11/02/2017

Welcome Solitude

 Chinese character for 'one.'

"First realize your world is only a reflection of yourself and then stop finding fault with the reflection."
~Nisargadatta Mahraj

I have been found innocent and sentenced to the bliss of eternal solitude.

No matter how far I travel, no matter how deeply I fall in love or how violently I fall into conflict, I can never meet anyone outside the seamless continuity of my awareness.

Ignorance is believing that there is another.

Ignorance insists that the world is divided and conflicted, when in fact the world is one indivisible whole, at rest in the shimmering simplicity of its Self.

My problem is not conflict, for there is no conflict. My problem is embracing boundless solitude.

I can never transcend the unity of the Self, no matter how multifarious and diverse my experience, for all that I perceive arises in the continuum of my own awareness, and any "other" whom I encounter, I must necessarily encounter through the lens of my Self.

If I do not know my Self, I have no basis for knowing anyone. Bit if I know my Self, I know that everyone is I.

When I fall asleep at night, I take no one with me, not even the person lying beside me. When I wake in the morning, it is only my Self who awakens: the dream of others vanishes. I was not born as a community. I will not die as a community. I was born alone and I will die my own unique death.

God give me the courage to confront this primordial aloneness. There is great pain in throwing off the bonds of illusion, the illusion of a separate "I" that has plagued me since birth, when in terror I sought to return to the womb and could not. That is when I create an abstract womb, a little bubble of thought where I could withdraw from a world that was marvelously and terrifying in its immediacy. This thought was "ahankara," the very thought of  "I."

"I" was a device for pretending that there is an "other" who can come to the rescue.  But when "I" am ready for the truth, "I" shatter and dissolve into Am, who is the universe.

The demonstration of this process is Jesus on the cross. In his moment of shattering, Jesus called, "Father, Father, why have you forsaken me?" But the moment of shattering was also the moment of liberation. Jesus rent the temple veil that separated the divine from the human, and thus ended the illusion of separation. He entered the great solitude of the All, becoming in St. Paul's words, panta hen panta: "All in All."

Realizing that there was no other, no one to call to, and no one coming down to save him, Jesus spread his arms and embraced the world, even his enemies, as his own Self. The arm-opening mudra from the center of the cross is not a gesture of forgiveness, but a gesture of unity, a gesture of at-one-ment.

Like Jesus, I am not saved by another. I am saved by being my Self.

I am you, friend. And neither of us can ever know anyone outside the seamless transparency of the Self. We have the same fate. Transforming alone-ness into all-oneness is our task. It was Christ's task and he showed us the way. But he does not do it for us. No one can open your arms on the cross but you.

When the transformation is complete, we can joyfully embrace all creatures, whether lovers or strangers, as the play of our own consciousness. We can each "love our neighbor as our Self," fulfilling the Great Commandment - because our neighbor IS our Self. This is the one real solution to world conflict. 

Objection
"How can you advocate such a solipsistic vision? There are so many problems in the world! We must become activists to solve the global crisis!"

Reply
There is no global crisis. "Global crisis" is a generalization, an abstract mental concept that we super-impose on a world of particulars, where each particular arises in the present moment as the projection of our own consciousness. We superimpose the concept of "global crisis" onto the field of experience in order to avoid ever having to face our true predicament: boundless solitude.

Certainly challenges arise, but never in general. Deal with a situation before it becomes a problem, Solve problems as local events, not global catastrophes. Act in the one place where action is possible: here and now. When I solve the problem on the tip of my nose, it never becomes a "world crisis."

Objection
"Is it possible to get rid of the "I"? Isn't getting rid of "I" a greater illusion than the "I" itself?

Reply
Yes, precisely! The problem is not having an "I"; the problem is identifying with it.

No practice of concentration or self-denial can eliminate the "I." Such practices only divide the personality, for the effort to concentrate against the "I" will only make it stronger and more devious. Then how does one deal with the separate "I"?

Dance with the "I." Hug the "I." Accept the "I" for what it is: an organ of your body, like your nose or tongue, a useful tool for negotiating with the chaos, beauty, and pathos of this shimmering creation that you have projected. Just as you don't need to eliminate your little finger, so you don't need to eliminate your "I"?

In fact, "I" arise and dissolve each moment, a ripple on the ocean of consciousness, a tremor in the continuum of One. Why regard it as a problem?

Even a Bodhisattva has an "I." But she does not identify with or cling to it. She sees it as something she has, not something she is. The "I" of the enlightened arises as a useful tool for self-expression when the body needs an advocate in the material world. "I" am your negotiator in the great mediation. But while "I" negotiate, Awareness rests in the background, uninvolved in the negotiation, just witnessing. Awareness signs the final contract, after "I" negotiate the deal.

"I" am a useful but finite container, floating like a transparent cup in the groundless ocean of Am. 


Aloneness Meditations

* What vanishes like a mist when you stop fleeing from aloneness? 

* When you embrace aloneness without resistance, who survives? 

* Is there anyone separate from this aloneness, anyone to call it 'my' aloneness, or complain about feeling 'lonely'? 

* Does your aloneness have any edges?

* When you encounter another person in this unbounded aloneness, how does it feel to regard them as your self?
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*You might also like the essay, 'God, Body, I'

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