Enlightenment is Not That Easy
Try this as an experiment—look deep into yourself for the sense of ‘I.’ And, for the ‘I’- thought.
Do you find an ‘I?’
Do you find the ‘I’-thought?
No, there is no ‘I’-thought there, is there? There is no ‘I,’ is there?
Anybody find an ‘I?’ Raise your hand if you found an ‘I.’
If you didn’t find an ‘I,’ raise your hand.
Well, that was the method called “direct pointing.” You look inside yourself and the teacher tells you, There is no ‘I’ there, is there? You are now officially enlightened—you have seen through the illusion of the ‘I.’
According to Facebook, people are waking up by the thousands, using this “direct pointing” method. The teacher tells you, Look inside yourself, and you don’t find an “I,” do you? Well, you have seen through the illusion of the “I.” You are now awakened!
Twenty five dollars, please... Paypal preferred. You will get your certificate in the mail, and I will give you a Facebook address where you can start your own blog, too.
Then we will be in competition.
That is the method of “direct pointing.” Wonderful, isn’t it?
Really! That is what is going on, on Facebook.
You know, I cannot guarantee anything. But if you listen to chanting—this kind of chanting—for a few hours every day, read the Nisargadatta Gita, ponder what it means, try to locate the ‘I’ sense, read the Nisargadatta Gita a little more, listen to more chanting, listen to these satsangs—there is nothing that is going to stop you from being awake in some period of time.
That is all you have to do. Just hang around me. Come to satsang. Listen to this chanting.
That is all you have to do.
Every now and then you can listen to Robert’s bullshit, or Nisargadatta’s bullshit too; but my bullshit is as good as any other bullshit. Because the concepts are not important. If anything, you want to get rid of all concepts.
Robert used to give you so many different concepts that after a while you said, Oh my God, all these fucking concepts! And you dropped them.
The first principle should be: Whatever you think is true, is wrong.
Second principle: Even this is wrong.
Third principle: Shut up.
Fourth principle: Become dumb as a rock.
Now, some of you out there are pretty close to being dumb as a rock, but others are altogether too smart.
Altogether too smart.
Sacred music is so important. It will just take you away. It will fill you with bliss, and ecstasy. Your mind will stop. You go for hours without knowing where the hell you are, or what you are.
Your marriage will fall apart. You will lose your job. You didn’t want it anyway. Your house will be foreclosed on, your car repossessed. And you will be blissfully happy. You will join the ranks of Alfred E. Neuman from Mad Magazine, saying “What, me worry?”
Just chant. Look into yourself. Look for the ‘I Am.’ Listen to these satsangs. Read the Nisargadatta Gita. Maybe a little bit of Prior to Consciousness.
[Speaking to his cat] Hi, Lakshmi.
[Softly] Hi! How are you doing?
She has not been well lately.
Recently, I put a new post on the blog, and on Facebook, and it is getting very positive responses... I wish I could remember what I said. Does anybody have it there, and can read it? [Chuckles] Let me see… what did I say?
Oh, yes. You know, I first started out in searching for enlightenment, I think it was in 1967 or 1968. I had read that Buddha started when he was 26, and I wanted to do the same.
[Violent meowing] Oh my goodness, Lakshmi!
See, she is not feeling well. Or else, she is a critic.
What is the matter, Lakshmi? [Sweetly] Huh?
We will let her settle down a little.
What is the matter sweetie? Okay. Your hand is caught in my… oh. [Tries to free her]
Typical woman. Can never please them! One minute they are all over you, the next minute they want to scratch you to death.
[Speaking to Lakshmi] Oh, poor baby. Come on. Okay.
Am I going to survive? [Laughs]
[Unhappy meowing] Oh baby, come on… come on. There you go [freeing the cat.]
Phew! Typical student, also. All for you one minute, the next minute they want to rip you apart.
