Saturday, 5 November 2016

The Open Mystery (Confessions Of A Spiritual Skeptic)


Seventeen years ago I had no interest in anything remotely spiritual - I'd never read a book on the subject and was casually skeptical. Then after trying meditation for relaxation purposes I had a spontaneous shift in perception (or opening) where time and separation seemed to recede and I saw that (and this is what I crudely scribbled down soon after the 'experience') "no thing exists… only everything exists". 

Now it wasn't important (or even relevant) to me to define what this 'everything' was/is. But over the years I became interested in similar stories of shifts in perception, awakenings etc. and of course came across the notion that ultimate reality is awareness. Right away, for me, this didn't feel quite right. It seemed too limiting to formulate ________ in this way even though I couldn't articulate why. 

Reality being ALL means that it is (obviously) also awareness - and since our 'experience' of Reality is dependent on awareness, for all intents and purposes the two are inseparable. But are they synonymous? Perhaps, but I don't know. When we define something or think that we've got a handle on it, we limit it in some way - I prefer to leave the question somewhat open… 

And the fact remains that we can wake up from the dominance of the 'me network' and acknowledge and live from a vastness and mystery that is wondrous and nourishing without the need to define it or commit to a metaphysical context.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Present Immediacy And The Gnosis Of No-Separation


In our everyday mode of cognition we believe that we somehow exist outside this very moment. This is a trick of the dualistic mind - it solidifies a memory-constructed self which we are convinced can stand apart from the immediacy of present experience.

But look closely right now - is there anything that exists, that can exist apart from this unfolding immediacy? Other than as a narrative, where would it abide? 

When this is truly seen, the inner storyline that upholds this autobiographical self recedes and the body-mind-personality becomes functional to the happening of the moment. From here there can arise the gnosis of the ever-fresh living event simply presenting itself.

Separation is upheld in the mind and sustained by (psychological) time. In the immediacy of present actuality there is no past and future and no separation. There is only the ever-fresh unfolding of existence - this mysterious creative dance spontaneously presenting itself.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Existence Is A Verb


For the most part, our habitual mode of being in the world is that of a kind of obliviousness where we are not particularly paying attention to our experience. 

In this mode we experience through our narratives, abstractions and reflections and posit a world of discrete self-existing entities - a world of happened (past tense) things. This results in the illusion of separation.


When we pay special attention we can bypass this reflective fog and encounter existence as an ever-fresh spontaneous happening - an ineffable creative event presenting itself. 

Look… presently, no thing has happened - the only thing that is real is this happen-ing… now… this unmissable event of Existence. This is the fabled Oneness. There aren't two events - there is simply THIS as it presents.


Wednesday, 6 January 2016

No Secret


I've just come back from a long walk in the Cornish countryside. It's very raw out there today - cold and windy with heavy grey-green clouds. Hauntingly desolate and utterly enlivening. 

It's whispering a secret that's really no secret… there is only THIS… this IS-ness of Life presenting itself moment by moment. 

Don't think about this… just listen.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

What Am I


In one sense there can be an answer or resolution to the question 'who/what am I?' but in another sense it is unanswerable. 

We can become clear on the question of misidentification. We can become clear on what we are not (i.e. that which we thought we were.)

And yet, what THIS is, is beyond descriptions, designations and formulas. 

Attempting to pin down the nature of THIS with endless (and it is endless) metaphysical conjecture is to completely miss the point. 'Something' is happening, something is going on, something ultimately inexplicable* and in moments of quietude there can be a sense/recognition 'ahh… this is so obvious… THIS is what I am… I am Life… that's what this is… Life simply happening…'

The rest is the mind's insatiable need for ideation and embellishment. 


* I don't know what it is, no one does, no one ever did, we can call it Life, Reality, Source, Oneness, Awareness or xxx, it doesn't matter, these are just placeholders for something ineffable. 

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Simply Being


As we go about our day we are either attending to actuality or attending to a narrative.

Take a look. Every now and then (now and now) just stop and check to see what is being attended to. 

Nine times out of ten it'll be a narrative, a conversation in the head, a memory or plan*. This is the source of our sense of contraction.

Narrative creates a knot of separation where there is none. In present actuality there is no separation - there is simply this seamless happening of existence. 

It's only when we envisage entities out of their context of actuality - when we freeze frame and analyse them - that the concept of separation/independence arises. But that's not how life presents itself - life is this ongoing flow of datum, this unfolding event. 

In the absence of our freeze-framing, abstracting and conceptualising, energy flows as this ever-fresh unfolding. With this comes a sense of underlying ease, the ease of simply being.



