Living Non-Duality

A surge of anger, discontent, pain, disappointment, misunderstanding, judgement, has seemingly overtaken me. Who me? I ask myself in disbelief. Yes, me. I answer myself irrefutably.

What’s wrong with me? (This is not my typical emotional behavior).

Not so long ago I reached what felt like a pivotal moment in time – seeing through the illusions of separation, seeing myself in the dirt beneath my feet and the bark of the tree. I was able to perceive the unconditional Loving Presence, in it all, regardless of the circumstance. I was actively practicing in each moment, How can I BE this love?

How did I forget the wisdom of my heart?

  • The state of the world, politics, the insanity of the collective consciousness seems to have won in pulling me down with it.
  • The discord in my own family/intimate relations has won in rearing my judgemental expectations.
  • Cancer’s aggressive reappearance has suceeded in making me fear a painful death.

Today, an angel seemingly landed gently on my shoulder. She said, No, you will not forget the foundation of your inner stability. What has sustained your understanding for all these years is ever-present. You’ve just fallen away from remembering.

Among shelves and shelves of books, my eyes landed on just one. I pulled it off the shelf, and opened a random page. My inner knowing was gloriously reignited.

Glory, glory hallelujah, the Truth is marching on …..

“Here in our Western culture, where we are accustomed to attempt to exert maximal control, it is difficult for us to bear in mind that things are always unfolding in the way that they are bound to do.

As could be expected in a culture which so emphasizes the value of human life (as, for example, over the value of other species’), this tendency is particularly evident in our reaction to the manifestation of chronic or terminal illness – in us, or another person.

If the condition of health changes for the “better”, we can accept that. If it changes for the “worse”, we can’t accept that. The only unfolding of life events that we meet with equanimity are the positive ones. The implication in our attitude toward negative changes is that they must be met with resistance.

Sooner or later, every fact in life must be accepted.

Each of us will do whatever it is that we do, when the time comes. And nature will do whatever it is that it does, regardless of whatever it is that we do.

Yet notice the implication in the reaction to a change in health: if you are ill, you shouldn’t be: if you are not anxious about your condition, you should be.

‘The dark threads are as needful, in the Weaver’s skillful hand, as the threads of gold and silver in the pattern that shall stand,’ if I recall an old poem.

Can we relate to what is, as it is-for ourselves and others-even at the most pivotal junction?” (Living Nonduality, by Robert Wolfe)

And then I read on and remember… This clarity feels most true to my heart – It’s all unfolding as the Self experiencing it’s self:

“The creator (the formless) and created (the forms) – as well as the creating- are the same thing, an indivisible (no “parts”) whole.

Because the created, creator and creating are all One immediate actuality, there is no ‘creation’ in the sense that a plan or design has been culminated. There is no ‘intelligence’ APART from all these manifestations that has (prior to manifesting) desired or decided that what is ‘will be as it is’.

All of the ‘creating’ is going on at this very moment, moment by moment, without having to be accounted for (as a ‘purpose’) to anyone or anything. The formless, being WITHOUT a separate ‘self’, need not even justify what is unfolding to its own ‘self’. No matter WHAT happens-without an ‘intent’ – nothing can go wrong, as far as the formless actuality could be concerned. The formless IS the unfolding, in these forms.” Robert Wolfe.

Photo Credit: Annette Adams

it lies in the knowing of one’s own being as it truly is

In my silent sitting (and silent listening) this evening, I was inspired to record these Infinite verbs:

  • Sense, Feel, Realize
  • See, Touch, Know
  • Discern, Empathize, Care
  • Listen, Embody, Act

Speaking, reading and hearing these words felt healing and comforting, as if providing a needed pathway.

As if they hold a secret key to a truer way of being.

Although I don’t think there’s really any secret. As my beloved Adyashanti so wisely states,

“Here’s the secret spiritual teaching: The secret teaching is – THERE IS NO SECRET TEACHING because there’s nothing that can take the place of you or I taking that continual plunge into the unknown inside of us. Nothing can take the place of that.”  

