As the witnessing presence of Awareness, we stand in the background of experience; as the light of pure Knowing, we stand at its heart. 

The Doer vs. The Non-Doer

I'm struggling with the conflict between me as the 'doer' vs. the non-doer.

Dear Rupert, 

The question of choice and personal doership in this exploration of ‘me’ arises constantly. I’m struggling with the conflict between me as the ‘doer’ vs. the non-doer. 

I understand, that in order for me to choose, there needs to be a me doing the choosing. And I understand that the seeing through of illusion dissolves the person, and therefore the choosing.

I hear many places, that when the Truth of my own nature is seen, there’s no ‘me’ left. No ‘me’ to quit smoking. To me it sounds as if I’m supposed to ‘just let things happen’. But if I do this, I continue smoking. And then my mind starts playing movies of cancer, my future kids losing their father, me having pain and being in hell for many, many years. Fear. 

I understand that my understanding comes from the point of view of a person. 

My question then is: When this is seen, and fully understood intellectually and experientially, that Consciousness is what I am, what happens to the ‘person’?

Is it really so, that the ‘me’ dissolves, and I just see what I currently take myself to be, living it’s apparent life as if I’m a camera watching from the outside? Especially regarding choice. Do I just watch ‘the me’ sit around waiting (holding itself as Consciousness - I know this is illogical!) for the choice to ‘pop up’ in the mind to quit smoking? 

Or is it rather so, that the person is in fact still there, but with the background knowledge of ‘me’ just being another appearance in and expression of Consciousness? So that the apparent person is still there, having to make apparent choices?

In other words: is the person dissolved, or is it just seen through, as with all other objects? Is it a disidentification with the body/mind, which destroys the person completely, or is it a disidentification from the person, which in itself continues afterwards? 

 Am I hindering the seeing of this by making the firm choice to quit smoking - a choice that definitely makes the sense of being a ‘me’ strengthen, which I currently feel is counterintuitive in the process of reaching Understanding? In other words: Should I just continue my normal life, making choices as an apparent person?

It seems counterintuitive to the saying of “taking my stand as awareness”, which in relation to smoking would be just watching the urges, watching my fears, watching the reactions of my surroundings, watching my reaction to the smell, watching me smoking etc. But in this way I continue smoking, and there’s definitely also the urge to quit, so the conflict - and suffering - continues. 

I’m having great difficulties expressing my confusion, but I hope it makes sense. I would be very happy, if you would share your thoughts on this!

With high regards,

Jeppe

 

Dear Jeppe, 

Jeppe: The question of choice and personal doership in this exploration of ‘me’ arises constantly. I’m struggling with the conflict between me as the doer vs. the non-doer

Rupert: Our apparently objective experience comprises thoughts, images, sensations and perceptions. 

At any moment only one object can seem to be present at a time so it would be more accurate to say that at any one moment there is one thought/image/sensation/perception apparently present. 

For simplicity let us simply call this thought/image/sensation/perception the current appearance.

See clearly that there is only ever one appearance present at any one time, just as on a TV screen there is only ever one image present.

It is the mind alone that splits up the current experience into a multiplicity of objects, such as words, hands, table, walls, sky etc. And by ‘mind’ is simply meant, the current thought.  However, in our actual experience there is only ever ‘one thing’ apparently present at any moment. Later it will be seen that in fact there isn’t even one ‘thing’ present; there is only Presence, present to itself. 

This ‘one thing’ that seems to be present is a seamless whole just as the image on the screen is a seamless whole. It is only the mind that draws imaginary lines around parts of the image to create apparently separate objects. 

Now take the current appearance (that is, the current thought/image/sensation/perception) and see that the entire appearance is permeated with the Consciousness that knows it, just as the entire image on the screen is permeated by the screen on which it appears.

In other words, see that Consciousness does not permeate one part of the current appearance more than another part, just as the screen does not permeate one part of the image that appears on it more than another part. 

Everything is equally permeated by and saturated with Consciousness. In fact there are no separate parts in experience, any of which could be more or less permeated by Consciousness. 

There is just one whole, just as there is only one image on the screen. And that one whole is utterly saturated by and permeated with Consciousness.

No apparent part of it is any closer to or further away from Consciousness than another. 

There are in fact no ‘parts’ that could be at varying distances from Consciousness. 

When anything appears it is so utterly and intimately one with the Consciousness that knows it that there is not the slightest room for any distance or separation from it. 

In fact there is not even an object, other or world there to begin with, that could subsequently be divided in parts. 

It is thought that rises up and seemingly obscures Consciousness, thereby creating an apparently objective reality.

