24 April 2014

I Am Soooooo Tired of the word Non-Dual and talk of Emptiness, Nowness, Beingness

I first met Joshu Sasaki in the winter of 1970/71. Every day during Sesshin he would give a talk called Taisho. He was a little man, if you would see a photo of him now he's about middle chest high.  He can't be 4'10" now.

But Roshi was a showman, understood perspective and the mind.

When we entered the Taiso Hall, also the Chanting Hall, he was already sitting in a beautifully decorated and elevated chair, maybe chest high, so his head was about 7 feet.  It seemed he was about 3 ft. thick under his under and over robes.  That is, he had a lot of padding which made him look bigger.

It was maybe the tenth Taisho when I heard him say, "Enlightenment can become boring."

Intuitively I knew that could be true.  Already I was spending hours everyday without a body or mind, merged with the wind and sounds of birds, and the dancing trees.

Within five minutes of sitting I no longer had a body or mind; I was the universe.  I became the jet flying overhead, or the sound of the wind and snow against the paper windows in the Zendo.

Which is real I thought?  The state of ordinary mind, or this oneness I experienced every day for hours at a time. Is one state more real than the other, more permanent?  Does either tell us more about who we truly are?  Am I "really" this blissful state of inner emptiness that invited the world into "me," even though there was no me when it came in?

I didn't know.  It was a question I would ponder for many years.

You see for some "enlightenment" is just the "realization of the emptiness of the subject and object distinction."  There was no I, no world, just a living presence which was me more and more.

But for some, it was realization that all objects, including self or ego, arose out of emptiness in the morning and sank into emptiness in the evening, and all day long they paid attention to the inner space that the objects came out of and went into.

And watching this emptiness can be fascinating for a number of years.  Itself it has properties of coolness, beauty, lucidity, and silence that was total peace.

This is the Nowness, Beingness, or even Self that many Advaitins and neo Advaitins talk about.  This is Shiv. Pure space, spotless, self-illuminated, utterly peaceful.

For some, "enlightenment" was just understanding the doctrine that form and emptiness were interpenetrating and One, and that there was nothing to be done, just rest in the gaps that revealed nowness between thoughts. Their "realization" was an understanding, a grasping of non-dual perspective.

But Zen would never tolerate just an intellectual answer. You had to experience emptiness, nowness, and the loss of personal self and the body in order to enter the brilliantly shining clarity of merger into the world.

Now, I will tell you, this is the beginning and end of most teacher's understanding and experience. This is the beginning and end of Douglas Harding's teachings of having no head, and most current Facebook teachers.

But let me tell you, even the most refined state of merger into emptiness, oneness or the brilliant shining Now, can, like Sasaki said, BECOME VERY BORING!

This is why I teach the way of love.  No two days are the same. No two hours are the same.  There are ups and downs. One feels all human emotions such as unconditional love, romantic love, sexuality, joy, bliss, brilliant displays of internal energies, colors and internal flows of colored subtle substances.

Then there are times of dryness, mild depressions, major black moods, anger, jealousy, rage, feeling embarrassed,
helpless, etc., and all are recognized and accepted as me.

But most importantly comes the experience of Self, which is our usual looking self that sees Itself as "Self" after that hidden Self of grace and God are revealed to self.  Then that small self becomes Self by identification and incorporation.

After that, everything is both the same and different.

Once again you are fully human newly emerging after years of regaining your emotionality, painfully and sometime slowly.  You can be depressed, you can be angry, you can be blissful or feel the grace of God: it never stops.  Every second is new.  It is not just the unchanging brilliance of Nowness, Beingness, or emptiness, it is being God and human at the same time.

Inside you are different.  Complete, total, utter, self-confidence, because not only are you the Self-of-All, the Atman, Turiya, the Fourth State of existence, knowledge of Self and who you are, but always have access to bliss in one form or another.

Even the rawness of new painful movements of Shakti inside your body and Subtle Body becomes more ecstatic than even the blissful states because you are becoming 100% totally accessed by the world through the tenderest vulnerability of the human Self to fear, anger, joy, and a piano concerto.  All becomes so intense there is no space for boredom.  You are 100% alive.

This comes about because of the transformative power of love. You have total access to silence, Nowness, and emptiness, but also the wild passion of a van Gough along with his eye for beauty.

Every moment the Self in you is giving birth to everything.


