by Leatrice Asher
[This article expands on “Seeing Rightly” that appeared in The Word, Autumn, 2015—Ed.]
If we want to know the truth of ourselves, continually looking for answers outside of our own field of functioning will not bring us any closer to that intention. We cannot know reality with ideas from a book or another person taking up space in our thoughts. Concepts such as spheres, planes, geogens, pyrogens and such have no relevance to the experience of “Seeing Rightly.” Certainly wisdom can be garnered from other sources as we wend our way through life, but to actually experience our true nature all books and ideas about how the world works need to be set aside. It’s not as if the information will be lost if we wish to revisit it. Whatever has become part of our repository of Knowledge is always available to us. A major reason to continually refer to a book or author is if the information hasn’t yet found application in our own life.
To Know our original state (referred to in Buddhism as “original mind”) all beliefs will be a hindrance to that Knowing, including T&D* if we have configured it into a belief system. One cannot know reality while harboring ideas about it or endlessly quoting someone else. Information that has led to greater understanding of our Being and the universe certainly may help us better deal with difficulties that arise in our daily lives; however, beliefs that we hold onto and staunchly defend become fodder for the false I. When one Knows, beliefs are unnecessary. It’s likely that we hold onto beliefs because we doubt our own ability to reawaken. We may have a vague feeling that our karmic load is too great or that we somehow fall short of what is needed. This mistrust is often due to apprehension and uncertainty that we qualify. If there is one thing worthy of our confidence it is this: every one of us is capable of consciously awakening this very moment.
It will be difficult to act from our own center if we are still hanging onto someone else’s words. If something has been realized through study it does not then need to be rehashed, quoted or stapled into our mind. If we know it we know it. Now let it go; otherwise, it becomes a concept that tethers us to a thought or notion formed in the mind. Concepts are part of our storyline and how we view the world. They, along with all the other things we tell ourselves we are, will cease when there is no longer a need to add any narrative to our Being. Truth is not a concept. Concepts are mental constructs, ideas. Clinging to them, justifying them, judging others who don’t subscribe to them, just serves to strengthen the false I. Our tendency to label everything that the eyes alight on does not serve us well either. Labeling, through the body-mind and the senses, leads to an interpretation of images that keeps us moored in nature impressions. Reality is before us but our description stands in between. How might a tree, the sidewalk or a garbage can be perceived if we stopped defining and describing these things to ourselves?
The false I wants to prevail, not to be amorphous in the ever changing scenarios of existence. This actually is our greatest fear—the demise of the false I. It may seem frightening to let go of our idea of self as being a particular Tom or Sue with particular characteristics but this is what is needed. We will still be that Tom or Sue, but not encapsulated in our story. We have eternal identity as I-ness but the false I, believing it is Tom or Sue, doesn’t know this. If it did it wouldn’t continue to make itself (which isn’t really a self) prevail by identifying with these passing events—hanging on for dear life lest the vastness engulf and annihilate it. We likely do this to assuage the vague feeling of imminent peril that we sense—that this I that is so vital to our feeling of existence doesn’t exist. This inkling that we have is correct; that which we so dearly identify with as “self” is made-up. It’s not an Eternal Truth. It takes a brave soul to face feelings of possible non-existence and still let go.
Greed, hate and delusion have clouded our inner perceptiveness (in Buddhism, these are often referred to as the three poisons). But once Known, we will know that we have always been right here . . . in Reality! We have just forgotten. We have the ability to return to that knowing, like an ancient remembrance. Every human being on this planet has the innate potential to do this. Once seen we cannot un-see, un-know, even though we may not live perpetually in that experience. We continue to live our lives with the lessons that are ours to learn. We still have feelings and emotions. But with the experience of reality emotions such as sadness, fear, anger, hatred, are less likely to create an unbalanced state, which is the primary cause of pain and suffering. Life is just happening. It is simply “This,” which we have all already known but have so thoroughly deluded ourselves from that knowing.
Thoughts are fluid and always passing through the earth’s atmosphere. And that is all that they are doing unless we grab on and add them to our story, which of course makes it more difficult to see the truth of them. Every time we take things personally, want to defend ourselves (even if only in our mind), brag (even just thinking ourselves superior in some way), we are strengthening the false I. Assumptions are especially detrimental because they are made-up stories rooted in arrogance—that we know something we actually have no knowledge of. In Don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements, he states, “The problem with making assumptions is that we believe they are the truth.” We can witness ourselves in these various postures and it’s important that we do. We can’t change our behavior until it is actually seen. But if we truly wish to address the ways in which we create more difficulty in our lives we need only be willing to examine our thoughts and emotions, especially those that are reactionary. Bringing awareness to these patterns of behavior is like deprogramming. Eventually, we become emancipated from our habitual responses. The false I will then have less material to shore up its imaginary existence.
We need quiet periods, a respite to restrain our operating system. Meditation is not cogitating or pondering. It allows us to slow down to where we can then observe the process of mind, like a sentinel. Don’t think of this as something active, of “doing.” Remember as a child lying in the grass and looking up at the sky? Remember that feeling? Things happened in the sky, clouds moved and such but we didn’t feel a need to do anything about it. This would be good to remember.
Focus is vitally important but not by engaging the faculty of our optical system. Percival says, “The focus faculty centers other faculties upon the subject to which it is directed.” When we want to understand something we stay with it. We keep our attention on point, whether it’s what car to purchase or a loftier understanding of something. In this case, our intent isn’t turned toward a subject as there is no subject to be understood. Rather, it’s returning to the Reality we already know; so there is just this very moment, not reliance on the senses that produce the false reality that we take for being true. Passing thoughts are just noted and the impulse to respond to them is noted as well. Without continually parenting them into existence we diminish the power of these thoughts to govern us.
We keep getting waylaid by our own longing. As thoughts pass through we grasp at them to make them offer up something we want. But they are ephemeral, ever changing, like the constant flowing river. There is nothing we need do about them. Our true state is beyond things or personage. When we quiet and feel without expectation we train our Being to let be. We have the capacity to do this. We have created boundaries that limit our ability to see past false beliefs. In our true state we are unfettered, boundless. This will be perceived when we are ready, not when we choose. Gratitude and appreciation for this everyday life that offers opportunity to realize our potential is no less a welcome benefit of easing our grip, taming our desires. Psalm 46 states, “Be still and know that I am God.” We could say this another way, “Be still and know God.”
This world of dew
Is only a world of dew
And yet . . .
This is an abridged version of the article published in The Word Magazine Vol. 31 No.2 Summer 2016