As spiritual seekers we enjoy listening to or reading theories of awakening and enlightenment. We want to believe there is some sort of step-by-step plan we can follow and understand with our minds. That’s the way we’ve learned everything else in our life. If we’re honest with ourselves, we have to admit that it hasn’t really worked, at least not yet. But there’s always the hope that the next thing will, or perhaps it will if we’re a little more diligent in following the path we’ve already learned. At some point in this process at least a few of us will realize that it’s not working and it probably won’t.
This is rather disillusioning. If all these spiritual books and teachers can’t help me, what can?
A Much Simpler Approach
Let me suggest a much simpler approach that perhaps we’ve missed. And very likely we’ve missed it on purpose. 🙂
The reason that all these wonderful new spiritual theories and step-by-step practices haven’t really worked is that they’re all based on thoughts. And thoughts are not the solution. They’re the problem. Not thoughts themselves, but our belief and attachment to them.
The Zero Point
Let’s call freedom from all thoughts the “zero point”. It doesn’t mean there are no thoughts, but no thought is believed in, no thought is attached to. Thoughts have zero importance.
In spiritual terms this zero point is often called Samadhi and sometimes Sat-Chit-Ananda (Existence-Consciousness-Bliss).
Ramana Maharshi has said, “When the Self is realized, the world disappears.” This is an interesting comment and very true. And there is a simple explanation for it that has to do with how we perceive the world. We perceive the world through our thoughts about the world and the objects in it. Our first experience of this zero point is often the apparent disappearance of the world and all the objects in it. All objects we were previously seeing appear to have disappeared into a pure light. This may sound frightening, but it is anything but. It is Existence-Consciousness-Bliss.
An Experiment in Perception
Years ago I spontaneously discovered a little experiment. After years of meditation and a practice of letting go of attachment to thoughts I called “don’t know” mind, I discovered I could look at any object and, layer by layer, surrender every thought I had about it, name, form, color, function, connection, etc. When this was complete for that object, that object would at first become very blurry and then disappear completely into the background. I could no longer see it. As soon as a single thought about it reappeared it would immediately snap back into sharp focus.
This was fascinating to me so for a while I experimented with this with many objects in my perception. What it taught me was that I could not physically see an object as something separate from everything else without thoughts about that object. Without thoughts I could not separate an object from the background it appeared in front of. Without a thought, that object ceased to exist to my perceptions.
This also explains why the entire world and all objects cease to be perceivable at the zero point, Samadhi, Existence-Consciousness-Bliss. As Ramana says, “When the Self is realized, the world disappears.”
If you have not yet experienced this, then this will only be another thought to you. This is why all words are only useful as pointers, not Truth. Hopefully these words can point you to a little expansion, a little less attachment to and belief in words as Truth. And also a little better understanding of what your perceptions (sight, touch, sound, smell, taste, etc.) are made from, as well as a little better understanding of your thoughts and feelings and even sense of self.
All Matter is 99% Empty Space
Let me add here that physicists have long known that what we see as solid matter is actually 99% empty space. Hopefully this will give you even less confidence, attachment and belief in what you see and believe as reality. That is certainly what the experience of the zero point, Existence-Consciousness-Bliss, awakening or your True Self will do for you. It will leave your mind forever free of mental knowing. And this freedom is bliss. It is peace. It is unconditional love. It is True Knowing. It is Presence to what is in each moment.
The initial experience of this freedom from thoughts, what we call awakening, is so radically different from everything we have ever “known”, which we now realize was just a thought-based waking dream, that it takes some time for integration. Some rush this integration and too quickly develop thoughts and theories about what it is. They let their initial discomfort and unfamiliarity with being in a thought-free state of complete not knowing trigger them back into a thought-world, although now it is a “spiritual” or “awakened” thought-world. But this is still a thought-world. It is a new dream, but it is still a dream.
There is another option.
Obviously remaining fully in the zero-point / Samadhi is not going to work for functioning in this material plane. Without perceiving objects, we cannot function with them. So that is not really an option, at least not for long. We might call the practical second option a Middle Way or as I like to call it:
In Living Awake we are fully aware that our thoughts are not reality, are not Truth. They are just thoughts. In this way we live free of thoughts. We are fully aware that all our perceptions depend on these thoughts and so none of our perceptions are real. The world we perceive is an illusion, a dream depending entirely on thoughts. I understand how disorienting this will seem to those who still believe their thoughts and perceptions. What is there to trust? What is there to depend on? Nothing in the dream. But for one who has experienced the zero point, Samadhia, Existence-Consciousness-Bliss, the True Self, this is a life of complete freedom.
