Falling In Love With TruthSomehow this intellectual understanding (or whatever I should call it) has to become real at the level of the body and the world or what's the use, right?
I do see that the body appears to me, that it is not who I am. On some level I even know that I am the All Pervading Presence. Yet my experience is usually one of feeling like a body and that the world seems real, frankly. You indicated in an answer to another that you start with brief periods of remembering this (that you are actually the presence) and soon only brief periods of forgetting this.
Somehow this intellectual understanding (or whatever I should call it) has to become real at the level of the body and the world or what’s the use, right?
What is the best way for me to enquire further? Is it to sit and explore as with Francis, or to be invited throughout the day to enquire while doing daily tasks, or to simply “take my stand as awareness”? Perhaps it is all of the above, and thankfully, I am more and more called to do all of the above. This is also why I wanted to know how I can increase my desire to know the truth or, perhaps put otherwise, how one can be so lucky as to fall more deeply in love with the truth?
Your question is already an expression of your love of truth. How to deepen this love? Simply turn towards it. When we try to turn our attention towards truth we find nothing objective towards which we could turn. Any direction in which we turn would be a direction away from our self, Presence. When this is clearly seen the attention that this apparently separate, seeking ‘I’ was directing towards Presence, falls back, as it were, upon itself for want of any other object upon which to fall and, as a result, realises that it is already what it was seeking. In other words the ‘I’ is relieved of its objective limitations and stands revealed as impersonal Consciousness. Or we could say that attention without an object realises itself as Consciousness.
Now what does this mean in practise? The sense of separation comes in two essential forms: 1) the belief that I am separate and 2) the feeling that I am separate.
1) The belief that ‘I’ am separate is the belief that the Consciousness that is reading this email is located behind the eyes and is limited by the body in which it appears. This mixture of Consciousness plus the body constitutes the separate entity. This fundamental belief in the separate entity is substantiated by numerous secondary beliefs such as I am a woman, I am such and such an age, I am a mother, I am going to die etc., etc. All these secondary beliefs seem to be validated by experience and they seem in turn to validate the primary belief in the separate entity that we take ourselves to be.
So, the first thing to do is investigate the truth or otherwise of these beliefs. If you are uncertain as to how to begin to investigate this fundamental belief in separation, please come back to me and I will elaborate.
2) However, by far the larger part of ignorance (and the inevitable unhappiness that attends it) comes in the form of feeling, that is, it is located as a feeling in the body, not just a belief in the mind. This feeling of separation in turn comes in two forms: a) I am exclusively the body and b) I am not the world.
Let us look at each of these in turn: a) The body comprises sensations. The feeling of separation comprises the feeling that ‘I,’ Consciousness, AM this cluster of sensations. However, if we look closely and honestly at our experience of the body we do not find Consciousness in it. Rather we find an amorphous mass of tingling sensations appearing within Consciousness. It is true that when the body is present it is entirely pervaded by and one with the Consciousness in which it appears, just as the image is made only of the screen on which it appears. But this does not in any way imply that Consciousness is a body.
If we make a deep exploration of the body we find that it is entirely dependent upon Consciousness for its existence and is in fact made out of Consciousness itself, but that Consciousness is entirely independent of the body. This is the discovery, at a feeling level, that ‘I’ is not limited or located.
b) The natural corollary to the feeling that ‘I’ is located in and as the body is the belief and feeling that the world (and by the world, we simply mean perceptions) is NOT pervaded by or one with Consciousness. This belief and feeling is inevitable once we have located our self inside the body – from this moment on, everything I am is considered and felt to be the body, and everything I am not, is considered to be the world. However, one clear look at our experience show that the world, that is our perceptions, appear in and are made out of exactly the same ‘stuff’ as our thoughts and bodily sensations, that is, it is made out of Consciousness.
These two, the investigation of ‘I’ at the level of the mind, and the exploration of ‘I’ at the level of the body and the world constitute what is sometimes called self-enquiry. It starts with what seems to be a limited, located ‘I’ and ends with the true ‘I’ of Presence. In fact it was Presence all along, which is why I mentioned in a post yesterday that BOTH the abidance in or as Presence and the process of enquiry are, ultimately the same. However, it is a common misunderstanding to think that self-enquiry ceases when we have returned to our self, as it were, in Presence. Not at all. It is simply that we no longer feel that it is ‘I,’ a separate entity who is doing the enquiry. Rather the mind, the body and the world are explored from this new perspective of impersonal Presence and are gradually found to made out of nothing other than this Presence. Presence as it were reabsorbs the mind, the body and the world back into itself. This is the self-realisation process through which we come to feel and live our understanding at the level of the body and the world. The inclusion of feelings as well as beliefs in this process is necessary if our understanding is to be truly lived and felt in all realms of experience.
The reason I go into this detail is because you asked about various approaches. The inclusion of feelings and perceptions is almost entirely absent in many contemporary versions of so-called advaita, which limit their scope to the realm of ideas alone. Hence the common complaint that you express very clearly and honestly when you say, “On some level I even know that I am the All Pervading Presence. Yet my experience is usually one of feeling like a body and that the world seems real, frankly.’
So the answer above is the long answer to your question as to what can be done. The short answer is to be sure to include all three realms of experience, that is, the mind, the body and the world, in your enquiry. Or, use all possible means at all possible times.
In each case I have given you just the skeleton. If you are not sure how to explore each realm please come back to me for the details! Having said that, the exploration of the body and the world is very experiential and does not lend themselves so readily to this sort of format.