Straight Ahead with an
Empty Mind and Full Heart.
[Recording starts midway through Edji’s sentence]
… and through that bliss to recognise yourself, too. Find yourself.
Robert loved chanting. I love chanting; and so you are all subjected to it, whether you like it or not. Even those people that complained about my chanting while the chanting is going on!
So, when this chant comes on, if you can, chant with it.
Do not just listen.
[Chanting – Jaya Jagatambe]
Are we going to have Gopala now, or do you think maybe the short version of Sita Ram? Which do you prefer? Okay.
Greetings from San Fernando Valley, porno capital of the United States.
Pretty soon we are going to suffer another new year, same as the last fucking year. It will be exactly the same—maybe worse—but we will be happy, because we do not care.
Jo-Ann will get rid of all of her programs. We will never see her again. She will be blissfully happy. [Laughs] She is insane now, but she will be blissfully happy, then.
XXXX will have killed her husband, drowned the kids; and we will have an ashram at her house, all 5000 square feet of it, in Tinkerville, Virginia—population 15. Just outside of that huge town—what is it? Fredericksburg, or Wickenburg, or some burg with a huge population of 10,000 people—right outside of Washington DC, power centre of the world.
Then we will make our move. Sarin in the subways, just like the Japanese. We will show them what a real cult can do! Get the Kool-Aid ready.
Happy New Year.
I got a comment left on the blog today from Randy.
Randy said, “You shouldn’t talk about your experience, because people will listen to your experience and compare their experience to your experience.” And he says that is why he does not have a teacher—because he does not want to compare his experience, I guess, to a teacher’s experience, and be bothered by all that.
But you know, there is no way you cannot have a teacher.
If you read books by Ramakrishna, by Krishnamurti, by Nisargadatta, by Ramana, you have a teacher. There are none of the great teachers that have not had a teacher.
Except Ramana; Robert. They had teachers after they had an awakening, but not before. But almost everybody else has had a teacher.
Nisargadatta had a teacher.
U.G. Krishnamurti had several teachers, all of whom he rejected, but he still had teachers. He hung around J. Krishnamurti for many years. He went to see Ramana Maharshi. He had a meeting with Ramana; and he asked Ramana, “Can you give me what you have?” He had no idea what Ramana Maharshi’s experience was like. And Ramana replied, in a smartass way, “I can give it to you, but can you take it?”
What the fuck does that mean?
You know, I think I am one of the few teachers around that does talk about his experience. Everybody else talks in terms of concepts—about the Absolute, about the relative, about the ‘I Am’, about the ‘I’ word, about the sense of presence—but there is no real experience. They do not talk about much their experiences with their guru. Nisargadatta talks about how he trusted his guru, how he visited him; but nothing really about their relationship.
Randy said, “All the greatest teachers taught in silence.” Well, you mean like Krishna, who talked to Arjuna on the battlefield constantly—as related in the Bhagavad Gita? You mean like Ramana, who spent 60 years talking about his enlightenment experience? You mean Robert, who left 3700 pages of texts of his talks?
Who are these great ones that taught in silence? Who are the greatest ones that taught in silence? They all used words, concepts; and a rare few talked about their experiences.
Nisargadatta talked about his experiences in that little booklet, Self Knowledge and Self Realization [originally published in India in the 1960s, edited and left to Edji by Jean Dunn in the early 1990s, published to the Internet by Edji in 2005] about his path up to his awakening, through devotion, etc.
But Randy is wrong: you cannot help but compare your experiences with other peoples’; and if you read books of the teachers—Papaji or whoever—you are always wondering what his experience was, because he is not really talking about it.
And J. Krishnamurti talks in questions—What is it like to live without a bounded mind? To live without a thought structure? To live in the immediacy and the passion of the present? Well, I do not know. Tell me, what was your experience, Krishnamurti?
So I speak of my experiences rather than concepts. I try to keep the concepts to a minimum, music to a maximum, and my experience—I throw a lot of that in there just because, where else can I speak from?
There is one other thing. I have never really liked the terms “master,” or “guru,” or all of that kind of shit. I guess that is because of my relationship with Robert.
Ramana Maharshi did not have a teacher. Robert had an awakening before he had a teacher and then he traveled for many years to find all the nuances of his understanding of what his enlightenment experiences meant. And also, Robert had one final awakening according to Mary [Skene, one of Robert’s close devotees] during the last year of his life, and I do not know what that was. She never told it to me.
