076. Joi Sharp

One fine morning when I was in my mid-twenties, I woke up and the life I had previously led was over. I was consumed by a longing to be truly intimate with God, the one truth.

This great longing grew daily, and it first manifested as being aware of the unseen in nature. Nature invited me into itself, and I found myself taking very long solo trips deep into the wilderness of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This naturally led to a resonance with Native traditions, and before long I met my first teacher, a highly-respected Lakota medicine man who was very committed to upholding the Old Way. With this association, the intimate awareness of spirit deepened.

As the longing for union intensified, the heart opened. This journey took on the qualities of para-bhakti, or intense devotion to the divine. Spontaneous giving of myself to spirit through prayer and tears was a natural response, and I felt myself being consumed.

I met my master, Mata Amritanandamayi, in 1993. There was an immediate recognition that I needed to spend as much time as possible in her presence, so I spent most of the next nine years in her ashram in India.

This was a period of intense de-conditioning where so much was exposed. Amma knew my longing for truth, and consequently pushed me quite hard, so that a natural, authentic surrender and love was all I knew.

It is said in the scriptures that love leads to knowledge (Bhakti to Jnana), and knowledge leads to love. That they are two sides of the same coin-not separate. There arose in me a natural resonance with self-inquiry, and with Amma’s blessing I spent two years a Ramana Maharshi’s ashram in Tiruvannamalai. Then one day I knew I was done with India, and returned to the west.

When I returned, I had nothing to hold on to. No family, home, money, job, car, or health. The body was quite weak and tired, and the old way of striving couldn’t survive. Surrender naturally deepened, and it was at this time that the personal self really lost its hold.

A couple of satsang teachers came through my little town in Colorado. Satsang in America was a new experience for me. I realized that these teachers were talking about what I was experiencing.

In 2004, Pamela Wilson invited me to share my experience with others. After talking to Amma about it and receiving instruction from her, I felt an overflowing and a readiness to share.

In recent years, Adyashanti has been and continues to be an invaluable guide and a support in this unfoldment and recognition of what’s true. He has my deepest gratitude.

My heart bows down to all of my teachers and friends who make up the fullness of this life, and no words can describe how this heart bows to Amma.

Joi’s site

Interview recorded 7/2/11

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.

105 thoughts on “076. Joi Sharp

  1. I don’t know for sure yet whether we’re going. I’ll let you know. If we do go, we’ll probably only attend the paid retreat and possibly Devi Bhava. We probably won’t make it to the first public day. But I’ll let you know.

  2. For Tim,
    Hi dear. This Experience that you call “torture” is a common ride in awakening.
    Yes, the good experiences come and go. They can be inspiring, which is helpful. But remember they are just experiences. What is aware of good and bad, happy and sad, stays the same.
    Watch the mind defining what your experiences are. The mind has no basis in reality! As long as we do not wish for the “good” and resist the “bad” these swings between the two will ease out.
    Blessings dear heart.

  3. Amma is well worth the visit. See her while you can. However, she does tour every year, around the same schedule, so when the time is right you’ll feel called to make the journey, above what your mind may say.

  4. Joi’s response to Tim, above, deserves additional attention:

    “Watch the mind defining what your experiences are.”

    Indeed.

    As well as…

    “As long as we do not wish for the “good” and resist the ‘bad’ these swings between the two will ease out.”

    Which is essentially abiding in the space of equanimity.

    Well said, Joi.

  5. Tim, I often have the thought while reading your posts that you might benefit from learning some formal meditation practice. I’ve been practicing one myself for decades. It can be very frustrating to just intellectualize this stuff, or trying to progress by manipulating one’s experience based on ideas derived from reading books or listening to teachers. What do you think?

  6. I would like to strongly echo… echo… echo Rick’s suggestion, Tim.

    A kayak can help you reach the other shore.

    Just don’t turn it into an ocean liner.

    P.S. My favorite kayak is the Vipassana or Insight Meditation one.

  7. If you do decide to learn one, I would recommend something effortless, that doesn’t involve concentration or control. I assume vipassana fits that description, as does TM and a technique taught by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s organization (Art of Living).

  8. NIce. Another opportunity to echo Rick. What a treat.

    I haven’t experienced anything more effortless than simply being aware.

    Which is what Vipassana/Insight meditation invites the participant to be.

  9. P.S. to Rick:

    I was under the impression that uttering a mantra is part of the TM regiment.

    If this is the case, here’s my question:

    do you see the practice of using a mantra as an exercise in control?

    It felt that way, to me, when I used a mantra many moons ago.

    TIA

  10. Many folks find Adyashanti’s “True Meditation” to be an effortless practice. There are CD’s included with the book for audio guidance.

  11. No. The instruction is to think the mantra as effortlessly as you think any other thought. No attempt to keep on repeating it, think it clearly, enunciate it, etc. If one really follows those instructions, it’s as easy as falling off a log. People sometimes do introduce control, and then the technique’s effectiveness diminishes. There are procedures for helping people restore the effortlessness of the practice.

  12. Thanks for your reply. Maybe, one day, you’ll create a forum where we can compare our different experiences with various meditation techniques. I’m certainly curious what other techniques are like.

    I have always associated thinking with sound. Which is to say that whenever a thought-cloud crosses my sky, I almost always hear the thought as I perceive it.

    I think that many people do as well.

    And for me to create a mantra is for me to create a sound.

    Being aware, from my experience, doesn’t require creating anything to be aware of.

