Here’s a quick, funny story.
One evening this week Betsy told me about a guy she’d heard on NPR talking about ISIS. He’d “written an article somewhere.” I told her I’d seen something about it in the news, and that his article was in this month’s The Atlantic magazine. I told her I wanted to read it but didn’t think it would be available on the Internet. I’m not crazy about reading really long pieces of text on a PC anyway. This morning I figured that I’d have to head to Barnes & Noble sometime to pick up a copy, but I knew as I thought it that I was unlikely to do so. Could I find it in a drugstore or grocery store? Maybe.
Not to worry. Today when I went to the mailbox, there was a copy of this month’s Atlantic. It really snapped my neck, so to speak. I picked it up and looked at the label to see if it had been misdelivered. But the label read Fred & Betsy Davis with my address. Someone somewhere had bought a subscription for us! A couple of students were just arriving for a little non-satsang satsang group that I host once a month. I told them the story, and of course everyone was sort of rocked by it. One of them said, “That’s like instant manifestation.”
I said, “It’s manifestation without even trying!” That’s the only kind of “manifesting” that I do. I ask for nothing, and I’m grateful for what I get, although it may take me a while to shine up to an unfun event. Still, I wouldn’t know what to ask for–nor would I have the nerve. I have so much already. It seems like the less I care about money, the more it comes my way. Weird. Anyway, I don’t have any sage comment about this. I just wanted to share the story. And I wanted to say “Thanks!” to our anonymous beneficiary. Betsy and I will both enjoy the subscription very much.
I’ve just put up scores of short Amazon reviews of books I’ve read over the years that have once again found a home in my library. They are not the true reviews that I used to write, just quick pointers toward clear teaching. You can find them here. [Amazon Reviews]
For you therapists out there, let me tell you that my friend Roland Jackman–the guy who designed and launched this website and many, many others–now has a web services company specifically for therapists. He’s a wonderful, talented, easy-going guy. You can find Roland here.
When Intellect Outpaces Experience
An intellectual command of nondual precepts may create a concept of what one is looking for, which is not always helpful. Or, worse, this general understanding may even seem like Awakeness itself. Now, before we get too hasty in condemning intellect, long term readers of this site will know that I am not one to minimize the value of intellect on the nondual path. Far from it. It is this underpinning which functions as a foundation for all that comes afterward. Without it we are pretty much nowhere in this field.
This is why my clients, without exception, are smart people. I don’t know all of my readers and listeners, so I can’t say for certain that such is the case across this teaching, but I’d be willing to bet it’s pretty durn close. I’m not trying to puff everybody up. I just want to present an accurate view of the endemic intellectual ecosystem in which The Living Method operates.
We could say that this teaching is a form of jnana yoga, which is the intellectual path to freedom, as opposed to bhakti yoga (devotion) and karma yoga (selfless works). Jnana yoga may attract others, but they will not stay. This approach to freedom via intellect doesn’t make jnana inherently better than other paths, but it certainly does make it more direct. In this teaching it also makes it much faster, more reliable, and more predictable. But that’s only because my clients have already done most of my work for me. They’ve managed to wear the seeker out to the point where they are ready to tell themselves the truth.
But what happens after awakening? What happens to all of that intellectual seekerism? Let me report my own experience first. Those of you who know this part please bear with me, or go get a drink of water or something.
If I discount a very clear, but short glimpse back in 1992, then my first major awakening was in 2006. It was clear and durable. Yet the further I got away from “the moment,” the less clear it got. First it closed down from the fresh, immediate experience of being Oneness to the experience of the witness state. I see this all the time; I would say it is the most common form that initial awakening takes. From there it deteriorated on down to what felt like the memory of Oneness. This is also very common, but it’s also terribly problematic.
The chief problem here is that mind, with its quite limited capacity, cannot contain Awakeness. If you think about it for a minute, it just makes sense that mind cannot encompass that which it is encompassed by. This is why you cannot possibly, ever, ever, no exceptions, think your way into enlightenment. We can use the mind to go beyond the mind–I do it in every Awakening Session. It’s contribution is great, but in the end it is limited.
The other problem with the notion of ever capturing Awakeness in memory is that in order to remember something we have to have a “rememberer.” By the time the spiritual experience part of my awakening was a month or two in the past, I had unknowingly started taking a bit of a nap, and reverted to thinking of myself as a noun-named-Fred who now possessed High Mystical Knowledge. So, in my case, although actual brightness had passed, the “rememberer” of the awakening–the ultimately illusory-yet-deluded Fred character–was quite proud of himself.
It was at this stage that I ran all my non-nondual friends away by being insufferable. And it wasn’t long before I ended up doing some reseeking. Imaginary Fred moved into misidentification, commonly known as oscillation, and it became Imaginary Fred’s job to “get back” the brightness which Imaginary Fred had once possessed but had somehow lost. The problem there is that I had now assigned the finding of a solution for Fred’s oscillation over to the cause of my oscillation–Fred.
If you haven’t experienced oscillation yet, you may not understand that last sentence very well. If you have, you are probably pumping your fist in the air and crying, “YES! THAT’S IT EXACTLY!” I really should have bought myself a T-shirt at the time that read, “Fred Is An Awakening Survivor!”
Let us assume that you’ve had an experience of brightness, but that experience waned. Now, thanks be to the gods, there’s the feeling that you are beginning to clear again. How do we know what’s real, and what’s intellect telling itself a story–a particularly detailed, authentic-sounding story, now that your true nature has been, at least temporarily, recognized? Mind is always happy to tell itself a new tale, particularly if it ends up aggrandizing ego.
Here are some pointers a friend of mine sent in when he suggested I write this article. He may have been suggesting I write a different article, I can’t know, but this is what came out.
1) If you’re asking yourself, “Am I awake?” then odds are that you’re not. In this instance if you’ve had a true (confirmed, if possible) awakening, the the question is “Am I clear?” Here’s a link to an article about the whole general topic that I wrote some time ago on it. [Am I Awake yet?]
2) As a follow-up to this first pointer, let me tell you that you’re just not going to be able to answer this question from your head. You know how reporters are always saying that they got such and such information from a “reliable source?” Well, when it comes to judging your own clarity, your mind will not be a “reliable source” for you, or at least not for a long time. By the time it’s become reliable you’ll find out that you don’t need it for this task after all. [Confusion After Your Awakening]
3) You react to people differently. In the end, we each get a single choice in this life, and we don’t even have that one until we’ve advanced through the Gateless Gate. Once we have, however, we get to make this choice over and over and over, in every single moment as we take in every new arising. That choice is, “Where am I going to see this from?” If you look from the eyes of truth (meaning you look through that unit, and not as that unit), you will see people completely differently, and your actions regarding them will change accordingly. Here’s a link to a video about looking through your unit. [Standing As Awareness]
4) You will react to life situations–to the content of your life–completely differently. See above. Note that these changes regarding people and situations take time to fully embed, as in years, and no, you do not get to skip ahead a grade. Not even special you–or special me, for that matter. There are more examples, but I think these four will serve for now. Here’s a link to a post that goes into this. [A Day In the Life of Awakeness]
Meister Eckhart, the 13th and 14th century Christian mystic, said “People want to see God with their own eyes, the way they see a cow.” This is the way of the intellect. Alas, we cannot, because that which is seeing the cow is not other than the cow. We can only see God’s through God’s eyes. And this is the Way of the Heart.