But over and over again, Robert would tell me—as a matter of fact, he told me this at the beginning—Ed, I have lots of devotees, but I need a friend. Somebody I can talk to, about day-to-day things. He did not have a friend. And so he made me his friend, and that is our relationship. I was not a devotee. He treated me like an equal. He treated me to lunch.
We were equals, like Krishna and Arjuna on the battlefield—Krishna driving the cart, Arjuna with the spear and the sword. Arjuna is filled with doubt and Krishna says, “You can either have me as a friend, or you can have my armies do battle for you.” And he chose to have Krishna as his friend and mentor.
That is how I relate to you—not as a teacher so much, or a guru; but a friend, an equal. And that confuses a lot of people, because the dichotomy of master-teacher is not here. I regard all of you as equals.
All of us are equally crazy.
This does not mean that all of our relationships are out of control because no-one is in charge—because those relationships where somebody is in charge tend to be very closed relationships. What I am talking about here is a very open relationship, on both sides. A relationship from the heart; from silence; from emptiness.
Meeting in emptiness.
Neither of us know where we are going.
Neither of us really care where we are going, as long as we are together. Do you understand this? The difference?
There is no security here. I do not know where the fuck I am going. I do not care. But I know I am happy.
Every day is happier, and I feel the raining down of bliss every day. And even more of sanctifying grace, that sweeps me away. And when there is no me, in terms of an “Ed,” how can I know where I am going?
It is all God’s grace that determines where I am going, where you are going, where we are going.
The safety and security is not in our relationship, but the trust in Consciousness; in God. If it were up to me, nothing at all would happen.
I direct nothing.
I really do not care where we are going.
But what a ride. What a ride.
Jo-Ann, did you expect to be here a year ago? Joan? Either John? John-John. Tina is still asleep, so that is one constant… oh, no she says she is not. [Chuckles]
So, it is not that you go with me at your own peril, because we are being watched and taken care of. But there will be a lot of shit happening in your life as you leave the old patterns and go to no patterns, or go to patterns that come from silence—from your emptiness, from the stillness of the heart, the silence of the heart, where the mind is no longer controlling and imposing patterns and “should” and “oughts” and conditions. There will just be verbs. No nouns. No adjectives. No constraints.
Of course, such actions may be sleep, lying on a couch, listening to chanting; but they certainly will not be done because you “should” do something. The “shoulds” will arise from your own heart—I should take care of that cat. I should take care of that child. I should take care of that Republican representative. It will arise instantaneously, spontaneously, from our hearts. There will be no boundaries in terms of the mind.
Much is made of learning to see the world as a child sees—innocently, simply; compared with all the burdens we carry of concepts, etc. But just see how innocent a two year old or a four year old really is, as they bash each other for their favourite toy, or hang onto you and say [in a childish voice] “I want a cookie! I want a cookie! No I don’t want that cookie. I want another cookie!”
It is all impulse. It is all rage. It is all love. None of it is tamed. Is that what you want to return to? The “innocence of childhood?”
The ideal is to develop fully as an adult. To feel those impulses, and to control them. To have learned to control and what fulfilling every impulse would mean, in terms of the destruction of your life.
And after you have fully become and matured as an adult, to be able to then say Hey, I’ve done all this shit. I’ve done this in the world. I’ve done that in the world. I feel fully grown up, fully confident. I’m happy. Now I’m released. Now I can get away from all those “shoulds,” and live innocently—not with the mind, but with the heart.
The feeling is, we go inside, into the emptiness inside, and we take up a position. Right from the heart, from the chest. And we watch all the shit happen.
Every moment is fresh.
An emotion comes up, and you can see it for what it is. Same with a thought. Living from the heart—the silence of the heart.
That is topic one.
Moving on to topic two. You know, probably every one of you has read both Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta. Everybody considers them the two greatest contemporary advaita masters, and I can assure you that everybody is confused by the difference between them. Everybody assumes that they are the same, but there is an incongruity in their different teachings that just bugs the hell out of people. They cannot put their finger on it.
They have very different teachings, and, I assume, very different experiences. Unexplainable differences. And neither of them really talk about their experience—just their conclusions. So, we have no way of judging which is higher or lower; more complete, less complete. We just choose one, or we choose the other, or we choose both, or we choose neither.
For example, Nisargadatta is very clear: the body is real. It is made out of atoms, and it is a product of food we eat. Sentience creates a body, the body-mind, that grows up, develops a sense of ‘I’ at the age of two or three—the ‘I’-sense—which is the nucleus between universal consciousness and our individual consciousness.
