Iluminous, open, empty Awarenessnever find Myself in a situation; all situations find themselves in Me.

The Direct Path

How do you see the uprooting or exposing of these personal blind spots that seem to block the release into the natural openness of Being? Do you advocate a kind of teacher/student pointing out one-on-one that could lead to this type of release?

Hi Rupert!

I would like to run some ideas past you and see if what I am pointing to is in accord with what you are attempting to reveal here… please comment.

Rupert wrote: “At a certain point there is a shift and we find our self naturally taking our stand as this Presence. That is, Consciousness rests in its own being and is less and less inclined to go out of itself as an apparent entity in search of happiness in an apparent world.” This is really the crux of the entire discussion here… I believe. Do you agree?
 
The various practice traditions that have the non-dual Presence of Being/Awareness as the expected fruit of such an approach, all discuss this “shift”.  It actually is a shift from the relative view as self, to the Absolute View of Being.  There is profound difference between the two and the shift can be breath taking, as in Zen Satori or Kensho.  Or sometimes its just a gentle dropping away of the relative self viewpoint, leaving only what has always been Present,an utterly transparent Clear Light that is an Aware Knowing/Beingness.  This can be a gradual thinning or dissolving of the mental construction of self, wherein the subject becomes more and more transparent.  And what’s very interesting is that to the degree that the subject becomes transparent, the various objects or “external” world also appears transparent to the exact same degree.  The transparency of the subject is the transparency of the object. Would you agree?
 
When this mode of utter transparency arises, the universe seems to be very thin and quasi-transparent like a luminous hologram floating in vast Emptiness.  It seems as though you can actually non-dualistically see through the veneer that is all that remains of the previous apparently solid universe.   That’s a clear marker or milestone of the maturation of the process of subjective dissolution.  Everyone will notice that holographic transparency as that is the true appearance of Being’s radiant Energy dimension… hence your notion of the “transparency of things”... quite apt indeed! Yes?

So when certain teachers of the Advaita view say “there is no practice possible because who is there to do practice?”  That is simply a cute play on words… a sort of non-dual philosophy of sorts.  But non-duality has nothing to with concepts or philosophy.  All of the methods of traditional Mahamudra, Dzogchen, Laya yoga, Kundalini yoga and Zen are meant to bring this shift about.  But for sure their practices have proven successful for over a thousand years and longer, that actually create a context in which this shift can more easily occur.

So indeed there is “something you can do”... until there is no longer a subject who could do something.  It can never happen as a result of intellectual manuevering and speculation.  That’s why the traditional teachers say to just drop all efforts at conceptualizing the Truth and just do the practices without expectation… and the results will arise spontaneously or with the assistance of some brilliant and unexpected intervention by a skillful master at the exact right moment.  That skillful parry will most likely be targeted at a specific “blind spot” that would otherwise remain as the final obstacle preventing this shift to occur.  How do you see the uprooting or exposing of these personal blind spots that seem to block the release into the natural openness of Being?  Do you advocate a kind of teacher/student pointing out one-on-one that could lead to this type of release?


What you seem to be describing quite accurately, is the fruit of all non-dual practice traditions.  For some the prescription of “no practice and to just remain as Awareness” is good enough.  For most there is too much solidity of the self illusion for that approach to be ultimately effective… but eventually so.  I am sure we have all tried that “approach-less approach” many times over…no?  At some point, one often has to work at the level of the subtle energies of the mind, the energies that are perpetuating the ego illusion.  The ingrained subconscious habits and their momentum need some addressing and taming before any transparency will arise in most cases… from my experience and working with others.  I now fully understand and appreciate where you are coming from… and your intended target:  the subtle shift from self to Self as a living and irrefutable fact of Self-less Experience.
 
Jax

 

Dear Jax,

How nice to hear from you again and I am glad that you raised these issues towards the end of this session. I am happy to have the opportunity to write about these matters. I understand where you are coming from and what I have said here is not in any way a counter to your approach but rather a contemplation on it.

Jax: I would like to run some ideas past you and see if what I am pointing to is in accord with what you are attempting to reveal here… please comment. You wrote: “At a certain point there is a shift and we find our self naturally taking our stand as this Presence. That is, Consciousness rests in its own being and is less and less inclined to go out of itself as an apparent entity in search of happiness in an apparent world.” This is really the crux of the entire discussion here… I believe. do
you agree?