  1. YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. This is the difficult part:
    "Then there are times of dryness, mild depressions, major black moods, anger, jealousy, rage, feeling embarrassed,
    helpless, etc., and all are recognized and accepted as me." Isn't because of these times people yearn spirituality.
    I still cannot understand that fear, anger jealousy etc. is associated and can go hand by hand after Self realization. I mean, Ed, after Self-realization, did you ever felt fear? If yes, then could you elaborate why does the absolute self-confidence gained after Self-realization doesn't negate fear?

  4. Yes, many people get into spirituality to escape negative feelings. That is why spirituality fails. They cannot be escaped. They always come back.

    Real spirituality is to become powerful enough and sensitive enough to face ALL FEELINGS, POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE, so that the adjectives "positive" or "negative" become meaningless.

    Avoiding any emotion leads to an abandonment of the human emotive life, which eventually leads to dryness and psychological death. But when you are the Self, you have the strength to let all feelings pass freely through you, absorbing them into your heart, making it sensitive and alive.

    Emotions are the key to relating in the world, not the emptiness, nowness, beingness, etc., and under the emotions are fields of energies and rivers of bliss.

  5. In fact, raw emotions of a kind never allowed before or denied,when felt fully, are more cutting and sublime than even that deep river of bliss. To feel fear utterly, completely for a moment leaves you more alive than ever before. Ditto total love, sadness, emotional pain as with rejection or loss.

    This is where Rumi nailed it when he said, "God keeps breaking your heart until it stays open."

    But it is a painful process not well-received nowadays with teachers of instant enlightenment who view any sort of process as going away from what is.

    1. Indeed painful.
      I still lack clarity on emotions and actions. How to fit them. For example, suppose i walk somewhere and get very angry when i see someone beats a dog or cat, i get angry to such a degree that i want to kill that person, and then i get afraid of myself that i had such thoughts and anger in me, and here is a dilemma - if my heart becomes powerful and sensitive and i relate through emotions with the world then if i don't stop myself i will harm surrounding world, how would you approach such situation?
      This fear of some actions begets to search for 'safe' guidelines...

  6. But do the raw emotions come after Self Realization ? You should have the capability to sustain all these emotions ...

  7. Ed I have read your self realization e-book, thank you. Now after "experiencing" the empty or pure void state for over 2 mths now I had already perceived within myself that this cannot be the finality or liberation as Ramana or Maharaj spoke. Simply because no matter how vaporous or transparent I feel as a so called "person in a world", there is still a semblance of an illusional me there. I find it hard to verbalise this but I know you understand what I am conveying however inadequately. So now after reading this article everything you say seems so clear & simple. It seems that what must be accepted & lived at the deepest level is that everything at every level both physically manifest and right down to the deepest levels of subtle being and thought IS only one complete homogenous unalloyed pure block of alive beingness within which all things positive or negative, good or bad... every imaginable thing Is without distinctions. And once fully realized that is Liberation. Have I understood correctly ? Your guidance is appreciated immensely.

  8. MB,

    Your grasp is amazing. A new way of saying what I say.

    Consider sentience as a solib block of protoplasmic sentience with multiple levels of Consciousness, and various entities or objects inhabiting each, and stretch this over time into the 4th dimention of time, and add the Absolute Obersver, the Witness, as the Fifth dimension. That is more or less what I am saying..

    Well done!

  9. Ed I am appreciative of your reply & I intuit that you indeed have answers for me & specific guidance pertaining to my current state of consciousness and what now to do, if anything. I have been reading through your dialogue with Rajiv along with the Nisargadatta Gita and a new perspective has given me some insight. I wish to ask you, where it is written to stay with the I AM feeling is it better or same to stay in the purely subjective formless state of awareness ? The thought I AM seems to have been abandoned in my case and I am most of the day (except when mind is drawn out by people & events both at home and work) aware of myself as an easy open spaciousness, as if I am invisible or hollow. It is a state of balance & equanimity mostly but it is not everpresent or permanent at this stage. However thoughts, images etc. can arise and subside in that without affecting it and this utter emptiness is as if I do not even exist save for a shell or husk and the apperception is that this is the real me but I am lacking confidence or something to make it unshakeable & Absolute ! This is confusing at times. Thank You Edji ... mark

  10. Following on from my I AM question, is the holding onto I Am a sustained thought / feeling or is it more a deliberate coming back to a feeling of simply being "you-are" in each present moment. There is some confusion in myself over this and I had given up the whole I AM notion until reading Nisargadatta Gita. But maybe I am trying to interpret it too much with mind ? Thanks Edji mark.