Friday, November 27, 2009


some food for thought.

the world is constantly changing. we hear this all the time and know this as a fact of life. and in work particularly we always advocate change as well as moving with changes ( just weeks ago was telling the consultants that the market is changing haha). tendencies are we know the need to accept and move with change and yet at the same time we are subconciously resistant to changes.

mickey and geis always have discussions about how we wished consultants will change their work habits, lifestyles, even aspects of their personalities ( WTB more EQ hehe WoW lingo). yet at the same time we display confusion and even intolerance when presented with a change.

just this week mickey was saying this to geis:

mickey: eh u know to reach out to mel better u have to be back to ur old self, u have to go out and get pissed drunk with him, get him to feel u r the old geis again.

hmmmm interesting

the hardest change to accept is probably that in a person, with the emotions and memories and interaction and what other mumbo jumbo all coming into play forming this perceived personalities we have of our-selves.

there's also a subtle contradiction, one that we conveniently ignore or cover over. for perhaps the greatest fear anyone can have is that of change.

so change or don't change haha

doesn't really matter isn't it?

oh well, time to plan a drinking session with mel :)

What is enlightenment? ooops i did it again

reading the following piece of art answers many questions yet at the same time leaves these questions unanswered :) map and territory no longer is important.

hmmm i like the article also cos some parts relates to the title of this blog. absolute being akin to unconditional and relative being akin to conditional. one definitely doesnt get any more delusional than this isnt it? hahaha

oh yeah, today is hari raya haji. here's wishing all muslims a happy and merry hari raya haji. i also better get out of this empty office now :P

taken from

Am I Enlightened?

Realization is nothing to be gained anew....Realization consists of getting rid of the false idea that one is not realized.

--Ramana Maharshi

That which is before you is it, in all its fullness, utterly complete. There is naught beside. Even if you go through all the stages of a Bodhisattva's progress toward Buddhahood, one by one; when at last, in a single flash, you attain to full realization, you will only be realizing the Buddha-Nature which has been with you all the time; and by all the foregoing stages you will have added to it nothing at all.

--Huang Po

Whatever needs change is a thought, an idea, a phantom....Even though you're full of desire to improve or change, really see that there is not now, nor will there ever be, a way out of what you are. You can never become what you already are!

--Karl Renz

Like the worms in the cow dung, the moment the cow dung dries they are finished, however much progress they have made.

--Nisargadatta Maharaj

Those who have great realization of delusion are buddhas; those who are greatly deluded about realization are sentient beings.


The discovery of truth is in the discernment of the false. You can know what is not. What is -- you can only be.

--Nisargadatta Maharaj

Enlightenment is not like a sudden realization of something mysterious. Enlightenment is nothing but awakening from illusions and returning to the reality of life.


If you believe that there is something lacking, it is not quite so. But if you think there is nothing to do, nothing needed, that is not quite so.

--Zen teacher Elihu Genmyo Smith

Enlightenment see ourselves not as separate, not as lacking, not as in charge, not as weak and helpless.

--Zen teacher Steve Hagen

The surprise within the surprise of every new discovery is that there is ever more to be discovered.

--Brother David Steindl-Rast, Catholic monk

Many people who come to this web site are trying hard to become enlightened or to have some kind of awakening, and many teachers continue to buy into and perpetuate the myth of permanently enlightened people. Many so-called “seekers“ are wondering who is really awake and who isn’t. Sometimes I am asked, “Are you enlightened?”

If I say yes, will that mean I am? If I say no, can you be sure I’m not? Where does this question come from? If I’m enlightened, will you then believe that everything I say is true? If I’m not, will you automatically discount whatever I say? If we believe that someone is enlightened, are we hoping to imitate this person’s lifestyle, replicate this person’s experiences, or maybe get energetically zapped by the enlightened one in some magical way? Where does this question about whether someone is enlightened come from? What are we really looking for?

This word “enlightenment” gets used in so many different ways by different teachers. What does it really mean? What does it mean to you? What do you imagine enlightenment to be? What are you seeking?

Some say enlightenment is the absence of suffering, some say it is the absence of non-functional thinking, some say it is the end of identification with the thinking mind, some say it is the absence of ego or the dissolution of the separate self, some say it is the absence of any sense of agency or of being the author of the thoughts and actions that arise. Some say it is the realization of Oneness, others describe it as the merging of difference and unity. Some compare enlightenment to lucid dreaming in the waking state and say that it is the abiding realization that all of consciousness is a dream state, including the entire movie of waking life and the whole spiritual search. Some insist that enlightenment manifests only as saintly behavior and is characterized by being soft-spoken, generous, kind, vegetarian and pacifist, while others insist you can be enlightened and still be an alcoholic, a meat-eater, a womanizer, a thief, a warrior, or someone prone to angry outbursts. Some say enlightenment happens suddenly and irrevocably at a particular time on a particular day, and that it is a permanent, final shift; others describe it as a gradual unfolding; and some say that it only ever happens Now and that it never happens to somebody. Some say it is an energetic shift, some call it a felt-sense, others say it is about seeing clearly, some describe it as an understanding or an apperception, some say it is an embodied realization or actualization, others insist it is always already the case. Some imagine it to be a state of perpetual bliss, while others say it includes and transcends every state. Some distinguish between “enlightenment,” “awakening,” “liberation,” “kensho,” “satori,” “mukti,” and host of other terms, and others use all these words more or less synonymously and interchangeably. Who has it right? Who is really enlightened?

Are there “enlightened people” whose every moment is entirely free from suffering, or from delusion, or from the sense of self, or from the idea of individual authorship, or from all egoic thoughts and behaviors? Are there “unenlightened people” whose every moment is totally consumed by these delusions and sufferings? Is this very idea of “enlightened people” and “unenlightened people” (or of solid, persisting “people” of any kind) perhaps an example of unenlightened (or deluded) thinking? Who (or what) is it, exactly, that would be enlightened or unenlightened?

I’m not trying to evade the question. But we talk glibly about enlightenment without really knowing what we’re even talking about. We seek it without ever stopping to really examine closely what it is we think we’re seeking.

I would not say that I am enlightened, nor would I say that I am not enlightened. I don’t find any solid, persisting, independent entity here to be one way or the other. Sometimes there is enlightenment here and sometimes there is delusion here. Of course, in some sense, enlightenment is always here, if by enlightenment we simply mean the boundless actuality of Here and Now, that which never comes and never goes. Some teachers, like Ramana Maharshi, speak only as this ever-present Absolute, the One Self or Big Mind, and never as apparent individuals. So as Ramana was dying, he told his followers something like, “I am always here, where could I go?” He wasn't speaking as the apparent individual, who was obviously dying, but rather as the Totality, the One Self. Other teachers, like Nisargadatta Maharaj, shift back and forth between speaking as the person and speaking as the One Self. And some teachers never speak as the One Self in the way that Ramana and Nisargadatta did. Needless to say, all of these different ways of talking and of using the word “I” in different ways, can easily create confusion and misunderstanding. Also, some teachers will say that enlightenment is permanent or that you never come out of enlightenment, and in saying such things, they are pointing to what is always here, the One Self, the ever-present Here and Now. But when people hear these statements, they often misunderstand and assume the teacher is saying that the person is completely and permanently beyond delusion.

Boundlessness (the Absolute Self) is always here, realizing itself in every possible form and every possible experience. All experiences (everything perceivable and conceivable), including all transformations, awakenings, delusions, and differences, are all within the dream-like appearance. Within the dream, it can certainly seem as if being awake comes and goes. And relatively speaking, we can certainly say that Ramana Maharshi was an enlightened sage and that Adolph Hitler was a deluded madman. But enlightenment sees Ramana and Hitler as two sides of a single coin, different but seamless and inseparable. And this coin is itself only a dream object. Enlightenment is not about “me” getting from one side of the imaginary coin to the other side and then staying there forever. Enlightenment is not the permanent absence of everything that is considered spiritually negative (pain, suffering, confusion, doubt, anger, addiction, the sense of individuality, and so forth), but rather, enlightenment is the absence of the one who cares about being enlightened.

