What are we really seeking for?

315Seeking, seeking, seeking… We spend almost all our lives in seeking mode. Nothing is good enough. Nothing is fulfilling enough. We always want more, want something else. Something is missing. But what is really missing? What is this seeking all about?

The whole concept of liberation or enlightenment is so overrated and mystified. There is an assumption under these words that liberation is something mystical, something special that just a very few can achieve or attain, and the majority of humanity can at best fantasize about it. But is this really the case? Is liberation something very special and new that we have never experienced before? Something completely unknown?

No, it is not.

Liberation is not new to us. We all have experienced it before. This is how we came to this world. But since liberation is so familiar and so simple, it is lost from our sight.

Before learning language and concepts, all babies experience this freedom. Without thinking and thus being lost in the content of thoughts, there are only pure sensations. There is only seeing, hearing, touching/feeling, tasting and smelling. There is nothing else – just pure being.

But as the toddler starts to acquire language, thinking develops and identification with the I-thought and body is set rampant. A supposed entity emerges, being the centre of all happenings. The pure being is gradually replaced by the movie of life which revolves around the main character of the dream – ‘me’.

From then on, the attention is almost always on thoughts, on stories. The connection with felt sensations is getting looser and looser, and we gradually end up engaging in stories while the realness of life just flows by, unnoticed.

We hardly feel the taste of melting chocolate in the mouth, the touch of the light breeze on the skin, the warmth of the sun, the pleasant tingling sensations in the feet, the aliveness of the body, the gentle stroke of the clothing. All of these are missed and lost, just because the constant compulsion and addiction of the notion of ‘me’ and my story.

But deep down we feel that something is missing, something is lost, and we crave it back. We have forgotten a long ago what it feels like just to be, just to feel… So we start to seek outside to fulfil this unfulfilled longing.

But if you stop for a moment… just look around… what a beauty…

In every moment there is a sensation arising that can be noticed and felt. Fingertips are touching the keyboard… sensation of the beating heart… whispering of the wind… breathing… sunshine filtering through the blinds… pressure under the feet… felt contraction and the release of contraction in the body… taste of tea… what a joy! Just to be…

This is what we are longing for.
This is home…
This is peace…
This is love
This is the end of ‘me’.
Ah!

Feel…

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Expectations about liberation (part 1)

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What is an expectation? An expectation is nothing more than a mental concept. In order to compare it with the current experience, the current experience needs to be conceptualized. As a result, there ‘are’ two mentally fabricated constructs that can be matched up, with a ‘result’ of putting a label of either “this is liberation” or “this is not” onto the experience.

Every expectation is in the way of seeing what is here, right now. Every single expectation is a ‘hindrance’ in realizing what IS. Expectations are about the future. But liberation cannot be found in the future.

#1 Expecting that identification with thoughts and stories would never happen again

136.3Liberation is not a one-time event. After seeing through the illusion of the self, being lost in the content of stories and identification with the I-thought still happen. Because both believing thoughts and the identifying with the I-thought are nothing more than conditionings; they are only conditioned habits. And just because seeing through the illusion of the ‘me’ has happened, it does not necessarily mean that X years of conditioning will go away at once. But without a centre, a ‘me’, there is nothing they could attach to or stick to, so gradually they fall away. This falling can last until the end of the organism.

Like when you go to the cinema, being lost in the story happens with the identification of the character on the screen. But sooner or later there is a sudden ‘awakening’ with the realisation that this is just a story and the characters on the screen are not real. But in the next moment or so, being lost in the story can happen again and again.

However, every time it is checked ‘What is this me?’, ‘Where is it?’ – it is clearly seen that it has never been, except as the content of a thought – nothing more, nothing ‘real’.

#2 Believing that liberation is a meditative state

What can be experienced in meditation is an altered state, a state where thought processes lessen. But no states are permanent. Seeing ‘no-self’ is not about having a constant meditative state, or any kind of state. It is simply about seeing that there is not and has never been a ‘you’ at all that could control or govern life. There are no altered states involved.

