You really have to come to a deep understanding that now is enough, that you're safe if you stop. The trust that when present, everything is fine. Otherwise, you just keep moving, nonstop moving. Always looking for what presence can offer you right now. But presence is unknown to the mind. There's nothing to it. So the mind can't project onto it. It has to be some thing and it's no-thing. And how could nothing be safe? The mind, the ego, can't understand that presence is always enough and always safe.
Is the only fear the fear of death? No matter what other fear, if you condense it down, if you get back to the root of it, aren't you afraid of being annihilated? Be it psychologically, heartbroken, humiliated, all the things people fear, of course actual death, health, it's the fear of dying, the fear of annihilation, the fear of non-existence. So, the fact that only the ego believes in non-existence, believes in death as something final and permanent - it can't understand the nonlinearity, as Hawkins says, about death. It doesn't make sense to the mind. The ego fears annihilation, fears non-existence more than anything, at least in my case, starting when I was a young boy. So what is the nature of our true selves? Is it susceptible to death? It's funny because when you're totally quiet without thought, what is death anyway? If you can't think about it, what is death? We have no idea. There's no sense of it coming, sense of it pending. We don't even know what it could be because frankly we don't know anything except that we are. And I guess that's the thing that the great mystics have told us is that sense, that bear naked sense of being, is eternal. That even though it seems like it's attached to this body, it's totally identified with this body, that at death, this sense of I, this sense of aware presence does not die. The body's just dropped, and we as Self continue. But not in the sense of continuing as the ego, continuing as that aware space that when we're still we can experience now, that has no story to it and doesn't know anything, and yet is self evident that it is. So some of this, you take the mystics word for it, and we touch it as we can, like now, I'm touching it, I'm touching what they've told me, contemplating it, and looking, examining. What it would be like to be totally still and without thought. What is death? What is death in the face of presence? It's meaningless. It can't even arise.
Relaxation could be defined as not trying to control how you feel in this moment. Allowing whatever is arising to let be fully and not try to move away from it. There's this false sense of some one moving away from some thing, like I can get away from my feelings as if they're separate. So there's this false sense of an I that then gets away from the feeling. The way to get away from the feeling is to create another feeling, moving to a thought that explains it, that has an intellectual answer to it. So it's not even like the feeling keeps happening, it just stops and you go into the mind. So how about just letting this moment be exactly as it is, no matter what's arising in the body and the mind, outside of us, inside of us. And it's a sense/feeling, this letting go, letting go all the control. Just being here now, letting it all go.
That's why trying to control life is so stressful because the control isn't real. It's a false sense of control. If we were really in control, then it wouldn't make us anxious. But we're not really, It's all this story we tell ourselves, but we know it's not true. We intuit that the truth is much bigger and simpler. So that tension, that anxiety between the stories we tell ourselves and what's actually true, we are aware of it as we're letting go of all the illusion of control. Just right now. It's not like you have to let it go forever. That's great if possible, but that's too daunting for people. Just now. Just letting go now. There's nothing you have to do right now. Just let go of all the control, all the illusory control. That gives you courage to know that you're not letting go of something real. You're letting go of just a story. It's not real. And even though it seems real, you can come to the understanding that it's just a story. And so you can let it go. It's safe to let go. It's the only safe place to be let go. The rest is very stressful. The story of control is very stressful. Just here now.
Then you have to be careful not to go the other way, trying to hold onto the presence. Once you discover true presence, then you play with the other side, which is trying not to hold onto it. Constantly letting go until it just becomes natural to let go into presence. You trust it. It's safe. It's the only true safe place. But you then have to be vigilant about not trying to hold on to peace or hold onto presence, which immediately takes you out, which really freaks people out. So just the act of trying to hold onto it, pulls you out of presence and you think it's something else. You think you're losing it, you think it's going away. You think the presence that you've been feeling is dissipating and going away. The story convinces you to come out of presence. The story of holding - I have to hold onto this. I want to hold onto this. How do I do it? That story pulls you out of presence and makes you feel like you've lost it. In truth, you haven't lost anything. Presence is still full on, but you're now in the mind and an even stronger story begins - How do I get it back? And you start working and trying and strategizing instead of letting go. It's sort of counterintuitive at first, but we have to learn it over time, that it's always here, and the letting go of all the stories, fully letting go of all control gives you access to the living presence. Now.