    And being aware of your breathing (a key ingredient to Vipassana/Insight meditation) does not require that you create anything to be aware of. Like a mantra.

    Thanks again.

  13. Amma initiates mantra practice. And for myself the mantra actually “came from” consciousness. That is it arose simultaneously with just an intention to call it forth. And it is experienced to be consciousness itself in the form of a sacred sound, a mantra.
    It arises by itself now, maybe just one or two mantras in a row, just because it likes to visit.

  14. Thinking is sound. Maharishi used to say that thinking is a subtler aspect of the sense of hearing. But he added that a sound (thought) can serve as a vehicle for transcending. IOW, the object is not to persist in repeating the mantra or keep on remembering it, but to allow it to become subtler and subtler until it fades away and pure consciousness remains.

  15. Actually, for years now, I have used the mantra Amma gave me, rather than my original TM mantra. But I use it TM-style, which is how I’m accustomed to meditating.

  16. Hi Rick In a number of interviews you have mentioned that you do the Amma mantra but do it TM style. Could you explain the difference. Thanks again for making these talks available.

  17. Well, I had been doing TM for 30+ years when I met Amma. I had used various mantras in TM, because they add to it when you get advanced techniques. At first I had Amma “recharge” my TM mantra, which she will do, or used to do. After several years, I felt like getting a mantra from her, which I figured I’d use as a japa mantra (in activity). I did that for a while, but got tired of using two mantras, so I started using my Amma mantra for regular eyes-closed meditation. Works for me.

  18. In that case, Tim, I can most assuredly say that I don’t have one drop of sympathy for you.

    Empathy may be another matter.

    But sympathy?

    Nah.

  19. Tim, if you want to obey Krishnamurti, then be sure to disobey anything he said. He recommended that one not follow teachers and teachings. Regarding meditation practices, I would point out that the things we have been suggesting all involve practicing while sitting quietly. not merely resting between thoughts, etc. If meditation is really deep and effective, one is incapable of doing anything else at the same time.

  20. Yes! The miracle of our existence, of this life itself. Every precious moment has within it an invitation to really be present with life. And this life will reveal our path to us. Because we each have our own way, and a true and valuable teaching is only meant to point out our own way.

  21. Which prompts me to share that our minds are often afflicted with a particular virus. The virus of “I desire and/or need something OTHER than what is here/now.”

    If meditation is used as a tool to acquire something other (i.e. “enlightenment”, an “awakening”, etc.) than what is here/now, then it only serves and feeds that virus.

    But if it is employed to perceive what is here/now more clearly, then the virus is exposed for what it is:

    a veil that precludes us from perceiving the here/now.

  22. If meditation is used as a tool to acquire something other (i.e. “enlightenment”, an “awakening”, etc.) than what is here/now, then it only serves and feeds that virus.

    But if it is employed to perceive what is here/now more clearly, then…
    ————————-

    Isn’t it more of the same? Perceiving more clearly is only another carrot, I guess. It is much easier to get rid of that notion also. The belief that you can perceive more clearly, that you have to remind yourself to be aware, or stay in that “state of awareness”, overlooking that you cannot possibly get out of it. How can you actually be unaware at any moment?

  23. You can’t, if you’re having experience, but although consciousness is what it is, obviously it is reflected in a myriad variety of ways and degrees among the millions of species on earth and within the human species. If you were to drink a quart of vodka every day for a month, you may still be aware, but your nervous system – that through which awareness is lived – would be severely compromised, as would your subjective experience.

  24. yes, i would echo Rick on this point. To use meditation as a means to really stop, to let go of every little thing, except for that which is aware. This seems to allow a relaxing of all faculties, so that what is aware can “flex it’s muscles” as it were. What is aware becomes much more obvious, much more conscious. Not only conscious of what is asking to be seen, but also awareness becomes conscious of itself as that which sees everything. I find great benefit in this “stopping” or silent sitting, just for this reason.

  25. I use carrots in my dishes a lot, Brian. I appreciate the metaphor.

    Using a tissue (AKA meditaton) to clean the lens that you are peering through… without any expectation or desire to see something in place of something else (or the virus that I alluded to earlier)… doesn’t feel like a carrot to me.

    It would, however, if I had the expectation or desire to see something else in place of what is.

    I guess it boils down to why you want your lens cleaned.

  26. I thought of an analogy this morning, while doing asanas on my driveway. Imagine listening to Beethoven’s 6th Symphony (Pastoral) in a quiet place with a good stereo system or headphones. Now imagine listening to it on 5th Avenue with traffic rushing by and a construction crew running jackhammers. Maybe you’re even listening to it at the same volume and with the same stereo system as in your quiet room. But with all the other commotion going on, your ability to appreciate the subtlety and depth of the music is compromised. Same with awareness. There’s a value in reserving some time to dwell exclusively on that without the usual bombardment of sensory stimuli.

  27. “To use meditation as a means to really stop, to let go of every little thing, except for that which is aware.”
    ———————–
    I don’t like that solution. I think that the next step is to investigate things and recognize them to be the awareness itself. I find that it is not difficult at all. When it is recognized that there never is any other thing than awareness, the need to let go of something in order to stay with awareness just naturally falls away by itself…

  28. I’m pleased to see this continuing discussion re. the various modalities and fruits of meditation.

    Thanks one and all.