* Obviously narratives have a place in our lives - but we can come to see that they are mostly unnecessary. 

Friday, 3 April 2015

Liberation From Separation


When we are deeply present with existence as it happens - it can become clear that all there is is existence as it happens. 

This sense emerges when narrative constructions of thought are dimmed or absent. There is a shift to the sense of existence as a flow or happening. We are all familiar with this to some extent: think of a time when you went on vacation. You're walking by the sea, the waves are crashing, the air is misty and cool. Everything is new, fresh… you feel alive, exalted, and extremely present. Suddenly it's as if life is a 3D film unfolding in real-time - there is no separation from the shifting scenario… the whole scene is alive. At this point the sense of the tightly constructed memory-based self has given way to the happening of the moment - the momentum of existence.

This is the essence of awakening: awakening from a sense of separation from the event of life.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

The Perception Of A Happened Universe


Go for a walk - preferably in the countryside or a park where nature's buzzing momentum is obvious. Now just sit and be present with whatever is going on. Sounds and sights and sensations… whatever is arising.

In this present immediacy notice that there is nothing to be found that can be said to have happened. What I mean by this is that there are no happened things - every seemingly happened thing is really a happening - it is dynamic, energetic, active (plainly, some things are more obviously so than others yet with a little investigation it can be seen that all there is, is process, activity.) Look at something around you right now; a bird, a tree or a stone. Notice that you are not looking at something in the past - something that has happened - you are looking at an energetic, ever-fresh, occurrence. 

This present energetic happening is the nature of existence. Existence is a dynamic event presenting itself. The perception of a happened universe, happened things and a happened self is an illusion.

The illusion of the happened self (or self extended in time) is particularly sticky. This illusion comes in two persuasive variations; the past self and the future self. Both are projections - the past self is pure memory, the future self is a fantasy. The only thing that is real is this dynamic flux of existence occurring as it occurs - this present living event.  

When this shift of perception occurs and the happening state is revealed, it is clearly seen that the happening universe and happening self cannot be separated - they are the same dynamic movement.*

But don't get bogged down trying to figure this out - our habitual (left hemisphere) mindset gravitates towards division, analysis and abstraction - it defaults at a world of particulates. Instead... go for a walk - preferably in the countryside or a park where natures buzzing momentum is obvious….




* This is the revelation of no separation. It's not that there is not the appearance of discrete phenomena - persons, places and things, it's just that with careful attention they can be seen to be modulations (manifestations, expressions) of a singular event. A tiny child apprehends this - at birth its outlook is this energetic present happening... there is not yet a sense of separation from this primal life-energy. 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The Immediate State


In our normal mode of being we have the perception of a self identity that is extended in time - a 'me and my story' that extends back into the past and forwards towards an anticipated future. We might refer to this identity as the extended self or autobiographical self (it could also be known as the psychological or conceptual self.)

Contrasted with this 'normal' mode of being is a state that is revealed in certain circumstances (often at times of absorption or quietude; meditation, moments of intense experience and immersion in nature etc.) In this mode there is the apprehension of life simply happening exactly as it is happening (in real time - so to speak.) Past and future are suspended in this immediacy. 

This might be called the immediate self or the empty self (though it is somewhat paradoxical to call it a self since in this immediate present unfolding, autobiographical considerations are absent - this is why it is sometimes referred to as 'no self'.) 

In this state of immediacy where life is simply happening exactly as it is happening there is conscious alignment with the real-time creative unfolding of the universe. From here there is the certainty that there is nothing that can stand apart from (nothing other than) this ever-fresh unfolding. In this certainty, strain and struggle become redundant and an underlying sense of ease and harmony arises.   

Friday, 24 August 2012

Ultimately...


Nobody knows.

Gurus, teachers and experts... they don't know.


Something is going on... something intrinsically vital, creative, dynamic, intelligent...

Yet ultimately ungraspable... mysterious. 

Whatever it is... it's doing this right now - effortlessly accomplishing itself in every moment.


That's it.

The rest is speculation and embellishment.

Twice Solitaire


Monday, 23 July 2012

Nothing But Everything


Duality in its broadest sense entails that reality be made up of zillions of independent, self-sustaining first causes. In fact we only need to find one such entity for duality to be true.

And actually we can find loads of them… but only conceptually! When we dive into our stories, concepts and memories, we can partition off reality into discrete entities. We do it all the time - it's a useful way of transacting in the world. But when we come back to what is really going on - when we take each moment anew - we encounter a seamless living momentum.

The only reality is this living momentum - this current happening. There is nothing that stands apart from this - where would it abide… yes, you guessed it, in the mind, in time, in memory. 