Does enlightenment happen suddenly and irrevocably, or does it come and go?

Enlightenment doesn't “happen.“ It is. It is neither gradual nor sudden, and what is realized is both ever-present and ever-fresh. It can appear gradual in the story where it seems (in retrospect) that awakening was a shift that unfolded slowly over time—that which is false was seen through ever-more clearly, ever-more deeply, ever-more subtly, ever-more often, ever-more completely. It seems to be an unfolding process, somewhat akin to a photograph slowly appearing in the developing tray, or like getting gradually wet while walking in a mist, or like a puddle slowly evaporating, or like an ice cube gradually melting until nothing is left. The illusory overlay gets more and more transparent, more easily seen through. The aliveness of the present moment becomes more vivid and more simple: the sounds of rain and traffic, the rise and fall of breathing, the smell of coffee, the gratuitous beauty of a flower, the horror and sorrow of a bombing attack, the awareness beholding it all, the groundlessness of being that is all of it.

It becomes clear that any experience of awakening or enlightenment is a scene in a movie, an event in a dream. No one wakes up. Nothing changes. There is only Now. ”Transformation” is a thought-created story that involves imagination, memory, the concept of time, and above all, the illusory “me“ who is seemingly being transformed. But in fact, the ever-present Now is timeless, and there is no “one” who is evaporating or disappearing or getting clearer or more developed or more focused or more (or less) enlightened – this “one” is always only a mirage – it is an optical illusion produced by thoughts, memory and imagination accompanied by sensations and stories about those sensations – nothing solid, separate and persisting is really ever here to be enlightened or unenlightened or to evaporate or transform. And in that realization, the shifting experiences no longer seem personally owned, and they no longer seem to mean anything about “me” and whether or not “I” am enlightened or deluded. There is always only the emptiness of Here and Now, sometimes realized as such, and sometimes ignored and overlaid with the story of separation and solidity. But even in the story of separation and solidity, the emptiness remains empty. The problem is always imaginary.

So “enlightenment,” as I would use the word, is not an event or a special state or an experience that lasts forever, but rather, the word points to this ever-present, ever-changing, boundless Here and Now that is all-inclusive, and that is endlessly realizing itself in everything, and from which nothing is left out and nothing stands apart. This is not something “I” can possess or lack.

Most of spirituality is a response to suffering, an attempt to wake up from the story of separation. We long for a way out of suffering and imperfection. But ultimately, there is no way out and no need for a way out. The manifestation will always include both light and dark, expansion and contraction. They go together. The capacity for delusion and the capacity for waking up are both aspects of Totality, like the two sides of a single coin. In struggling to escape from suffering and delusion, we confirm the imaginary problem and the apparent reality of the one who appears to have this problem. The very idea that there are “enlightened people” who are totally beyond all of this only fuels the imaginary treadmill of dissatisfaction and seeking.

In the dream-like movie of waking life, there is the appearance of separate people, but it is only an appearance, momentary shapes of emptiness. Consciousness is thinking or imagining that it is a fragment in a world of separate pieces. This imagination—all the characters and events that seem to be happening---are all shapes that boundlessness (the Single Reality) is momentarily assuming. It’s like a dream – it has no substance. Nothing real is ever being created or destroyed. Human behavior is impersonal and beyond control, like the weather – and as with the weather, nothing is really unnatural or bad even if we don’t like it.

Enlightenment is the openness that includes contraction, the wholeness that includes division, the oneness that includes multiplicity, the absolute that includes the relative. It is that which is always already the case. Whatever can be attained can also be lost again and is always only a dream event.

Enlightenment is not about denying relative reality. In the absolute sense, there are no mistakes and everything is perfect just as it is. But relatively speaking, if I back my car into a post, this is clearly a mistake, and hopefully, I can learn to correct it in the future. In the absolute sense, there is no chooser and no choice, no cause and no effect. But relatively speaking, if my tooth hurts, I can apparently decide to go to the dentist, and this will be much more likely to fix my tooth than going to the auto mechanic. When we confuse the relative and the absolute, we get very mixed up. We end up thinking there is no reason to go to the dentist since everything is an illusion, or that we are supposed to sit on the sofa forever “doing nothing.”

There’s an old Zen story that many people know. It goes something like this: Before I took up Zen, there were mountains and valleys. After I began the practice of Zen, there were no mountains and no valleys. With enlightenment, there are mountains and valleys. And of course, in reality, this isn’t a linear journey with such clearly delineated stages, and there is no one taking this journey, so don’t take this story too literally.

The first “stage” is ordinary consciousness – the world as we think it is, “out there” and full of separate things, one of these “things” being “me” who is “in here” looking out, “me” on my way to enlightenment.

The second “stage” of no mountains and valleys is the discovery that there is no actual boundary between “in here” and “out there,” that everything is one inseparable whole, that there is no “me.” From here, it is seen that Hitler and Ramana are aspects of One Being, one seamless whole, like the two sides of one coin. This is the realization of what is the same in every different experience. This is the Absolute, the realization that All is One.

But in the beautiful words of the Hsin-hsin Ming:

When such dualities cease to exist

Oneness itself cannot exist.

To this ultimate state

no law or description applies.

With true enlightenment, there are mountains and valleys again. There are infinite experiences, including the experience of being “me,” and they all make no difference for the emptiness that is everything and nothing. There is no one left who needs to cling to the absolute or avoid and deny the relative world of ordinary life. Hitler and Ramana are aspects of one inseparable whole and we can discern a huge difference between them. There is only the timeless, ever-present Now and there is history, evolution, and planning for the future. I am boundless awareness and I am Joan. Both sides of the coin are true. Zen masters have called this "leaping clear of the many and the One" or “the merging of difference and unity.” The Absolute is not a rejection of the relative world. The Absolute includes the relative but isn’t bound by it.

In enlightenment, there is no need to assert that mountains and valleys are One. It is clearly seen that they are “not one, not two.” There is simply Reality, as it is, without the need to grasp it with a concept. There is no longer a need to make sure that “I” am continually identified as “Awareness” and not as the character in the story. There is no “I” to be identified as either one. There is the freedom to be no-thing and everything. And this freedom is not a permanent state that a particular “person” is always “in” for all time. That very idea is delusion.

Many teachers are in love with the story that they are enlightened, and they love to tell the story again and again. Enlightenment is portrayed as some magical line in the sand that a person crosses, after which they no longer have any questions or delusions or messy emotions or any more sense of being “me.” Yes, in the dream-like movie of waking life, some characters do report sudden and dramatic transformations, and some characters are exceptionally clear and free of delusion, but true enlightenment points to the boundlessness that has no owner, and this can never be lost or gained. There's nothing wrong with respecting, revering and deeply appreciating a teacher who has great clarity, but if they are truly clear in this moment, they will not be telling you their enlightenment story or encouraging you to idolize or idealize them, but rather, they will be pulling every rug you try to stand on out from under you. Putting people up on pedestals is a way of seeking comfort, security and false certainty. Awakening has no beginning and no ending. There is no finish line. It is always Now.

Even after the rope is clearly seen to be a rope and not a snake, it can—in another moment—be mistaken again for a snake, and when that happens, the body responds automatically with fear, contraction and recoil. The snake is never real, but it can momentarily seem real, just as the “I” is never real but can momentarily seem real. Does there come a time when this mistake has been so fully exposed that it can never again occur in any way, ever? For whom does this question and this concern arise? Is there someone who makes this mistake and who longs to stop being a fool? We don’t know what the next moment may bring. In any given moment, the mirage of separation may occur. But what can perhaps fall away is the need for this never to happen again.

