NEW TEACHING SERIES:
Chapter I The Need For Effort
Chapter I The Need For Effort
I had my first awakening experience while taking a shower. As I had done before thousands of times, while feeling the water hitting my back, I looked inside into my inner sense of space, and asked, “Who feels the water hitting my back?” Over the years of looking inward, looking for the I, that inner subjective space had become empty space, self-illumined, and all inner objects and forms, including images and thoughts, were clearly seen as insubstantial, empty of separate beingness, permeated by a three dimensional void that permeated and contained everything.
However, this particular day something happened. I saw looking inwards, only the void and void-permeated images that had no existential substance, and attained Kensho, the first awakening.
The awakening was both an experience that form and emptiness were one and interpenetrated each other, but also that no object inside existed with any existential substance. It was all just mind.
I saw too at that time that there was no I. There was no entity inside that could be called Ed Muzika. There was no Ed Muzika and there was no I. There also was no I-thought, because the concept of I-thought required there to be a substantial and sustained entity called and I thought. Instead, all that there was was a shadow like object that floated in and out of emptiness. There was no I-thought as a stable, self-sustained entity. Indeed, no thought was a stable, mental entity. They were all brief ghost-like entities that came from a darkness at the edge of the phenomenal void, had a few seconds of existence, then passed away again into that darkness where consciousness could not follow.
The discovery that there was no Ed Muzika as an objective entity, and that there was not even an I-thought brought about a calamitous personal experience and existential collapse that I wrote about here. This experience lasted a few hours and deepened second by second and minute by minute until I had seen entirely through the empty nature of existence, the world and even consciousness. There were other awakenings to come, but they all just opened and broadened the reach of this first awakening.
What I saw is that the I-thought created a separation between I and the rest of the world. I appeared to be something inside the body, everything else was outside. When I saw the I did not exist, it was only a concept, it became clear that nothing else existed either because all other thoughts depended on the I-thought for its reality. The I-thought was the lynch pin. Without this central organizing thought, all the other thoughts and concepts came crashing down as being just as unreal as the I thought. That is, there were no objects associated with the non-I-thoughts, just as there was no object associated with the I-thought. Indeed, all objects were just conceptual, they did not exist in any reality other than my imagination. They existed as imaginary objects in my inner imaginal space that “I” superimposed on sense impressions. The world was wholly a mental creation, but I didn’t create it any longer since I did not exist any longer. Since there was no longer an I to sustain it, the entire world came crashing down. It was an illusion. The reality was only the Void, while imaginary entities came from a darkness behind the Void, into the Void, and passed away again, either because they were ignored or the mind went to sleep.
I want to be clear. I had practiced “looking inside” in various ways for 27 years before this experience in 1995. I had started by working on the koan mentioned by Zen master Bassui in the 12th Century. At times I looked inside in meditation 10 hours a day in formal meditation. For years I did not work, or I worked part-time. Over those years I was visited by thousands of Kundalini experiences, energies, visions, and an ever growing awareness of the Void nature of all entities, inner and outer.
At Mt. Baldy I would sit in meditation and go through a process wherein my mind would grow solid as a rock, where my head felt like it became as dense as a brick until all consciousness stopped, and my mind suddenly fell downwards and broke open, suddenly revealing one consciousness, without thought, that was brilliantly happy and embraced all the universe. But ordinary mind was always to return.
What happened in 1995 was the sudden recognition that the Void Oneness mind was all that there is. Nothing else existed. With this recognition my life changed completely because I saw I was not human. I was consciousness itself, uncontained by the body and coextensive with the world. One brilliant mind.
(A later experience revealed to me that even this one brilliant mind, the oneness consciousness, even though it was all that existed, was itself not real. Existence and consciousness are the same, but there is something beyond existence and consciousness that we all are, but which can never be known, only “felt.” That is, the world is One vast emptiness, but even that One is not real.)
I-ness that is the thread that passes unerringly through the Void and the darkness beyond the Void to your truest and deepest existence beyond consciousness, and from which position you observe consciousness.
This inner exploration is not a trivial process of a few days or hours, but can take a lifetime because the inner world is so incredibly complex and because you have to spend years looking inside to counterbalance the many years of looking and searching outside in the world, which is what the ways of the world teach you. Ultimately, there is no inner and outer, but you cannot realize this until your inner space is as clearly perceived and known as your outer space.
What I plan on doing now is wading through several books by or about Robert Adams, Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj that reinforce the message that practice in the form of self-inquiry or self abidance is needed before you can truly see the I is empty, and thereby destroy your mind and the external world at the same moment.
The first book we’ll look at the “The Path of Ramana Maharshi—Part One” by Sadhu Om and Michael James. This is the best book on self-inquiry that there is. Read the entire book. Each chapter is a gem in its own way. Michael has written a much longer and more detailed book that covers the same area and more, but this book is the perfect bite-size that the beginner and intermediate student needs, as well as for a more advanced student that has lost his or her way. The links to Michael James books and site can be found on http://itisnotreal.com. I will refer to this book as PR1.
In the waking state when we enjoy agreeable experiences through the five senses, there is quiescence of the mind for an extremely short period of time. In sleep the period of the mind’s quiescence is a little longer18. In death also the mind is likewise quiescent only. All these are only quiescence of the mind (mano-laya) and not the destruction of the mind (mano-nasa). It is not enough if misery (i.e. mind) is temporarily absorbed, it must be destroyed. This is the goal of mankind. Temporary quiescence (laya) of the mind is temporary quiescence of misery, and permanent destruction (nasa) of the mind is permanent destruction of misery; that is, the mind itself is misery! Hence, let us find out what is to be done to destroy the mind.