Rupert: Yes, as long as we include the fact that this Presence which is independent, free and imperturbable is also intimately, utterly one with all appearances of the mind, body and world. In other words, we are talking about love as well as understanding.

Jax: The various practice traditions that have the non-dual Presence of Being/Awareness as the expected fruit of such an approach, all discuss
this “shift”. It actually is a shift from the relative view as self, to the Absolute View of Being.

Rupert: In this approach, which is sometimes called the Direct Path, this ‘shift’ takes place at the very beginning. In the Direct Path it is pointed out right at the start that the body and mind, in which we usually invest our identity, are in fact intermittent objects and that our real identity is the ever-present Consciousness to which, in which and ultimately as which these objects appear. As a result of this clear seeing we now naturally take our stand as this Knowing Presence instead of our previous stance as a mind and a body.

Having taken our stand knowingly as this Presence we then examine the mind, body and world in the light of this new understanding and gradually, in most cases, discover in a very experiential way that they are made out of this Presence alone. The fruit of this understanding is love, peace and beauty.

Jax: There is profound difference between the two and the shift can be breath taking, as in Zen Satori or Kensho. Or sometimes its just a gentle dropping away of the relative self viewpoint, leaving only what has always been Present, an utterly transparent Clear Light that is an Aware Knowing/Beingness. This can be a gradual thinning or dissolving of the mental construction of self, wherein the subject becomes more and more transparent. And what’s very interesting is that to the degree that the subject becomes transparent, the various objects or “external” world also appears transparent to the exact same degree. The transparency of the subject is the transparency of the object. Would you agree?

Rupert: Yes, exactly, the apparent self inside and the apparent world outside are two inseparable sides of the same belief. They arise and dissolve together.

Jax: When this mode of utter transparency arises, the universe seems to be very thin and quasi-transparent like a luminous hologram floating in vast Emptiness. It seems as though you can actually non-dualistically see through the veneer that is all that remains of the previous apparently solid universe. That’s a clear marker or milestone of the maturation of the process of subjective dissolution. Everyone will notice that holographic transparency as that is the true appearance of Being’s radiant Energy dimension… hence your notion of the “transparency of things”... quite apt indeed! Yes?

Rupert: Yes, but just to be sure we are talking about the same thing, I would like to elaborate. To understand that we are the witness of the body, mind and world is a stage of understanding. At this stage it is obvious that we are not a mind or a body but it is not yet obvious that what we are, Consciousness, is impersonal and unlocated. Nor is it obvious that the body and the world alike are equally made out of this Consciousness. A further and deeper exploration is needed in most cases to go from the ‘I am nothing’ understanding to the ‘I am everything’ understanding, that is, from wisdom to love.

Jax: So when certain teachers of the Advaita view say “there is no practice possible because who is there to do practice?” That is simply a cute play on words… a sort of non-dual philosophy of sorts.

Rupert: The saying, “there is no practice possible because who is there to do practice?” is simplistic. It is quite possible to practise playing a musical instrument or performing a sport, just as it is quite possible to take actions such as cooking a meal or going for a walk, without there being any sense of being an individual entity. In fact, it is quite possible and indeed very easy to lead a full and active life without there being any sense of being a separate entity. It is in fact the sense of being a separate entity that makes life seem so difficult!

Likewise it is equally possible to take one’s stand as impersonal Presence and explore the nature of the mind, body and world without there being any sense of being a separate individual.

It is of course true (and I know that you are well aware of this) that there is never a separate entity who practises anything or indeed who reaps the benefits or consequences of any such practise, spiritual or otherwise, but it is, as you imply, a misunderstanding to deny the validity of practise on this basis.

Jax: All of the methods of traditional Mahamudra, Dzogchen, Laya yoga, Kundalini yoga and Zen are meant to bring this shift about. But for sure their practices have proven successful for over a thousand years and longer, that actually create a context in which this shift can more easily occur.

Rupert: Yes, until it has become clear that we are Knowing Presence and that there is no experiential evidence for the belief and feeling that this Presence is either personal or limited, it is inevitable that almost everything we do, spiritual or otherwise, will be undertaken with the belief and feeling that we are a separate entity who is the doer, the thinker, the feeler, the lover, the enjoyer etc. etc. of all experience.