For who is this “me” who must reach a state where the rope would never again be mistaken for a snake, where “I” would never again forget that there is “only boundlessness” and instead imagine that “I” am a separate somebody? If the boundlessness is momentarily forgotten and overlaid with a sense of “me” as a separate somebody, who cares? Can it be seen that there is no owner of this experience, that it is boundlessness itself appearing as this mirage of separation and encapsulation? Or does another story begin running, a story about the first story, taking delivery of it, as Nisargadatta used to say, thinking that, “I’ve lost the boundlessness and I have to get it back,” or, “I want to be done with this delusion forever.” Who is it whose self-image would be damaged if the story or the entrancement were to show up again? Who imagines that “I” could ever be perfect while “the rest of the world” is still deluded? Enlightenment is a great story, but in truly waking up, the dream characters and their dramas dissolve completely, or more accurately, it is clear that they never existed in the first place!

But that doesn't mean all dreaming ceases. Dreaming is what consciousness does. And in the dream, the drama often seems real. Every imaginable feeling can arise in the dream. Who needs it to be any different?

There are certainly many characters in the movie of waking life who experience or manifest less stormy weather than the Joan character -- less anger, less depression, less compulsive behavior, less upset. Many characters seem more generous, more balanced and stable, less reactive, and better able to deal with stress than Joan is. Of course, the opposite is also true. Many characters have more anger, more depression, more confusion, more greed, and less equanimity than Joan does. Such differences have little to do with enlightenment and everything to do with neurochemistry, brain function, hormone levels, early childhood and lifelong conditioning. Some bodyminds have stormier weather just as some cities have stormier weather. It’s not personal. And what I’ve noticed is that I can’t really find this “Joan Tollifson” character. All I find is a bunch of ever-changing mental images (some positive, some negative) appearing and disappearing in the mirror of awareness. When I look for where the actuality of this bodymind called “Joan Tollifson” begins and ends, I find no beginning and no ending. When I try to grasp or pin down this “person,” I find only continuous change. So what exactly is this supposed entity who would be enlightened or unenlightened?

There no longer seems to be a story here that “I” am going back and forth between “getting it” and then “losing it,” not because different experiences don’t continue to happen, because they do, but simply because the sense of personal ownership seems to have diminished or fallen away and there no longer seems to be any particular “it” that must be gained or lost. It’s very clear that the One Reality is right Here, right Now, and that all experiences, by their very nature, come and go. I’m no longer chasing any particular experience, or trying to “stop thinking” and “be aware” all the time. I’m not looking for something to save me in the way I once was (the right teacher, the perfect place to live, final enlightenment, the ultimate answer to how the universe works, the final disappearance of anything), but there can certainly still be many moments of unease when the bodymind begins scrambling for something. Shunryu Suzuki once described the Zen life as “one continuous mistake,” and I can definitely relate to that. And while some people seem to have the idea that awakening means detachment, I find that I often have passionate opinions about political issues. I love books and movies and people and trees and clouds and cities and “the whole catastrophe,” as Zorba called it. Yes, it's a dream-like appearance without substance and it's the Holy Reality.

I have no way of knowing how "my" experience compares to "anyone else’s" experience – but all experiences are fleeting. To say, “I am enlightened and it happened on May 2nd at two o’clock in the afternoon,” sounds to my ear like a good story. To say that “I am not enlightened yet, but maybe someday I will be,” sounds like a different story. Both stories refer to a “somebody” that I have been unable to actually find, a “somebody” that is the bottomline myth or idea (the snake in the rope).

One teacher points to this realization in one way, another in a different way. They sound different and even contradictory, but they may be saying the same thing. Or, maybe they aren’t saying the same thing. There’s a great deal of nonsense, pretense and self-delusion in the spiritual world as in any other world.

One of the things I love about Toni Packer, who was my main teacher for many years, is that you can ask her a question and she will sometimes spend the next day or two living with that question, really looking and listening and exploring it -- rather than just dispensing "the answer" that she already "knows." She has a remarkable willingness to look anew. Toni once said that her talks are "something to be considered, questioned, wondered about, taken further." That kind of genuinely open spirit is rare amongst those who give talks and write books. We humans seem to have a deep craving for authority - wanting to have an authority who can tell us how it is, and wanting to be an authority who has the answers. But when all the answers drop away, the jewel is revealed. Being enlightened is not about being perfect and special and having all the answers. It is about not needing to be perfect or special or all-knowing. It is the open space of not-knowing, always ready to see something new.

Ultimately, the only reality is Here Now. As Ramana Maharshi expressed it so beautifully: “Experience takes place only in the present, and beyond and apart from experience nothing exists.”

Here and Now, there is no enlightenment, no delusion, no person to be found. There is only boundless being. That is your actual experience right now before you think about it. There is no end to this boundlessness, and no end to this unfolding Self-realization.

Rather than trying to figure out if we are enlightened or if someone else is enlightened, rather than idealizing people or turning them into infallible authorities, and rather than trying to duplicate anyone else's supposed enlightenment experience, I would suggest investigating what it is we are looking for, and whether it is actually absent here and now, and who or what would find it or possess it or lack it.

----copyright Joan Tollifson 2009----

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Body/ No-Body

AEN posting in taken  from

By Joan Tollifson

Body / No-Body

You have never questioned your belief that you are the body….it attracts attention and fascinates so completely that rarely does one perceive one’s real nature. It is like seeing the surface of the ocean and completely forgetting the immensity beneath. The world is but the surface of the mind and the mind is infinite. What we call thoughts are just ripples in the mind. When the mind is quiet…it dissolves and only reality remains.

--Nisargadatta Maharaj

The food body you are not. The waking state you are not. The deep sleep state you are not. You know the waking state. Since you know the waking state you are not the waking state. You know the deep sleep state; therefore, you are not the deep sleep state.

--Nisargadatta Maharaj

There is only a stream of sensations, perceptions, memories and ideations. The body is an abstraction, created by our tendency to seek unity in diversity.

--Nisargadatta Maharaj

The ‘secret’ of life that we are all looking for is simply this: to rest in the bodily experience of the present moment.

--Joko Beck

One teacher says that the secret of life is nothing more or less than present moment sensory experiencing, and another teacher insists that we are not the body and even suggests that nothing perceivable or conceivable is real. Is awakening about being fully embodied and awake to present moment sensory experiencing or is it altogether beyond the body and the senses and even beyond consciousness itself? If we only hear these different pointers ideologically, they seem to be totally contradicting one another. But if we really hear them, perhaps they are pointing to exactly the same realization.

Toni Packer, a teacher I was with for many years, often invites awareness of presently arising sensory experiencing: bird cheeps, the sound of wind, the sensation of our body meeting the chair, breathing, the beating of the heart. In her book The Silent Question, Toni writes:

It isn’t the content of the listening (such as birdcalls) that matters, but rather it’s the quality. Likewise in seeing, it is not what is seen that is of importance but the amazing fact that in the wholeness of seeing, the seer may disappear altogether! In complete seeing and hearing the ‘me’ is no longer the driving center, creating a dualistic world. Instead of the experience of ‘me’ and the flower or me and the birdsong, there is just the wholeness of what is heard and seen (touched and tasted) – too marvelous to describe in words: it is the ending of separation!

This wholeness (the ending of separation) isn’t something to get an idea about or think about, and it isn’t the content of any particular experience, such as the birdsong, but rather, it is the nondual seamlessness of the listener and the sound, for in reality, they are divided only by conceptual thought and language. The actual experience is simply undivided hearing. The aliveness, the beauty, the love, the joy is in the awareness, the listening presence, the wholeness of being.

The body turns out to be a wonderful field for meditative exploration. By tuning into the body with awareness, by exploring it as pure sensation, we discover that there is no “body” (except as a mental concept, an abstraction of thought), and we discover that the whole universe is our body. The boundaries are not really there.