#3 Wanting a previous spiritual experience back

Whatever those glimpses were, they are over. Finished. They are only memories, only thoughts (stories) arising now. They can be hindrances of seeing what is, if you try to compare any current experiencing with those memories. So it is better to let them go and be what they are, only thoughts (memories) arising in the present moment.

Continued in part two…

What is ‘my’ identity made of?

What is your identity? Do you have identity or are you the identity?

Are you a human, a man, a mother, a hard worker, a good or respectful member of society? Are you the daughter or son of your father and mother?

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Have you ever really seen your mother or father? Have you ever got real interaction with them or have you just been interacting with ‘your’ story about them?

What are your parents? Do they really exist independently from ‘your’ interpretation? Or are they just thought stories appearing in the moment? Are the stories about ‘your parents’ part of ‘your’ identity?

What would you be without the stories of ‘your father’ and ‘your mother’?
Would you BE?

‘My father’ is just a story, a mental construct with associated attributes.
My mother is who I believed her to be.
My parents don’t exist without ‘my’ interpretation.
The bodies that are called my parents are real*, but all their attributes and characteristics are projected by ‘me’.

Every time I meet with my father (or just think of him), the whole story about ‘my father’ is projected onto him, and all my reactions and behaviours towards him are the result of reacting to this image of ‘my father’, and not to that body that is called ‘my father’.

And it is not only about my father. I react to everybody – who resembles ‘my father’ even just the slightest (my boss, my neighbour or the high school teacher) – as if they were ‘my father’. When this projection happens and the story is believed, and therefore resulting reactions arise – the sense of ‘me’ emerges.

‘I’ live through these stories. ‘I’ live through projections.

‘My father’ is part of ‘my’ identity.
My identity is nothing more than a collection of stories appearing as content of thoughts in the present moment.
Without these stories, ‘I’ don’t exist. ‘I’ live only in stories.
My parents are ‘my’ faces looking back from the mirror.
I am the story about my parents.
I am ‘my parents’.

Two individuals can never really meet. I cannot see you, I cannot hear you, because I can only see and react to ‘my’ story about you. The whole world is ‘my’ projection. Nothing exists without ‘me’.

There is no ‘you’; I can see only ‘myself’ in ‘you’.
‘You’ are just an image in the mirror reflecting back ‘myself’.
‘I’ am both the projector and the projected image.
‘You’ are ‘me’.

* (the body appears real in conventional reality, but not in direct experience)

If there is only oneness, why can’t I feel your pain?

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Question: “I AM is all that is, all One. Then, why would a truth realised person feel the physical pain only when it is pertaining to his/her body and not when someone else is hurt in front of that person? If there is no one inside the body then who is that that feels the physical pain when the body is hurt or diseased?” 

In these questions there are several assumptions that need further investigation.

At first, a truth realized person does not exist, because there is nobody to become truth realised. There is only ‘realisation’ or ‘liberation’. But it does not happen to anybody. There has never been an ‘I’ than could be liberated, not even a body.

142.4The questions about pain are based on the assumption that there are an objectively existing body and others (other bodies). However, in direct experience (experiencing with the five senses, experiencing prior to thought) it can be clearly seen that there is no body either. There are only certain sensations (like seeing, hearing, feeling/touching, smelling, tasting) – and based on these experiences a mentally constructed image of the body ’emerges’. But this image is nothing more than an idea. The body-image cannot be experienced directly, although, thoughts persistently suggest otherwise.

In the immediate direct experience, pain does not originate from the body, because there is no body; there are only sensations that are labelled as ‘body’. The body is a mentally ‘constructed’ image that arises simultaneously with a sensation tagged as ‘pain’.

Similarly, there is an assumption that there are others (other bodies). While you read these words, there is a mentally constructed ‘Vivien’ with the assumption that these words were typed by her. But in direct experience there are only words, letters on the screen. ‘Vivien’ or the other person is just an assumption, an idea. But even this is not totally the case. In ‘reality’, there are not even screens or words. There is only seamless colour-ing. There is only seeing. In order to ‘recognise’ a word or a screen, a mental concept of a word or a screen has to emerge as a current appearing thought or a mental image. But mental concepts are just interpretations layered over the current experiencing.

