We had a lovely meeting in Kingston at the Druids’s Head Pub yesterday, and it’s amazing how a spontaneous teaching can apparently arise through interactions with others. This morning I felt moved to write down some of what was said, so here it is:
Towards the end of the apparent seeker’s apparent journey, the very interest in non-duality or liberation itself becomes a hindrance. What are you looking for? And who or what is looking?
The answer to the first question is you are looking to feel better/not feel bad. The answer to the second question is that it is the illusory ego/’small self’ that is looking. So the seeking is perpetuating the ego, or the seeking is the ego.
The ego/mind can logically start to realise that lasting freedom cannot be found in any object whatsoever, gross or subtle, and it can also recognise that all experiences or states of consciousness, no matter how lofty or sublime, are all objects that are fleeting and so eventually lead to suffering and so push the motion of the hamster wheel that is called samsara (suffering). Therefore chasing experiences and states of consciousness is not the answer – this just leads to more suffering.
What is the solution?
1. It can be seen that there is no lasting satisfaction resulting from the search, so there is no point to seeking.
2. It can be intellectually known that Liberation is not an object and that Liberation must already be here (if it exists at all) if it is something permanent or lasting.
Reflect on these.
More fundamentally than either of these 2 above, which are both forms of ego-intellectual understanding, it can be seen that there is no person/body/mind, that these are illusory appearances that we engender with an artificial sense of self by conceptual projection and overlay and self-reinforcing labelling of felt/perceived energies.
Put simply, there is no-one here. There was never anyone here. It was all just an illusion in consciousness (when this is seen, then it is also seen that the path to enlightenment and the spiritual practices are also illusory). We don’t even need to use the word consciousness really, but it can be a useful pointer.
No person, no problem.
Meditate/reflect on this: as long as there is a person (ie. belief in being a person, or thinking the body or mind are real), there is suffering, and there must be suffering, for the body is subject to change and decline and all the other things that come along with this that you can hopefully reason out for yourselves.
Lastly, may I point that all of this is a teaching, and these words work to remove the ignorance. The teachings are antidotes given to the seeker and wielded by the seeker. No words are the truth. Please read the above in this context. The words are never quite it (and of course they are it, as everything is it, and there is no ‘it’, ‘it’ being just an expression…oh dear!)
Pranams and blessings to you
Think of it this way: there is never a doer, even when thought says there is one. This knowledge can set you free. Don’t worry if it seems like you’re a doer. It’s just like the sun rising and setting – it seems like the sun is orbiting the earth, but the knowledge is there telling us that it is the earth that is orbiting the sun.
Don’t worry too much about the appearances or whether or not you get lost in thoughts. Sometimes, in fact very often, thoughts needs to express themselves, and in expressing themselves you can learn about yourself on the human level/level of the mind. A bit of worry can be quite good, as it helps us prepare for future events.
Know well that even performing tapas (spiritual practice) and yoga with the intention ‘I should become an instrument in the hands of the Lord Siva’ is a blemish to complete self-surrender, which is the highest form of being in His service.
(Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 471)
Sri Sadhu Om’s Comments:
Since even the thought ‘I am an instrument in the Lord’s hand’ is a means by which the ego retains its individuality, it is directly opposed to the spirit of complete self-surrender, the ‘I’-lessness. Are there not many good-natured people who engage themselves in prayers, worship, yoga and such virtuous acts with the aim of achieving power from God and doing good to the world as one divinely commissioned? It is exposed here that even such endeavours are egotistical and hence contrary to self-surrender.
In Freedom, you don’t care about love, or any other projected ideal.
You don’t try to be more ethical. Maybe you are more loving, maybe you are not.
That’s why this automatically tends towards love – because there is no motive, because the ego is not at play. It may go against intuition but love does not care about love.
Love just is when things are seen for what they are.
To put it more poetically, in seeing truth (of no-self), love is.
The above is an excerpt from the article Love, Happiness and Non-duality
This post follows on from my previous post: Why seeing/understanding alone may not be enough
This understanding of no doer may initially take time to become embedded, and you may have to ‘practice’ it to start with. It’s just like many other forms of knowledge:
Take the example of a child learning his (or her) name. At first he doesn’t know his name. Upon his parents repeating his name to him multiple times, he finally starts to realise that his name is ‘Tom’. Maybe at first he forgets his name a few times and doesn’t respond when someone calls him. After sometime it becomes ingrained and embedded into his mind and he no longer has to think about it.
Eventually he can’t help but know his name. When someone calls out ‘Tom’, he automatically knows someone is calling him, whether he like it or not.
It’s the same with the understanding ‘there is no doer’. Initially the understanding may be a bit shaky, but after sometime, after repeated practice, after going through the logic behind it a few times and seeing the truth of it, it becomes more ingrained. Eventually it becomes effortless as knowing your name.