This realization isn’t something mystical and exotic. It is rather something so simple, so immediate, so obvious, so ever-present that we tend to overlook it because our attention is absorbed instead in the ubiquitous abstraction created by conceptual thought that is overlaid on top of the bare actuality of being.

The actual experience here and now is nothing but ever-changing sensations. “The body” is an idea, an abstraction, a concept, a mental image, a thought-form. We can conceptualize a boundary-line between what we think of (and mentally picture) as “my body” and “the chair,” but when we look for this “body” with awareness, we find only ever-changing sensations and no clear delineation between “body” and “chair.” If we look with awareness for the place where “inside of us” turns into “outside of us,” we cannot find it. It, too, was only an idea! We know from modern physics that at the subatomic level, there is no solidity or substance and no boundaries. And this is our actual present moment experience right now, but we tend to ignore our actual experience in favor of the conceptual overlay that is so deeply conditioned and easily mistaken for reality. We mistake the map for the territory, the conceptual abstraction for actuality itself. We know from ecology that everything depends on everything else and that you cannot remove any part without altering the whole, but we easily overlook this in favor of our conceptual picture. We imagine a world of separate parts -- including “me”-- parts that can all be pulled apart and rearranged. Thus we imagine, “I could be somewhere else right now, and that would be better.”

In this abstract and imaginary world created by conceptual thought and story-telling, there seems to be separation and solidity. Bringing awareness to the present moment, to sensory experiencing, to the actuality of the body, erases the self completely, meaning that it erases the imaginary boundaries and leaves only everything, and this everything is seamless and all-inclusive.

The real body (no body at all) is not a cadaver or an anatomy book picture. It is alive and fluid and moving. Experientially, it is nothing but ever-changing sensations. And in fact, it's an ever-moving process of blood circulating, cells dividing, nerves firing, heart beating, lungs expanding and contracting, food being taken in and broken down, disbursed or eliminated. The body is in constant exchange with the environment, the skin is porous and breathing, flaking off, regenerating, the breath is coming in and going out. Your body now is not the same body you had ten years ago, or ten days ago, or even back when you started reading this page less than a minute ago. It is ceaseless change.

We can’t ignore the relative world in which we seem to be separate individuals in a world of other individuals, but we can learn to discern ever more subtly the difference between the anatomy book and the living body, between the map and the territory, between the thought of “me” and the actuality of present-moment experiencing. We can discover for ourselves that the actuality of the present moment is ungraspable and impossible to capture with thought, and that the deeper we go into the actuality of the body here and now in direct experiencing, the more we find no-thing (no body) at all. And yet, this nothing (or nobody) is not some nihilistic void, but rather, a vibrantly alive overflowing presence. And in the light of this presence, everything is sacred – the ordinary is the extraordinary.

This aliveness does not hold still. A friend of mine who was a surgical nurse described the shock of interns making their first cut in a living body. They’ve studied the anatomy book, they’ve dissected the cadavers, but now they’re cutting into a living organism and suddenly everything is slippery and pulsating and moving, blood is gushing out, everything is moving. This is real life. Nothing holds still. It’s a mess. And yet right in the heart of this messy impermanence, this utterly thorough-going flux, is true stillness, order and intelligence.

“Show me the Holy Reality,” a monk once asked the Master.

“It just moved!” the Master replied.

Just as we have these seemingly contradictory teachings about the body, we also find some teachers telling us that the world is an illusion while others say that enlightenment is all about being a bodhisattva who cares deeply for the world. Again, it can seem that these are contradictory and irreconcilable teachings, but as with the apparently opposite pointers about the body, if we look more deeply, we may find that these seemingly divergent teachings about the world also point us to the very same realization, the very same reality. Ramana Maharshi expressed it beautifully when he said:

The world is illusory;

God alone is real;

God is the world.

“The world” we conceptualize, like “the body” we conceptualize, is an abstraction, an idea, a map. And the stories we tell ourselves and each other about this world are all in the end fictional. But when we discover God (boundlessness, seamlessness, emptiness, the aliveness or suchness of Here and Now), we discover the reality of the world.

When we truly see that all of our choices, decisions, preferences, intentions, interests, inclinations, thoughts and actions come from emptiness, that every action arises from the Totality and not from “me,” the phantom operator, and that this is true of everyone else as well, then we are instantly free of guilt and blame, vengeance and retribution. This is true compassion. It doesn’t mean we approve of genocide, or that we allow child molesters to run free, but we see that those who commit such atrocities could not have done otherwise in that moment. We have compassion for them. We see that every action arises out of an infinite web of nature and nurture---genetics, hormones, neurology and conditioning. Hitler could not have “chosen” to be Ramana Maharshi anymore than Ramana could have “chosen” to be Hitler. What we call “Hitler” or “Ramana” or “me” or “you” is not really a solid thing with some kind of independent will, but rather, a boundless process that is inseparable from everything else in the entire universe. We are not encapsulated inside a body as we had imagined, and as it turns out, seeing this doesn’t in any way deny the actuality of the body either. If anything, we become infinitely more sensitive to the reality of both the body and the world. We see that it is the whole universe breathing, thinking, singing, dancing, sensing, awaring, body-ing, world-ing, being.

“You are not your body” points to the realization that “you” and “your body,” as you think of them, are nothing but ideas. It doesn’t point to denying or ignoring the body, or to some kind of mystical disappearance into thin air. Likewise, saying that “the world is a dream” points to the realization that “the world” as we think of it (a solid objective reality “out there” apart from us) is a dream-like illusion, a conceptualization, a kind of mirage. It doesn’t mean there is no world in any sense.

If we zoom far enough out, this planet is nothing but a tiny dot of light, and finally, if we go out far enough, it disappears completely. If we zoom in close enough, at the subatomic level, we find mostly empty space and nothing solid. Either way, zoomed in or zoomed out, the world as we know it with all our personal and global dramas is no longer here.

Sensory experiencing, the body, the world, and the entire movie of waking life are sometimes seen as a kind of veil that hides or obscures Ultimate Reality, and then there is an attempt to detach and transcend, to see that nothing perceivable or conceivable can be what I am. But ultimately, this detachment collapses into unconditional love. It is seen that sensory experiencing, the body, the world, the characters and the entire movie of waking life are all the perfect manifestation and expression of Ultimate Reality, that everything is one seamless whole from which nothing stands apart, and from which no detachment is ever possible. There is always only the Single Reality, the no-thing-ness appearing as everything.

Both zooming out and zooming in can be powerful ways of waking up. Advaita teachings often emphasize zooming out. They direct you to what is beyond everything perceivable and conceivable, encouraging you to discover that what you truly are is prior to the world and the body. You are the screen that is present before and after the movie, that is equally present in every scene of the movie, and that is never disturbed by the movie. You are boundless awareness. And in the most radical of nondual teachings, awareness itself is seen as the first appearance, and you are that which is prior to awareness, that which is both awareness and the content of awareness. Many other teachings, such as Zen, tend to begin by frustrating all your attempts to zoom out. You come to the Zen Master to find Ultimate Reality and enlightenment, and to your great consternation, all the Master ever does is give meticulous instructions for cleaning the toilet and sweeping the floor! Finally, you realize that Ultimate Reality is not someplace else. I have found all of these approaches potentially eye-opening. They can all reveal that what you are seeking has never been absent and can never be lost.

It is wonderfully liberating to see that nothing in the movie of waking life really matters. And at the same time, I've found that one of the very best and most reliable ways of discovering insubstantiality, boundlessness and the absence of separation firsthand, is to give close and careful attention here and now to the bare sensory actuality of the present moment. By giving careful attention to the form of this moment, we discover formlessness or emptiness. We discover that nothing holds still. And yet, we find that there is a great stillness beholding everything and at the very heart of everything.

