Enlightenment: What It Is And How To Get It

church_hillThe purpose of this essay is to get you to understand Enlightenment – what it is and how to attain it. To attain enlightenment is sometimes referred to as Waking up, which is a shorter way of saying Awakening to Enlightenment – but what that actually means requires some further explanation.

So what does ‘awakening’ mean?

In order to understand what Awakening to enlightenment really means, we need to first understand the nature of reality – and the short version goes something like this:

You’ve seen the movie The Matrix, right? If you haven’t, please go and do that now. But assuming you have, envision the matrix but without anything outside. No machines, no big computer running things, no space, no time; nothing at all – in fact, there isn’t even an outside. Are you imagining it? That’s our reality. Put differently, there is no material universe out there beyond our experience. There are no atoms. No planets. No stars. No space. There’s only subjectivity. There’s only this ever-changing field of experiencing otherwise known as consciousness or awareness.

That’s the short version. The long version—where I actually provide the proof for all this—is detailed in my book; and this essay is somewhat targeted to those of you who already read it but are now ready to step off that cliff and turn these truths into a living reality.

Anyway, the key point is:

  • There’s no objective reality – there’s only experiencing

But to the un-enlightened, things don’t seem that way. Rather, it seems as if we’re human beings walking around on planet earth; as if we exist as physical entities in a universe of time and space. It seems as if we experience an objectively existing world – as opposed to, let’s say, a field of subjectivity that’s perpetually transforming, morphing and modulating itself – which is how the awakened experiences life: as a mere flow of ever-changing phenomenality.

But why does it seem like we’re entities in a universe that exist independently of us? Why does it feel like there’s me on the one hand, and something else that’s not-me on the other? It’s because of the way in which we divide our experience.

Undivided experience

Now, here’s the thing. Our experience isn’t actually divided. There is no separation in the way we usually think about it – that is, the triad of seer, seeing and seen that we tacitly assume is present is never actually part of our direct experience. That division simply isn’t there. But let’s go through it in detail so you can see what I mean.

First we’ll investigate whether a seer, a subject, can be found in direct experience.

Go on. Find your self.

Have you looked yet? You can look all you want, but you won’t find anything. We can’t find a subject, because if we could, we would have to admit of a further subject, to which whatever we just found is known – making what we found an object, not a subject – And so, ad infinitum.

That’s one reason as to why we can never find a subject – we’re logically precluded from doing so.

The other reason would be: there simply is no subject. Remember, there is no objective reality. The presumed seer doesn’t exist – nothing does. There’s only this field of experiencing.

So the key insight here is:

  • No subject can be found in direct experience

Okay, now let’s turn to vision and see if we can find another element of that triad – the ‘object.’ In other words, let’s find out whether we can find something that is ‘seen.’ (I’m using vision in this example, but the same exact principle applies to all sense modalities.)

First, let’s state some self-evident facts.

  • The objects of our visual experience consist solely of colors.
  • That is, nothing is given in direct visual experience except colors.
  • In other words, we don’t see objects and their colors – we only see the colors.
  • Put differently, nothing is found in vision other than patterns of color.

Now, here’s the thing: While the presence of color is what we mean by the word ‘color,’ the presence of color is also what we mean by the word ‘seeing.’ (Now, think about that until you realize that I’m actually right – or read more about that here)

Therefore, we must concede that ‘seeing’ and ‘color’ are merely different words for the exact same thing, namely ‘seeing.’

In other words, colors aren’t ‘colors’ in the way we usually think about them – glued to objects, waiting to be seen – instead, what they are is nothing other than seeing itself.

And since the ‘objects’ of our experience consists solely of colors, we must now understand that they actually don’t – what they’re really made out of is ‘seeing.’

And finally, the last step in this reduction is to simply understand that ‘seeing’ is just another word for awareness. Awareness, or consciousness, doesn’t signify a thing – these words simply refer to the presence of seeing, feeling, hearing, tasting, smelling and thinking.

To summarize:

  • There’s no subject given in experience.
  • There are no objects—or ‘colors’—given in experience.
  • There’s only ‘seeing’ or awareness.

Non-dual awareness

But although our analysis reveals that there’s only awareness—only seeing, feeling, hearing, tasting, smelling and thinking actually going on—the unenlightened still feel like there’s a me—a subject—in here, behind the eyes; a seer that perceives a multitude of objects out there, in the world.

Why?

It’s because of a specific mode of perceiving that makes it seem as if experience is divided although it’s actually not. This affliction is known as samsara, or simply bondage. It’s our ordinary way of looking. It’s what makes it seem like there’s a seer, seeing and something seen.

But there’s another mode of perceiving possible – the undivided way.

Non-dual awareness.

The phrase ‘Awakening to enlightenment’ signifies the moment where we shift into that other mode of perceiving. It’s the moment of cessation of the division that makes it seem as if there’s a me, a subject of experience, and a not-me, the object of experience – leaving only pure seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling, tasting and thinking; simply non-dual beingness without any sense of being a subject that experiences objects. The sense of being an observer; a witness of experience; vanishes, and instead one’s sense of being shifts to encompass the entire field of experience. ‘Awakening’ denotes that actual shift – ‘Enlightenment’ is where we find ourselves afterwards.

But true enlightenment is more than a profound shift in perception. It’s a deep realization of the non-objective nature of reality; of the hollowness of one’s self – it’s a revelation of the fallacious nature of objectivity; which inevitably leads to a total rewrite of the way we think, act and feel.

Key insight:

  • Awakening to enlightenment means that we shift into another mode of perception wherein experiencing no longer seems divided into a me and a not-me.

Now that we know what we’re shooting for, let’s discuss how to actually get it.

The end of ignorance

If we are to cease dividing experience into me and not-me, it’s useful to understand why we perceive in this way in the first place.

Why do we perceive in terms of subject-object?

Due to our culturally imposed world view, the act of perceiving is interpreted in terms of what could best be described as something like a camera model. That is, we think of ourselves as cameras, moving around, looking at stuff. And the field of experience is our view, wherein the objects of experience briefly appear as we apprehend them with our sensory faculties. That’s the universe-model in a nutshell. Now, let’s break it down into detail.

When we encounter an object in direct experience, essentially the following happens (let’s pretend we see something – a box, for example):

  • A particular pattern of color is conceptualized as an ‘object,’ which has a wide range of connotations attached – such as, it’s a space-time entity; it has mass; it’s made of a material, etc. In other words, the concept that we have to represent this percept has attached to it a bunch of other concepts, all of which contribute to our idea of what it is – making us forget that it’s really nothing but patterns of color – which is nothing other than ‘seeing,’ or awareness itself.
  • Now, because it’s an ‘object,’ there’s another fundamental connotation involved – namely that of it being perceived by a subject. Which is us. In other words, according to our universe-model of reality, whenever an object is present in our experience, it is so because we as its subject has encountered it. That is, our field of view simply happened to slide past that object. Put differently, the very presence of an object implies us as its perceiving subject. It’s the camera model of perception. Just as the presence of images on a TV screen imply that they were apprehended by some camera, the presence of an object in experience implies that it’s being perceived by us as its subject.
  • So the very notion of an ‘object’ entails the presence of a subject that perceives it. It’s built in to the concept. We cannot help but see ourselves in this way under the universe-model, because every encounter with an object reaffirms and reminds us of our existence as its subject.

Now, if we were to abandon this model and instead adopt some other model, wherein we, let’s say, turn percepts into concepts with entirely different connotations than those that we currently have, our experience of the world would naturally start to shift.

But what if we had no model at all? Not because it would be a ‘better’ way to live life(it is), but because we have through careful inquiry realized that the very nature of models as such are based on a fundamental error of thought?

We would start to see reality as it is before any conceptual overlay. We would, in effect, be at a ‘ground zero’ state. No longer would it seem as if we’re a camera moving about in the world – instead, what we previously thought of as the world, we now abide in – finally – as the very flow of phenomenality itself. With no model laid out over experiencing there’s just pure non-dual beingness. And that’s the enlightened mode of perceiving. Ground Zero.

So, there are actually two steps to this process. The first step is to realize that the division that we think is there isn’t. The subject-object model that we have is not representative of what’s actually going on. If you look right now you’ll see that there’s never any subject nor any objects given in direct experience – which reveals that the subject-object model of experience is entirely a mental fabrication – it all hinges on our beliefs about reality.

The last step is to pick apart those beliefs. To refute objectivity. To disprove the external world – so that we can abandon the universe-model and instead shift our experiencing into non-dual awareness.

Endgame

So stop fucking around. All of this deconstructing-your-ego business that everybody’s preaching these days is just a waste of time. Nothing dismantles an ego as effectively as pulling the rug out from underneath its existence as a space-time object.

Moreover, there’s certain movements on the internet that specialize in pointing out something that goes like this:

“Although there’s a body here, there’s no self in it. There’s just a brain doing the thinking and a body doing the walking, etc.”

That’s just pure nonsense. The idea of a self is the idea that there’s a space-time entity with perceptual capabilities – it’s as simple as that; and no amount of this kind of reasoning will ever ‘liberate’ you if you still believe that there are subjects that perceive objects.

In order to awaken, you must deconstruct the universe-model of reality – you must understand exactly how and why that model is false, so that you can begin to untangle the subject-object knot of perception that’s standing between you and reality in its infinite form.

Get real. Declare it with force and finality, and you’ll soon find yourself in full appreciation of the beauty and power of that which has always been staring you right in the face.

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101 Responses to Enlightenment: What It Is And How To Get It

  1. Susitha says:

    Thanks Goran for this clarity. I have purchased your book and it has really helped me. I am glad I followed my instinct

  2. alain says:

    Goran, what do you mean by experience?

  3. pete rivers says:

    who or what then is that that does the experiencing, who or what is that that does the thinking about, the writing about and the talking about the experiencing and ABOUT the subjectivity of it all? about about about

    • Göran Backlund says:

      Dear Pete,

      experiencing need not to imply an experiencer, just as raining need not to imply a rainer. A stream doesn’t require a streamer and thunder doesn’t need a thunderer. In ancient times people did believe that thunder was caused by a thunderer, but we have since long abandoned such beliefs – perhaps it is time to do so also in the case of experiencing!

  4. Chitiz says:

    If objective reality is untrue, then how can you write all this and expect “someone out there” to read it? Isn’t this a contradiction?

    • Göran Backlund says:

      Writing, speaking and acting in the game doesn’t require a belief in an objective reality. I don’t find it pointless to talk to “someone” just because i’m aware that neither of us exist other than as phenomena. There’s a game going on and it runs by itself. I don’t control the character – there’s no one in control, no one to whom people need to objectively exist in order for there to be meaningful to speak to them. Everything is unfolding according to the principles of this game – and it seems like apparent communication between characters is a cornerstone of the progressing storyline.

