WELCOME. For those of you keeping score at home, as the baseball announcers say, this is the eighteenth offering in our Guest Teaching Series. Readership for the site continues to grow, so it doesn’t look like I killed the whole deal by posting a column of my own last week. Incredibly, I even got a number of supportive emails–God bless you for those! They keep me from wondering if I’m one of the proverbial hundred monkeys with a typewriter. Now, I ask you readers and this week’s Guest Teacher, Suzanne Foxton, to forgive me, but there is some large news this week, and since it affects Awakening Clarity, I need to share it here and now.
FIRST OFF, please see the Housekeeping Notes at the bottom of this page that will detail some very positive changes that we’ve made to the site recently. I’m really excited about where this site is headed, and I hope you’ll continue to spread the word for us. I just signed up Gangaji on Tuesday, and Joan Tollifson on Wednesday for end-of-summer posts. There’s a new note-board on the side panel that will keep you up to date on upcoming teachers. Chris Hebard, whom many of you know from the Stillness Speaks website, has just sent in an original piece from his vacation desk in Switzerland, and he’ll be our guest for the next main-board post, which will be in two weeks, on June 8.
YES, TWO WEEKS, not one. The great news is that I’m writing a book for Non-Duality Press and it’s coming along nicely. It’ll be a little different than most Nondual titles. The other news is that I’m going to have to really hunker down for several months in order to finish it. So, beginning with this week’s post, I’ll be taking Awakening Clarity’s new, main-board posts bi-weekly. I have not made this decision lightly, but out of necessity. I’m still earning a living, have a wife-life that needs tending, a website to manage and edit, and now I have a book to write. I’ve squeezed my clock for all I’m worth, but there’s just no getting any more hours out of it. Awakening Clarity takes up quite a bit more time than my business, so to cut that load almost in half is going to be a real windfall for me, which I can then devote to the book. The Guest Writer pages will continue to be updated, as will the Events and Announcements section, and the Pointers Page. If the gods move me with a suitable subject, I’ll still update the Inverse Journal. But the actual posts, which will all be in the GTS series, will come out every two weeks. So, I wrote one post after four months, and suddenly it looks like I’m bowing out foranother four or so! That wasn’t my plan, but apparently it was the plan.
SUZANNE FOXTON was raised as Suzy Howell, a nice young woman from Indiana who let her heart carry the rest of her body off to England, where she now lives with her husband and two children. One night she was washing dishes and her entire world view changed completely. The background to her awakening was a long period of intense psycho-therapy, where she’d stripped a way a lot of egoic layers. As for the rest, let’s let her tell it herself, in this borrowed paragraph from her Nonduality Magazine interview:
“In the midst of this, I was washing some dishes. I took a knife from the sink. The knife became an amazing wonder; it was exactly right; it was the most knifish knife that ever knifed; it was life, knifing. A kind of vision engulfed me, or replaced me; my mind needed to supply visuals, so I seemed to see a sort of cosmic winking in and out, creation on a grand and colourful scale, swirling being sucked into some kind of black hole and renewing, over and over again. I knelt on the kitchen floor. “Whoa!” I said, like Bill and Ted on their excellent adventure. I then wandered around the kitchen, saying to the ether, “It’s so obvious. It’s so obvious!”
WE MIGHT BE TEMPTED to call such a thing an amazing experience, but since it’s never gone away, which is the very nature of experience, it must not be an experience at all. It must be something else. We could call this something else a shift, which wouldn’t be wrong, but let’s let Suzanne herself name it. In her Nondual novel, published by our friends at Non-Duality Press, she calls it The Ultimate Twist. That’s as good a name as any for the thing that cannot be named.