Letting go is something you really can't teach anyone. It's something you have to just start playing with - trial and error, and just do it whenever you can. Whenever you think about it, whenever you're in a position and place to play with letting go, and you start to get a feel for it. You start to get a feel for what this sense of control feels like, and what it feels like to just drop all of it, and the immediacy and the intensity of the presence, the warmth too, the aliveness of it. But it's really hard to teach. It's just something you can start getting a taste for you. You do it in little bursts and they start getting longer. You start getting more familiar with the feeling of letting go and then, like all this, you just have more access to it. And from what I can tell, there's a cumulative effect with all the spiritual work. And it's not like you're getting an understanding and then back to zero and getting an understanding and back to zero. It all kind of accumulates and sort of picks up where it left off, in a sense. In my experience. I'm not sure what that all means, but that's just what came out. But letting go is the theme here. Letting go, Letting go, Letting go.
You are not separate from this ever-present now. Find your way into that using self inquiry, watching diligently, logic, intelligence, discernment. Just look and grok as deeply as you can, and the more and more times you taste this, the deeper it goes - that you're not separate from this moment. And after getting a nice, juicy feeling for that, contemplate all that that means. Take your time. Just keep noticing, experiencing. You as this. Not even two. Just this. And just be in the presence as much as you can, and occasionally maybe play with the ramifications of that realization, if you dare. It's not like you have to think a lot about it. You just peer into that mystery, and you can start to feel what that means. Start the beginning feeling of what it means that we are not separate from this moment. That we are the now. Our sense of ourselves, that sense of I, is the same as now, as this sense of now, this sense of presence. This is who we are. It's not something that's happening to us or something that we are aware of. This is me. This moment.
It's fairly easy to see that all we have is now, and that the only way the rest of our lives can exist in this moment is through story. So if you can see that clearly, that you can ever only be in this moment, only be now, and the rest of our lives, particularly the troubling past and the troubling future, can only exist as thoughts, as stories in our minds. So it's easy to see from that perspective that what happened to us in our lives did not cause the suffering that still continues, but it's the stories about those events that hold all the energy still, that still cause the dysfunction and the energetic disruptions. All they exist now is in story form, but those stories hold a tremendous amount of energy. So much that they feel real. It's very good to really clearly see that it's the stories that are causing the pain now.
My teaching is all about now. What's preventing you from being present? What's preventing you from just being here now? What's preventing you from knowing that now is all there is? What happens when you stop trying to understand anything and you just come to rest now? Simple. Notice the mind's tendency to complicate, to disbelieve that this could be it, to need more information. For what? What will the information give you? It's now. Now is where you are. Now is what you are. Now is what you're looking for. Now is the answer to every question. And just see if you can stop and let go of this need for more information, more answers, more understanding, and come into the now.
If you can find your way to seeing and understanding that you are not in the now, but you are the now. If you can find your way to that profound understanding at whatever level - that you are not different from this - then you can see that death is not possible for your true nature, for who you are. When you feel into this moment, into the nowness, into the timelessness of the ever present now, how could that ever die? How can that ever not be? And we can sense that. We can sense that the ever present now is just that - it's ever present and eternal. What could ever happen to the now? How could the now never be? And the mind might say, Yeah, that's lovely. I get that, but that's not me. So we go back - is that not me? Am I really different than this moment? And we ask those deep questions and watch and listen, feel into it, sense into the sense of beingness, the sense of I am-ness. Is this sense of me different from my sense of this moment? Am I different from this moment? Am I other than this moment? Am I other than now? How could I be? Where would I be? Where would now be? So we can feel deeply into this, this not being different from the ever present now - Our true nature being not even one with - that would sort of imply there are two, but the same as, identical to, the now, and if that's so, if you can find that, come to that, we can come to an understanding of what it means to be eternal - that our true nature is timeless, ever-present and eternal.
The strength of the ego is so strong, the conditioning so strong from this life, and according to the great seers, from many, many lifetimes prior, and that's why you have to fall in love with this quest for truth. In a sense, it becomes your entire life. It's never far from contemplating it, working with it, looking at it, meditating on it, acknowledging it. It's like a constant program that's running of pondering, contemplating this life, this being, this question of who am I? What am I? What is my true nature? What is the truth of my being? I would guess for most people who get to a high level of consciousness, that it's a real, intense inner drive to know the truth, and that it's what informs their entire lives at some point. There's a lot of momentum in the world reminding us that we're separate individuals in a dualistic world, and to constantly be looking at whether that's true and what the truth of who we are really is to counteract that momentum and be clear and be free, because it's a life's work. And it has to come from love - a love for it, a fascination, a passion, a deep, deep curiosity and wondering for it to sustain and have impact.
