Thank you Ralph:
“If you are seeking truth, reality, God or whatever you like to call it, I suggest that you start with the only reality you are absolutely certain of—that is the fact of your own being. There is no one sitting here who can say ‘I am not’. Each one of us knows ‘I am’. But that thought ‘I am’ is not the reality. It is the closest you will ever get to it with the mind. That ‘I am’ is just a translation by the mind of that sense of presence, the awareness of presence or the presence of that awareness. That is the only reality we are absolutely certain of. Nobody under any circumstances can say ‘I am not’. That knowing is constantly and ever with us. And that is why we say that what you are seeking you already are.
We base what we talk about here on what the ancient traditions tell us. In Advaita, for instance, they call it non-dual—one-without-a-second. The one-without-a-second part means that even one could imply that there is something other than one. In the Dzogchen scriptures they call it non-conceptual, ever-fresh, self-shining, presence awareness, just this and nothing else. And if you look at that, that is describing you, me and everything else. That presence of awareness is non-conceptual. You don’t have to hold a concept about it. It’s ever fresh because it has no beginning and no end. It is self-shining like the sun. It shines of itself. It doesn’t need a light to say ‘I am shining’. And that is what it is, just that which you cannot escape from, which you cannot get away from-presence-awareness.
All the traditions will tell you that it is omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence. That is all presence, all power and all knowing. It is constantly being pointed out down through the ages. It is nothing new, and it is obvious and evident and simplicity itself. There can be nothing simpler than one. And yet we miss it. We miss it, purely and simply, because we look for an answer in the mind. If you question the mind, you will see that mind is time, and time can never be omnipresence. Even the concept ‘presence’ is not what the isness or the actuality is because presence (as a concept) is a part of time: past, present and future.
The very idea there is something to seek and someone to seek implies time, and time is mind. That is why you will never find the answer in the mind. To the mind, presence-awareness is no-thing. It hasn’t got any shape, it hasn’t got any form, hasn’t got any time, hasn’t got any space, hasn’t got any beginning or any end. So it is no-thing. They call it ’emptiness’. The mind can’t grasp no-thing. It doesn’t like no-thing. The mind, being a thing itself, is dualistic. It is always dividing into the pairs of opposites, into things. It cannot know or grasp or understand no-thing. All this points to the fact that you may have been looking in the wrong direction. You are all intelligent people. Some of you may have been seeking for years. You have worked out so many things in the mind, but yet you can’t find this because you believe it’s some sensation or concept or idea in the mind that we have read about in books or people have talked about. We look for something similar, and so we miss the ‘no-thingness’ of it.
You have got to look at these things. They need to be looked at and understood. Am I this body, for instance? What is this body made up of? We investigate it, have a look and we see it is nothing but the elements. It is 80% water. Then there is air, space, matter, fire. It is only the elements. The elements can be broken down into subatomic particles, into no-thing. Look at that again and also see that you can’t be separate from the elements. This body is the elements. It is not separate from the elements. See how far you can go without air! See where you get to without water, space, bodily heat (the fire) or matter.
I don’t like to use the word ‘God’ or ‘the Supreme’ purely and simply for the reason that each of us will probably have a different concept of what we have come to believe God to be or not be. If we are agnostic or atheist, we will have a concept about that also. I use the term ‘intelligence-energy’. But I’m not speaking about your intellects because there are many different degrees of intellects.
What I’m talking about is that same intelligence that functions the universe. The very fact that the stars can orbit or the planets can orbit around the earth and form out of the gases into the particular shape and form and hold that form implies an intelligence. That which keeps the seasons coming and going implies an intelligence. The tides coming in and out implies an intelligence. Look at it closely. It is beating your heart right now. It is growing your hair and your fingernails. It is digesting your food. It is replacing the cells in your body. The patterning and functioning of this body implies that there is a wonderful intelligence expressing through it, as it. And that is actually what you are—that intelligence-energy. It formed you, grew you and is continuing to grow you. It is replacing the cells in your body and doing other things naturally, the same as it is in the universe. But that natural state has seemingly been clouded over by the reasoning or the functioning of the mind. Look at the body and break it down. There is no center here in this body that I can say ‘This is what I am’. It started with the sperm and the ovum coming together. If the body had any center it would be that original cell. But that is long since gone. There are many cells dying in this body right now and being replaced.
Another question is ‘Am I this mind?’, ‘Am I this primary thought “I am”?’ That sense of presence expresses through the mind as that thought ‘I am’. Look at thought. Is there such a thing, really, as mind, apart from thinking? I cannot grasp anything that I can call mind. What is thinking? Thinking at the subtle level is a very, very subtle vibration. At the spoken word level it is a sound. Sound is a vibration, and a vibration is a movement of energy. So it’s the same. You still have not separated that intelligence-energy. If you look at your mind again, you will see it is always vibrating in the interrelated opposites. If it is not past, which is memory, it is anticipation and imagination, which is future. And within that range, it is constantly vibrating as the interrelated pairs of opposites. It is either good or bad, pleasant or painful, happy or sad, loving or hating or whatever.
Have a look at your mind. It is constantly vibrating in those patterns. See if it is doing anything other than that. So you see, though it is a wonderful instrument when utilized, it’s activity is very mechanical. A little child, when he is born, has not left that natural state. He is still functioning in that natural state. If he is hungry he will cry. If he is happy he will gurgle. He defecates and urinates without any sense of concern. It just happens, just the same as his food is digested. He is doing activities, moving his hands, moving his arms, all sorts of activities are going on. At that stage he is not attributing these things to a me (‘I am doing this’ or ‘I am doing that’). He doesn’t know. Reasoning hasn’t started. As the body grows, that line of reasoning begins to function also. His parents tell him, ‘Your name is Johnny. You’re a good little boy. You’re a bad little boy. You are this. You are that’. He hears this, and it starts to impinge on him. He learns what this word means or what this thought is. He translates it into labels which he is being taught. Then sooner or later he comes to realize that this is me that they’re talking about (‘This is me. I am Johnny’.). Whereas before it was just ‘little Johnny’. When that idea of an ‘I’ or a ‘me’ comes upon him, naturally the mind, functioning in the opposite, asks, ‘What is the opposite of I or me? Isn’t it other than me or not-I?’ Now he is seeing things which he previously did not have any discrimination about at all. It was just the seeing. It was just the hearing. Now that sense of ‘me’ or ‘I’ has come upon him. He is seeing these things as ‘not me’ or ‘not I’ (or other than I), and feels separate from them.
With a sense of separation there comes insecurity and vulnerability. That is when our search actually starts because insecurity and vulnerability is not happiness. It is not completeness. It is not wholeness. The search starts to try and make ourselves whole or complete or more secure and less vulnerable. And naturally, because our parents have not looked at it or understood it, our society and nations have not looked at it or understood it, the search starts ‘out there’. Nobody ever says to him ‘Look back’ or ‘Stay with that essence that you are, that natural state that you were and still are, before those clouds of thought began to form’.
You see that all our problems arise from that insecurity and vulnerability. The little child, before he saw his separation or realized that he was separate or believed that he was separate, didn’t feel that insecurity or vulnerability. Now he senses it and he likes a warm, loving family around him. He feels more secure and less vulnerable if he has got a warm and loving family. And in the old days families would form into tribes. The bigger and stronger my tribe is, the more secure, less vulnerable I am. Today nations go to war with nations purely and simply because of that insecurity, fearful that the nation next door will take me over, take away my wealth or whatever. Or ‘I’ll get him first because I am insecure and vulnerable and make myself stronger by taking them over’. This is all based on that self-centeredness.
But there is no self center. The self center or the ego, which is the cause of all our problems, is a fiction. The little child adds to that ‘I’ thought all the events, experiences and conditioning, which are mental concepts, and forms a picture about himself based on those concepts. He thinks ‘I am little Johnny, and I have been a good boy or a bad boy, or somebody said something to me and I feel ashamed or guilty or fearful or whatever’. All of these concepts seem to be concretized. They seem to become real and become a reference point (the ‘me’ or the ego, to which everything is related). Something hits that reference point, that image he has about himself, and it doesn’t fit that image. He doesn’t like it. If something else hits that image and it does fit the image, and he likes it and wants more of it. The thing he doesn’t like he resists and wants to get away from. And so he is in conflict. All of our problems arise from that belief in the self center. Everything is relative to that fictitious image we have come to believe is real. The energy of belief has gone into it and made it seemingly real and strong through that habitual belief. But it’s not real and it has no power, so it has no strength. Look at that and see that there is no spot in this body that I can say, ‘This is me’. See that this image that I have got about myself has no substance. It is nothing solid, though it is seemingly concretized. You can never grasp hold of it. Try and grasp hold of a thought! And above all, and this is very important, it has no independent nature.