We grow up, and we mature, and then we decide to seek spirituality and find out who we really are. So he tells us to pay attention to the ‘I’-sense. And we pay attention to the ‘I’ sense, and one day, by loving it, by attending to it, it disappears and we become the Absolute—with no affect; no love. Just pure knowingness, and the recognition that we are beyond this world. The ‘I’ concept… the ‘I Am’ is a concept, and Consciousness itself is a concept.
It is very simple. It is very Western, in the sense of realism—where you believe the mind and consciousness are an epiphenomena, or generated by the body, by the brain. Very similar in many ways. Not completely, because Western philosophy does not have the concept of being a witness to the whole process of consciousness. I am oversimplifying it, but it is just to make a point.
Ramana, on the other hand, talks about the ‘I-I,’ and that our practice is almost identical to that of Nisargadatta, but the conclusions are very different. For Ramana, you as ‘I’ are to look within and follow the ‘I’-thought to where it goes, where it disappears. Just keep following the ‘I’-thought, or asking yourself “Who am I?” and wait for an answer to rise up from the emptiness within. You just follow the ‘I’-sense down, down, down, down… through various levels of consciousness, until you reach the “fourth state,” Turiya [the state beyond waking, dream and deep sleep, which also contains and permeates them.]
The body is not real. The body does not generate consciousness. Consciousness contains the body. The body sprouted out of consciousness. Everything is consciousness. The camera you are looking at is consciousness. Your own body is consciousness. It is just something that you are witnessing.
Everything you eat is consciousness. All of your thoughts are in your consciousness. The void is watched by you, the ultimate ‘I.’ It too is consciousness—an object within consciousness. Consciousness is everything. Consciousness is awareness. Consciousness is you, and it is not you. It is nondual.
And yet, there is a core that feels like ‘I.’ For Ramana, it is real. It is not a thought. It is not just a concept. For Ramana, it is real. It is the pathway to Turiya. It is the path—following downwards that sense of ‘I.’ That sense of ‘I’ is real. That is the core of the universe.
You might say it is almost equivalent to Nisargadatta’s concept of the Absolute. But actually, Ramana has a concept of going beyond Turiya, the fourth state, to Turiyatita —I do not remember how you pronounce it—which is the absolute You; beyond awareness, beyond consciousness. And in that sense, although he still considers it consciousness, it is similar to the Absolute of Nisargadatta.
But it is a different model altogether, because nothing is real but consciousness, for Ramana, including your body. It appears to come out of the seed, to come out of the egg and the fertilization process, and is given birth; but that is outward appearance. What has actually happened is impersonal processes in Consciousness producing a baby, and impersonal processes in the baby producing an ego.
When the person grows up, they as ‘I’—the sense of control—can begin the process of turning inward and investigating the inward processes; including that ‘I’ sense, as well as everything else inside—the chakras, the sense of ‘I’ arising in the heart, or near the heart—most of us feel when we have a sense of ‘I’ that it is in the heart, some feel it in the third eye—but for Ramana the ‘I’ sense is real.
It is the path to enlightenment, is to follow that ‘I’ down, down, down, down, down.
Now if we go to Nisargadatta’s teacher, Siddharameshwar Maharaj, it is a similar story there. You follow the ‘I’ through various levels—the subtle body, the causal body—to the Absolute. There is one other body. I forget what the name of it is.
Many different conceptual structures.
The practice, though, is universal: staying in the ‘I,’ abiding in the ‘I;’ or pursuing the ‘I.’
But there are different epistemologies and different ontologies involved. For Nisargadatta, consciousness is not real. For Ramana, it is everything.
For Nisargadatta, the ‘I’ sense is not real. It is ultimately an illusion that dissolves into the Absolute. For Ramana, the ‘I’ sense is that there are two ‘I’s—the small ‘I’ of the ego, and the ‘I’ of the Absolute, or Turiyatita; and you are to follow that downwards to liberation. Neither of them explains their experiences.
Neither of them explains their experiences.
We have nothing to judge. We trust the method. That is the only thing—is to trust the method. And it is such a natural method: find out who you are. Spend thirty years, or listen to the neoadvaitins that say Well, take a look inside for five or ten seconds, and you will see there is no ‘I.’ You are free!
So many concepts. So many teachers.
So many assholes.
Now, we agree on a method: looking for the ‘I.’ The method should be king. Trust the method—so many have advised it.
