My friend has done a lot of reading, a lot of surfing, and a lot of talking to people about Nonduality. Maybe a bit too much. I run into this a good bit. As I told him over pancakes and coffee, “My challenge with you is not to teach you anything new, but to unteach you all the stuff you think you already know.” After one long monologue–when his body was reluctantly forced to pause speech in order to breathe–I asked him, “So is that your experience, or is that just your rap?” He burst out laughing and said, “That’s just my rap.” When pushed, he told the truth, which I admire. The truth will set you free, and nothing else will.
I asked him some questions about his actual experience there at the table with me. Like balloons breaking free of their moorings, my friend’s thoughts floated up and up, higher and higher into the lofty realms of what isn’t–and thus totally obscuring his ability to report on What Is. Again and again I pulled him out of pattern, memory and conjecture, and back to the table, back to the here and now, back to me, back into What Is.
At one point we had a significant breakthrough, what I will label here a “jolt.” It’s less than a glimpse, but fiercer than an insight. From my perspective, it was a direct hit against a very charming and cooperative, but totally unwilling target. He didn’t mean to be unwilling; that was all occurring underneath the surface of things; it was all thoroughly out of the character’s control.
At any rate, at one point he just said, “Oh!” I’ve seen that “Oh!” before. The body stopped its relentless contraction, a wave of relaxation shot through it and it slumped. My friend pulled off his glasses, and looked at me with eyes that were now leaking glistening little tears. “How did you do that? Something just broke!” We laughed, sharing an inside joke that neither one of us could explain or retell. However, no more than two minutes later ego pulled itself up, dusted itself off, and my friend’s mouth said, “Okay. Now, let’s get back to the relative.”
I replied, “I don’t know why you’d want to.” But he did want to. That’s the whole point. He wanted to stay in the relative, where although there’s a tremendous amount of suffering happening these days, there is also a sense of utterly false security. “Better the devil you know,” they say. We have to willing to die, not just faint.
A few minutes later he had a second jolt. “You’re killing me,” he said. I told him that was precisely why I’d come to lunch with him. With love in my heart I aim to kill all characters that are foolish enough to sit down at a table with me where the agenda is Nonduality. The body slumped a second time, but ego came right behind that and rebuilt almost instantaneously. It really was amazing to watch.
He would say something essentially nonsensical and completely unrelated to our conversation–anything that might lead me astray–and I would ask him, “Is that true?” Sometimes he would collapse into laughter and say, “No, no, no, no! That’s a line of complete bullshit. It’s not true at all.” At that point I’d thank him for his honesty. At other times he would challenge me with humor, or a ridiculous example, and I would say, “You’re playing. I didn’t come to play.” The airing of truth was enough to dismantle the lie.
At another time, when the staggering boxer was eyeing the comfort of the canvas instead of hanging tough in the ring I said, “This is why we can so rarely really wake up without a teacher.” The mind wants to lead, but the mind can’t lead itself out of the mind. It can happen without a teacher, there are famous examples. I had a pair of large awakenings before I ever had a teacher. But I didn’t really “come out and stay out” until I worked with someone who’d gone before.
To use a Twelve Step recovery example, I used to tell people, in a turn of the old lawyer joke, “The person who’s sponsoring themselves has got a fool for a sponsee.” In that vein, for a long, long time I had a damn fool for a student.
My friend was waking up, right there at the table today. I thought “I had him,” so to speak, when he got that first jolt. That’s usually how it happens. But this overactive personality unwoke itself up immediately. It unwoke itself up after the second jolt, and really throughout our conversation, like gunshots in a crowded bar. Ego did a stellar job for itself. But I did mine fairly well, too, and some cracks were made in the armor; we’ll see what happens next. That’s all any of us can ever do.
FRED DAVIS studied and practiced Eastern wisdom for twenty-five years prior to 2006, when his seeking ended, and his true awakening commenced. He is the creator and editor of Awakening Clarity, and author of Beyond Recovery: Nonduality and the Twelve Steps, which will be published in December by Non-Duality Press. He is also a frequent reviewer of spiritual titles on Amazon. His work has appeared on Advaita Vision and Nonduality Living, and appears frequently in Nondual Highlights. He is very happily married, loves cats, dogs, and birds, and lives as a chiefly ignored hermit deep in the heart of the American South.
Thanks Fred, for your awakening commentary. Check out his excellent and informative site @ http://awakeningclarity.blogspot.ca/
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