leave all behind. (Ch. 51)
You need both clarity and earnestness for self-knowledge. You need maturity of heart and mind, which comes through earnest application in daily life of whatever little you have understood. There is no such thing as compromise in Yoga. (Ch. 31)
The effort to understand yourself is Yoga. Be a Yogi, give your life to it, brood, wonder, search, till you come to the root of error and to the truth beyond the error. (Ch. 81)
A thing is as it is, because the universe is as it is. (Ch. 4)
~ Read more about Nisargadatta Maharaj.
Don't let assumptions or theories become truths. Don't imagine wisdom. Be open to your ignorance. It's not that we know nothing; it is that knowing is nothing. Knowledge is strictly of the mind: whether that mind is encased in a human skull or spans planets and dimensions it still cannot transcend its total demise.
"We are not the doer, we are the witness," is a profound and profoundly misused statement. We are encouraged to "accept, understand, acknowledge, or identify with" this statement. Possibility becomes belief and then becomes illusion. This not-doing is not a skill to practice, either; it is to be seen. It sneaks up on you like a cat, so quiet you forget he is in the room, then you catch him with a startle out of the corner of your eye or he meows right under your feet.
We work at watching and observing our self—our actions, reactions, thoughts, and feelings. At first, what we see is like the random comings and goings of an ant hill. As in a real ant hill, though, patterns emerge if we watch with skill. We watch quietly without interfering in the process, we take notes, we make many observations over a substantial period of time, and we study the techniques others have used for observing. Patterns emerge: ants bringing food, carrying out waste, excavating, communicating, the rhythmic reactions to night and day, heat and cold.
We see that our ants are imprisoned or embraced by patterns. You may come to a realization about your observing, as well. Gradual or sudden, a realization must occur. Perhaps like being hit by a bus, perhaps like a draft of cool air stirring your hair.
Don't believe, find. The difference is that between holding a match and burning.
The following letter was written in response to a request for a one-page treatment on 'the subject at hand.' Dave Soehnlen is a Vietnam vet and a veterinarian with a thriving practice, a large active family and a farm with a 'whole lot going on.'
I am blessed with a condition that appears when I awake and goes with me as I drift off to sleep. "Our Father, who art in heaven."
Perhaps if I saw the big picture I would see that I'm programmed this way but in looking at the small picture I credit my parents and certain theology instructors in high school and college whose high words somehow wanted me to know God better. I can't remember when the day is done how much of my time is spent aware of my earthly predicament and how much is lost in reverie, anger and frustration, but I think it's fair to say that my condition is overriding all that I do.
I couldn't be more immersed in life. I am overbooked, double booked from morning 'til night. I know that I am the cause of my own problems but as I entered into various new projects I did it thinking that it was the right thing to do, just doing out my destiny and knowing that there will be some rewards and always consequences.
I have come to believe the words of Richard Rose: "There are no accidents; everything happens for a reason... If someone comes to see me it's because they've been sent." I try to keep in mind that everyone I meet is part of my and their life picture. Why you dislike a person or why you are threatened by a person makes an interesting meditation.
I have a peculiar and probably unjustified feeling that I will find what I'm after. I don't suffer from any doubts about whether I'm wasting my time. The Christianity of my childhood is like an old friend and words of prayers, songs and scriptures frequently go through my head. The notion of grace and tuning into grace fits the life of a seeker.
Words of teachers go through my mind: "Try to stop thought." It is hard for the ego to forgive. "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…"
Well Dave, it was fun and not as inspired as I'd hoped it would be. Good luck to you, hope to see you soon.
Click on image to access 360 degree panorama
Hold mouse and move left, right, up, down;
Use scroll to focus in or out;
View in full screen.
September 30, 1997 |
Decades of long, heart-wrenching struggle on the part of Ludauer to discover some tiny fragment of meaning and validity in his pointless, unfulfilling existence should be abandoned, officials said, as there is "no evidence at this time indicating a reasonable likelihood of a positive outcome of such a search."
"There's no point in Ludauer continuing to strive to find validity and meaning in his life," said Third District alderperson Becky Shapiro. "It's not going to happen. That much, at least, we know. We're clear on that point."
County assessor Janet Polk agreed with Shapiro. "Keith's best bet is to throw in the towel and abandon these fruitless 'hopes,'" she said. "Things will go a lot easier for him once he accepts the inevitability of his confusion and emptiness."
Polk said that Ludauer recently embarked on an unsuccessful campaign to improve the quality of his life through a series of consumer purchases, which only served to compound his misery. His decision to switch from his usual Sunny Delight-brand citrus-flavored fruit drink to Capri Sun-brand juice-box beverages, for example, resulted in "no appreciable improvement in his life," Polk said, as did his purchase of an extra-long Reach toothbrush and an easier-to-program VCR remote control.
Sensing that his eight-year-old daughter Cara was growing hostile toward him, Ludauer recently attempted to solidify the parent-child bond by taking her to the monkey island at the local municipal zoo. The attempt, like all similar efforts to infuse his life with meaning, failed miserably.
Ludauer has avidly searched for a sense of validation and purpose in his life since childhood. For all his searching, however, he has yet to find anything even remotely spiritually fulfilling, and has on numerous occasions expressed dejection over the apparent futility of his personal quest.
Yet Ludauer, though increasingly fixated on his inability to discover a way to live meaningfully, remains optimistic. "I've got to go on, somehow," he said in a flat, dull monotone, barely concealing the all-pervasive despair which will eventually engulf him. "I can't give up. Not ever. There's got to be something that makes my life worthwhile. I am a human being, and every person is special. I just know it."
Local officials disagree. "Clearly, Ludauer is too wrapped up in this issue on a personal level to be able to step back and see that there is, in fact, nothing special about him," city comptroller Stuart Herberger said. "The more tenaciously he clings to the belief that he has value as a person and that there must be some overall good he can serve in his life, the greater and more drawn-out his agony will be."
"There is nothing for him to believe in," Dover mayor Arthur T. Bulone said. "There is only a hollow, windblown nothingness consisting of short, fleeting stabs at survival followed by death. Ludauer should face that."
Calling Ludauer's existence "a hopeless case from the start," Bulone called upon fellow community members to support the panel's recommendation that he immediately surrender to the gnawing void he has for years tried to keep at bay.
Ludauer, whose wife divorced him in 1995 shortly after a crisis of conscience forced him to leave the church, said he plans to keep moving forward, a course of action panel members called "ill-advised."
"Ideally, we'd like to see him give up and stagger through life with deadened, glassy eyes; perfunctorily performing his undemanding work-related duties in a soulless haze, and then returning home to stare at white noise on the television until sleep brings a momentary respite from the unending oblivion of meaninglessness," Shapiro said. "Until he can accept that there is no point in anything about his life, he will always be disappointed beyond heartbreak."
The October Forum has some great stuff in it. Words of wisdom quotes were good. The second one especially. Art's piece was better crafted than I had expected it to be when I first started reading it. I think it was a useful read. The homeopathic emergency was terriffic. Great stuff. ~MS
Did you enjoy the Forum? Then buy the book! Beyond Mind, Beyond Death is available at Amazon.com.