But anyway, I started in the late 1960s. The first teacher I went to was Phillip Kapleau; and then to Mount Baldy Zen Centre, and the roshi there was Sasaki Roshi. At that time he was 64 years old. And it was cold, cold, cold—like seven or eight below on some days, at Mount Baldy.
Like the typical Japanese zendo we had windows made of paper, and there is not a lot of insulation with paper. There was not a lot of heat in the zendo, and we were pretty cold all of the time.
I remember on one morning, Sasaki gave a teisho—a talk—and in it he said, “You all came for enlightenment, here. But you know, enlightenment can become pretty boring.” And I was listening. A lot of people were thinking, Well, what the fuck am I here for then? If it is boring, why do I want it?
He went on to say that really, you have to take the centre of gravity—he called Buddha as the centre of gravity—and bring it into everyday life, into your personal existence. And at that time, you know, that was the last thing I wanted to hear. I was not up there in these below-zero temperatures to try to become what I already was—instead, I wanted to become enlightened. I had no idea what enlightenment was, but I thought it was better than where I was.
A few years later—I think it was about eight or nine years later—after I had been studying with many Zen teachers—Maezumi Roshi came to my class at UCLA. I was teaching a class at the UCLA extension on Zen and psychotherapy.
One of the students asked him, “What is Zen?” He paused for a second, and then he said, “BREATHING! Zen is breathing!” And he said, “Zen is living from moment to moment.”
I figured, Oh my God, another one! I am looking for enlightenment. I am looking for the great escape. I am looking to become superhuman—being able to levitate. At least to turn circles upside down in some kind of super-state—of super-intelligence and wisdom! At that time I never thought of divine love, I was thinking in terms of wisdom.
So it went. Finally, in 1995, I did have an awakening experience.
I began disappearing and withdrawing from life. I became sort of dried-up, you might say. I just disappeared into the void—and there are many different kinds of voids. The voids you can see—Rajiv Kapur talks about the void behind and the void in front, or the presence in front, and the void behind… I do not remember—but there are many kinds of voids you can see. There are many kinds of emptiness.
And you can feel them, too. There is a difference between feeling an emptiness and seeing an emptiness. But the great Void is the one you can never see—that is you. You as the Absolute. You, as the subject can never see the subject. You can only see objects, and consciousness is an object.
So, you can see a void and you can see consciousness; you can see your presence. But what you really are, you have to agree with Christ and say, I don’t know. Don’t-know mind is very important. It is one with no concepts except, I don’t know. It is empty and receptive.
That is you.
Everything comes out of you—that depth of unknowing.
The great Void. The mystery.
This is where I was: trying to get deeper and deeper into that void, and aware of the void in front and my own sense of presence. Yet something moved me, in 2003 or 2004, to begin teaching about Robert.
Then someone came along a few months ago, and changed everything. You know who she is. And I began experiencing emotions once again—the fullness of my own presence. Love. Loss. Anger. Jealousy. And you would think… you know, hatred, anger, all these emotions would wash through me, but it wasn’t the same as twenty years ago.
Twenty years ago, I was a person, and these emotions would go through me and they served no purpose whatsoever, except to irritate me. But now, when feelings arose, they revitalised me. They added life to the emptiness that I was. They added energy. They added meaning.
From the Void and from the emptiness, I gradually returned to the world as Ed Muzika; and I enjoyed it.
I enjoyed it thoroughly. I still enjoy it. Every day I wake up, I am happy. Every day, my sense of presence seems stronger to me. All those feelings now are mine. I own them. They are me: Ed. Once again the personal came back. No longer impersonal, but personal.
Something had changed. Instead of the individual I was twenty years ago, you might say I was empty as a drum, but I had all of these feelings go through me. I could express it, or I did not have to. I could let it grow, or let it drop away. I could think about it, or not. I preferred not to. Thinking itself was just as stupid as feeling all the feelings.
And the phrase, “shit happens” became a reality for me. The stuff just comes and comes and comes! Without reason, almost without origin. It comes out of emptiness, and hits you in the face.
