Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Powerful Pointers

Ever since I discovered the idea of enlightenment a couple of years ago, I have felt compelled to find out as much as I could about it. I have been a researcher of sorts, taking in all of these things compiling them, sharing them with others, etc. My intellectual comprehension has continued to deepen, as has my experiential understanding. What I have found quite useful is reading certain things that resonate with me multiple times. I have found that I am not always present enough to hear what is being said the first time. In effect, I may not be ready to hear this now, but may be later. The other benefit to continuing to read about such things is that it serves as a constant reminder to look deeper. Otherwise, you read a book about enlightenment and say, “Well, that’s interesting,” and then leave it at that.

However, it seems to be that we all want the same thing: a sense of peace that is not determined or affected by what the world throws at us. We all want to be happy. So, it seems in order for us to do that, we have to be able to be completely at peace with who we are. How can we be happy when we are playing a role, trying to please others? Why can’t we just be ourselves and not care about pleasing others? What if being ourselves is all it takes to please others? Then we must first recognize who we truly are beyond the roles we have played all of our lives.

Along my personal journey, I have picked up various pointers that have resonated with me. Pointers are wonderful tools that help guide the mind toward what we truly are. We, in effect, use this mind to search for ourselves, but can’t rely on it to understand what we are looking for. Intellectual understanding is great, and I think is a necessary part of finding yourself, but eventually those mental concepts become a hindrance and have to be put aside to make room for the actual experience of what is true.

The pointers I have provided below have helped me bring about the experience of understanding rather than the mental movement of understanding (though both seem to happen). I invite you to experiment with them on your own to see what happens. Try sitting with one pointer, or one sentence of a pointer for a while rather than just give it all a once over and forget about it. You may find that some of them work some of the time and not at others, but I recommend try them all over and over. It might be helpful for you to copy and paste them into a document you can print out for future use, or write some on post it notes to place around as reminders.

Lately I’ve found that the most simple, yet profound, pointers are those that just tell you to look at yourself. In fact, according to John Sherman, if you simply look at yourself as often as you think of it, you are guaranteed to find what you are looking for, which is what you have always been and didn’t realize it ;)


When needless thoughts arise and you notice them, turn them into gibberish or replace them with blah blah blah. Witness the thoughts as they turn into meaninglessness and disappear into silence.

What’s more real, the thoughts in my head, or the fact that I am here? Check in and see.

Simply look at yourself. Not in the mirror. Just look at yourself. Ask yourself, “Who am I?” and follow your attention inward, as if your point of focus has rotated 180 degrees.

Look at who you think you are. Look at your mind made image of yourself, how you see yourself, how you think others see you. What is really there?

Point your finger around at different objects, looking at what it points at along the way. Then point the finger at your own face. Look at what it is pointing at.

Who or what is looking through my eyes? Close your eyes and “look” (or focus your attention) at what’s right behind your eyes.

Focus your attention on your inner body. Feel the life underneath your skin. Feel your breath.

Be still and notice the stillness around you. Listen to the silence underneath the noises you hear.

Focus on the empty space around you. Look around and become aware of the space that encompasses everything.

Think about this: Nothing ever happened. Everything in the past is just your imagination.

There is just this. Just what is in front of you at this moment. The only thing that really exists is just this, only this. Right here, right now.

Look at things for the first time, as if you had never seen them before. Drop your stories and labels and just look through the eyes that don’t know anything. What was it before you knew what it was?

Let it (everything) be, just as it is. Look at the simple isness of it. See it only for what it is. It is simply here, just here, in your presence, and you are aware of it being present.

Look at your hands as they manipulate things. Watch them as they move around with their own innate intelligence. You don’t need to control them, they know what they’re doing. What will they do next? Just witness.

You are not the doer. See what it’s like when you stop pretending to be in control. Just let the body lead the way and see where it takes you.

I am ALWAYS right here. I am, and always have been, aware of my own existence, my here-ness. I am never not aware that I exist. In every circumstance, I am always aware of the space that I am in. The one constant, never changing fact is that I am aware of myself. I am totally conscious (aware) of being here (present) where ever I am. I see that I exist even when I am unaware that I am aware. “I am” even when I don’t know “I am.”

Look at a past memory. What was it that was there witnessing it? What hasn’t changed since then? What has always been there, where every you have been, what ever you have done? You. Your simple “you-ness” has always been present at any given point in your life. Quietly watching your life unfold.