Well I’ve been taking some deep plunges. It was an emotional day (maybe post chemo induced, maybe sheer compassion for the people in my life who are suffering).

Why is it that witnessing the suffering of others saddens me more than my personal suffering?

Is it because I feel so helpless about it?

None of us are exempt from experiencing and/or witnessing suffering: Our own suffering, our parents , our children, our friends, our mates, strangers.

Can I fix, repair, resolve, heal someone else’s suffering?

I certainly want to.

Is sincere love for another being a valuable antidote for their suffering?

I do trust that love has more powerful effects than we have yet come to realize.

But even with our love offerings, as heartbreaking as this realization is, I intuitively trust this as innate truth:  

The “moment” a separate-self-consciousness is thinkable, the misunderstanding of who and what you are generates inescapable suffering.

And so many of us have realized this cycle of suffering for what it is –

So why do we continue to perceive/believe/endure this suffering?

(What would the masters from our ancient scriptures say? -Buddha, Jesus, Lao Tzu, etc., etc.).

Adyashanti brings some clarity to this question:

“When Buddha was asked what he obtained from his supreme enlightenment, he said ‘I have obtained absolutely nothing’. What does that mean? Clearly, something for him had changed, something very fundamental.

He called it nirvana. But he also said he hadn’t obtained anything. He had means of finding out the truth for himself. Didn’t really have a doctrine to take the place of whatever we think we know. It was really a means of realization and a means of living it. (And I’m not trying to propagate the Buddhist teaching). There’s something in human being that searches for knowable, conceptual terms, and feeling secure and solid and stable, yet it never works out that way.

Because living from a place of certainty and stability is destabilizing us. Because every moment of life is a flow. You never know what’s coming at you. If we’re living with a rigid conclusion, to that extent we’re not really flowing … there’s not You and Life … There’s just LIFE.”

Aha ….. So Buddha realized the Truth, but he had to be able to LIVE it: Listen, Embody, Act.

I am feeling less sad and more empowered already.

So can I Discern, Empathize, Care without the need to control the outcome?  

Okay, it’s way past my bedtime. Enough mind chatter – let me end with some wisdom from Rupert Spira:

“It takes some time to understand that the essential cause of our suffering is the fact that we have overlooked who or what we essentially are.

Most people feel that the source of peace and happiness is to be found in the acquisition of some kind of objective experience, however subtle that experience may be. Most people need to be failed a number of times, over and over again, by objective experience before they are open to the possibility, either intuitively or by the suggestion of a friend, that the peace and happiness for which they seek doesn’t lie in objective experience but lies in the knowing of their own being as it truly is.

Now what is it that makes some people open to this understanding as opposed to others who no matter how much they suffer are still not open to  it, I don’t know. Of course, the theory of reincarnation explains this but for some people they only have to really suffer once to realize I have invested my happiness in this object or this relationship and its let me down. Every object and relationship, sooner or later will let me down.

Some people only need to taste that failure once or twice before they are open to this new possibility. Other people suffer bitterly throughout their lives, and they’re not open to this possibility even when it is made available to them.”

This post dedicated to you, Dom, my beloved step-grandson. I love you.

Tree

I contemplate how I’ve always known the underlying truth

And the way it always felt even more “special” for me in some way

Because I actually knew IT was underneath all the layers of costume

And as long as I acknowledged, on occasion, the memory of IT

I could accept this life of the costumed “person” with (meaningless) opinions

In this instant – I am fully cognizant that

Attachment to a belief/opinion/perspective

Is the demise of Truth.

One cannot ever know the truth.

It’s an unspoken language.

The way a tree exists.

Well we’re not trees

but can we behave as if we were?