Our love of God is tested by life. That's the fight. You know, in relationships we have fights, but our fight with God is our lives - until it's not. Meaning, wait a minute, why is life so painful? Why am I hurting so much, God? You're supposed to be looking out for me. If you're up there, why is it so fucking hard? And that's our fight with God. Because if we're in a relationship with God, it's like, I, this person on the planet has a relationship with this being, deity or whatever, that I could never grasp, and instead of fighting with a wife or a friend or a boss, our fight with God is our lives. We either finally just come to accept life, and I don't mean resigning to the horrors of it, but letting go into life, trusting life, you know, trusting life. Not afraid. That's the thing in all our relationships, right? We all get scared. So we start fighting because we don't trust it. We don't trust the other people. We don't trust the relationship. We don't trust ourselves. And so we fight with them because we're afraid that we're going to screw it up or we're going to lose them, or we're going to lose ourselves, or all the above. And with our love of God, our fear is that we don't matter. That we're insignificant. That we're meaningless. I think it's true that there's this inner sense that we're divine. We have this inner knowing that we're divine, and all the religions and all the mystical tracks at their hearts are telling us that. That we are divine. And not as a belief, but as a lived experience. That this can be known. It's not just another belief. Like church leaders, or whoever, telling you're this, you're this, or you're just, you're not. No, the real teachers are saying, find out for yourself. Find out for yourself. Know this for yourself. Know that you are divine. Find it. Find your divinity. It is there. And so because we have this, I think, deep inner knowing - for some people obviously that knowing is much more prevalent or close to the surface or lived. And for some it's buried way deep, under many, many, many, many layers of unconsciousness and fear. But it's still there. There's still that knowing of our divinity. So when our lives don't "work like they should", or they're painful, we go through tragedy and heartbreak, there's that question that arises, how can these both be true? How can we be divine and loved by God and be suffering so much? And so there's that tension. That's our fight. That's our fight with God. You know, that's our fight with God. How can it be like this if you are there? And so for the mystics, for the enlightened ones, that fight ends. The idea that life should be some other way comes to an end. Our fight with God comes to an end. You know, the mystics would say because they realize that they are one with God, just now in this moment, aware. One with life. No story about a past or a future. Just now, as presence. Of course one with everything. One with this entire experience. Just me experiencing myself. I've never thought of it that way. That's really interesting. Because that's what it feels like. All I know is my experience of myself. And then you can see that by "yourself", you mean everything. You can go back to that inquiry - is there any difference between my experience of myself and my experience of this moment? And if you can't find any, like I can't, then when you say, I only know the experience of myself, that would be everything. That would be just life itself. Again, that's just a word. Or being as itself experiencing itself. So the fight ends. There's no more contradiction between your life and life. And so, one doesn't come into a different experience of oneself, one drops all the false experiences, or one drops all the false identities, all the notions of ourselves. All those fall away. And we just find ourselves as raw presence, simply aware, but unable to explain how. No way to understand how this could be happening, but there's no denying that it is happening. And then that tempting story of the mind comes in and says, this is my experience. Creating this false duality. As opposed to just, this is experience. I am this experience. And to call it an experience, sort of suggests that it has a beginning and an end, but it's "I am the experience of presence." Again, a lot of words for something impossible to understand or to name, but the experience of presence doesn't start and end. It just is. So when everything else falls away, there's nowhere else to be. Then it's a matter of how comfortable are we staying here? And that grows over time, in my experience. I think it would be extremely freaky to have it all at once. Until the mind tells me a story, in this case, I would say a story about myself, in the form of thoughts, I'm just here. I'm just awake, alert presence, which doesn't go anywhere, even if I do get attached to a story. This hasn't gone away, I've gone away. Or attention is trapped in story. Attention gets addicted to story. And then there's this incredible thing where we believe that's who we are. This incredibly mysterious mechanism, which I don't know if anyone could ever really have a solid answer about this - how consciousness falls asleep? How we, as life itself, as being, fall asleep and believe we are the stories about ourselves, and the other people are the stories that we have about them. We have a story about everything. And naming stuff is harmless, but it never really ends there. There's naming, then there's stories about those things too. I'm looking at a toilet. There's no issue with just naming it. So we can say, oh, there's a toilet. But then poop and vomiting and the toilet bowl isn't clean, you know what I mean? Like this whole world of stories comes up around a toilet. So yeah, the amazing stunt, miracle, of this existence - that awakeness can fall asleep. Awakeness that always is, and is always available, can fall asleep, so soundly for many, many, many - Buddhists say lifetimes - and forget who it is. And the suggestion being that, the journey of these souls - whatever that is, I don't know - but its journey is to wake up again. It's like, okay, you're awake and you're in Nirvana for a long time and you just kind of go, okay, you get bored of it. And they're like, dude, why not start again? I don't know about that. Like just do it. But it's like a thousand lifetimes. I know, but you're bored and this is never going to change. This is just what it is. It's just Nirvana. It's just always going to be like this. So go do it again. Go do another thousand lives, and then when you come back here, you'll so love it.