  29. “Using a tissue (AKA meditaton) to clean the lens that you are peering through…”
    ———————————
    Have you read the Platform sutra? It deals with the same issue:

    Hung-jen, the Fifth Patriarch, the Enlightened Master

    Shen-hsiu, the Learned Senior Monk, experienced in gradual meditation

    Hui-neng, the illiterate woodcutter from the barbarian south, suddenly enlightened

    1) Shen-hsiu presents the following verse which Hung-jen characterizes as incomplete in understanding.

    The body is the bodhi tree,
    The mind is like a clear mirror.
    At all times we must strive to polish it,
    And must not let the dust collect.

    (Yampolsky 130)

    This can be understood as advocating a gradual process of achieving and maintaining the purity and clarity of the mirror-like mind, the mind of emptiness or empty awareness, of the oneness of reality. The emphasis is on the form of practice required of the body and the mind to cultivate and sustain this awareness.

    2) Hui-neng offers the following alternative verse:

    Bodhi originally has no tree,
    The mirror(-like mind) has no stand.
    Buddha-nature (emptiness/oneness) is always clean and pure;
    Where is there room for dust (to alight)?

    (Yampolsky 132)

    This can be understood as advocating the sudden awakening to emptiness/oneness. The emphasis is on realizing emptiness beyond form all-at-once, instantaneously, in the here-and-now (in the moment of reading the verse).

    from http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~munno/OregonCourses/REL444S05/HuinengVerse.htm

  30. “To use meditation as a means to really stop, to let go of every little thing, except for that which is aware.”

    One of the benefits of Anapanasati (breath watching) meditation is you be-come aware of the desire to stop X, and to let go of X. Whatever X may be.

    Which, in turn, diminishes any resultant desire to re-act to it.

    Just one of the fruits from the bowl of equanimity.

  31. Hey, if sudden enlightenment has happened, more power to ya’. If it hasn’t, it might be useful to alter slightly Suzuki Roshi’s saying about enlightenment being “accidental”: “Sudden enlightenment may be an accident, but spiritual practice makes you accident-prone”.

  32. “Shen-hsiu presents the following verse which Hung-jen characterizes as incomplete in understanding.”

    I’m familiar with this dynamic. Evidence of it abounds.

    A offers an opinion of something. B deems it to be incomplete or off the mark. The names may change, but the dynamic is a familiar one. It even surfaces its head, on occasion, within the hallowed walls of batgap.

    Which is why almost all of my observations, that I share, issue forth from personal experience. More than any opinion of someone else’s opinion.

    And which is also why I much more enjoy sharing our personal experiences, than our opinions of other people’s opinions.

  33. “Hey, if sudden enlightenment has happened, more power to ya’

    What did someone say, exactly, that prompted you to conclude that “sudden enlightenment” may have happened to him, Rick?

  34. A offers an opinion of something. B deems it to be incomplete or off the mark. The names may change, but the dynamic is a familiar one. It even surfaces its head, on occasion, within the hallowed walls of batgap.

    Which is why almost all of my observations, that I share, issue forth from personal experience. More than any opinion of someone else’s opinion.
    —————————

    Well, let me say that Hui-neng’s verse is also my personal observation. How about now?

  35. “What did someone say, exactly, that prompted you to conclude that “sudden enlightenment” may have happened to him, Rick?”

    Well, I presume that if someone is presenting arguments in favor of sudden enlightenment vs. the progressive path, they are arguing based on their experience. If they’re not, then sudden enlightenment may be easier said than done. Might as well kill time with the progressive path until it happens.

  36. “Well, I presume that if someone is presenting arguments in favor of sudden enlightenment vs. the progressive path….”

    Can you point to which specific words, that someone uttered, which you are construing as an argument in favor of sudden enlightenment?

    I’m failing to see ’em. Can you help me out?

  37. Read Brian’s two posts at the top of this page. He states ” I think that the next step is to investigate things and recognize them to be the awareness itself. I find that it is not difficult at all. When it is recognized that there never is any other thing than awareness, the need to let go of something in order to stay with awareness just naturally falls away by itself…” In his next post, he offers two views: one advocating the progressive approach. The other refuting it.

  38. “Well, let me say that Hui-neng’s verse is also my personal observation. How about now?”

    Are you referring to Hui-neng’s opinion of Shen-hsiu’s opinion? That it is incomplete in understanding?

    If so, then my response is generally the same… concerning anyone’s opinion about anyone else’s opinion: it’s entertaining at best.

    I’d rather hear about personal observations which come from personal experience.

  39. Thanks, Rick. I now have a better idea of what prompted you to say what you said.

    I don’t see it as an advancement of “sudden enlightenment, however.

    Chiefly because when he says this…

    “I think that the next step is to investigate things and recognize them to be the awareness itself”…

    investigation requires effort…

    and effort is a mainstay of progress.

    Thanks again.

  40. yes ,we all have our own way, which is revealed in the silence of the heart. The mind wants to have it all figured out, but there are no rules to this play. If the ego-mind thinks it has understood, it’s deluded.
    In response to Brian’s comment on using meditation as a means to let go (which he disareed)- it seems there is a misunderstanding, or maybe i wasn’t specific.
    The letting go comes from awareness. Ego can’t let go, it’s illusion. The letting go comes from seeing through any attempt to”do”, to acquire an imagined state of awakening, enlightenment or anything else the ego comes up with (which is infinite). This also includes letting go of ego’s buying into ANY belief or opinion AT ALL!!!!!!
    When these attempts are seen, then awareness can let go of the whole ball of wax. again and again.

