“THE GREATEST OF ALL THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF 20TH-CENTURY SCIENCE has been the discovery of human ignorance.” Lewis Thomas, Lives of a Cell. “OUR IGNORANCE, OF COURSE, HAS ALWAYS BEEN WITH US, AND ALWAYS WILL BE. What is new is our awareness of it, our awakening to its fathomless dimensions, and it is this, more than anything else, that marks the coming of age of our species.” Timothy Ferris, Coming of Age in the Milky Way.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Absolute Signal of Being

The Mystery is not inert or lifeless. The Mystery is Bright. Felt at the heart, Mystery makes the heart and the head and the whole body shine.

When the Mystery is strongly intuited and felt, this radiance—the dynamic force of the Heart—begins to move in the body. A spontaneous release of power flows through subtle channels of the multi-dimensional bodily vehicle. The current is heard (as harmonic sound), seen (as radiant light) and felt (as blissful force) as it ascends and descends in a living circuit throughout the body-mind.

Mystery, when fully felt (to the final degree of ego-dissolution) outshines the limits of all that is “known about” or can ever be “known about.” Our natural condition is free from all that is merely known, conceived, perceived or converted into words, numbers, images or meanings. Such outshining of limits (and all phony identities) is initiation into ultimate openness.

Until such initiation, the Mystery remains an idea, a symbol, an abstract mental object, a thing apart (and sought after). After initiation, all the myriad qualities of experience cannot mask the Absolute Signal of Being. Thus, the awakened one intuits and lives unqualified life, presently, even in the ordinary forms of the world. 

We are always, already free.

Just as the eyes cannot see themselves except by reflection, Consciousness (Original Mind) cannot be aware of itself, except through the reflection of manifestation. All worlds and beings display Original Mind, like a constellation of dewdrops reflecting the bright moon. But only a fool mistakes the dewdrops for the moon itself!

Original Mind is not an object (not even a Supreme Object) and can never be located (unlike a thing, such as a hidden diamond, which can be sought until found). Hear this! Abandon seeking after Reality (as it were a thing, within or without) once and for all!

Instead, drop the burden of self-concern and self-centered strategies. Come to heart-rest in the still depth of perfect wonder (naked of all knowing), and Original Mind stands out, clear and bright and timeless. This primary, clear bliss is what Zen calls “your face before your parents were born.” Or, as Jesus put it, “Before Abraham was, I Am.”

Simply Shine

All that we have anciently called “God” and presumed to know as “Divine” invariably falls within human experience of things and energies, physical and subtle, that appear and disappear. Therefore, what we have since prehistory been labeling “God” is not absolutely different or distinct from the whole dimension of “being human.”

What “God” is cannot ever be known. Yet the Bright Mystery is freedom and freedom can be lived now. In other words, what is God can only be realized—or understood, presumed and lived.

We must take responsibility for our “God” ideas and for everything that we have traditionally projected outside ourselves. We must apprehend and acknowledge the fullness of the human being, in order to be fully human, which is unfathomable and divine.

Realization of Real God necessarily involves the sacrifice of all experiences and things and ideas we identify as “God.” Therefore, our true spiritual responsibility is to be reconciled with Wonder—or the inherent freedom from all forms of knowledge—and so stand already liberated (already not displaced from whatever is God or Reality). Such heartfelt and whole-bodily Wonder is the simple and profound and eternally reliable link with actual God. It is to simply be God (Real Life) through perfect alliance and non-recoil from Infinity. It is to rest in the Unavoidable. It is to flow with the inevitable changes of birth and death, without fear and without any ultimate knowing.

To live this happiness is the holy message, the essence of spiritual instruction. Such joy, fully lived—now and now and now—is the truest prayer and the primary means to serve all beings.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Great and Wonderful Truth

A great and wonderful truth shines at the heart of every living being. It has been called by many names: Original Mind, Naked Mind, Unborn Mind, Buddha-Nature and the Open Secret. Indeed, many more names refer to it, and yet this radiant secret is beyond all labels and conventional knowledge.

