10 posts • Page 1 of 1
Our friend and fellow ZFI founding member Bob O'Hearn started a blog some time ago. Here's a recent post…
"At a certain point in the conscious process of inquiry into our true nature and identity, we begin to slip out of the mental prison of our own fabrication, because we recognize that consciousness itself is actually a very small and confining place to live.
Upon inspection, we can observe that it is always up to something. It is always modifying itself, wanting something, attaching to some hopeful notion or promise, or else avoiding something. It is invariably prone to grasping at some “proof” that sustains the hope that it can survive and thrive in the current form it believes itself to be – an enduringly independent entity in a world of other separate entities.
Furthermore, as we awaken, we begin to understand how the mental judgments we habitually embrace, such as the belief that life is something we need to manipulate in order to get what we think we want, actually creates the sense of dissatisfaction and stress that characterizes our usual experience.
For those who are awakening to the light of our original nature, prior to the play of hope and fear, such restless cycles of craving and aversion begin to give way to simply being lived by the effulgent Mystery which is always shining beyond the confines of the small mind.
However, there is a particular paradox about awakening. For one thing, it is not always the blissful experience that some expect it will be, based on the popular “enlightenment” lore. It certainly is not a consolation, much less some kind of badge of accomplishment. In fact, it often reveals to us in a stark and uncompromising fashion just why we chose to remain asleep for so long. That’s because true awakening involves ceasing to grant reality to that which is not real.
Just so, the more we open our eyes, the more we recognize that the unreal includes all that we have thought, felt, and presumed to know – all that we cherished about the fictional character we took ourselves to be. That realization can come as quite a shock, often provoking an internal crisis, which is why a relationship with Spiritual Friends and an open-hearted community of fellow practitioners is often recommended to help the aspirant in passing through the fire of transformation.
Seekers are often laboring under many false preconceptions about the process of liberation. For those who are hoping that there will be something special waiting just for them upon awakening, Sri Nisargadatta counters: “If you expect any benefits from your search, material, mental or spiritual, you have missed the point.
Truth gives no advantage. It gives you no higher status, no power over others; all you get is truth and the freedom from the false.”
Moreover, having recognized what we have been up to – pretending to be what we never were — there are no longer any excuses for behaving unconsciously. “Waking up” thus comes with the express mandate that such recognition must now be embodied, or incarnated, in the way we act and behave with each other in the world of space and time, otherwise it eventually will become just a vanishing memory.
That is what “awakened functioning” is all about. Insight must be grounded in functioning, in relationship. In other words, we must allow the awakening to manifest as a love without condition or boundary, preference or bias.
All along we’ve been committed to some great escape, always wanting things to be other than they are, life to be other than it is, but now those plans are brought to a grinding halt.
We realize that there is no escape, this is it. As we awaken, we recognize that there is nowhere to go. As St. Augustine famously noted, “God laughs at the ruins of our plans.”
At the same time, “waking up” also yields the paradoxical recognition that there is nothing to do, or more to the point, there is no doer. This is the difficult part of realization — to discard the sense of doer-ship, let go, and “let God”.
It’s the very sense of personal doer-ship that sabotages even profound “spiritual” experiences, where the mind adds a “me and mine” to the functioning, re-enforcing the sense of a separate and enduring self.
We are being called to the realization of an infinite Freedom beyond the reach of both knowledge and belief. This Freedom is what is actually most true of us. When one begins to catch some glimpse of this, inspecting the mind itself to the point of transparency, the reliance on words, scriptures, and all second-hand beliefs, no matter how profound and exalted, becomes obsolete.
We are left with the stark realization that we simply Are, that what is, simply is, and in this innocent ordinariness of life we can move, dance, and play as Love without any need to fixate identity in transient self-images of borrowed certainty — no false landings, nothing but open eyes, open hands, open heart.