One could say that it is relatively easy to see this with the words on the screen but what if you are standing face-to-face with another person? In direct experience, what is the other person? How is it experienced?

The so called other can be seen, touched, heard, smelled or even tasted. But actually, there is only seeing, touching, hearing, smelling and tasting. From these experiences a mental concept of ‘other’ emerges, believing that this is a human being, a woman, alive, X years old who is talking to me about her pain right now. All of these are projections. The direct experiencing of seeing, touching or hearing does not imply all of these. There is not even a link between the sound and the sight, yet alone ‘her pain’, only thoughts connect them claiming that ‘she is talking’. So, in the immediate direct experience, where is the other? Is there an other?

It is not about seeing or believing that ‘your body’ and ‘my body’ are one and the same or feeling ‘your pain’, but about seeing that there is neither ‘your’ or ‘my’ body in the actual immediate experience. Both of them are just mental constructs projected onto the sensations.

There is no independent ‘reality’.
There is no division, only thoughts divide.
Whatever ‘I’ see in ‘you’ is ‘me’.
‘I’ fill the mental construct of ‘you’ with attributes.
‘I’ am ‘you’.

And yet, in our everyday life (in conventional reality) we behave as if these mental constructs were ‘real’. There is nothing wrong with the body-image or any mental constructs – they are beautiful and most of the time quite useful. However, seeming ‘problems’ can occur when they are mistaken as ‘reality’ and not seen for what they are – simple thoughts like birds flying by.

Getting rid of the ego… is it possible?

214.1

Many seekers believe if they could successfully get rid of the ego then they would achieve ‘liberation’ or ‘enlightenment’. But what is the ego?

Some ‘spiritual teachers’ talk about the ego, others avoid using this word for various reasons. But even those who mention it, they also frequently emphasise that the ego is just a mental construct, nothing real – and yet, it is so often misunderstood…

When we hear or read something, there is an unconscious tendency to ignore everything that does not fit into our worldview or belief system, and spot all words or comments that can be moulded into our framework by projecting our beliefs onto those words. As a result, we perceive these teachings coinciding with our convictions.

214Seekers often say things like this: “My ego wanted to convince me that I should do this. …. I’m slowly shedding my ego but it’s holding on for its dear life… But I know it won’t win, the chains are already broken.”

In these types of statements the ego is assumed to be real, as if the ego was a tangible entity, accompanied by another unexamined assumption that there is a ‘me’ somewhere sealed behind the skin, over which the ego can have full power. The ‘real me’ or ‘my higher self’ is under the tyranny of the ego that needs to be liberated. The war is on…

But when I want to conquer, get rid of, change, manipulate or transform something, then the result could be quite the opposite that was hoped to be achieved in the first place. The mere resistance strengthens what was intended to get rid of, because nothing can be resisted without believing in it first. So, the ‘thing’ is being believed into ‘reality’, and now there is a war against it. But war against what?

The battle is only between mirages.

There has never been a self or a ‘me’ that could get rid of the ego.
Similarly, there has never been an ego either that could fight for its life or have a power over anything.

Ego = me = I = self
There is no difference between them, and none of them is real.
‘You’ do not have to get rid of the ego.
Because there is no ‘you’. A thought cannot get rid of anything.

When it is seen that the whole story about the ego and its clinging to ‘its life’, are just simple appearing thoughts nothing more, then the seeking can end. There is no difference between the thoughts of “I’m thirsty, therefore I drink a cup of tea” or “I’m slowly shedding my ego, but it’s holding for its life”.

A thought is ‘real’ only as an appearing thought, but never its content.

Liberation cannot be achieved.
Liberation is not about doing something.
Liberation is un-believing.
Liberation is stopping believing in something that is not real.
It is about stopping doing. It is doing nothing.
It is non-resistance.

What is resisted is strengthened

One of the natural tendencies of the human ‘mind’ is to label and interpret whatever arises in this moment. This mental narrative is not problematic by itself, and it is not necessary (or even possible) to get rid of it. Wanting the ‘mind’ to stop labelling or thinking is completely futile. It won’t happen, at least not for long.