By destruction of the mind, he does not mean thoughts never arise again, but only that the empty nature of thoughts is clearly perceived, and that there are no associated objects that these ghostlike entities apparently point to. With this recognition, not only is the I seen to not exist, therefore there is no entity that can die or be killed, or suffer, but, indeed, the world itself is seen to be empty, an illusion, and thus something that cannot touch you in any way unless you believe in it. Then is would touch the imaginary you in an imaginary way.
What is mind? The verdict given by Sri Bhagavan is:
“The mind is only thoughts...”
‘Upadesa Undhiyar,’ verse 18
If we give up all thoughts and observe what is mind, we will find that there is no such thing as ‘mind’ at all.
“If one enquires–without inadvertence (pramada) – into the form of the mind, it will be found that there is no such thing as mind! This is the direct path for all!”
‘Upadesa Undhiyar’, verse 17
For destroying the mind it is enough if thoughts are destroyed. Let us therefore find out what thoughts actually are. This scrutiny is not an idle way of passing time. Is not the entire world struggling for happiness? Even this scrutiny is undertaken in view of obtaining that same happiness. Then what is the difference between the efforts of humanity in general and this effort undertaken by a spiritual aspirant? The efforts of worldly people lead only to a fleeting semblance of happiness, whereas this effort of an aspirant – Self-enquiry – paves the path to perfect, eternal and unlimited happiness. Therefore, this research is far more important and worthy than all other kinds of human endeavour! Throughout this scrutiny, one must be very vigilant and put forth one's very best efforts. Only then will the result of one's enquiry – the supreme gain of life – be obtained here and now.
Did we not begin with a proposal to scrutinize thoughts? For what reason? The aim is to destroy all thoughts and thereby to enjoy perfect happiness. Millions of thoughts rise in us, out of which we must search for and discover the first and root thought. When we do so, we will find that the first person thought, ‘I am this body', which rises as soon as one wakes up from sleep, is the first thought. This ‘I'-thought is the root of all thoughts.
"The mind is only thoughts. Of all thoughts, the thought ‘I’ is indeed the root-thought. Therefore, what is called mind is only the thought ‘I’ (i.e. the feeling ‘I am the body').”
'Upadesa Undhiyar, verse 18
If the first person does not rise, the second and third persons will not come into existence. The first person is nothing but the thought ‘I', and this alone is mind. The second and third persons will rise only after the rising of the first person, ‘I'. The world is nothing but second and third persons.
"Only if that first person (the ego) in the form ‘I am the body’ exists, will the second and third persons also exist...”
'Ulladhu Narpadhu'. verse 14
"If there is no ‘I'-thought, no other thing will exist...”
'Sri Arunachala Ashtakam', verse 7
If the ‘I'-thought – the root of all thoughts – is prevented from rising, all other thoughts will also be prevented. If a man wants to cut down the millions of leaves and hundreds of branches of a tree, is it not enough if he cuts down the trunk? Similarly, a man who is trying to destroy all the millions and millions of thoughts will have succeeded in doing so if he destroys the ‘I'-thought, their root. Did we not start with the objective of scrutinizing thoughts? From what we have seen above, it is now clear that it is not necessary to scrutinize each and every thought, and that a scrutiny of only the ‘I'-thought, the root of all thoughts, is quite sufficient.
The first person thought, ‘I', has this peculiar property: if (by enquiring ‘Who am I?’) attention is focused on it in order to discover what it is, this ‘I’ thought will subside.
"The thought ‘I am this body of flesh and blood’ is the one thread on which are strung the various other thoughts. Therefore if we turn inwards, ‘Where is this I?', all thoughts [including the ‘I'- thought] will come to an end and Self-knowledge will then spontaneously shine forth within the cave (the heart) as ‘I-I' ...”
"... When the first person ceases to exit through one's enquiry into the truth of that first person, then the existence of the second and third persons will come to an end ....”
'Ulladhu Narpadhu', verse 14
Thus, the method of destroying the ‘I'-thought is also the method which will destroy all other thoughts. Therefore, what is essential is to destroy the first person thought, ‘I'. The only way to destroy it is to scrutinize its nature! There is no other way!!
“...How else to attain that state wherein ‘I’ (the ego) does not rise the state of egolessness unless we seek the source whence ‘I’ rises?...”
‘UIladu Narpadhu’, verse 27
From Robert Adams, the Four Principles, August 19, 1990:
The third method of awakening, and the one that I advocate, is self-inquiry. Asking yourself, "To whom do these troubles come? To whom does this karma come? To whom does this suffering come? It comes to me? Well, what is me? I am me. Who am I? From where did the I come from?" And following the I to its source. You can use any of those three methods, the one that suits you best. But by all means do something. Don't waste your life with frivolities. Work on yourself, if you want to become free.
(Comment: Robert knows it is not enough to hear someone say you are already free. You have to practice and make effort, otherwise you are only parroting the concept that everyone is already free and there is no need for effort.)
 Much of the phenomenology and philosophy of this area is explained in “Autobiography of a Jnani.”