Recognizing and practicing our innate qualities of resilience

Yielding in all directions while remaining fully rooted to our foundation

Even being uprooted, and being okay with that too

When we’re so sure that our leaves are green, we need to remember that too can change

I used to meditate while observing a tree in my back yard through the window

It was as if the soul of that big old oak tree was placed in my view just for that purpose

To help me remember how to BE

what is truth?

This memory I’m about to share probably occurred about 51-53 years ago.

As a 6 to 8-year-old girl I would often watch the black and white TV set with Mom.

There was a movie, a Nazi story. I have no recall what movie it was.

I’ll set the scene as I remember it:

Nazi soldiers are looking for escaped prisoners in a convent. The nuns had hidden a bunch of folks somewhere within the convent property. A soldier is interrogating one of the nuns.

He begins to yell at her, and he slaps her really hard across the face with his hand.

I BURST INTO TEARS.

Now, as a child of this age I had a very cozy, middle income kind of cultural upbringing. There was no trauma, abuse, or anything that I could have identified with at that time that would have reactivated such a harsh emotional reaction to this (subtle, by today’s standards) act of violence.  I was sobbing. Holding back the uncontrollable emotion and tears as much as I could, but I was unable to continue watching the movie. I remember that Mom consoled me.

If Mom were still here, I’d ask her if she had any recollection of the incident. But mom passed last year and she had dementia. So her memory wouldn’t have been very helpful.

Why did that particular incident bring up so much agony and despair for me at that age?

Thinking about this today, it leads me to contemplate:

  • Is our consciousness REALLY inside our brain?
  • Is our consciousness more accurately outside of our brain which would allow access to more than this dimension, this realm, this lifetime, this world?
  • When we’re children, just prior to the unavoidable fact of cultural indoctrination, aren’t we more deeply connected to the reality of our True Conscious Being?

Here’s another childhood memory. About 49-50 years ago, I had an experience while walking home from the school bus up. I’d walk up the hill on Johanna Lane every day, but on this day I had a very sudden moment’s awareness. It was a cognitive sense of being AWARE of more than my little persona, a KNOWING that I WAS ACTUALLY AWARE of MY OWN AWARENESS. How could a 10-year-old process that? I didn’t. I simply remember a feeling as if I had something inside that was more than I could understand. And I liked the feeling. I had something special inside. I became aware of awareness itself just by being quiet, watching my feet take each single step by step along the road’s dark, wet, leafy pavement (it was Fall), and like a Zen meditation, IT appeared, it showed ITSELF, unexpectedly. I received a GIFT.

I would love to hear of any childhood experiences that any readers may have had which reveals a moments’ access to a more open truth of conscious awareness. Please do share ……

I’ll end with a beautiful piece about Truth from one of my favorite Zen masters:  

Most people think that they are basically truthful

But when you look at it for a given day,

How do I embody the truth of being?

Well, you start by telling the truth all the time,

Okay great,

What is the truth then?

What seems to be true for you?

You could look at it as being totally honest all the time

Never deceptive

Never deceiving

Not twisting the sentence where you’re not being completely honest

When you really look at this, even for a single day, you will probably be surprised, maybe even shocked by how often you find yourself shading truths, whether out of fear or out of subtle or overt deception (because you have a fear of being real, being exposed)

There’s hundreds of reason why you might not tell the truth

What is truth then?

It’s not just mere opinion.

It is not unloading your judgements on somebody.

That’s not telling the truth.

It’s more about being deeply and precisely honest, and being very open to having your truth change.

Someone else may inform you. It might alter what’s true for you.

As human beings we clutch on to what we think is true, and when we do state it we state it with a fair amount of defensiveness. So we’re often in a kind of competition, even in the most seemingly casual conversation. You will often notice a quiet, well cultured competition of ideas going on, or just a complete lack of listening. In the average conversation, usually each person is waiting for a gap to jump in and say what they want. This is common in conversation. In a truth sense, conversation is listening to what might be true in any situation. Unless you listen, you’re not going to get anywhere.

No this is not very esoteric, but it’s demanding, it’s real, kind of where the rubber hits the road.

