Inventing an "i"
Once we experienced our bodies as this whole energy field. There were no edges, no difference between flesh and spirit, inward and outward, I and Thou. We loved Us. No-one was left out. The only problem was, this wholeness was so overwhelming that we were barely able to negotiate getting a single spoonful of oatmeal into our mouths.
Somewhere around the age of five, in order to save our consciousness from overwhelming wholeness, there arose a dream of separation. This wave of separation invented a little "i." But the little "i" became more than a useful shield of protection. It became a melodrama, a story of exile and suffering. The story of "i" explained my sense of "fall" from the garden of bliss, from the energy field of allness. "i" was alienated from "God," because the very invention of a separate "i" was also the invention of a separate deity. "i" of course, was to blame for this fall. "i" was a sinner.
My dream of separation generated a world of opposites populated with "others"- strangers, foreigners, enemies - like a fairy tale about a lost child in a forest populated by goblins and trolls. Of course the "others" were all ghosts in a mirage, for what created them was the ghost of "me."
Because the story of "i" was more like a nightmare than a fairy tale, after many life-times of fear and desire "i" experienced a conversion. "i" found religion, and decided to walk the "path" toward salvation.
Inventing a "Path"
The spiritual path only reinforced the existence of the separate "i", because it gave me heroic work to perform. Being a "sinner" who constantly seeks salvation requires the biggest ego of all. "i" adopt all sorts of strategies - prayer, meditation, rituals, good deeds, self-flagellation, alms for the poor, political angst over reforming the world. But the path of ascent, reformation and return is also a dream.
Since there is no "i," there cannot be a path of self-transformation into someone selfless and enlightened. Any attempt to better myself only solidifies the delusion that there is an "i" to better. That is why, the more "i" seek God, the more neurotic and narcissistic "i" become.
Eventually, "i" just become weary of my story about seeking. The search drops away. The veil thins and "i" begin to sense the whole, frightening, sublimely beautiful, terrifying truth: there was never any separation, never any exile. Life merely happens, not as "my" life, but as the total energy of the cosmos without any "me" in it.
All arises in one marvelous, perpetual and incomprehensible explosion of golden energy, a continuum of consciousness where inner-outer, soul-body, even subject-object have no meaning. There is a Greek New Testament term for this experience: "Panta hen Panta: All in All." To embrace the All just as it is, without the least separation from it, is Love. Love is the universe arising to hug itself as nobody.
Though there's absolutely no path, the withering away of the search may be hastened by sitting in the presence of one whose "i" has already vanished. One who has been "crucified" loses every remnant of a "me." In his eyes we gaze and see no-one but a boundless abyss of stars swirling out of no-thing. Such a one can burn away our seeking through mere Presence. That mere Presence is Grace.
i asked my teacher, "Who are you? Really, are you the Sat-Guru? Are you the Avatar? Are you the re-appearance of the Christ?" Yes, those are extremely stupid questions. But it is the absurd questions that lead to the deepest answers. You see, i had heard devotees saying these silly things about the teacher.
In every ashram or spiritual movement, there are needy folks looking for a surrogate mommy or daddy, imagining the guru to be Jesus or Krishna... Which of course is the very root of religion. Religion is the need for a supreme Other, is it not? Religion is the ultimate separation. Nothing reinforces our separateness like believing in a supreme Other.
Finally weary of the search, i was ready to root out this problem right there, confronting both the guru and the devoted little me with the question: "Are you the Sat-Guru, the Avatar, the re-appearance of the Christ?"
He gazed from those unfathomable wells of sparkling blackness, womb of galaxies, and said, "No, no, no, i am Nobody." And he meant it.
After a little while, still gazing into his face, i said, "But you have something we all want, and i want it too."
He replied, "No, i haven't got it. i have lost it. You're still carrying it."
It took many years for this to percolate into my experience, and wither me away. But at that moment i realized that he was truly my guru, because he was pathless, he was Nobody. And whatever "liberation" may be, nothing is gained. It is not an attainment, but a loss. From "my" point of view, a profoundly devastating loss. But for the All, a marvelous, expansive, and radiant annihilation.
"The one who seeks his life will lose it, but the one who loses his life will find it." ~Master Jesus (Luke 17:33)