So be it! As such, we undertake the exploration of the nature of experience as this apparent entity. This is inevitable. At some point the shift occurs and it becomes obvious that even when we believed and felt ourselves to be such an entity…even then, there was no such entity present.

At this point we naturally think and feel ourselves to be Presence without having to make any effort or enquiry. However, the world may still seem to be at a subtle distance and there is therefore what could be called a second stage of the impersonal investigation in which the world is, as it were, absorbed back into the Self. It is the Self that projects the world and the same Self that withdraws the projection.

Jax: So indeed there is “something you can do”... until there is no longer a subject who could do something.

Rupert: Yes, as long as there is a sense of being a separate entity, it is inevitable and unavoidable that we will think and feel ourselves to be the thinker, the feeler  and the doer of all our thoughts, feelings and actions. If we pretend, as this apparent entity, that we are not doing anything, we are simply not being clear and honest with ourselves.

Jax: That’s why the traditional teachers say to just drop all efforts at conceptualizing the Truth and just do the practices without expectation… and the results will arise spontaneously or with the assistance of some brilliant and unexpected intervention by a skilful master at the exact right moment.

Rupert: Traditional teachers were speaking at a time when, in general, faith and belief predominated over reason. In such times, and in certain places such as India, there was a natural predisposition towards the sacred and the divine and, as a result, reason tended not to challenge the traditional teachings as as it does now. One of the benefits of this approach was that the heart was already soft, open and receptive and people were happy, as a result, to ‘just do the practices without expectation’. One of the disadvantages of this attitude was that understanding could become formulaic and ritualised because it was not subjected to the scrutiny of reason and, as a result, the teaching was sometimes downgraded to belief and religion.

However, we live in an entirely different age now, where reason, independence and enquiry are well developed. For this reason the injunction to ‘just do the practices without expectation’ jars for most of us. There is something harsh and mechanical about that and the spirit of freedom within some of us rebels when we hear it.

So I don’t really like the word ‘practise’ because of its association, for some of us, with dry, mechanical piano practise or whatever, when we were young, where we were just told to do the practise irrespective of whether we understood what or why we were doing it, let alone whether we wanted to or not!

I prefer to speak of an exploration or an investigation that is initiated by love, intelligence, interest and enthusiasm and that is sustained only when the invitation from love and intelligence beckons.

Jax: That skilful parry will most likely be targeted at a specific “blind spot” that would otherwise remain as the final obstacle preventing this shift to occur. How do you see the uprooting or exposing of these personal blind spots that seem to block the release into the natural openness of Being? Do you advocate a kind of teacher/student pointing out
one-on-one that could lead to this type of release?

Rupert: I am glad that you ask this question and can only answer from my own direct experience.

The teacher wants absolutely nothing either for or from the student. He or she has no agenda. The so-called teacher sees the so-called student as him or herself, that is, as Presence. It is this attitude alone that is, in my experience, the effective agent in the apparent relationship between the teacher and the student.

For so long the world has treated us like a separate person and, as a result, we have learnt to think, feel and behave like one. One day, by Grace, or as the result of a deep longing in our hearts, which is also Grace, we may meet someone who doesn’t treat us like a separate person with all of its attendant expectations, but treats us as our true Self.

We may simply register this encounter as friendship, the simple feeling of, ‘I like this man or woman’ or ‘I like being around this man or woman.’ We feel an ease and a freedom in their company. We do not know why and it doesn’t matter. We just enjoy the ease and freedom, and we find ourselves keeping the company of this man or woman for as often and as long as there is the desire to do so and circumstances that permit.

It is such a relief not to be taken as a separate entity with all the usual demands and expectations that attend this attitude. We are simply free to be our Self, whatever this means for each of us. Sometimes the relief is small and is just noticed as a relaxation at the level of the mind and body, and sometimes it is more dramatic and there are tears and laughter.

Sometimes, this friendship is the only form in which the teaching takes place. There is little or no need for much talk or explanation. There is just being together. In this way the ease and freedom of the teacher permeates us, as it were, and we find ourselves catching it just like one catches a cold by infection! We gradually become established in it without our knowing why, how or when it happened. Nor do we care! Likewise we may enjoy speaking about it, but we may just as well remain quiet, getting on with our lives and rarely mentioning it.

