Thursday, 5 January 2012


Response to an article by John Tissandier which can be found below.

A very interesting article John you state very precisely the many problems that arise once we accept the idea that there is such a thing as enlightenment, self-realization, awakening etc. Most of these problems collapse if we don’t accept the idea of enlightenment, or at least have a more questioning attitude to whether there is such a thing or not. Even without the idea of enlightenment there is still a hurdle that we all must face. The hurdle is suffering - surely it is this that causes us to invent the idea of enlightenment in the first place. Our quest is not to find enlightenment it is to solve the problem of suffering. Meditation, yoga, residing in I AM, religion, philosophy, seeking pleasure and much more are all the result of our desire to solve the problem of suffering. Each of us will try some or all of these methods or non-methods according to our life experiences and beliefs. This is not a choice it is something we have to do even when we have no ideas about any of this. Life sets us this task whether we like it or not and nothing can stop it until it is solved. You could say that the solving of this problem is enlightenment, but this would be a mistake for many of the reasons that you point out in your non-method sections. The most important reason it is a mistake is because enlightenment suggests something to be attained at some future time. If we believe this we create a sort of paradox in which the very idea of a future enlightenment contains within it a hidden belief that I do not have what I seek - not true, and that it can only occur in the future. This hidden belief dictates that the search must go on forever. The solution to this problem begins the moment we question belief itself, not what we believe. All beliefs are suspect as they all arise from the ego, but questioning belief itself somehow sets in motion a process that will eventually run on its own volition until all beliefs spontaneously collapse. I would not call this enlightenment although I can see how tempting it is to do so. It is not a special state and so removes the risk you stated of arrogance. This is a very real risk judging from all the teachers and masters who pronounce their own enlightenment, awakening etc. In conclusion we are already what we seek yet it is not a choice to stop seeking, the seeking will progress to its natural conclusion which is the futility of all beliefs. Let me be clear about this last point concerning ‘all beliefs’ Beliefs are not just to do with what we think or believe but to do with our total sensory experience as well as the belief that we exist as an individual entity.

         This is a presentation of two different views on enlightenment (also called liberation or Self-realisation). One view says there is an algorithm – that is, a series of steps – to reach this. The other says that this is an absurd notion. At one extreme is Samkhya-yoga (as defined by Ronald Girty), which not only provides an algorithm, but also predicts the exact date on which enlightenment will be achieved. It takes precisely 437 days in all cases! At the other extreme are schools that say not only is there no method, but there is actually nothing we can do to bring about enlightenment. Some sages like Ramana Maharshi accommodate both views. He reminded listeners that they are already realised and so to seek to attain this is absurd, yet he also prescribed the method of self-enquiry for those who felt they needed one.
       What follows is an attempt to bring out the flavour of these two basic approached. I will call the algorithmic view ‘Method’, and the other ‘non-method’.

Method; There is a path to be followed which will lead beyond illusion and to Reality.
Non-method; There is nothing to do. There is nowhere to go.

Method; There is a path to be followed which will lead beyond illusion and to Reality
Non-method; All paths and all imagined goals are themselves illusory.

Method; There is the notion of a do-er carrying out a task.
Non-method; There is a seeing into the emptiness at the heart of the do-er, and so the annihilation of both the do-er and the task.

Method; One must follow a prescribed path and go through various transitional stages, until eventually one will be realised.
Non-method; There are no stages to realisation.

Method; Realisation is the ultimate success. We deserve it thanks to our discrimination and effort.
Non-method; Realisation is the ultimate defeat. The ego with its ridiculous pretensions suffers the ultimate humiliation of being revealed as a mirage!

Method; A discipline; work.
Non-method; An inward relaxation. A holiday from our constant efforts to create an imaginary world dedicated to the futile task of protecting the myth of the ego.

Method; Involves the complexity of a path with its attendant leaders, commandments, formulae, rituals, rules and inevitable disputes.
Non-method; Simplicity. No modification of our outer way of living is necessary.

