David Simmonds DetachmentPhoto Credit:  David Simmonds (CC by SA 2.0)

I know that I haven’t written anything in 3 months, and I promised that the next two pieces would refer to responses to the the last blog entry, Flag of Humanity. But this mind is an inconsistent place (among other things). Consistently inconsistent! This may seem paradoxical, but when I step back from the content of those thoughts, (which means watching them without getting involved),  the mind’s total automation becomes more apparent: a clue as to “why I do (and don’t do) the things I do (and don’t do)”.

Actually, the most amazing (and horrifying) realization while watching the mind is the discovery that “I” am not doing anything at all! At least, not if “I” am the one who thinks I’m doing something. When thoughts just appear (and disappear) without my permission almost 98% of the time, how can I possibly say that I’m calling the shots or making decisions? How can I say that “I” am responsible for my so called actions – whether praiseworthy or condemning?

Drew Brayshaw SploshPhoto Credit: Drew Brayshaw (CC By-NC 2.0)

When raindrops fall from the sky into a metal bucket, can I claim to have filled that bucket?  Can I praise myself for being half full or condemn myself for being half empty? Am I responsible for the contents of that bucket, the quality of the rain – acidic, or pure or mixed? Can I keep the raindrops from falling in, or push the bucket out of the sky’s way? Am I responsible for the musical quality of drops as they tap the metal or play atop the surface of different levels of gathering water?

When I look very closely at the mind, I can’t say that I’m the orchestrator of that jungle of tangled associations, and obviously, I can’t be held liable for the actions I take as a result of being lost in that jungle.

But one question keeps knocking at my door: “Do I have a choice in emptying the bucket?”

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Today “I” Died and Cleared the Sky
(Impromptu Letter to a Friend – March 18, 2015):

I had the most beautiful experience of my life today – a true discovery. This beauty I have glimpsed before, but not with such intensity; not with such continuity and length; not with such spacious depth. The discovery began with a thought (after considerable meditation while driving my car home from work):

“This body is already dead.” Oh my GOD…this body is already DEAD!!

In that moment I experienced the death of my body, rather, the death of my identification with this body as “me”. I suddenly became highly Aware of the fact that my body is NOT ME.  The thought that my body is already dead (because whether it’s two days or 10 days or 20 years this body is going to disappear), struck me like a bolt of electricity, shocking me to the core:

“This body is IMPERMANENT – it can’t possibly be ME!” Simultaneously, the body lost all its heaviness. In fact, I recognized that the body was no longer MINE – how can a body that isn’t mine feel heavy?

One realization unraveled the next:

“It’s not just that the body is dead or gone or not me – the body was NEVER MINE.”

And the next: “NO THING IS or WAS EVER MINE! No thing! Not this body, not this mind, not this country, not this car, not these parents, not these children, not these beliefs, not these thoughts, not these emotions. No object of perception was ever mine! No thing! No thing! No thing!”

Next: “No thing ever was or is mine because “I” am NOT, and if “I” am NOT then how can “I” ever own, gain, or lose any thing? I am not apart from Experience, but am Experience itself! I AM!”

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This all happened in the span of a few seconds, like flashes of light one after the other – one permeating the other. The effect was a sudden stillness of the mind. Thought continued to come and go, but there was no longer an “I”. There’s no other way to describe the realization except to say that “I” wasn’t here anymore. “I” was gone, and yet something remained (I wasn’t a vegetable, rather I was more alert and alive). Something spacious, wide open, vast, deep and alive – something Present and Aware. This wasn’t ‘my awareness’ or ‘my presence’, but just Awareness, just Presence.  In my absence Presence appeared. Peace, Joy, and Aliveness appeared. Yes, in my absence every thing was SO ALIVE – so crisp, so NEW.

This death was a rebirth unfolding in the present moment. With new eyes I realized that I had never truly SEEN any of the things that my mind called “beautiful” every day. This was a new sky, and these were new trees. The birds soaring and chirping were not known as an afterthought labeled “beautiful”, nor were they the sentimental reflections of any emotion or mood – they were NOW and REAL. They were not separate from me as “I” wasn’t there to separate my self (subject) from them (object).

