Author Archives: Shantideva

When you really don’t know…

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‘That what I want, basically, what I really want, is what you want. And I don’t know what you want.
Surprise me.
But that’s the kinship between “I” and “thou”. So when I ask, I go right down to the question, which we started with: “What do I want?”
The answer is “I don’t know”.
When Bodhidharma was asked, “Who are you?” which is another form of the same question, he said “I don’t know”.

‘ Planting flowers to which the butterflies come, Bodhidharma says “I know not” ‘

I don’t know what I want.
And when you don’t know what you want, you reach the state of desirelessness. When you *really* don’t know… you see, there’s a beginning stage of not knowing, and there’s an ending stage of not knowing.
In the beginning stage, you don’t know what you want because you haven’t thought about it, or you’ve only thought superficially.
Then when somebody forces you to think about it and go through it, you say, “Yeah, I think I’d like this, I think I’d like that, I think I’d like the other”. That’s the middle stage.
Then you get beyond that, and say “Is that what I really want?” In the end you say, “No, I don’t think that’s it… I might be satisfied with it for a while, and I wouldn’t turn my nose up at it, but it’s not really what I want”.
Why don’t you really know what you want?
Two reasons, that you don’t really know what you want.
Number 1: You have it.
Number 2: You don’t know yourself. Because you never can. The godhead is never the object of its own knowledge, just as a knife doesn’t cut itself, fire doesn’t burn itself, life doesn’t illumine itself. It’s always an endless mystery to itself. “I don’t know”.
And this “I don’t know”, uttered in the infinite interior of the spirit, this “I don’t know”, is the same thing as “I love”, “I let go”, “I don’t try to force or control”. It’s the same thing as humility.
And so the Upanishads say, “If you think that you understand Brahman, you do not understand. You have yet to be instructed further. If you know that you do not understand, then you truly understand, for the Brahman is unknown to those who know it, and known to those who know it not”.
And the principle is that any time you, as it were, voluntarily let up control, in other words, cease to cling to yourself, you have an access to power. Because you’re wasting energy all the time in self-defense, trying to manage things, trying to force things to conform to your will.
The moment you stop doing that, that wasted energy is available. And therefore you are, in that sense, having that energy available, you are one with the divine principle. You have the energy! When you’re trying, however, to act as if you are god, that is to say, you don’t trust anybody and you’re the dictator and you have to keep everybody in line, you lose the divine energy, because what you’re doing is simply defending yourself.
So then the principle is: the more you give it away, the more it comes back.
Now you say, “I don’t have the courage to give it away. I’m afraid”.
And you can only overcome that by realizing, you better give it away, because there’s no way of holding on to it. The meaning of the fact that everything is dissolving constantly, that we’re all falling apart, we’re all in the process of constant death, and that -
“The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon / Turns Ashes—or it prospers; and / Like Snow upon the Desert’s dusty Face / Lighting a little Hour or two—is gone” all that Omar Khayyam jazz. You know, “The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, the great globe itself, I, all which it inherit — shall dissolve, and like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind.”….
All falling apart. Everything is. That’s the great assistance to you. That fact that everything is in decay is your helper. That is allowing you that you don’t have to let go, because there’s nothing to hold on to.
It’s achieved for you, in other words, by the process of nature. So once you see that you just don’t have a prayer, and it’s all washed up, and that you will vanish and “leave not a rack behind”, and you really get with that, suddenly you find that you have the power, this enormous access of energy.
But it’s not power that came to you because you grabbed it; it came in entirely the opposite way. The power that comes to you in that opposite way is power with which you can be trusted.’

To Forget the Self

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The Storyteller

What is the Self? Countless people have asked themselves this question and there have been numberless answers. But as these answers have all been observations expressed in words. What does that mean? All answers on the question “What is the Self?”, when formulated in words can only be from the relative point of view, from a dualistic point of view. It can only describe an object from the point of view of the subject. It is not by an intellectual, empirical and dual approach that the Self can be revealed. But the Self is that through which all is known. It is similar to the eye that can see the manyfold appearances but it cannot see itself. It can see itself as a reflection in a mirror but it can never see itself directly.

