It Is What It Is

 

“It is what it is” has become a conventional saying. The true meaning, however, has been twisted in common parlance. This phrase is now, generally, used to convey the same emotion as an exasperated sigh. Seldom do we recognize the value of this statement as a direct pointer to life experienced as freedom.

Often, what we are really saying is the way things are should be different. We are expressing our assumptive belief that the universe would be better run if it conformed to our egoic ideals. We cannot change the present moment by force of will or the desire for things to be different from what they are right now. Living in conflict with the present moment is the path of suffering.

We use the phrase as though we are surrendering to Truth in the present moment, when what we are really expressing is our egoic dissatisfaction with what is. When we drop the believed egoic story, drop the someone wishing this or wishing that, we open to the direct experience/recognition as Peace amid the apparent chaos, joys, suffering, and adventures of life.

How then do we come to terms with and live as Peace with what is? To live as Peace with what is we must first be at peace within ourselves. We cannot be at peace within ourselves if we do not know existentially what we are.

The present moment is exactly the way life is now. The present moment is not what we are experiencing, it is what we are. We are eternally the present moment. Nothing but the present moment exists. Anything else is a concept, and even these concepts exist in the present moment.

The phrase, “It is what it is,” points to this Eternal Truth. It leaves no wiggle room.

Superficially examined, the phrase, “It is what it is,” is a simple redundancy. On that level, it does not seem a profound pointer to Truth. We would suggest looking even deeper. The recognition of the obvious truth of this redundancy requires an apparent someone or something to make that recognition. We seldom, if ever, stop to notice what makes this recognition possible.

Who or What am I?

Simply stop and look. From where does this recognition, this knowing, this awareness arise? The direct experience from which knowing/awareness arises is Self-Realization.

Viewed as Awareness, there is no conflict with the present moment. As Awareness, “It is what it is” is the expression of the eternal now.

The next time we hear or say, “It is what it is,” we might pause, reflect, and rest as Awareness.

 

Peace, Bec and Steve

Spiritual Questions

 

Is it True?  Does it matter?

We are often asked how to approach spiritual questions.

Adyashanti suggests we look at our assumption with an open mind and ask, “Is it True?”

This one pointer can be as powerful as the question, “Who or what am I?”

We may not think we are making a lot of assumptions, but if we look closely at the questions we bring forward, we will find each question contains within it an assumption. Examination of that assumption often dissolves the apparent dilemma proposed in the question.

Ramana advised we find out, “What am I?” Then, as the direct experience as the ‘answer’ to that question, see if our previous questions or assumptions are still relevant.

Both these approaches encourage us to look at the question from the position of the answer as Awareness. If you look at the question from and as the position of Isness, the question and apparent problem lose relevance.

These approaches may sound simplistic, but if implemented are very effective.

For example, we often find during meditation and at the group meetings (Satsang) the experience as vast, silent Awareness, only to seemingly lose this in daily life. The question posed is: How do we hold on to that experience?

We suggest noticing the doer in the question. Who or what desires to hold on to something? Is there even a ‘someone’ who needs to hold onto ‘something’? What is the direct experience the questions elicit before mind engages? In this immediate, expansive sensation as Awareness, everything is dropped and life flows spontaneously. So instead of trying to hold onto an experience, let go of the belief in the thought that there is a someone hanging onto something, and experience Truth of Being that is now, always has been, and will be forever and ever.

Ramana’s approach would be to look at the question from the position of Isness. Looking as the vast, silent Awareness, the question is both answered and irrelevant.

Adya’s approach is a bit longer but comes to the same point. The question assumes we could lose our eternal essence, or that holding on to an experience is the path to living as what we always are. If we look at those assumptions, it is obvious we can not lose our eternal essence and that holding on to an experience can neither make us more or less of what we always are.

We often turn to the mind for the answer. The mind can never know This, as This is the creator of mind.

Love, Steve and Bec

 

Taking Off Our Shoes

 

Recently, we came across this poem by Hafiz, a 14th century Iranian Sufi poet/mystic. It is always such a joy to come across such clear pointers to Truth. We often think we are blazing new trails to recognition as Isness, when we are simply rediscovering what has always been. The pointing of Hafiz is as alive today as it was nearly 700 years ago. When you leave behind your mind and body identification, along with your shoes, you enter the temple of Truth.

Removing The Shoe From The Temple

Once someone asked me,

 

“Why do saints seek divine annihilation

And are often humble

And like to spend their free time

Upon their knees?”

 

I replied,

 

“It is a simple matter of etiquette.”

 

Then they said,

 

“What do you mean, Hafiz?”

 

“Well,” I continued,

“When one goes into a mosque or temple

Is it not common to remove what

Covers your

Feet?

 

So too does it happen

With this whole mind and body—

That is something like a shoe sole—

When one begins to realize

Upon Whom you are really standing,

One begins

To remove the ‘shoe’ from the

Temple.”