      Your question boils down to “Why bother talking to people when they don’t exist,” or “why move out of the way when a speeding car approaches – neither you nor the car exist,” or “why bother putting the left foot in front of the right – nothing exists.” But the answer to all of these questions is that you don’t decide anything – whatever happens is simply freely manifesting phenomena, outside “your” control – and that is the case whether or not that phenomena manifests as “writing to other characters” or as “putting the left foot in front of the right.”

  5. Helen says:

    Enlightenment is to return to our true nature of LIGHT. That’s why it is called enlightenment. The LIGHT is indescribable with our commonly shared words. It needs to be experienced, not talked about. With LIGHT, there is also direct knowledge, LOVE, BLISS and unlimitedness.

    • EvenStar LoveAnanda says:

      You can not return to somewhere that you have never left.
      Yes you can say, your true nature is the Transparent-Light of Awareness.
      Even now you are This. (Enlightened or not)
      But this is also just a feeble concept, to describe the Indescribable-Mystery.

  6. Mira Prabhu says:

    Goran, I enjoyed your excellent article and appreciate the clarity with which you respond to comments. You know what you are talking about — which is more than I can say about a host of others on the net who are so eager to promote themselves as gurus for money or fame or whatever that I have pretty much stopped reading anything said by anyone who claims to “know” reality. I myself wrote a novel on enlightenment set in ancient India and in the process morphed myself…there is still a pretty strong notion of identity, but i know that notion will burn away as i deepen my own awareness — from finite to infinite. I do this with a daily sadhana of Atma-Vichara — and when I say daily, I try to practice this awareness at all times — sometimes it kicks in after the event — i get angry, sad, whatever — and only later see these as just experiences rising in the field. Thanks!

  7. annanimm says:

    What happens when two subjects meet? Because we’ve all had moments of talking to other people and noticing that our perceptions or experiences of the same thing – and of each other – was different. Does the other person exist outside of your experience of them? Because I think of enlightenment as learning to see how my experience of others has been conditioned by my own perceptions, thoughts, ideologies, expectations, assumptions … and how I was not truly seeing the other openly, or closer to what they “really” are. Perhaps to see the other *completely* as they really are is impossible, since it is never separate from your perception – but I think you can change your perception to be less caught up in your own mind and more genuinely attuned to the “reality” of the other person. Does such a distinction even make sense in your terms?

    • Göran Backlund says:

      Hi annanimm,

      Two subjects can never meet because there are no subjects at all. There is no objective reality in which such subjects can meet. I think you’re really asking whether there are other ‘experiences’ out there. But how can that question make sense if there’s no “out there”?

    • Kristoffer says:

      Hi annanimm:

      Another way to say what Goran just did, is like this:

      Awakening means changing the way you perceive from a divided ‘mode of experiencing’ to an undivided. What happens is that the ‘thing behind the eyes that feels like it’s the observer of the world’ literally disappears, and so does every other ‘thing’ that was hidden ‘inside’, ‘behind’ or ‘beyond’ the appearance of present reality.
      So, do you see how your question doesn’t really apply to reality? If the ‘the observer behind the eyes’ disappears, both in yourself and in everything else – there is no one ‘meeting’ or ‘experiencing’ ‘someone else’, because what you mean by that is that ‘two observers who are located behind the eyes’ are meeting, experiencing each other.
      These two entites, these two observers, they aren’t present in reality. They are just conceptual ideas with no real referent. This is what can be understood logically, and later directly experienced to be true in awakening.
      There is just this present moment without anything ‘in it’, ‘behind it’ or ‘beyond it’ to experience it. This moment is simply itself as what is present. In awakening – when the ‘divided mode of experiencing’ ends – this is what happens: you stop feeling like you an ‘observer behind the eyes’ and instead start to feel like you are this moment itself, impersonally, and when that happens, the idea of ‘meeting’ or ‘experiencing’ ‘someone else’ is forever made impossible.

  8. Rex Riley says:

    “Stop fucking around.” That may one day rank right up there with the nuggets from Ramana, Nisargadatta, etc.

  9. EvenStar LoveAnanda says:

    You say that needer the Self nor the Object exists, yet there is experiencing of them happening or existing.
    But you do not define what you mean by existing or not existing.

    Let me define None Existence.
    By definition none existence, IS NOT.
    So if something does not exist, there can not be any interaction with it or from it.
    Or if something is perceivable, you can not say it does not exist.
    Apparently it exists in some way.
    The question then becomes, How does it exist?
    That takes care of none existence.

    However existence being a positive concept is more complicated, there can be different types of existence.
    Mainly None-Composite-Beingness (The ground of Being), Composite-Existentials (Objects or Shapes if you will) and Epiphenomena (Illusory Happenings).

    Notice I am not saying in what way these things exist.
    I am only saying these are perceivable things.
    Because even if they exist only conceptually, even then that will be a type of existence.

    So the question is not that the apparent things and phenomenon exists or not, but a better question would be since they do exist somehow, (because they are perceivable)
    in what way do they exist?
    Or how do they “conjure” their existence?
    How do they achieve their apparent existence?
    This type of questioning would allow a deeper examination of the nature of Reality.

    See where I am going with this?

    I submit, that this is a totally different, unconventional way of examining the nature of Reality/Existence.
    This should bring less confusion, then just flatly denying the existence of apparently exiting things.

    Cheers!

    • Dennis says:

      Exactly! Well put.

      Reality is infinite intelligence at play. Denying other people, and moreso – other people’s thoughts, is a fallacy.

      It’s easy to assume that other people’s thoughts don’t exist because you don’t perceive them, yet they do. Their thoughts exists just as much as yours. It is all one infinite WEB of interconnectedness of which at the base, the root, everything is connected, despite *apparent* separation.

      Denying the body and the brain is also a fallacy. There are bodies all over (even though that’s just a label for that mysterious happening we call ‘a body’) with brains in them. You see (even though there’s no seeer, just for the sake of explanation) because there are eyes/brains. It’s NOT that the eye sees an object, it’s rather that the whole scene of seeing, including eye/brain and apparant object is ONE WHOLE. This means, that there are other points of view in this mystery than just the one ‘you’ experience right now.

      Fractal holographic reality, vibration(frequency) are the keywords here.

      Much love

    • Göran Backlund says:

      Hi Dennis.

      No, it’s not a fallacy. But thinking that these things do exist; believing that time and space and bodies and brains are real, that they exist independently of experience is however very much a fallacy. You can read more about that here: No Objective Reality

  10. Karsten says:

    there is one thing i wonder about, that i hoped you could address. I see in my direct experience that there is no ‘me’ and no experienced object: only experiencing. Or non-dual awarness(ing).

    but it also seems like this only happening : experiencing, is dual.
    because different people see different things. i dont se your thoughts and you dont see mine.
    how is this happening ?

    (i agrree that it is an assumtion that other people have different expereinces than me: like the assumption of me or “other people”… i dont know.. maybe this is the belife that still justifies the butchering of life into fragments :)

    thanx

    • Göran Backlund says:

      If there’s no objective reality, then how could other people who supposedly have other experiences, exist? How could the concept of “other” have any purchase unless there’s an objectively existing reality of time and space? The notion of “other” depend on space and/or time to be objectively real, because it draws its meaning from spatial or temporal concepts (think about in what way something could be “other” unless divided spatially or temporally from something else – hint: it can’t)

  11. Mimi says:

    Hi Goran

    Thanks for all you do. I have some questions that really perplexed me for the longest.
    If experiencing doesn’t need an experiencer or rain doesn’t need a rainier, are you saying it just happen cause it’s life? If so, why life wants that while it can live without it? Since there is no ME or WE exist and if I am an alcoholic or a murderer or a child abuser and on and on, is it life happening without the doer so I or WE not responsible?

    Thanks,
    Mimi

    • Göran Backlund says:

      Your first question boils down to an old famous one: “Why is there something rather than nothing?”
      The answer is that there isn’t – there’s only nothingness, or no-thingness, and every bit of somethingness is entirely fabricated in thought.

      The answer to your second question is: yes, nobody’s responsible for anything. That is, assigning blame to someone for doing bad stuff is based on faulty thinking; namely that there’s free will. However, that’s not all what the word ‘responsibility’ means. ‘Reponsibility’ need not to be coupled with the concept of blame. Look up responsibility vs. blame on google perhaps.

  12. Vitor says:

    Hi, if all people perceive the same object doesnt that mean that there really is an objective object or reality? That question puzzles me

    • Göran Backlund says:

      Hi! Well, if there is no objective reality, then there aren’t really different ‘people’ to whom objects appear, are there? Where would these people exist? ‘People’ don’t perceive – they are _perceived_.

      This ‘evidence’, these different accounts from different people is only evidence if one has already presupposed an objective reality wherein these people exist – otherwise it isn’t evidence at all, but simply appearances on the screen of consciousness.

  13. Vitor says:

    Thanks for the prompt answer! How does your thinking differ from solipsism?

    • Göran Backlund says:

      I have a yet to be published post about this. Here’s a snippet from it:

      “But, in order for the question of solipsism to arise, one have to first superimpose the physical structure of ‘perspective’ onto awareness. That is, one has to imagine a camera model of perception and then ask the question “Is there anything outside of this view?” or “Are there other views?”

      But there cannot even be an outside—there can be no place in where “others” do or don’t exist—unless we first superimpose this physical perspective model onto awareness.

      The imagining of ‘this perspective’ invokes the very same spatio-temporal context that we pointed out as nonsensical when we first invalidated the ‘other’ perspectives. That is, we can’t claim that this is a ‘perspective’ unless we believe that it exists objectively – and that there could be others, but aren’t.

      The model we conjure up, the ‘perspective model’ basically looks like this:

      http://www.chadvernon.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/frustum.jpg

      It’s a physical, or geometrical structure with tha shape of a clipped pyramid. The question of solipsism, or “Are there other points of sentience”, or “Are there other arisings in awareness” all depend on this geometrical structure for its context. Without this structure being taken as truly existing, these questions stop making sense.

      Not only the notion of “others,” but also the notion of me depend on this structure. It’s easy after one has had some realization to believe that everything within the “view”—that is, everything within this imagined structure—is myself; I; consciousness or whatever. But that leaves something outside of myself, something ‘other’ that may or may not exist. In other words, the notion that this is a ‘view’ depend on there being something outside of it – even if that something is just nothingness – and that is what makes it possible for this question of solipsism to arise in the first place.”

  14. Hami says:

    What are your thoughts on enlightened action? It is possible, I think, to have an enlightened awareness, but to feel very strongly that your actions are unenlightened, that there is a problem with how you act according to your nature. Any thoughts on that?

  15. Leland Small says:

    I understand the ultimate truth is nonduality, but why does the concept of duality arise to separate into many? Is the goal of life or being awareness to return to ground zero without subjectivity and objectivity or experience creativity? In other words,”chop wood, carry water”, seems to be a worthy endeavor in light of what exist before and after these appear to exist.

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  18. George says:

    Are you not potentially making the error here of confusing sensory experience with the entirety of what is (in the sense of patterned reality)?

