I began this blog at the end of July with the same number of readers every new blog starts out with: none. It now appears that there is the better part of 200 of you dropping by regularly, and Awakening Clarity has reached into 44 countries. That seems like something of a miracle and a milestone at the end-of-the-first-quarter mark. I humbly thank you all for your participation in the ongoing process of truly awakening Clarity, and for your many encouraging emails.
I particularly want to offer thanks and blessings to my wife, Betsy Hackett-Davis, for her undying love, loyalty, and support; to my dear teacher and now mentor, Scott Kiloby, without whom this blog wouldn’t be happening; to Vince Reese, who’s been steering toward truth for over a decade with me; and to Larry Coble, who’s been incredibly generous and supportive since the day he discovered Awakening Clarity, which, wouldn’t you know it, was the very first day. Finally, special thanks to my friend and mentor Peter Francis Dziuban, who has made this journey so much easier and more pleasant. Namaste, my friends, to one and all.
It is my plan to update this blog twice a week, instead of the three or more times that have heretofore been the custom. I expect to post an essay late on Sunday night (EDT), so you may look for it on Monday morning. The second piece will go out late Wednesday, thus you may expect it Thursday morning.
The Nondual Diary: Unsubscribe Nation
UNSUBSCRIBE NATION IS A SMALL PRINCIPALITY thus far. It only has one formal inhabitant: me. Perhaps this article will generate a few more citizens. If you do decide to join, you can proudly identify yourself as an official delegate to the new U.N. At the new U.N. you will find absolutely no structure, so with our low, low overhead we can offer you the great dues price of zero. You get all the glamor and none of the crap. And here, in our U.N. individual members only police themselves. We allow everyone else to do what they do, because if we look closely we can see that they’re doing it anyway, without either our permission or direction. Amazing. World peace, along with the end of hunger, deprivation and abuse, all start at home. As Byron Katie says, “The most attractive thing about the Buddha is that he saved himself first.”
FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS ESSAY, I’m going to differentiate between awareness and attention. I am often not going to bother with capitalization-for-the-sake-of-divinity, because more often than not I find it tedious, even when I’m the one using it. So, attention, when I speak of it here, is in essence thetool of awareness. On a spiritual level, pretending for the moment that there are such things as spiritual and non-spiritual levels, attention is the device by which awareness is able to investigate itself in great detail, to essentially any depth it chooses, whether that’s with an electron microscope, the Hubble, or our eyeballs. It is also the foundation of all real art, genuine craft, and of all inspired achievement, be it in athletics, business, or some other form of apparently personal or group achievement. Attention is at the core of all loving relationships, be they romantic, parental, or any other sort. If you love your garden, or your home, or your pet, you’ll have a great garden, home, or pet, but it will probably be the result of attention, not wishes, luck, or dreams.
WHEREVER THERE IS AUTHENTIC SPIRITUALITY, you will find focused attention. It’s a wonderfultool God invented for her own purposes, because awareness can’t know itself without it. Yet not too long ago, I found myself squandering this precious, limited gift. Even within constant consciousness of the inhabiting awakeness, I nonetheless was still hooked on what we might call Bright World trivia. I don’t think I need to define that any further. Of course awareness wasn’t going to stand for that forever, so it brought my attention to attention a couple of months ago, and I’ve been deliberately unhooking ever since. Please don’t think this is a rant on what anyone else should do. I have absolutely no idea of what anyone else should do beyond what they’re already doing. This is my diary,my report to you of the ongoing noticings and results of a guy who is attempting to live ever more diligently in the direction of truth.
AS MANY OF YOU ALREADY KNOW, thirteen years ago I was living in the bushes of Mount Tabor City Park in Portland, Oregon, slowly dying of alcoholism and physical neglect. There was no movement toward truth, or contemplative attention being paid there; you have my word on it. Thusthis unit’s path, however winding and slow and dull it may seem to those starting out from higher planes of existence, it nonetheless exhibits a sharp enough, positive enough curve to these eyes. If I was to anthropomorphize awareness, I could say that it is surely rolling on the floors of heaven in tears, coughing out peals of laughter over how this teleplay has gone. The graphing of Fredness: The Movie would make a chart of the Dow Jones Industrials look tame: tons of melodrama; a great deal of danger and romance; a sharp spike up of success, followed by an even sharper spike of failure; addiction, illness, a long and struggling recovery; imprisonment and humiliation; finally culminating in an awakening five years ago. And now, our dubious star of this dubious movie is doing yoga, eating his bran and vegetables, and living Nonduality. What in the hell is going on here?