FOR A WHILE THERE, Suzanne may have best been known as the woman who wrote her blog faster than a speeding bullet, or even Superman himself! I heard her tell BATGAP’s Rick Archer that she has about a quarter million words on it thus far. That is some serious blogging! She’s not producing so much as she was early on–which seems to be the normal course of these things–but what she puts up is terrific. What I love is that Suzanne is not afraid to play. We can get so caught up in all of the Very Serious Nonduality Stuff and Very Serious Life Stuff that we can forget that in the end, it’s all just a story, it’s all always and already just fine, and that the gift of this teaching is that at long last, we get to just relax. That doesn’t mean we don’t care, or don’t take care in out lives; quite the opposite. It means that without the burden of a stressful story we can act from wisdom instead of fear. Suzanne does so, and she’s a joy to watch, read, or listen to. She’s funny, too!
JUST AS THEY ALL ARE, my Suzanne Foxton story is shallow and embarrassing, which is precisely why I’m telling it on myself in public. Why not? As I’ve said here before, I call my ego Lazarus, because it won’t die for more than three days at a time. I kind of like him. With these embarrassing intros I get to watch Lazarus squirm in his chair and kick up a fuss! Eckhart Tolle used to talk about “allowing the diminution of ego”. Eckhart, I really heard you, pal. I find the process to be pretty big fun, but then again I am a hermit, so my life is not exactly full of sirens and whistles. Still, you try it out if you like; I think it was great advice.
AT ANY RATE, a year or so ago I was plowing through Scott Kiloby’s Kilologues when I fell upon an interview he’d done with Suzanne. So, somewhere in the interview Scott says something to the effect of, “I have on the line with me today the lovely Suzanne Foxton.” Hello. I’m sorry, but what man in his right mind is not going to be a chump for that line? So in my shallow and Neanderthalic way, I paused the interview and immediately Googled her. I was transported to Nothing Exists, Despite Appearances, which is Suzanne’s blog. I wasn’t disappointed either; she is indeed very pretty. But while I was there, perhaps to keep up my spiritual appearances, and thus not self-confess to having completely acquiesced to this unit’s ridiculous maleness, I began to read her stuff. Wow! I wasn’t disappointed there either. Suzanne’s view, if you will, is a radical one; she’s not taking any prisoners. She smacks you on the head with a purity and cleanness that we don’t often find. She has graced us here with an absolutely fabulous original post. This thing could cause The Ultimate Twist all by itself; no kidding.
LET ME ADD that the real beauty on Suzanne’s site is her art. I didn’t have the nerve to steal her pictures to decorate this piece, but I sure wanted to. I am using the picture she sent in, which is also the namesake of this article, Relish. Here’s another confession. I have been married to three women who all have degrees in Art History, and I still don’t know much about art. (I do know quite a bit about Art History majors, however, and I’m hanging on to the last one!) So, in my abundant ignorance I haven’t a clue as to how she creates these things, but I am absolutely crazy about them. She says it’s collage and marker, A3 size, scanned in and slightly blurred and blended in Photoshop. Whatever that process entails, its result is cool. You’d expect that, though, because if I had to use one word to describe Suzanne Foxton, it would be the word “cool”. She’s a seriously hip Londoner now, regardless of her more pedestrian roots here in the colonies, or the wife and mother roles she’s so devoted to. She’s now working on a second book, and is slowly attempting to turn her first book into a musical for the stage.
FOR THE SERIOUSLY fashion conscious among you, let me say that for great clothes, I recommend watching her interview on Conscious TV. I have embedded a clip down below. My wife, who often dresses in a similar fashion, gave her two enthusiastic thumbs up for the outfit. So let me get out of this cool woman’s way and let her talk.
AND NOW . . .
STOP SEEKING AND RELISH IT
THE SEARCHING ENDS NOW. There is nothing to find but what is. There is nothing that needs to happen but what is happening. There is nothing new to know that will bring further revelation. There are so many fascinating, moving, absorbing stories which cannot yet be enjoyed, for they have too much of the burden of redemption upon them. Redemption is here, now, for there is only here and now, and infinite immediate possibility. You are not that small thing, the constructed identity named Felicity or Gerald, charged with the impossible tasks of perfect life or perfect love. You are what perfect life and perfect love emerges from; simple knowing, pure being, absolute awareness, bare sentience. That which looks, looks for itself, and it is everywhere; it is everything.