Such maturity begins to dawn when we are willing to question our most deep-seated beliefs, assumptions, and presumed identities, submitting them to the relentless fire of True Inquiry.
When our love of the Real is such that even our most closely held notions and concepts about the nature of ourselves and existence can be subjected to honest and probing investigation, we are beginning to emerge from our spiritual infancy and grow up.
Until then, we typically drift along in a dreamy trance of un-inspected security, at the mercy of whatever conditioning filters are operative in the body/mind organism. In effect, we are like sleep-walkers, attendant only to our human animal needs and desires.
In Buddhism, this is called The Wheel, and it spins us inexorably through innumerable dreamy births and deaths until the fabric of the dream itself begins to wear thin, and then there is the possibility of Seeing.
However, for just about all of us, it is only when we have arrived at the point when there is no other option, that we are ready and willing to stop and question the dream. After all, in the dream there are limitless experiences to be sought and exploited, and so the wheel keeps on spinning, and the dreamer keeps dreaming.
Who would, in the midst of the dream, be so bold as to pull aside the curtain and unveil the wizard of the ego-mind at last? Indeed, the nature of Oz is so seductive, and those poppy fields of borrowed beliefs and unchallenged self-images are so very potent, that the last thing anybody really wants to do is to awaken, despite all protests to the contrary.
To truly awaken entails walking off the cliff of consensus reality and flinging oneself into the Unknown, and that is a daunting prospect indeed!"
~Bob O'Hearn, April 10, 2014
The Conscious Process
Full essay here: Waking Up, Growing Up
Here's an excerpt from another…
“One day a six-year-old friend said to me, ‘Pretend you are surrounded by a thousand hungry tigers. What would you do?’ I visualized the situation as he had suggested and, coming up with no viable plan of action, said, ‘Wow, I don’t know. What would you do?’ And he replied, ‘I’d stop pretending.’”
Most of us will typically point to our body, and then to our family, our job, our religion, our political affiliation, and so forth, in order to confirm the solidity of our independent existence. However, the problem remains that all those things keep changing, and so how is one really going to pin down and validate their own existence?
Indeed, upon thorough inspection, we can recognize that nothing which we can perceive or conceive has any enduring reality, and that includes the pretenses and self-images that we’ve worked so hard to accumulate, nourish, assert, and defend.
If none of that is real, what is? Only Reality is real. It has nothing to do with names, forms, or temporary states of mind. Since it is limitless itself, it underlies all these superficial conditions. It is what is, exactly as it is. It transcends words and concepts like “existence” or “non-existence”.
When all the false assumptions and presumptions and mental constructs fall away, what remains is what’s real. It is our own native awareness itself, the only thing that doesn’t change. It is what we are, even while we might be busy pretending that we are this, that, or the other.
Moreover, we cannot attain this awareness. Any effort to acquire it will only push us farther away. Since we are awareness, there is no need to chase after it, trying to add it to the ego-mind’s collection of self-confirming assets. It can never be an object of consciousness, since it is always prior to consciousness.
Rather than trying to grasp the Real, a wiser approach would be to simply cease investing our attention and belief in the unreal. The unreal includes everything that we can think, feel, know, or imagine. Only then can reality emerge from behind the curtain of our self-imposed ignorance, and only then can we truly enjoy this present circumstance, whatever or wherever it might be.
Ignorance and un-enjoyment consist of imputing reality to that which is not real. The more we grant reality to that which is not, the more confused and unhappy we will be, and the more we will run around seeking here and there, trying to alleviate ourselves of the ensuing imaginary dis-ease. In fact, the only cure for the imaginary disease is to stop granting it reality.
Stop pretending that the story of “me & mine” is what life is about, that we are an independent and alienated person in the midst of dangerous waters, and that there is some reason to be fearful and anxious about our own fictional creations.
Of course, saying that is one thing, but directly realizing it, and then actualizing such a liberating recognition in our life and relations, is obviously another matter altogether. The question is, how do we stop pretending to be what we are not, and awaken to who and what we really are?