And having created an apparently real world (by forgetting the true and only reality of Consciousness) it is thought again that divides it up into an apparent multiplicity of parts, including the separate ‘me.’ 

Having imagined a ‘me’ and a world of ‘objects,’ thought can then locate this ‘me’ at the centre of experience and position all things at varying distances from it, some close and others far.

Hence time, space, objects, causality etc. are all apparently created in thought.

It is a thought alone that first imagines a world made of parts and then decrees that some parts are permeated by Consciousness and others are not.

It is as if the screen were to say, if it could speak, that some parts of the image are one with the screen and others are not. But what exactly would those parts of the image that do not appear on the screen, appear on?

And what exactly would those parts be made out of if they were separate from the screen? What other substance is present there, in the image, apart from the screen, out of which such a separate part could be made? 

That part of the totality that thought considers to be permeated by Consciousness is called ‘me,’ and the part of the totality that is considered by thought not to be permeated by Consciousness is called ‘not me.’

That part of the totality that is considered to be ‘me’ is the thinking/imagining/sensing part, that is, the body/mind. And that part of the totality that is considered to be ‘not me’ is the perceiving part, that is, the world.

It is as if the screen were to think that it, the screen, is only present in one little part of the image that is appearing on it, just one little person, but not all the rest, not the others, the trees, the fields, the sky, the cars, the buildings…etc. 

In other words, the apparently separate entity and the apparently separate world are created in thought by an imaginary division of the totality of experience. 

Now what relation does all this have to your question about ‘the conflict between me as the doer vs. the non-doer.’

The doer and, while we are talking about it, the thinker, the feeler, the chooser, the lover, the decider, the enjoyer, the sufferer etc., etc., is considered to be this little separate entity that thought has artificially created within and divided from the totality. 

But this doer is not an entity. It has no separate reality of its own. It is simply a thought plus a little cluster of sensations. 

Our experience is one seamless whole. It is not comprised of separate parts, one part acting on another, one part giving and the other receiving, one loving and the other loved, one part dictating and the other part dictated to.

So the conflict ‘the conflict between me as the doer vs. the non-doer’ is an artificial conflict. It can never be resolved at the level on which it is appears because the entities around which it revolves are non-existent. 

There are no entities, parts, objects or others anywhere to be found in experience.

There is simply experiencing - thinkingimaginingsensingperceiving - whose entire substance is made out of the Consciousness that knows it, just as the entire substance of the image is made out of the screen on which it appears.

And when there is no thinkingimaginingsensingperceiving, experiencing remains as it always is, simply beingknowingloving itself.

In other words, thinkingimaginingsensingperceiving appears in beingknowingloving like a current appears in the ocean, a modulation, as it were, of its own substance.

However, from the point of view of mind, this experiencing comprises many things - people, cars, buildings, houses, trees etc., etc., - but from the point of view of Consciousness (if Consciousness can be said to have a point of view) there is just ‘one thing.’ And what is that ‘one thing?’ Itself! It doesn’t see or know objects, others, the world etc. It sees or knows only itself. 

To know an object is to seemingly not know  the Self and to know the Self is not to know an object. 

It is only the mind that sees objects, others, the world etc. However, the mind’s point of view is an imaginary point of view. The mind only has a point of view from its own illusory point of view. It is like one part of the image on the screen having a point of view. But there are no parts in the image. There is only one image. 

Therefore there is only one point of view, which is not a point, because it is not viewing the whole from any particular vantage point. It IS the whole already. Its being itself is its knowing of itself. And its knowing of itself is its loving itself. The whole of itself knows the whole of itself at every moment.

So how is it possible for the mind to imagine its illusory point of view? It first has to deny or forget the existence of Consciousness. Or, to be more accurate, the mind (which is only made of Consciousness) rises up and seems to obscure the Consciousness in which appears, just as the three-dimensional image seems to veil the two-dimensional screen. 

The moment it does this, the reality of experience, Consciousness-Being-Knowing-Loving-Itself, is seemingly forgotten and, as a result, an imaginary reality made out of something other than Consciousness, that is ‘matter,’ can be imagined. 

The ‘world’ and the ‘person’ are simply names and forms that the mind gives to the apparent forgetting of Presence. 

And conversely, as soon as Consciousness remembers itself, so to speak, and knows itself again as the background and substance of all appearances, by ceasing to rise as the dualising thought that seems to obscure its own reality from itself, the apparent objectivity of the world and the apparent subjectivity of the person collapses, and experience is known for what it truly is, pure Consciousness alone.

*        *        *

With that as background, we can now go on to look at some of your more specific comments and questions: 

Jeppe: I understand, that in order for me to choose, there needs to be a me doing the choosing. And I understand that the seeing through of illusion dissolves the person, and therefore the choosing.