Living In The World But Not Of It
This is what it truly means to live in the world but not of it.
The world will always appear as a dream because of the way our brain and perceptions function. Reality can never be understood with the mind, thoughts or perceptions. When this is realized it is accepted. When this is accepted the dream no longer affects us, no longer causes any problems or suffering. Living Awake is living free.
I understand that very few people have experienced the zero point as described above. And of the few who have few have spent enough time to fully integrate it. Of those who have not yet experienced this, there is a great deal of misunderstanding, attempted and believed mental understanding and flat out fear and resistance to letting go of the thought-world that completely.
Yet there are very practical applications for this understanding in every stage of consciousness and attachment.
True and miraculous healing happens as soon as someone lets go of their attachment to the thoughts that create their suffering. It’s not something people are used to doing. But it is far less challenging than it might seem. I have helped many people do this with amazing results. It is only necessary to work with someone who is already free of thoughts.
You can see how well this works in The Work of Byron Katie. Simply questioning these thoughts already gives some freedom. The more this freedom is experienced the more insight arises from direct experience about the true cause of suffering and freedom from suffering.
Presence and Mindfulness
As soon as anyone is free of thoughts, they are instantly fully Present. It might be said that Presence, mindfulness and being free of thoughts are the same thing.
It’s not necessary to experience full zero point. Even a short moment of freedom from thoughts is healing.
The most powerful mantra I know of is “I don’t know.” If understood and accepted fully this mantra brings instantaneous freedom. We have been carrying an enormous burden of layers of thoughts. Each year of our life we have added to this burden. We call it knowledge. The simple understanding that these are nothing but thoughts, and that thoughts are only representations of reality, not reality, can free us instantly from this burden. The freedom of this mantra “I don’t know”, fully understood and accepted, is amazing.
Do not worry. We don’t lose this knowledge. It doesn’t vanish. All we lose is the illusion that this knowledge is anything more than layer after layer of thoughts. In this realization and acceptance, we are free to experience the truth of life as it is without the heavy filters of thoughts that were in the way and prevented us from experiencing it. We were taught that the more knowledge we had the closer we would come to Truth. Life shows us that the opposite is true.
Thoughts Are Not the Problem
It doesn’t mean thoughts are not useful. They are. This is how we learn. This is how our culture was and is created. This is how we form our personal separate identity. The problem is that we believe these thoughts are more than thoughts. We believe they are reality. We believe they are Truth, just as we believe what we perceive with our eyes is reality, not a dream created with our thoughts.
All spiritual seekers have heard that life is a dream. Perhaps now you are beginning to understand what that means. It’s not life that’s a dream. It’s our thoughts and perceptions of life that are a dream. It we want to truly experience the miracle of what life is, we only have to let go of our belief in and attachment to all the thoughts we have about it.
It may be helpful to translate Sat-Chit-Ananda as the bliss of the awareness of being. Existence-Consciousness-Bliss is kind of abstract to me. But whenever I am aware of my existence I feel bliss. This bliss is the bliss of the awareness of being.
Yes, Marc, that is helpful. I see what you mean. Simply being aware of being is blissful.
Mentally Accept life is a thought process, and how many days i need to understand my true self. What should I do to practically going to my real nature..
It’s not a matter of days, it’s a matter of completeness, thoroughness. Understanding and fully accepting that everything you perceive is a thought and thus not reality is a first step. The acceptance of this will make it easier to let go and remove attention from thoughts. You might experiment with paying more attention to the space between thoughts than to thoughts. This is a form of meditation. The more you can experience the peace and stillness free of thoughts, the more you will experience your True Nature.
Thank you Peter..
And, i am in a break up.. And it’s very hard to me.. Lot of pain on my heart.. . You said this love, pain and all emotion are just thoughts?? Real love thats something we want to find?? ?. Please reply me.. To reduce my break up pain
I’m sorry for your suffering. The cause of suffering is our thoughts and beliefs. But that doesn’t stop the pain from feeling completely real. What we perceive in the world, in other people and in ourself is a dream created by thoughts. And the suffering that you are experiencing right now is showing you this. Love actually has no pain.
Please join me in a little experiment. Think of a time when your love for this person or any person was the most perfect, the most wonderful. Remember this time. Bring it to mind. Bring it to your heart. Relive this moment of very strong, perfect love. Where did this love come from? Where did you feel this love? You felt it in your own heart. It did not and could not come from outside of you. It was felt right in your own heart. Feel this now. If the love you felt that was most perfect during that time was felt in your heart, then it must have come from you. It must be in you. And right now, as you are reliving this, as you are feeling this, where is this love. It is in you still. Where else could it be? It cannot be taken from you because someone leaves you, betrays your or dies. It is your love. And that is still with you. Nothing can take this love away. You always have it. You always are it. What this person you are feeling such pain over now did was trigger this feeling that has always been in you, that has always been yours. It’s still yours now, even without the trigger. Love hasn’t gone anywhere.