This example can be found in the story about the tenth man. Although this story might seem very simple with nothing really interesting to tell us, it is really quiet profound when put into the good context with some understanding.

There were ten men travelling to a very distant village. On their way they encountered a river they were obliged to cross. As the river had a strong current, they decided to join their hands to cross it. But on their way they lost their footing and they had to swim on the other side. Later, on the opposite bank they reassembled and decided to check if everybody had crossed the water. Each started to count the number of men who have arrived and they could only find nine. They concluded that one of them must have drowned and they were bemoaning their loss. Meanwhile a monk passed by and asked them what had happened. They explained their story to the monk, who quickly recognized their mistake. He asked them to line up and count aloud their number as he passed by and hit each of them with a stick on the shoulder. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9… At the end, as he hits the last man and this one calls aloud ‘ten’, they thus realized that they were ten. What had happened is that each man had counted the others and forgot to count himself.

This story illustrates well how the Self is always there but it happens to be overlooked. We cannot see it as the eye cannot see itself. Every attempt to see it will fail as the mind will try to grasp the Self as an object. It is only by turning inward and resting on the thought “I am” that the thoughts, the mind, will be dissolved and eventually our essential Nature, the Self, pure Awareness could be revealed.

Love,

Shanti

Empathy

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The Observer

Tempus Fugit… Time flies… When I watch the date of my latest post I must admit that my writing becomes very rare these times. Being too much involved into mundane concerns I find my blog standing still. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi once said “God never forsakes one who has surrendered.” These days I work very hard to acquire some knowledge to help people in most difficult mental situations. We are the world that we have created and we are the only ones that can change ourselves and hence, change the world. The change is not out there. It is not in time or in space. It is in this present moment, in this precious moment… Have you ever found a solution in the future or in the past? Where is the solution to our problems? If you go deep into it you might say that the solution is always in the present now. But what is the size of this present NOW? Can we measure it? Is it a second, or a fraction of a second, or may be a fraction of a fraction of a second? We can continue like that endlessly, dividing this fraction into new fractions and still we will find a lapse of “time” with a beginning and an end. How tiny is then NOW? Is it measurable? If you really go very deep into that question you might discover that NOW is beyond time, immeasurable… infinity. It is the gate to love, compassion and empathy as it destroys all distance. In NOW there is no space anymore. Time and space always come together. Empathy occurs only if we listen with our whole being. It is not listening that is in the ears, neither the understanding of listening that is in the mind. It is the direct reflection of what is here right now in our awareness. There is not the tiniest amount of space possible between awareness and its content. We create that space in time with our preconceived ideas and judgments. Empathy and compassion occurs when there is no space and hence no time; in this precious, vast, infinite present moment that is the NOW.

— Personal reflections

The three dualities

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Greetings from Sankhu

Dear readers,

As I am currently reading a truly amazing commentary about the Gospel of Thomas, I would like to quote some paragraphs of that book. The book is called “The Nondual Teachings of Christ”. I will give further details about that (partly finished) book at the end of the quoted text. As spirituality, when it comes to teachings about nonduality or oneness, goes beyond religions, creeds, beliefs or rituals, and brings us to the highest commonalities shared by all mystics from all traditions, it does not really matter if teachings in this subject matter are originally from Jesus Christ or from the Upanishads. Here is a part of the commentary on the forty eighth saying:

There are different  dualities which exist that need to be penetrated, and they are often penetrated in sequence.

The first is the duality of value or aspect to things. We conceive of phenomena as good or evil, pure or impure, pleasant or painful. However, when we apply the principle of being a mere “passerby” to them, and do not make any conceptual elaborations about them, then comes the realization that there is no real purity or impurity, good or evil, etc. in phenomena at all, and they are of one taste and characteristic. Our thoughts of them do not define them or characterize them, and, as such, our thoughts are baseless and without merit. As this is seen, then all phenomena become clear in the sense that what they are is precisely unfathomable. When we do not think of things, or picture them to ourselves, then we see them as they are in terms of our experience. This is the first duality that is surmounted.