The danger I see in trying to transcend the body or deny the world from an ideological place, rather than through direct experience, is that we can end up cultivating a kind of dissociated detachment. We keep trying to imagine or picture “formless nothingness” or “the screen” (as if this were some thing). The mind creates a subtle new object that doesn’t really exist, and then it takes effort to keep this imaginary creation always in mind, to keep remembering that I am formless nothingness and not the person, the screen and not the movie. We fall into an inner conflict, attracted by the movie and at the same time trying to turn away and detach from it. This is why I’ve often found it more reliable to go directly into the apparent forms, such as the body, and see what is revealed.

Instead of trying to ignore the world of form (the body and the world), go into it deeply with awareness, and discover for yourself how fluid and ephemeral and empty of self it all actually is. Discover the boundlessness of every moment, the boundlessness of presence. Discover that true happiness, beauty, joy, and freedom is not in any particular form, but rather in the awareness or presence at the heart of everything. Happiness is then no longer dependent upon getting the perfect lover, or the perfect location, or the perfect scenery, or the perfect job. It is about recognizing true perfection here and now. And in this realization of fluidity and wholeness, our grip on all our most cherished beliefs and ideas relaxes, along with our need to defend “me” and “my” side. We may still have strong opinions, but we become more open to questioning them, more able to see and consider other points of view, less caught up in “being right” and “winning” and “getting even.” More and more, we can enjoy the actual messiness of life as it is. Our ideals for how everything “should” be are like the anatomy book or the cadaver -- dead. However hard we try, the living body will never be “perfect” like that, and actually, that’s wonderful!

This alive and wondrous and utterly ungraspable IS-ness is true freedom. It is not the freedom to do what you want, but rather, the freedom to be what you are. What are you? Nobody at all, everything and nothing, and at the same time, a particular snowflake unlike any other. The whole universe is showing up as you, as this moment, just as it is.

The exploration and freedom and aliveness that is being pointed to here is all about the utter simplicity of being. Hearing the traffic sounds or the wind or the birds, feeling the breathing, seeing colors and shapes, sensations of cool air or heat, thoughts bubbling up and vanishing into thin air -- just this, nothing more and nothing less. In this simple beingness, there is no “you” and no “body” and no “world” and no “problem to solve” until thinking begins labeling the sensations and telling a story. And that story is only another momentary shape that emptiness is taking, just like the bird songs and the traffic roar. This present moment is alive with color and smell and taste and touch and sound – it simply isn’t anything you can grasp.

“Boundlessness” is a word that points to the very essence or nature of Here and Now, the groundless ground, the water in every wave. You cannot find what is being pointed to because nothing is outside of it. Anything you can find or define -- any sense of awareness or boundlessness, or any notion of Here and Now -- is another appearance. The boundlessness that is being and beholding everything is nothing you can see or grasp or experience or possess or pin down. You can only be this emptiness. And in fact, you cannot not be it. And whatever appears is always only this, for there is nothing else.

-- copyright Joan Tollifson 2009 --

Monday, November 23, 2009

an extract taken from

A Modern-Day Mango Grove

If we can put time into perspective, organize our schedules, wiggle out of distraction with might and clarity, and think about what makes life meaningful, we will surely find time to practice, to relax the mind. Ordinarily, relaxing means taking our minds off our daily routine, laying on the couch, and watching a movie or going to sleep. Usually relaxing means distracting ourselves from the stresses of daily life. But we have spent half our lives sleeping without ever feeling rested. This is because we haven’t focused on relaxing the mind itself.

What could be more relaxing than letting go of preferences and worries? What better way is there to reduce our self-clinging than by contemplating bodhichitta? What can liberate our hopes and fears other than letting them arise and disassemble themselves naturally in the space of an open mind? Meditation leaves plenty of room for everything: all of our hopes, fears, and anxieties as well as our joys and aspirations. There is no need to control our thoughts, because when we practice we have committed ourselves to letting them be—not judging them as good or bad, spiritual or not spiritual, helpful or harmful. Is there any other activity that can accommodate the mind and its various arisings in this way?

The only thing we need to practice is a quiet place to sit: a room, a park bench, or our own bed. The sutras describe a peaceful mango grove as an ideal place to practice. The Buddha and his disciples practiced meditation in such a place. If you think about it, in the midst of our busy lives, any quiet place to sit can be our modern-day mango grove.

Friday, November 13, 2009

it's such an interesting...

...relationship with the people around us. in this field of work while one is considered 'free' as a self-employed, yet there must be a certain level of expectation involved from the manager.

expectation is a very subtle thought. it brings along the idea of what and how things 'should' be. expectations arise in almost every encounter in our daily activities, expressing in different ways. it is believed that without expectations nothing will run, and this thought has brought mankind to high levels and even 'higher' still.

in work and businesses, it is the basis for growth, for progression. standards have to be set for all in the game to follow. when expectations are met, there is growth and one goes on to the next level. when they are not met there is a lot of dis-ease which can vary in degree. and many a times this happens. for most of us are conditioned to set high expectations of our-selves, sometimes exceedingly. then when the outcomes of these endeavours fall short of expectation, the whole array of negative emotions arise, causing a spiral towards negativity.

in communications between two or more, expectations are omnipresent. there is an expectation of answers when questions are asked, there are expectations of behavior conforming to the environment or relationships, the whole list goes on and on and on. expectations shape the relationships.

of cos what's written here is just a hair bit of the immense daily experiences of expectations.

so combining all the expectations in work and relationships, it is no wonder that there is so much dissatisfaction.

then how? (haha we like to ask this)

to be free, we will have to look within and realize the true nature of mind. and bring this realization to the everyday activities. then in carrying out the daily activities there can be a sense of balance without getting caught in the turbulent waves. the only path pointing towards this freedom is that of cultivating mindfulness. expectations will continue to be part of every aspect of this life, and the direct understanding, not the anihilition of such thoughts (expectations are also just thoughts) will lead to freedom.

practice mindfulness. bring mindfulness to expectations, and to everything we do, down to the very intention of reading this post. mentally take note as we read ( imagine a thought bubble saying 'reading, reading, reading'). bring this mindfulness to every minute and every second of our life, noting all the thoughts ( of past and future, thats where expectations stem), feelings and physical sensations. and all these while still carrying out the roles and duties of our everyday life, together with the expectations that come along with it.  :)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Noble Eightfold Path (1)

The Buddha taught the Noble Eightfold Path as the way of living towards awakeness. for wisdom (panna) to arise there has to be right view and right thought. to cultivate virtue (sila) one engages in right speech, right action and right livelihood. realizing the mind (samadhi) is dependent on right endeavour, right mindfulness and right concentration.

there will be further elaboration on each in the future, time to get back to work :).


a very well written post by AEN, taken from , pointing towards the essence of practice.

if we are reading this, and we are trying to make sense of it and understand what kind of concept or theory this is, then the conditions have not arised for us. only with diligent and actual practice can there be real understanding, which leaves one without any doubts.


Just a reminder for forummers who may find this confusing: this is not about concepts or figuring out or understanding what this means. This is not about meaning, this is about who you truly are, and this cannot be understood through a theory but by your own direct experience through self-inquiry and investigation.

Don't try to mentally understand reality/awareness/buddha-nature/Mind, whatever you want to call it. Thoughts can never figure out the true nature of Mind, Awareness. However humans have from beginingless time have gained the habit to try to understand things using the mind. This is not about bashing the intellect or the mind -- it works wonders in life and is something we can't do without, and even as I write this I am using thoughts, but nevertheless what I am pointing out is that the mind is the wrong, irrelevant tool for Self-Knowledge. If you want to know your true nature, (fixation on) thoughts is an obscuration because then, you're lost in the realm of objects, thoughts, ideas, trying to figure things out in the realm of thoughts, where you really should be turning within towards its source. It's not about having the right thought, it's about, what is aware of that thought? When you look within and have a good look at yourSelf, you realise you have always been the Source, never separated from It. It never needed to be figured out by the mind. It isn't a puzzle to be solved. Even if you think you solved an intellectual puzzle concerning the teachings, reality, etc, does that mean anything in terms of truly resolving with conviction what your real nature is? Nope. If you recognise this yourself, then it's all clear as a cloudless sun lit sky, no explanation is needed. Otherwise, 10000 explanations is not enough.