I just saw it so clearly. Once the story of us stops - essentially when we become fully present - I saw more clearly tonight than ever - that when we become present, we are just gone. When the story of us stops, we are gone. That whole life I've imagined that I tell myself now. Everything is just gone. It's wild and yet, I'm still here. Everything I know about myself is gone. There's no reference anymore, when the story stops. There's just this present awareness that is always here, underneath the story, underneath all the surface goings on. And when the story stops and everything becomes still, that presence, that ever-present awareness, that knowing, that being, that bright, alert awareness is the same as always, shining bright, unperturbable, effortlessly aware, and buzzing with life. Every time the story stops, you can look closesly and ask, "what is it that's gone? When that story stops, what is it about me that's gone?" And it's everything. It's everything. Except the one thing. Everything is gone except presence, except that everlasting presence because that presence is underneath everything else.
The mind tells you that life in the present would be chaotic. If you just were present all the time that you would be out of control and chaotic, because there's no one managing it. Is that true? Have I ever been really present and it felt chaotic? It seems like when I'm really present everything slows down, everything is in perfect order. So why do I think that if I stayed in presence and never took up the story of me again, why do I imagine that it would be chaotic and out of control? That's the mind's version of presence, not the reality of it.
I think there's an existential fear from the ego, which is where all fear comes from, obviously, that now is not enough, that if we really accpet the notion, the idea that now is all we have and now is enough, and that the ego's terrified of that for many reasons, but for the basic reason that the ego doesn't exist in the moment, can't exist in presence, in the present moment. It needs a story to exist, which is all past and future, so there's this existential terror that arises when someone says - oh, you know, it's just this, just this moment - because the mind, or if we want to equate that with the ego, thoughts, doesn't really get anything out of this moment. There's nothing in this moment to think about. And as soon as you do think about it, you're out of the moment, not present anymore. So the mind has nothing to do in presence, with presence. So there's no way for it to conceive of it being enough. Enough to the mind is always more or different. So the mind can't conceive of this, just this being enough, being satisfying, being all there is, being what the mystics claim it to be, those who know claim it to be. It's not until you surrender into the presence, into the moment, let go of everything and just be present, that you come to see, feel, understand very clearly that it is enough. Not only enough - that word doesn't even make sense really because it's everything. It's everything and it's enough and it's now, and it's timeless.
When I say story, it doesn't mean it didn't happen, like it was all just a story. It means it's not happening now. You have to recreate the story in your mind right now. So, a story is something that you tell yourself, that maybe did happen, a version of it happened at one point in your life, but now it's just a story. So, that is not to deny that something ever happened. It's just that it happened once, and how many times have we replayed that story in our minds, and continue to believe it as it arises, and allow it to continue to cause suffering. As it arises, we continue to believe it's true now, and continue to suffer the consequences. Whereas without the story, if we drop the story, drop all stories, and are simply present in the nowness, it's the same presence. It's the same moment, but all of a sudden you're at peace, because you are now able to rest and fall into the depth of the timeless presence. Whereas before your attention was focused on the surface chatter of a story going on, and they can come quickly and be multi-layered and interweaving, and they're completely addictive and seem all pervasive until you get the taste of just letting them go and being present in the stillness of the moment.
Isn't that really the final question. Am I willing to die to find out who I am? Isn't that really the last question? At least if you answer it, yes, it's the last question.
There's that point in the spiritual search where you have no doubt whatsoever anymore, when you're in rigpa, you know, when you're just in yourself, in your true being as presence, there's no more doubt about what that experience is like. And so you're not wondering is that it? Is that it? At some point you just know, oh, of course, and then you never not know it again, or it just becomes more and more sure and sure and sure, until there's just no doubt left.