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) thru Born-Again Pentacostal 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 part…
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.
This is where Christiana’s point about attention comes in.
For about 5 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
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 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
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 2 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.
No 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
was 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 e-mail, 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. There is a temple in New York.