During the course of self-inquiry, thoughts may come up, but is naturally negated and then dropped as a result of persistent investigation. As Rupert Spira says, "The very best that the mind can do is to explore its own limits and come to the conclusion that it does not and cannot know what anything really is."

We don't resolve the confusion of the mind by dealing with the mind, trying to replace one confused concept with clearer concepts. Whatever concepts we have, are simply thoughts arising and subsiding, nothing to cling to. The end of ignorance is not by having a clearer concept, rather, it is to cease all false identifications, including to all concepts, thoughts, feelings, body, etc. This is achieved only by clear knowing of our true nature, by realising what you truly are, and nothing less. And in case you think that since the answer isn't found in the mind, that it should therefore be found in thoughtlessness, that's not it either. No experience, even the experience of thoughtlessness, is going to resolve this. Self-realisation does not mean you cannot have thoughts, feelings, etc, (and you may be a master at entering deep meditative states without thoughts, but nevertheless it's impossible to not have them in daily living for practical purpose) it's just that you no longer identify yourself as those thoughts, concepts, feelings, etc, and thus life flow through more smoothly because you no longer grasp and chase after those phantoms. Then, whether you have thoughts or not is no longer an issue. Thoughts are just part and parcel of reality, no different from what you see, what you hear, etc. No need to reject any part of them.

Thoughts emanate out of the clear thoughtless, formless consciousness that underlies and gives rise to all thoughts and all forms. The objects that are perceived through consciousness can never grasp it's source. Thoughts can never grasp or know it's source. Thoughts are themselves objects perceived by and through consciousness. Only Consciousness knows, for IT is the all-knowing power. Consciousness perceives and manifests as thoughts, but thoughts don't perceive consciousness. Only The Source, Pure Consciousness knows itself.

What is the source of thoughts? What is it in you, that is the source of all your whole world (thoughts, feelings, sensory perceptions), without which nothing is? Know your innate luminosity that is the source of everything, by turning the light around and just be.

When we turn within, we won't find a particular object that we could point to and say, 'ah, that is Awareness' (all objects are displayed in and as awareness but awareness is not limited to/by any one object) -- for whatever objects perceived through awareness is not itself the all-perceiving Awareness -- so instead of finding an object which we can see, we actually discover our original nature as vast luminous space encompassing the entire universe. The Seer cannot be seen (for what's seen are objects seen by the Seer), but in it, everything is perceived. It's all-encompassing. It's not that it's 'everywhere in the universe' (it's not objective), but rather, the 'everywhere' is itself occuring in and as the all-encompassing Consciousness. Don't get stuck at any states and experiences and inquire relentlessly, 'to whom is this occuring?', 'Who is aware?', 'Who am I?' -- the purpose of this is not to answer it by concepts, otherwise it will lose its purpose, which is to look within than get stuck on the level of thoughts and experience. By the way to say that Awareness is a 'Seer' is not exactly right, because eventually the Witness will dissolve into all that is witnessed, or rather the practitioner realises that the Witness is not other than whatever is witnessed. There is just One Witnessing, not divided into witness/witnessed. However the first step is to first recognise and realise the I AM, the Witness.

This is actually so simple, direct, and close (not in a sense of short distance, but in a sense of having NO distance at all) and intimate: it is what you already are. Any attempt to grasp it is to miss the point: when you're already at the North Pole, any movement towards anywhere is a movement away from that center. Any seeking (to understand, to experience, etc) is a movement away from what we already are. When we realise what we are, we see why we've been missing it: it's too simple and direct. This is why it's constantly overlooked, because the mind is always 'looking outwards', even when it comes to spirituality -- still trying to figure out a way to understand or experience It (whatever it is seeking), while all the while going in the wrong directions -- looking Away from the True Source. It is because of our constant identification and fixation on our thoughts, feelings and perceptions, that we do not notice what has been always and already here.

Also... by attempting to mentally comprehend reality, we have reduced the ungraspable living reality it into a dead concept, an object of grasping, which is an illusion. A passage from the 6th Patriarch Hui-Neng's Platform Sutra came to my mind:

"One day the Master said to the congregation, "I have something with no head, no tail, no name, no label, no back, no front: do you recognize it?"

Shen-hui came forth and said, "This is the original source of all buddhas, my buddha-nature."

The Master said, "I just told you it has no name or label; then you immediately call it the original source, the buddha-nature. Later on, when you have a bunch of thatch covering your head, you will still just be a follower of intellectual understanding.""

Seeing the utter futility of the mind with regards to self-knowledge, keep the advise by Tilopa in mind:

Let go of the past.

Let go of the future.

Let go of the present.

Do not analyze.

Do not meditate.

Just be.

I hope the readers haven't learnt anything from this, but dropped everything. May the clouds of ignorance dissipate in all sentient beings and the pure sun of Awareness reveal itself.

“So many words you have learnt, so many you have spoken. You know everything, but you do not know yourself. For the self is not known through words, only direct insight will reveal it. Look within, search within.” – Nisargadatta Maharaj

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

well wishes :)

it is soonsoon's birthday yesterday, happy birthday :)! soonsoon, beebee, mickey and geis gathered for dinner and chatterings like old time :).

geis would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate soonsoon and beebee on their marriage this nov 18!! finally the conditions are right for this union, and the new phase of life has begun for the newly weds. being such kind and good persons it's almost certain bliss and happiness will be here for both of you :).

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

meditation - a short note (1)

geis first started meditation in oct 2007 after going through several tumultous events spanning 2 years (more on that in the future when the conditions arise). he started out with the practice of breathing excercises, noticing the breath--> distracting thoughts arise--> noticing the thoughts --> brings attention back to breath again and again.

at the same time, a book from borders picked him up, < Coming To Our Senses > by Jon Kabat-Zinn, and he chanced upon the buddhist forum in sgforum. and the readings somehow gave meaning to the experience.

hmmm the first taste of practice is good.

" it's called the principle of favouribility.when u play cards the first time you are almost sure to win. beginner's luck". "because there is a force that wants you to realize your destiny; it whets your appetite with a taste of success."  < The Alchemist> by Paulo Coelho.

meditation is definitely not for the faint-hearted. it opens the path where we will be forced to face our deepest feelings. for one who has the courage to start the practice, it will also be the only way towards awakening.

there will be benefits as well as hindrances in practice, as geis has discovered along the way. and slips can happen, throwing the practitioner back into the dark. the usual suspects of fear and greed are at play here, and all stemming from the ego.

it is therefore crucial that no matter what life we are leading, what issues we have on hand, what pleasant relationships we are enjoying, that we put all these down and take our seat for awhile everyday. for it's the only way we can maintain our balance in this roller coaster ride.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Good Article

taken from

one of the most helpful article that one can use in the practice. of cos there are many other sharings and lessons in the main website for our reference.

most importantly, it is not just the reading, it is also the practice. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE.