Right now happened things are thought things. Right here, in actuality there are no such things - only this seamless fizzing momentum… nothing but everything.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Cold Fresh Air (Liquid Life Pt 2)


Let's take a closer look.

1. What can/must become clear with the littlest investigation is that all so called 'things' are in fact processes. All seeming entities are in flux. They are transforming (often imperceptibly so) from one apparent state to another. All that is ever found is motion, flow, transformation, process.

2. Also, with a little reflection it can be seen that these transforming states cannot occur in isolation. Without possible exception, every seeming separate process is dependent on conditions - which in turn are dependent on further ever-extending conditions.

3. From here there can be a kind of visceral consolidation of the above. Resting in the direct perception of the unfolding present, a deep recognition can occur: it can become overwhelmingly clear that reality/existence is a happening, an event, an activity - and all the seemingly independent forms, entities and manifestations are (so to speak) the patternings or modulations of this event. Look... nothing has happen-ed - it's all happening live... now... this! This is the shift - the coming round from the illusion of things - into the cool fresh air of this living event.

[Again, please let me emphasize here that in order for nondual reality to be the case, no reflection, meditation, insight (or anything else) is necessary - it's already the case. Yet in order for the 'seeing that nondual reality is already the case' to be manifest, the, er... 'seeing that nondual reality is already the case' is required.]

Friday, 4 May 2012

Liquid Life


In the normal everyday mode of cognition, rather than apprehending the impermanent flux of existence, we freeze-frame, fixate and conceptualize the flow. We see manifestation as comprising of discrete self-existing things.
Just below this fixation mode is what might be called the process mode of cognition. When discursive thought eases and the tendency to fixate, conceptualize and abstract abates, there is a felt-sense of the happening of existence. This reflects how manifestation truly is. Existence is a happening.

This mode of perception is not something that is difficult to access - it's already how experience presents itself but is (or can be) overlaid with the narrative and fixations of thought. A baby operates from this mode. A baby has no conception of things - there is just the fluid sweep of sensation and process. There is no narrative of the past - no memory-self - things simply are as they happen - outside of time and conceptualization. Process or flow is primary - before naming and fixating.

This sense of flow can arise in various circumstances: meditation, walking in the woods, perhaps a relaxing bath... or for no particular reason whatsoever - boom - just Life happening. This doesn't mean that there is no conception of apparent things or a sense of self. Once language, memory and conceptualizing have occurred it will never be unlearned. But it becomes secondary to the real-time momentum of process.

There is no thinking yourself into this (just as there is no thinking yourself into the aroma of freshly cut grass.) Just notice that it is already the case. There is sitting, reading, a car goes by, it's starting to rain... there is the activity of existence. Like the zen master said: no me, no bell, just the ringing. In this very timeless moment, no me, no rain, simply the happening of existence - boom!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Nonduality Uncertainty Principle


Some teachings propose that reality is a product of mind only and that the physical world does not exist. They seem so certain, but I can't quite resonate with this. Is it necessary to adopt this position in order to become awakened?

You're sitting still with eyes closed. Rain is pounding on the window. There is the hint of a damp metallic smell in the air. The hands tingle. Flickering lights play on the eyelids. The sound of a car... louder and louder. Now fading... gone... just the hiss of rain. Where am I in all this? Well, there is an ache in the shoulder and thoughts and moods flicker and pass. But really, right now, there is just a happening... in which a thought of a me is just another arising. And even saying this is too much.

What is plain and inescapable is that there is 'something' going on. There is something rather than nothing. This something-ness precedes thoughts and ideas - it's the very ground of all manifestations and appearances. And again, this is probably saying too much. Darryl Bailey describes this with a lightness of touch as, "an inexplicable event accomplishing itself."

Nonduality by default contains this quality of the ineffable. I like to think of it as the nonduality uncertainty principle. The more we try to pin down the ultimate nature of reality, the more we miss it. By this I mean, the more we try to formulate this inexplicable event, the more we find that we are describing something relative - something that's not IT. We know that it is - that's undeniable - but ultimately we can't grasp it, describe it or formulate it.*



* Our attempts to account for this mysterious somethingness are inevitably based on our limited anthropocentric understandings and imaginings. We paint this inexplicable source in Man's image - our formulas are constructs of a biologically constrained intellect. The ultimate nature of this mysterious principle is by default as forever beyond our true grasp as quantum physics is to an earthworm.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Friday, 11 November 2011

Real Time Happening


Sit still.... take a deep breath...


Listen....


Someone is washing up in the kitchen. The clatter of plates and the jangle of cutlery.