 

Namaste, Bec and Steve

Malignant Normality

 

Recently while listening to the book, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” we came across the term malignant normality. Some psychologists and psychiatrists have defined this as arrangements put forward as being normal when in fact they are dangerous and destructive.

Regardless of an individual’s view towards the current administration, they are irrelevant to this post. Political figures come and go. Instead, we would like to apply this term to “everyday life.” The life where we accept identification with a personal body, suffering, fear, etc., as normal.

This is the life most of us live. We have accepted this malignant normality as the truth of our being. To paraphrase Nisargadatta Maharaj, we are not experiencing malignant normality, we are living malignant normality as our experience. We have mistaken external circumstances as existential reality.

To break from this delusion of living malignant normality, we must first recognize what we essentially are. From this state as Isness, the delusion of identification with life as a malignant normality is seen through.

It has been said, “Become the change you wish to see in the world.” It is even easier than that.  You already are boundless Isness before even the concept of boundless Isness. You do not need to become something new, you merely need to stop identifying as what you are not.

Let’s ask ourselves right now, without going to mind for the answer, “Who or What am I?” This direct experience of stillness, of nothingness crackling with all potentiality, is what we fundamentally are. Directly experience life from here. No stories, no judgments, no analysis, just pure, open awareness from moment to moment. With Isness as the forefront of our living, malignant normality can neither thrive nor birth.

“The Invitation,” currently offered by Mooji, is a simple step-by-step approach to drop what you are not so you may notice what you have always been, eternal Isness. “Be still,” is another equally efficacious approach. When you are truly still, you have dropped the changing and are left face-to-face as the eternal Isness. As St. Francis of Assisi stated, “What you are looking for is what is looking.”

Once we have directly experienced life as Life, we are free from identification with the malignant normality. From this point on, if we find we have reverted to identification with malignant normality, we have an apparent choice. We can view life from the perspective of the malignant normality or view life as Life. Life lived as Life still sees the malignant normality, but is no longer bound by identification with delusion.

Be still and . . . Be.

Shalom, Steve and Bec

 

Cognitive Dissonance

 

If you looked at your hand and saw it had 5 fingers, you would not have to look over and over to confirm it has 5 fingers, rather than 4 or 6. If you locked your door, you might have to check it once or twice, but soon enough you would be certain it was locked. When we look at “Who or what am I?” and find only vast Isness devoid of a personal I, we seem unable to accept that direct experience. If we looked in our pocket for our phone and found it was not there, we would very quickly be certain the phone was not in our pocket, even if we had carried it in our pocket for years. Nonetheless, we can look over and over at the question “What am I?” and continue to believe the dream of a personal self, despite the direct experience of our essence as boundless Awareness.

Part of the problem is we expect the experience of a personal I to disappear with the recognition of its illusory ultimate nature.

When we look, we see we are not our body or our thoughts, because they are perceptible, and thus, not fundamental. If we can perceive our body and thoughts, then we cannot ultimately be our body or thoughts—we are subtler. We are what perceives the body and thoughts. We are, at this very moment, what is before the perceiving. Even with this clear recognition that we are not ultimately our body or thoughts, we continue to experience a body and thoughts. The recognition they are not our fundamental essence does not make them disappear, it only removes the illusory identification as them.

Similarly, when we look and find we are fundamentally vast Isness, the experience of an I does not disappear, it only loses its illusory hold as our fundamental identity. The long habit of identification as a personal I may take some time to fully let go, but once we see what we truly are, it cannot be unseen. The stranglehold as an illusory personal I must ultimately collapse under the direct scrutiny of Self-inquiry.

Be kind and forgiving to the experience as a personal I. As long as the experience as a personal I persists, use it relentlessly in the pursuit as Truth. The identification as a personal I is the fundamental assumption supporting all illusion. When it is fully seen through, the rest cannot stand.

“What you are looking for is what is looking.” – St. Francis of Assisi.

In all, as all, with much love, Bec and Steve

 

(The quote in the above photo is from Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.”)

Life As Truth

 

This has been addressed before, but it comes up frequently. Very often after a glimpse as Isness, we forget what we just recognized. Apparent problems seem to arise and we often look to what has arisen as something we need to analyze and overcome. We have heard very good teachers encourage looking at what is coming up as part of the “process” of clearing the path to living as Freedom.

There may be relative value to addressing these “issues” as part of our daily living. If the goal is awakening as Truth, however, we would suggest using each apparent problem as an opportunity to look at who or what thinks there is a problem. Step back as Isness, open to the moment. Use the perception of a problem as a trigger to remember what you are.

We can spend this life examining each manifestation of delusion, and that may produce a better-adjusted ego. Christ, Buddha, Muhammad, Ramana, Nisargadatta, etc., were not interested in producing better egos. These beings living as Truth were all pointing to Life as Truth. None of them said, “This is how to live a problem-free life.”

