"First, mountains are mountains and rivers are rivers..."
(I bow to the divine in you)
Example Supplemental Material & Curriculum :
(discussed in parts or in whole during retreat, watching, listening, discussing, interpreting, implementing)
Anthony DeMello: Awareness
Adyashanti: Various Teachings
OSHO: The Heart Sutra & Various Teachings
We recognize the One that brought you here and offered you shelter to take refuge in our Sangha. Wherever you come from, whatever you believe in, we ask you to quiet down and leave your shoes (egos) outside. All your knowledge and wisdom will not be needed here, just sit down and listen like a child to a great story, without any expectation.
Before we begin, let us tell you right upfront what this retreat is about. Before any kind of disassembling of your conditioned ego, before we will try breaking the rules, we need to understand them first. Regardless of what might or not resonate with you of what is being presented below, there is one ultimate law that the ego (or anything for that matter) must follow all the time: "everyone (and everything) is doing one's best for oneself with what is given". Once understood (or interpreted correctly) this simple truth (on the level of "mountains are mountains") will reveal and explain the world of ego(s), and should be enough to take us right to the "second gate" from where there is no point of return, "mountains are not mountains anymore". Nothing much more is needed, but let us try anyway and hopefully we will fail well.
How do we recognize and get a handle on our egos? Like a wild mustang who has never had any restrictions, before we can deconstruct the ego, we need to understand how to "break it in", demonstrating its limitations and our power over it. However this is a delicate and dangerous process, requiring patience and various tricks as sheer power and will is not enough. This is no easy opponent, as the ego is who you thought you were, the one calling itself "I" in a personal sense. It knows you inside and out. It knows your every move and preferences, and is always one step ahead of you on a mental / emotional / psychical levels. There will be more needed here than anything and everything you can come up with. There will be more needed than anyone anywhere can come up with. A real "gift" is needed from the beyond that doesn't exist, therefore nobody can give it or attain it. Yet, it happens occasionally when one is ready.
Before we can even go there, talking about the beyond, let us get familiar with ourselves. Who am I? The voice inside that you hear all the time, talking to you, suggesting, comforting, patronizing, you. But if there is a voice and there is you who hears the voice, who is talking and who is listening? Are there two of you, or perhaps more? Exactly. When one begins to really understand the dilemma, one can never turn away from this "crack on the wall of reality". It can be ignored, put on hold, denied for a damn long time, but not forever. Eventually there will be nothing else in front of us but a damn crack, and until we get to the bottom of it, there will be no peace. But let's take this in baby steps...
As real as this seems to be, most of us are more-less asleep right now. Some are having nightmares, others might be having a blast, but ultimately none of this is true. The dream you are having is the ultimate dream, from which 99.9 percent will never wake up until the very end of their biological life, and this is normal. Awakening from this virtual reality is not something that is for everyone, although everyone will wake up sooner or later or at the very end.
"the finger pointing to the moon is not the moon"
In this first stage however you should know that ultimately anybody who starts telling you how and what it is (science included), is misleading you. Of course in the beginning you need this misleading as there is nothing else to go by. Cars are cars, trees are trees, just so you and others can navigate the already chaotic world. This is the world and its logic and rules that will crumble slower or faster, once somebody notices that something is "off". Until then, learn everything with caution, knowing that none of this knowledge can ultimately explain what is going on.
"Those who know, do not speak of it. Those who speak of it do not know."
Truth does not need convincing or to be believed. Truth was, is and always will be, regardless of what anybody thinks about it. And the feeling of truth comes from within, not from someone else or the outside. Truth is not something that somebody else have experienced and described it to you. Truth is only truth if you have experienced it for yourself. Experiencing truth is the simplest thing, in fact it is so simple that we don't even notice swimming in it like fish in water.
Those who have woken up from this ultimate dream can tell you that it is nothing anyone has ever expected to be. It is not something good, neither it is bad. When awake, good and bad becomes irrelevant as duality is realized to be a dream, nothing to be much concerned with. The awake state is singularity, when "All is One". Unfortunately, this realization cannot be explained, taught or given to anyone. It can only pointed or referred to indirectly.
"Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there."
Truth is not Jesus and it is not God. It is neither the Koran, nor the Vedas, nor it is the Buddha. It is everything that cannot be named. All the effort here and anywhere else can only be pointing at it... at best.
"The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao"
So right upfront, you have to understand that ultimately you will not gain anything by reading these lines. At best it can be entertaining and could induce a lot of thoughts and inquiry but don't try to answer them necessarily. Any question that can be answered was not a real inquiry anyway. But once in a while, a question comes along to which there cannot possibly be any answers... the kind that forces you on you knees to humbly admit... "I don't know"... and there... for a moment truth shines through! Cherish your "I don't know"s, it is the authentic self. One of the most important questions you could ever ask, but never answer is "who am I"? We will investigate this inquiry later on extensively.