That thought or image could not even be there if it were not for that intelligence-energy or presence of awareness. We call it intelligence-energy, awareness, consciousness or spirit. That is the label we put on it. But the label is not it. We have many different names or labels for it but none of them really fit. You cannot have a single thought without that functioning intelligence. So the thought is not independent and has no power of itself. This is the thing we have been in bondage to (that erroneous belief in a substantial, independent center or ego). It is a phantom, something that does not exist. All it takes is an investigation into what is being pointed out. See it for yourself by questioning and having a look. Have a look into it and see if anything can be found there that has any substance or independent nature. And it is realized that it is not going to take 20 years, 10 years or 5 years. It’s not going to take any time at all. Seeing is right now. It is immediate. It always has been immediate and always will be. Purely and simply because it is timeless.
See that the search itself is a trap, because the search implies that there is an entity needing to become something. And becoming implies some future time. It is not being. Becoming can never be being. What we are talking about is being. We call ourselves ‘human beings’ and we call God the ‘Supreme Being’. Take those two labels off (human and Supreme) and try to separate the beingness. I might call this being here Bob, and that being there I might call Joan. The chair we are sitting on we call a chair. But take away all those labels and what’s left? The substratum or the base, the beingness, the pattern and form they are taking the shape of or appearing as. But the pattern and form are appearance only. Their essence is still that energy (pure being) vibrating into those patterns. So there is really nowhere to go and there is no one to go there. And there is nothing to get and no one to get it.
If you look at that, the first question that will come up is ‘Well, how do I live my life?’ You live your life the same way you have always lived it. If you see that there is no ‘me’ here with any substance or independent nature now, when could there ever have been one? You see it has got no substance or independent nature now. The thing we believed in for so long, could that ever have had any substance or independent nature?
So you can go back again to the sperm and the ovum. You can go back before that to the essence of the food of your father and the essence of the food of your mother. You can go back to the thing that that essence of food lived on before that. You can see that it has no beginning. That sperm and ovum came together. The cell doubled and redoubled and grew this little embryo and little fetus and little child. There was no entity doing any of that. There was no entity when it was born and took its first breath. There was no entity as such before the reasoning came on. And when the reasoning came on, there could still be no entity. If you look at it and see it is a fiction now, it must have been a fiction then.
You see, life has been lived. It is that presence-awareness expressing through these patterns of energy. They are that presence-awareness, in essence, in all its diversity. In each and every one of our lives, there has been no one who has ever lived a life. Life is living and expressing itself as itself. It might seemingly take us away in expression into that erroneous belief. But just as easily as it got us into it, again it can take us out of it by seeing it was a false belief. We are mistaking the shadow for the substance or the essence, whatever you like to call it. And that is basically what it is all about.
Because of that erroneous belief (in a ‘me’) there is this so-called human suffering. It is only a ‘me’ that can be fearful. It is only a ‘me’ that can be anxious. It is only this ‘me’ that can be angry or full of self-pity or anxiety or stressed out. The constant belief in that builds it up and snowballs it until it seemingly becomes overwhelming. But it is not necessary for that suffering to be there. See that the ‘me’ is the cause of all my problems. The effects are the stress, the anxiety, the fear, the self-pity, the remorse, the guilt, the shame. And we try for years to overcome them, to do something about them, to get rid of them some way or another. But if you just realize that the cause is a fiction—and there cannot be an effect without a cause—then the energy of belief can no longer go into it as being real or having any substance or any independent nature. If all of this manifestation is energy and the energy is no longer going into some pattern, what must happen to the pattern? Must not the pattern drop off by itself?
The experience here is that this is so. I was in those self-centered, emotional, psychological fears, anxieties and stresses. But today, and for quite some time now, quite a few years, they haven’t been there. That doesn’t mean to say that I am an emotionless, thoughtless zombie. It means to say that all the activity, the functioning still goes on—the seeing, the hearing, the tasting, the touching, the smelling, the thinking, the feeling, the positive and negative thoughts functioning in all their opposites. Emotions and things are there, but they are not fixated on. They don’t hang around. They come up, play their part and disappear, just like the cloud is not attached to the sky. The cloud comes into the sky, plays its part and disappears. The cloud not attached to the sky, the sun can never fall out of the sky. It is always and ever self-shining. And you realize that the sun itself causes the cloud, and the sun itself blows the cloud away. So you see that these thoughts coming up are nothing but the activity of that intelligence-energy. They are not attached anywhere. Knowing the truth about them, they’ll move on. Life continues to function without that self-centered activity.”