We never like to admit to ourselves when we’re lying. We think we’re doing it for their sake.

If you have a little sensitivity, you can say something truthful or honest without being so overt.

If you want to really start to embody some of your deepest realizations of being, start by telling the truth all the time.

Will there be consequences?  Yes.

How am I delivering the truth? Am I saying what’s really true? Or am I insisting on the truth?

If you get lots of negative feedback on your truth telling, examine how am I delivering this truth, how insistent am I, or am I very simply being honest and real?

One of the ways human beings manipulate each other is by shading the truth.

It’s hard to manipulate somebody when you’re totally honest.

This practice of truth will transform your life. You can’t say how, until you do it.

You can’t control how it will work out.

How could you possibly embody the enlightened condition and be anything less than truthful?

Your experience of being tends to become richer, deeper, more profound, more connected with your human relative life. That inner private space of being and outer human existence are no longer felt as two things, that illusion that there are two things. It’s actually ONE thing.

The more truthful you are, the deeper your sense of connection becomes. That exquisite feeling of spontaneous balanced flow feeling, all of you together, your internal division has come together. If you want to be divided, tell lies. You will feel conflicted inside. Sometimes overtly and sometimes very subtle.

Truth is a unifier. It brings the force of your psychology, your emotions together.

When it’s just truth, there’s something inside of you that comes deeply together.

This is not a direct translation of the YouTube recording. It is my paraphrased excerpts from Adyashanti’s talk titled, ‘What is Truth?

Alone I know nothing

Yes, I admit, I know absolutely nothing when it comes to the Truth of this Reality.

I have to recognize that each time I forget.

Otherwise, I am just deluded.

The persona, Janet, which I embody, seems to be a mind/body/spirit complex Being who believes she is separate from What Always Is.

But she’s Not separate in Actuality.

And that’s where the Knowing comes in. And this is how Knowing showed up for me:

In February 2019 after my breast reconstruction surgery (post 2 years of “successful” breast cancer treatment), I began to have signals – feelings, big surges of desire for change, deep disappointment with my current state of affairs in every aspect.

It felt like an alien took over my body/mind complex and was informing me to make major life changes. At times, I felt like I was having an emotional breakdown.

It really did feel alien, because I’m typically very tolerant, an empathetic sort who deals with anger/judgmental emotions in a way that sets the feelings aside through deep contemplation of how to engage forgiveness and acceptance.

But this “alien” showed up and said in my head’s voice, “Fuck this. I’m done. I can’t live like this anymore.”

I felt possessed. I couldn’t stop the feelings, and the voice in my head was insistent.

This alien visitor (coincidentally?) appeared exactly at the time I began experiencing pain in the breast reconstruction area…..

This pain presented as sharp, burning, electric jolts of pain. This was in March directly after the February 25 surgery.

The alien informed me, “Get out of this marriage relationship and run far away, free yourself from the family drama and incessant codependent relationships you are witnessing.  Leave it all behind.  Get a van, live in it, and travel across county. Find out who you are.”

The alien voice further insisted, “It’s time to quit all these yoga jobs. You’re running around like a chicken without a head, wasting gas and time for piddling compensation, not to mention you’re exhausted. You no longer feel inspired to teach yoga, but required. And that’s not how you used to feel.”

I listened.

In April, the most grueling words I’ve ever felt forced to voice somehow came out of my mouth, and I informed my husband of 30 years, “I think we should separate from each other.”

Next, I gave my notice to 3 out 4 of my yoga employers. I would be taking a long term sabbatical from teaching yoga for personal/health reasons.

It was now May, and my pain turned into a visible rash on the skin of my right breast. The doctors guessed, Shingles?

In June my radiation Oncologist saw my growing, worsening rash, looked at me with a face of horror, and said, “I don’t think this is shingles. You need a biopsy.”