ALL SEEKERS either give up and live life, or end up finding that reality is exactly as it has always been; the obviousness of it is the punch of the “ah ha” moment that some people seem to experience. Life as it arises, so rife with discontent, is exactly what was sought, and now seems full of contentment. We are in paradise. This is paradise. It always has been. Value judgments usually fall by the wayside, but if they don’t, enjoy them.
MAYBE SEEKERS have too many expectations about what “this” or “awakening” or “enlightenment” is. Your brain/mind can seem to “come back” and “claim” an experience; however you perceive and label such an apparent happening is this too. There is nothing that is not this. That’s what an “ah ha” moment means, and why it’s so amusing. What you are looking for is everything, just the way it is. It is occluded by its omnipresence. It’s so simple, you can’t possibly believe it’s so obvious.
SOME SEEKERS MEDITATE, convinced that the peace of the absence of thought – the “stillness” so desired by so many – is what “this” truly is. Moments of peace are great, but they aren’t especially “this”. They are “this” in yet another guise. Doubt, resistance, fear – this in an egoic guise. However, when “this” is “realised”, there seems to be less resistance, doubt and fear, which is what the ego craves: for things, generally, to be “better”. There are no guarantees about what the quality of life will be, in the story that seems to unfold, if wholeness is apprehended. The only guarantee is that whatever it is that seems to be happening, thought, or felt is “this”. EVERYTHING is what the seeker searches for. You can stop looking. THIS IS IT!
YET HUMANITY CONTINUES to search and strive – desperately working for peace, or inciting hatred. Despite the apparently widely varying motivations and personalities, we are all the same. Strip away the belief systems of the mind, look in the mirror and know absolutely that the person seen is just the same as what the Taliban member sees who wakes up in the morning, looks into his bit of mirrored glass and reaches for his turban. That sense of self, of I Exist, of I Am, that seems so singular and special andours – that consciousness is shared. And simply that, is what these words point to. It is tempting put a lot of importance on the thoughts, the story of existence; the people who write about oneness, Advaita, consciousness, awareness, or whatever we’re calling it, go to great lengths to try and devalue the mind and the thoughts, and the personality they weave, the personality so often mistaken for that shared consciousness.
THE STORY OF dispelling the identity, of discrediting it, is evidently the most important of all. “Why are you unhappy? Because 99.9% of everything you think, and everything you do, is for yourself, and there isn’t one,” says Wei Wu Wei. There is a great urge to end the suffering that the misguided attribution of the story equaling the Self apparently causes. There is a lot of energy devoted to insisting that the sense of separation – the effect of this misattribution – is incorrect, and not the clear seeing of absolute reality. Or, the self and its personality are celebrated, and the oneness of shared consciousness is rejected as too dry and arid; the story of life is treasured, and the tasks presented by life are deeply valued. If we all see clearly our shared consciousness, say some, then we’ll be a world healed, working together for a common, loving goal; we will be love in action. Or, say others, if we lose our value of the separate life, we will be passionless, and be unmoved by the plight of mankind, and unmotivated to work for peace, healing and harmony. Or perhaps, say the haters of dispassion, if we lose our personalities and passions, the world will be a dull, saccharine place, full of do-gooders with no hopeless cases to take under their wing, all happy-clappy, touchy-muchy and healy-feely. Bleagh, they say. Where is the wholeness, the interest, the variety, in that?
DISPASSIONATE OR DYNAMIC, consciousness shared or consciousness split, all that is and all that thought labels it – everything is oneness. Absolutely everything is; there are no mistakes. The most horrific errors, a split-second of poor reflex or a well-considered, but misjudged, decision, even these are not mistakes. The child that runs into the road, hit; the sober drunk that picks up drink and drugs again after many years of abstinence; the inappropriate career chosen, the person married in convenience or pressure rather than love; any of the long list of things we could change, if only we could go back in time; even these are not mistakes. Even the most painful, life-thwarting feelings and urges are not mistakes. Everything unfolds both to no purpose, and to grand purpose, in the context of the story of a life. Life is everything; bliss and despair, pain and great, soaring pleasure. And all of it is bearable. There is suffering, and the end of suffering is so often sought, both by seekers of enlightenment, and most human beings, convinced that the pain is theirs and theirs alone, that pain defines them, that pain is useless, that pain is to be avoided or dispelled. But pain and suffering – some say that suffering is pain + resistance to pain – in the unfolding story, is often very useful. And even if it’s not, and all of it is meaningless, and it is seen that whatever seems to be happening is just as it should be – there is nothing wrong with suffering.