And it is okay. My presence, and my emptiness—which I identify with—contains everything. It becomes great fun; not oppressive. It is a return to individuality.
There is something that had to change. The change was—I knew I was none of all of this. For years, I had known I was none of all of this. This consciousness, these feelings, these thoughts—they were foreign to me. But now that they were becoming me, but at the same time I was emptiness, it was so much easier to tolerate. So much easier to take.
Once you know that emptiness that contains everything, and that is you, everything becomes so much easier. The emotions just go through, and they are enjoyed rather than suffered.
So, the first step is going into the infinite—recognising that you do not exist as an entity, anywhere. With that comes the freedom that everything created by mind is a myth, because it is all based on the concept of “I.” Our whole existence is based on the concept that there is an “I” in front of us, somewhere inside of us. And that concept collapses, and we are everything.
But then we see even that is unreal. That everything we see, feel, touch, taste, is not real. It is emptiness. It has no reality in and of itself. It just comes out of emptiness and returns to emptiness. It has no permanent existence.
Therefore, Robert would say, it is not real. It is like a mirage, it comes and goes. It has no ability to sustain itself other than our own consciousness, and we are just a manifestation—a finite manifestation—of the universal consciousness, and we too disappear.
The ‘I Am’ disappears. The consciousness associated with our body disappears. And yet, we witnessed it coming, and we will witness it going. We witness it coming every morning, and we witness it going every evening.
Who is this “we?” This “we” is really us. We have the knowledge we exist, and that knowledge is in the ‘I Am,’ in consciousness. But what we are is beyond consciousness. Yet, knowing we are beyond it allows us to fully participate in it, and really not give a damn about the consequences—because it is just a play. We can choose to throw ourself into the movie or into the play and enjoy it, or ignore it, like Robert did.
Robert ignored the play. Robert had a hard time staying in the world. He just did not care anymore. He was done with the world.
I sort of enjoy it.
So, now that you are all enlightened, using the direct method, what next?
You see, some of these teachings are so superficial. When awakening comes, it is usually a tremendous experience for you, however you experience it. And when you look back when it happens, you will see that all the activities you did with your mind had nothing to do with your awakening... because the awakening is the awakening of an intelligence in you where you directly apperceive reality, as opposed to using the mind to understand reality. What happens is, the mind drops away. It takes a secondary or tertiary importance, and now there is a direct seeing.
So before, all of your operations were in the mind, of the mind, and for the mind—and suddenly the mind drops away. And you cannot imagine that anything that you did within the mind awakened this intelligence which is above and beyond the mind, and yet it seems to go together. Practice in the mind, with the mind seems to be important, whether it is Self-inquiry or mind-directed meditation.
I use the example of a famous baseball player—I do not know who it was. Pete Rose. Let’s make up Pete Rose. It was not him, but let’s say it was Pete Rose. Reporters would always talk to him after a game about his wonderful performance—his three hits that day, or a triple play he had participated in—and everybody would say how brilliant it was, and he would say, “I was lucky.” And he would say this time after time after time.
And that was not Pete Rose. Pete Rose never said he was lucky—he said it was him! So, Pete Rose is the wrong guy. But let’s say this new modest Pete Rose would be asked all the time, “Wow! How did you do that play?”
“I was lucky.”
And one reporter one time says, “But you practice eight hours a day, every day. What is this thing about luck?”
And Pete responded, “Well, I found out the more I practice, the luckier I get.”
The same thing with awakening. The more we practice, the easier it seems to happen. Yes, there are a few where awakening happened without anybody doing anything, like with Robert and Ramana Maharshi. But, that is not for most of us.
Most of us have to struggle, and whine and bitch and moan; then struggle some more, and do more meditation, and suffer. Especially if you are going into the Sufi path—the path of emotions—and bhakti, the suffering seems to be exponential. While for those of us who tried the advaita way it is kind of gentle, and boring.
But for most of us, some sort of activity is necessary. Even if it is a pretence, it seems to be necessary, to get lucky.