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There are millions of labels that can be attached to anything that appears in this moment, but in general, these tags are either about approaching or avoiding what has just arisen. It is either put into the category of desired (positive) or undesired (negative). Things are rarely interpreted as neutral, and even when it happens the ‘unimportant’ tag comes with it, so it is ignored and forgotten quickly.

Let’s say, I have an important appointment at 9am, but I have been stuck on the motorway for an hour now because the car has broken down, so it is certain that I cannot be there on time. This situation is definitely labelled as bad and undesirable. As time goes on, the body gets more and more tense and ‘I feel terrible’ due to a mental story that has emerged around the situation. The contraction in the body is uncomfortable, so I want to get rid of it. I try to relax and push my thoughts away, but in vain.

When something ‘unpleasant’ happens, there is a habitual tendency to avoid it. However, the avoidance itself strengthens what was intended to be eliminated. The more ‘I’ want to get rid of something, the better ‘I’ get attached to it.

The ‘reason’ behind this phenomenon is that when I want to get rid of something it means that its ‘reality’ is already approved. I would not want to eliminate something if I had not believed that thing is real and true. And when something is believed to be true, how could it be obliterated?

Thus, the body cannot relax while the labels about the situation is believed and taken seriously. It does not mean that ‘you’ have to love the situation and happily cover it up with a positive affirmation: “How good it is, I have just lost a thousand dollars because I could not get to the meeting. I am so happy”. Overriding resistance with ‘positive thinking’ won’t help either.

The liberation is hidden in the core belief (label) — ‘this is bad’. The current circumstances are completely neutral, only the conditioned thought-tags suggest otherwise. ‘I’ project meaning onto the situation.

The car has broken down. I am stuck on the motorway. I won’t be able to get to the meeting. So, I’ve just lost a thousand dollars. – These are ‘facts’. No matter what I do, no matter how hard I want to redo it or undo it, IT IS AS IT IS.

And even the labelling nature of the ‘mind’ is part of the flow. When the story is seen and not believed, the movie of ‘my’ life is watched without identifying with the main character, ‘I’.

Arguing with what IS, is totally futile.
Arguing with what IS, is a conditioned habit.

What is resisted is strengthened.
Resistance is a guaranty for suffering.

Whatever IS, I don’t want it

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Humans are almost always not satisfied with what IS. This dissatisfaction can fluctuate on a spectrum from mild discomfort to full blown suffering, and can be artificially divided into two categories.

Probably the most unbearable sufferings can come from self-referencing beliefs, which are the building blocks of ‘our’ seeming self-image or identity with a core belief in ‘my’ incompleteness, unworthiness, unlovingness, guiltiness or whatever it might be – because deep down most of us ‘feel’ we are somehow not good enough, not complete; something is missing. But is this really the case? Is it really true? Where is this apparently deficient self? Where?

The other type of suffering is much more subtle; it is a constant arguing with what IS. No matter what is in this moment, but one thing is sure: ‘I do not want it’. Either I want the previous moment back or the next moment, but definitely not THIS. But actually, the statement ‘this moment is not good enough’ – is just a thought, nothing more.

256In the morning at breakfast, there is a fantasy about how good biking will be later in the afternoon. However, when biking happens, the mind wanders imagining eating the cooled watermelon from the fridge when I will be at home. Later, while eating the watermelon, thoughts come up demanding to check the emails. When reading the emails happen, it is labelled by the mind with a thought as boring, with an accompanying fantasy about how much better biking around the lake in the afternoon was.

Meanwhile, the sense of ‘me’ is sustained by being lost in the story of ‘my’ life. And the whole story revolves around only one character, called ‘me’. The ‘I’ is the centre of the universe, centre of its own projection. Everything is interpreted through the filter of a huge web of beliefs that constitutes the self.

The sensations in the legs while pushing the bike, the pumping of the heart in the chest, the warmth of the sun and the stroke of the breeze on the skin, the sight of the glimmering lake and the sounds of the twittering birds, the coolness of the watermelon in the mouth – are all lost and replaced by a dream

There is a constant dissatisfaction with what IS.
Because in this moment ‘I’ do NOT exist.
In this moment, without a mental commentary, there is no self to be found.
The ‘me’ lives only in thoughts.