When my first teacher was asked, humorously, how he would like to be reborn, he replied, “Self-realised but without the need to speak about it!”

However, many of us are more questioning and want to explore this taste of ease and freedom and, as a result, start to ask questions. It is in response to this questioning that the teaching is elaborated. If one has the privilege and the fortune to spend time with such a man or a woman, one sees that the teaching is always alive, spontaneous and, above all, tailored to meet the moment.

In this way it never becomes formulaic or mechanical. It may be that in response to a particular question the teacher may make up, on the spot, a line of investigation or exploration or a certain exercise that may help address the specific issue at hand. Then it is forgotten, both by the teacher and by the student! The experiment was alive, in the moment.

It is only the pundits and intellectuals who collate all these suggestions from the teacher and make out of them a method or a practise and subsequently a religion.

In the early days with my teacher, I would love these experiments and explorations, particular in relation to the body and the world. They were so experiential. After a while and with his encouragement I would begin to make up my own lines of enquiry and exploration. It was so enjoyable!

To begin with I would run these new experiments passed him just to make sure I was on the right track but after a while I stopped telling him about them and simply enjoyed finding new ways of exploring my experience. This was true of lines of reasoning as well as explorations of the body and world.

After a while there were no more questions relating to the teaching. It didn’t mean I knew everything. It just meant that I had been given the golden key and was learning to find my own way home.

For some time after this there were just practical questions relating to how this love and understanding expresses itself in relation to practicalities in the world such as in work, art, relationships, family etc. And then there was almost no conversation about these matters, just enjoying being together, in whatever way our two characters would meet.

So, with that as a background, to your question about the ‘skilful parry,’ the ‘blind spot,’ the ‘final obstacle,’ the ‘shift,’ the ‘uprooting or exposing’ etc. etc. I would say this:  The teacher is not, in my experience, like one with a bow and arrow, targeting ignorance in all its subtle forms, although I respect that in some of the traditions you describe, this can seem to be the case. In my experience he or she is more like an ocean of love and intelligence. It is in this ocean, which to begin with we ascribe to the person of the teacher and later ascribe to impersonal Presence, that the beliefs and feelings of a being a separate and limited entity are dissolved. How that dissolution takes place I do not really know but it is unique in each case.

For a few it will not even involve the presence of a personal teacher but even in these rare cases it is still the same ocean of love and intelligence that dissolves the apparent ignorance.

When one looks back on the relationship with the teacher it is a mystery. We do not know what happened, when, how, or why. All that remains is a heart melted in love and gratitude. We do not know what we are in love with nor do know to whom we are grateful. It is almost impossible to speak of this, just as it is almost impossible to speak of one’s love for a child or a friend. However, nor is it necessary, for more and more one finds that life itself, in all its diversity, is simply a gesture of this love.

Jax: For some the prescription of “no practice and to just remain as Awareness” is good enough. For most there is too much solidity of the self illusion for that approach to be ultimately effective… but eventually so.

Rupert: Yes, the teaching can take an infinite variety of forms to suit the need of the moment. The prescription of “no practice and to just remain as Awareness” is just one of the possible forms of the teaching. If it comes in the moment as the response of love and intelligence to a particular question or situation, then it will be perfect. But if it is applied as a mechanical answer to all questions then it perpetuates the ignorance that it seeks to relieve. In fact, in such a case it comes from ignorance.

The teaching is not in the words, it is in the love and understanding from which the words proceed and with which they are permeated. The words are just the packaging of the teaching. They are important but only in so far as they lead to the love and understanding from which they originate. As such, and in the hands of a skilful and sensitive teacher, a very wide variety of means and expressions will be used depending on the moment, including expressions that would seem to condone the apparent entity and the apparent world.

That was the long answer! The short answer about the crux of the matter is, Yes, I think we are in accord. Presence is what we are and it is also the substance of the world, objects and others. It is this Presence that, out of its own freedom projects the mind, the body and the world, through thinking, sensing and perceiving, and it is this same Presence which, out of the same freedom, withdraws the projection and comes to know itself again as love, peace and beauty.  In other words, Presence is the origin, the interest, the longing, the seeking, the practise, the path, the student, the teacher and the goal. In each of these forms it has to be honoured with love and intelligence.


With love,

Rupert