Explore these pointers with a relaxed, meditative curiosity, not to figure something out, nor to gain new conceptual knowledge, but simply to bring you to a very natural, calm and clearly lucid mind state.
Introduction and Tips
A few of these pointers are somewhat theoretical and wordy to help open the thinking mind to the blind-spot of a more direct reality unmediated by concepts. Some are practical exercises to be experienced in order to familiarize with the experience of stillness. Others, including short quotes, are simple yet profound and can bring a receptive mind directly to a deeper peace.
They can be read any time, but particularly early morning, before or during meditation sessions, or before sleep.
While there is no specific goal, you can decide your own one if you want. Maybe you just want to be free of mental and physical activity, in order to find peace. One approach could be to "follow the peace", that is: become increasingly sensitive to peace and let it guide you deeper into the non-dual experience. Either way, I would like to re-iterate: Don't hold tightly to theoretical explanations, allow the mind to settle into peace by letting the notion of the theory wash over you and do its work.
An individual minds' unique conditioning means sometimes we each need to find just the right angle to come at it... so focus on what resonates, leave what does not, or return to it later.
Once again, this isn't about figuring out what theory or concept is right or wrong. I might as well tell you right now, every conceptual theory is untrue, in the absolute sense, because the absolute truth we are coming to experience is not a conceptual one. As soon as we open our mouths or write down words, we are already making a compromise away from absolute truth, and towards conceptual abstraction. That does not mean theories are bad, they are merely tools to help us get to back the absolute truth. Like a raft to get across the river to the other shore, we do not carry the heavy raft with us after crossing.
The more skilled your meditation and the more you move toward a spiritually conducive lifestyle, the more powerful these pointers become.
This article will be continuously updated, and as usual, all feedback and comments welcome🙏
Consciousness and Raw Experience as it is
Settle quietly and become aware that there appears to be a conscious experience. Notice that this consciousness-unified raw sensory experience (before mental concepts are overlaid) can be described as:
- Infinitely spacious
Or via negativa:
- Without definitive self, other, world, nor any other labels nor "things"
- Without definitive past, present, future, nor "time"
- Without definitive beginning, end, nor "events"
- Without definitive origin, cause, nor "effects"
- Without definitive center, edge, nor "location"
- Without separation, connection, nor distance
- Without fixation, recollection, nor anticipation
- Without good, bad nor equal; no better nor worse
- Without bias, will, nor choice
- Without observer, nor observed
- Without a doer, nor anything being done
- Without clear reference point
Don't simply agree because it sounds "good" or "right", nor conceptualize these points. Truly experience them for yourself, by calmly noticing the nature of your experience, without thinking about it.
If you observe disagreement (or excessively automatic agreement), confusion, fogginess or mental conflict on any point, it is perfectly fine, but do relax and check again whether there are concepts involved. If so, try to place them down momentarily, then feel for any increase in experiential clarity.
Calmly observe. Completely unmediated by concepts or thoughts.
Noticing the space rather than the "thing"
Become very interested and calmly observant of the space in which "things" appear:
- The silence between sounds
- The empty space in which all objects appear
- The stillness between thoughts
- The feeling of the skin on your hand when it doesn't touch anything.
This may feel pointless at first, too "boring" or even impossible. Keep at it. You will gradually break through. The greatest peace and timeless reality are so simple, obvious and ever-present that we simply miss it, like the air in front of our face. Practice detecting it more deeply and precisely. Return back to it frequently. The mental habit of fear and distraction will gradually come to rest like a speeding steam engine once its furnace eventually cools when no more coal is added. The vast majority of fear and distraction is eventually seen to be a conditioned habit, not fixed instinct at all.
Practice paying attention to the various types of "space" without being distracted or caught up in that which appears within the "space" (i.e. appearances of sounds, objects, thoughts, and sensations etc themselves). Our normal mind places too much importance on the appearances which form distractions moving the mind away from peace which has a more infinite "space-like" quality.
Exercise: Noticing all-pervading space
The analogy of "all-pervading space" is useful to help internalize non-dualism.
Take a look at your hand. Notice that it appears to occupy some space. Move it a few inches to the left or right, but keep noticing the space where it was previously located a moment before it moved. There now appears to be empty space in the location where the hand was previously located.
Now move the hand back to its original location again. Now the same empty space is occupied by the hand again. Where did the empty space go? It did not go anywhere. It was always there and is still there now. Empty space cradling the hand. Look around you.
Notice the shift in perspective that empty space occupies all objects and non-objects, it pervades everything - rather than the other way around that objects occupy space that the mind tends to arbitrarily default to. Space never goes away and is never created. This is the timeless aspect of reality which goes unnoticed in our daily activity, but by connecting with this emptiness that pervades all, we find peace and objective clarity. This is always available and requires nothing. Upon finding it, simply rest there, non-conceptually.
Awareness is not affected by Mental concepts within it
It may appear as if; the above described unified consciousness is somehow taken away, weakened or muddied by thoughts and mental activity. This is not the case. It would be like saying physical empty space is ruined by objects passing through it. The empty space is completely untouched and in fact still exists even when the object occupies it.
This space is never created nor destroyed, and it is always actually unified and continuously connected (non-separate) with everything that could be contained with it. Consciousness is like this, though it can be considered a mental space in which everything (including the perception of physical space, objects, events, thoughts and emotions) occurs. At the same time consciousness is unified with everything that occurs within it.
Hence "non-dual" - in essence, there are never two or more, and technically there isn't even "one" either. Neither one, nor more than one, nor none.
Reality is Beyond Conceptual.
Any thoughts, distractions and concepts simply appear within the infinite space of consciousness then dissolve back into it. Often the very act of observing is enough for a thought to vanish. This can be very clearly observed by anyone.
It is self-evident that Consciousness ‘IS’. It requires no theory or belief. No thinking, concepts or ideas. Concepts about it can take us away from noticing it, but they can also guide us back if used wisely, then finally let go of. Like the analogy of the raft used to cross a river which we discard after reaching the other shore. Use the tools but do not allow them to become fetters by always carrying them around. We can still form a myriad of ideas about what is self-evident, and communicate these ideas. But it is best not to confuse ideas about what Is, with what actually Is.
WHO is watching, thinking and doing?
This is not a question to answer with words or concepts. Explore it experientially.
It is not found by searching, but by simply relaxing into that which is watching, that which is thinking, or that which is doing. Notice the doing, the watching, and the thinking itself... then gently use your attention to trace back to its source. Finally, trace back to the source of that very "attention" itself. Notice any improvement in mind-clarity, and rest there without trying to "figure it out" conceptually.
Is there a "who", an "I" or a clear "self" at all? or is there just awareness of an experience with nothing between nor "outside" it? If there is nothing between the awareness and what is experienced then are these really just one and the same? Check thoroughly. Again, explore all this experientially rather than figuring it out conceptually.
Where is consciousness when the body is asleep, unconscious or dead?
This is a very common doubt or confusion that arises. The question first assumes that consciousness comes and goes and then asks where it goes during apparent sleep or death of a body.
Where is consciousness right now while the body is apparently awake? Can it be pinpointed? Can you find its property of existing or not existing? Have you ever had a immediate experience of consciousness coming or going? Have you experienced its beginning or end first-hand? The truth is, you have not and neither has anyone else.
The idea that consciousness (aka awareness) "goes away" and "comes back" is a perspective relative to the body and its senses. The body falls asleep. The body is born and the body dies. All senses and perceptions (including the sense of time, objects and events - which in turn construct the very notion of something coming and going) are related to the body, and these are what seem to get created by birth and what seems to go away at death. Awareness itself doesn't.
Everything comes and goes in awareness. Everything except... awareness itself.
Advanced: Don't make IT into a "thing"
The linked post below is one is for those looking to take things further than simple practical relief from common everyday disturbances.
Quotes from Vijay
The moment is an eternity sandwiched between two instants.
Immediate reality is always available.
Its all just whatever
Quotes of the masters
Thoughts arise temporarily in response to what you see and hear; they haven't any real existence of their own. - Bankei
You are not what you know. - Nisargadatta
Don't give up. Surrender. - Unknown
What is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. - Quran
You are the universe experiencing itself. - Alan Watts
Eternity has only one moment - this one. - Unknown
When you reach the other shore, there is no need to carry the raft with you. - Unknown
The Godhead is ‘unknowable’; neither being, nor non-being - Unknown
The real is what resists symbolization absolutely - Jacques Lacan
It is the ordinary confused mind that perceives sensory appearances to be something other than oneself - Longchenpa
Don’t recall. Let go of what has passed.Don’t imagine. Let go of what may come.Don’t think. Let go of what is happening now.Don’t examine. Don’t try to figure anything out.Don’t control. Don’t try to make anything happen.Rest. Relax, right now, and rest. - Tilopa (trans. Ken McLeod)
Don't pursue the past and don't invite the future.Simply rest naturally in the naked ordinary mind of the immediate present without trying to correct or "replace" it.If you rest like that, your mind-essence is clear and expansive, vivid and naked, without any concerns about thought or recollection, joy or pain.That is awareness (rigpa). - Khenpo Gangshar
"Nothing happens next. This is it" - Gahan Wilson
"Liberation is never of the person, it is always from the person" - Nisargadatta
Zen teaches nothing; it merely enables us to wake up and become aware. It does not teach, it points" - D.T. Suzuki