Something important should be explained about the terminology that is used here. You can speak by being silent, and you can be silent by speaking. "Not speaking" does not mean that audible words don't appear. It means that these words appear out of "nothing". There might be a mouth, breathing and a few gestures, but there is no-body speaking. Speaking is happening without a "doer", truth only uses form (the body) through a person to reveal itself.
Satsangs are good examples how this is done. So those who do not speak of "it" might actually be talking, but they don't claim to know or be able to explain "it". They only point out why it is impossible to do so, and therefore awaken you to your false ideas about the "truth". Those who are "in the know" cannot give you something that they have attained, because there is nothing to acquire. If you have blindfolds, there is nothing that can be given to you to make you see. Your blindfolds have to be removed, and you will see all that has always been there. This is "right view" and it would be the first part of the Eightfold Path to enlightenment to be discussed later.
When enlightened ones talk about "silence", they mean the "quietness of the Ego". The more the Ego tries to exist, to assert itself, the louder it gets. The more an Ego gives up (and this is a true miracle) its need to having to prove its existence and power, the quieter it gets. Absolute silence cannot be achieved as long as there is a body, our thoughts and opinions, bound by physical matter. However, the Ego is the only tool that we have, in order to wake up, and it remains totally functional even if reduced to a pilot flame, that can burst into fire any time under our aware control.
How can somebody practice silence? Once tasted, it becomes increasingly easier every time, just like riding a bike. However, the emphasis is rather on the ability to recognize the experience and not the ability to produce it. This kind of silence is not created by the absence of making sound/noise. This kind of silence is always here, like empty space in a room that we fill up with stuff and therefore the emptiness seems to be gone, until we remove the stuff of the room. Silence as a practice begins deteriorating our basic urge to "be loud", have drama, create suffering around ourselves in order to gain control, power, approval etc. which is interpreted as "existence" by the Ego. The less control and power one has, the less this person "exists" and will be remembered - fears the Ego.
In the following scene, you can observe this loosing battle for identity and existence by the ego. This might be a good example of the "crack on the wall", as one notices that something is "off" with reality, and perhaps who we thought we were is only an illusion.
"The greatest con, he's ever pulled was convincing you that he is you."
from Guy Ritchie's: Revolver
The Matrix is another very good movie that was able to explain how we are all asleep in a virtual reality, and how this matrix is penetrated and compromised to help someone awake from the dream. We don't have a red pill and a blue pill unfortunately, and it is not one's decision to wake up from the very dream they have invested decades of dream time into. When one gets the "enlightenment bug", it does not feel as a conscious decision made to pursue it. It feels more like it is chasing after us. In some cases haunting even sounds truer, but that is the interpretation of the ego of course.
What is truth?.... Exactly. Nobody can say. Every time we might ask ourselves or anyone, there is utter silence... until the mind comes in and starts desperately make up things and take control. So here, we will try not be speaking of "truth", rather point out what "truth" is not, as our minds make it up. Truth is everywhere, but only before the mind starts interpreting it. Once the mind tries to describe it, the distortion begins.
Before we go on, let us clarify that the awakening process is not something that is necessarily pleasant, useful or desirable. Each individual is unique, and therefore each experience is unique. Ask yourself... do I really, really, really... want to wake up? As the cliché goes, beware of what you wish for.... it might (will) come true. You might say "of course, why else would I be here?". Okay, we will see, but here is a warning... realizations are irreversible. Once you realize that 2+2=4, you will never be able to deny it. You can lie, turn away, or never look again, but deep down you will always know.
Imagine if all your life you believed that 2+2=5. Your happiness depended on this. Would you join a group whose goal is to realize that 2+2 does not equal 5? Would you ever want to find out? Awakening is a bit like that. Some people cherish knowing the "truth" no matter how painful, and some would rather drug themselves in one way or another to escape what they think reality is.
Taking control away from the Ego means that every problem, difficulty, concern of yours disappears. There is nobody left to experience anything. Of course your body is there and an internal voice keeps babbling, but you have attained a perspective, from which you can clearly see what the Ego is about. The bad news is that the good stuff goes out the window as well such as love, passion, beauty and so on. This only seems to be bad news from the Ego's point of view, and again.. once you attain, bad-good becomes irrelevant, because the reference point disappears. What remains however, is something much much more significant that cannot even be compared to what you believe to have now or believe to be loosing. As in dreaming... you only concerned about what happens until you realize that none of it is real.
There are many paths leading to enlightenment. A scientific approach for example might take the following route. You can choose any path, but eventually it is the path that chooses you. Right upfront you will have to give up a few things in this journey, otherwise you will be off the path, exploring other realms.
