365 days later

It was a year ago that I had that “glimpse” that I posted about as “the suck.” I remember it as one of the most significant spiritual experiences of my life—up there with my “born again” experience in my youth, and a powerful experience of Christ that I had six-and-a-half years ago.

Unlike those, this glimpse was largely just that… I glimpsed the Void, almost like I was alone on an empty holodeck as in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Yet I only felt it for a few seconds… It was as if I had “bounced” out of it almost immediately. Nevertheless, it was enough to leave me a bit shaken for several days afterwards.

What stayed after that? What changed in me? Why do I consider it that important, when my experience of the world is practically the same as before the experience?

For one thing, it seems to have cured me of my pursuit of enlightenment through study. Since then, it’s as if I know exactly what ideas, beliefs, and so forth really are… nothing but arrangements of thoughts. And I know that thoughts are nothing… just little bubbles in consciousness. Some thoughts seem attracted to some people more than others, but you can’t make yourself have a thought. (Kind of puts “intellectual property” in a whole different light, eh?)

Wanting to “figure out” the Universe is probably a stage that most intellectual mystics have to go through, but if it is, it’s certainly one they also have to give up. Thoughts are not reality.

Also, because I don’t “believe” in beliefs anymore, I think I’ve grown more tolerant of others. I still have a problem with “kind intolerance”—anger at those who don’t seem “kind enough” or “nice enough”… but it’s less now. It has to be, since I know that everyone, definitely including myself, has a head full of junk made out of nothing describing a world that isn’t there. It makes fighting over “who’s right” pretty silly, huh?

That’s the most of it. Yeah, the Void was scary for a second. Now, I’d like to fall into it.

A Lesson from Loneliness

I live alone, and I’ve generally been comforatable with that. I had roommates in my college and grad school years, and for a couple of years after I dropped out, as well. But for more than a decade, I’ve lived alone.

Suddenly, this year, I’m lonely. And it was this year that I got a glimpse behind the curtain, and saw that there’s no one else here. Before, I had largely thought of God as my invisible Companion, with me whereever I go. How could I be lonely? Since that experience, I’ve known that there is nothing to seek, nothing and no one is “with” me… I am part of This and This is noThing. That peek at non-duality changed my comfort with being alone.

But I’m here, and there is a world. The Bible and the Upanishads both teach that God created mankind for fellowship. (Heaven must be boring, eh?) So after one wish for a universe, voilá! There’s a universe. (In Sunday School, I never thought to ask what God made it of when there’s nothing but God.) So now, one part of it is feeling alone. The cure is obvious. Relate more to the world where God is hidden in every form.

The catch is to do it as a giver, not as a taker. To be God’s light shining love. To see myself in everyone. My teacher called this the zazen of being in public.


Steve Pavlina on Nonduality

Although its over an hour, this is worth listening to. Steve Pavlina uses the freedom of the podcast format to explain his idea of the “Law of Attraction” at length, and in the course of doing so, nonduality as well, which he calls “subjective reality.”

It’s fascinating (for me, at least) to hear nonduality being discussed in a completely non-religious, even non-spiritual format. For instance, enlightenment teachers and religions have developed a vocabulary to distinguish between the higher, universal Self that’s in all beings e.g. (Atman, Christ, Universal Mind, etc.) with the illusory “self” that thinks one particular body-mind sensor unit is its self (the soul, flesh, ego, etc.). The lack of such a vocabulary makes it a particular challenge to elucidate such concepts to an audience completely unfamiliar with the subject.

Yet Pavlina does a masterful job, and has some great answers for why the most apparently obvious things in the Universe (e.g. separate beings, separate consciousnesses) are not as they seem. His idea of the Law of Attraction (particularly in the engaged, active mode) also parallels what my teacher has taught me about how to change aspects of my life.

Non-duality breaks out of the “spiritual” closet. Who’d’ve thunk it?

Nonduality and Healing

Steve Pavlina’s excellent blog brought this story, The World’s Most Unusual Therapist, to my attention. It’s about a Hawaiian psychologist, Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len, who successfully treats criminally insane patients in the penitentiary, without seeing them. He uses a technique called ho’oponopono, which seems to be similar to reiki, but directed internally, not externally. Dr. Len says in the article “I was simply healing the part of me that created them.”

Even for folks who have had a glimpse of nonduality, this is a bit wild. Nonduality is wild. And for those who haven’t had a glimpse, its either foolishness or madness.

Yet I recognize a flicker of familiarity here. My friend Katherine, spoke of the “back door” way of praying for troubled or difficult people by visualizing them and extending love and peace to them. My teacher speaks elliptically about the effect of the enlightened mind upon the problems in the real world (elliptically to keep my non-enlightened awareness from thinking it’s got the answer when its beyond thought).

And earlier this weekend, I was pondering how to write more (even if I should write more) about the nondual perspective, where everything is not only “connected,” but is simply part of the great projection we call “Creation.” Well, it seems there’s no going back. I have to keep moving on, and it feels like I need to keep moving on in this blog, too.

Yet, I’ve always wanted my site to serve as an “entry-level” door into the interior way, for those just beginning to feel the Spirit’s call to go deeper. I wonder if my site can still fulfill that function if I go deeper? Will I leave others behind? All I know, is that I, too, have seen that there’s no “out” there. (And I used to wonder why spiritual director urged me to go within!)