Someone enters the kitchen and a conversation starts.


But see.... they have no existence... apart from this scenario - this happening.


Breathe in... breathe out... feel the tingle in the fingers.


You don't exist... other than this real time happening.


A car goes by... two dogs start to bark excitedly... their owners exchange words.


But the dogs and cars and people have no existence... apart from this unfolding - this present happening.


Only conceptually can things exist other than how they are expressed right Now.




This is not fancy nonduality speak - this is how things are.


There is a universal event... a happening going out live.


It never settles... it never becomes happen-ed.


Of course this event presents as highly complex expressions, conditions, facets, patterns.


But nothing is other than... separate from... independent of... this global happening... this seamless universal turning.


The Universe is this............................................


Breathe in... breathe out...


The Universe* is (now) this...................................





*Universe as a synonym for the All, Totality, Tao etc.


Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The Illusion Of Happened Things


Existence is a seamless event unfolding... the church bells, the rain, the birds, the trees, the rumble of cars.... are the present expression of a living sweep... a living universe happening - not happened.


Happen-ed things do not exist... there is only a happen-ing... this very zinging actual-ness or such-ness of manifestation - reality occurring in real time - going out live - now... as you read this.


Happened things, separate entities, independent objects and so on are thought (and language) constructions - they appear in a freeze-framed virtual reality (the Then.)


Right Now there are no such things - just a happening happening. These seeming things, beings and entities are not what they are but how they are in this real time happening - shifting modulations of a great event.


Things don't exist - only the global living event exists.


Sunday, 23 October 2011

Insight And Metaphysics


So... there's insight.


And then there's metaphysics.


The insight, the essence of nonduality is simply this: rather than there being a zillion fragmentary first causes, Reality is a singular (or non-numerical) happening.


That’s it!


That’s the crucial timeless revelation.


The metaphysics on the other hand is the attempt to determine the nature of this Reality.


Engaging perhaps, but ultimately a futile pursuit - how to contain, decode or formulate this ineffable Source?


Metaphysics and philosophy fill the books and websites, blogs and forums. They give rise to academies and conferences... gurus and experts.


Meanwhile... the insight is simple, direct and visceral.


Go for a walk in the woods and sit by a river. It will soon become clear that there is not you and Life... Life is all there is.


That simple.


Panta Rhei


Saturday, 27 August 2011

L i f e


It's so obvious isn't it?


All there is is Life.


Life - in the widest possible sense of the word - an all-encompassing creative principle - dynamic - animate - vital.


From the mysterious dance of the subatomic to the most elaborate cosmic formations... Life can be found pulsing and shifting, erupting and evolving.


Is there anything other than this ongoing creative principle?


Is there anything that is separate from Life's happening?


Is there Life... and you?


That would be absurd wouldn't it?


Life is all there is.*





* Or Tao, God, Reality or whatever.....


Friday, 1 July 2011

The Self Delusion


Everything that manifests in any conceivable way can be said to be the unfolding of a singular source/happening. What the nature of this source is, is unimportant to the point here but let's allow, for now, that it produced a big bang or something similar. So, everything without exception is the expression of this molten universal principle. The formation of the galaxies, solar systems, planets, ecosystems and the complex and sophisticated world of apparent human organisms.


For neutrality's sake we'll call this universal principle xxx. From the perspective of the above, anything thought to be in any way separate from xxx is a form of delusion.


The belief in a self that could be separate, independent and autonomous must be such a delusion. This is not to deny the sense of self that arises in so called self-aware organisms. This sense arises as a seemingly adaptive mechanism and for this reason it's probably not a good idea to try to be rid of it (or to destroy the ego as some religions put it). But it can be seen that this sense of self as with all other appearances is yet another construction in the molten sweep of xxx.


In an intimate way this can be seen right now. It is what is meant when we hear that no one is typing - typing is just happening. Or no one is sitting - sitting is just happening. Right now in this unfolding present (where else?) there is just this seamless molten sweep of Source. The patterns, plays, manifestations and expressions that arise are just this - life happening. Reality being this!


So, seeing through this delusion is a simple and non-mystical thing. Calling it an enlightenment and all the spiritual hoopla that goes along with it is an unnecessary remnant from a murkier credulous time. This is something simple, fresh, alive and in plain view.


Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Cold Fire Burning


Nouns are fictions


Myths


Chimeras in the shifting sweep of a molten universe


Reality knows nothing of things


Only the ings


Of the changing and turning


And the unseen drift


Of a cold fire burning


Sunday, 26 June 2011

Going Out Live


The wind shakes the trees... a TV chatters in the next room... rain splashes the window.