I tell you on my website what happens to me doing it—and it was not doing that that got me awakened. It was lying on a couch, listening to sacred music and just looking within; resting within and just looking around inside, into the emptiness. It is sort of like Self-inquiry, I guess.
And the secondary consideration was that there was a crisis in my life. Robert had left. My teacher had left, I was alone. Often awakening happens when there is a crisis.
But listening to the sacred music, lying on a couch and introspecting was definitely a part of it, as well as the twenty years of Self-inquiry before that—even though, when the awakening happens, it does not feel as if any effort you made in Consciousness was at all relevant to the awakening.
That is topic two.
How about He Bhagavan?
Most of you who have been coming to this satsang for a year or so—six months—really feel pretty happy. You know that you do not know where you are going, but there is a sense of grace. That we are being taken by benevolent forces -
[Edji removes Lakshmi the cat from his chest because she is scratching him] Oops, that hurts a little. Ow! That hurts.
… and sometimes not-benevolent benevolent forces.
We feel carried. Protected. Safe. We will be taken care of. It feels that way.
Dropping the “shoulds,” the “oughts.”
Dropping the race for prestige and getting ahead in the world, or getting behind. We are protected by God’s grace; the grace of Consciousness. Robert used to call it “the power that knows the way.”
The world is unfolding as it should. Often that means, though, that you are very actively engaged in the world. Rescuing animals. Being a revolutionary. Still, there is the feeling that you are in your right place, doing the right thing for you, for the world. Even if the world is an illusion, you still have a role.
So the security comes within you, as a gift. God shows you his way. Consciousness shows you its ways, and you trust. That is when you operate from the heart—when the mind and its “shoulds” is dropped, with all of its vows and affirmations and positive thinking; self-analysis. When all of that is dropped and you just live from the silence of the heart, everything is secure.
It is like magic. Things show up, like magic. It happened for Robert Adams all the time. He would need money for something or other, and it would just mysteriously appear. It happens with us too; more and more.
So, topic three—The Tiger’s Cave. I think this is the appropriate part ... wait a second. This is a long reading. I really wish I had somebody to read this, but we have to wait for people to get copies of this, so they can read it.
This is page 60, the Heart Sutra. It is the Tiger’s Cave by Trevor Leggett, and it is the musings of a Zen Abbot about the Heart Sutra. And he personalises it, talking about what it means to him, and his experiences.
The Heart Sutra itself is about the heart of the Buddhist doctrine. And for the Zen people, the heart—the chest—is where the ‘I’ is; the sense of self. The separate sense of self.
So, it is the Heart Sutra in more than one way. It is about the heart. And living in the heart, or from the heart. With or without the ‘I,’ because they are both the same according to Zen. The ‘I’ comes from emptiness and returns to emptiness, but it is still there.
No need to destroy it. Just by recognising that its very nature is emptiness, nullifies it. Nullifies the greed, the hostility.
Anyway, page 60.
The world of emptiness -
I talk about emptiness a lot because I was in Zen for twenty years, so emptiness is a constant experience for me, awake or asleep; eyes open, eyes closed. I always feel it—a kind of spaciousness that is inside of me and around me everywhere—that permeates all forms; and forms are permeated by it. Forms come out of emptiness, and they go back into emptiness; or into the “unknowing” as Rajiv Kapur puts it.
The world of emptiness is not some world without crying and without laughing. Emptiness in the tears themselves, emptiness in the smiles themselves—this is real emptiness. Then the phrase is turned around. In the sutra it says “Form is emptiness. Emptiness is form. Feeling, thoughts and consciousness are also like this.”
In other words, feeling, thoughts and consciousness are permeated by emptiness. They come from emptiness. They disappear into emptiness. But the spouting out of the emptiness is what gives them form, its meaning, its life.
Then the phrase is turned around. “Emptiness is not different from form.” When with all my mind I plunge what I call my self into the heart of Kannon -
… a bodhisattva. Kannon is also known in Sanskrit as Avalokiteshvara, and in the Japanese it is Kannon Bodhisattva. Kannon is one of the first and most important of the bodhisattvas.
Buddhism has many streams but the two most famous are the Hinayana, or small vehicle, and the Mahayana, or the larger vehicle. The Hinayanists really do not like hearing of their vehicle called the “smaller” vehicle, but the thing is, for the bodhisattvas you do not just save yourself, as with the Hinayanists. You save all sentient beings.