Ashtavakra Gita

In the “(ext)WisdomReading”:http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WisdomReading group, we’re beginning the Ashtavakra Gita, one of my favorite of the world’s Scriptures despite the fact that it’s relatively little-known.

Here’s a except from a recent post I made there:


The challenge with ??Ashtavakra?? is probably in being able to take it literally enough. It is nonduality, completely and totally uncompromised, presented plainly, in every verse. God is all that is, forms are part of _maya_, “the magic show.” ??Ash??. considers the world false, and [unlike the Bhagavad Gita] has no use for war, caste, or anything that divides the One:

v.2b Seek the nectar of truth,
of love and forgiveness,
of simplicity and happiness.

v.5a: You have no caste
No duties bind you.

To people who haven’t had an experience of nonduality, Ashtavakra’s use of the word “you” might require a little explanation. At times, ??Ash??. addresses the egoic self, the familiar self, the “you” you think you are, as in v. 1-6b. At other times, “you” is “the Self,” the One being that really is, no matter how many bodies and minds there seem to be, as in v.6c:

You are everywhere,
forever free.

It’s not hard to tell the difference. ??Ash??. constantly contrasts the illusion of forms and the limited “you,” with the boundless Self.

12 is another verse worth remarking upon:

The Self looks like the world
But this is just an illusion.

The Self is everywhere.

One.
Still.
Free.
Perfect.

That’s an interesting departure from the usual pictures given to explain pantheism and “panentheism”:/faith/godinall.html. Panentheists sometimes say that the world is the “Body of God.” This would give some real substance 🙂 to the physical universe. ??Ash??, of course, doesn’t, and says that God “looks like” the world but that even that is illusion. ??Ash??. says the Self is Everywhere not “everything” because from his viewpoint, there are no “things.”

Remember, you’re welcome to join us.

What you don’t want to admit to yourself

The stories you love, are all about you. The heroes you adore, are all you. That’s why there is the resonance. It’s a recognition, beyond words, beyond knowledge. Jung realized that all the characters in a dream are the dreamer, but it’s not just the stories we tell ourselves when we’re asleep.

You’re not merely what you think you are. You are Spirit experiencing the world through flesh, incarnating into billions of bodies; even though you “identify” with just one, your essence is in all.

You’re Luke Skywalker, the humble farmboy who blows up the Death Star. You’re Princess Leia, getting the plans to the Rebel Alliance, and leading the effort to overthrow the forces of oppression.

You’re Neo and Trinity, penetrating the thicket of illusion and deception called The Matrix, and defending Zion, the bastion of freedom.

You were born of a virgin: The appearance of your spirit in the body here was miraculous. Only your body was created by sex.

You became enlightened many times. It’s time to do it again. (Should be old hat by now!)
You were proclaimed the son or daughter of God. You know this!

You carry the sins of others, you forgive them: and Jesus told you if you don’t forgive, they’re not forgiven (Jn 20.23), so you know what you need to do!

You died, and rose again, but you do not remember. No problem. You don’t have to. Just be what you really are.

Emptiness, clarified

A friend of mine left a comment on my post on The Mystery of Emptiness and said that the term emptiness bothers her, and she’d like for me to clarify it. Well, how could I resist?

In the past, I’ve used the word “God” quite liberally on this site… in plain and simple language, That is what it’s about. Yet, I find after this latest glimpse, whch I wrote about in, The Suck, I want to write more carefully, and avoid words which easily give false impressions. False impressions are unavoidable, but “loaded” words like God can’t come to anyone without years of conceptual and emotional baggage that prevent communication.

So when I want to write carefully, I make up pronouns like This and That, and It. Eckhart Tolle usually uses the words “Being” or “the Unmanifest” instead of “God.” Other teachers say “the One,” “Consciousness” or “Awareness.” Kabbalah calls This Ein Sof, Endlessness. Zennists speak of Emptiness, the Void, and No-Thing. I agree with Julie–there is something unsettling about those last three. Our mind wants Something, not Nothing.

In that poem, I tried to show something of how wonderful pure Emptiness is. All Creation streams from It, like an empty glass that you can drink from forever without it running dry! Yes, it doesn’t make any sense, and that’s what’s so amazing!

Emptiness cannot be clarified, because it is the essence of clarity.
Emptiness writ large, is spaciousness.
Emptiness writ small is no-Thing.
Emptiness held by a form is capacity.
Emptiness holding a form is boundlessness.
Emptiness explored is void.
Emptiness manifest is everything.
Emptiness loved is God.

Emptiness can be quite frightening when you’re attached to Somethingness. As that falls away, It feels very different, like a white movie screen the Universe is projected upon. Or it’s like an empty canvas holding all possibilites, which you approach with a brush, whittling away the potential images until the one you paint is the one it presents.

Meister Eckhart wrote that when our soul is pure and empty, God cannot fail to shine in it, just as the sun cannot fail to shine on a cloudless day.

I’ll stop with a thought from Lao-Tzu:

Thirty spokes share the wheel’s hub;
It is the center hole which makes it useful.
Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that maks it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes which make it useful.
Therefore profit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there.

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Lila

Lila
How skillfully
I have hidden myself from me!

Layers within layers,
folds within folds,
Easter eggs within Christmas stockings
nested in hidden Jacks-in-the-box.

So I enjoy unwrapping, playing:
Hide and Seek,
Cowboys and Indians (Bang! Bang! You’re dead!),
and Love.

The three games I never tire of.
I am eternal child.

jon zuck // norfolk, virginia // january 31, 2006

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