What if this same witnessing presence that looks through your eyes is the same witnessing presence that is looking through everyone else’s eyes? Look around at others as if your witnessing presence is actually the same presence looking through their eyes. In effect, take your awareness and wrap it around behind the eyes of others. The only difference is your outward appearance and your past experiences. You may have different thoughts, but that which is always here for us (our witnessing presence) is the same for all of us.

If I’m asked, “Are you enlightened yet?” I would say, “Yes. I always have been. I just haven’t fully realized it yet.”

Driving (or walking) Meditation:
As you drive down the road (highways and byways where there is not stop and go traffic is best), focus your eyes a slight bit higher, or lower, or to the left or right of where you would typically look. As you do so, open up your field of vision so that you are focusing not just on what is in front of you, but also what is in your peripheral vision. Expand your view so that you are taking in more of the scenery all around rather than just what is right in front of you. Experiment by looking around at different points in front of you (i.e. a little to the left of center, a little above center, etc.). As you do so, remain aware of your peripheral vision. You can simultaneously be aware of what is in front of you and what is all around you. You can enjoy looking at the sky as you drive down the road just with a slight shift in your perspective. Even the lines painted on the road are more alive when they are noticed. Take it all in. Be aware of it.

As you do this, notice if you feel any tension in your body. Relax into it by taking a smiling breath. This is life. It’s always all around you even when you don’t notice. Don’t be afraid to look around when you drive. You don’t even have to turn your head to do it. Surrender to the fact that you don’t have any control over your fate when you get in a car (or in any other circumstance for that matter). There’s nothing to fear if life is giving you everything you need to experience to bring about your own fulfillment. In short, you’re not driving, you’re being driven. Since we’re all on a hunk of rock that’s spinning a thousand miles per hour and hurtling through space at half a million miles per hour, why not sit back and enjoy the ride?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

25 Things

An interesting little Facebook note came my way asking me to write 25 things about myself and pass it on. I felt that it was an opportunity to share some teachings with people who might never have been exposed to such ideas. It’s mostly a summary of things I have picked up from Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie. So, here is what I originally wrote (I later went back and made it more of an autobiographical note as the instructions suggested). I will take these ideas to a deeper level in my next post.

1. I like collecting seeds of wisdom and sowing them around the world in an attempt to make it a happier, greener place to live. Take only that which resonates with you and forget the rest.
2. You are not the thinker. Your thoughts are not who you are
3. You are totally at the mercy of life. You don’t live life, it lives you.
4. Believing your thoughts eventually leads to suffering (i.e. boredom, discontentment, complaining, frustration, anger, etc.)
5. Let everything be just as it is, without mental labels
6. Now is all there ever is. Everything happens, and has happened, in the present moment. You are, and always will be, present.
7. Your thoughts create a veil of stories and labels that prevent you from seeing what life truly is
8. Give your fullest attention to what you are doing right now as often as you can
9. Pay attention to the feeling of your inner body, or your breathing, as often as you can
10. Listen to the voice in your head as it talks about everything around you. Know that those thoughts are simply part of your past conditioning and are not who you are. Do not judge yourself for having them. Just notice.
11. Who are you really? If you set aside your mind made identity, what’s left?
12. Everything you have ever experienced was necessary to bring you to where you are now, which is exactly where you are meant to be.
13. Who would you be without your story, without your name, without your history?
14. Look at where your hands are right now. Look at how you are sitting. Did you plan that or was it just a happening?
15. There is my business, their business, and God’s (reality’s) business. If you are in someone else’s business you are not living your life.
16. All of your judgements toward others are actually about you. When you judge someone, look to see if you can find an element of that judgement living within yourself.
17. Everyone, including you, is doing the best they can given their present state of consciousness. If you had lived their life, you would be acting in the same way they are.
18. All war, on a personal and collective level, stems from believing your thoughts to be true
19. What is, is. You can argue with it or accept it.
20. If you can witness your thoughts, then you are obviously not your thoughts. You are actually the witnessing presence behind those thoughts.
21. Pay attention to the empty space that contains all things.
22. Pay attention to the silence underneath the sounds, the silence between words or thoughts.
23. Look at the things in this world as if it was the first time you had ever seen them, as if you had no previous knowledge of what they were. What was it before you knew what it was?
24. Ask yourself “Who am I?” and direct your attention inward. Don’t look for and answer with the mind, just focus your attention at the source of the question. Who is it that asks the question?
25. The story of who you think you are is what prevents you from seeing your true nature as consciousness itself. Awareness is who you are. You have never not been aware.