  41. I’d love to see this kind of back and forth discussion, amongst more than just two participants, in a Skype format.

    One-on-one interviews are cool, but…

    roundtable discussion have their own unique pluses.

  42. “Well, let me say that Hui-neng’s verse is also my personal observation. How about now?”

    Are you referring to Hui-neng’s opinion of Shen-hsiu’s opinion? That it is incomplete in understanding?

    ——————————————-

    No mate, I am referring to the fact that after investigation I cannot find the stand of the mirror and the room for the dust, if you know what I mean. I investigated with effort until I found that the effort is awareness itself.

  43. “I’d love to see this kind of back and forth discussion, amongst more than just two participants, in a Skype format.”

    Skype does have multi-user video now, but my recording software doesn’t support it. I may do the Robert Augustus Masters interview with two friends sitting with me who led a study group on his book. So there would be four participants in that discussion.

  44. I’l bet your recording software will support such a discussion if it were conducted in audio format only.

    Did I win or lose this bet?

    If this is the case, don’t your preference for video deny an audio expression of such a format.

  45. Maybe some software, but not Vodburner, which I’ve been using. Video opens it up to a much wider audience – YouTube and Facebook.

  46. Thanks for the clarification, Brian. And for honoring my confusion by addressing it.

    “I investigated with effort until I found that the effort is awareness itself.”

    Does this effort include effort that is progress-oriented and progress-based? Are they manifestations of awareness as well?

    If so, why differentiate between effort if they all are manifestations of awareness?

    Thanks again.

  47. Does this effort include effort that is progress-oriented and progress-based? Are they manifestations of awareness as well?

    If so, why differentiate between effort if they all are manifestations of awareness?

    ——————————–
    Look at any thing (effort, progress, differentiation, manifestation…) – it is all an object of perception. But we do not interact directly with these objects. All we have is our knowledge of them. We are not aware directly of things, we are aware of our knowledge of them. So things themselves actually never come into play, it is all just a knowledge that we experience…

    It is experience that must prove anything. Since objects are not experienced, they are nonexistent as such. Sound and form do not come into one’s experience. Only their knowledge may be said to form the content of experience. Therefore, relying on experience, one can say that there is knowledge of a world, not that a world exists. Can there be knowledge of a world when there is no world? No. Therefore, it is not even a knowledge of a world that is experienced, but only mere knowledge. It is clear from this that what is called world is only knowledge itself (consciousness).

    Is this true in your experience?

  48. Damn, people! With all your meditations, philosophy classes and enlightened experiences, can’t you spell or punctuate correctly?
    Your arguments appear more Beavis & Butthead like when yu spel and tipe lyk thiz.

  49. “But we do not interact directly with these objects. All we have is our knowledge of them. We are not aware directly of things, we are aware of our knowledge of them. So things themselves actually never come into play, it is all just a knowledge that we experience….”

    “Is this true in your experience?”

    I’m not sure. Here’s what my experience has unveiled to me, thus far. You can tell me if it aligns with yours.

    The only perceptions that I, as a dream-based action figure (thanks, Paul H.), can have are dream based ones. Which means that The Dream boundaries all of my perceptions, as long as I perceive them as a dream-based action figure.

    I experience this both with my eyes open and closed.

    When I close my eyes and sleep, I often lucidly dream my dreams. Meaning that I am aware that I am dreaming, and that the dream-based action figure of me is perceiving whatever he is perceiving within the boundaries of The Dream.

    The same lucid living of my dreams occur when my eyes are open.

    Not all the time, mind. But certainly an increasing number of times.

    Does this experience of mine pretty much align with yours?

  50. Peter, I don’t really think like that. To me, dream and reality cannot exist by themselves, they depend on each other for their existence. How can I then prefer one over the other? You cannot think “dream” unless you know what “reality” means and vice versa.

    Also it is enough for me to say that perceptions are dream-based and let them be… I like to see them as my self, the awareness. By perceptions I mean everything knowable – every experience including Dream, Reality, action figures…

  51. The complementary opposite to “dream” is not “reality” for me, Brian. That is why I do not use the latter descriptor when using the former.

    Real/not real are each other’s complementary opposites. But the complementary opposite to dream is not dream. And both dreams and not dreams are real.

    When I lucidly dream, I have a strong sense that I am viewing an apparition. An appearance with a story line that appears and disappears.

    The same holds true when I my eyes are open.

    Whether my eyes are closed or open. I FEEL everything that I (ap)perceive to be apparitions or appearances. Always changing, and always appearing and dis-appearing.

    And since I, too, am an apparition or appearance, I can only detect other apparitions/appearances. It is the built in constraint of perceiving everything outside and within me… as an apparition/appearance.

  52. “And since I, too, am an apparition or appearance, I can only detect other apparitions/appearances. It is the built in constraint of perceiving everything outside and within me… as an apparition/appearance.”
    ——————————

    Since I am awareness, I can only detect myself…

  53. *continues to swap personal experiences with his dance partner here*

    Your “I am awareness” is my “the apparition of me is the apparition of awareness”

    Since whenever you are (ap)perceiving as an I (an apparition), you can only (ap)perceive other apparitions.

    Including the apparition of awareness.

  54. I think Atmananda sums it up nicely:

    246. EXPERIENCE – WHAT IS ITS SIGNIFICANCE AND GOAL? (209)

    The fact that you experience needs no proof. But the mistake is made only in specifying the objects of experience. What is it that you experience?

    The progress from the illusion of the world to pure objectless experience is usually made in three distinct stages.