The second is the duality of subject and object. Paradoxically, one surmounts this by seeing a new, different “subject” behind the commonly perceived subject. Normally we perceive our sense of self to be identified with our mind, our wishes, our thoughts, etc. but these are all objects which occur in a more fundamental awareness. When we negate our mind and all its attendant phenomena, then we break through to the awareness in which this mind occurs. It is as if the former subject becomes an object of a new, deeper subject. This new “subject” has no sense of “I” or “mine” at all, but is like a clear, vast and empty presence in which all things live, move and have their being. Here we know ourselves to be the soul, and not the mind or body, and from this realization comes the first real breakthrough into the kingdom of God. We see that there can be a way out of ignorance, because we are not ignorance, inherently. We are awareness and awareness is the very definition of existence. The calm that comes from this truth is deep and joyful, but it is not the end, however.

The third is the duality between essential, nondual awareness and phenomena. Once the witnessing awareness is realized, we often begin to reify or solidify its difference and distinction from phenomena. Awareness is empty while phenomena are full; awareness is still while phenomena are in motion. By resting in this awareness more and more, however, such distinctions also begin to fall away and one realizes an unbroken unity to all things. It is not the same as conceiving of all things as consisting of primordial matter – as materialists and secularists do – nor is it like viewing all things as God’s creation. It is something inconceivable.

I think that the author has done a great job in skating around a subject matter that is beyond words. One should always remember that such texts are only pointers. Everybody has to inquire on his own in this subject matter to realize what has been described here.

About the Gospel of Thomas: “The Gospel of Thomas is perhaps one of the most enigmatic of religious scriptures. Yet it is also very likely that it is the earliest account of the teachings of Jesus, and therefore the most authentic record we have today as to what he truly taught. Therefore, to understand this Gospel is to get at the heart of what the historical Jesus said far beyond how he has been (mis)interpreted through the centuries and by later followers.”

The quote is from the e-Book “The Nondual Teachings of the Christ” from Charles Limcango. Please note that this book is still not finished and new volumes are published regularly. The latest (9th) has been published this month. He releases sets of 4 volumes in one book as the work gets done. So, books with volumes from 1-4 and 5-8 are already available.

To fill the bucket

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Grasping at sense objects (a match-factory)

When the mind is directed to the illusionary outside world of objects, it is prone to grasp at these objects as it has numberless concepts to distinguish between them. The amount of them is endless. The mind is conditioned by society, personal experience and education to grasp, reject or to be indifferent towards them. The more it is under the influence of desire, the more it grasps. It wants to fulfil this emptiness left behind by the veil that covers our happiness, our true self, with the fleeting happiness created by the objects of desire. As the very nature of the sense objects is impermanent, suffering is inherent. This happiness is never lasting and we will never get the bucket full, no matter how much we grasp at desirable objects. As soon as the object is acquired, the happiness that is obtained by it is already fading away, even though the object might still exist. The magic of the moment when it became “mine” quickly fades and it then turns into a weapon faced towards us. It can now cause innumerable sufferings. It might get stolen, lost, leave us or increase our pride, hence become fruitful soil for hatred, anger, jealousy or suffering of loss. And finally, this whole process leaves permanently new impressions on the veil of our true self, covering it ever more and distancing us ever more from the true happiness we are longing for so hardly… our true self.

The only way to clear that veil, this dust on the mirror, on our true nature, is to let go and to observe… in silence. It is only by discriminative knowledge that we can meet the army of defilements of the mind. Then, through understanding the real nature of those illusionary outside objects, the grasping will naturally take an end. The veil made out of all those impressions covering our true shining self will slowly dissolve and true happiness will naturally be revealed. It might go very quickly for some of us, but I can also take many years. But the very motivation of reading about all this, even if it might be difficult to understand at the beginning, is already the first step into a wonderful story realizable in this lifetime, if you are really decided to do so.

Love,

Shanti