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About blackfence

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  1. Gustav Klimt's famous painting Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer serves as a metaphor for Self-Realization. Realization proceeds in stages. At first, the usual distinction between self and other -- between the woman and her environment -- is punctured by the process of intense concentration, showing that underneath what was thought to be a physical or social or mental environment was this beautiful golden 'stuff': call it silence or bliss or consciousness. But then this very bliss is itself realized to be just another color of paint on this painting, just another object. And so in that sense both the 'egoic' and the 'blissful' states are themselves considered to be merely points of view that are themselves formed by something else, something that is beyond the egoic and the non-egoic, something which is not itself a point of view. And in that process even the very stages of realization are themselves recognized to be occurring only from one of these points of view... points of view which are part of the painting, which is not limited or bound by them.
  2. There are at least three useful ways of thinking about the ego and how it is generated. One is the static: this is the sense of the subject, of the "I," that is generated whenever you have an experience. The I is generated from and contrasted to the not-I. The I here is a mass of unconscious and unseen assumptions. Self-inquiry and surrender discern away these assumptions, leaving the I by itself, whereupon it disappears. The second view is the dynamic: this is the sense of the "I" that is generated by the motion of thought. Thought by flowing creates the hallucination of a stable perceiver OF those thoughts. If this motion is slowed down or stopped, that hallucination can be seen for what it is. Self-inquiry and surrender concentrate the mind, redirecting it away from its usual desire-and-fear focused movement, thereby slowing and even stopping it. The third view is the structural view of the ego: this is the fact that the content of our thought all refers to a self-image, and is validated by all the other thoughts referring to the same image. These form a kind of web or net of mutually reinforcing illusion. Spiritual pointers like the simple question "Who am I?" or the image of the ego as being like a dream try to gesture one away out of this web.
  3. Notifications don't work?

    I think it did, since I just got a notification for your reply. Thanks!
  4. I'm automatically subscribed to posts I start, and have the setting where I should be notified by email whenever there's a new reply. But I never get those emails. My email address in settings is correct. Any idea what might be happening? Thanks.
  5. A tricky and very interesting distinction is present in Maharshi's work between samadhi -- a profound state of concentrated absorption where the distinction between "I" and "not I" breaks down -- and laya, which is also absorption... but in which ignorance does not break down. Both are states or profound peace. Samadhi can easily turn into laya, Maharshi says, so seekers should be warned. Elsewhere, however, he says that states of peace need not be interrupted. So which is it? Well, the answer lies in where the seeker is along the path. The mind has to be turned inward and concentrated, and various methods that produce laya can result in this; but the ultimate samadhi is not one that turns into laya, but is that which is seen when even laya is questioned, self-inquired into, or surrendered.
  6. How do you make decisions the spiritual way?

    Very interesting, thanks for the description!
  7. How does one deal with difficult decisions? From the psychological perspective, it's important that one be clear and honest about what you want. Therapy and artistic expression can help with this. But from a purely spiritual perspective, you simply recognize that you are not the doer and that you have nothing to do with decisions. You let the mind fall absolutely quiet through surrender or inquiry. The funny thing is that these approaches are not actually opposed. They occur in different contexts.
  8. There is a difference between the feeling of the still mind, that is, bliss, and the sense or coming of Knowledge of the Self, whose nature is insight... Even insights are temporary and *not* the real Self, but they constitute the 'gate' part of the 'gateless gate', and there are certain distinguishing characteristics that can be helpful for the seeker: the inversion of in and out in what I've called in the past the spacious mind. You thought you were a body inside the world; now you see that you are a world within which a body is. Insights are revisited over and over again through self-inquiry and surrender until they burn away all residual ignorance and become steady, at which time it becomes clear that insights and ignorance were both illusions.
  9. Spiritual awakening or liberation is essentially a matter of immense, intense discernment -- an act of focused distinguishing away of all the things one is not, which then reveals what one really is, though that revelation is not to the one who originally sought it. That's the paradox of seeking: you seek as you know that you are what you seek. The intense discernment required for the search is driven by equally intense desire for liberation, which generates, through practice, a relatively quiet mind, and focus... which must be then be channeled all the way through, via surrender or self-inquiry -- to discerning away ALL the things that you are not. There is an end to the process, but it is not what you think it is.
  10. On p. 98 he writes "So the Zhi, the Base, the fundamental condition of the individual and of existence, is in essence void, and yet its nature is nevertheless to manifest. How it manifests is as Energy, and by way of example, this Energy is compared to the reflections that arise in a mirror. The master may once again show a mirror to the disciple and explain how the reflections that arise in it are the energy of the mirror's own inherent nature manifesting visibly." Seems like a pretty close match to me, actually.
  11. I disagree. Here's what you wrote: "Do you understand how very rudimentary this idea of a label not being what is labeled is to me?" That's not really the point of the distinction between stillness and Stillness. My point wasn't that stillness isn't the label "stillness." My point was that any state of mind, however still, is not enough. So when you wrote originally: "What do you believe the experience would be if instead of “seeking” (for lack of a better term) stillness of mind, one begins with stillness of mind?" If "one" "begins" with anything, that is a state of mind. If you're asking about what an experience would be like, that too would be a question about a state of mind. So the stillness referred to here is a state of mind. As I just said, states of mind aren't Truth. That's the point. I'm responding to what you wrote. I have no idea about you beyond that.
  12. Right, it's as I thought. You've accepted jnana in name only. "Yes, jnana, but..." No. Prarabdha, body, mind, etc. -- and yes, "being smacked on the head and hurting" -- these are absolutely all merely appearances. One who believes that they are more than that has not actually understood the true nature of jnana. What logic is there in the "maturation" of a mirage? And certainly the idea that "one will hurt when smacked" as proof that the individual is not an appearance is completely rooted in the egoic illusion. There is no "maturation of the individual" as some official "post jnana phase" -- accepting that is accepting the reality of ajnana... its continuation and thus gradual reduction. Tattvajnana and jivanmukti are not truly distinct phases. They are "distinct" only from the standpoint of ajnana. "As the kindled fire reduces firewood to ashes, Arjuna, so the fire of knowledge reduces all actions to ashes." (Bhagavad Gita 4:37) What there may be said to be imperfect or incomplete knowledge; unsteady knowledge. In that identification remains. That is not true jnana. It is only a phase of seeking.
  13. You asked what I thought, then get irritated when I tell you what I think... When I'm pointing it out with regards to silence or stillness is not rudimentary, because many "advanced seekers" get stuck in believing that long spells of a silent or still mind are the final destination. That's it and no more. That's incorrect.
  14. Then one is in a far simpler position. As the Buddha might say, one has "little dust in one's eyes." The stillness must then become the target of self-inquiry -- who is that experiences the stillness? Or, in other words, attempt to grasp the reflectivity of the stillness... Because any stillness that is labeled stillness is still not Stillness; the real Stillness is compatible with both seeming stillness of mind and seeming thought. Relative stillness of mind is an important necessity for the grasping of that real Stillness, however.