The Pathless Path

Featured Posts, The Pathless Path

“There is no path, but only a fool wouldn’t follow it.”

    The path to Samadhi is not the sort of path where one puts one foot in front of another in order to get to some destination. The path is a stripping away of illusion, a letting go of identification with a  limited self, so that one wakes up exactly where one is.

    The ancient mystics, yogis and seers have said that everything is primordial awareness, which is shunyata (emptiness). Primordial awareness is beyond what we normally refer to as consciousness; it is what is aware of consciousness. We are aware of three states of consciousness; waking, dreaming and deep sleep, and these states come and go. Primordial awareness is beyond any sense that “I AM”. Just hearing these words may make your awareness aware of itself. It is important at every point in the journey to make sure that the mind does not get involved or take us into its spiral of illusion. The mind might say “How can I do it? How can I realize myself as this pure awareness?” The desire to reach the truth is the egoic mind trying to find a way to acquire it. If you are not careful, it is the beginning of seeking within the self structure in an attempt to add more to itself.

Do not seek enlightenment or extraordinary states of being, since all seeking is the activity of the ego. Simply cease valuing and chasing illusions, and the source will reveal itself.

    Turn awareness away from the illusion towards awareness itself and allow everything to be as it is until you have realized the true Self or God; the One that does not come and go. From the perspective of the dual world, there are two parts, two paths to Samadhi. Yin and Yang together form an inseparable unified totality. There is no Yin without Yang, just as there is no cup without the emptiness inside. The two aspect of existence are that which changes, and that which does not change. The ground of your being is perfect in its unchanging stillness, awareness, while the soul, the inner lotus extends like a bridge from the world of changing phenomena, to the changeless. The pathless path is to realize an ever-deepening development process within the self structure, and to simultaneously realize our true nature, the unchanging immanent “I” beyond name and form. Samadhi is when the world that is constantly changing merges or unites with the changeless. Even that is not entirely true; nothing actually merges because nothing was really separate. The illusion of separation falls away.

The world of suffering (Samsara) is identical to the world of one who is awakened (Nirvana), except that the former is mediated by the false self. In Christian terms you could say that when one is identified with the limited self it is hell, and when one is free of the limited self, it is heaven. Jean-Paul Sartre famously said “Hell is other people.” At first glance this seems to be a glib statement, but when examined more deeply it becomes clear that whenever there is a distinguishing between self and other, then one is in hell, or the cycle of egoic activity (craving and aversion). Hell is identification with the limited self, which is the creation or coming into being of self and other.

    When awareness awakens, one thinks that “I am not this limited mind/body”. This knowing, once established in the mind, may give the ego a feeling of relative freedom from its own conditioning; a sort of loosening of the chains. There may be a sense of lightness and understanding that you are not this limited character, and not obliged to follow the script that has been set out for your life. Yet this very conviction can become the basis of a new character or new spiritual persona. If you say merely intellectually “I am not this limited mind/body, I am awareness”, then there is a split, a duality or separation between awareness and the mind/body. This separation is created by the limited egoic mind.

Most people’s lives are limited to physical and mental dimensions, and when they get a glimpse of what is beyond they fall back into the mental and physical, and make a story about their awakening experience. One must become vigilant that the mind does not claim that it is awakened or enlightened, for this is the greatest delusion of all. As the Zen master Suzuki said “There are, strictly speaking, no enlightened people, there is only enlightened activity.”

Do not mistake understanding for realization
(realization is the actual awakened state). 
And do not mistake realization for liberation
(liberation is the awakened state that does not come and go).

    Your mind literally can’t imagine where the path leads, and it will be your greatest obstacle.  In fact it will be your only obstacle on the pathless path because the entire universe is nothing but levels of mind. My heart yearns to convey that which cannot be told, but I do not have any words that can do it. Virtually everything in the world is pointing us in the opposite direction, outside of oneself, away from one’s stillness and into the labyrinth of mind. In my own life I have had to be willing to let of of attachment to everything and everyone, following an inner impulse which even those closest to me have questioned. I have had to let go of all knowing, all teachers and all concepts. This is of paramount importance; the limited mind is the very illusion, the veil of maya that entangles awareness in its illusion.