    There may be no “out there”, but there is an “in here”. A “world” does exist, and is real, just not in the manner we assume; it is not independent of mind; it is dissolved within it, our sensory experience being an unfolding into attention of particular aspects of that pattern.

    • George says:

      EDIT: Ah – you cover your view better elsewhere, in other posts. Things are real at what they are, they just are not what you think.

      And free will / identity is a matter of (illusory) perspective, I’d say…

  19. Steve says:

    So, I’m married with two kids. Can this be done and I still live with my family, who I then realize don’t exist as I think they do now? Could four awakened people live together, each knowing the others don’t exist? I suppose it will be a moot point by then, right? Can one awaken and then choose to step back into the dream out of magnanimity for non-existent beings?

    Thanks; the process has started…

    • steve says:

      perhaps one way to think of this would be that, since other “people” would continue to “act their roles” in the perceptual field, there’s no reason why “my body,” (which is also in the perceptual field) would not continue to play along, as the thoughts, desires and emotions of this body would be nothing more than other mere occurences in perception. is that close?

  20. RC says:

    Dear Goran,
    Thanks for your articles.
    Please enlighten me….
    So my wife is just a bunch of colors, sound, smell, sensation and tastes?
    Does the care “I” feel from her have any value from an enlightened being’s point of view?

    • Göran Backlund says:

      Hmm, what do you mean by value? The love you feel for her is just as much part of ‘her’ as the colors, sensations and tastes. It’s just all part of the unfolding play.

  21. RC says:

    Dear Goran,
    Thank you for your prompt reply!
    I’ll think about the “unfolding play”.
    Have a good day!

  22. RC says:

    Dear Goran,
    Just wonder if you still say “I love you” to family members? And how have they been coping since your awakening?
    These are sincere questions (in case I didn’t set the tone right).
    Have a good day!

    • Göran Backlund says:

      Yes! Love arises as part of the unfolding play! And so is any attempt to express it.

  23. RC says:

    Thank you Goran!
    I have bought your book!

  24. Chrisinbliss says:

    A master lived by himself in a hut on a grass-covered hill. One day, two students visited him to enjoy a picnic. As they were making fire, the master overheard this dialogue.
    One student said, “Look at this log. Is it inside or outside of your mind?”
    The other replied, “From the highest point of view, everything is in the mind. So the log is ultimately inside the mind.”
    The master bowed to the student and said, “Good sir, your head must be extremely heavy, as you are able to carry a log this large inside your mind.”

    The above discussions — even the non-conceptual approach — ultimately hinge on the idea that one’s own insight can actually be the truth. Anyone who has studied a little bit of Kant will know that this itself is an assumption. “A person can know only what he ‘can’ know.” (which implies that if there is anything one cannot know, then one wouldn’t know it).

    Yes, it is absolutely ‘right’ that within one’s own experience one can realise that there is no subject-object duality. And it is even blissful and peaceful, no doubt, and it is most joyful path to live life compassionately. Does this make it true? We can never know, due to the very subjectivity of it all. Simply not admitting subjectivity and objectivity through an extreme advaitic non-conceptual approach makes a lot of sense, yet it doesn’t make it true.

    Also, ironically, it can be an extreme form of “controlling everything” by subjecting everything to the power of one’s own insight.

    When the insight has matured that we cannot actually know anything, — even though it seems we have known the ‘truth’ once we accept the pure subjectivity free of subject-and-object, — then one begins to be in complete awe once more at “why is there something rather than nothing”. Then one begins to live (or be lived) by the deep sacredness of simple unbounded presence free of conceptuality and non-conceptuality, free of knowing and not-knowing, which is simple compassionate living.

    • Göran Backlund says:

      hi, thanks for your comment!

      The philosophical bedrock upon which my writing stands is the deconstruction of objectivity that I lay forth in my book. Your criticism makes perfect sense–if you haven’t read my book. Give it a try!

      Ps. Insofar that the log is in the mind, the guy’s head would be too.

  25. Chrisinbliss says:

    Dear Göran,

    Thank you for your response.

    Fully agree with every single point in your book — of course one could point out that you haven’t been overly original, as the deconstruction of objectivity emerges from Zen, Advaita and Dzogchen as well as the more ‘intellectual’ writings of Michel Foucault, Derrida and others (before rejecting the latter it would be worthwhile reading them and coming to appreciate how they have brought this beautiful discourse even into the academic world).

    Also, as mentioned in my previous post, fully agree with you that this is the ‘ultimate’ realisation the mind (or consciousness if you will) can come to, i.e. that within the unboundedness of pure subjectivity there can be innumerable ‘objective’ appearances, all of which are still purely subjective and thus clearly are only appearances within consciousness. And this realisation is total bliss, true happiness and satisfaction — there is no doubt about it and ‘straying’ from this ‘(non-)path’ makes no sense at all once one has realised it.

    My point is a different one — my point is that having said and realised all this, if there is an ounce of humility left in a person, one would ‘still’ have to admit ‘other’ possibilities (which we simply wouldn’t have the capacity to know the truth of). For example, it could very well be that our universe is a digital ‘simulation’ by some other order of species in another more ‘objectively real’ universe. This would be an (improbable yet nonetheless possible) explanation of why there is an immediate dissolution of subject and object the moment a ‘person’ seeks out consciousness. Are you able to admit some validity to this point?

    Or, for example, if an Abrahamic world-view were ‘somehow’ true (personally I do not think so) and the universe is a ‘real’ creation, then the reason for the subject-object dissolution might be the very complete ‘freedom” that ‘God’ has allocated to human beings, i.e. the complete freedom to choose any world, any moral system, any life-style that consciousness wishes to choose. In this scenario, the dissolution of the subject-object split would simply be the very freedom that ‘God’ has given to us to choose.

    In an even worse scenario, the fact that this subject-object dissolution happens could simply be an ‘epi-phenomenon’ of the brain, i.e. when we relax totally and ‘consciousness’ falls upon itself, then it dissolves the subject-object split automatically (just like it does in deep sleep, only there it is more or less unconscious). In this scenario, although it is utter bliss, it would be simply be a brain phenomenon and you would be deluding yourself to think this is a ‘universal’ truth.

    To sum up, I just want to caution you from falling into the epistemic trap that your ‘insight’ is automatically the supreme truth, even though it seems so and even though consciousness without subject-object split is unbounded and timelessly blissful — personally, like you, I am also convinced that this ‘insight’ actually ‘is’ the truth (therefore I shake your hand and salute you), yet I am simply more cautious and humble in claiming that this is the ‘truth’.

  26. Chrisinbliss says:

    Dear Mark,

    Thank you for your beautifully eloquent stream of words.

    As mentioned earlier, am in full and total agreement with every single nondual point you have made. Certainly only absolute infinity makes sense — although we need not call it absolute infinity — the Buddha for example gave ´it´ no other name than ´thusness´ (that is how it is-ness) and used only radical emptiness to uncover ´it´: an emptiness which is also empty of true existence. Giving ´it´ a name is never more than that: a name, an objectifying, a reifying. Giving it a name and talking about it is in itself meaningless.

    In any case, I would like to describe my earlier point from a different angle: Although it is the only idea that makes sense to you, it still need not be true. It could simply be the only idea that makes sense to a certain mode of thinking and experiencing, a certain group of humans, as the ultimate possible expression of their thinking and speaking. This is evidenced by the fact that some of the brightest and smartest representatives of science on the planet simply do NOT agree with us (while thankfully some other really smart ones do).

    Let us come back to some basics: If absolute infinity is ´true´ and awareness is absolutely infinite, your enlightened awareness here should have the capacity to be infinitely creative. Can you lose weight instantaneously simply by being aware of it? Perhaps you do not need to lose weight, but what about the poor lady down the street who has been suffering from it since middle-school? Can your infinitely creative awareness simply wish her weight ‘away’ in one infinite swooosh?

    To put it differently, why is the universe and our actual experience of it, so lawful? Such rigid and clear-cut laws of nature? And all this quite independent of what you wish in your our infinite awareness.

    How does the identity of absolute infinity and awareness which you and Göran (and me) subscribe to deal with the fact that the apparent illusion of the universe is so lawful and that the world is based on so many rigid ´rules´ of nature? We may experience in uncontaminated bliss that multiplicity is illusory and exists only on the backdrop of infinity, but you will still shout ´outch´ when a bee stings you as you sit enlightened under the bodhi-tree.

    This is exactly why my cautioning comes in. True enlightenment is not concerned with knowing or not-knowing, with elaborate eloquent descriptions of particular grand views. A truly enlightened person can admit to simply not-knowing — something that simple ordinary people do all the time. When asked who created the universe, the Buddha said he did not know, but that it was not relevant, because knowing it would not relieve suffering.

    In contrast, I suspect your and Göran´s reply would be very extensive, going into all the details — but these would be simple assumptions on the backdrop of an elaborate conviction.

    There is a difference between being psychologically enlightened and truly enlightened.

    The sign of a truly enlightened person is a stream of total compassion — not creating grand teachings, making followers and arguing one´s point.

    I would like to share a quote of the Buddha:

    “Coincident with the development of a happy, glowing,
    thought-free awareness is the birth of authentic compassion,
    which is like the love a mother holds for her only son,
    except that here the love is directed towards all beings roaming
    in samsara who lack the enlightened vision.
    This compassion is a very special feature of enlightened vision,
    and this you must know.

    After you have resolved that all things are empty,
    if then in your conduct you
    abandon virtue and no longer shrink from vice,
    you have fallen under the spell of a demon of infinite and intense evil.
    It is crucial to avoid this demonic pitfall.”

    Therefore, instead of staying within your epistemic realm of knowing, let us abandon knowing and not-knowing and really arrive at this stream of complete compassion.

  27. Chrisinbliss says:

    Dear Mark,

    You have completely hit the hammer on the nail. You have said it better than I ever could have. Thank you for acknowledging the non-knowing (I´m not sure Göran, or most of the neo-enlightened teachers, would acknowledge this).

    You couldn´t have said it better or clearer. Self-evident awareness is not a knowing and not a non-knowing. That is why we cannot brag about its knowledge and ´teach´ any related doctrines.

    Your understanding of emptiness is also exactly to the point, i.e. the total deconstruction — and it is also the deconstruction of deconstruction. In the deconstruction of deconstruction I feel the powerful stream of compassion arising, because after this non-knowing flashes forth even as merely a glimpse, there is no other sensible choice than to be compassionate.

    In the remarkable words of Nagarjuna:

    śūnyatā sarva-dřşţīnām proktā nihsaraņam jinaih
    yeşām tu śūnyatā-dřşţis tān asādhyān babhāşire

    The Victorious Ones have described emptiness as the giving up of all views.
    Hence they have also described them as unaccomplished for whom emptiness is a view.

    I shake your hand and wish you the very best and auspicious luck on this pathless path of joy and compassion.

  28. Chrisinbliss says:

    Dear Mark,

    I also went through this process of not accepting any authority — until I realised in a rare moment of humility that I couldn’t be the first person in history to have realised this. I think this moment of insight is the readiness to go back to the tradition.