WHO ARE YOU?
Who are you?
What are you?
Look deep inside.
What do you see?
Do you see anything? Do you see emptiness?
Do you see any pumpkin pie left over from Thanksgiving?
Do you see a self?
You know, it is so ridiculous that people think that just because you cannot find an “I” object, that you do not exist, and that an ego does not exist. They say because you can see that there is no “I,” that your mind and your body do not exist; but they certainly do exist, and they colour everything you see and do—you as the absolute subject.
The personality that you are born with, the mind you are born with, the body you are born with, creates the reality you see, and then the education further manipulates it. And then spirituality is to try to take those—what would you call it—the boxes away, so you can see freshly.
It is not that easy.
Edji Reading from Prior to Consciousness
Now for the educational part of our satsang, where I read from Nisargadatta… and sometimes explain him.
But what you have to understand is that freedom comes when you are free of even Nisargadatta’s concepts. You have got to let go of Nisargadatta. These are the final concepts. These are the last, preliminary concepts that you have, that will take you away from what you had always believed yourself to be.
So, although they are very powerful and they go very deep, they are not the ultimate truth. The ultimate truth is having no mind whatsoever.
[Prior to Consciousness, December 28th 1980, page 85]
Maharaj: Can any of your concepts grasp the total, the Ultimate? Have you understood that knowledge itself is ignorance? If it were real it would have been there eternally—it would not have had a beginning and an end.
And this is what Robert meant by “not real,” or impermanent. It did not last. It has a beginning and an end, and it is unreal from that point of view, of being transient.
Now the experience "I Am" is felt, earlier that experience was not. When it was not, no proof was called for, but once it is, lots of proof is required.
That is, when there was no ‘I Am,’ there was no awareness. There was no consciousness. It did not require any proof that nothing was there, but once you are there, all kinds of questions arise— “Who am I? What am I? What is consciousness? What is my purpose in life?”
How did you wake up in the morning? Why did you wake up at all? It is not the mind which knows—somebody knows because of the mind.
It is not the mind that knows. Somebody, or something, knows because of the mind.
Now my hand has lifted, who knows? The one who has lifted my hand knows it has lifted it.
I know that I lifted my hand. I am the one that knows that it has lifted.
You are before the mind; because you are there the mind is working.
In other words, you are more fundamental than the mind. The mind makes all kinds of judgements and knows that the hand lifts, and I can lift the hand and the mind knows that I have lifted the hand.
When will you wake up? Provided you are, you wake up.
…. The purpose of Sat-Guru is to tell you what you are like prior to the building up of all those concepts of others. Your present spiritual storehouse is filled up with the words of others—demolish those concepts. Sat-Guru means the eternal state which will never be changed: what you are.
Sat-Guru means the eternal state which will never be changed: what you really are.
You are that immutable, eternal, unchangeable Absolute. Sat-Guru tells you to get rid of all these walls built around you by the hearsays and concepts of others.
In other words, all of these concepts we have about the nature of the world—that there is a world outside of us, and that there is an inside of us, and the mind sets orders and understands how the world works. Get rid of all of these ideas. Get to an empty mind. Or, as Seung Sahn Sunim says, get dumb as a brick. Dumb as a rock.
Everybody says the same thing—get rid of the concepts. Get rid of your mind. Just see directly, which means shut the fuck up for a while, and just listen.
You have no form, no design. The names and forms you see are your consciousness only—the Self is colorless but it is able to judge colors, etc.
Listen to this.
You have no form, no design.
In other words, you are formless. You are spaceless. You have no content. You have no shape. You are not an object.
The names and forms you see are your consciousness only—the Self is colorless but it is able to judge colors, etc.
The Self—that prior to the mind—does all kinds of things. And then the mind fills in the gaps.
You know, this is very different from what Psychology or the pop gurus are saying, which is that the mind is what creates the world, and that emotions are there because of the stories the mind perceives. But in fact, the emotions precede the mind, and the mind can add a story to the emotion. But the emotion is more primary, because it is deeper than the mind.
