In seeing truth, love is

mountain valley light

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

Integrating the understanding of no-doer

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

Why seeing/understanding alone may not be enough

This post follows on from my previous 3 posts relating to the body:

  1. Do you know for certain that you are the body?
  2. Are you or are you not the body?
  3. 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

The sense of being a doer vs. 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.

*By doer I mean the notion of being a separate entity which creates or authors thoughts and actions

Freedom, no doer, who sees there is no doer?

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.

Responsibility: if there is no doer and no-self, and if there no nobody here doing anything, then what about responsibility?


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: OK, you mentioned total forgiveness? That’s confused me. Why do you say that? 

Q: You mentioned earlier that the heart opens? That sounds rather fluffy and vague to me – what does it mean?

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)

Jiddu Krishnamurti: We are talking of something entirely different

‘We are talking of something entirely different, not of self-improvement, but of the cessation of the self’
Jiddu Krishnamurti

Tom’s Comments:

Seeing there is no self (ie. no doer, no independent entity that is the author of thoughts and actions) is ‘cessation of the self’.

It is not something you have to do – that would be more self-improvement.

With this insight suffering falls away by itself, as a side-effect. Not that it matters, for there is no choice, just spontaneous happening.

Ramana Maharshi: remaining quiet and aware is the state of mind to aim at

Ramana Maharshi sitting

Questioner:  There are times when persons and things take a vague, almost transparent form, as in a dream. One ceases to observe them as outside, but passively conscious of their existence, while not actively conscious of any kind of selfhood.  There is a deep quietness in the mind.

Is it at such times that one is ready to dive into the Self? Or is this condition unhealthy, the result of self hypnotism? Should it be encouraged as yielding temporary peace?

Ramana Maharshi:  There is Consciousness along with quietness in the mind.  This is exactly to be aimed at.  The fact that the question has formed on this point, without realizing that it is the Self, shows that the state is not steady but casual.

The word ‘diving’ is appropriate when there are outgoing tendencies, and when, therefore, the mind has to be directed and turned within, there is a dip below the surface of externalities.  But when quietness prevails without obstructing the Consciousness, where is the need to dive?

Taken from Talks with Ramana Maharshi, Talk 348

Tom’s comments:

The sadhana (spiritual practice) that Bhagawan recommends above is to simply remain quiet (in mind and thought) and also to remain aware.

This is self-knowledge. This is the Self.

When thoughts can come and go without disturbing this essential quality of mind, there is no need to ‘dive’ using the tools of Self Inquiry (ie. the question ‘Who am I?’). With time it may be seen that nothing ever disturbs this ‘peace that passeth all understanding’, and that nothing ever did.

It was always here, fully manifest, right under our noses.

Here is the gateway to Self-knowledge or liberation.

Zen Master Huang Po: how to remove our illusions

Q: Illusion can hide from us our own mind, but up to now you have not taught us how to get rid of illusion.

zen circle

A: The arising and the elimination of illusion are both illusory. Illusion is not something rooted in Reality; it exists because of your dualistic thinking.

If you will only cease to indulge in opposed concepts such as ‘ordinary’ and ‘Enlightened’, illusion will cease of itself. And then if you still want to destroy it wherever it may be, you will find that there is not a hairsbreadth left of anything on which to lay hold.

This is the meaning of: ‘I will let go with both hands, for then I shall certainly discover the Buddha in my mind’.

The arising and the elimination of illusion are both illusory…If you will only cease to indulge in opposed concepts such as “ordinary” and “Enlightened,” illusion will cease of itself.

Q: If there is nothing on which to lay hold, how is the Dharma [The Teaching, Enlightenment] to be transmitted?

A: It is a transmission of Mind with Mind.

Huang Po Zen Teachings

Q: If Mind is used for transmission, why do you say that Mind too does not exist?

A: Obtaining no Dharma whatever is called Mind transmission. The understanding of this implies no Mind and no Dharma.

Q: If there is no Mind and no Dharma, what is meant by transmission?

A: You hear people speak of Mind transmission and then you talk of something to be received. So Bodhidharma [the first Zen patriarch, the ‘founder of zen’] said:

The nature of the Mind when understood,
No human speech can compass or disclose.
Enlightenment is naught to be attained,
And he that gains it does not say he knows.

If I were to make this clear to you, I doubt if you could stand up to it.

Taken from The Zen Teaching of Huang Po (Chun Chou record no. 32)