Rupert: The ‘chooser’ is seen to be non-existent as an entity, but apparent choosing continues.

For instance, the question, “Would you like a cup of tea or coffee?” appears. Then the thought, “Shall I have a cup of tea or coffee?” appears. Maybe other thoughts about how much time there is, which is best for health etc., etc. appear. Then the answer “Yes, tea please” appears. 

In other words an apparent choice is made, the choice to have tea rather than coffee, but there is no chooser. 

There is just one thought after another appearing in Consciousness, including sometimes the thought, “I, this person, chose to have tea,” but that thought, like all other thoughts is also an impersonal thought appearing in impersonal Consciousness. 

In the case of the thought, “I, this person, chose to have tea,” it is simply an afterthought that has misinterpreted the situation. The apparent ‘I,’ the chooser, is created with the thought that thinks it. The ‘I’ has no reality other than that thought. 

However, we could also say, from a higher point of view, that there is no choice, as well as there being no chooser. In this case it is seen that there is in fact no connection between the thoughts, “Would you like a cup of tea or coffee?” “Shall I have a cup of tea or coffee?” and “Yes, tea please.” Each is simply seen as a spontaneous arising within Consciousness.

When any one of these thoughts is present the others are not and there cannot be any real connection between a current thought and a non-existent thought. 

In fact when each thought is present, its only reality is the Consciousness out of which it is made. So the apparent relationship between thoughts is in reality the relationship between Consciousness and Consciousness. 

What is the relationship between Consciousness and itself? The question doesn’t make sense! In order to have a relationship there has to be two apparent things. And there are never two apparent things in experience. 

There is only Consciousness alone, knowingbeing itself.

So, in the first interpretation, choice is admitted and in the second it is not, but in neither case is a chooser admitted.

*        *        * 

Jeppe: I hear many places, that when the Truth of my own nature is seen, there’s no ‘me’ left. No ‘me’ to quit smoking. 

Rupert: It is true that there is no ‘me’ left to quit smoking. However, it is not that the ‘me’ disappears. It is rather that it is seen to be and to have always been utterly non-existent.

In other words even when you were smoking, there was in reality still no ‘me’ there smoking. 

So don’t worry about the non-existent ‘me.’ Simply be your Self, the Consciousness that you intimately know yourself to be. 

However, at a practical level, be concerned with the smoking not with the ‘me.’ That concern comes from intelligence not from the ‘me.’

Jeppe: To me it sounds as if I’m supposed to ‘just let things happen’. But if I do this, I continue smoking. And then my mind starts playing movies of cancer, my future kids losing their father, me having pain and being in hell for many, many years. Fear. 

Rupert: Everything is already seemingly just happening. Do you have any choice in the matter? Who is there to have a choice? That apparent one, the apparent chooser, is just happening from time to time, as the thought that thinks it. It has no other reality other than the thought that thinks it and as such, has no more ability to control the situation than a table or a chair.

So see clearly that everything is already just apparently happening. Do not separate yourself out from the totality of the situation as a chooser, a controller, a decider. 

In other words, you are taking yourself apart from the totality as this apparent one, and deciding to let smoking happen but not the desire to stop it? 

As this apparent controller, you are selecting to allow some things to happen and not others. Allow everything, INCLUDING the deep desire to stop smoking and all the things that present themselves as possible aids in the effort to stop smoking. 

So allow all the ‘movies of cancer, my future kids losing their father, me having pain and being in hell for many, many years. Fear….’ allow all of that to happen. It is already happening in fact. And continue to allow whatever your intelligence to present solutions, very practical ones, to help you quit.

And then allow the practical steps to happen . . . to try all possible means to help yourself. 

Your desire to stop smoking comes from the deep intuition your have, that we all have, deep within ourselves, that what we truly are is free of disease and suffering. Your desire to stop smoking is a desire to realign the body and the mind with that deep intuition. 

Jeppe: I understand that my understanding comes from the point of view of a person.

Rupert: The apparent person is a sensation with a thought attached to it. Does a sensation understand anything? Ask yourself, does the tingling sensation called ‘my hands’ understand these words?

And now ask yourself if a thought understands anything. For instance take the thought, “I’d like to have a cup of tea.” Does that thought understand anything? No! Thoughts do not understand. They are understood. Sensations do not understand. They are felt. 

It is Consciousness, not a person, a body or a mind, that understands. In fact Consciousness IS understanding. It does not DO understanding. 

Your desire to stop smoking comes from understanding. It does not come from the person. However, your mind has superimposed an advaita belief on top of your understanding. 