But the thoughts or the stories by themselves are not problematic, only believing them creates the illusion of their realness. In direct experience, there are just thoughts and images passing by – empty, meaningless. Their meanings emerge only when they are believed and not seen for what they are – simply just thoughts.

Suffering comes from resisting what IS.
Without resistance there is no suffering.
Without arguing with what IS, there is peace.

What dies when I die?

254The ultimate fear of humankind is death. We fear to cease to be. But death is not what we think it is. If our parents or society had not told us anything about dying or death then we would not have any idea about it, we would not even know what it is, let alone fear it.

Then what is death? There is a constant flow of experiencing while the body is ‘alive’, until it is not. We label it as death. In one moment the organs of the body are functioning; in the next, they are not. They are changing into something else. Is this bad? Does this change have any innate nature of badness?

In one moment there is experiencing, in the next, there is not. Can death be experienced when there is no experiencing? When you go to sleep, do you experience death? Do you fear not waking up the next morning? Is there any difference between going to sleep every night and death?

Death cannot be experienced, because death is an idea. Fear of death is a resistance to the concept of death. Fear ‘lives’ only in thoughts. Without believing thoughts there is no fear, just the flow of life, perfect as it is.

Death does not exist in direct experience; and yet, this is probably the biggest bugaboo the mind could ever invent. Fear of death could not exist without projecting the belief in the separate self onto the body. If I think that I am the body, then I fear death. But I am not the body, because ‘I am’ is just a thought. Can a thought fear another thought?

Actually, what we really fear is losing ‘our’ selves. We think that there is a separate entity sealed behind the skin, and when the body perishes, this supposed entity will cease to be.

The ‘I’ that fears death cannot die because the ‘I’ has never existed. If this is seen then there is no fear of death because there is nobody to fear it. There is nobody to die with the body, because there is no entity living behind the eyes.

What are lost during the process of dying are the beliefs that constitute ‘me’. The components of self-image crumble, and when it is resisted it can trigger fear. “What is going to happen with my precious collection of matchboxes? What about my achievements? I am not finished yet with my plans. I have always dreamt about a happy retirement with lots of travelling, and spending time with my grandchildren. How could I accomplish all of this if I am gone? Has there been any meaning of my life at all?”

But in reality, nothing is lost. All of this was just dreaming about a non-existent past and future, with a ‘me’ that ‘lives’ only in past images and future fantasies.

Nothing ever dies, only the imagined story of ‘me’.
‘I’ cannot die. What has never been born cannot cease to be.

Fear is not fearful

249In order to better understand what fear is, we have to make a distinction between instinctual fear, which is genetically coded into the human organism, and the projection of fear, when a fearful story is projected into the future about what might happen.

Examples for instinctual fear could be a fear of falling from the edge of a cliff, or being frightened by a sudden loud noise. However, humans experience instinctual fear rarely. When it happens, there is an instant adrenalin rush in the body which signals the organism to move away from the danger. Still, the adrenalin surge is not the result of thinking processes. Although, a few seconds later, thoughts may come up interpreting what happened, saying that ‘I am afraid because I almost fell off the cliff’. But the surge of adrenaline works perfectly without thinking, and by itself it does not imply fear.

The same adrenaline rush could be tagged as ‘excitement,’ if I jumped out of an airplane with a parachute fastened to my back. Or, it could be labelled as a ‘sign of love’ when I unexpectedly spot my new lover at the other side of the street. Fear, excitement, love – the sensation is the same, only the label varies.

Even though instinctual fear is rare in our everyday life, we still experience fear quite often, due to mind-made stories being projected into the future: ‘I fear growing old’, ‘I’m afraid of being ridiculed in front of all my colleagues’ or ‘what if she leaves me’; the list is endless.

When my friend tells me that their company decided outsourcing a whole department, thoughts might come up: ‘What if my company will do the same? My job is definitely not indispensable, what if they will fire me? What would I do? I am too old to get a new job. How am I going to pay the mortgage?’ And the fear is set in motion.