    Socrates said “I know that I don’t know”, and that is the highest wisdom. The most important thing the lower mind can learn is its limitation with regard to the path. Realizing the mind’s limitations is not the same as realizing the truth, but it is the necessary first step. One must stop the futile, incessant activities that keep one seeking some transcendent state or experience. Truth is not found by answers on the level of mind, but in the stillness of the heart. It is realized when questioning ceases. You can’t “get” or acquire the truth, you only wake up to the truth through Samadhi, through the alchemy that dissolves the self when one single-pointedly, adamantly refuses to respond to illusions. It is through the negative path, the via negativa that we come to know the truth of what we are, by letting go of everything that we are not. Then it is realized directly that you always have been that ever-present awareness.

  The legendary Bodhidharma is considered to be the founder and first patriarch of Chan Buddhism in China, which later became Zen in Japan. The story goes that Bodhidharma was summoned by the Emperor Wu, who wanted to question him because he heard that he was a great sage.

“Who are you, standing in front of me?” asked the emperor.

“Don’t know,” said Bodhidharma.

 With this answer Bodhidharma cuts through all of the mind’s tricks and deceptions. It is not that Bodhidharma was an agnostic, believing in the unknowability of his true nature. Bodhidharma was fully awake and aware, but the limited mind is incapable of conveying it.

Words do not convey the silent truth because words are noise. They do not convey stillness because they are movement. The words are a finger pointing toward the moon. Do not mistake the finger for the moon itself. It is not possible to point to primordial awareness; that which is everywhere and nowhere, and yet all spiritual teachings are an attempt to do so.

    The mind and senses are merely a projection all of so-called reality, and this projection is the simulation of the entire external world, mediated through a limited self. All energy and phenomena is spiraled into veils of illusion, the screen or barrier that must be transcended in order to awaken to the truth directly.  Even the transcending is an illusion. The sages and seers have said that there only appears that there is a barrier between you and primordial consciousness, since actually everything is that consciousness. As long as the illusion of a limited self persists, one plays a game of hide and seek with awareness. Even though we may understand mentally that the entire self structure is illusory, we remain entangled in the illusion, still responding to preferences and conditioned constructs as craving and aversion arises. To penetrate to its depth takes great vigilance- one must want awakening more than the world, more than life itself.

    If all is illusory, then why not just remain aware of awareness, ignoring the illusion? This is easier said than done. For most of us, if we are honest with ourselves, the illusion persists and one’s peace is constantly disturbed by the fluctuations of the mind (the vrittis or the whirlpool of the mind).  As soon as we try to quit our conditioned patterns the inexorable gravity and inertia of the consensus reality will pull us back. The well-worn grooves of conditioned patterning are established and energy will default to running in these patterns unless there is an interruption and rerouting of these energies. The path is to purify the conditioning that has been inherited both biologically, and socially. Our biological conditioning is the deepest response to stimulus impulse that becomes sublimated to higher and subtler levels of thought and behavior. At the root level it is the pleasure principle; avoidance of pain and seeking of pleasure. Our social conditioning is built on top of these primitive impulses, and wired into this reptilian conditioning.

On the path we bring to light the patterns hidden in the unconscious, and there are also supra-conscious stages of evolution that one is similarly not aware of because they have not emerged out of one’s inner growth.

The supra-consciousness is like a flower that has not yet bloomed and we don’t know what it will look like.

    There is an old proverb about a frog that lives its life in the bottom of a well (the Sanskrit term is Kupamanduka). The frog believes that the well is the entire world. It explores every pebble and measures it in all directions, so it is with supreme confidence that the frog speaks about the totality of the world.  One day another frog falls in the well and tells incredible tales about the outside world. This new frog has seen swamps, rivers, birds, cities and the ocean and so many things that the frog in the well can’t believe it. He literally cannot comprehend nor imagine it, so he rejects the stories as either lies or madness.

 

We are like the frog in the well. We don’t know what we don’t know.

     The unconscious is exactly that; not conscious. If we knew what it was, then it would be conscious. We cannot drop or become free from a pattern that we hold, which we are not conscious of. There are parts of ourselves that are hidden, operating unconsciously within our animal nature- deep craving and aversion connected to the reptilian brain and sublimated within all aspects of behavior and life. And there are aspects of us that are supra-conscious operating within templates or structures on the higher soul levels. We have the opportunity in this life to excavate the lower conditioning, freeing the inner energy to grow into the higher subtle self structures to realize the flowering of our human potential.

 

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