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Thoughts didn’t stop, but they slowed down and became sparse. I could almost see each thought as it appeared. The mind was still desperately trying to attract my attention – to take me away from Now. But in this almost effortless state of Knowing “I AM NOT”, I found it quite easy not to take any thought seriously. One after another thoughts appeared, were acknowledged, and let go. They floated away like clouds dispersing to reveal a clear and spacious sky. Suddenly, it became simple to let go of any identification with them.

Still, I could see that the mind wanted “me” back very badly. It approached with very subtle, clever thoughts like, “You’re doing it!! You’re going to find enlightenment!”. I saw and recognized this thought as NOT ME. Another, “But you aren’t experiencing what Eckhart Tolle said he experienced, or what Ramana Maharshi experienced or Nisargadatta Maharaj experienced.” Again, the recognition came – NOT ME – and the clouds passed by untouched.

Rula Glow

This Seeing in Presence went on for nearly an hour as I picked up my children from home, and took them to flute lesson (which was like no flute lesson I had ever been to before), and on to my parents house. I noticed that when the flute teacher opened the door I had no preconceived thoughts about her whatsoever. I always thought she was nice, but a bit dry and cold. But when she opened that door I didn’t see my image of her, I only saw my joy radiating back at me. She smiled and that smile was soft and I sensed its genuine nature. There was no thing between us.

What I’m calling my Active Presence was not a matter of effort but rather a matter of placement of attention on this Now.  Everything was present (“Was present?” How inadequate words are…) and all was well and peaceful – it was peaceful because there was nothing personal in the experience. There was no “I” to take anything personally. This translated into a great sense of freedom – freedom from desire and freedom from fear – the greatest enemy of Peace and, of course, Love.

Photo Credit: Jenuine Captures (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Photo Credit: Jenuine Captures (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

But slowly and surely, as I encountered people with whom I had to converse, and then went to the bathroom and saw my own reflection in the mirror, the Awareness began to dim until it was almost completely lost, and just like that “I” was back. “I” was Rula, mother of….daughter of…with this story, this past, these beliefs, these problems, these fears, these sufferings and on and on.

But now I KNOW I CAN DECIDE. I can CHOOSE to once again place my attention totally here and Now. Still, I recognize that a very special desire and courage (like no other common desire or courage) is needed to explore and discover the essential Truth of one’s nature. This “choosing” or exploration must be one’s highest priority in any given situation, which is always the present situation. The pathless path can be traversed consciously only if one’s entire heart and mind – one’s entire BEING – is passionately and immovably involved, not only in remembering, but in ACTING upon that remembrance in continuity.

“Be here. Be here. Be here. Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I not? Who am I not? Who am I not?” But these are just thoughts and as Nisargadatta Maharaj said, “Refuse all thoughts except one [that is self evident and verifiable]: the thought ‘I AM’. The mind will rebel in the beginning, but with patience and perseverance it will yield and keep quiet.”

In Chains - Matthew

I experienced this ‘quiet’ for a brief while and I know that “I Can”, but in the moments when I am totally identified with “my sorrow” or “my pain” or “my anger” and the body is completely in the grip of that feeling of great agitation or anxiety or anger (which sometimes seems to precede even the thoughts that accompany those feelings) undoing seems quite impossible.

Unfortunately, the “seems impossible” and “I can’t” are more food for thought which feed right back into the food chain loop of psychological suffering. They perpetuate the belief in “I” and take the attention further and further away from Reality by doling out energy to all the ravenous psychological selves waiting for the slightest morsel to rise up and claim ownership of “me”.

It’s all so strange isn’t it? Well, I just wrote this on the fly. I had to tell someone. And friend I want to tell you one final fact that I can’t prove: “I” wasn’t here to imagine any of this. There exists no doubt.

Thanks for Listening,
R

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