Fortunately, we have some useful guidance passed down from illumined sages on how to proceed — guidance which has the benefit of being time-tested and proven effective, when applied with devotion and discipline. It entails embarking upon a conscious process of listening, contemplating, meditating, and then cultivating/stabilizing.
Listening: If we don’t listen, then we won’t learn. Consequently, listening is the first step in the process of awakening. The opportunity may come through a variety of avenues, such as reading a certain text, or hearing an exposition from a teacher, watching a video presentation, or receiving some counsel from a friend or associate. In any case, something that we hear strikes us, penetrating our habitual fog, and resonating deep down in our being.
As the great Sage Sri Nisargadatta noted, “What you hear must enter you like an arrow and hit something deep within you. There must be an internal reaction; without the reaction what you hear won’t do you any good. You should know it when the arrow reaches its mark.”
Contemplation: Having first listened, the next step is contemplation. In other words, we begin the process of pondering over what we have heard. “Is it true, and if so, what are the implications?”
Here, we employ our intellect in a consideration on the meaning and import of our initial insights and encounters with what we have heard. The intellect is a fine tool, when properly applied to the task of discernment. It can aid us in distinguishing the significant from the superfluous, allowing us to focus more clearly and effectively on what we really need to learn and understand.
We carry around with us a lot of uninspected assumptions about the nature of reality, and by employing our refined intelligence, we can see through and release a lot of useless baggage.
Meditation: The topic of meditation has generated enough written materials to fill up a huge library, and there are certainly many diverse and illuminating presentations on the subject that one can access through the various media.
Fundamentally, true meditation is a process of deepening surrender, or letting go of all that we are not – all of our self-images, our pretense, our beliefs, assumptions, and mental fabrications, and thus all the sources of our mis-identification and ensuing stress and dissatisfaction. It does not so much represent adding a new tool to the tool box, as it does emptying of the whole box itself. It’s letting go of what we never were.
True meditation begins (and ends) with the discipline of silence. Unless we are able to quiet our normally chattering minds, we won’t get very far in terms of realizing what we are (and aren’t). Helpful in this effort is the practice of non-dwelling, by which we refrain from attaching to our thoughts and projections, but simply persist in a relaxed and alert manner to witness the thought stream, without manipulation or identification.
We embrace nothing, and turn nothing away. None of it is what we are. When we see nothing, we can relax into that. Such stillness is the womb of Remembrance. Moreover, we are not trying to create some new, fascinating, or sublime experience. We are simply ceasing granting reality to the unreal.
Since we come to recognize, in the midst of our meditative inquiry, that everything which we thought we knew is not so, we can let go of our reliance on limiting beliefs and fall into the Unknown. In such surrender, the space is opened up for the shine of pure awareness to emerge from the background.
It is the light behind the mind, which grants the universe the power to exist. Some may call it Love, but no term or description can really be applied, since it is beyond name or form.
Cultivation/Stabilization: As mentioned, old habits die hard. Even in the midst of profound realization, ego-mind can usually still be found trying to co-opt and claim it as its own, thereby affirming and confirming its existence.
The great Sage Ramana Maharshi noted that, even if one were able to absorb themselves in high states of concentrative bliss (Nirvikalpa samadhi), they would be no closer to true liberation, at least until they were able to “root out the vasanas” (afflictions).
In other words, even though we may glimpse our true nature, the poisons of greed, hatred, envy, arrogance, and ignorance still must be eliminated if we are to realize our immortal freedom and peace at heart.
This is where proper cultivation applies, in order that we may come to stabilize in recognition of our true nature, and reflect it in the way we behave and relate. Living with full integrity is the art of life, and being so, it requires all of our life, intention, and attention.
There are many aspirants who have had deep realizations, but nevertheless still fail to embody what they have learned, because they have not thoroughly used that recognition which they gained in moments of insight to correspondingly see through and release chronic fixations and dysfunctional positions.