    1. The first and the lowest is that you experience the world or objects. But this is easily disproved since no object can be experienced as such.
    2. The next stage is that you experience the knowledge of the object. This also becomes impossible, since there cannot be any knowledge of an object whose existence cannot be proved by experience.
    3. The last and the real stage is that you experience only pure, objectless knowledge, or the Atma itself, or experience itself.

    So in every experience, objective or otherwise, it is only this pure knowledge or the ‘I’-principle that is really experienced. This experience is my real nature. It expresses itself in all the activities of the mind, senses and body.

    But the word ‘experience’ is indiscriminately and wrongly used in connection with all the activities of the non-atma, and called ‘experiences’ of the mind, senses and body. This makes one forget the real nature of experience or Self. And out of this forgetfulness of the Reality springs up world of objects.

    If you forget the real nature of experience and then view the realm of the mind and body as such, everything there will appear independent and real. But if you look at everything without forgetting the real nature of your experience, everything will appear to be nothing other than Experience itself.

    There is a saying that ‘The damsel of maya never dares to appear before anyone who knows her.’ Likewise, objects will never appear as objects, to one who knows them to be real experience or Atma alone.

    from http://www.heartofnow.com/files/Notes_Spiritual_Discourses.pdf

  55. Again, Brian… and speaking only from my own personal experience and not from someone else’s opinion of it of the matter…

    the apparition of a separate and individual me (subject) can only (ap)perceive other apparitions (objects).

    As long as you are (ap)perceining as an apparition, you can only (ap)perceive other apparitions.

    As for A’s assertion that “this experience is my real nature”, I am reminded that it is made by the apparition of A. Which reveals the assertion to be just another apparition as well.

  56. Well, sometimes it happens that someone else’s opinion is identical with my personal experience…

  57. And sometimes it happens that we gauge the authority and legitimacy of our own personal experiences.. with the external standard of someone else’s opinion.

    I.e. “I am experiencing X. I wonder what Y has to say about it.”

    Caution: Potential deification of another person’s opinion may be afoot here. At the expense of trusting in our own interpretation.

  58. It may be helpful, snowleopard, to remember that the exerciser/implementer of the effort to let go… is also an apparition.

    And that whatever result issues from the effort of letting go… is also an apparition.

    Since the exerciser/implementer of that effort is an apparition as well.

    Know what I mean, jellybean?

  59. Ok, back to the topic:

    Peter: Your “I am awareness” is my “the apparition of me is the apparition of awareness”

    Here I don’t like the duality between apparition and awareness. It’s probably just words, but in that case the distinction seems unneccessary. I like it as simple as possible 🙂

    Peter: Since whenever you are (ap)perceiving as an I (an apparition), you can only (ap)perceive other apparitions.

    I guess my problem with this statement is that I don’t see how an apparition can perceive. I would say that awareness perceives. But yes, if you think of yourself as an object (the dream-based action figure or whatever), you see only other objects. When you think of yourself as an idea, your world is the world of ideas. And finally, when you know yourself to be the awareness, there can be no duality.

  60. U.G. is far from dry, dude. Try reading this:

    “Enlightenment (if there is any such thing as enlightenment) is not an experience at all. So, this dawns on you – this realization (if you want to put it that way) that there is nothing to realize. Self-knowledge or self-realization is to realize for yourself and by yourself that there is no self to realize. That is going to be a shattering blow.”

    “This question haunted me all my life and suddenly it hit me: ‘There is no self to realize. What the hell have I been doing all this time?’ You see, that hits you like lightning. Once that hits you, the whole mechanism of the body that is controlled by this thought is shattered. What is left is the tremendous living organism with an intelligence of its own. What you are left with is the pulse, the beat and the throb of life.”

    “It is not something that you can do through any effort, will or volition of yours. It has to be a miracle. Whatever has happened to me has happened despite everything I did. In fact, everything I did only blocked it. It prevented the possibility of whatever was there to express itself. Not that I have gained anything. Only what is there is able to express itself without any hindrance, without any constraints or restraints imposed on it by society for its own reasons, for its own continuity and stability.”

    “The search is inevitable and is an integral part of it. That is why it has turned us all into neurotics and has created this duality for us. You see, ambition is a reality, competition is a reality. But you have superimposed on that reality the idea that you should not be ambitious. It has turned us all into neurotic individuals. We want two things at the same time.” “It dawned on me, ‘There is nothing to understand.’ When this happened, it hit me like a shaft of lightning. From then on, the very demand to understand anything was over. That understanding is the one that is expressing itself now. And it cannot be used as an instrument to guide, direct or help me, you or anybody.”

    “And what you are trying to get you can never get, because there is nothing to get.” “There is no need for me to say you’re not going to get what you want from anyone else either. That you will find out by yourself. But that you can’t do either by your own effort or by your volition or by anything you do or do not do. That is not something that happens in the field of cause and effect.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U._G._Krishnamurti

  61. Our dis-comforts cam reveal a lot more about our attachments than our comforts.

    If I am dis-comforted by someone’s words or the manner in which they are expressed, chances are there is an attachment, of some form or another, being played out.

  62. hi friends,
    yes. attachments are huge! they create so many ways to get hung up.
    what am i attached to in this moment? is there any idea that the ego is holding on to? we can usually feel attachments in the body; they feel yucky!

  63. Ideological resonance/dissonance can be an interesting arena to detect attachments as well.

    How do I re-act when I feel dissonance with someone’s perspective on a particular issue? And how do I re-act when I feel resonance?

