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Nothing to Get, Nothing to Grasp

Enlightenment is not something removed from you, a particular thing you have to get. It’s not something to get an idea of or to figure out. In fact, it can’t be figured out. Nor is enlightenment something hard to experience. You’re experiencing it right now, though you may be ignoring the experience.

–Steve Hagen

Having never left the house you are looking for the way home.

–Nisargadatta Maharaj

The moment you completely accept your non-peace, your non-peace becomes transmuted into peace….This is the miracle of surrender.

– Eckhart Tolle

When you are unhindered by bondage or freedom, this is called liberation of mind and body in all places.

– Pai-chang

As long as we think there is something to get (or something we’ve gotten that we need to hold onto, or identify with, or remain ever-mindful of), we will suffer. When it is recognized that there is literally nothing to get and no one to get it, that is freedom.

This listening-seeing-breathing-sensing-thinking-awaring-being Here / Now is ownerless, limitless, unbound, whole. When the mirage-like illusion of separation and encapsulation is absent, this undeniable present-ness or seamless immediacy is what remains, the ever-changing and ever-present aliveness of Here / Now.

Many words have been used to point to this undivided immediacy, and these word-pointers all have their function, but one pitfall with all of them is that once we have a label (Consciousness, Awareness, Totality, Unicity, Here / Now, Being, the Tao, God, suchness), it immediately seems like something. Whereas what is being pointed to is the freedom of ungraspable groundlessness.

If you try to grasp it, there is nothing to get hold of, for this present-ness is not an object or a particular experience (this but not that). And yet, this groundlessness is unavoidable and inescapable, for it is all there is. Here / Now is no way in particular, for it is ever-changing. In reality, nothing ever forms as a solid, persisting, independent thing apart from everything else. There is no real boundary between inside and outside, between awareness and the content of awareness, between form and emptiness, between the wave and the ocean.

Even the first, bare sense of being present and aware is something that comes and goes. It disappears every night in deep sleep along with everything perceivable and conceivable. So don’t even try to grasp or hold onto any sense or any idea of bare presence or primordial awareness or anything at all. Waking up is truly not about getting something, but rather, it is a relaxing of that grasping movement of the bodymind, an opening of the heart, a dissolving into the ever-present groundlessness of Here / Now.

Waking up is NOW, not yesterday or tomorrow, and it happens to no one, for it is the waking up from the mirage of separation and encapsulation. That mirage can reappear at any moment, and for awhile it can once again seem believable and real, but in simply seeing it clearly for what it is, in recognizing that it, too, is simply another appearance in (and of) the seamlessness of being, and in allowing this present happening to be just as it is, it all dissolves. As Zen teacher Steve Hagen says, “People often think meditation is about driving thoughts out of your mind. But this isn’t meditation at all….You don’t need to annihilate thoughts. Thoughts annihilate themselves, if you’ll let them. They simply fall apart. Everything does.” 

Any concern about whether the mirage of separation has disappeared permanently or temporarily is only meaningful from the stand-point of the mirage itself, the imaginary owner of experience, the phantom “me” who takes the weather of this moment personally, gives it meaning, and wants to vanquish “the bad stuff” forever. But the boundless and seamless vastness of being includes all weather systems, stormy and calm, and in reality, all weather is nothing but ever-changing, seamless flux, falling apart before it ever forms into any solid, separate or continuous thing. None of it is personal. There is no owner of either enlightenment or delusion.

The “me” at the center of the story who seems to be going back and forth between clarity and confusion is the mirage. The all-inclusive emptiness of Here / Now is never not here, even when attention is momentarily absorbed in a movie-story or virtual reality of apparent separation, encapsulation, limitation and lack.

So if there seems to be separation or encapsulation or a feeling of lack, is it possible to allow this to be just as it is? In not resisting whatever appears, in simply seeing it clearly for what it is, it dissolves naturally, for it has no actual reality, no real substance.

But if we are expecting it to dissolve or using “acceptance” it as a strategy to make what we don’t like dissolve, that is not the true acceptance or the absence of resistance that is being pointed to, in which nothing needs to be other than exactly how it is. Any kind of resistance or seeking will only seem to confirm and solidify the apparent reality of the imaginary problem and the apparent reality of the phantom owner who seemingly has the problem. So if resistance or seeking shows up Here / Now, is it possible not to resist resistance or seek an end to seeking? Can even resistance or seeking be allowed to be just as it is? What is it if we don't judge it, label it, or tell a story about it? Can it simply be seen and felt and allowed to unfold and dissolve by itself?  That allowing of everything to be as it is, is actually always already the case. Here / Now IS always allowing everything to be as it is, even resistance and seeking, have you noticed?

In alignment with that simple seeing and allowing that is always already happening, something relaxes and opens. The imaginary problem vanishes into thin air.

No one can tell us how to “do” this kind of unconditional acceptance, for it is more of a not-doing than a doing. This relaxing of the grasping mind can only be discovered. Discovered, allowed, welcomed, invited, noticed. But never forced. This openness is absolutely effortless because it is actually the true nature of reality, the ever-present, all-inclusive groundless ground that is never not here. No-thing at all! Or, everything, just as it is!

And if relaxation doesn’t happen—if there is tension or contraction, then simply be tense. This, too, is the groundless ground showing up as tension. It’s not personal. Without the label and all the ideas about it, how is it to be tense? You may discover it is simply a movement of energy and sensation, an ever-changing appearance with no actual substance.

-- copyright Joan Tollifson 2012 --

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