I Am That

by Ross Bishop

Imagine a gigantic stage that holds most of the people in the world. There is no script, they interact with each other according to their fears, desires and dreams. They live this way because their spiritual development is incomplete. This play and the conflicts it creates will give all of them the opportunity to investigate their beliefs and values and perhaps resolve the longing they feel inside themselves from their inner incompleteness.

Out in the audience are a few people who have left the stage because they realized that living in a world built on fear and attachment did not serve their highest purpose. They have moved to a level of consciousness that allows them to abandon their egos.

What lies beyond and supports both is a state of utter stillness and silence. It is unreachable by either words or mind. The only way to know it is to be it.

There is a drive in all people to evolve. We can argue about whether it comes from God, The Universe or our nature, but whatever the source, the drive is clearly there. But at this stage in our development we are held back by our fears and anxieties. But because we have free will, the process of our evolution needed to be foolproof. People would be encouraged to challenge their spiritual limitations and choose to grow in consciousness on their own. People would be encouraged to change, but pain would be the source of motivation for most of them.

Consciousness needs life in order to develop, so spirit came to earth and made the transformation into physical form. But because we felt incomplete spiritually, we would seek refuge in the mind for protection. It would become the dominant driving force in our lives. But because the physical body is vulnerable to disease and being harmed and because the mind is susceptible to dark influences, our experience would end up being largely one of fear. 

To compensate for the spiritual void we felt in ourselves, in place of reality, we fabricated a world of attachments such as vanity, the desire for notoriety, success, achievement, the false god of self-worth or its opposite, rebellion. This gave us at least some sense of security. 

We created a world based in experience – a quality that does not exist outside the mind. And experience is what passes for reality in our world. The unenlightened soul created a world of dualities – love, hate, greed, jealousy, inadequacy, unworthiness, neediness, etc. to numb its anxieties. Hope and anxiety are also products of the mind and as a result, we became shackled to our desires and fears. 

It is when the mind refuses to flow with life that it creates problems. The issue is acceptance. Acceptance is letting come what comes and go what goes. It is not that you live, but how you live that matters. The goal is desirelessness. This is the highest bliss. 

Pain and pleasure exist in the mind. Every pleasure, physical or mental, needs an object for its affection, and all attachment implies fear, for all “things” are transient. The pleasure they yield is necessarily limited in intensity and duration. You want pleasure because you suffer, therefore pain is the background of all pleasure. On the other hand, the search for pleasure is the cause of pain. Fear makes one a slave. It is a vicious cycle. 

All things mental will inevitably lead to frustration. A life built upon compassion – never. After all, when you base a life in passion, it is painful. What we are left with is the desire for expression and all suffering is born of that desire. It is the false that makes you suffer – the false desires, the fears, etc. Real love is never frustrated. When we are in a state of non-duality there is bliss. Pure experience does not bind; experience caught between desire and fear is impure and creates karma.

Love does not cling. When you cling you feel poor and powerless. So long as we delude ourselves by what we imagine ourselves to be, to know, to have, to do, we are in a sad plight, indeed. There is no chaos in the world except the chaos which the mind creates. It is self-created in the sense that at the very center is the false idea of oneself as a thing different and separate from others.

By forgetting who you really are, you create so much trouble for yourself that you will have to eventually wake up, as from a bad dream. The ultimate purpose of this conflict is to bring you to realize the untruths upon which you have built your life and to give you the opportunity to realign yourself with the truth. Then the scales will fall from your eyes and you will see, perhaps for the first time, your true self.

When people continue to avoid real love there will be an increasing ratcheting of challenges such that eventually they will be confronted with the ultimate challenge – to change or die. It is only in complete self-negation that there is a chance to discover your real being. And to know itself, the self must be confronted by its opposite – the non-self, the darkness, the shadow. You are love itself when you are not afraid. 

In sort of a curious twist, the pain from our fear based attachments is what will (eventually) motivate us to deepen our spiritual experience. This is the beauty of the process we are involved in. What appears to be a painful obstacle at one level at the same time opens the door to an opportunity to transcend our beliefs and move to greater spiritual insight.

This is not a “failing” on our part, but rather the logical extension of where we are in our spiritual development. All these things came from our inability to accept our true spiritual selves. And perfectly built unto the process is the creation of conflict from our attachments, both within ourselves and with others.

Each step you take brings you to closer to your goal because to be always on the move, learning, discovering and unfolding is your eternal destiny. To live without self-concern is life’s only purpose. However, desire is useful because it also shapes our destiny. It is desire that leads to experience. And experience, with its duality of pain and pleasure, leads to discrimination, self-knowledge and eventually liberation. And what is liberation after all? To know that who you are is beyond birth and death.

The thing is, nothing can set you free because you are already free. Once you know that nothing can trouble you but your own imagination, you come to disregard your desires and fears, concepts and ideas and live by truth alone. It is at this point that you leave the stage and join the others in the “audience.”

The realized person is egoless. He or she has lost the capacity to identify with anything other than the truth. And in time they will even move beyond truth. This person is without location, placeless, beyond space and time, beyond the world. He or she is also beyond words and thoughts. And everything that happens before that, contributes to this ultimate perfection. 

To live at peace is to see your world as it is, not as you imagine it to be. What is perceived in pure awareness, unaffected by desire and fear, is truth. That means action in which one is not emotionally involved (which is beneficial and does not create suffering nor bind the individual). One can be engaged with enormous zest, yet remain inwardly free and quiet.

If you are angry or in pain – separate yourself from your feelings and observe them. Watch your mind, how it comes into being, how it operates. Discover yourself as the watcher. Externalization in this way is the first step to liberation. The solution is to live your life as it comes, but alertly, watchfully, allowing everything happen as it happens, doing the natural things the natural way, suffering, rejoicing – as life brings. All you need do is to keep quietly alert, inquiring into the real nature of yourself. This is the only way to peace.

To be a living being is not the ultimate state; there is something beyond, much more wonderful, which is neither being or non-being, neither living or non-living. It is a state of pure awareness, beyond the limitations of space and time. Once the illusion that the body-mind is oneself is abandoned, death losses it’s terror; it becomes a part of living. The ultimate answer to the human dilemma would be the attainment of “I am,” a state that cannot be verbalized but can be experienced. What lies beyond, and supports “both” is the supreme state, a state of utter stillness and silence. It is unreachable by either words or mind. The only way to know it is to be it.*

*With gratitude and thanks to Nisargadatta Maharaj

copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2020

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