Non-duality, Zen, Advaita, Meditation, Enlightenment, Awakening—What's it all about?
It is the dissolution of every answer to that question. Waking up now to the immediacy of woof-woof-woof, cheep-cheep, whoosh-whoosh (the pure sounds, before the labels, of the barking dog, the cheeping bird, the rain or the traffic), colors and shapes, smells and tastes, ever-changing sensations in the body—breathing, heart-beating, tingling—and the open, awake awareness being and beholding it all.
If we put aside everything that can be doubted, what remains? The knowingness of being here and the bare actuality of present experiencing are impossible to doubt. What can be doubted and argued about are all the ideas, interpretations and explanations of this living reality—the abstract maps drawn by conceptual thought—the stories and beliefs.
Can we find an actual boundary in our direct experience where "inside of me" turns into "outside of me," or is the boundary an idea or a mental image like the line on a map between two countries? What do we find if we look inside for the self? Do we find an actual entity, or do we find only ever-changing thoughts, memories, sensations and mental images? What is seeing all of this? Is it possible that—at the deepest level—what we all refer to as “I” is one and the same impersonal, undivided, unconditioned, unborn, boundless, free awareness—this all-inclusive, ever-present Here / Now, which we never actually leave?
Waking up is a simple shift of attention from the thought-sense of encapsulation to the boundlessness in which the person appears and disappears. It is a shift from the primacy of thinking to the primacy of awaring, sensing and perceiving; from being lost in storylines and imagination to the felt-sense of presence; from identifying as “me” to recognizing that “I” am the awareness in which the bodymind and all the movies, stories, thoughts and sensations appear and disappear.
Pain is an unavoidable part of life, but suffering can be optional. Suffering is what we do with pain and painful circumstances—thoughts and beliefs, false ideas of limitation and identity, ways we resist what is and seek happiness in all the wrong places. In order to access the power to choose freedom over suffering, we must discover how we do our suffering and what is at the root. What exactly happens when we get triggered, when our buttons are pushed, when we get defensive or feel hurt, angry, upset or afraid? What are we defending or avoiding? And equally importantly, what is beholding this entire drama?
The deep longing of the heart will not be satisfied by intellectual explanations, beliefs or philosophies. What we long for is not "out there" somewhere. It is right here at the very core of our being. That which we truly are is unconditional love, pure awareness, no "thing" at all. This has never been absent, although it may have been overlooked. The so-called awakening journey is a never-ending, present moment, pathless path that involves seeing through delusion, opening the Heart-Mind, and dissolving into the Beloved—the groundlessness, the aliveness, the sacredness that is right here, right now.