wonderful description of awakening appeared as a letter
on the Nonduality
Salon mailing list on December 9, 1999. Somebody
had asked the author, "To what do you attend?"
This was his reply.
FOR ME, ATTENDING is no more.
But years ago, there was lots and lots of attending.
It was like this: before and during spiritual seeking,
I wasn't badly suffering or in pain or unhappy with
my life or stuck in dysfunctional patterns. Instead,
it was a deep sense of loneliness, alienation, lack
of fulfillment, and a strong yearning from the heart
and mind to know "What is it all about? What is
the purpose of life? What happens after? What are all
these mystical truths that are spoken of? Where is fulfillment
to be found?"
In a nutshell, the paths for me were two: devotional
(bhakti and karma yoga) through Born-Again Pentecostal
Christianity; then, later, a wide search and deep inquiry
that was primarily intellectual, but felt at the heart
and body levels as well. This message is about the second
Lots of what follows may seem quite heady and intellectual,
but believe me, the heart and body definitely got involved.
Part of it is that my education and training were as
a professional philosopher. There were hundreds of books
and many paths gone through.
about five years, I kept one question constantly in
mind (whenever the mind wasn't engaged in what was before
it), because I **REALLY** wanted to know the
answer: what IS this choosing, willing entity?
One day while I was reading a book by Ramesh Balsekar,
standing on the Grand Central Station subway platform,
the answer came by way of the world imploding and my
phenomenal self expanding, disappearing to merge with
it. No separate independent entity was seen anywhere.
All "willings," "desirings," "thoughts,"
etc., were seen deeply as spontaneous arisings in consciousness
happening around no fixed point or location. Not only
the entity "Greg," but also all personal
entities dissolved, became appearances in consciousness.
Lightness, sweetness, brightness, and a certain fluidity
of the world followed immediately as sensory qualities
of everything, and became one with all experiences.
There were psychological aftereffects as well, like
more resiliency, more psychological peace and happiness.
At the time, it was really a non-event. Even now, it's
not something I ever noticed or thought about at the
time, unless I'm asked and then try to reconstruct it.
I do remember that people at work noticed, my friends
and parents noticed. I didn't have a real good intellectual
understanding of it at the time, and didn't seek one.
I'd never met anyone else to talk to about this.
This came at the "right" time too, because
I was just going through a break-up with a beautiful
transsexual lady who looked like Naomi Campbell, but
who was monogamously challenged. It was not difficult,
where years previously it would have been painful. We
are now very close friends. :-)
Then more attending. Another several-year constant inquiry,
but very light, almost with an aesthetic, playful, artful,
no-big-deal appeal. This time the inquiry was on the
dualism between the appearances and the background consciousness
that the appearances appear to -- it was that simple.
By this time I knew lots of other people, satsang teachers,
I could sincerely say that "I am the background,
because the appearances appear to me," that was
clear. I never ever ever felt like I was a mind or a
body or a thought or a feeling of contraction in the
chest or forehead.
But I didn't understand it. Why should the appearances
that rise up out of consciousness seem like something
other than consciousness? This continued for two years,
constantly arising (but no longer taken as "my
thoughts, my inquiry") -- it just happened. Then
one day, sitting at home reading a book by Krishna Menon
given to me by Francis Lucille, the whole thing imploded.
The telescope collapsed. There was a burning savikalpa
samadhi for 90 minutes. It went away. Then the object/subject,
appearance/background thing just collapsed.
separation or gap or dichotomy was seen anywhere, then
or since. No union or wholeness has been seen either.
No questions, no answers. All is unbroken, continuous,
was never different. The light, love and sweetness from
before were no longer part of discrete appearances as
it seemed to be years before, but rather the source
and substance of objectless knowledge itself. Talk of
subjects or objects or appearances (or anything) became
a kind of enjoyable make-believe, helpful perhaps in
speaking with other people, but that was it.
What do I do? If I had to come up with a word, it would
be celebrate. It looks like this. Work, ride a bike,
lift weights, eat, I'm dating a new lady, I write email,
have satsang with friends, visit Francis Lucille, a
beloved teacher, who gave me the Krishna Menon book
(he counts Krishna Menon and Jean Klein among his teachers,
too). I was invited to teach this same kind of stuff
at the yoga center of friends in New York City's Soho,
who also love Francis. I am trying to learn to dance-skate,
but am often lazy. I am trying to learn more compassion
and kindness. For this reason, and for the beauty and
simplicity, I practice Shin Buddhism at a temple in
Ph.D., is editor of the Nondualism
and Western Philosophers page of Nonduality
Salon. Selections from his writings appear on his
Presence, No Absence.
This article appeared as a letter on the
Nonduality Salon mailing list on December 9, 1999.
It was published here on January 11,
2000 and last revised on May 13, 2000.