Conventional knowing (i.e., information and symbol processing, storage and retrieval) is a critical life function that serves the body-mind in everyday affairs. However, conventional knowledge (verbal, mathematical, visual, and all forms of conceptual, discursive, denotative knowing) does not penetrate to, or pertain at absolute depth, at origin, at infinity.

Conventional knowledge accumulates over time, like adding books to bookshelves or storing data in memory files. But teraflops upon teraflops of information can never add up to the Open Secret, which is no summation at all, but is the Original Completeness—the Prior and Only One—from whom every moment and everything emerges as spontaneous flow.

The body-mind and world arise together in seamless wholeness. All experience (the continuum of space-time-energy-matter) is the spontaneous interplay (communication or conversation) of energy/information among the diverse parts of totality.

Totality (Cosmos) is a self-organizing system. In other words Cosmos, like the human body, is an organism. And, as with the human body, all parts (all appearances) within Cosmos are mutually dependent (co-arising). This is the great paradoxical process: Absolute Singularity endlessly becoming multiple, complex, and seemingly individuated—while remaining Absolutely Singular, Unique and Only!

Yes, a great and wonderful truth shines at the heart of every living being: That great and wonderful truth is the Immutable Mystery of your very self. 

The Message

No matter who might read these words, even in the most far-flung future, the truth will remain for the reader: YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT YOU ARE.

You honestly do not know.

The very existence of you and everything and everyone else that appears is, and will always remain, a perfect mystery.

You do not know what you are, bodily. (What IS the “body”?)

You do not know what you are, emotionally. (What IS a “feeling”?)

You do not know what you are, mentally. (What IS a “thought”?)

You do not know what you are, spiritually. (What IS a “soul”?)

Perhaps you may assert that everything is a form of energy. But then you must answer, what IS “energy”?  Or you may declare that everything is simply God. Then, what IS “God”?

Although you might describe energy as light, radiance, force, intensity, “the ability to perform work,” and so forth, you do not (and cannot) know what energy is, in itself.  And although you might conceptualize God in myriad ways, you are not presently knowing (and you are not about to grasp) what God is.

In all honesty, in the bareness of our human condition, we simply do not know.

Have you heard and considered this immutable fact or truth?

We are not knowers! Our essential situation is irreducible mystery.

The mystery is never dimmed or lessened by all the knowledge in the all the worlds.

All of our knowing (information processing and storage) could be labeled “conventional knowledge” or “knowing about.” We are able to know and to talk about things: to name and define and describe countless forms and functions and beings, to observe their interactions and learn how to make use of them. Such conventional knowing is natural and indispensable.

We have reproduced the terrible power of stars and peeked at the intricate jewelry of our genes. We have manufactured artificial hearts and someday we will manufacture artificial minds. Yet never are we able to find out or to bring to a close the naked mystery of ourselves—or any form or function or being.

Considered more fully, it is not simply the mystery of being human that awes us; it is the total mystery of being. Where is a place? When is a time? What is awareness? The irreducible mystery of existence (or consciousness) itself is the fundamental Fact or Truth that confounds the mind and astounds the heart.

What is a hummingbird?

What is a blue whale? 

Truthfully, no one knows—including the hummingbird and the blue whale!

There is no such one as a knower. Ultimate (Absolute) knowing is not a possible condition within reality.

Science is the human system of observing, naming, defining and describing forms and functions and beings, and working with this information (and the technologies it leads to) in countless ways.

Religion is the human response to eternal mystery.

The Mystery of being human is the beginning, middle and end of all sciences. If we call the Mystery “Nature” or “Life” or “the Universe,” we must confess that the subject is too vast for any possible accumulation of scientific knowledge. Nevertheless, the scientific method is an extremely helpful and practical human endeavor within our adventure in and of Perfect Mystery.

The Mystery of being human is the beginning, middle and end of all religions. If we call the Mystery, “God,” we must honestly confess: God is too vast for any possible religion. Nevertheless, inspired religion, like fine art, may beautifully express (while never capturing) the Mystery. Whether native religions of rivers and mountains; theistic religions of goddesses and gods (or of One True God); or formless religions of emptiness, light, space, freedom and peace---all these forms (or formlessness), functions and deities (or The Deity), are preceded, understood, embraced and surpassed by the apprehension of mere and absolute mystery.