The concept is that the bodhisattva is a saint who will risk his or her own salvation [enlightenment] to give it to others before he takes it himself, or she takes it herself. She is more concerned about the benefit and the realisation and the taking care of the other, than of herself—the bodhisattva. And there are two: there is Guanyin, who is the goddess of compassion; and Kannon, Avalokiteshvara—who is the first of the great bodhisattvas.
Then the phrase is turned around. “Emptiness is not different from form.” When with all my mind I plunge what is called my “self” into the heart of Kannon Bodhisattva, and in that heart become completely noughted -
then the laughter and the weeping called “form” can for the first time have a meaning. Only as emptiness have the forms their great meaning. When the form emerges from the emptiness it is recognised.
Now just for today, let me try—and then the time when I wanted to burst forth like a thunder storm, when I wanted to rage with the anger erupting in me—just for today— and somehow I realise that blazing up for what it is: something which is blazing up. And then there was the taste of the state of liberation.
He stopped, and he saw the form of rage arising within him, from the emptiness in his chest. And he saw it for what it was—this rage was a form arising from emptiness.
Then I was unable to speak for that moment, with the ill feeling vanished, and from my heart there was no power of mind. It was the power of Kannon. Through Kannon’s grace there came a breath from the absolute. “Emptiness is no different from form.”
The emptiness ate the rage. He saw it emerging from the emptiness, and from the emptiness he observed the emergence of the rage. And it was just the seeing of it. He felt the peace of the emptiness.
Through Kannon’s grace -
- through the grace of emptiness, of the Absolute,
there was a breath from the absolute, and it negated the anger.
This is taken out of context. It talks about what his experience was, but it would be way too long to read the whole thing.
Form and emptiness cannot be separated however much one tries, and the life in which they are reconciled—the life of Kannon—is expressed in the two phrases “Form is emptiness. Emptiness is form.” Form here stands for all five skandha-aggregates.
I do not want to get into it, but the skandhas are the elements of which the manifest world is made.
The power which simply negates them is form, is emptiness. It is not only illusory clinging which is negated. The real emptiness is negation of what is called Buddha, also.
This is going to be hard to grasp. You are not going to get it the first time.
What he is talking about is, you have to negate not only the negative elements but the positive elements, like the Buddha. Rage, on the negative side, and Buddha, on the positive side.
The power of negation begins with the five aggregates, but goes on to negate all.
Including the positive, including Buddha.
Only thus in the world of supreme wisdom and light hinted at, it breaks the illusory clinging to the self and goes on to negate even the Buddha form.
“Kill the Buddha.” [Paraphrased from a Zen adage – If you see the Buddha walking on the street, kill him.] You are free then. You are free from the negativity of your own emotions, and you are free from any path.
You are your own path.
If it stops short at the full Buddha form, it is not emptiness. “Form is emptiness” points to the state of ultimate negation. Only when there is that absolute negation will the next phrase be manifest: “Emptiness is form,” the affirmation of all conditions.
“Emptiness is form” is the affirmation of all conditions, including all that shit that is happening around you. When you see it is nothing—when you recognise its nothingness—automatically there is the acceptance of it.
Because there is emptiness, there can be form. Therein is manifested the compassion of Kannon.
It is to be noted carefully that in this sutra the phrase “form is emptiness” comes first, and “emptiness is form” comes afterwards. In the Diamond Sutra similarly the world of negation comes first and only then the world of affirmation. It is after the absolute negation that the so-called world of unconditional affirmation appears.
The first phrase, “form is emptiness” means “this will not do” and “that will not do,” and never gives its assent. Then comes “this will do” and “that will do.” This is the world of “emptiness is form,” the affirmation of everything just as it is. First the power to condemn, then the power to let be, but these powers to condemn and to condone are never separate from each other.
Then he goes on to tell all about his experience.
Now, you may have grasped this or not, but get the book and mull over this for a while. It will be part, you know… continuing. This is a different point of view than Nisargadatta. I was frightened we were getting a little too nailed down into the Nisargadatta mould, and I want to break out of that… and totally fuck you up and confuse you with an entirely different point of view. Which is really the same!
I remember how I felt when I was 44 years old and my old Zen teacher died. When I was young I used to be scolded by both my parents and my teacher, but now my parents had come to praise me up and never scolded me anymore. It was only the teacher who still had a harsh word for me, and when he died an inexpressible loneliness overcame me.