You have to give up control. It will be given back to you eventually, once you know what to do with it. For now however, just trust the process, drop all your expectations and relax.
You have to give up trying to understand the process or figure out what enlightenment is about. Trying is the very thing that is in the way of experiencing it. Your logical, rational mind will never understand it.... Ever.
There are many other, more or less subtle advises from the masters, but remember... all help is also a hindrance to some degree, and you will only see it retrospectively. So be careful how and what kind of help you choose, but be even more careful about helping others.
All paths are unique. Because nobody has ever been on yours before, nobody can tell you how to walk on your path. If you are walking in the footsteps of somebody, you are off your path, and there is nothing wrong with that, just as there is nothing wrong with enjoying a movie, just don't confuse it with reality.
No worries, sooner or later you realize that there was never a path to begin with, but you will only see that after having taken the journey and you look back at it. At best, teachers are candle holders in the darkness for you to find your path a little easier. Their flame of consciousness is not a direction, but a navigation point. Teachers can illuminate a portion of your journey, their limited ambiance can help finding a shorter path or distract you from it. Eventually, "Nobody Knows" where the path leads, but seemingly they all go to the same place.
Before you mind begins to construct an idea about how you will achieve this "enlightenment" in time, let me destroy your time/effort table right away. There is no trying. Trying is something the ego substitutes for the real thing . It is a trick, a tool, to rip you out of reality, put distance between the here/now and some imaginary future, to establish the illusion of time as a barrier between you and enlightenment. Here is the shocker... you are already "there". It is already here. You just have to drop all other ideas that you are mistaking for enlightenment. And even this pointer is futile. You cannot get rid of an idea. You can only realize its irrelevance.
You cannot be given what you already are. You cannot become what you already are. There are only 2 things you can do: 1 further dilute yourself about who you are not. 2 surrender. If you choose the first one, you continue the ultimate hide-n-seek from your own self.
If you wanted to wake up, you could do it right at this moment. The reason you cannot wake up is because your ego is successful at slipping through the cracks, continuing it's self delusion. Go ahead, try to answer it. Ask yourself - Who am I? - and see what you can come up with. Now subtract all the superficial answers, such as you name, age, gender, political affiliation, etc. and what are you left with?... that's right., not-a-thing. Try it again... frightening.. isn't it?
Okay, no need to get concerned, it is normal. The Ego does not feel comfortable when pinned to the board under spotlight. Who is this entity that took over a biological suite, claiming existence and throwing a tantrum when its legitimacy and authority is questioned? Why is it trying to gain reputation, status, recognition so desperately? Okay.. okay.. this is not about a confrontation. Nobody will be woken up against their will.
"A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still"
You say... I have a name, I have a body, I have a mind, I have a past, I have relationships, I have emotions... I have, I have, I have. Who is this "I"? So many possessions, but who is the owner? Don't try to answer it, the reason you can't is because there is no answer. The owner does not exist, only "owning". A thought pattern that was given to you as a child, which you believed to be true. This, your mind will never, ever understand it. Ever. You see, the difficulty is not with the understanding part, but with the "you" part. The one that believes the next thought. The one that says "I want to understand this" and perceives this sentence to be valid - therefore controllable, pursuable and understandable. Once the limited consciousness we all have starts expanding, at a certain point it gets realized that All is One. So there is no separate "you" who can either want or not want to understand or ignore anything. You and the wanting and the understanding and everything multiplied by nearly 7 billion human consciousnesses times infinity is all One. Of course all of this appears to be separate. If it didn't, we would not be sitting here. You would be nothing but silent, empty presence, which everything is.
There are many paths to awakening, and ultimately each of us create our own. To find our own path however can be rather difficult, and most of us need help from time to time. We call them Candle Holders, but other traditions call them bodhisattvas, enlightened ones, old souls and so on. We are all more-less awakened, and more-less capable of inspiring others to awaken. Once in a while there is an individual who is very awake, and very capable of inspiring others. This person is a Candle Holder in the dark cave, in which most of us are asleep.
Within this site you will find a lot of Candle Holders showing a few possible paths to take. But be careful, don't be like moth to a flame. Do not burn yourself with one's candle. Use their flame to ignite your own and become a candle holder yourself, rather than a dancing moth around someone else's light.F
So again, we welcome that thing that brought you here. "Because no Ego in its right mind would come here" to die. This is the place where Egos get bruised up. So run while you can. This is the point of no return. "Once the awakening bug bites you, there is no running away". Or is it too late already? "Your head is already in the tiger's mouth"? How (un?)fortunate. Well at least we offer guidance as to how to manage getting your head ripped off.