All is the single sweep of a pulsating present happening.


The bird that just flew past the widow has no intrinsic existence.


No independence from a single seamless universal turning.



Right now Reality is going out live.


Reality being this... and now... this.


Her Shadow


Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Already Accomplished


So... all there is is Totality.


Doing, acting, creating etc. are movement or expressions of Totality.


And in a sense... the rest is irrelevant.


Much philosophical ink has been spilt debating the essential nature of this Totality. This can be an interesting sideline - but the need to work this stuff out, to decode or solve something... falls away in this revelation that Totality/Source is the doer, actor, author.


Look right now! Things are already manifesting without struggle in the absence of concepts, compulsions and solutions.


And this is the fabled freedom; everything is already happening... already accomplished in every moment - however that moment expresses.


Friday, 22 April 2011

Who Awakens?


Firstly, what is awakening? There can be a lot of over-elaboration and magical thinking surrounding this question. The plain truth is that awakening is simply a fresh seeing or recognition of how things really are. A recognition that cuts so deep as to be better described as a paradigm shift.

So who or what has this recognition? Well, let's use the old ocean/wave analogy for a moment. The wave goes about its business believing that it is a wave. One day it comes to recognize that it is in fact not other than the ocean - the ocean is its source, power and essence. Now, from here it wouldn't be in any way accurate to say that the wave has awakened since the wave is without power, autonomy or agency. Instead, the awakening can be seen to be a play of the ocean.

So, the apparent entity does not awaken - but the pattern and process that is the mind-body organism is the mechanism through which a recognition occurs. In fact recognition only has relevance within the finite play of the organism. Beyond this play, the need for a recognition is without meaning.

You see, awakening or recognition could be said to be a corrective to a delusion. The delusion of separation is out of kilter with an underlying intuition of wholeness. This schism fuels certain psychological drives that eventually induce the spiritual quest towards completeness. Recognition simply reveals that completeness is and was already the case.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Earth Song


Friday, 4 March 2011

A Conversation About Consciousness


You seem certain that consciousness is not our true nature.


Firstly, there are uses of the word which are interchangeable with Oneness or Reality etc. In these cases I'm sure that we are talking about the same thing.


But I do think that it's best to have a little caution regarding fixed descriptions of the nature of reality. The concept of an absolute transcendent witness - a dissociated eternal knower, can ultimately be found to be incoherent. What is beyond doubt is that there is 'something' as opposed to nothing - I've referred to this as Source or Reality - I think of consciousness as we know it as an emergent condition of that.


Surely it's the case that consciousness is the limitless knower of all that appears? Consciousness must be primary - nothing can be without it.


Well 'to be is to be perceived' is the mantra of the idealist. I have touched on the fallacy of this elsewhere but to summarize; all that the idealistic approach confirms is the tautology that things cannot be perceived to exist without them being perceived (see When Nondualism Becomes Idealism.) As for the claim of limitless knowing? In my experience I have never met anyone coming to this teaching who didn't ask: if I am consciousness, why is it the case that only this first-person perspective of the organism (this specific sensory matrix) is ever evident? Now this seems a fair enough question given the claims about the all knowing nature of consciousness.


Hmm, but isn't it the case that in the absence of a self or separate entity, consciousness is left as that which sees, hears, thinks etc?

(For the moment I will go along with your use of consciousness for 'all that is' - bearing in mind that Reality or Source is preferable - as we go on it hopefully will become clear as to why.)


Consciousness (Reality) could indeed be said to be the actor, thinker, perceiver etc... but only via its shifting manifestations. For example, in order for consciousness to make a cup of tea, it plainly must manifest the components of that scenario; hands, cup, hot water, tea etc.


Similarly for consciousness (Reality) to actually taste the tea it would need to manifest sentience, sense perceptions, taste buds etc. We can go on to apply this understanding to other actions, perceptions, feelings and thoughts etc. In each case a host of complex conditions are required for said action, perception, feeling or thought to be manifest.


Ultimately we might come to see that the same approach must be applied to the phenomena that is consciousness (as we know it) itself. Consciousness becomes conscious as we know it via the manifestation of a constellation of complex conditions.


By this point we can see why the word consciousness is perhaps not the best designation for Ultimate Reality (not that there is ever a good designation.) Reality/Source manifests as ALL conditions including action, thinking, feeling, perceiving and consciousness.


I have to add here that I'm really not sure how worthwhile it is to work through this sort of stuff. We can never determine such a thing as an absolute identity. All such absolute identities, however we conceive them, are by default manifestations of the same indeterminable mystery.