Method; There is the belief that I am a manifestation of the Source in the form of an individual being, but that by manipulation aspects of the manifestation ( e.g. by my practice), I will affect the behaviour of the Source and persuade it to deliver eternity into my lap.
Non-method; there is no belief in such ‘magic’. The Manifestation depends on the Source, but the Source does not depend on, and its purity is unaffected by, the Manifestation. Thus it is best to be still.

Method; In practice it is trying to make the ‘I am the body’ idea, follow the dictates of the ‘I am the mind’ idea.
Non-method; This duality does not exist and there is only ‘I AM’.

Method; Because it is based on preconceptions it always involves distortion and a limited intervention in the ‘Happening’ of life.
Non-method; Full attention to life happening, without judgement and without opposition.

Method; There are progressive changes in our vision of Reality – we think we see it more and more clearly.
Non-method; The significance we attach to our visions decreases.

Method; One is caught up in playing a game where one builds an impressive edifice, bigger and bigger, out of conceptual bricks.
Non-method; One is tired of this game. The bricks appear insubstantial. Even if a  towering castle were to appear one would not be fooled.

Method; We select a goal by placing one image, or ideal, above all other images.
Non-method; There is no attachment to images.

Method; There is an attempt at achieving security by conforming to a school or tradition and escaping the fear of doubt.
Non-method; There is acceptance of the fundamental fact that there is NO security! Paradoxically this is security. What makes us insecure is not some objective reality, but a subjective view of ourselves that depends on desperately holding on to an impossible dream.

Method; There is an immature need for constant reassurance, and the checking of our progress with the teacher. The number of ‘gold stars’ mounts up as we ascend through the levels of initiation…
Non-method; No chart can map the limitless. Immature doubts and mature convictions are likewise abandoned, because it is clearly seen that no thought can capture the essence of what we are.

Method; As we proceed with our algorithm, and approach our goal, we become more awake and everything seems more real.
Non-method; There is an awareness of the unreality of our projections; everything seems more subtle. There is less of a difference between the sleep, dream and waking states.

Method; We are seeking a solution to the great problem.
Non-method; There is no problem. Life is not a problem to be solved.

Method; I am getting a little closer to my goal.
Non-method; Space-time doesn’t exist.

Method; I only desire this so I can help mankind.
Non-method; Every desire is suspect. I am more interested in the root cause of desire rather than satisfying even a ‘noble’ desire.

Method; The path to Reality can be systematically described.
Non-method; The concept of Reality is unreal! The words ‘real’ and ‘unreal’ are unreal! There is only Reality!

Method; Because we are progressively following a linear path, the belief in the absolute existence of time becomes stronger. We watch the calendar in the anticipation of  reaching our goal – we count the days ,,,, and the years!
Non-method; The ears hear the clock strike, but the quiet mind knows no past and no future….

Method; We rise and rise from sinner to God, from limited to limitless, adding goodies to our karma bag along the way, like adding 1’s to a number in the crazy hope of turning it into infinity…
Non-method; It is ridiculous. A day will dawn when you will yourself laugh at your effort. That which is on the day of laughter is also now. (Ramana Maharshi)

Problems inherent in Methods
The formulation of the method will necessarily incorporate the very limits that it is hoped to escape and thereby render the method useless. A method implies dualism and therefore following the method can never lead beyond dualism. If on the other hand the limitless is admitted at the start then it follows logically that there is no need for a method.

A method or algorithm is a set of steps to reach a goal. Since I can imagine this goal it has a form, and because it has a form it is limited and therefore is not the Reality.

There is the danger of increasing our arrogance by making us believe we are moving up a scale and becoming more ‘spiritual’.

Problems inherent in Non-methods
The mind can make a method out of not having a method, and a duty out of not-doing.

Can lead to fatalism.

Being no-thing can be misunderstood by some to mean acting like an inert rock, and being insensible to the ‘non-beings’ around us.

Bottom of Form

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