A Direct Path
The goal is to provide the most direct path to Self-realization. Self-realization is the direct recognition of your essential nature as omnipresent being. Since this always has been and always will be your essential nature, you do not have to develop something new or go through a long process to attain a distant goal. Some have said that 50% of the path to enlightenment is just realizing it is immediately attainable.
How then to recognize this essential nature? Since it is an eternal truth, one approach is to notice that within you which does not change. If something is changing, it is not an eternal truth, and thus, cannot be your essence. Thoughts come and go, emotions change, beliefs change, and our body changes. Look within and feel that which does not change. “Be still and know that I am God.”
If you stop and notice that still sense of “I am,” you will find still awareness which is your essence. You are more of a presence than a person.
There are lots of simple pointers to silent awareness. One with which we find resonance is by St Francis of Assisi: “What you are looking for is what is looking.” Stop and notice the silent awareness which is looking out through your eyes, sees your thoughts come and go, and is unchanged while everything which passes in front of it changes. “What is looking” is not some clever koan; it is what is looking at this very instant at these words. Notice that and be free.
When you meditate/sit silently, let everything be as it is with an openness to notice that which notices the changing.
Self-inquiry is a direct approach to Self-realization. Simply asking the question, Who, or what, am I?, and then being open to the direct experience of that still, awake, unchanging presence can take you immediately to your essence. Again, what you are looking for IS LOOKING.
These are not questions or exercises for the mind. They are meant to invoke the immediate and direct recognition of your eternal nature. If you find you are thinking about the answers to these simple pointers – STOP. Notice that silent awareness which sees the mind distracting you from the direct and immediate experience of stillness, presence, silence, emptiness. Do not get upset with your mind for taking you off on tangents. Instead, realize that the recognition, I was off on a thought stream, is a grace. It is only when you realize you were off on a thought stream that you have the choice to continue that activity of the mind, or to look again as what is looking. This attitude of openness and appreciation for the grace you have just received, which allows you to come back to the perspective as the still, awake awareness, which sees those thoughts, will speed your growth to the permanent recognition as your eternal essence.
Once you have recognized the silent presence as your essence, you are truly blessed. Now, throughout the day, your life becomes your meditation. When you find you are identifying as thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and the body, you are graced with the choice to continue with this false identification, or to step back and live as your true essence. Until you have directly experienced the boundless silence of pure awareness and recognized this as your essence, you have no choice. Once you know what you are, you are graced with the apparent choice to continue identifying with thoughts, etc., or to relax back into the direct living as Life. Eventually, the old habit of false identification will fall away as you no longer feed it with your attention.
In all these apparent endeavors, keep it simple. Living as Truth is the simplest thing you will ever “do.” It is only the mind and habit which make the search seem complex. Remember the pointers: “Be still” and “What you are looking for is what is looking.”
A Direct Path (Part 2)
Part one takes you to the recognition of your essence as infinite, still awareness. One might expect this is the full recognition of Truth, and in some ways, it is. In other ways, however, it is half the equation. At one time you identified as your body, thoughts, emotions, etc., and now see you are instead more of a nothing than a something. You are boundless presence.
The next step is to take that same open investigation which led to the direct experience of the silence as your essence and examine the world. Ask the question, “If I am pure consciousness, what is everything else?”
If you investigate the experience of your essence, you find it has no borders. It does not end at your body. It is not bound by time or space. Your direct experience is that this awareness is omnipresent. There is no place you could say, “No, my presence does not go there.” Notice you are the substanceless substance pervading everything. This is the very nature of unity. Do not expect unity to look unified. This knowing is much deeper than looking, it is on the level of your very Being.
Nisargadatta Maharaj said, “When I look inside and see that I am nothing, that is wisdom. When I look outside and see that I am everything, that is love. And between these two, my life turns.”
This is the entire teaching of both part one, looking inside and seeing that I am nothing, and part two, looking outside and seeing that I am everything.
It seems paradoxical, but becomes the direct experience that if you look inside you cannot find any specific location where you are, and at the same time when you look outside you cannot find any location where you are not.
While to this point words repeatedly fail to contain the concepts, the final (if there is such a thing as final) step is even more difficult (i.e. impossible) to put into words. Words like seeing, experiencing, etc., do not apply, but we will use them anyway. This step is seeing awareness, silence, space, etc., from that which is before awareness, silence, and space exist.
Shankara states it, “The world is illusory. Brahman alone is real. Brahman is the world.” (Brahman is the unmanifest absolute.)
Adyashanti puts it, “Nothing becoming something while remaining nothing.”
Love, Steve and Bec