Look at any object—self, other, tree, injustice, enlightenment. The object doesn’t have to be a physically solid object like a tree. It can be anything.
Stop for one moment and relax your labels about the object.
Notice that the object says nothing on its own side. It doesn’t announce itself as being the particular object—e.g., person—nor does it say anything about itself. It doesn’t even call itself by a simple label like “thing” or “object.” It doesn’t announce itself as having any color. It never speaks. Just stop and listen and look and notice this.
Stop and be very quiet. Listen to the universe. Do this often throughout the day.
Notice that no object is identifying itself or talking about itself. An object arises, with its name and its meaning, only through the voice in our heads, through thoughts, emotions, and sensations that we place upon it.
Everything perceived about an object is contained within thoughts, emotions, and sensations.
For example, if the object you are looking at is a person, stop and notice that the perception of sensation reveals touch, color, shape, and sound, all of which are appearing to a basic awareness—YOU.
But don’t leave it there. Notice that even the labels “touch, color, shape, and sound” are thoughts. These thoughts are not embedded into the object “other.” They are not happening on THAT side. They are thoughts. And notice that these thoughts are happening to awareness—YOU.
But don’t leave it there. Notice that all the viewpoints that you have about this object—person—are thoughts. Every single idea, belief, or story that seems to come with the person, as if it is embedded IN the person is actually a thought. Even thoughts about how far the person is standing from your body are thoughts. These thoughts are not coming from THAT side, from the side of the person. These stories, measurements, and relative things cannot be known without thoughts. Notice that no object carries your stories and viewpoints of it when it comes into experience. All stories, labels, and viewpoints are thoughts. And all thoughts are appearing to awareness—YOU.
But don’t leave it there. Notice that when you tell nice and happy stories about this object or when you tell stories about how this object is mean or selfish, those emotions are not happening on THAT side. They are emotions that come with the particular thoughts you are emphasizing. And all emotions are appearing to awareness—YOU.
But don’t leave it there. Notice that there is no separate YOU. There is no separate body first of all. If it seems like all these things are appearing to you, which is something in the body, go back to the top of this writing. Stop and notice that the body, as an object, is like all other objects. It is made up of thoughts, emotions, and sensations.
There is also no separate awareness aware of things appearing, like people, colors, shapes, thoughts, and emotions. Try to find the dividing line between what you call awareness and the next thought that arises, or the dividing line between what you call awareness and colors, sounds, and emotions. The dividing line itself is a thought.
So what is that dividing thought appearing to? Don’t be fooled. Whatever you say it is appearing to . . . is another thought, which is just a temporary appearance.
But don’t leave it there. Notice that there really aren’t separate things called thoughts, emotions, and sensations. These are just words describing experience, cutting it up in pieces. When you aren’t labeling a thought, a “thought,” do you know what it is? Do you know it’s a separate thing? How about an “emotion?” A “sensation?”
How about awareness? Do you know awareness is here when you aren’t thinking about it? This can be tricky to see because you may want to go right back into claiming that there is awareness here that is aware of those things. But that is still dualistic. It is still thinking. We are addicted to our nouns. So we often replace the word “me” as a center for other words like “awareness” or “being.” Mental certainty has such a pull to it. It’s an addiction.
We love our centers and we love our sides. But neither of those things are really here, except in thoughts. This is why the child starving in Africa is just as much YOU as your own body is you. Awakening has tremendous implications for human life. Love, love, love all the way, up and down, left and right. Yikes. Do you know this? If not, it just means you are resting on some sense of separation or some mental certainty or insight. Jump off, completely.
Don’t even leave it in the notion that things are real or unreal or that they exist or don’t exist. That’s lazy. Don’t look for mental certainty. Don’t sell yourself short. Let all insights burn up in the fire of freedom. Otherwise you can become addicted to your thoughts about awareness, awakening, nonduality or your thoughts about how these are not real things. Relax your tendency to sum it all up with things like “it’s all awareness”, no self, being, or Oneness.
Relax your viewpoints about how there are things, people, minds, colors, sights, sounds, emotions, and thoughts as well as your thoughts about the non-existence of those things. Speak your mind all you want. Express yourself. But watch the tendency to “sum things up” as if you are speaking truth. Notice that every word you speak falls away in an instant, disappears completely. Enjoy the freefall that arises when you see that.
You don’t live in a world of separate things. You also don’t live in a Void where there are no separate things.
I’m inviting you into a free fall…
The mind can’t go here. This is why Zen masters worked with koans.
Stand in the nakedness of this free fall. Trust it completely.
The lure of wanting to understand may tempt you back into some conceptual box. It’s a form of seeking. Like a heroin junkie looking for a fix, the mind wants to return to its safe platitudes. Do you see how the mind wants to call it “life,” “God,” “atoms,” “the universe,” “intelligence,” “clarity,” “nonduality” or “being?” But those are just words too. It is none of those things and it is all of those things. Don’t be lured into turning your experience into another exclusive viewpoint, making all others wrong. How can you really explain this mystery called life, really pin it down? You can explain it in a trillion ways, but each explanation slips away like sand through your fingers. You own none of the explanations. Nothing is ever pinned down, yet many explanations are available. Thoughts come and they go. It’s that simple.
Be free from all dogmatic thinking, whatsoever.
There is no bedrock truth on this page. Just words dancing together, inviting you into a free fall.
Stand in the nakedness of direct experience. Let these words point you there.
That’s awakening. When you experience the collapse of everything you know, you fall in love with experience, with living, even with appearances such as people, trees, thoughts, emotions, and sensations. You see that these are fictions of mind but you enjoy them anyway. You open your mouth to talk about yourself, others, and the world, knowing that it is illusory, but enjoying it anyway. You continue moving, unfolding, and discovering life, but now with a wink and a nudge, as you experience the irony, paradox, compassion, freedom and love in seeing that there are no people or things, and yet everywhere you go there are people and things. The mind can’t grasp this. It can only be lived. Don’t settle for anything less than direct experience. This is juicy! Entrenched beliefs about awakening or philosophical truths cannot give you this juice. You must drink it up yourself. See it in your own experience.