Deeply and consistently abiding in our essential unknowing opens awareness in spontaneous surrender, and grants ever-greater intuitions of vast reality. It is a process of undermining every false (limited) identity, until the inherently free being dawns, luminous and clear. At last, one’s own self is realized as not truly “other” than the totality of living systems that arise within perfect mystery.

You cannot, at last, find yourself apart from the essential mystery. What you encounter in your search, more and more profoundly, is only the same magnificence, awesome wonder and freedom from where you began.

You cannot know yourself or own yourself or even “become” yourself. You can only be yourself—always, already abiding in mystery.

The traditional metaphor of a “journey” to self-realization does not imply that one’s identity ever becomes “known” in the way that sense data and abstract information is registered and stored. Our real identity can never become an externalized object of knowledge, in the sense that we might perceive a red cranberry on a mound of fresh white snow. Our real identity can never become an internalized object of knowledge, in the sense that we might conceive a prancing black unicorn in a pasture of silver grass. Such external and internal objects of perception and conception are always limited forms; but our real identity is never circumscribed.

Our identity IS the mystery. The mystery IS who (or what) we are. It is we, ourselves, who are eternally unknowable. We can never be located as separate “things” (objects) within the wonder and naked brightness of the mystery.

Profound consideration of the PRESENT luminous mystery awakens the heart to its transcendental condition, beyond all beliefs and images and symbols of God. Rather than grasping, one submits as the relaxed body-mind into the wholeness of simply being.  

Self-realization is, therefore, not a matter of knowledge (information) discovered or amassed, but a matter of wholly being; it is to be surrendered in mystery, alive at infinity, while completely present in whatever form we appear NOW.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

New Book: Awakening to the Obvious

I've published a new book that compiles my essays on non-duality, including several that first appeared on this blog. "Awakening to the Obvious" is available both as an e-book and a paperback.

From the introduction: 

In January, 1994, after a contemplative practice of more than two decades, I awoke to the transcendent heart. That fact, plus a couple bucks, entitles me to a (small) cup of Starbuck’s coffee. I’ve waited nearly 20 years to publish these essays about my experience of awakening—in order to give the stink of enlightenment time to wear off.
My penname, Adyashakti, is Sanskrit for “Primordial Energy.” I’m a former national magazine editor, and an award-winning author of several novels, one of them published in 10 languages. I’m married (for more than a quarter century), with two grown sons, a grizzled old greyhound, and a nearly paid-off mortgage. I spent my late teens, twenties and thirties studying the world’s religions, with particular focus on the mystics of each faith; throughout my thirties I was a journalist, in my forties I wrote science fiction; in my fifties I spent seven years teaching world religions at the university level. I’m 61 as I write this book.
I am not a guru or spiritual master, nor any kind of “purified” or “perfected” human being. (Just ask my wife or kids. Or dog.) I am not living in a special state of grace, nor undergoing unusual experiences, nor do I possess super-normal abilities. Indeed, without wearing glasses, I would not even be able to clearly see these words as I type.
In short, nothing about me as a personality could be called extraordinary. Yet this does not detract from the matter at hand: I do understand my original nature, as described in Buddhist and other mystical teachings of the past twenty-five centuries. I have seen beyond the limits of conventional identity, into the open nature (free capacity) of consciousness itself.
Therefore, it is clear to me that enlightenment (or the enjoyment of reality) is not opposed to the flow of ordinary life and change and death; not at odds with car payments, health insurance premiums, and the lifestyle of a modern Western householder.

This book offers no special doctrine the reader can adhere to. “The Great Way has no back,” said the Chinese sage Lao Tzu. “Thus, it cannot be followed.” However, this book may help you to reconcile with the inherent mystery of life as it is, and thus be one with (no longer at odds with) the Great Way.
Like the taste of fresh, clear water, “enlightenment” is subtle to describe. Yet it is here for the tasting, and even the most carefully chosen words become obsolete as soon as you take the first sip.