BACK TO OUR CENTRAL TOPIC, which may have been about attention. Before anything new can happen in the life of a human being, the old pattern has to be thoroughly seen through. Mere observation won’t turn the trick: its false basis and ineffective payoff must be completely penetrated. That’s what happened which led me toward recovery. That’s what happened that stemmed my quitting smoking eight years ago. No, enlightenment is not about purification of the body; I’m just using those things as clear examples of penetration. That same form of seeing is at least seemingly how awakening happened here, and is by far the most common circumstance in which awakening occurs. I saw the absolute futility of trying to run this life. I couldn’t do it, and I couldn’t not do it. I had apparentlymade such a hash of it that I didn’t even want to live it any longer. My head was screaming LET ME OUT! In spiritual circles they call that surrender. At the time I just called it hell. Hell is extremelyfocused attention. Like everything else in duality, it has its flip side. The flip side for me was not relief while on the hamster wheel; it was relief by being removed from the wheel.
ATTENTION TO THE HERE AND NOW is the very thing that is overlooked in the seeking process. One could say that it defines the seeking process. So we want to take a close look at it, utilizing—what else?—the most complete attention we can muster. There is almost always an experienced process of awakening whether the last, quantum leap is later seen as sudden or not. My job here, as I find it, not as I’m designing it, is to consistently uncover the false and present the true. The former is difficult; the latter is impossible. Nonetheless, we persevere. While it is true that you are actually already fully enlightened and I have nothing whatsoever to teach you, until absolute unity is experienced right now, and now, and now, and now, then division is our experience, and personal suffering is our consequence. In a powerful statement near the beginning of The Power of Now, I remember Eckhart Tolle asking something to the effect that, “It’s all well and good that we may all already be enlightened, but the question is, ‘Is it true for you?’” I ask the same.
HOW MANY AUTHENTIC STORIES have you really heard that recount spontaneous, crashing enlightenment through people who were not looking for it? Let’s count. Eckhart Tolle: check. Byron Katie: check. Suzanne Segal? I think the jury may still be out on that one. Ramana Maharshi: check. Tony Parsons: check. My wife? Her story is much like Suzanne Segal’s: only there was never a suddenshift; but like Suzanne’s it remained quite a nebulous entity until it found the vocabulary of Nonduality to express itself clearly. It’s not a clear check on our sheet; that’s for sure. There are others,of course. How many? From my view, there are damn few reports of it out of billions and billions of people over a timeline of 6,000 or so years.
MY POINT IS THAT SINCE INSTANT ENLIGHTENMENT, with little or no preceding practice, however vague or unpractice-like it was, is about as rare as a lump of coal spontaneously turning into a cut diamond. You can play those odds if you want to, but I didn’t. Adyashanti didn’t. Scott Kiloby didn’t. Gangaji didn’t; she was already in India when she got her first glimpse through the eyes and voice of Papaji. Wayne Liquorman had a spontaneous spiritual experience that ended his alcoholism, but he didn’t wake up until he’d met with Ramesh Balsekar a number of times. Ramesh wasn’t an instant wonder: he spent years translating for Nisargadatta, which seeped into Higher Wisdom, which led the way to freedom. Even Nisargadatta himself, the shining center of the most radical Nonduality, states in his own words, time and again that when he when met his guru, he was told to “stay with the I Am.” Nisargadatta heard that, did it for three years, and then came to Self-realization. Let us be clear:nobody in any of the Nondual traditions that I know of ever achieved “easy” enlightenment. That’swhy they were in their tradition to begin with. So, if it happens to you, well and good; my hat is off. I wouldn’t hold my breath. In truth, it’s probably too late for you anyway, given that you’re reading this blog.
(FOR THE SAKE OF PROTECTING MY INBOX, let me say that yes, yes, I know no one ever comes to enlightenment, except the One. I am using a teaching tool, not a hard and fast reference.)
SADLY ENOUGH, HOWEVER YOU DO THE MATH, it’s unlikely you’ll come up as a promising candidate for spontaneous, full-blown awakening. (Please recall that even after spontaneous awakening, Eckhart took years to really find his feet; and Katie, fully awake, invented The Work while sitting out in the desert in order to deal with a mind that very much was not free.) So we are left with the traditional path of, well, path. The good news is that if this way is your fate, you’ll have a lot of company, including me. Awakening can and does happen; it’s not a story, or a myth; it’s quite real. And if you have not had a glimpse of your true nature yet, then you almost surely will. You’re more attentive than most. How do I know? It’s because, once again, you’re reading this blog. It’s not directly connected to Facebook, Twitter, or what have you. You had to either blindly stumble onto it, find a link on Scott’s or someone else’s site, or someone told you about it. Rationality says you shouldn’t even be here reading this. So much for odds, huh? What I’m saying is that you are looking with fierce attention. Good for you; this fierce attention is indeed the most common way of finding the Way. Let’s take a closer look at how awakeness most often arises, and then we’ll go all the way back to the new U.N.
To be continued…