Q. So, what happens when you die?
How can you know what happens when you die? No matter how you justify it, no matter how many psychic intuitions or spiritual experiences you have, the truth is that you don’t know for sure what happens after death. This question may perhaps be answered by science in the future, but we are not there yet.
Think of a time when you were utterly convinced something was true, but now you look back and realise how wrong you were. Knowledge also comes and goes. Perspectives change as we grow and mature and experience different things.
Enlightenment is beyond knowledge. Enlightenment does not depend on knowledge or the mind. Unlike knowledge and states of mind, Enlightenment cannot be attained – it is already here.
The above is an extract from the following post: Who cares about freedom?
And the winner for Best Spiritual Practice 2017 is….
I got news for you: there are many ways to THIS.
Some people may need a path, a practice or a teacher, others may not.
The way that worked/is working for you may not be the way for everyone.
At the end of it all, you are right where you began: ‘here’.
But with a difference: now you know.
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This post is continued from a prior post: Integrating knowledge, spontaneous action
Q. I’ve been reading Ramana Maharshi recently and he keeps on saying ‘I’m not the body’.
Tom: Yes, that’s right.
Q: But I don’t really hear you talk about not being the body.
Tom: Yes, that’s because it’s a ‘thorn’. Remember the phrase I’ve mentioned: ‘Use a thorn to remove and thorn and throw them both away’?
Q: Yes, I’ve heard you say that. Please can you explain it again?
Tom: Sure. The first thorn represents a wrong concept that is active in your mind and causes suffering, just as a thorn in your foot causes suffering. You then take a second thorn and use it as a tool to remove the first thorn, but then you throw them both away. If you don’t throw away the second thorn, then you now have a new thorn (concept) that will cause you to suffer.
Ramana often talks about rooting out the ‘I-am-the-body’ concept, and the concept ‘I-am-not-the-body’ is just to negate the initial thorn. But then you throw it away too.
Q: So I am not the body is not true either?
Tom: Exactly. Or, lets put it like this: for a moment just forget what Ramana says, forget what I say – for all you know we could both be talking a load of rubbish! Afterall, lots of intelligent people believe strange and silly things, and we could be no different, right? So forget what we say.
So let me ask you a question: do you know for sure that you are a body?
Q: Well it often seems like I am a body…
Tom: But do you know for sure?
Q: No, not for sure.
Tom: Good. Now, do you know for sure that you are not the body?
Q: No, not for sure.
Tom: Good. That’s our basic experience. We don’t know either way. The body appears and follows us around, as it were, but we don’t know exactly what it means. Is the body me? Is it not me? The truth is I don’t know. That’s it. That’s the truth. We don’t know. Isn’t that right?
Q: But when I say to myself ‘I am not the body’, it feels so good, it just feels really nice.
Tom: Yes, of course, because you are negating the concept (I-am-the-body) that causes so much suffering. It’s a good thing to practice, it’s a great practice in fact. If it works for you I recommend you practice it.
Q: Oh, I see, so it’s a practice.
Tom: Exactly. We are not saying don’t practice. We may need the second thorn, that’s why it is there, that’s why it is taught. So use that thorn, use that tool, practice ‘I am not the body’. When it has done its work, when it has weeded out the ‘I am the body’ concept, then you won’t need it any more and you can throw it away too.
Q: OK, I got it now. Wow, there are so many thorns, aren’t there?
Q: I often get confused about whether or not the world is a dream or illusion or not, but that’s just another thorn too, right?
Tom: Exactly. ‘The world is an illusion’ – it’s a very powerful thorn, one that benefited me a lot whilst I was seeking. But again, do you know for sure if the world is an illusion?
Q: No, not for sure…I know what you’re going to ask next…
Tom: …And do you know for sure that the world is not an illusion?
Q: No, not for sure . I knew you’d say that.
Tom: (laughing) That’s it! We don’t know either way! It’s so simple – Got it?
Q: (laughing) Got it.
Tom: so you can practice these, all these thorns. All these thorns are concepts. Use them – they are most definately useful – use them if you need them. The concepts are used to weed out the beliefs. You may need to practice them for weeks or months, but when their work is done, and the suffering has dissipated, throw them away.
Also see Ranjit Maharaj talk about this.
This follows on from my previous post.
It is an observable fact that our direct experience alone does not provide us with sufficient evidence to say whether or not objects in the world arise solely from consciousness (ie. philosophical idealism), or whether consciousness is a product of the material word (eg. the human brain) which in turn perceives an image of that material world (ie. philosophical realism).
Not that these are the only two possibilities – there other theories that could also account for our present experience, and perhaps other explanations that our limited human minds are incapable of understanding – but for the purposes of this article we will not go into this.
The point is, from our direct experience alone, we do not know if what we call the body is solely an image that arises in our consciousness, or if that image is a representation of a real body somewhere outside our consciousness which in turn gives rise to consciousness.
To be continued here: Why does understanding the body matter?
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
(This question is continued from a prior post: Responsibility: if there is no doer and no-self…then what about responsibility?)
Question: OK, you mentioned total forgiveness? That’s confused me. Why do you say that?
Tom: Well everything is just unconditionally accepted, choicelessly. That’s just the way things are. Whatever happens is whatever happens, and in that sense it is totally accepted regardless of what the body-mind thinks of it.
You could say our naturally awareness accepts and ’embraces’ everything within that happens within our awareness. In that sense there is constantly total forgiveness, or total love, not the emotional love or forgiveness, though these phenomena tend to arise more frequently, but the choiceless acceptance/love/forgiveness of whatever is happening.