    The attachment to resonance, and its complementary aversion to dissonance, can be fertile ground for self-inquiry.

  64. very fertile ground. it’s almost as if the attachments have within themselves a doorway for inquiry.
    because we all know that idealogical resonance is imaginary, and fleeting.
    true connection with this moment can only happen when our own inquiry stays within our own experience. i like to say we never go past the tip of our own nose. the whole universe is within, and any straying outward is a good sign of an attachment trying to establish itself.

  65. “I like to say we never go past the tip of our own nose. the whole universe is within, and any straying outward is a good sign of an attachment trying to establish itself.”

    I understand what you are saying here, and it’s an easy observation to appreciate. But I’m not as critical of “straying outward” as you might be.

    The outward is the inward, and vica versa, I’ve discovered. It’s not the direction that matters that much. It’s HOW we move in any direction.

    What is the quality of my attention as I direct it inward? And what is it’s quality as I direct it outward?

    The quality of your attention will strongly influence what you perceive. Regardless if the direction is inward or outward.

  66. “Letting go” is an interesting notion. It’s certainly a popular one in many spiritual/new age/psychological circles, to be sure. But it can mean different things to different people.

    May I ask what you mean by letting go, snowleopard?

  67. peter, yes, thank you for clarifying this. it is about the quality of the attention.

    Because attention can move in an outward direction. no problem whatsoever in that.

    but what follows the direction is what we need to be aware of.

  68. As far as letting go, Atmananda’s approach works for me quite well, since there is no effort required, it’s just kind of a reminder:

    146. HOW TO GET OVER ATTACHMENT?
    Even when you say you are attached, you are really detached. From the height of happiness or misery in one state, you pass into its opposite in another state in the course of a few moments; and vice versa. And soon after, you pass into deep sleep, divorced of all ideas of body, senses and mind. This shows beyond doubt that you are really unattached to anything, in any state. If you are really attached to anything, that attachment should continue with you, in all the states in which you happen to be. But that is not the case. Therefore, that proves that in your real nature, you are not attached. Know it and take note of it. That is all that is needed. Take that line of thinking, and you will find that this mistaken notion of attachment will leave you very soon.

  69. Instead of switching attention from relative to absolute, I would highly recommend investigating the nature of relative. Once you see it as nothing but absolute, then it won’t matter where you place your attention anymore… Let the two places be re-cognized as one without a second 🙂

  70. “I’m not sure what you mean by quality of attention, Peter, but the only thing that influences what we perceive is where our attention is placed.” – Steve

    There is a certain quality of attention, Steve, where everything and everyone that you perceive is FELT to be you. It’s a quality of attention that perceives no separation between you and whatever it is placed on.

    The experience of separation, I’ve discovered, is a function of a certain quality of attention. Change the quality of attention, and you change your experience of separation or apartness.

    And it matters not where you place your attention either. Inward or outward, all that you perceive is FELT to be you.

    P.S. I capitalized FELT because attention has a certain vibration or FEEL to it. But don’t believe that just because I assert it to be so. Place your attention on your attention and see what happens.

  71. I can FEEL that you FELT it on more than one occasion, snowleopard. Even if you never stated that you have. 🙂

    Attention is Awareness’ siamese twin. The quality of the former affects your experience of the latter.

  72. Peter,

    This “feeling” of awareness, is what i was alluding to earlier, when i wrote how all experience of “life” takes place on the “inside”, or “not past the tip of our nose”

    what we percieve on the outside, we feel on the inside. how we feel it is a direct indicator on what is intepreting the perception. Is it Presence or illusion?

    words are almost as slippery as the illusion itself!

  73. Then it also it may be fun to recall past events when I felt miserably and separated/attached, just to gain conviction that even then my real nature was really free, no matter the circumstances/feelings… You eventually get to a point when you don’t need to rely on feeling to tell you something or indicate the status – you gain full conviction in nonseparation at all times 🙂

  74. “Would it be safe to say it’s the ‘not two’ attention?”

    Someone once asked me to come up with some words to describe the quality of attention that I alluded to earlier, chuckee. And the only words that I could create were… “I am That”. Which essentially conveys the absence of separation.

    If “not two” works for you, I can easily dance to that.

  75. Yeah, it is a great practice to take note of the absence of any perception before and after it is perceived. Soon enough it becomes very clear that perception is not present even at the time of perceiving.

  76. If I may resurface a metaphor that I am particularly fond of, Steve: waves/Ocean.

    Real/not real is the language of wavedom. Anytime distinctions are drawn (including real/not real, true/not true), the manifestation of wavedom is supported. This is not a good/bad thing or a desirable/undesirable thing, of course; unless you perceive it as such, then wavedom is further supported.

    “I am this, not that”, is basically the language of wavedom. Enlightened/enlightened, awakened/not awakened, etc. included.

    Wavedom (or what some people call duality) is essentially the state of distinction or differentiation. While Oceaness is the absence of distinction, or undifferentiation.

    A famous man, that they built churches around, once said: “be in it, but not of it.” Within the context of the waves/Ocean metaphor, I have dis-covered that this means: while occupying a differentiated space suit (body/mind), perceive everything without differentiation (and it’s fruit of separation).

    And yes, that includes thoughts of “this is true and that is false”, “this is real and that is not”, etc.