To be continued in my next post: Problems with utilising conceptual tools
This post follows on from my previous 3 posts relating to the body:
- Do you know for certain that you are the body?
- Are you or are you not the body?
- Why does understanding the body matter?
Seeing this is not always enough
However, for many people simply seeing there is no doer is not enough. Why? Well we have lived our lives for many years with the deeply ingrained belief that we are doers, with the belief that we are the creator of our thoughts and instigators of our actions. This habitual belief is not so easily washed away, and even when seen, it can continue to operate and cause us to suffer.
In vedanta a common methodology used to counteract this is to utilise a concept that opposes and counteracts the ignorance:
‘I am not the body’ is a tool by which one can weed out the ‘I am the body’ notion.
Practice of the knowledge ‘I am not the body’ is a conceptual tool by which one can weed out the belief in ‘I am the body’ concept.
Note that ‘I am not the body’ is a concept. If believed in, ie. if considered to be genuinely true, it would be a belief. You do not have to believe a concept is true in order to benefit from it. You can use the concept either way, whether you believe in it or not.
To be continued in my next post: Integrating the understanding of no-doer
When the doer* is seen to be an illusion, an imagined fiction, the sense/feeling of being a doer may still continue. The sense/feeling of being a doer can arise like any other phenomena arises.
And notice – it arises spontaneously, meaning there is no doer there doing it. You see! It can be seen that even the sense of being a doer is something that has no doer behind it – it just happens, by itself.
So, in my daily life I often feel like I’m doing things, but there is an understanding there that there is no doer-entity doing it. It is all just happening.
This is the difference between experience and knowledge/understanding: I may feel like a doer, but I know/understand I am not a doer.
It is similar to realising the sun does not orbit a stationary earth, even though the appearance of the sun rising and setting each day continues. Or if you realise that a mirage is an illusion, the illusion persists even when not believed in. The sense of doership can continue even when the understanding ‘there is no evidence for a doer’ is present.
*By doer I mean the notion of being a separate entity which creates or authors thoughts and actions
Q: But who sees there is no doer? Isn’t it the ego itself that sees through the illusion of self?
I use the word ‘ego’ to be synonymous with ‘doer’. Because there is a belief in being a doer, there is the notion that ‘I can change this’, ‘I can get somewhere better’, which is the seeking. This seeking is a subtle form of suffering.
When the doer is seen to be false, the seeking starts to collapse, and suffering fades.
To answer your question: who or what sees there is no ego? That which previously saw the ego is that which sees there is no ego. It is never the ego that sees: the ego is a construct of thought, which is always the seen.
Question: If there is no doer, then how does the notion of responsibility fit into this? If there is nobody here, then surely there can’t be anyone responsible?
Tom: This teaching is not an excuse to act irresponsibly or unethically. Responsibility is an important part of being human, and it is a phenomena that arises by itself from time to time, like any other phenomena we experience.
By responsibility I mean a natural sense of caring, affection, consideration, thoughtfulness and desire to take care of the people, animals and world around us.
As far as I can see, when we free ourselves from illusions of a separate doer/self, the energies in the human organism naturally tend to balance out. This is because the distorting centripetal factor of egotism (I define ego as the belief in being a separate doer-entity who creates thoughts and actions) is no longer at play. And when the energies in the body are harmonious and in balance, the body-mind naturally tends to become responsible, kind and loving.
It’s just what tends to happen, and it takes time, depending on your conditioning which in turn depends on the culture, environment, genetics, etc.
And it’s not just responsibility, it’s true for a whole load of so-called positive qualities such as love, sensitivity, kindness, thoughtfulness, empathy, openness, being non-judgmental. These just tend to arise, by themselves, when the doer/ego is seen to be non-existent.
Q: So there is no doer, but these things happen by themselves?
Tom: Yes, exactly. Of course it doesn’t have to be like that. Perhaps the energies in the body don’t balance out and the heart doesn’t open and these loving qualities do not express themselves. In Freedom it doesn’t really matter. There is no attempt to be more loving or to be more responsible – that would just be the ego striving for an ideal. Freedom doesn’t care for these artificial ideals and does not try to conform to imaginary notions. But precisely because there is no self-motive, these qualities naturally tend to arise.
And if these qualities don’t arise that’s ok too. This is Freedom: whatever happens is whatever happens, no judgement, no motive, total forgiveness, and nobody doing any of it.
Q. But I think there’s another type of responsibility, not just the sense of responsibility for others and caring for those around you, not just being responsible for the people and word, but a sense ‘I am responsible for my thoughts and actions’. And if you do something wrong, then you are ‘responsible’ and accountable for that. What about that? Does that exist if there is no doer? (To be continued in a future post)