Four years previously I had gone back to my hometown and I used to act as his assistant. At that time, I was fairly full of myself. “Quite a name in Buddhist scholarship,” they said. And then I had been a professor here and a headmaster there. Oh, I was pretty well satisfied with myself when I came home. I was one of those men of elevated views.
I came home with the conviction that my wisdom was very far reaching. But this teacher still saw me as the same runny nosed youngster as before. Every day I used to scrub the floor and the teacher would come up behind and he would say “Look at that! What sort of cleaning is that supposed to be? All black and white patches, like a picture or something! The number-one boy ought to be able to make a better job of the cleaning than that!”
Another time when I supposedly made a reply in the wrong tone, he said “If you still don’t know how to answer properly, your spiritual training doesn’t amount to much, does it?” I was scolded over everything.
I remember one day an old lady came to the temple and told us she had brought a girl along with her. On asking how old the latter might be, she said “Oh, she’s sixty.” Certainly to an old lady of eighty, the daughter of sixty is still a girl, in spite of the wrinkles. A girl is a girl. Whatever the age may be, a girl is still a girl.
In the same way, to the teacher I was still a little boy. However distinguished a countenance I had put on, however many professorships I may have held—that was nothing to the teacher. I might feel myself a man of elevated views but the teacher’s comment was, “If you still don’t know how to answer properly, your spiritual training doesn’t amount to much. Do some self-examination.”
Sometimes I used to feel “Why doesn’t the old man let up a little bit? Yeah, a little bit. Just a bit, damn it!” But when he died, I had this unutterable loneliness. Now there are so many to praise, but the teacher who was really kind to me—who used to hide his tears of love under his scoldings—is dead, and I am alone.
Holy Kannon is one of those who looks on all of his children and shows compassion for all, whoever they may be, whatever they may do. We have to face the fact of our illusions. We must realise our clinging attachment to the skandha-aggregates for what it is.
In other words, his clinging to his fame and his accomplishments.
In this, his compassion for seeing things as they really are, he negates and negates but when we come to realise we are nothing at all, then we have the experience of the sublime world of Kannon, which embraces all in an infinite forgiveness.
In the bodhisattva the world of emptiness and the world of form are not two. “Form is emptiness. Emptiness is form.” And in these words the Buddha speaks of the state of the bodhisattva Kannon.
In the Genjo-koan book of the Shobogenzo it is written, “In the feeling of inadequacy of body and mind the dharma is fulfilled. Know also that in the feeling that the dharma has been fulfilled by body and mind, there is yet something lacking.” When we come to know Buddhism, to feel that it is well, that ‘all is peace,’ to set ourselves down in a state of so-called satori [enlightenment,] means that there is yet no real understanding of Buddhism.
If we are really receptive to Buddhism, there is always the feeling of “not enough, not enough.” Limitless endeavour and striving continue, age after age. That must be the spirit of Mahayana. There is no feeling of completion. “Not enough and still not enough.” Gradually self is negated and the world of liberation reveals itself.
This is very different than Nisargadatta, yet they are expressing the same thing.
Any questions, comments, complaints?
Raise your hand if you have a complaint.
John wants to. Grenafege? However you pronounce his last name. Granola. Granola. I like granola. I can remember that. It is a mnemonic device—for remembering.
John: I take a lot of offence at your pronunciation.
Edji: [Laughing] Good! How else can we pronounce it? Grenovich. Granola.
John: Well, originally it was Irish and Russian, so it was Grenovich, and it got misspelled at Ellis Island.
Yeah, very nice. What comes out when you do this, is just fantastic. When you were talking about “Emptiness is form, and form is emptiness” it really hit home, because at first the impulse, from here, was to kind of go into the emptiness, and there is an old Zen expression—I don’t know a lot about Zen, but I know this one expression—one student went to the teacher and said “My friend is always in the emptiness. What should I tell him to do?” And he [the master] said, “Give up the emptiness!”
And so for me right now, what I was saying to you last week about… push. Is that okay, it’s an illusion. It is not my illusion, and it is really not an illusion from the point of view of the Absolute. The Absolute is fine with it, but this is also it. It’s like you were saying about the hole in the paper [referring to an explanation that Edji used at the previous satsang in which one side of the paper represents the manifest world of body, mind and objects, while the other side is the undifferentiated Absolute, and a hole through the paper represents the aperture through which the finger of “I” is thrust.] Once that’s seen, then what do you do?
