“Who am I, and in what really do I consist?
What is this cage of suffering?”
~ Jayakhya Samhita, Verse 5.7
Why is it so difficult to recognise something that’s staring us in the face? The distance is always so short between our worse moments of separation and the full recognition of the truth of our being. The tiniest, softest change of focus can either show you a world made of infinite space or throw you into an abyss of tortured thinking. When we stand in the apparent coziness of our false beliefs, we seem to be ages away from any kind of understanding. We feel that no amount of effort will ever bring us into the light. We might as well give up. This is the road towards self-indulgence and sorrow. We think that the burden is too big, the effort required out of reach. No. It’s never like that. We are an infinitesimal move away from the light. No effort is even required. Something of a relaxation. A so slight change of focus that it seems no move at all. It’s here already, waiting for our humbleness.
Once you’re in the presence, the sheer size and obviousness of it is so overwhelming that it seems in turn impossible to move away from it. But we’re too busy, too eager to make a move, to bring a contribution to sustain ourselves – as if presence needed anything to sustain itself! So we lose it. Again and again. We are such fragile, uncertain things! Fluttering away at the slightest disturbance as if our being was anything that could be moved or easily stamped upon. It is not. This fake part of ourselves, no matter how convincing it may appear to be, has the width and consistency of a single, lonely thought. So this need not to be named ’convincing’ or anything else. For how can a non existent thing have any sustainable qualities. It is like a ghost battling his wings in order to take our attention away from the everlasting grounds. The rock like solidity is right here, for us to see, feel, abide in. For us to be. This is what we are. All that is needed is a displacement of attention. It never was difficult to recognise what’s staring us in the face.
I understand: we want security. We are like a little bird that refuses to jump off the nest before it is certain it can fly. We prefer the familiarity and certainty of the known even though it is thorn infested in last analysis. Even our moments of opening are lived with a foot in our previous position of separation: clapping our achievement, but ready to flee back to the illusory comfort of separation. We prefer the certainty of suffering over the uncertainty of bliss, the comfort of our lie over the precariousness of truth, the solace of habit over the freshness at every moment of our life. Our separate self has the power of a stubborn child fighting against the evidence. We don’t want to be wronged. We want to be reassured and told that it is difficult rather than facing the fact that it is easier than easy. What is worth trusting? The effort contained in stubbornness or the letting go that springs out of evidence? The nestling never fails to discard its falsely secure nest and trust its wings flapping securely on the dense air. It knows that with each of its wings flapping, the residues of its previous fears and attachment will gradually dissolve and disappear. What is left is utter freedom and the thrill of happiness. Let’s have trust, the pull from truth – which is our nature – will finally win the game. It never was difficult to recognise what’s staring us in the face.
The answer to our question seems now simple: the separate self, which is not an entity but an illusory self born out of the activity of thinking and feeling, is in the way. So we have to expose it. To expose it everywhere, all the time, so that it can’t find a place to rest. If you leave it alone, it will grow and thrive. “Where are you going?” “Why have you come uninvited?” “Do you even exist?” We will find plenty of evidence of its presence in our thoughts. There we will recognise it easily. It has strange ideas. It thinks it is unhappy. It needs all sorts of things because it wants to be aggrandised. It is restless, always fiddling with one thing or another. We will find it in our feelings too, where it hides behind every expression of fear, hate, anger, sorrow, regret. But don’t expose every single feeling, for some of them deserve only your loving care. We will find separation in the body too, through the way we seat, walk, or when our shoulders are suddenly discovered to be tense or crooked. We will find expressions of our separateness in the world, when this one is found to be dull, lacking beauty or interest. The world is never dull, it has beauty, infinity, eternity woven in its very fabric. And it is loving too. A loving world! It never was difficult to recognise what’s staring us in the face.
If we expose the separate self often enough, consistently enough, if we expose it in all its expressions, then it will reveal the consciousness shining behind – or mixed with – every cumbersome thought, every overwhelming feeling. But don’t forget to unmask the one who is busy exposing separation too, he too has an agenda. Always keep in mind that the little self is cunning, that it can take many disguises. So expose it lightly, only noticing, never correcting or judging. This is how choiceless awareness behaves, or is. Krishnamurti often said: “Observe! Be alert!” Alertness does’t belong to the illusory self, who is too one-pointed, lacking scope, and tends to be lazy – to say the least – when it comes to revealing truth. And don’t always be so active in exposing the illusory self. Sometimes just rest in the peace you have found. Stay there, get impregnated. Rejoice in your own glorious self. Notice how the sense of separation does not come when you so rest in the presence. Leave the separate self completely alone. Then let it die of its natural death. It never was difficult to recognise what’s staring us in the face.
Text and photos by Alain Joly
– Reveries into Oneness
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