PERHAPS, in the context of a story, structured by systems of belief, organised by the restless mind into some kind of sense, suffering that lingers is not so useful. But suffering, in any story, usually changes; wait around long enough, and everything changes. No matter how involving and intense the story of your life seems to be, that story – those feelings – those events, those others whom you struggle to interact with – they are not your sum total. You are all of it, and none of it; life is its own beneficiary; great pain and delicious pleasure are the same thing. No matter what seems to be happening, even if it seems to be happening to you and you alone, is just what must happen. Your life, with all its resistance, all the wrong thinking, all those errors you wish had never happened, is perfect, blessed and whole. There is nothing wrong with you. There is nothing wrong. Ever.
EVERY CONCEPT IS A PRISON, even the concept “there is nothing wrong – ever”. Yet every concept exists in complete freedom. There is nothing you can do, nothing to be done, except what is. Whatever your next move is, whatever the current plan, each apparent action, each apparent feeling, no matter how to the point or not, is what is. If thoughts arise, reinforcing themselves, in the form of strong urges to investigate and practice traditional Advaita or any other practices that will strip away the ego, those are the urges that arise. There is no goal; the goal is always met, in whatever it is that appears. There is no struggle, although there is often the appearance of one, and this apparent struggle is beautiful, for it is what is.
THE HUMAN CONDITION of being self-aware is not a problem; it is what is. The minor conflicts of seekers and critics and teachers of enlightenment on the Internet isn’t a cause for deep introspection or casual dismissal, although either of these might come up. The epic conflicts of people apparently faced with their imminent destruction, or the destruction of their sacred ideas, or the destruction of races and nations, are not the proving grounds of humanity. Humanity needs no proving ground; humanity has not lost its way, or if it seems to have, the story has simply shifted to an archetypal apocalyptic tale. There is nothing wrong with humanity; there is nothing wrong with “you”, however many thoughts come up that say there is something terribly wrong, and those things are this, this, and especially“this”. Everything is just exactly as it must be, no matter what is looks like, smells like, feels like, sounds like, or how it seems to be judged. Whatever your character does, that is perfect. Whatever you do, it is what must be. And in the story that seems to unfold, immediate presence is usually not expressed in destruction – although there must be destruction and creation both, in duality. This is paradise. There is nothing else.
SO EVERYTHING, absolutely everything in the appearance is already the immaculate expression of being. This includes everything, with no exceptions. It includes all the billions of incongruities and irresolvable dilemmas that crop up when one story seems to intersect another, and there are so, so many stories. It includes scientific outrage at the concept of oneness, and the disparagement heaped upon various Advaita disciplines (or lack of discipline) by various other Advaita practices. It seems a chaotic bundle, a confusing dichotomy, or a plate full of impossible choices; but whatever it is that seems to be arising, whatever this is, is perfectly and exquisitely whole. There is nothing to be done, itis done. Perhaps there are still a lot of questions that come up, and the questions can be asked until it is realised that there are no questions, for there are no answers; there is no problem; whatever seems to be is what is, and it is just as it must be.