During all of this, my husband and I talked, yelled, cried, shared, but ultimately came to agreement that our relationship was worth working at….. together.. .We agreed to hold on to the foundation of love beneath all the dysfunctional and difficult stuff that has arisen.

Still experiencing burning pain, I couldn’t even keep the one yoga job I had held onto, and I asked for time off due to the painful rash. 

On June 18, my husband’s birthday, I had a skin biopsy. The result: Recurrent breast cancer in the skin.

In July, my PET scan result was: Inflammatory breast cancer metastasized to skin.

In August, it was confirmed that my disease is stage 4, incurable, and chemotherapy along with any eligibility for trials would be my best option and hope for remission.

And so I contemplate ……..

  • Did the “Alien” KNOW I had cancer before I did?
  • Did the “Alien” inform my actions based on the KNOWLEDGE that I needed healing through self love?
  • Did the “Alien” show up as actual cancer cells to bring me to my knees in surrender so that I could focus first on service to self, which automatically will then develop into service to others?

I feel inclined to believe that this thing I refer to as the Alien is Life Itself (God).

Does that mean God is the cancer too? I think so.

And although in this realm we perceive what happens as good or bad, this Alien Voice, Life Itself, God is NEUTRAL, but in Unseen Reality the inevitable result is always for the highest good…… something we cannot perceive or know.

And although Janet Alone cannot KNOW the highest good, when Connected to Source she can allow what Life Itself intends to live through her.

 Today’s prayer:

 Allow me to fulfill my purpose, whatever that may be.

now

Oh I’ve had these moments of darkness

then I remember the truth that can’t be expressed

that LIFE is bigger than anything I can see

and somehow, I feel like it’s all okay for a moment

But I will revisit doubt and uncertainty

I question my divine purpose, will I fulfill it?

I ask myself, did I LOVE enough?

Was I honest ….. with others ……. with myself?

When we ask the real questions

Life says,

You are ALIVE in this moment

That’s IT

All you have is this MOMENT to express the life pulsing out of your heart,

to experience the soul’s yearning to LIVE through ONE being

for the sake of every other being

NOW

And don’t fucking wait another moment

the way

there’s no “right” way

and no “wrong” way

embrace the contradictions

ask the questions, the important ones

like ‘what is this about?’

but have no expectations that the answer will be comprehensible

because the answers will not be for your mind to grasp onto

the answers will be in

the morning light,

the mosquito’s bite,

a birds song,

a plan gone wrong,

fire’s fury,

a hung jury,

winter’s chill,

and pickle’s dill

the hummingbird’s flight

the lovers’ fight

poker game win

drunk on gin

singing out loud

drenching rain cloud

dancing like a fool

breaking the rule

smiling at your child

flowers growing wild

screaming in rage

a minimum wage

crashing the Mercedes

going out with the ladies

the very last breath

fearless of death

The WAY is only yours to have

yours to embrace, heart and soul, moment by moment, its beauty and its filth, all of it.

So, living and following The Way of Knowledge does not make things look different. You will still have good days and bad days. You will still have days when you feel certain of what you are doing, and you will have days when you are uncertain. You will still cry and get angry. You will still do silly things. You will still make mistakes. But while all this is going on, something else is growing within you and becoming more powerful, more real and more evident. There is the great garden growing—the garden of Knowledge. There is a fire burning within you—the Fire of Knowledge. It is growing, day by day.
The great change that you will experience will be unlike the big sensations that people usually call self-transformation. The real change happens deep within you. You don’t usually see it happening, but you do notice the results. As time passes, you start to feel differently about certain things, not because anyone has told you to do so. It’s just something you feel. Time passes, and your values change. You begin to take refuge in the truth rather than attempt to escape from it. You seek quiet more and more as gross stimulation becomes a great aggravation. You look for different things in yourself and in others. You become more aware of the subtle interactions between people. You are more affected by the mental environment and more sensitive to it. You begin to value truth and understanding more than possessions and pleasurable sensations.”
Marshall Vian Summers