    You can then begin to adore the Victorious Ones (the term is a bit grand, yes, but that’s what it is) without succumbing to their authority simply because they are authorities.

    This process is circular and never ends, because at some point you will find something that annoys you about the teachings, which you feel you know better or could have said better, or a feeling arises in you that following in anyone’s footsteps is inadequate. In such moments you abandon them once more (killing the Buddha), but then, after some time, you come to deeply appreciate them once more — because, you once again realise that you couldn’t have been the first person to realise this. You couldn’t have been the first ‘consciousness’ to realise itself. And in that moment you are in the tradition.

    The height of ignorance anyone can entertain is to disparage the tradition — especially Zen and Dzogchen — just because it is tradition. Taking such an approach is ultimately akin to seeing oneself as “the magnificent marvellous mad Madame Mim”.

    May all be auspicious!

  29. Chrisinbliss says:

    Oh dear Mark, now you have lost me.

    Without these traditions we wouldn’t even know about enlightenment or nonduality. Look at how the Western religious/spiritual traditions evolved before they came in contact with Advaita and Buddhism. With the exception of perhaps a few selected mystics, in spite of all its scientific achievements the West remained completely absorbed in the Abrahamic doctrine for nearly 2000 years. This alone shows you the great value of the nondual traditions as vehicles of wisdom.

    I also strongly advise against any of the neo-enlightened teachers and most current Indian gurus — as you say, mots of them are conmen even in a real sense, not just a spiritual sense. Most of them simply use the spiritual world for purposes their livelihood, selling books, making disciples. No doubt.

    Yet therefore avoiding all the traditions is a fallacy. See what 8th century Shankara, the founder of Advaita (and you wouldn’t know a thing about Advaita had he not existed), had to say:

    “In all the three worlds there is no metaphor to describe
    a true teacher who grants realisation.
    If one were to suggest the touchstone (the philosopher’s stone) as a metaphor,
    though it is said to transform whatever touches it into gold, into its own substance,
    nevertheless, it does not transform them into a touchstone.
    And yet the true teacher makes equal to himself
    the student who has taken refuge at his feet.
    Thus, although he is in this world,
    he is without any comparison.”

    This having been said, I have a nagging doubt that you are too strongly influenced by the Indian nondual tradition (and JD Krishnamurti in particular).

    In contrast, if you are open to the Tibetan nondual tradition, you will see that dependent origination — that all phenomena, people, beings, etc. are interwoven and arise together — goes hand in hand with emptiness. Now you may rightly object that this is merely a doctrine. Nonetheless, dependent origination is different from the Advaitic tendency towards solipsism — your “because you’re me.” Tibetan nonduality doesn’t require this type of frantic view of ‘unity’ and ‘oneness’ versus ‘multiplicity’ and ‘manifold phenomena’.

    Here reality is neither one nor two nor three, so there are no extremes — there is no need to elaborate reality as “The fact of the matter is that there is only one sentient being, and you’re it, because you’re me. You’re not a person and you’re not talking to a person.” — all these statements and ideas become unnecessary in natural spontaneous presence. Neither one nor two, neither eternal nor changing.

    Although Advaitic (Indian-type) nonduality can rarely accept this, Tibetan nonduality is different in the sense that it can freely accept multiplicity. There is no narrowness, no endless ‘neti neti’ infinite regresses.

    I do not need to say that I am one with you, because that’s just nonsense (we wouldn’t be writing), yet I can still be a nondual practictioner in the Tibetan sense. If this doesn’t make sense to you, perhaps try to find out more about it. You might realise actual freedom and spontaneous presence and thereby the value of the tradition.

    May all be auspicious!

  30. Chrisinbliss says:

    Shankara would like you. These are all his arguments against the Buddhists. With these arguments he is said to have driven them (us) out of India.

    In my humble opinion you became stuck in emptiness because you lacked a teacher, and a Yidam, a Chosen Deity, as well as the ability to relax a bit from yourself.

    But Shankara was certainly enlightened — his body dissolved into light in the end like the Tibetan rainbow bodies — so it’s alright if you follow his radical style.

    Just relax a bit. Everything is alright as it is.

  31. Chrisinbliss says:

    Well, in this case I still hope you’re glad to know that this is entirely Shankara’s view you are ‘manifesting’, i.e. these are his arguments against the Buddhists, this is his radical nonduality that doesn’t permit any dream in the end. His ingenious definition of illusion, ‘maya’ is ‘ma ya’ (Sanskrit for “that which is not”) So you’ve basically ‘pulled a Shankara’!

    I think it’s lovely how we Buddhists and (unawares) Shankara Advaitins are still fighting it out like an old couple after so many years. Good luck to us! And may the truer one win!

    In any case, be happy with yourself as the only authority (what if you just got it wrong nonetheless? Ever thought about that?) and may all be auspicious!

  32. Chrisinbliss says:

    It is certainly a compliment for someone to produce, from his own explorations, the very same arguments that the founder of Advaita produced. It was Shankara who brought the Mandukya-Upanishad and all the other Upanishads back into the limelight through his expositions. Whether you accept something such as history (Shankara himself doesn’t) or not, he was certainly the greatest exponent of ‘radical’ nonduality in history, perhaps second only to his teacher’s teacher, the great Gaudapada who famously said:

    “The son of non-existent parents is born neither
    through maya nor in any other way.”

    “What does not exist in the beginning and in the end
    does not exist in the middle.”

    “Multiplicity does not exist through the nature of reality,
    nor somehow through its own nature.
    Separation or non-separation simply do not exist.
    This the knowers of truth know.”

    In fact, on a more humorous note, I was initiated as a monk in the Shankara Advaita tradition at the age of 13, mastering Sanskrit and Shankara’s expositions in a highly traditional orthodox Advaita monastery. After many years of radical nonduality, I gave up my vows and became a ‘householder’. And then, after a few more years, I discovered the immense vast objectless consciousness-space of Buddhism, in which there is neither self nor non-self to grasp but where spontaneous presence unfolding in boundless creativity itself is reality. So while you ‘pulled a Shankara’, I ‘pulled a Padmasambhava’.

    Oh yes, enlightenment humour is the best possible humour — because, according to you, it doesn’t exist! (while according to me, it exists as an ungraspable phenomenon in the infinite expanse of consciousness-space)

  33. Chrisinbliss says:

    By the way, a perfect description on the essential difference in attitude between Advaita and the pathless path of Buddhism:

    Advaita:

    “Arise, awaken and rest not till the goal is reached.” —

    essentially reflecting your and JM’s frantic radical striving for truth.

    Pathless Buddhism:

    “Sit down, awaken and rest till the goal is reached.” —

    essenceless-ly implying that you can simply relax, because you have already arrived and all is fine. Completely relax and dissolve.

    May all be auspicious because it already is auspicious!

  34. Chrisinbliss says:

    Your caveat is famously called the “enlightenment disclaimer”.

    Nice chatting with you, too!

    And back to reality!

    May all be auspicious

  35. Göran Backlund says:

    Hi chrisinbliss, sorry for taking so long. I’ve been away from the internet.

    If you agree with every single point in the book, then you must have granted that even the possibility of an external world (whether a material one, or a simulation, or turtles all the way down, etc) involves a logical contradiction; and is therefore logically inadmissable. There can be no more the possibility of an objective reality than there could be square circles out there. And this has nothing to do with humility. It’s about logic. It’s not humble to admit for the possibility of square circles. It’s just fuzzy thinking.

  36. Chrisinbliss says:

    Dear Göran,

    I meant that I agree with the nondual points — in the sense that they correspond to the nondual traditions.

    Invoking logic is always a risky endeavour: Logical thinking is itself based on regularity in observations. We wouldn’t know about logic (and its opposite: illogical thinking), if there were no multiplicity and natural laws. It is like saying that it is not logical that the earth should be round because people would fall off (many people said this in ancient times and laughed at those who entertained that the earth is round and said this was ‘logical’). But as observations progressed, logic itself advanced with them and it became ‘logical’ that people don’t fall off. But logic can be used freely (i.e. independently of observations, through mathematics) only after it has first been established on the basis of dualist observations. Therefore the powerful tool of logic is rooted in duality, not in nonduality, and trying to establish nonduality through logic will be a tiresome endeavour.

    Jnana, or enlightenment, is neither about logic nor non-logic, it is not about knowing or not-knowing.

    Most nondualists have probably never thought about a simple truth: We all speak about consciousness. Yet it has no shape or colour, no dimensions or nature of its own. We ever only perceive contents of what we call consciousness. Deducting that there ‘is’ consciousness, because we infer it from seeing other people and contrasting them and ourselves with stones and so-called ‘inanimate’ matter does not help. The entire nondualist scene (except for one particular tradition) is talking about consciousness as if it were an obvious sine qua non, yet no one has ever seen consciousness or has a shred of proof that it exists more than as an inference — because we ever only perceive contents. When someone says ‘I realised that I am pure consciousness’, this is simply wrong, because what has happened is that such a person has only realised that he/she has such a thought — this is simply a powerful verbal narrative.

    No one has ever seen consciousness, my friend. It is a phantom. The same way no one has ever seen existence. So saying that everything arises in consciousness, consciousness is the creator of everything, or of illusions, or whatever else you want to say about it, is actually only based on an inference. And that very inference requires a dualist world to work.

    Disclaimer: This does not stop me from being a nondual practitioner. I am so full-heartedly. But I can easily admit that reductionist materialists have a point when they say we might be deluding ourselves in assuming there is such a thing as ‘consciousness’ and that it is the ground of being (what ‘being’ — no one has ever seen being, we only see forms).

    Moreover, in some particular traditions, it does not matter at all that consciousness and existence are such phantoms. The very space of their unfindability, that we can never find them (even though they are so self-evident, which they actually aren’t), is the free space of true meditation where neither knowing nor non-knowing is necessary.

  37. Chrisinbliss says:

    Welcome back, Mark! There is a Sanskrit saying “jagaama sa yathaagatam” — “he went as he returned” — it well applies to you.

    None of your arguments are wrong in any specific way — this is because you already have your own realisation. Otherwise you would be so clear and lucid. Although, I disagree that raw uninterpreted experience is dual. I think there is something quite non-dual about experience without conceptual elaboration. Just before you begin to conceptualise, it is non-dual.

    All I can do is share my own and see if you feel it resonates. Or in the magnificent words of Shankara (although he is the wrong man to quote here, his words still resonate within my youthful memories), “I do not wish to convince you but to free you.”

    I assume that in line with your arguments the important “emptiness is form and form is emptiness” formula is not important to you. However, if you give it a chance, this formula resolves the problem (and in a sense, reconciles the irreconcilable where JM failed miserably and as a consequence needs to hide himself from the public) — because emptiness and form are inseparable. Samsara and Nirvana are the same reality. There are no two truths, a conventional (relative) and absolute (parmaartha), although I gladly admit it was my dear friend Nagarjuna who came up with this silly idea in the first place (but thank the deities the Nyingma Tibetans got rid of it again).