See through the advaita belief and welcome your desire to stop smoking! The latter is far truer than the former.

 Jeppe:  When this is seen, and fully understood intellectually and experientially, that Consciousness is what I am, what happens to the ‘person’?

Rupert: Nothing happens to the person. How can something happen to something that is non-existent? When it is clear that Consciousness is what I am, it is simultaneously clear that there is no ‘person’ and never has been.

*        *        *

Jeppe: Is it really so, that the ‘me’ dissolves, and I just see what I currently take myself to be, living it’s apparent life as if I’m a camera watching from the outside? Especially regarding choice. Do I just watch ‘the me’ sit around waiting (holding itself as Consciousness - I know this is illogical!) for the choice to ‘pop up’ in the mind to quit smoking? 

Or is it rather so, that the person is in fact still there, but with the background knowledge of ‘me’ just being another appearance in and expression of Consciousness? So that the apparent person is still there, having to make apparent choices? 

Rupert: The apparent person neither dissolves nor it is still there. The apparent person is non-existent. Period. 

The apparent person is simply the exclusive identification of Consciousness with a body/mind, and this apparent identification takes place in thought only. It never really happens. 

When this identification falls away, it is seen clearly that every apparent thing is and always has been made only of Consciousness, that is, made of your Self. All apparent things are seen to be equally and utterly permeated with Presence.

To begin with it may seem like a watching of the apparent ‘me,’ seeing that it is just one more appearance amongst many. However, in time this ‘me’ appearance tends to appear less and less. It dies of neglect.

There is no watching left. Everything is seen to be too intimate, too utterly one with my Self to admit of a watcher and a watched.

Life becomes very simple. The thought to give up smoking appears, the action to give up smoking appears. The resolve to see it through once and for all appears. And giving up smoking appears. 

Jeppe: In other words: is the person dissolved, or is it just seen through, as with all other objects? Is it a disidentification with the body/mind, which destroys the person completely, or is it a disidentification from the person, which in itself continues afterwards? 

Rupert: It is neither. It is the identification with your Self that is the operative element. And who is there to identify with your Self, that is, with Conscousness? There is only Consciousness present there to identity with itself. But it is already itself. No effort to identify oneself as Consciousness is needed. Just see clearly that you are that and BE that knowingly. Don’t pretend to be what you are not. 

Jeppe: Am I hindering the seeing of this by making the firm choice to quit smoking - a choice that definitely makes the sense of being a ‘me’ strengthen, which I currently feel is counterintuitive in the process of reaching Understanding? In other words: Should I just continue my normal life, making choices as an apparent person?

Rupert: It is not the apparent choice to quite smoking that strengthens the apparent ‘me.’ On the contrary, smoking strengthens the sense of being a ‘me.’ 

Why? Because at the heart of addiction lies the sense of lack. This sense of lack IS the apparent person. As soon as the dualising mind rises as the apparent person, the seamless totality is apparently divided into a knowing subject, the ‘me,’ and a known object, other or world.

From this moment onwards the apparent person is condemned to searching in the apparent world for activities, such as smoking, that will temporarily relieve the unhappiness that is felt when our true nature, happiness itself, is seemingly due to this imaginary division of experience. 

Your desire to stop smoking comes from an intuition of this Happiness. Follow it with passion refusing any possible outcome other than complete success. Do not delay.

Having said that I should add that even when the sense of being a person is no longer present, the addiction at the physical level will still continue, due to habit. 

So what I am suggesting is to deal with it at its root, which is to go right to the heart of the belief and feeling of being a separate entity AND to deal with it at a practical level, whatever that involves. 

Jeppe: It seems counterintuitive to the saying of “taking my stand as awareness”, which in relation to smoking would be just watching the urges, watching my fears, watching the reactions of my surroundings, watching my reaction to the smell, watching me smoking etc. But in this way I continue smoking, and there’s definitely also the urge to quit, so the conflict - and suffering - continues. 

Rupert: You say “in relation to smoking (it) would be just watching the urges, watching my fears, watching the reactions of my surroundings, leave out watching the deep and persistent desire you have to stop smoking. Watch that too. And watch yourself passionately engaging in whatever it takes to stop.

Jeppe: I’m having great difficulties expressing my confusion, but I hope it makes sense. I would be very happy, if you would share your thoughts on this! 

Rupert: In fact you have been very clear, and I hope I have too. But just in case I haven’t here is an abbreviated version.

Take your stand as awareness which simply means be knowingly what you are and, on a practical level, do anything and everything you can think of to stop smoking. These two suggestions are neither contradictory neither mutually exclusive. 

With love,

Rupert