But this fear is not caused by an adrenalin rush; it is caused only by believing the story – the story of ‘my’ life. It has no reality, except as a string of thoughts. It is real only as an appearing thought-story, but never its content. Only believing the story creates the emotional response.

When fear arises, is it really fear that is experienced, or is fear just another cover story? When I think ‘I fear that I might lose my job’, would not it be more appropriate to say that ‘there is a resistance to this story’? Do I really feel fear or I just resist what was made up about what might happen?

And what is fear anyway? How is it experienced? When the fear as emotion arises, it is nothing more than felt sensations in the body with the added thought tag ‘fear’. In direct experience, most of the emotions that are labelled as ‘negative’ are experienced quite similarly, as felt contractions in one or more parts of the body.

What is the difference in direct experience between fear, shame, guilt or anger? Is there any apart from the labels as ‘fear’ and ‘shame’? Does the felt sensation contain by itself any innate fearness or angriness?

Is fear real at all? Or is it just a resistance…?
With or without the story, reality is the same – neutral.

Fear is just an artefact, a fabrication. It is nothing more than a sensation in the body plus an attached ‘fear’ label. This is the case with all emotions. The sensations by themselves are not negative, positive, pleasant or unpleasant. They are totally neutral. Only the attached tags differentiate between them.

When this is seen, fear evaporates. It becomes an empty word.
Because fear is NOT real.
There is just a sensation.

Beliefs – the building blocks of ‘our’ identities

026There is a freedom not believing any thoughts. Attachment to beliefs is the origin of suffering. Some people are even ready to die for their beliefs. But why are beliefs so precious for us? What are beliefs anyway?

Assume that you have just arrived home after a day of work. Your mind is full of the story of the happenings of the day, how your boss treated you unfairly and how bad the traffic was on the way home. The only thing you want is to lie down on the couch and tell ‘your’ story to your husband. You want him to listen to you and comfort you. As you start outpouring the intricate details of the happenings of your day, your husband suddenly interrupts you and instead of standing on your side he defends your boss. Immediately, you feel angry and frustrated due to the thought that has just popped-up ‘in your head’, ‘my husband never listens to me’. This single thought triggers a loop of other ‘disturbing’ thoughts; a very familiar and conditioned story that you thought thousand times before. ‘He doesn’t care about me, because if he cared about me he would have listened to me and stood by my side instead of making me wrong.’

‘He never listens to me’ or ‘He doesn’t care about me’ are just conditioned beliefs. Beliefs are nothing more than unexamined thoughts which are believed to be true, to be the accurate description of what IS.

Beliefs are very important for the ‘I’, because beliefs are the building blocks of ‘me’.

The ‘I’ never sees what is, because it always tries to interpret what IS according to what it learned previously, what this or that means to ‘me’. Everything is filtered through a huge web of beliefs before the interpretations and assumptions about what IS arise.

When we are talking and I believe the thought that ‘you never listen to me’, then I stop listening to you. I stop hearing what you are saying, because the thought in ‘my’ head overrides what you are saying. I cannot hear you, I cannot see you, I can only hear ‘my’ thoughts I believe about you, and see the constructed image in ‘my’ head of you. So the belief that ‘you never listen to me’ overrides what is presently here, in the now.

When you say something that contradicts ‘my’ belief systems, the ‘I’ hears them as a criticism not as a help, because it feels threatened. In defence of ‘my’ beliefs – which are the building blocks of ‘my’ identity – the mind wants to gather ‘proofs’ to support its existing belief systems, and not to take part in uncovering or destroying them.

And when you interrupt and override me is not just simply a conditioned habit, but a defence. You try to defend your point of view what you believe is ‘your’ self. You are not simply interrupting me; you are literally fighting for your life in that moment, fighting for ‘your’ identity.

Observing, examining and questioning beliefs cut through the attachment to them.

The self is ‘made of’ beliefs.
Without believing the content of beliefs, there is no self to be found.
This is freedom. This is freedom from suffering.