THERE ARE SO MANY apparent individuals who cling to the desire to make the story just right, and there is nothing wrong with that; but in fact, despite the appearance of so many of them, there are no stories. Stories need time to unfold, and there is no time. In fact, there is nothing at all, despite the appearance of vastness in the cosmos, and vastness in the minute workings of matter at the tiniest level. Nothing is happening, despite the appearance of great workings and doings and contrivance; there is nothing at all but the light that makes the appearance possible. It is the deepest reality, the absolute source, consciousness, oneness, whatever you wish to label it. It is the biggest thing in any apparent room, or field, or space station gazing down on the Earth. It is the only thing. There is no need to detach, or self-inquire, or be the stillness, or know yourself completely, although these apparent actions can arise. Your ego can’t kill your ego. Trying to kill yourself, stripping one apparent layer back at a time, until there is nothing left, certainly seems the right way to go about seeing the absolute, but it is here already. Whatever it is that seems to need to be done will be done. It seems to unfold, flawlessly despite the flaws, unblemished despite the warts. There is no one who needs help in this perfection, but giving up might be helpful.
YOUR MIND CAN perhaps just accept enlightenment, or however you want to put it and describe it, on a conceptual level, which is after all the mind’s only level. It can say, “OK. I am the awareness that everything arises in. All this really solid-seeming appearance, I understand that it’s illusory, just so much energy, just so many electrical mind-interpretations, from a mind in a brain that is comprised of atoms that contain nothing. I fully understand that this is all meaningless, and that it’s just nothing, wanting to be something; life wanting to be. I completely accept that this is my true nature, that what I truly am is not knowable, and the day-to-day life I seem to lead is not lead by me, nor does it exist in time, and that feeling of being me is actually a big ME, common to everything and everyone, with different apparent content. All that stuff I’ve read and discussed, I know this to be true, true in an absolute sense, even if I can’t get around the need to understand what is ineffable.”
AND THEN, just move on. Live your life with all your apparent tools. Stop identifying with being a seeker, because you know there’s no such thing…you are awareness, and you accept that. In the story of your life that the mind will always facilitate for you, the “ah ha” moment, which you know is probably not anything different from what you already experience, will likely come…and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t matter, because you’re living your life in the best way you can, free from any notions that it will all be “better” “after” enlightenment because your poor, belaboured mind now accepts that everything you need – all of eternity and infinity – is already always the case.
IF THE ILLUSION of reality is recognised and the desire for enlightenment abandoned, this striving, straining, project-building, happiness-confirming, comfort-saving unfolding of the human story can, at last, be fully stepped into and lived. The ego may arise, but its validation is no longer the tale being told. So roll up your sleeves and dig into it – with the ego, or egoless, whatever it seems like – and even if it seems black and full of despair, it’s a miracle there is anything to do or feel or think or be at all. Relish it all.
* * * * *
Copyright 2012, Suzanne Foxton
All Rights Reserved, Used by Permission
Suzanne’s Website: http://bit.ly/7Jb8YF
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/suzy.howell1
On Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/suzannefoxton
On Amazon: http://amzn.to/KfNUue
On Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/LqQUF4
On Non-Duality Press: http://bit.ly/KfUzo7
BATGAP Interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dgh2Aac3PIo
Conscious TV Interview, Part I: http://bit.ly/7uR7Tq
Conscious TV Interview, Part II: http://bit.ly/Ki3K7L
On Atheist Nexus, A Community of Non-theists: http://bit.ly/LrxBYN
Urban Guru Cafe Interview: http://bit.ly/3ukMVh
Advaita Academy Interview: http://bit.ly/KVBerq
On You Tube (lots!): http://bit.ly/Ki4Pwq
Now, just this week, my dear friend and mentor, Scott Kiloby joins us in a big way. We’ll be hosting Scott’s book, Reflections of the One Life: Daily Pointers to Enlightenment, on its own page. Every Sunday I’ll put up seven new reflections for the coming week. It’s a real coup for Awakening Clarity, and a real gift from Scott to our readers.
You can reach the new pages via your mobile, but you’ll need to click for the Full Version of the site, and then play with the sizing until you can click on the individual pages and go from there. It’s worth your trouble, I assure you. I do hope you’ll join me in welcoming all of these writers, who are sharing everything you see here–which is a lot--strictly out of their love for this teaching. I bow in gratitude to all of them.