And there is always the sense of doing—I don’t care what anyone says. And there is always the sense of ego—not in the sense of a personal thing, but just…
Edji: There is always a sense of “mine.” There is “me” somewhere, either as an absolute witness seeing the illusory nature of consciousness itself, or ‘I’ as a person. That is what Ramana is talking about—you follow the ‘I.’ The ‘I’ is always there, and at one point becomes everything. “I am everything.” And then other times, “I am nothing.”
John: There is no centre anymore.
Edji: Yes, no centre. Right.
John: But there is even the sense that what he calls the ‘I’ of ‘I’—that’s even not it, because even beyond that… that’s part of the manifestation, and even that thins out after some point.
John: I mean it’s all philosophy, as you say, and it’s true. But there’s some sense that’s even beyond that… that is really not known. It’s impossible to put it in words.
John: [Laughs] Even though the apparent world has its demands, and I guess a lot of what I’ve been going through in the last year and half… just those demands, and my wanting to just stay put. It is kind of getting used to being out, and it becomes a whirlwind in a sense. Like, I can’t plan a damned thing. I can’t plan anything.
John: When I sit down to plan something, it hurts.
Edji: I know. I know.
John: And everyone around me that, well, that’s still left [laughs] —they look at it like I’m being spaced out.
John: It’s not being spaced out anymore. For a while it was. I couldn’t form a thought.
John: Now I can kind of do that, but I would much rather be just… be. But there is a push, and I don’t know what the hell to do.
Edji: I really have a hard time when somebody says “Can I Skype you tomorrow at 2?” [John laughs] I have no idea what mind-state I am going to be in at 2, or where I’ll be at 2, because even though I have a really conventional life of Starbucks in the morning and usually leaving around 10:30, I have no idea what’s going to happen at 2 or whether I’ll really be up to any conversation.
I may not be in the mood for it or something like that. I know exactly what you’re talking about, and we’re all going through that.
Right, Joan? How much have you accomplished today?
Yes, John, you got it perfectly. You fully, fully, fully comprehend that text. You get a gold star today.
John: Oh, thank you so much.
Edji: I’ll send it to you in the mail.
John: It was nice hearing it from you.
Edji: Yes, thank you.
Joan, what have you done today?
Joan: Actually, you’ll be really shocked.
Edji: Uh-oh, you did something.
Joan: I did [laughing]. I did. I couldn’t help it. I had to. I’ve been lazy for so many days, everything was falling apart. And all the company finally left, so I became Hitler and ordered everybody around and had to get some things done. Sorry. I’m a failure!
Edji: You’re a failure.
Joan: [Laughing] What can I say?
Edji: [Chuckling] Such a disappointment. But look at Tina. I’m sure Tina compensated by doing absolutely nothing today. And it’s not a matter of doing nothing. It’s a matter of… you’re doing whatever comes up. And if you’re not moved. And if you are moved, you are moved.
Edji: And Joan hasn’t been moved to do much recently, and now she’s moved.
Joan: Just for one day. [Laughing] And I’m done.
Edji: And a lot of us are that way, you know. We’re less and less in the world, but then something comes up and we can fully function in the world, for the three or four days or however long it takes to get the task done, and then go back into this blessed silence.
Except people that have a lot of kids. It’s not so easy, two kids…
Joan: No. Less than silence here.
Edji: Yes, or have a full time job. Or have all of that—it’s very difficult.
Anybody else? Anything else? Any bitching and complaining?
John H., you’re usually filled with things I should do. What are the suggestions today?
John H.: Oh, I have no suggestions, Edji. I’m going to shut up.
Edji: [Laughs] I don’t believe it! I don’t believe it!
John H.: I’m going to shut the fuck up.
Edji: That’s not going to last long. [Laughing]
John H.: It will last a couple of days.
Edji: Well it’s a good attempt. It’s good! You get a silver star for attempting to shut up.
John H.: Okay.
Edji: I guess I should send a silver star to Tina too, because she just doesn’t say anything, ever.
Tina: You’d be surprised.
Edji: Yes. Not in satsang, you don’t.
Tina: [Laughing] Oh no. I really don’t say a whole lot, most days. I like the quiet.
Edji: Yes, I know what you mean.
Tina: But I want to thank you, for the year.
Edji: You’re welcome.
Tina: And all you’ve given us. I love you, and each and every one in the sangha. Thank you so much.
Edji: You’re welcome. You’ve given me so much, too. All of you have. Now I want all the rest of you.
I want everything. Take it all away! Throw it all away!
Michael, how are you?
Michael: I’m alright.
Edji: Tell me what’s going on with you.