We already are Truth. There is nothing to do—nothing to “clear,” nothing to “free up,” nothing to “align.” Those are tales we create in identification to feed a delusional story of a someone.

Stop.

Decide what your highest priority is. If Truth is your “goal,” make it your highest priority.

Namaste, Steve and Bec

St. Kevin And The Blackbird

Recently, someone proclaimed they had a “rude awakening.” Some have called this, “A dark night of the soul.” It is an appreciation of the emptiness without the recognition of/as the paradoxical fullness, both contained in and containing the emptiness.

This “rude awakening” is simply an incomplete recognition of Truth. This experience often gives rise to a sensation of fear or dread, because there is still a someone holding on as an individual identity seeing only one facet of Truth.

We do not awaken to Truth. We awaken as Truth. Truth, as Truth, transcends the limits of concepts. Though vast, emptiness and fullness are still limits mind grabs onto in its effort to understand what is beyond concepts.

The same is true for the experience of Truth as bliss—while more pleasant to the individual, it is still mistaking one facet of Truth as the whole.

As an individual, we want Truth to be bliss. As Truth, there are no concepts, nor even the concept of concepts.

Truth is . . . or is not.

Addendum:

After this post came together, we became aware of a beautiful expression of Truth in the poem by Nobel laureate, Seamus Heaney, titled, “St. Kevin and the Blackbird.”

We considered reprinting the poem, but felt the transmission might be greater listening to Mr. Heaney reading the words he wrote.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-BwgIvMDJXM

Listen from heart and embody the words as if they were your own.

Love, Bec and Steve

Mind The Gap

 

The most direct pointers are the simplest.

Notice the gap between thoughts, or the gap between breathing out and breathing in. Both these gaps bring the immediate, direct experience of Stillness, Silence, Isness.

Stillness, Silence, Isness is present throughout the breath and in the presence of thoughts, but it is often initially easier to notice during the gaps.

Typically, in the search for our Eternal Essence, Truth, we look essentially everywhere except the gaps. We look for the timeless in the ever-changing.

The most direct and effective pointers encourage the recognition of both the experience and the experiencer of the gaps.

“Stop,” “Be still,” “Look within,” “What you are looking for is what is looking.” Each of these pointers are meant to produce a pause, a gap. From, and as, this gap, unchanging Truth is Self-evident.

It is in the gap Awakening as eternal, boundless Self blossoms.

Take the opportunities throughout the day to notice these gaps. Rest as the Isness shining in the gaps. This is our Eternal Essence.

Mind the gaps and be free.

Peace, Steve and Bec

 

Connie Nolan

 

Our sangha is young. We have only been together a little over 3 years. In that brief time, however, the spiritual growth of the sangha through the individuals who come together to make this sangha has been phenomenal.

The Light that is Connie Nolan was, and continues to be, an inspiration.

Connie came to our very first satsang filled with stress and personal conflict. She has since come to nearly every offering and has become a beacon of Love and Truth.

Her easy laugh and selfless sharing raised the hearts of us all.

Last evening, Connie left this physical existence.

In the spiritual lexicon, we are often encouraged to die before we die. Through her openness, Connie came to embody this death of the ego and birth of the recognition as eternal Divine Essence.

We will miss dearly the physical being known as Connie. That which was never born never dies. Connie recognized her birthless-deathless Eternal Essence. That Essence shone in her smile and washed over us all through her gentle laughter.

Thank you, Connie, for directly demonstrating the simplicity of Self-realization. All of Life is better for the time you shared in physical form.

Love, Steve & Bec

 

Reed Cane Horses

 

Hundreds of thousands of books speak of our daily lives as a dream, Maya, illusory, unreal.

Over and over, we read these words, nod and think, how wise those masters were who wrote them. We might even stop and think, “Aha! I understand the Truth of Life.”

The great mystic/poet Rumi admonished us, “Don’t wait til you die to see this. Recognize that your imagination and your thinking and your sense perception are reed canes that children cut and pretend are horses.”

In response to the pointings of these masters, we do all sort of rituals, practices, postures, and diets. We build temples, write more books, worship, and fight over which master was speaking and living Truth.

Rarely do we honestly and openly examine these statements. Rarely does one look and contemplate, what would be the experience here and now that would allow me to declare typical daily life a dream? Not just make the declaration, but have that declaration be an honest reflection of Living Truth.

Take a moment. Be open to the possibility these sages know what they write. Examine the statements as though they reflect a clear expression of your current experience.

Set aside all those patterns, beliefs, thoughts, and identifications associated with the dream of daily life for just a few moments. Notice what remains when all those beliefs associated with the dream of daily life are dropped.

Rest as the nonlocalized, eternal, universal Consciousness. As This, these statements are both true and wholly irrelevant. Can the dreamer be seen? Are we the dream, the dreamer, both, or neither? Look as universal Self.

As Truth, Bec and Steve

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