This is why it is traditionally recommended that one seek out a relationship with a qualified living Guide – someone who has been down this road already and can help one see straight and avoid the various pitfalls which can obstruct the way.
It is not absolutely necessary, but there are very few who can go it alone, without some assistance, especially at critical junctures and turning points. Ego-mind is clever, our capacity to fool ourselves is enormous, and we all have blind spots which obscure and impede, often without our conscious knowledge.
What remains after this process is the same as what pertained prior to its inception, and it has only been our ignorance which has ever obscured it from us at any point.
Awareness has not changed, only our appreciation of our true condition, or identity, has. We can’t strive to be this Awareness, since we already are this Awareness, prior to any sense of individual consciousness. We cannot become what we already are, we can only be “it”.
In order to do so, as the Sages remind us, we need to stop mistaking ourselves for what we are not – these bodies, associations, memories, sensations, or even consciousness at last.
Our listening, contemplation, meditation, and cultivation must mature and ripen into the natural and spontaneous recognition that we are the luminous and timeless spaciousness of Awareness — Reality Itself — no longer prone to fooling ourselves that we are anything but “That”.
In other words, we can finally stop pretending, let go of the unreal, and simply enjoy being who and what we truly are.
Posted on April 8, 2014 by Bob OHearn
“The most important thing is to enjoy your life and not be fooled by things.”
Blog source: Stop Pretending
Many people find Bob's insights to be very helpful. The second essay (Stop Pretending) was shared by about 300 people on Facebook. Can't say exactly why Bob no longer posts here. He took a hiatus from the Internet for about 2 years and returned with his blog. I'm also a ZFI founding member and don't post on ZFI much anymore. I now have a Zen themed Facebook page-Tao & Zen- where I try to help share Dharma wisdom and posts like Bob's to an FB audience.
Right. Well, as you posted the copied text without commentary, I assumed you were fishing for comments from ZFI people.
To put perhaps a better face on it though, from my perspective, I'd say that the material appears entirely appropriate for posting on a blog.
Any comments of your own about specific points in those text(s)? I think that would be more along the lines of what many care about, here, as we come to know each other through these flat words on a screen. I'm still fairly new at ZFI ( < 2 yrs), but not to the practice.
I'm in debt to Sir Bob for being a guide to me for about 7-8 years now, when I look back at e-mails between us from years ago and up to this day, his patience and compassion dealing with my "spiritual stupidity" is amazing. I know why he doesn't post on forums anymore, but such info is not intended for forums (obviously)
Thanks to Chris for mentioning his blog (again) although discussing the contents and authorship of his posts in here is for obvious reasons silly, however if something clicks deeply for anyone, by all means join the party! (there)
Mijn Oude Vriend uit de woestijn begrijpt geen Nederlands. <3
I'm also very grateful for Bob O'Hearn's posts, and now his blog, since Christopher pointed to it on his Facebook group. Bob had already departed from ZFI by the time I got here, but I would go back to old posts and read his with much appreciation. And I'm also very grateful for what Christopher has contributed to ZFI and his Facebook groups -- a seemingly tireless worker! And very important work.
Thanks so much,
"Some people think they are enlightened, some people think they are not enlightened." -- Denko
Thank you John. We are fortunate to live in this age where wisdom can be transmitted so easily across great distances. The greatest challenge for most people seems to be in implementing that wisdom successfully, moment to moment, day to day.
I think so too, fukasetsu. Patience and compassion unsurpassed. There are few (that i've bumped into) who are able to practice and model the dharma so skillfully in the online environments where Buddhism is discussed and shared.
Not much more to say at the moment, Joe, beyond noting the simplicity and helpfulness of the wisdom Bob has shared. Practicing the dharma skillfully is the biggest challenge for many of us. Wise guidance is priceless.
10 posts • Page 1 of 1
Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest