“I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking.”
Hello, everybody. It’s good to be with you today. Let me start out with a note on the graphic and the quote I’m using to illustrate this post. John Ames, of Gainesville, Florida, who was one of my DPS clients over the last month, sent me both of those. It’s a perfect match-up to visually and viscerally express what we mean when we talk about standing as awareness, or as I like to say, being Being. I owe another thank you to John as well, because he’s now going back through Awakening Clarity posts and cleaning up typos, perhaps a bit of grammar, and all that sort of thing. John is now involved. He’s livingThis, not just thinking and talking about it, and that’s been a key for me. Nonduality is not a spectator sport!
For those for those of you who don’t already know, the author quoted above, Christopher Isherwood, was a major British novelist and playwright in his own right, who was also closely associated with Swami Prabhavananda, with whom he co-wrote several books. A spiritual teacher and monk of the Ramakrishna Order, Swami Prabhavananda was a prolific writer, and one of the major influences in Vedanta and all of Western yoga from the 1930’s through the 1970’s. What a fertile time that was, all around the world. It was during that era that my own journey began.
The prose translation of the Bhagavad Gita that Swami Prahavananda and Isherwood co-wrote, is one of the best read and most easily accessible translations available. That title, and several other books they penned together, are now Eastern classics–in the West! Not that I ever doubted it, but all I have to do is read the single line I’m quoting to know that Isherwood was very clear about his true nature.
And now, on to our new post…
A Study in Direct Pointing
I have hosted twenty Direct Pointing Sessions since the last post, eighteen on Skype, one by telephone, and one in person, in my living room. As ever, the success rate has been very high. I say “success” to indicate that the stated goal of these sessions is to help the client come to what we call a spiritual awakening while they’re talking to me. That recognition may last two hours, twenty years, or as in most cases, come and go for a while, but regardless of how it unfolds afterward, that initial breakthrough is the most important one we’ll ever make in our spiritual journey. Happily, what’s once been seen cannot be entirely unseen, and we now have something of a beachhead in reality. I want to tell you about one such session.
I had a DPS with Eliane Sainte-Marie of Chicago on Tuesday of last week, May 21. Eliane is not a dabbler in Nonduality. She’s made a real commitment to her spiritual journey. Over the past dozen years she’s moved from spectator to someone who’s involved. This is the type of person I most want to work with, and that I really, really want to see “get it”. Granted, I want to see everyone get it, and I work my hardest to bring that about, but when I see someone making the kind of effort that I made, then my desire to be helpful is just a little bit more keen. There’s nothing personal about it; desire simply arises and so does its sharp response.
Every DPS is different. Even keeping that in mind, Eliane’s was quite different, and she’s allowed me to share it, because it’s so generally instructive. Our session went along about like they usually do, moving through the pleasant introduction and then into the investigations and inquiries, which tend to build in intensity. There are peaks and valleys as each session develops its own flow and personality. There is often a lot of laughter in a DPS, but as a client told me yesterday, “It’s a workout!” They can be tough; they can be exhausting. That’s why I currently hold myself to doing only one a day. Eliane’s was on par with most of them, meaning that some of it came easily, and some of it didn’t. You can’t make an omelet if you’re not willing to break a few eggs.
I’m willing to break eggs or do whatever else it takes. I’m even willing to tell you the truth, which is a rarer occurrence than you probably think. I’m also willing to drag you back–again and again and again–from the habitual referencing of thought, and into your current experience. Sometimes that’s fun, and sometimes people get a little edgy. I do it anyway, and it works. A very happy client–someone who’s become a real friend very quickly–told me today, in regard to his own DPS of a week ago, “You didn’t tell me about reality, you showed me how to consciously be Being for myself. That’s why I’m back for a Clarity Session.” People had been telling him things for decades. He woke up while sitting with me in about an hour and a half.
At any rate, while Eliane and I were working our way through the process, there was a moment within a visual exercise where something clearly happened. She saw something; she knew something; something had broken loose. She didn’t know what had happened. While I was fairly confident that Idid, it’s not my job to report on it. That’s the client’s job. In Eliane’s case, I could plainly see that a profound disorientation of some sort had taken place. We paused to touch on it verbally, but then it was gone. She caught her breath and plowed on, but the session seemed to go downhill from there.
Eliane hung with me, but the vitality component dropped dramatically. Still, we both gave it a mighty effort. Effort or no, it did not appear to have been a successful DPS. I suggested that there might yet be a delayed effect, which it is true, it happens from time to time, anywhere from two hours to two weeks. Of course that sounds weak as water when I say it at the end of an apparently less-than-successful session. An unsuccessful DPS really knocks me for a loop. I hate to disappoint; I know what it feels like on the other side. And no one gets out of one of my sessions until either the client or myself becomes convinced that further work will not be fruitful. If I think it’s there, pack a lunch.
I told Betsy later that night, “I cannot for the life of me understand how she could go through so much clear pointing, give the answers she gave, and not wake up.” I simply couldn’t imagine that she wasn’t already effectively there, just as I’d told her at the end of our talk. I told her, “You keep at it.Youcannot not wake up if you keep doing what you’re doing.” And I meant it.
Still, I was perplexed. In my estimation, her answers were just too good and too clear for her to nothave a breakthrough. I wrote Eliane a little later and told her that I’d be happy to speak to her again for half an hour or so at no charge as soon as my schedule permitted. I didn’t want to give up on her. I wanted to see if I might somehow still be able to nudge her over the edge. Did I mention that there is arelentless quality to these sessions? We set up an appointment for a short visit on Friday.
However, much to my surprise and delight, on Wednesday morning I got an email from Eliane that sounded like it was written by someone who just might be waking up! A few hours later, I got another one whose tone and content led me to believe that she almost surely had. I was on top of the world. Don’t get involved with your clients? Bullshit. I care, and I care deeply. I don’t do it, but that’s what happens. Caring arises. Every time.
I got no further emails from Eliane, and we both kept to our agreement to meet again on Friday, when I found a wide awake Eliane! She was beaming and absolutely there, clear as the proverbial bell. Or, more accurately, I should say that she was absolutely here. She was experiencing both great clarity and the joyful freedom that accompanies it. She was doing better than I would have dared dream. There was nothing for me to do. We talked as friends for about ten or fifteen minutes and then clicked off. I never saw a happier woman, and I was pretty durn happy myself!
We’re not through with this.
Eliane stayed bright and crystal clear for a few days, and then ego began to rebuild, as it always does, at least in my experience. It seemed to her that the clarity had dimmed. The ego wants it back, and it wants it back now! “Wait a minute, where’s that fabulous high? Where’s my bliss? Where’s myfreedom? What am I doing wrong? How do I get it back?” The dream has a natural pull to it, like a gravitational field. This is why passive enlightenment doesn’t work until it does. Call it a done deal prematurely, and all you’ll have is an amazing memory that doesn’t even come close to the real experience. We move from consciously being Being, our full being, to unconsciously identifying with the human being.
I get it: dimming and oscillation happened to me off and on for years. I didn’t have a teacher, could not seem to orient in the new reality, and thus I went back and forth between Lost and Found for a very long time. That oscillation can be more miserable than the dark periods of seeking, because now you’ve had a taste, or maybe even a big piece of the real deal. Now you have a point of comparison,which didn’t exist for you before. “Where’s my lightness?”
Eliane and I exchanged a few emails in an attempt to get her repointed in the right direction, but they didn’t cut through the clouds, and that’s why I don’t teach via email. I don’t find it to be very effective, not for what I do, and the efficiency is utterly hopeless. Finally Eliane wrote and said she wanted to do a short Clarity Session. I found some clouds upon arrival, which isn’t surprising. Certainly she wasn’t where she had been prior to our DPS, but neither was she in the space she’d been when we’d last chatted.
We talked for half an hour this afternoon. We talked about this, and we talked about that. I asked some questions, and she gave me some answers. Then the No-thing that actually runs all of these meetings changed course suddenly and a question left my mouth in a rather loud voice. That was not a strategy of mine; I never have a strategy. I promise you, each session, whether DPS or Clarity, runs itself. What I am absolutely sure of is that Eliane burst into laughter, and she didn’t stop laughing. Herknowing laughter started my knowing laughter. We couldn’t speak, only laugh. She raised her straight-up thumb and pumped it in the air. I didn’t need to see or say anything else. We rang off still laughing. Thank you, Eliane. I needed that!
Now, no single arrow I shoot is going to strike home with everyone I use it on, which is why I come to meetings with a full quiver. But if I could only show up with a scant few, this would surely be one of them. How to stand as awareness, how to actually experience being Being, is both remarkably simpleand incredibly effective, so it warrants our attention. If you have not yet had an awakening, this is a great way to get an experiential taste of it. One successful experiment is worth more than manythousands of words. If you are in oscillation, this is the fastest way I know to come back to living recognition. In either situation, it’s one of the best practices I know.
I’ve explained it before, but let me do it again here. In this teaching we are pro-practice, but not as a means to some later end. Practices here are to cause an immediate shift, an immediate clearing. In this teaching, there ain’t no later. We use the body and the mind to move beyond both of them. Say what you will, think what you will, but there are scores of people who’ve woken up in just the last few months alone who will tell you that what I write about, what I talk about, what I help you do reallyworks. That’s my single criteria: does it work? If so, it goes in the tool box. If it doesn’t, throw it into the sea and never mention it again.
First, let’s define our terms. When I say “standing” as awareness, what I mean is consciously being Being. Right now. We are already the one thing going on, because we can’t be anything else, hence the referencing of the term ONE. There is nothing else beyond, below, or behind oneness. We all know this. Many of us are sick of hearing about it, and dying to experience it. The trick, of course, is that it doesn’t feel like we’re the one thing going on until it does. Until then, it feels like we’re just plain old ordinary us. Assuming we’ve matured beyond the God-is-my-lackey stage, then for plain old ordinaryus, the goal is usually one of connecting or unifying with oneness.
That would be a reasonable step, and a fine goal were it not impossible. We cannot unify with what we already are. We cannot connect to what we already are. In Direct Pointing Sessions, once I have people actively experiencing their true nature–even though they don’t yet know it–I will often ask, “Did you have to connect with it?” The answer is inevitably no. I’ll then ask, “Could you actually disconnectfrom it?” There’s a pause, and then, once again, the answer is always a negative. Just like unification, connectivity requires a minimum of two things. Here we are talking about Nonduality, not some sort of elevated dualism.
Being Being is not something we can do later. The only time we can ever be Being is right now, just as the only place to be Being is right here. We cannot wait for the time or space to be “right” in order for us to become what we already are. We simply have to recognize it. Oddly enough, that can be quite a difficult thing to do. Many people spend their entire lives trying to cause a shift that can’t ever happen and never needs to. When I say a “shift,” what I really mean is the perception of a shift. Think for a moment. How could we ever manage to shift into reality? Does that make any sense? If we look at it closely, it’s a ridiculous idea. The better question is, “How could we ever manage to shift out ofreality?”. The obvious answer is we can’t. So we’re not trying to make anything new happen, we’re just trying to recognize the oldest thing there is–Isness itself!
Imagine that a guy dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, someone I know to be a veteran firefighter, came up and asked me, “How do I become a fireman?” What advice do you think I should offer him? I might start with pointing out the obvious and simply tell him, “Hey, buddy, don’t look now, but you’re alreadya fireman.” Yet what if that didn’t do the trick? Imagine he told me, “Yes, that’s what I hear too, but I don’t have any sense of being a fireman. I don’t feel like a fireman.”
In that case, my second approach might be, “Really? You don’t? Then why don’t you go put on youruniform?” They say ‘clothes don’t make the man,’ but clothes certainly give us a wonderful sense of who we are. Is Life so different? Maybe not. From my view it appears that Life has got a whale of a closet! Just on this planet alone, in the outback of a galaxy that’s in the outback of the universe, she’s got 7,000,000,000 outfits. We call them people. She puts them on and prances around in the mirror admiring herself for a while, and has little drama classes with them, but eventually they all wear out. No problem. Old outfits disappear, and new ones arise. Poof! Just like that!What a show! And it’s all on auto-pilot. No one’s doing anything, but everything’s being done.
So, let’s pretend that you’ve already heard that “everything is one,” (with or without a capital O), for the standard million or so times that we hear that phrase without it causing so much as a ripple, much less a breakthrough. Let’s go further and suggest that you have read so much about it, talked so much about it, and pursued spiritual practices so much trying to find it, that you’ve pretty much come tobelieve this bit of hearsay. “Okey-dokey, I’m the One. Agreed. Hurray, whoopee. Now what?”
Well, for all you Nondual firefighters out there reading this, meaning the majority of you who are taking in these very words in this very moment–yes, even including you–my advice is that you put on your uniform. You will then be able to get a concrete sense of your firefighterness. You might even see that you always already are a firefighter. Funny hat, big boots, suspenders–hey, look at me! I’m the real deal! Who knew?
Of course you already have your uniform on. You always do. In the absence of your uniform, there may still be a you, but there’s no you that you can experience, so forget about casting off your uniform. What I want to do is simply draw your attention to one tiny part of your uniform, and then have you put it on very slowly and deliberately. I want you to wear it consciously instead ofunconsciously, which is what you typically do. Here’s how.
Do you have a cell phone with a camera in it? Cut the camera on, and then pan it around the room. Do you see how it just records, just registers whatever it sees? What does the camera think about what it’s registering? What beliefs does the camera have about what it’s recording? How many opinions does the camera hold about what it’s registering? What positions is it taking up about what it’s recording? What’s that you say? The camera is not thinking at all? It doesn’t have any beliefs, opinions, or positions (BOPs) about what it’s seeing while panning around? Are you saying that the camera, so to speak, is having a nonconceptual experience of the room? Neat. Why don’t you try it?
I want you to use that body–what you erroneously think of as being your exclusive body–as a camera. Your camera. You can use the graphic at the beginning of this post as a guide. Now pan around the room just as you did with your cell phone, only let that unit be the body of a camera, and let the unit’s eyes be the lens. Just like your cell phone’s lens, just look. Don’t label, don’t judge, don’t tell any stories about what you’re looking at. Just look.
You know that you’re alive, do you not? Of course you do. You know that you are. You could say, “I am,” and know that you’re right, yes? Yes. Now just pretend that you are the one thing going on that you’ve heard so much about. Look through the body, not as the body. So you have to be looking at yourself now, correct? Do you get that? If not, back up, and read this again until you do get it.
Let’s take this slowly. Let’s recap.
1) You are using that body as a camera.
2) You know that you are.
3) You are pretending that you are the one thing going on, and that you are thus looking at yourself.
You know that you are, but when you use that body as a camera, when you look through the body, but not as the body, do you know what you are? No. Me either. What do you actually know other thanthat you are? Nothing, right? Same here. I know that I don’t know, but that’s all I know. How about you?
Can you tell me if there’s anything missing, or is what you’re looking at always already complete? We could sort of say it’s completely complete, could we not? That’s the way it is when I do it. How about for you?
Now, drop the pretending, and go to your actual experience. For this experiment, suspend your ability to label. When you look without labeling through the body as a camera, how many things are going on in the world that you are filming? When I do it, I count one. If you can’t label, you can’t judge,can you? In the absence of labeling and thus judging, is there truly any division in whatever it is that you’re looking at? Is there any genuine separation? There sure isn’t for me, I can tell you that with great confidence.
When you use your body as a camera to view whatever it is that it’s viewing–because without labels there’s not even a “world”–how are things going? How’s that whatever-it-is getting along? In the absence of labeling, we can’t compare, can we? And in the absence of comparing, can you find aproblem? Me either.
If when you use that unit as a camera, and YOU are the ONE THING going on, then you are, as they say, NONDUAL, wouldn’t you agree? If that’s the case, as it certainly is, then what would you say isshowing up in your camera? Everything, you say? Yes, that’s true. Everything. Is there another word for that, one that really says it with style? How about What Is? That’s what’s showing up, correct? Of course it is. Well, since that’s the case, is there anything that really is, that’s not showing up? Not for me!
So how about comparisons? Not there, huh? That’s because comparisons aren’t in What Is. Only real stuff is in What Is. So where do are all comparisons live? In your head. I call that territory what isn’t. It can’t show up in your body-camera because it doesn’t exist. It isn’t part of What Is, and there’s nothing BUT What Is.
How about alternatives? Surely there must be alternatives to What Is? If so, where would they be? Hmmm.. They’d have to be IN What Is, don’t you think? If they aren’t where would they be? Ah, inwhat isn’t again! Your head!
How about all those universes and dimensions where woulda-coulda-shoulda mean something? Do they show up? Nope. Then where do they live? In your head. Does the past show up in your lens. Nope. How about the future? Nope. How about that Wonderful Land, the land where what you think about stuff actually matters. Does that show up? Nope. Your stuck with What Is, and in What Is, your beliefs, opinions, and positions mean squat.
How about ‘someplace else’? Nope. You got your Here, you got your Now, and you got nothing else. That’s all that shows up, because that’s all that is.
Want to argue with what you see? Okay. How’s that working out for you? Are you changing anything, or have you just got what you already had, only now you’re suffering over it. Funny how that works, is it not? It only works like that every time. I’d spend my energy looking at how I could get along with What Is, or open an investigation into how What Is might be in the next moment if I made some practical tweaks.
I think I’ve made my point. If I haven’t, it’s unlikely any further illustration will work.
YOU, my friend, are Being. You are always being Being, but this camera exercise will help you to get the sense of being Being, like the firefighter putting on his uniform. Being is where you’re alwayslooking from, only sometimes you get confused. You get confused when you look as the body, instead of through it. After all, it’s not your exclusive body anymore than any other body is. It’s just anotherunit. It’s just another tool for functioning in the dream. It’s really quite like my eyeglasses, which are a tool I use for looking through, only my eyeglasses never make the mistake of thinking they’re thelooker! But when you look through that unit, you make the silly mistake of thinking that you are yourlooking tool! How funny is that?
Welcome to a taste of being Being. You can do this anytime. You can do this on the fly. It will not transform you, it will dissolve you. Welcome Home.
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Standing As Awareness