By Dr. Tan Kheng Khoo

After practicing for thirty years in various spiritual paths and having read hundreds of books and learning numerous methods and techniques, I am able to formulate a simple method of practice. The well known religions that are prevalent in Asia are 1) Theravada Buddhism 2) Hinduism 3) Zen Buddhism 4) Taoism 5) Islam and 6) Christianity. Only in the first three religions are there practices (saddhana) for awakening. The popularity of these three has induced many lay people to go and seek these paths. In Theravada Buddhism you really have to be a Buddhist monk to successfully practice the path. In the Zen lineages and Hinduism, one is behooved to have a guru, who is responsible for one's enlightenment, and the guru himself must be enlightened. However, I know that nobody can enlighten another person. In Taoism, there is no way one can practice to be a sage except in the mountains of China. The ordinary temples of Asia and Taiwan do not have the conducive environment for one to practice to be a sage. As far as Islam is concerned the only practice is to be a Sufi, which a fair number of the orthodox Muslims do not recognize. Lastly in Christianity, only the Catholic monks and nuns in a monastery are encouraged to practice to be united with God. Both the Muslims and the Christians do not believe in enlightenment anyway. Going back to the first three religions, the practices are extremely difficult---they are more than a profession and vocation combined. The intricacies and difficulties in these three spiritual paths have produced hardly any 'saint' or 'enlightened' person lately. In a monastery or ashram, one has one's monastic duties to perform everyday. Also there are many colleagues with whom one has to interact. I met John Blofeld some years ago in the countryside in Thailand, near Bangkok. He was employing two Thai girls to do his daily chores, and therefore was physically free to do his practice. He said he would never go back to a monastery to practice. He had no responsibility in his own household and did not have to interact with his colleagues. After eating his simple meals, he had all the time in the world to practice. His example was a revelation to me. In his case he used money to facilitate his practice.

On the opposite side, you read books by Eckhart Tolle and Tony Parsons. They insist that they were awakened without any recognized form of spiritual practice (saddhana). Tony Parsons even quoted a housewife who was 'awakened' driving her car on the way to the supermarket or somewhere. According to him, one just suddenly realizes that one is part of 'Oneness', and not separate from others. All of a sudden one awakes to the fact that one is nothing, nobody. All those wasted years looking for enlightenment! But we will never know what Tolle's and Parsons' realization is like, especially compared to the well-known characters like Ramana Maharshi, Dogen etc.

In my simplified definition, one's practice must progressively bring one to a state of no desire and no fear. In the course of the day, one's mind should be endowed with peace and bliss. Most times the mind should be empty, and if thoughts and emotions arise, one instantly would know about them. As soon as one is aware of one's anger or frustration, one is able to deal with them. One can then deal with them as commodities to be disposed of without anger or perturbation. The daily peace is brought upon by being totally aware, when the mind is free of thoughts. That means the practitioner is constantly in those intervals between two thoughts or better still in that “interval with no thoughts.” or in the “space with no thoughts.” In this wide expanse of Voidness, one realizes that one is nobody. There is no one there in place of the “I”. This realization is a sudden one, as if a veil has just been peeled off from one's eyes. At one stroke, one is in non-duality. But after some time in non-duality one has to return to earth. These periods of non-duality are repeated many times after that, and each time the period of non-duality gets longer and longer. After some time, there will be constant peace, silence and stillness. Everything is part of One. Nothing is separate from the One.

In this simple practice, one needs to have a philosophy, a period of time for meditation and mindfulness in daily living.


The philosophy must embrace faith and belief. There should be some expectation of everlasting peace and happiness. The ultimate goal is to have no desire and no fear. Not adhering to a religion or God, one can literally take a page out of Taoism. In the modern context, Taoism can be equated to Universal Consciousness and every human, animal, insect and vegetation is interconnected to this Universal Consciousness. Nothing is separate, and every item mentioned above possesses a varying amount of the same consciousness: it is a matter of degree.

His main aim is to keep a very low profile, and he must at all events be inconspicuous. His involvement in daily affairs must be kept to a minimum. Having no greed in his character, he does not need much. He just needs enough to live a simple life without luxury. Status must be vigorously avoided so that he can become a nonentity.

In the spirit of Wu-Wei (non-action), it is said that “The Tao does nothing and yet nothing is left undone.” Wu-wei is not to be taken as inertia, laziness, laissez, or mere passivity. The true meaning is not forcing or not going against the grain. Wu-wei is a combination of wisdom and taking the line of least resistance. It also means that it is better to curb ambition, to slow the tempo of life, and not to despise working with the hands. Most importantly, one must not go against nature. One must swim with the current. There is no great love of life or hatred of death. The individual does not experience great joy when he was born and there is no resistance when he is about to die.

If one were to live as outlined above, one really does not have to follow the Buddhist Five Precepts, the Christian Ten Commandments or the Five Pillars of Islam. The way of life as outlined above does not necessitate the incurring of these religious tenets. Similarly, one also does not need to incur the principles of Wu-wei and Ying-yang of Taoism. Just live as simply and as humbly as one can. This alone will bring out the characters of compassion and love in that individual. Equanimity will come with the additional practice of meditation.

Meditation and Stillness

“The recluse's heart is a placid lake unruffled by the winds of circumstances.”

For the meditation to be effective, one must live frugally with no longings of wealth and fame. When desire or passion arises, treat it as your enemy and quietly abandon it. Take things as they come. Try not to worry or be anxious of what negative incidents are going to take place. Do not regret what has already taken place. Block all these items off your mind. Having turned away all these disturbances, one should be able to meditate better. In the past, most of my students kept on waiting until they retired before they start to meditate. That is wrong, some of these procrastinators died before they retired. They are afraid that life will be quite empty, but as a matter of fact, life becomes the greatest joy when one is just being or “to be”.

Real Meditation

Posture and Gaze

The only posture that is not allowed in meditation is to lie down, because one tends to fall asleep in this position. Otherwise any posture will do. The ideal position is the sitting one. Should one sit in the straight up position as in Zen? Not necessary. As long as one is sitting, one is even allowed to slouch. It is even allowable to put a cushion between one's back against a wall. One can either cross one's legs or straighten them. The hands are best left on one's sides, but putting one hand over the other on the lap is quite in order.

Does one close or open one's eyes? This is entirely left to the meditator. If one finds it more restful to shut one's eyes, then shut the eyes. However, if one tends to fall asleep when the eyes are shut, then open the eyes. So there are no hard and fast rules in this respect. In some disciplines, the eyes are half open. Whatever one does, one must be relaxed and be able to be with 'what is'. The body, eyes, hands and mind must be so relax that one can settle into that non-state of emptiness without falling asleep.

Sitting Meditation

This meditation technique is not a technique. There is no method in this meditation. There is no goal in this path. This real meditation is to finally arrive at that state of “to be”, where there are no thoughts. As long as there are no thoughts, we will be left with that pure awareness which is the Witness of everything that arises and subsides. When one starts to meditate, one's mind is filled with thoughts, emotions, sensations, memories and sounds, etc. Do not focus on any of them. Do not concentrate on anything. Let all of them pass on. It is like standing on the side pavement watching cars pass by. Do not see who are the passengers of the cars, and do not identify the make of the cars. Keep watching the cars until the late of the night, and then until the early morning. One watches until there are no more cars. This is the time when there are no more thoughts and emotions: you are at the threshold of the primordial consciousness, which is part of Universal Consciousness. One has to work much harder at this juncture in silence and stillness. Once one descends into the primordial consciousness, it is the Absolute Self. This is the Ground of Being. This state is bliss, silent and still. You have arrived at pure awareness without using effort. There was no control or manipulation. Awareness, stillness and silence are the characteristics of this primordial Universal Consciousness. One can merely relax in this non-state and be rejuvenated and enriched without effort or activity. In this non-state one can literally heal anything in the body. In this primordial non-state, one can witness the arising and subsiding of all objects and emotions. The witness is part of the Unborn Self, which is never born into dualism.

Some of you are complete novices and some of you maybe very experienced meditators. Whoever you are, you must start letting go of all your previous techniques or methods that you have learned. Your previous techniques could be either watching your breath, repeating mantra or visualizing. Drop all these techniques. Just be aware of where you are and realize your surroundings as they are. Then shut your eyes and simply watch your thoughts and emotions. If there are any sensations or sounds, merely note them without deciphering what they are. Do not hang on to them and do not try to work out any solutions. Meditation is not the time to solve problems. Just let them pass.