    “I am this and that and that, etc.” is the one thought, I’ve discovered, that dis-creates the experience of differentiation/separation more than any other thought. Not that you should hang your hat on any particular thought, mind you. Just sayin’.

  77. A complement to the waves/Ocean metaphor that I raised earlier:

    “A myriad bubbles were floating on the surface of a stream.

    ‘What are you?’ I cried to them as they drifted by.

    ‘I am a bubble, of course’ nearly a myriad bubbles answered, and there was surprise and indignation in their voices as they passed.

    But, here and there, a lonely bubble answered,
    ‘We are this stream’, and there was neither surprise nor indignation in their voices, but just a quiet certitude.”

    Wei Wu Wei

  78. “The only purpose for distinguishing the real from the unreal is to point us to what we are – what always is.”

    Then I invite you to try “letting go” (to use one of snowleopard’s fav terms) of distinguishing what is real from what is not for a time… as well as other related differentiations (what is true from what isn’t, what is illusory from what isn’t, etc.).

    You may end up FEELing the essence of all differentiating waves. the undifferentiating Ocean. FEELing not as waves do, but in another difficult-to-describe manner.

    Difficult to describe because description, itself, is an act of differentiation.

  79. I don’t mind. I wish I had the time to keep up with these conversations, but I’m glad you’re having them – tunes included. Two more interesting interviews conducted this weekend. Should be up soon. (Teaser – the first one was raised in the Ku Klux Klan).

  80. hi everyone… haven’t had a chance to watch Joi yet… but from comments sure i will enjoy it… turning out to be a nice thread… seemingly with looser attachments… thanks everyone…

    for me seeing Amma is a welcome break from all the “philosophising”…

    below is part of email i sent to a friend several days ago about seeing Amma… in Reston VA… which is over and now Amma is in Boston area … but this will give you a idea what Amma’s programs are like… at least the outer appearance …

    Amma the hugging saint will be hugging several thousand people during a two day FREE public program… (Reston Va)

    spend up to 30 hrs in her energy field… get a hug… listen to swamis( & others ) divine singing… eat lunch… chat with devotees… volunteer to help out( chop veggies, serve lunch, etc etc ) … meditate… participate in puja ceremony for world peace… watch Amma hug tirelessly for hours… get a world tour DVD… get a mantra from Amma if you wish… donate to charity if you wish… ask Amma a question… listen to swamis and Amma talk a bit( not much )… get a back massage… get a health consultation from volunteering practitioners… and at the very end… after a 12hrs(+/-) all niter… Amma tosses flowers at everyone as they walk by the stage… then gazes at everyone for a few mins… then leaves… and everyone cries( just kidding… not everyone)

    there are 4 programs… 3 about 5 to 7 hrs each…
    and 4th program is all nite anywhere from 10 to 15 hrs straight… depending on how many show up and persevere to get their hug…

    http://www.amma.org/tours/amma-tours/n_america.html

    my wife and i plan to go to Reston VA and then to the Boston area for a 3 day retreat… these programs can be a little overwhelming because of the # of people
    and so much stuff going on all at once… a little bit like a circus… and so like at a circus, each one needs to discriminate and chose wisely… what suits you…

    no need to follow Amma… just follow your heart… if your heart goes to Amma, what can you do… and if it doesn’t what can you do… there seem to be innumerable ways leading to Self-Realization…

    i’m now on FB… http://facebook.com/amarnath.zin.anatol

  81. The beautiful thing about batgap, Tim, is that you have a rich array of entrees on the buffet table for you to choose and try from. Nothing says that you have to commit yourself to a particular entree either. You can always first try an appetizer portion of an entree too.

    What appetizer would I steer you towards, at this juncture of your adventure?

    I believe that you would benefit from a consistent practice of mindfulness mediation. I say this because it appears to me that you have a co-dependent relationship with certain ideas/notions/thoughts about yourself.

    Mindfulness mediation will not replace one set of beliefs with another. Instead, it will address the co-dependency (or stickiness, as I like to say) factor that may exist with certain thoughts or ideas that are glued to your attention like sticky notes.

    Meditation affects one’s quality of attention more than anything else does. Which is why I’d place you in front of the mindfulness plate on the buffet table.

    But only because you asked. 🙂

  82. Tim, I don’t think that looking at trees will help you (unless they are magic trees, of course). What do you find when you try looking at the watcher?

  83. Welcome Gilbert. I was just thinking about you today. I love your show and have listened to every episode and I link to it from the sidebar here. Well done!

    Do you think that everyone who has announced their awakening (Ramana, Nisargadatta, Sailor Bob) is necessarily on an ego trip?

    I’m sure that on some level you’re right – the whole universe is enlightened. But then that makes the word “enlightenment” meaningless. To me, the word pertains to a person who has realized or awoken to their essential nature.

  84. Yeah baby, the famous Reductio ad Hitlerum

    Godwin’s law (also known as Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies or Godwin’s Law of Nazi Analogies)[1][2] is a humorous observation made by Mike Godwin in 1990[2] which has become an Internet adage. It states: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1 (100%).”[3][2] In other words, Godwin put forth the hyperbolic observation that, given enough time, in any online discussion—regardless of topic or scope—someone inevitably criticizes some point made in the discussion by comparing it to beliefs held by Hitler and the Nazis.

  85. Hitler often comes up in discussions because he’s a handy, well-known extreme example. Might as well take it to the extreme. Omnipresence permeated Hitler as fully as It does everything. But the issue at hand is, was Hitler aware of That? It seems to me that if the word “enlightenment” is going to mean anything, it ought to be reserved for those who are Self-realized.