    If you accept the formula not merely as a formula, but as the key to realisation (and ‘total awakening’ — although the term ‘awakening’ is such a boring term) — then you will realise better what I mean by “everything really is fine”.

    As regards the substratum-related arguments of yours, these make sense from a logical point of view. But even there, they lead to an infinite regress — because, truly and really, how can you sensibly argue that this substratum does not require another substratum?

    The Upanishadic sage Yajnvalakya famously reduced “the gods” from 330 to 33, then from 33 to 3, and finally from 3 to 1. Brahman.

    I see the Buddha simply went a step further and discovered the 0.

    You feel that reality has to be 1 in order to be the substratum of the many. Why can ‘it’ not be 0? Because your logic and ‘conciliatory’ urges revolt against this. This revulsion actually is ‘atman’ — as you yourself rightly said (and in a much more Buddhist tone than could be expected of you as an unawares Shankarite). The revulsion is the grasping for self. Whereas accepting 0 is actually the infinite — which, as you say, of course is not infinite in temporal or spatial terms. The infinite is not 1, it can never be 1. It is 0. And just because it is 0, it can be all other numbers while remaining 0.

    Now you may feel that these are silly ideas or that this is irrelevant. But is it really? 0 means non-grasping, non-clinging — and it is in this moment that form reveals itself as emptiness and emptiness as form. Nothing disappears. It all remains just as it is (tathata, “as it is”). No reconciliations are required. No substractions, no trances, no effort. Simply peace.

    Now you may say this is all nonsense, but is it really? Is it not rather that 1 is nonsense? Because 1 means ‘total grasping’ (1 is the very nature of grasping), whereas 0 means non-grasping any object or subject, non-clinging to any object or subject, the utter freedom, the blowing out of the candle (nir-vaana, ‘blowing out’).

    May all be auspicious!

  38. Chrisinbliss says:

    Mark,

    The artificial separation of mind from reality is the problem. There is no such separation. The mind is the Buddha. So saying something is ‘of the mind’ while some other order of reality is not (what nonsense to create such a construct and false dichotomy) is simply not seeing that the mind is none other than the Buddha — emptiness is form and form is emptiness.

    As a mere conviction, this is all nonsense.

    But as the key to realisation it opens the door to the unbounded reality which your mind, this very ordinary mind, is. No trances, no subtractions, no additions, only “as it is” — and a vast flow of pure compassion, like an ocean of nectar, directed towards all beings who are suffering because they lack realisation.

    JM doesn’t see that this ordinary mind of yours is the Buddha. Instead he seeks the Buddha in ideas of infinity. That is why he is in hiding.

    “But he who sees that all beings are reality and reality is all beings
    has no desire to hide himself from anything.” (Ishavasya Upanishad)

    May all be auspicious!

  39. Chrisinbliss says:

    Mark, last but not least, I think you are at 0.5 — so very close!

    As the great Jalal-ad-Din Rumi said,

    “O you who have made ready your bows and arrows!
    The game is close to you, yet you shoot too far off.
    The further a man shoots, the further off he is,
    and the more removed from the treasure he seeks.” (Masnawi)

    Now the key question to explore immediately is: how far off is 0?

    May all be auspicious!

  40. Chrisinbliss says:

    Mark,

    I think that once two minds reach the point of cross-posting, the process of enlightenment is complete.

    All these problems (or should I say “neti neti obsessions”) are resolved by the formula “emptiness is form and form is emptiness.”

    There is no getting closer to final realisation because it is not a place to go to. I mean this quite seriously (in contrast to most other things). It really is not any place to go to or reach.

    Once you overcome your “neti neti obsessions” (which actually simply arise from the obsession with the 1 — because none else can be the 1 so one keeps denying everything and rejecting it as an ‘object of perception’ — why this meanness towards objects?), you will simply see that form is emptiness, and then you will smile like a rainbow. Let us replace the word if you wish. Let’s replace it with reality. Form is reality and reality is form. So where is the problem?

    The problem is that most nondualists expect the universe (“phenomena”) to vanish upon realisation. Where should it (they) vanish?

    An even greater problem is that this realisation is not spectacular enough for most people, so they bypass it with a “so what?”

    This “so what” is the source of suffering and suffering is the source of the “so what”.

    May all be auspicious!

  41. Chrisinbliss says:

    Mark, I love you too — you have a genuine heart, the best soil for the flower of knowing to bloom.

    Well, purely from a comfort point of view, I still sit ‘on the cushion’ as long as the day’s schedule permits it — sometimes only 2-3 hours, sometimes more. Now you can frown upon this as “what ignorance! – to meditate!” a la neo-enlightened people. Or you can see that there is no difference in comfort and ease sitting on the cushion or going through your day being kind to all beings (on weekends I like collecting snails and slugs from footpaths and delivering them to the grass; my wife thinks that’s just insane).

    Having said this, such comfort and relaxation do not emerge from striving but from recognition. The direct introduction of the Great Perfection unveils the natural state. This is called the base. Then there is the conduct. And from this follows the fruit. All this happens in the ease of the natural state that the practitioner has already recognised.

    The problem with our tradition is that it prohibits sharing too much of this — otherwise I would be jumping from forum to forum — because as you said, each to his own. There is no convincing to do.

    But you have such a beautiful mind already, therefore I think you should really explore it. Perhaps it will resonate!

    Jagaama sa yathaagatam — he went as he returned!

    May all be auspicious!

  42. Chrisinbliss says:

    Mark,

    I fully agree that for people outside of the tradition these may be just statements.

    But, as the Upanishad says, “aacaaryavaan purusho veda”, “the person who has a teacher knows”.

    Reality is self-evident — you are seeking ‘it’ in ideas of non-phenomena. These ideas are themselves phenomena. What, therefore, is your (and most nondualists’) problem with phenomena?

    Relaxing completely is not laziness, a mental concept or any reification. It means relaxing from all conceptualising, all statements and ideas, all knowing and non-knowing. It is not a grasping for a truth. This is the natural state. Only a teacher can introduce you to the natural state directly. All other approaches are gradualist and renunciation-based.

    Yet you have already had glimpses of it, but you weren’t sure this is the ‘final’ thing. A teacher would have helped you and confirmed that it was and is. Realising this, instead of grasping for another truth, is the treasure. The natural state is like the sound of a tiny bell in a hall where a thousand people are shouting at each other.

    I think your biggest issue may be that you have a strong conviction that there is a truth to know and that as long as “…” doesn’t happen, truth is not known. What is this “…” you are waiting for? The idea of truth is an Abrahamic tool of weilding power over others. Many nondualists continue on that track. Yet there is no non-truth.

    From one of our sacred scriptures (may the deities forgive me for posting it here):

    “When you realize the clear light of mind’s nature,
    the pundit’s words of wisdom are redundant.
    How relevant is another’s description of the taste of treacle
    when your mouth is full of it?”

    “Now listen further, all my best beloved sons and daughters!
    No matter what system of mind-training you practice,
    unless you realize the nature of your mind, severing its root,
    you miss the point of the Great Perfection.

    The errant aspirant blind to this imperative
    is like the archer who places his target to the front
    only to shoot off his arrow in another direction.
    He is like the houseowner who searches outside for a thief
    who is still in the house;
    like the exorcist who sets his spirit-trap at the west door
    when the demon lives in the east;
    like the poor man who begs,
    blind to his hearth-stone of gold.

    Therefore, my beloved children,
    you who wish to resolve life’s frustrations and anxieties
    by the direct method of discovering the nature of mind,
    examine your minds in the following way:


    …”

    I cannot tell you more. It would be against tradition. Please find out for yourself.

    May all be auspicious!

  43. Chrisinbliss says:

    Mark,

    I totally agree — by the way, the word ‘I’ appeared sixteen times in your post. That is auspicious because the moon of realisation is said to have 16 kalas or phases.

    By the way, I really have no particular teacher (so am not doing fishing on a guru’s behalf here) — but I simply have respect for the tradition as a whole, for the tradition’s teachers as a whole.

    To close, here is a poem for you which I composed in Sanskrit some time ago, along with with a translation:

    Křpā-kusuma-daśa-ślokī
    Ten Verses on the Flower of Grace

    křpā-vegena bharitā
    cetanā’nanda-harşitā
    sva-samvedanam āśritya
    svādarśe svam samīkşate

    Filled by the force of grace,
    awareness is elated with joy
    and by resorting to look directly at itself
    perceives itself in the mirror of itself.

    *

    svānanda-magna-hřdayam
    yonau tūşņīm-sthitam yadā
    svārtha-śūnya-nididhyāsāt
    paramārthah prakāśyate

    As the heart is immersed in its own joy
    it becomes relaxed at the source.
    Now meditating one’s own reality as emptiness
    ultimate reality shines forth.

    *

    tatra śrī-lalitā-devī
    kāmeśvara-samanvitā
    śiva-śaktyaikya-rūpeņa
    parā samvit prabhāsate

    Here the sacred Playful Goddess
    united with the Lord of Desire
    as the union of the peaceful and the dynamic
    radiates as parā samvit, supreme awareness.

    *

    śuddha-sphaţika-varņābhā
    sarva-varņopaśobhitā
    saudāminīva jhaţiti
    prādurbhavati sundarī

    With the luminous colour of a pure crystal
    beautified by all possible colours
    the Beautiful One appears suddenly like lightning.

    *

    samudra iva sampūrņā
    vyomavad vyāpta-śūnyatā
    paramānanda-lasitā
    hřdayākāśa-hamsikā

    Completely full like an ocean
    pervasively empty like space,
    shines as supreme bliss
    the lady swan in the space of the heart.

    *

    koți-koți-sahasrāņām
    rayīņām arņavā divah
    ekatreva ca samjātā
    loka-lokātma-yonijāh

    Billions and billions of waves of light rays,
    as if come together in a single spot,
    born of the source and true nature of all the worlds.

    *

    amuşmād adbhutāt tattvād
    astitvam sarvam udgatam
    viśvam tad-ātma-vad dŕşțam
    ananta-bhuvanodgamam

    From this wonderful reality
    all beingness has sprung forth,
    All is permeated by her nature
    whence infinite worlds arise.

    *

    tato’nantā virūpāś ca
    lokā lokāh pravāhitāh
    agni-leśā yathā vahni-
    samudrād iva sarjitāh

    From her, endless and varied
    worlds after worlds flow forth
    like drops of fire
    emerging from an ocean of fire.

    *

    kāla-pravāho na jñāto
    ghațī yāmā dinam tu vā
    satyam ekam anekam vā
    sarvam devīmayam jagat

    The flow of time unknown
    a minute, an hour, or a day –
    truth may be one, or many,
    but the world consists of the Goddess.

    *

    sarvāvasthāsu sā jyotsnā
    komalā śaraņam bhavet
    etān yaś ca pațhecchlokān
    so’pi hŕcchāntim āpnuyāt

    In all states
    may she, the tender moonlight, be the refuge.
    And may the one who reads these verses
    attain the heart’s peace.