When we love another person, we are just experiencing this love that is always here in us. We don’t realize this and we think it is the other person that is responsible for this wonderful feeling of love. We forget to look to where the feeling of love if actually coming from. If we do that, we realize that it is always here and we just were not aware of it before we were with this person. And it is here now. Love cannot be lost. It is not separate from what you are.
I hope this helps. If you follow what I have written, then this broken heart can lead you to what is beyond broken hearts, suffering and a dream created with thoughts. It can lead you to love that does not change.
Thanks Peter. . Thank you very.. Much.. I copy your answer to my notelad.. And it helps me.. ? i accept..
But i am an engineering student.. I have many back papers, parents want me to clear me immediately and find a job… If i continues in spiritual path.. , I’ll be aeay friends this false world.. But what my parents think.. How i satisfy them.. Please help me. I am so stressed to clear my papers.. More pressure.. On me.
I don’t know what “clear your papers” refers to. Many people have problems with their parents and their parents expectations which sometimes do not fit what the child feels is right. Parents love their children. What they do, they do because they love their children and want them to be happy. Not all parents, but most. If you show your parents that you are happy and have great comfort and conviction in this happiness and love and honor your parents, then your parents should be happy with this no matter what you do. Your parents think they know best what will make you happy. They just want your happiness. So if you demonstrate that you are happy and that you also only want happiness for your parents, then there should be no problem. If you do not feel happy, then the solution is to be fully present with your parents. Just be fully in this moment. Forget about everything that went before this moment. Forget about what you believe you know about your parents, about you, about the world. Leave all of that alone. Just be fully present. In presence, there is always naturally happiness. Your being present and happy and filled with unconditional love for your parents, will naturally affect them strongly. They will immediately become more present, happy and loving. Presence is a miracle. You should work on this in meditation. Just be present. Just be. Don’t ask this moment to be anything other than what it is. Fully open to this moment exactly as it is. There are no problems in presence. There is peace, happiness, love, freedom, but zero problems. You have to be fully present to experience this. My words will only be interpreted by the mind. You must surrender the past and the future completely. Just be. Then you will experience the amazing miracle of simply being present. You are always present, but your thoughts pull your attention into the past and the future. For a moment stop that. Let all your thoughts go and just be. When you are used to doing this naturally, then offer your presence to your parents. Amazingly, this should clear up many problems. But you must try it to see.
Thank you Peter for yet another wonderful post! Indeed, “I do not know!” mantra kept me ‘grounded’ throughout and opened the door to freedom from concepts.
Yes, Dusica, it is wonderful how something so simple can do so much. Thank you.
Very beautifully and clearly written. I have inadvertently, not really knowing, done the experiment in perception and that is exactly what happens. Awareness abounds.
That’s wonderful, Barb. Thank you for responding. I don’t think I’ve ever heard from anyone who did this same experiment. I think it’s a very good one to do and probably helped in some ways lead to my later experience of Samadhi when all form disappeared. Wonderful to hear. Thank you.
Chaitanya Gaur says
Exactly ! That’s what happened to me. I just thought there is some step-by-step plan by which I will grow on spirituality but there is none because steps exist in mind, not in reality. And spirituality is about seeing the reality without distortion. I always though some experience would happen to me, that will change me, until then I should live in old way. But the reality was I had to take responsibility of my life. I had to see what is untrue in continuing to live in that old way and hence, find truth. I always thought I will change tomorrow. But it needs courage to ask,’ If I want to change from what I’m experiencing, then why not now? And if its good to live in that way, why should I even change in future? There’s no need then.’ I always though by reading spiritual books or teachings something will happen and my life will change. But teachings are just pointers, not truth itself. If I want to change something I will change, if not then I will not change. It’s that simple. But how is that possible that I want to change but I also don’t change? It’s because desire to change is superficial. You are lying to yourself. You never realized if that change was really needed for you. If you have seen it deeply, immediately there is a transformation.
These are some of many ways how mind makes us fool. I know the difference between spiritual knowledge and realized truth. All what I have written is what I have learnt from by observing myself. Now I can change myself.
Wonderful, Chaitanya. Very good. Thank you. The True Guru, the True Teacher, is always with us and never separate from us.