Be still, and lay aside all thoughts of what you are and what is the Tao; all concepts you have learned about the world; all images you hold about yourself, let them all go. Forget all things we ever learned, all thoughts that we had, and every preconception that we hold of what things mean and what their purpose is. Let us remember not our own ideas of what the world is for. We do not know. Let every image held for everyone be loosened from our minds and swept away. Be innocent of judgment, unaware of any thoughts of evil or of good that ever crossed your mind of anyone. Empty your mind of everything whether true or false, or good or bad, or every thought it judges worthy, and all ideas of which it is ashamed. Hold onto nothing. Do not bring with you one thought the past has taught, nor one belief you have learned before from anything. Forget this world, forget this path, and come with wholly empty hands into the Primordial Consciousness.

After some time, there will come a period when there are no more thoughts or emotions. This is the entrance to the ultimate Ground of Being. Go deeper and enter this realm in which state, bliss, silence and joy reside. This is your natural state and not an altered state. There are numerous altered states: ecstasy, sadness, happiness, merging with the cosmos and feeling the expansion of your consciousness. These are not natural states. The natural state is innocent and uncontaminated. The natural non-state is light, relax, still, silent, joyous, blissful and delicious. Nothing in the world can compare to this. One would like to remain in this Ground of Being as long as possible, but one has to return to duality after sometime. So start this simple practice of innocence from the beginning. Be aware of where you are and what the body is doing. Empty the mind without clinging to any thoughts and emotions. Do not bring on board any luggage. Do not solve any problems. Just remain alert, awake, relax and natural.

In this way, one is getting rid of the intellect, concepts and ideas. No ideology, religious or otherwise, no ideas, no precepts, no commandments or mantras are allowed into the mind. There should not be any attachment to the contents of the mind. In this emptiness, wisdom will arise on its own. Wisdom will arise in the empty mind and not from the mind. The wisdom on its own may or may not solve your problems. Wisdom mostly is to teach you to let go. Concepts, rational thinking and ideas do not give rise to wisdom. Wisdom can only arise through an empty and silent mind in which there are no contents to block it. It is this great act of faith in which we sit while accepting everything as it is. There is no discipline in this Ground of Being. In this silence, a certain light with vitality will slowly arise on its own. It is beautiful, innocent and uncontaminated. This is the natural home of the Unborn Self. It is that great expanse of our Being, which was seen before only as intervals between thoughts. Now that there are no more thoughts, we are left with only that uncontaminated expanse of the Absolute, which is Cosmic or Universal Consciousness. All the wisdom of the world is in this layer of Cosmic Consciousness.

Meditation without Effort

Although the meditation is without effort, the empty mind must remain clear, vivid and alive. It must not be hazy and dreamy. That means a minimum of effort still needs to be applied. Otherwise one goes to sleep. So one must exercise that minimum of effort just to keep one in that state of vividness and clarity. If one puts in too much effort, one becomes too tight. So one has to find out for oneself what is the correct amount of effort needed.

The Void

In this state of Void, the tendency is to awaken. Before that happens all our repressed material has to surface and be dealt with. You may have anger or sadness arising. There could be pain or weeping. The surfacing of all these negative emotions happens when we stop suppressing these memories in the unconsciousness. What arises is mostly unresolved conflicts that we never allowed ourselves to experience them fully or never allowed ourselves to feel the pain fully. At the reappearance of these conflicts, we must not suppress them again into the unconsciousness. We should just experience them and then let them pass on. Then finally one should detect whether there is any residual unresolved conflicts. If there are, then one should allow them to come up again for disposal. Only after we have cleansed out all the repressed emotions that insight and wisdom can arise to awaken the meditator. If this awakening is repeated often, the practitioner will automatically be able to let go of much more and finally the subconscious can be completely emptied of repressed conflicts. In fact these conflicts will let go of themselves. The practitioner does not have to do anything. Just remain in the Void. He can now arrive at that state summarized in the philosophy section: low key, low profile, no desire, no want and no fear. Wealth and status will be strenuously shunned.


In this state of pure awareness, one will find that awareness is very fluid and dynamic. It can be at one's fingers or at one's head or at any part of the body or at a sound that just arises. Or the awareness may also fall into silence and stillness and it can remain there for sometime. The awareness may also go global, in that it can travel all over the world with alacrity. There is no stopping its flow: in fact one should not stop its flow. This awareness has an intelligence of its own. We have to follow its flow: wherever it wants to go, whatever it wants to experience and whatever it wants to feel, we follow it. This is the way “to be”. Finally one may arrive at a fully awakened state.

Mindfulness in Daily Living

Sitting meditation alone does not get us very far. One must continue to meditate when one is out of sitting meditation. All that bliss and silence is left behind on the cushion once one stop sitting. So one must learn to retain that emptiness of mind when one comes out of sitting meditation. Be aware and be mindful whatever one is doing. This is the most difficult part of the whole exercise. In order to help you perform this task, you just have to let everything be as it is. While driving a car, let the congested traffic be just as it is. Do not express disappointment at the traffic jam. Do not curse the weather when it starts to pour. Let everything be as it is. Note your feelings when you meet your enemy. Do not run away when you see your enemy approaching. Stay with it. Watch those ill feelings arising and subsiding when one greets the enemy. Note all those feelings of reaction as if they belong to someone else. Do the same when one meets a loved one. In this way one is practicing meditation in daily life. There is now no difference between 'daily life' and 'meditative life'. This seamless way of life is the only way to practice. After some time, we discover that our natural consciousness will allow everything to be as it is. Consciousness does not resist. There is no opposition at all to anything that is existing. Whether one is having a good day or a bad day, our true nature allows it to happen. So one must live our daily lives exactly as one meditates. By accepting everything as it turns up we continue to be in that very potent state of Ground Zero---Primordial Consciousness. In this state of surrender, insight and wisdom will inevitably arise. In this space of Cosmic Consciousness it is given to us what we need to see. As one progresses it is in this ground of Primordial Consciousness that one will be awakened and finally, it is here that realization will take place. This is the stage when we realize that we are the Unborn, meaning that we are part of the Universal Consciousness which can never be born into a single individual.

To reiterate, one must be mindful from moment to moment during the activities of one's daily life. While one is focused on a specific task that one is doing, there will also be a general awareness of one's surrounding environment. Driving a car is a good example. The focus is mainly on the driving and the road. One knows that any major distraction to the driver is dangerous. However, one can easily be distracted when one is doing something mundane or routine like eating. The wandering can be so severe that one may not even remember what one has just eaten. While one is traveling in a train one must be with the moment by noticing the direction of the train and what the countryside looks like and what are the names of the stations that the train is passing through. All these facts can be gently noted without strain. During the journey if a problem crops up, deal with it in the mind promptly without agitation or panic. All these exercises are to stop the mind from flitting about and to be at the moment. The habit of day dreaming must be apprehended at all costs, but again without tears. So if one is mindful without judgments and without likes and dislikes, an inner peace and silence will ensue. This will lead to equanimity. This is the true practice of sitting meditation and daily activity without aversion and desire. If one can remain in this state all the time, then with luck there maybe a cessation of suffering. This is every spiritual practitioner's goal. So with a silent mind, one is able to look, listen, feel and relate to everything with equanimity. And emotions and thoughts can be dealt with calmly. It is only with equanimity can mindfulness and concentration transcend attachment and detachment. Equanimity is not equivalent to detachment, as detachment may lead to indifference and subsequent rejection. Equanimity without likes and dislikes will go beyond attachment and detachment and accept everything as they are. There is now silence in the heart, emptiness in the mind and equanimity in all activities. The awakening here is as good as enlightenment. The most important point here is not to fall back to the previous state of non-mindfulness and non-vigilance. As the Zen masters insist: one must continue to meditate for the rest of one's life whether enlightened or not. That means the state of awakening must be maintained and not allowed to slide backwards.