    May all be auspicious!

  44. Chrisinbliss says:

    …an account that I just liked!

    But only green asparagus! The white one is too boring.

  45. Chrisinbliss says:

    Yes, your teacher is great.

    In my case, I have decided to ski on that very mountain!

    May all be auspicious!

  46. Chrisinbliss says:

    Mark,

    Sorry for the late reply.

    Yes indeed that is my son and me. His name means “immortal” in Sanskrit.

    I didn’t fully understand the above comments — objectless space is keeping me too occupied.

    You are absolutely right that one needs to find out for oneself. Scripture, tradition and teachers are only assistants, no doubt.

    I take the “ācāryavān puruşo veda” – “the person who has a teacher knows” in the following sense. The “me me” nonduality (where it’s all about me and me finding out for myself, etc.) can lead to a state of isolating oneself from reality, people, phenomena, whereas the “we all in the same boat of grace” nonduality allows the realisation that the minds of all the great teachers are all-pervasive like space. Simply isolating oneself from this sweet truth by denying it all and withdrawing into oneself from everyone for no proper reason other than ‘finding out for oneself’ can lead to severe narcissistic tendencies that haven’t much in common with a compassionate enlightened mind.

    Now off to the East! (I will probably be unable to respond for a while)

    May all be auspicious and may you be happy!

  47. Chrisinbliss says:

    Dear Mark,

    I was in India for the past two weeks, therefore apologies for not replying to you. In India we are supporting an orphanage (as an expression of compassion and social empathy, not as a boast or testimony to truth).

    Regarding your ´rants´, I do not think they are narcissistic or delusional. There is a lot of ´truth´ in them. But I do want to point out that your obsession with ´truth´ is another problem. In my view (you may call it ´humble´), there is only experience, simple naked experience. Truth is a strategic judgement that follows once we have experiences that seem threatening.

    But ´truth´ as such is an illusionary idea. There is no illusion and truth. There is simply experience. And within the field of experiences there are choices, some seem freer, some seem less free — whether any are free at all, we don´t know. Yet, to me, it seems like an unwise choice to consciously first create a construct of a ´truth´ idea and then to pursue it obsessively and then to decide against being compassionate and ´for truth´. In a way, and please apologise my words, these seem a bit like the ravings of a madman.

    And yet, strangely, even Shankara and even many Buddhists have fallen into this terrible truth trap — where they first postulate that there is an absolute truth (an idea that they have just created at that very instant) and then they get into the whole problem of truth-untruth, disillusion-illusion, etc., which being the first duality is actually the source of the problem.

    This is not abstract proposal. This is simply my view, which has matured over many years of being an Advaita monk and now a practitioner in the Nyingma line of Tibetan Buddhism.

    So, if we take the ´neti neti´ approach seriously for a moment, then we can just as well choose waves of love and compassion as our ´temporary model of truth´ rather than a hurtful bitter attitude towards life and the universe.

    If we have the option of choosing a piece of chocolate versus a dry piece of bread, and if the choice really makes no difference (even in terms of calories gained, etc.), why would bitterly decline the chocolate (and also share some with others) and instead consciously choose the piece of dry bread?

    I have not claimed to be enlightened. Of what benefit would it be to anyone? But I believe none of the people you have quoted are either. They delude themselves into the idea that they are, because it becomes a useful livelihood. On the other hand, you could say that I am enlightened in the same or perhaps an even better way than they are. But all this has nothing to do with actual enlightened action. Enlightenment means an infinite ocean of compassion. That is the standard, my friend. For one moment come away from your abstract truth obsession and come to reality, which is love, joy, kindness and sharing.

    If you do not and continue to stay in your bitterness, then that is simply your choice, but it has nothing to do with coming to closer to some abstract truth which simply doesn´t exist but is just a verbal construct of yours.

    May all be auspicious!

  48. Chrisinbliss says:

    Dear Mark,

    As usual, these are all Shankara’s arguments against the Buddhists. He was a bit more polite though (although in one commentary passage he says that the Buddhists are like oxes imagining they have no tails and horns — maybe his equivalent during his time of your language style today).

    Hopefully you see that there is a difference between the idea of truth (as a verbal construct) and the stream of experience of ‘what is’. For the latter we do not need any evaluation or conceptual elaboration.

    Buddha never started with the idea of truth — he started with the factual experience of suffering.

    Similarly, my decision to come away fron the Shankarite absolutism you are presently in started with depressive states of mind, as I began to realise that ‘giving up the world for truth’ itself could be a great fallacy and it could mean never experiencing love, family, etc.

    I was ordained as a monk at age 3, so my move away from absolutism had a lot to do with the absolutist structures that absolutists tend to bring about. Not much compassion and social empathy to be found in absolutists, sadly.

    Then, discovering the Nyingma lineage, I realised it has all the ‘goodies’ of nonduality while also celebrating life and the universe, enjoying the bliss aspect of reality.

    So, for myself, I decided that the Shankarites are obsessed with the existence aspect of reality (sat, which also means truth). But because they are so obsessed with it, like you they turn into bitter people handing out rants to everyone else, instead of seeing how beautiful and magical reality is.

    No convincing in the world will make a Shankarite understand that reality is blissful and beautiful. Because the Shankarites only want the existence aspect, they willfully ignore the beautiful appearance aspect.

    Ultimately, when confronted with the option and still deciding to ignore the beauty, I feel it is the Shankarite’s own decision to remain bitter and hollow. Which is sad for them, and for you.

    Life is throbbing with beauty and joy — nothing is lasting, not even ultimate reality. That is the very reason why it is so beautiful.

    Something that Shankarites with their hankering after a permanent reality cannot see.

    And alas, Shankarites decide to isolate themselves from the beauty.

    May all be auspicious!

  49. Chrisinbliss says:

    Personally, I believe everything has to do with awakening — there is no experience, whether good or bad, no rant of whatever polite or impolite degree which does not contribute some little step towards awakening.

    Adyashanti is great. For the first time you’ve named a real one. The rest you named are all fools. But he isn’t. So I’m happy you’ve actually named a real one. Listen more to him. I think it will help you a lot.

    You are certainly right. Why are we still conversing? You think I am a ‘professional’. It’s simply not the case. I can argue ‘truth’ with you in a much better way than you can imagine, if you wish. For instance, I greatly enjoy going down the reductionist road. If you have a look at the very first posts I made here, they were not about bliss and joy — they were about reminding Göran to stay humble, because in the end even our blissful nondual awareness could indeed just be taking place within the hippocampus or some other gland and have no ´metaphysical´ basis in reality at all. It could all be complete quackery, even though our brains are (at least mine is very often) flooded by endorphins and other ‘sources’ of joy, possibly simply as an after-effect of extensive periods of meditation and ‘resting within oneself’. What the … do we know? Perhaps a ‘brain completely at rest while awake’ just happens to be a completely blissful brain (the same way a brain in deep sleep is completely blissful, though quite unconsciously — an equivalent which even the early Advaitins realised and used in their teachings). Maybe consciousness is merely an emergent property of a completely meaningless process of natural selection and evolution over billions of years (what, after all, could billions of years of random processes not produce? Such a long time could produce practically everything. And if we accept the idea of a multiverse, then there could be an almost endless number of universes where nothing ever happened and ours is simply one where ‘something’ happened, but without any intentionality, simply as the outcome of a completely random process of survival of the fittest in conjunction with mutations. And to ask ´where do those universes come from´ is itself silly, because why does existence need a beginning? Existence could be entirely material and not have a beginning at all. I see no problem in that. And even in such a scenario, consciousness could be simply an emergent property that happens in some universes but has no special place or meaning at all). This could all be the case and we simply will never have the possibility of knowing the ‘final’ truth about it, because we cannot get ‘out’ of our consciousness to check anything objectively. This is what I meant when I reprimanded Göran with Kant who famously said that we can only ever know that which we can know, ergo, if there is something we wouldn´t be able to know, we simply would never know it (this is really a formula no logical mind, not even yours, can ever get around).

    So you see, completely ridiculing my personal growth and insights as just being part of the ‘profession’ and me having been unable to bear depressive states of mind and then ‘returning the flock’ in some other form (I can understand your allegation very well and it is certainly a valid allegation in many cases) is really not what it was. It was a real awakening to bliss, after which I can doubt everything, absolutely everything, but not the awakening to bliss itself.

    So you can go on ridiculing me, but it really doesn´t matter to me. I am not seeking disciples or pretending to be a teacher. To be honest, you are the only reason why I continue to come back here, because you have an extremely bright intelligence — and indeed in you I can see myself from a few years ago.

    If you can awaken to the bliss that is all around you, that would be my greatest joy.

    May all be auspicious!

  50. Chrisinbliss says:

    My dear friend, I haven’t skipped the part where the mountain is no more just a mountain. Consciousness is all — in the infinite regression of pure subjectivity it is the only light that remains.

    What I maybe did not mention is that between my being an Advaita monk and then later discovering as my personal practice the Nyingma lineage, I became a complete non-theist, agnostic, philosophically epistemic relativist, a total reductionist who considered all mystics and nondualists to be lunatics.

    So the seeking process was very much a dynamic one — not at all following anyone or anything.

    Our conversation has morphed into you simply criticising me at random. You should apply the same criticism to every single teacher out there whom you have mentioned. Anything and everything can be criticised. The steps of criticising every single aspect of appearances and phenomena is nothing new. But criticism should be helpful at least to someone — is it helpful to you?

    Consciousness is the infinite space within which everything arises, but it cannot be traced itself by any finite phenomenon. It ever flows forth like an unbounded stream of spontaneous luminosity, yet it can never be seen. It is like an ocean to swim in but cannot be touched. It is like an unbounded spatiality within which all else arises, but which can never be itself traced, as all tracing occurs within its space. It is neither one nor two, it is neither speakable nor unspeakable. But yes, it is bliss — not a bliss of any extremes, but simple bliss, like the emergence of a single flower in the desert that suddenly, within a single flash of insight, becomes many flowers, and these transform the entire desert into a vast consciousness-field of flowers.

    May all be auspicious!

  51. Chrisinbliss says:

    My friend, I agree with every single statement of yours. What you say is all true.

    You are right. It is all nonsense — all thoughts, appearances, feelings etc. do not transport any truth. I saw this in 2008 and ever since have not spoken a single “true” sentence, which is why I often to like to start a conversation with someone new by saying “Did you know, I haven´t spoken the truth since 2008?”

    You and me, we both don´t matter at all to reality. We aren´t even waves — I would congratulate myself if I were at least a small wave. But not even that much.

    But when that knot truly unravels, then there is nothing to rant about anymore.

    Because as the Upanishad says:

    “bhidyate hrdaya-granthish chidyante sarva-samshayaah”

    “When the knot of the heart unravels, all doubts are resolved.”

    You are almost there — now do jump into bliss.

    May all be auspicious!