  86. Enlightenment isn’t really relevent if it isn’t realized.

    Like Adya says, ” a fat lot of good it’s going to do for you if you don’t know it.”

    As for myself, i would much rather sit in the presence of a fully enlightened being than someone that has murdered people.”

    We can make all these intellectual statements that only come from an understood concept. But is this truth being lived? Is it recognized as the blazing truth right in front of your eyes? If it’s not, it’s only parrot-talk.

  87. Even Ramana Maharshi had his opinions about Hitla:

    And Ramana seemed unconcerned regarding World War II. He is reported to have once remarked, “Who knows but that Hitler is a Jnani, a divine instrument.” (Chadwick, 35).

    Ramana seemed to believe that a realized person was above ethical obligations of right and wrong. For the jnani there is no good or evil, only spontaneous activity or actionlessactivity of Tao:

    What is right and wrong? There is no standard by which to judge something to be right and another to be wrong. Opinions differ according to the nature of the individual and according to the surroundings. They are again ideas and nothing more. Do not worry about them. But get rid of thoughts. If you always remain in the right, then right will prevail in the world (Talks, 428; Feb. 8, 1938).

    It is this lack of ethical concern for others that was Brunton’s primary criticism of Ramana, and the reason that he chose V. Subrahmanya Iyer as his guru instead of Ramana.

    http://www.arunachala-ramana.org/forum/index.php?PHPSESSID=28bd962d52c0ee27ff920a5d4b84d1fe&topic=6021.0

  88. I think Joi nailed it. As the Tibetan proverb said, “Do not mistake understanding for realization. Do not mistake realization for Liberation.”

  89. “But I always wonder who Gilbert is so mad at?”

    There’s only one of us, right? Can wholeness be mad at itself? Or might there be some holier-than-thouness lingering, which would give rise to arrogance?

  90. I have no problem with the “Pure Intelligence manifesting as Hitler, etc.” point. I’m just sayin’ that if the word “enlightenment” is going to mean anything, it should be reserved for “awakened” (or whatever adjective you prefer) folks.

  91. Probably sleeping with nice looking woman is better
    than this nonduality and its nonfullfulment.

    if as Rick advocates there are many ways to leave
    your lover; I dont know why nondual people dismess
    improving the world-
    one of the people who lead in that area and my
    hero is Bucky Fuller:
    Fuller had a complete thoery about why humanity;
    arrived to this point.
    one reason is that christianity in Alexendria burned
    the library of Alexandria which contaned correct
    ideas about the geogrphy of the world –
    the eath was to them revolving around the sun.

    also christianity hocked humans to punichment-
    human learn by trial and erro and that basic instinct
    or tendency was hocked to reward and punchment.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYZdkT8JmQQ

  92. “I dont know why nondual people dismess
    improving the world”

    Hi, Tim. I’m a bit at a loss re. comprehending this statement. Chiefly because I don’t know what you mean by “nondual people”. And I haven’t read or heard anyone, here at batgap, dismiss improving the world… be they nondual or dual or both.

    Nothing “improves the world” better, IMO, then a person’s re-cognition… that there is no separation between him or her… and every other human being. Which there isn’t,. of course.

    Every concept of oneness, enlightenment, awakening, nonduality, etc. is impotent… compared to the potency of re-cognizing every human being… as “I am You.”

    And by re-cognizng I do not mean mental cognition. There is a quality of attention in which you FEEL anyone and everyone to be you.

  93. finally got a chance to catch up and watch this interview… after Amma’s programs…

    thanks Rick… thanks Joi… great interview… especially the last half hour… and the point about “awakening” being just the beginning of real spiritual work… this same point is very clearly taught by Deepakbhai in his Gnan Vidhi program… and i think Jan also emphasized this point…

    and Joi’s warning about the “dangers” of making advaita into a “knowledge” … if i understood correctly…

    one of my advaita teachers seemed to become somewhat less spontaneous after writing a book…

    another one doesn’t have a book or website… and wants to keep it that way… and doesn’t even want to be interviewed … not that this should be a rule for everyone… but i understand and appreciate his caution… and his love & infinite patience…

    of course… there are teachers like Adya, Mooji, Burt Harding… who seem to do quite well with a large popular exposure… yet know that there is no end to “growth” in Love…

    perhaps the way to always be spontaneous is follow Amma’s advice… “always be a beginner”

  94. “There is still something of a small self … some structure of ‘fear”” … as if “not in a trancended state” for there is always one more lesson to learn before it can be said “It is finished” (testilesti). Jesus knew of this. This is why, in fact, he wept tears mixed with blood as he struggled in a final test.

    “We” speaks only of the heavenly. It is the work of the hands as lifted up toward the heavens. It belongs to the mother… and the father bears it up.

    Always watching, always diligent, always bewaring of the light turning into darkness, the left and finding out what the right hand is doing, always being aware of the last bits of known — you are the alignment.

  95. Always watching, always diligent, always bewaring of the light turning into darkness, the left and finding out what the right hand is doing, always being aware of the last bits of known — you are the alignment, always leaving; and, in that you are the presence, the awareness, the love.

  96. Excellent interview…….As she said……..May be realization word should not be used so loosely….may be one can use the term.. “started living in presence” ??? or “started living life by offering my unoccupied and full space to the consciousness to let her flow effortlessly thorough””” so called structure???

    Because its just a first step of further journey??

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