logo 1

Finding What Doesn't Come and Go

on .

(The following is an excerpt from the book, Nothing Personal, Seeing Beyond the Illusion of a Separate Self by Nirmala. Part 1 of the book is available as a free ebook download here)

nothing-personal

We all want the same thing: we all want to be happy. We look everywhere for happiness-in experiences, in possessions, in other people, in pleasures, in success, but we come up empty-handed because they are not the source of happiness. We have to go to the source. But how? How do we find the source? All of these things we are chasing after come and go, so we must look to that which doesn't come and go-that is the source. It turns out that the source of everything is also who you are. You are the source of everything, but don't take my word for it. Let's discover this together. Since the source of everything doesn't come and go, it must be here right now, in this very moment. So, let's look into this moment and see what is present in it and what, among the many things that are present, does not come and go.

Let's start simply by noticing the sensations that are present. Just for a moment, be present to the ongoing flow of sensation. One of the things you'll notice is that sensations are always changing. Your sensory experience is never the same from one moment to the next. Nevertheless, there is a continuity to them; they flow from one to the other. So, while sensations do not qualify as something that doesn't come and go, they are woven together in a way that gives an impression of continuity.

In contrast, notice the lack of continuity in the experience of thought. Thoughts are very fluid. When you are present to your thoughts, you discover how unsubstantial, incomplete, and disjointed they are relative to the experience of sensations. Memories, which are just thoughts about the past, are a good example of this. You never have a truly complete memory of an experience because it would take as long as the experience itself. Most of our memories are like still photos or a series of photos highlighting something that was important or stood out about an experience. They are whittled-down, highly-edited versions of what happened. Like an amateur movie, they are jumbled and patched together, often without even a thread to the story line.

Seeing Love in an Act of Murder

on .

Q: The quote in your exquisite book, Living from the Heart, “But when we see the loving nature of even murder....” needs expansion for me.

A: When I point to love as the true nature of even a murderous act, I’m not denying the horrible tragedy that murder is. I’m only pointing out that it is love that motivates and animates the murderer, even when that love is so narrow and distorted that the end result is tragic. One quality of love is that it is caring and takes care of that which is loved. Even murderers are trying to take care of themselves or something else that they love, even though the way they go about doing that is limited, misguided, and so ineffective that the end result is terrible.

If we look deeper, we can see that all dualities in this world are really just different amounts of one thing: Light and dark are different amounts of one thing, which is light. Hot and cold are different amounts of the energy called heat. And so it is with love. Love is the energy or force that moves all of life, and yet we can experience such a tiny amount of love that that experience is a dark and cold one, so dark that it can motivate tragically harmful acts even while someone is attempting to take care of themselves.

Seeing love at the heart of every action enables us to respond with compassion and forgiveness even when we may still need to take appropriate action to stop a violent act or prevent it from happening again. So for the victim, family, friends, and even the perpetrator, the ability or willingness to see love at the core of every action makes it possible to not respond to the murderous or violent act with more violence and judgment but with loving compassion and understanding, which may begin the long, difficult process of healing the murderer’s pain and suffering and lead to rehabilitation.

Our best protection from violence is to heal the wounds in others and in ourselves that lead to violence, not to treat perpetrators with hatred, judgment, and violence (although we may still need to take appropriate action to protect society by preventing the murderer from doing further harm). It is love and compassion that will lead to a reduction in the violence and horror in this world. So anything that allows us to respond in these painful and difficult moments with more love, clarity, understanding, and kindness is a gift to both ourselves and the world.

Someone wrote to me with the following questions:

The quote in your exquisite book, Living from the Heart, "But when we see the loving nature of even murder...." needs expansion for me. Since we are only always seeing ourselves, is the naming of murder as 'evil' versus a 'call for love' a reflection of how we see ourselves? What is the true nature of love in murder? And what is the opportunity for all those involved in that event (the victim, victimizer, friends,) to rise to?

Here is how I responded:

Thank you for your good questions. First I want to stress that when I point to love as the true nature of even a murderous act, I am not denying the horrible tragedy it is. I am just pointing out that it is love that motivates and animates the murderer, even when that love is so narrow and distorted that the end result is tragic.

If we look deeper, we can see that all of the so called dualities in this world are really just different amounts of one thing. Light and dark are really just different amounts of the one thing that exists which is light. Hot and cold are different amounts of the energy called heat. And so it is with love. Love is the energy or force that moves all of life, and yet we can experience such a tiny amount that it is a dark and cold experience of love.

One quality of love is that it is caring and takes care of that which is loved. Even murderers are trying to take care of themselves or something else that they love, even though the way that they go about taking care is so limited, misguided and also ultimately ineffective that the end result is terrible.

But by seeing the love at the heart of every action, it makes it possible to respond to that action with compassion and forgiveness, even if we also need to take appropriate action to stop a violent act or prevent its recurrence. So for the victim, their family and friends and also even for the victimizer, this seeing of the love at the core of every action means that it becomes possible to not respond with more violence and judgement to the murderous or violent act. And specifically, we may respond to the murderer with a loving compassion and understanding, that may begin the long difficult process of healing their pain and suffering that may lead to a true rehabilitation (although again we may also need to take appropriate steps to protect ourselves and others and to prevent further violence). But we definitely do not always need to protect ourselves with further hatred, judgement and violence. Ultimately, the truest protection is to heal the wounds in others and in ourselves that lead to violence. It is love and compassion that will lead to a reduction in the violence and horror in this world, and so anything that allows us to respond in these painful and difficult moments with more love, clarity, understanding and kindness is a gift both to ourselves and to the world.

Both Real and Unreal

on .

Please feel free to contact me with email questions or comments that I will address in this blog.

Here is a question I received in an email:

I guess if I had to frame a question it would be: how can life, me, the world, etc. be so real but at the same time be so illusionary? Sometimes I see that I am just a presence, no one, and this is full and peaceful, other times I am very solid, so pulled in by it all. This is challenging.

And here is my response:

You are clearly describing the situation. This reality is kind of like a one way mirror that is transparent when you see it from one direction, but opaque and seemingly solid when you view it from the other side. From the inside of the illusion it looks solid and real, and from a more expanded and subtle perspective the same reality suddenly appears transparent and as insubstantial as a pure illusion. And no matter how many times you have experienced the bigger truth where it appears as an illusion, when you contract back into identification it all appears solid and real again.

But just as when you have been on both sides of a one-way mirror, you can begin to remember that someone might be watching you from the other side even if you can't see them, so too you can develop a sense of trust in your more subtle and clear perceptions. Then you can simply know they are real even if you are not experiencing them in this moment. We have this trust when it comes to physical objects. Even if you are not experiencing your car right now, you probably still trust that it exists. You can also trust your deeper knowings. They are even more real than physical objects, even if the experience of them comes and goes

PS: There is a wonderful article about this same topic by Alan Jacobs at http://luthar.com/is-the-world-an-illusion-by-alan-jacobs. I especially appreciate his point in the article that "Maya or Illusion, the powers of veiling and projection are inherent powers in Brahman". It gives a sense of how even though illusion is not real (especially in the Advaita sense where the real is that which is eternal and does not come or go), illusion is still a part of Brahman or the ultimate Reality. It is not some separate problem or mistake that needs to be rejected or denied, but an integral power or capacity of the Real that can be honored and respected and even treasured, even as its nature as illusion is discriminated. Thank you Alan for sharing your perspective.