  52. Chrisinbliss says:

    By the way, Mark, inspired by you I´ve just created a page on Shankara´s nonduality — and already got close to 200 likes in just a few hours.

    Please do also like it:

    https://www.facebook.com/dailyvedanta

    No commercial activity — just sharing the beauty.

  53. Chrisinbliss says:

    “Completely settle your heart
    in the hindmost.
    Perceive well the self
    as the whole.”

    - Shankara, Upadeśa-Pañcakam (Verse 5)

    for a daily stream of inspiration please feel free to like http://www.facebook/dailyvedanta.com (no commercial activity)

  54. Chrisinbliss says:

    The greatest challenge for neo-nondualists is to uncondition themselves from the need to uncondition.

    Unconditioning has become like an obsession — but it is merely another paradigm and course of action.

    Unconditioning oneself from the need to uncondition — here lies the crux of nonduality.

    May all be auspicious!

  55. David says:

    So does this ultimately mean we are just watching a movie and we are freaking out because we can’t change it? Does free will exist? Are we actually experiencing complete determinism with the illusion that we can change things? We might as well do nothing and watch?

  56. Pablo Miller says:

    the objects of our experience also consist of touch. which includes that we cannot walk thru walls.

  57. Chrisinbliss says:

    Pablo, thank you for bringing in some common sense.

    Some of the enlightened beings here are so convinced everything is merely an (egofree) appearance of (their) consciousness that they can walk through walls.

    So thank you for this common sense comment.

  58. Chrisinbliss says:

    Mark, as a child I once walked through a glass door. I still have scars.

    May all be auspicious!

  59. Chrisinbliss says:

    Mark

    The glass door turned into several hundred thousand pieces of glass – one of which embedded itself in my foot in such a way that it took a month or so to emerge of its own accord (while it was still there I even went to a school outing at the Natural Museum in London with the big large blue whale) — which confirms yet again that reality is very much ‘out there’, too, not just ‘in here’.

    Sometimes sudden suffering is the only way to realise that consciousness does not ‘project’ everything — it might, after all, merely be an emergent property of matter particles interacting by natural laws and exchanging bits and pieces of so-called information. (While I don’t assume this is the case many respected scientists do).

    Whatever the truth be, crashing through a glass door head forward is a good way of practically realising that it is not “just a dream created by your consciousness.”

    May all be auspicious!

  60. Chrisinbliss says:

    As always, your responses are extremely witty and highly intelligent, which is why we love you and value you. I wonder what you are doing on such a forum when you could compete with the likes of Russel Peters anytime?

    The reason is that I have passed through JMK’s concepts during my 13 years as an Advaita monk. So you aren’t dealing with a neo-advaitin here but a rotten-to-the core Advaitin.

    In my personal opinion, the nondual state is prior to all conceptual elaboration — whereas for you it is all about conceptual elaboration. Therefore I counter your conceptual elaboration with common sense counter statements.

    If you experienced the nondual state, you would neither be talking about silly ego ‘energetic’ woo woo nor about JMK.

    Ego is just pride, simply a feeling — gross and subtle — that appears. There is no ‘ego’ at play anywhere, it is merely identical to pride in many facets. That’s all there is to it.

    If you experienced the nondual state you would know this. All states are already liberated, so there is no such thing as ‘ego’ — this is merely an invention by neo-advaita gurus so they can control their students’ behaviour.

    May all be auspicious!

  61. Chrisinbliss says:

    Mark, it was not my meaning that you aren’t welcome here. My meaning was that your responses are genuinely so witty that I am surprised you have not yet emerged as a stage comedian a la Russel Peters.

    Perhaps ‘enlightenment stage comedy’ would be a new genre that might be successful ‘path’ to take in case you have no ultimate successs with nondual awareness? You could invite me as a guest of honour and we could conduct an on-stage debate. As the ‘culmination’ and ‘pith instruction’ we could test the hypothesis that consciousness is primary and gives rise to everything, for example by jumping through a closed wooden door (you) and a glass door (me) in front of the audience (which will include Göran as the judge).

    For the finale, we will have Jed McKenna pop out from a hidden cabinet dressed as a pink bunny — and finally Adyashanti and Mooji levitating in above the audience to the soundtrack of Titanic.

    May all be auspicious!

  62. Chrisinbliss says:

    That is why I kept on telling you to start relaxing completely and come away from all this conceptualisation, to quote your old friend Shankara:

    “Coming out of its source the stream of water
    flows to the ocean by the downward path.
    If it just relaxed right at the source,
    would it not directly become the vastness itself?

    Thus, when the mind contemplates its own source,
    it becomes quiet within and does not arise outwardly.
    Then does it not recognise self-reality on its own?”

    - Shankara
    in: Prabodha-Sudhākara, Nectar-Moon of Awakening, 65-66

    and more importantly:

    In a secluded place sit joyfully.
    Completely settle your heart in the hindmost.
    Perceive well the self as the whole.
    See how the entire universe is effaced by this.

    Now through the power of consciousness
    let previous actions dissolve,
    and do not cling to future ones.

    Enjoy here your destiny that has begun.
    Now remain as ultimate Reality, yourself.

    - Shankara
    in: Upadeśa-Pañcakam (Five Teachings), Verse 5

    May all be auspicious and may you begin to completely relax and happily remain in the natural state that has ever been perfect and has never been contaminated by any ideas, creations, or appearances.

  63. Javier Gomez says:

    Hi Goran,

    I posted something 2 years ago or something. I couldn’t understand what you were saying, but the truth is starting to rise to the surface. I am reading your stuff and Rupert Spira’s stuff about the non dual nature of experiencing.

    I think this is what happens in my direct glimpses. There are no eyes that see. There is just one big array of colors changing form. So I don’t have a hand. The hand that lies on the table is made out of 1 thing, namely the colors white and black. I also glimpsed for 1 second that when I turn my head around in the room, perhaps I am not even turning my head. The feelings of the neck and head seem real that I turn. But I think the colors morph instead of somethign in space moving around. This I also realized for 2 seconds when I moved in the rom to check if movement was a change of colors too. Also I am not sure whether I have a body. Perhaps the body is a change of shapes and colors.

    So far so good.

    The difiiculty is in seeing ‘out there’ and in here behind something. NOt sure what this behind is. It is always behind. I can’t push myself into the colors and sounds and merge with them. I can’t see this behindness from where the colors are or sounds are. The sounds are over there, you know? I might as well buy your book, because rupert spira is a bit more difficult to understand.

    ty

  64. KS says:

    @Mark,@Chrisinbliss
    I first came across this website almost 6 months ago when I discovered someone else(Goran) had also managed to puncture the dualistic cocoon of the Universe using color as the puncturing tool and since then I have been occasionally monitoring this site for insights ( and vindication) from like minded travelers.
    I was moved at the intellectual honesty exhibited in your debate. I meant to butt in with some observations of my own, but the two of you were pouring out your experiences mirroring so much of my own, that I could not think of anything original. Am hoping the debate has not ended and it is only a hiatus. Hopefully you are both monitoring this site.

    Now, some background about me. I was born into a middle-class secular Hindu family in India and was consequently conditioned by intellectual ideas primarily west of the Radcliffe Line. As a result, even though I spent my entire childhood and my early adulthood within a radius of 5 km from advaitic centers of learning, I became convinced that science, especially Physics, had the answer to all the puzzles of the Universe. Somewhere in my mid-40s, I was lucky enough to meet a non-dualist who gave the first tug on the dualistic carpet I was on;others followed and a few years later, I was convinced the Universe was an illusion. Am now apprenticing with a non-dualistic teacher and immersed myself in the formal method of weaning away from dualistic trappings.

    @Chrisinbliss. What made you leave the the Shankara parampara and opt for Padmasambhava? Almost all your quotations are from the revered acharya and yet you chose to leave the tradition. Am intrigued.

    Looking forward to both your postings.

    KS.

  65. KS says:

    @Mark
    Here is a sample of what I got so far ..
    “..That’s the ego-centric frame of reference, and it seems to me it’s the energy invested in that frame of reference which falsely absolutizes the relative, and thereby obscures the absolute…”
    To me this is a contemporary way of saying the following:
    “The power of Maya is that it blocks the real ( the absolute ) and superimposes on the real, the unreal ( the relative )”
    I had not quiet mentally articulated in the way put forth by you. BTW my understanding of deconstructing of the ego is its suspension while parsing contrarian information. Is that what you also mean ?

    “For me, it’s the fight of my life, and it’s as personal as it gets…. It’s agonizingly slow and nerve wracking, and there’s nothing I can do about anything…”
    This is how I feel and it is reassuring that someone feels the same way too.

    My particular issue is: Until my catharsis, I used to comport myself with others with my sense of identity tied to the error. ( the error being mistaking the relative for the absolute). Now that I know better, every attempt of mine to re-calibrate my sense of identity away from the error, seems to eventually fall back into it. One step forward two steps backward. How does one get past this conundrum ?

    I hope this answers your question.

    KS

  66. KS says:

    Hi Mark,

    FYI Am reading your comments. ( ..and parsing :-) )
    I work in the IT department for a multinational and am in the middle of year end activities which should last for another 2-3 weeks. So am unable to compose a proper reply presently. Bur here is a quick rebuttal. More later. Since am presently an active Vedantic student, apprenticing under a teacher, for me, there has to be a technique. However, am well aware that one can spend years following the technique without a total conviction in the illusionary nature of the Universe. So there is something more than technique.

  67. Chrisinbliss says:

    Dear KS

    Shankara and Padmasambhava are both nondualist.

    The difference is Shankara (like Mark) only describes nonduality, whereas over the centuries the Tibetan tradition developed a full path with a nondual base, path and fruition for the realisation of nonduality.

    So while some Shankarites will realise accidentally, i.e. through grace, — like Ramana and very few others — the Tibetan tradition offers a proper path.

    Before disparaging this, please do research it and get a taste yourself — Bhagavan Shankaracharya would be the first to admit the truth of this and would congratulate the lamas for it. After all, the Tibetans after Padmasambhava had 1200 years of peaceful time to only meditate and discover the full lineage-based path, whereas India always had constant disruptive phases where lineages got broken and now only scriptures remain. Therefore Vedantic scriptures only describe nonduality — they barely as much as hint at the path. Most Indians are not aware of this.

    This is something our Indian Acharyas will therefore deny but they simply have never encountered the path teachings in the Tibetan nondual tradition.

    So while it is sad to say this, in India the path of nonduality is now merely a description. That is why you have so much confusion everywhere and no one actually realising it.

    Please research for yourself before defensively disparaging this.

    May all be auspicious!

  68. Chrisinbliss says:

    Mark

    All of the issues are resolved in the natural state.

    Best

    Chris

  69. Chrisinbliss says:

    Mark,

    No expectations, no views, no positions — that is all I can respond to you and JM’s unending stream of descriptive words that have no basis in own experience.

    Let go and relax into the primal space of knowing.

