The mind is doing the best that it knows how. But it doesn't have a clue. It's trying to do some-thing that it wasn't designed to do. The mind is engaged in a great search to find an object that will give it ultimate peace. It is trying to do a job that it's unqualified for and it hasn't been in-formed of this fact. The mind needs to be informed that it can't accomplish what it is trying to do.
The mind will always fail at the quest to know the nature of Reality for all thinking is in split-mind. Until the mind is convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it is totally unqualified for the job at hand, it will continue to fail. It has to! It is searching for the answer to a problem for which it hasn't a clue! And each of us must come, eventually, to this doorway. We may come through frustration and despair, or through an apparently spontaneous opening. We may come through Yoga or Buddhism, Advaita or Dzogchen, Christianity or Judaism, through hatha, karma, Jñana, bhakti or through seva, but come we must to this threshold where the mind finally admits that it doesn't know what to do. And in this moment we are truly open to the unknown. We are oriented in an attitude of listening. In fact, spiritual practice may be de-scribed as the art and science of listening, and silence is the ground in which listening takes root and blossoms.
This silence-Stillness-is not the absence of thought, feeling or sound. Conceptually, we may say it is the absence of the absence. Stillness is beyond the absence of objective silence. It is the essence of all that is-the ground we stand on and out of which everything arises. Like the pa-per behind the words on this page, or the space in which we sit, Stillness is always present, whether objective reality is present or absent. This Stillness is the homeground in which all movement, and non-movement, unfolds. It is by other names Consciousness, God, Divinity and Spirit.
In this moment, when Awareness turns and looks back at Itself, we stand before a mirror. And in this mirror, what was subject is now object. But this view is unsustainable. It is logical ab-surdity to think that the mind can turn and observe itself.
Have you ever stood in front of a mirror and realized that someone is looking at you. You're the object. You're not the looker. You are the object of the looker. Stand in front of a full-length mirror and realize that somebody is looking at you. And ask the question, "How do you feel about me?" And let this looker tells its story about you. And when it's done, you tell the looker how you feel about it. You tell this looker your story of how you feel about it. And when these two sides of the mirror have completely emptied out their stories, then stand and feel that this person in the mirror loves you unconditionally. When you are fully convinced of this fact, then look at the person in the mirror and love this person unconditionally. When this is accomplished, bring these two images together as one and realize this as the truth.
So, when this self-reflecting is sustained in the mirror of self-awareness, the conceptualizing split-mind, that projects ourselves out as being a separate self, collapses into being who we are as non-judging, all encompassing witnessing-awareness.
The image of Narcissus staring at his reflection is a useful metaphor that reflects the truth of what we are speaking of here. Narcissus is the common person, staring at his reflection, year-after-year self-absorbed in his individuality. But Narcissus fails to ask the vital question, "Who is looking at whom?" And in this failing, he never engages in the Great Turn of attention away from himself as an object and into the nature of himself as the seer of all that is being seen.
And this global, multi-dimensional outlook of witnessing-awareness heals the split-mind. Everything is purified in the fire of awareness. What were contradictions are now realized to be opposites. These opposites resolve into their complimentarities. And all complimentarities are realized to be non-separate expressions of a greater wholeness. Then, when this objective wholeness is realized to be but another complimentary unity of subject and object, everything collapses into wholeness and we find ourselves taken by Unity Awareness.
The beauty of witnessing is that it isn't a strategy for getting better, or for changing ourselves. All strategies are a contraction; a going away from who-we-are as perfect in this moment. Wit-nessing is always prior to what is observed. Witnessing is not a strategy for letting go of our fragmentary outlook. Rather, it is the native disposition of Consciousness, the expression of God as God-in-and-as-a-body/mind.
Now we find ourselves standing not as a 'we', but as an 'I-of-Vastness' which includes every-thing. Nothing is rejected. All is welcomed. And through these eyes of Vastness, when they look out over the world of so-called objects, they see that everything is made of the same sub-stance, our lover, our enemies and friends, our children, and all of the objects of the world, animate and inanimate.
Looking through the eyes of not-otherness, the world is transformed-for who is there to hurt when all is ourself? Who is our enemy when they are ourself? Who is there to lie to or steal from when we are only lying to ourself and taking from our own hands? Non of this makes sense any longer. What does make sense is an overpowering feeling of compassion.
For when we understand that we are not separate-that there is no self separate from another, and that everything is made of the same substance, that everything is only God, only Con-sciousness, only Unified Wholeness-we are moved to act with a deep, abiding compassion. Self-realization is not a passive understanding. Unified Wholeness acts. It moves us out of bed and into action, into community, into helping-for help we must. There is no choice in this. You see Consciousness is greedy. It is the ultimate expression of greed for it is only concerned with Itself for there is only Itself. And act we must for it is the Totality acting unto itself. It is no longer a "me" who acts but the Unity of the Universe which is always and in all ways act-ing with and through these body-mind apparatuses.
And in this we understand that we do not ever see another. We are the other. We do not see the sun, we are the sun. We do not feel the earth, we are the earth. We do not see each other. We only and always are seeing ourselves in all things and all people. And in this simple, clear and unmistakable realization, we are transformed into the Universe. And in this instant all se-paration is undone. All fear comes to an end. All insecurity dissolves in a peace that surpasses mental understanding.
In this timeless Awareness we are Being-what-we-are and self and other are no longer sepa-rate. And inside and outside have no meaning. And in this timeless movement of recognition, where you are myself and I am yourself, and we are the Universe and the Universe is who we are, we can gently walk into the marketplace of this world and see and hear and taste and smell and feel that the world is entirely transformed by our doing nothing at all for it is not a 'we' who do, but Consciousness-God-that is always doing, for there is only Consciousness. There is only God.
And so, right here, and right now, in this instant, and during our spiritual practice and during our meditation, and during our interaction with our children, and with our lovers and with our friends in community, can we write on the tombstone of a 'self' that never existed "There is only Consciousness. There is only God. There is only One."
And this is our spirituality of doing and being where there is no do-er and there is no be-er. There is no doing that belongs to a do-er and there is no being that belongs to a be-er. There is only non-conceptual being and doing which doesn't belong to a separate individual. It never did and never will.
So I leave us with a final poem by Derek Walcott, the Caribbean poet and 1996 Nobel Prize winner for literature. This is a prayer not for the future, because when the future arrives, it will be now. So it is a poem of now, for all prayers are already-arrived realities. We will not be healed in the future. We are only and always healed now. We will not be Self-realized in the future, we are the Self, now.
I played a little game with my kids when they were just learning how to tell time. They would ask me, "Dad, what time is it?" I would reply, "It's now." And they would say, "Where are we?" And I would reply, "We're here." Wherever we go it will always be now and we will always be here. As they grew older they would eventually trick me. They would ask, "What time it is Dad?" and I would say, "3:30" and they would reply, "No, Dad, it's now and we're always here."
Love after Love
The time will come, when,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door,
in your own mirror.
And each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, "Sit here. Eat. Relax."
You will love again this stranger who is your Self.
Give wine. Give bread.
Give back your heart,
to this stranger who has loved you
all your life,
whom you ignored for another,
but who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from your bookshelf,
the photographs and the desperate notes.
Peel your self-image from the mirror.
Sit. Be here, now, and feast on your life.
Fall in love again with your Self and with all of life.