Michael: Not much.
Edji: This is your opportunity to bitch, moan, complain, compliment. Ask a question…
Michael: I’m good.
Edji: Okay. Anybody out there in computer land that I can’t see have a question?
Mark: Hi, how are you?
Edji: Good. How are you feeling today? Are you okay? How was satsang for you?
Mark: Nice, yeah! I’ve done the Heart Sutra in a study course once, when I was involved in Tibetan Buddhism. It’s a really good text.
Edji: Yes it is. Because it’s very personal.
Mark: Very profound. Very deep. [Chuckles]
Edji: Yes it is. The notion that negation, emptiness, actually accentuates the form and also neutralises it at the same time. Just the observing of the arising of the forms nullifies it, and yet makes it real at the same time.
Mark: My mate had a peak experience when he was about 15 years old. He kept repeating over and over, “I understand everything—it’s like it is, and it isn’t.” This was his thing—that it was and it wasn’t at the same time.
I couldn’t get a handle on it, and I didn’t know what he meant. Then, years later we both got into Tibetan Buddhism and we got into studying this Madhyamika Prasangika view of emptiness which I was reading on someone’s website, where they were doing a nondual technique and then they came to the conclusion that it wasn’t one, it wasn’t the other; but it was both—that was the answer.
But according to the Prasangika view, it’s not that this is then asserting some new position. It’s not one, it’s not the other, it isn’t both and it also isn’t neither. That would be the full Prasangika view of that, so I was quite surprised that this guy had come to that conclusion, sort of asserted the position of it being both, yeah? Rather than one or the other. That’s kind of not the whole equation, the way I came to understand it intellectually.
Edji: You know, there is a—I’ve mentioned this at satsang before—a famous koan, called “Gutei’s finger.” Have you heard of it before?
Edji: Gutei, whenever people would ask him a question about the dharma, he’d raise one finger. No matter what they’d ask him. What is the Buddha? One finger. What is Nirvana? One finger. What is emptiness? One finger.
And he had a student. The name of the koan is, “What is Gutei’s one-fingered Zen?”
The student had been with him many years, and everybody recognised that he was a senior student of Gutei.
So people started asking him questions. What is Buddha? And he’d hold up one finger. What is enlightenment? He held up one finger. What is the way? He held up one finger—just like his teacher. He didn’t know what the fuck it meant, but he knew the observables, the behaviours.
Gutei, seeing this, snuck up behind him one day when he was answering people in the crowd and he grabbed his hand after somebody had asked him “What is Buddha?” and he put up one finger—Gutei grabbed the student’s hand and with a knife, cut the finger off.
Now, you’re supposed to answer the koan: What is Gutei’s one-fingered Zen? What does it mean?
I struggled with that koan a long, long time. I even gave Maezumi the answer one time, when I was getting frustrated [Edji holds up middle finger.] But that finger didn’t mean that much back then [chuckles.] He just hit me with the stick.
But the proper answer is—sometimes this [holding up right index finger,] sometimes this [holding up left index finger,] sometimes this [holding up both index fingers,] sometimes this [fist hiding right index finger,] sometimes this [fist hiding left index finger,] sometimes this [both fists but no fingers showing,] and sometimes this [no fists or fingers showing.]
That’s for you, Mark. You got that, right?
Edji: Okay. And for the rest of you … my one finger. [Holds up middle finger] Ed’s one-fingered Zen!
Let’s do… yeah, we can do that one. I want to do one of the Yogananda ones—Only You. I love that one.
I Will Be Thine Always—yes.
[Chanting—I Will Be Thine Always]
I wanted to ask the people that have been coming for six months or so, or more—do you notice, in the last month or so, a different feeling? A feeling of what I talked about—grace? That there’s something happening?
I don’t know, I can’t put my fingers on it, but it feels that there’s a sacredness, or a hallowedness about our satsang now that’s different. Do you have any feedback? Joan?
Joan: Well, I guess that it’s kind of hard to put your finger on, but I have felt it. Last week I think you had mentioned —well you’d mentioned it a few weeks back, but last week was the first time I physically felt it—just that descent. Yes, something’s different.
Edji: Yes. Worse.
Edji: How about Jo-Ann?
[Long pause where sound cuts out]
Edji: Yeah. It must be John’s presence. He’s been here for three weeks now, so it’s got to’ve been him. We’ve got to find a cause.
[Voice off, indiscernible]
Well, something’s going on—I can feel it.
I can feel it.
I can feel it.