    Best

    Chris

  70. Chrisinbliss says:

    An inspiration for you, Mark:

    Neither conscious inwardly nor conscious outwardly,
    nor conscious towards both (inwardly and outwardly),
    neither conscious nor unconscious,
    not anything one can look at
    not anything one can do something with or grasp at,
    free from descriptions,
    not to be thought about,
    the essence of simple self-perception
    the complete relaxation of all appearances.

    - Mandukya Upanishad Verse 7

  71. KS says:

    Sorry, guys. When corporate america beckons, everyone has to jump;even non-dualists:-)

    @Chrisinbliss: Am not sure how disparagement was construed;in any case, my apologies;will look up on Padmasambhava; if you can, please post links on Padmasambhava. Am particularly interested on his views on the Absolute vis-a-via Shankara.

    @Mark:I looked up some of the videos you posted( even the Bruce Lee ones :-) ) and could not find myself disagreeing with any of the ones I watched. I think some clarifications are in order. Am interested in how my contemporary non-dualists were able to deconstruct the Universe and eventually refute it. Personally for me, when I realized that color is the cognitive representation of a particular band of the electromagnetic spectrum and that color does not really exist “outside”, it became my eureka moment. To quote Goran “the carpet got pulled” for me. Recently I became curious and started trolling the internet to see if anyone else had the same way of refuting the universe. After trolling many neo-nondualist websites, I arrived at Goran’s website. Am assuming most non-dualists on this site subscribe to Goran’s way of refuting the universe and am interested to know if their experiences correlate to mine. Which is why am asking all these questions.

    So I ain’t selling anything. But am buying. Very, very cautiously :-)

    KS
    PS. It is not ridiculous. fucking or otherwise. non-dualists are a statistically insignificant minority. we get laughed out everywhere except among ourselves. so keep posting.

  72. Chrisinbliss says:

    @ KS — in Padmasambhava’s tradition the colour analysis is very important to understand the emptiness of appearances. (whereas the Advaita tradition does not have this at all — so intuitively you have arrived at something of Padmasambhava’s tradition).

    Acharya-shishya-parampara is very important because discovering reality cannot be a self-centred activity — if it is just a self-centred activity you end up like Mark and McKenna completely alone and isolated.

    The point is to realise that everything is pratītya-samutpanna — it has arisen together — from nondual space. Once you realise that everything and everyone has arisen together in dependence, then you will not have the delusion that the universe will vanish for you (like neo-Vedantins think) and that nothing matters anymore then.

    Rather, you will realise the vast nature of compassion for all beings and you will vow to help all beings emerge from ignorance to realise nonduality.

    People like Mark, McKenna etc are just self-centred Westerners who have even used nonduality for centering themselves on themselves. This is based on the Western culture of being totally obsessed with oneself. This has nothing to do with the reality of knowing nonduality.

    May all be auspicious

  73. Chrisinbliss says:

    Mark,

    Quite positively surprised at your in-depth understanding of the dynamics at play.

    KS, in my personal view both Advaita and the Buddhist tradition can both result in realisation. The problem is that Advaita without the Buddhist perspective (and Mark actually has the benefit of both — which he is himself perhaps not aware of) leads to objectifying a “one” Brahman, i.e. an objective type of “substance” underlying the appearances of the world.

    Of course this is not the Advaita teaching itself — Shankara says that “Brahman” is not a “dravya” (a substance). However, it is a fact that many adherents of Advaita ultimately reach the conclusion that there is a “paramatma”, a “highest self” “out there” which contains within it everything and in which even subject and object are subsumed, but as a “one” being.

    If you are a contemplative, you will immediately see why such a view does not lead to actually knowing ultimate reality — it simply leads to a very solid conviction that there “is” “such” a “one” being that encompasses everything. Such a conviction, while a solace for many, is merely a concept rather than the direct encounter with reality that the Buddhist approach takes.

    Ultimately, the Mahayana Buddhist, Tibetan and Advaita approaches are so close that to the untrained observer they seem to be the same tradition.

    Mark is a trained observer, which is something I much appreciate about him. I also appreciate that he admits that the emptiness view can also result in realisation.

    Where I disagree with him is about tradition — in my view, it is extremely important to have a teacher (not a specific teacher or some Baba or Swami, but actually being in the tradition of teachers, the Guru-Parampara). The reason is that thousands of have known the ultimate reality. Therefore, sitting at their feet (if even just in our heart) leads to the right view (samyag-darshana) that allows the knot of the heart to be broken and to realise ultimate reality without grasping at some objective version of it (which is what many forms of Advaita do).

    Even Shankara said “na sat tan naa’sad ucyate” — which means “it can be said to be neither existence nor non-existence”. Because “pure existence” as a concept is simply a “dvandva”, i.e. it requires an opposite.

    In ultimate reality all dualities, all opposites are resolved.

    Thus it may be a matter of semantics. And I appreciate Mark for his perceptive remarks. He is one of the brightest minds around in the Internet nonduality scene.

    The last point I wish to make is that meditation is important — to learn the art of complete mindfulness and relax all grasping. However, it is Buddhism that has discovered the methods of meditation that lead to this complete relaxation of all grasping. Advaita ever only developed the “observer” technique — which is not a wrong technique as such, but which takes a false premise of actually “searching” for an observer, for an underlying reality “behind” oneself. This is simply a false premise, because you ARE reality — you do not need to LOOK for reality. Therefore the basis of Advaita meditation is a false premise that there “is” an observer “somewhere” in you, whom you need to find.

    Whereas Buddhist mindfulness meditation, when practised sincerely, leads to the relaxation of all dualistic grasping and the flowering forth of ultimate reality.

    In fact, in 1300 years of Advaita sincere Shankara, Vedanta was unable to even discover the difference between “focussed attention”, “open mindfulness” and “nondual awareness” — completely confusing Patanjali’s ashtanga system (which is focussed attention based) with Vedanta’s premises.

    Buddhist traditions, especially the Tibetan ones, on the other hand have devised clear-cut techniques of meditation which, when properly practised, outline the entire path to complete realisation.

    I do not say this as a naive follower of some tradition — I say it as someone who was a Vedanta monk in an orthodox monasteries for more than twelve years of my life and who has seen the mistakes that Vedanta comes up with. And if you are sincere and honest and have a look at Indian monasteries, you will rarely even find a monk there who meditates (this is a fact, please observe it yourself).

    May all be auspicious

  74. Chrisinbliss says:

    Mark,

    While I agree with most of your points, as regards the authority point:

    Of course it is ultimately the “own” realisation that fruitions in Nirvana — that is why the Ishavasya Upanishad said “ma gridhah kasyasvid dhanam”, “do not reach out for another’s treasure”.

    My point is only and only that you are still caught in the idea that your consciousness alone “counts”. In the Great Perfection, we say that the wisdom of all Buddhas is ever present, ever radiating, ever available to help and assist the seeker — for you this may be mere blablabla, but think about it: The enlightened wisdom of all the Buddhas, the Prajna Paramita, is part and parcel of the infinite unbounded consciousness that we know to be reality.

    It is part and parcel of “it”, because it is the nature of infinite unbounded consciousness to know itself — to be reflexively aware. And this reflexive awareness is the wisdom of all the Buddhas of all the three times, accessible and available to the sincere heart.

    Therefore, if you disparage tradition and ride on your own “authority”, how can you be so sure it is actually the authority of realisation you are riding on and not the authority of a mere concept that you have woven your mind into?

    Yes, you can apply the same argumentation to the wisdom of all the Buddhas — but therefore it is the “wisdom”, not the “ignorance”, of all the Buddhas that we invoke in meditation.

    If you invoked your own enlightened potential as your authority, then sure, you are on the right path — this enlightened potential, the dharma-dhatu, however, is expressed in bodhicitta, which is the sincere compassionate aspiration of liberating all mind streams caught in the web of samsara.

    Do you see the slight difference to your position? Your position is as if this whole “process” of negating the universe etc. was “it” — whereas for us it is merely the beginning, it is merely the outer framework of the process of realisation. To realise that the universe is an illusion is the first step, not the last.

    Whereas Advaitins, “you” and McKenna are caught up in that part of the realisation only. What follows is the stream of compassion, the Prajna Paramita, expressed in the sincere aspiration to help all beings awaken from the slumber so that they are released from suffering.

    It is such a different position that perhaps you have forgotten it? You are riding on the “how can I realise it is all illusion” level, whereas we are riding on the “what is to be done once we have realised it is all illusion” level.

    Your view, McKenna’s view etc., is only a tiny little step — i.e. realising that all appearances are illusory — but that is not the point of the enlightenment process. It is just the outer shell, the very first door, the threshold. What follows is to realise the compassionate blissful nature of infinite consciousness. Even traditional Advaita has this but it is most often forgotten because of all the constant dancing around the “how to realise it is all illusion” aspect.

    Please begin to understand that this is only a tiny little step, it is neither the goal nor truth of the enlightenment process.

    May all be auspicious and may the fragrant flower of compassion and the realisation of non-self begin to blossom forth in your heart.

  75. Chrisinbliss says:

    Mark, you and JMK would benefit from Vipassana meditation.

    May all be auspicious

  76. Chrisinbliss says:

    Vipassana would help you get over the idea of a self or stable truth.

  77. Chrisinbliss says:

    Vipassana would really help you become mindful.

    That in turn would help you to relax from this fixation on mere concepts.

  78. Chrisinbliss says:

    This may help you, Mark:

    न संसारस्य निर्वाणात् किं चिद् अस्ति विशेषणं
    na saṁsārasya nirvāṇāt kiṁ cid asti viśeṣaṇaṁ

    There is nothing whatsoever of samsara distinguishing it from nirvana.

    न निर्वाणस्य संसारात् किं चिद् अस्ति विशेषणं। १९
    na nirvāṇasya saṁsārāt kiṁ cid asti viśeṣaṇaṁ| 19

    There is nothing whatsoever of nirvana distinguishing it from samsara.

    निर्वाणस्य च या कोटिः कोटिः संसरणस्य च ।
    न तयोर् अन्तरं किंचित् सुसूक्ष्मम् अपि विद्यते । २०

    nirvāṇasya ca yā koṭiḥ koṭiḥ samsaraṇasya ca |
    na tayor antaraṁ kiñcit susūkśmam api vidyate | 20

    The angle that is of nirvana and the angle that is of samsara,
    not even a very subtle interval is found between them.

    Therefore, the only “solution” is to practise Vipaśyana where you relax from the fixation with self-concepts — then, gradually, beautifully, the nature of samsara reveals itself to be the nature of nirvana.

    May all be auspicious!

  79. Michael says:

    If I had this conversation with you in a dream at night and you persuaded me that what you say is true, I would still wake up to a different realisation would I not?

    • Göran Backlund says:

      No, the dreaming state and the waking state are merely two forms of consciousness. There’s no inherent metaphysical difference between them other than what content is coming up in view.

  80. Göran Backlund says:

    I enjoy your rants!

  81. Göran Backlund says:

    Yes, very well put.

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