And it is … I have been through all of this before. You know what I am talking about. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera; blah, blah, blah.
The one who is directed by a Sat-Guru has no more birth.
The one who is directed by a Sat-Guru has no more birth.
That means that when you understand your true nature, you do not come back again. When you feel that inner guru inside of you, when you know who you really are, you do not come back again.
Your sadhana is over, you have reached this place.
And here, I think he is referring to coming to him, to his teaching place. “You have come here. Your sadhana [spiritual practice] is over. There is no more birth for you.”
To you who search for the Self, I explain this type of knowledge, I lead you to a state where there is no hunger, no desire.
When you have knowledge you see the "I" as all-pervasive, as long as the consciousness is there, but the witness of the consciousness has no "I Am," that is your true eternal nature.
When you have knowledge you see the "I" as all-pervasive,
Okay. When there is awareness, when there is consciousness, the ‘I Am’ is there and it pervades everything. It sees everything. It knows everything. But the witness of this consciousness is not the ‘I Am.’
The ‘I Am’ is witnessed by this witness, the Absolute—and that is what you really are.
Giving up the body is a great festival for me.
And that is because he was dying, so you have to know the background of this.
[Prior to Consciousness, December 29th 1980, page 86]
Sitting in meditation helps the consciousness to blossom. It causes deeper understanding and spontaneous change in behavior. These changes are brought about in the consciousness itself, not in the pseudo-personality. Forced changes are at the level of the mind. Mental and intellectual changes are totally unnatural and different from the ones that take place in the birth principle. These take place naturally, automatically, by themselves, due to meditation.
In other words, personality is not what changes. The ego is not what is changed. But fundamental things take place in the nature of the ‘I Am’—your identification with who and what you are. That is what really changes. Not the functioning of the ego or the functioning of your body. Fundamental changes in terms of how you see yourself and how you understand take place, and these are what he is saying are the real, real deep changes.
Most of the people see the tree of knowledge and admire it, but what is to be understood is its source—the seed, the latent force from which it sprouts. Many people talk about it but only intellectually; I talk about it from direct knowledge.
A small speck of consciousness, which is like a seed, has all the worlds contained in it. The physical frame is necessary for it to manifest itself.
All the ambitions, hopes and desires are connected with an identity, and so long as there is an identity, no truth can be apperceived.
Now, he says, like I have said, that spirituality is all about your identity. And here he is talking about identification as a person, as a personal entity. But you can learn to identify with all different kinds of experiences: with emptiness, with presence, with energies, with the body, with the personality, with your sense of presence. All of these identities become available to you—all the different rooms of the spiritual mansion.
You have to learn to be comfortable in all of them. But he is saying that as long as there is a definite identity that you are associated with, no truth can be apperceived. You have to be empty to let these truths in… any kind of new truth come in.
Questioner: Is there any destiny for the total manifestation or the phenomena as a whole?
In other words, is there any purpose to the universe?
Maharaj: As there is no single identity, where will it go?
What possibly could happen to the universe? Because the universe is not a thing, it is a multitude of things. Where is it going to go, as a whole? Where is it going to go?
The fuel is the destiny of the flame; so also, the food essence body is the destiny of the consciousness. Consciousness alone offers destiny and destiny offers suffering. Because of the mistaken identity we think of personalized consciousness, but actually it is vast and limitless.
He is saying because we identify with the body-mind, we think that this consciousness is personal, that it belongs to this body, to “me.” But in fact, consciousness is the same in everyone: in the worm, in a grasshopper, in the monk named Kane, Ed Muzika, Jo-Ann ‘Mamaji.’ The consciousness is the same.
It is the universal consciousness, manifest individually in all of us. And, as the universal aspect, it is actually vast and limitless, because it contains everybody. It is in everybody and everything, either as an object or the subject; of the sight, of whatever the object is.
This did not seem as deep as some of his stuff, but that is the reading for today.