Metta: Ron, if you are ready, we can go ahead and begin.
Ron: I decided to form my question from this space...not something I have been thinking on all weekend. So, the question is about memory: Is it necessary to have a good memory for this process to go forward naturally, or does it matter at all?
Metta: Necessary for what process to go forward?
Ron: The process of being with emotion-backed memory.
Metta: I'm not sure I understand what process you are describing, Ron. I don't mean to be obtuse, but could you expand a little?
Ron: Me obtuse....When abiding with whatever comes up, I know that areas of my past are lost due to a faulty memory.
Metta: Sure. What you're describing is a reference to the content of consciousness which is subject to the vicissitudes of aging, etc. Awareness is the background against which this occurs. Loss of memory may well be frustrating at the level of consciousness and thought.
Ron: I want to clear everything, but maybe lots is missing.
Metta: What do you want "to clear"?
Ron: The stuff of persistent emotive feelings of shame...the stuff that I formerly slammed the door on.
Metta: Ah....Let me see if I can restate then: "Stuff" from the past impinges on the present. You'd like to be clear/rid of it. Correct so far?
Ron: No, not rid of it....just disappear it as a reaction.
Metta: So, you just want to eliminate the reactions to stuff from the past, is that it?
Metta: Ok. First question, just for context: Did you see my response in our forum to your question regarding shame, in particular?
Metta: Ok. Then just to pick up a loose end before moving forward: If "stuff" falls out of memory it this a problem, in relation to this reaction dynamic?
Ron: It's a physical problem. I saw the post, but have only a vague memory of reading it.
Metta: Ok. So the question then for you is the same one for the rest of us: With what do we identify? If we identify with the past, and with the beliefs we hold about ourselves in the past, then past "stuff" has the power to push present buttons. In the same way, if we identify with the condition of the mind, with or without a keen memory, that can also push a present button. Does this make sense?
Ron: I see.
Metta: Yes. There are a huge range of potential identities to which we can attach energy. The most familiar ones come from the past, our immediate surroundings and our present circumstances. But, in the end, all these identifications are simply an overlay on top of the most fundamental aspect of who we are: clear, unobstructed Awareness.
This Awareness is immediately recognizable when you look inside. It shows up as: "I am aware now." THIS is a close as we can come to saying who/what we are. Everything else is just an addition to, an embellishment on our basic given condition.
Can you sense this: "I am aware now"?
Metta: Good. And does it not feel completely immediate, very real, and very alert?
Ron: Yes, it does.
Metta: Exactly! This is the exquisite, simple beauty of Awareness. There's no doubt about it, is there? Do you doubt that "I am aware now?"
Metta: Exactly. Is this Awareness clouded by anything? Or, is it present in the midst of everything?
Ron: I see what you are saying: even my concerns about my memory are within Awareness.
Metta: Exactly!!! Yes, Ron, Awareness is the container for all our experiences, and memories, and lapses thereof. (Smiling)
How does it feel, Ron, to settle into the simplicity of "I am aware now," without any other adornments or additions?
Ron: And, not remembering to be aware?
Metta: You tell me.
Ron: "Sometimes I sets and thinks and sometimes I just sits." -- Satchel Paige
Metta: (Smiling) Beautifully said, Ron! All the while sitting, all the while Aware, sometimes with a thought (and with remembering), sometimes without, Awareness is always there.
What now, Ron?
Ron: Space between my ears, Metta....Maybe you should ask me something.
Metta: (Smiling) What a good space to be in, isn't it?! You know and recognize it as "headlessness", no? (This is a reference to Douglas Harding's description of clear seeing Awareness.)
Ron: It actually is no more running commentary.
Metta: Then, what is the difference for you, Ron, between headlessness, "no more running commentary" and Awareness?
Ron: It's all the same, isn't it?
Metta: (Smiling) For me it is. In my experience, there are occasional lapses in the running commentary, but not too often. However, the commentary always occurs against the background of this clear, silent Seeing. For me, and I suspect for most of us, there is no escaping it. As far as asking you a question, now none may be needed. Is that a possibility?
Metta: Such satisfaction....Thank you, dear Ron! You dove right in, and what a delightful splash!
Ron: Thank you, dear Metta.
Metta: I'm willing to sit with you a bit more, Ron, if you wish, or we can open up now to questions.
Ron: No, it's ok.
Metta: Alright. Victor? Any reflections and/or questions for me, or for Ron?
Victor: First question: How do we stay present in awareness while using the thinking mind?
Metta: How can you not?
Victor: Yeah, but we normally are distracted when we think.
Metta: The mind is normally distracted by what we think. Awareness is not. The question, again, is: With which do you identify? Remember, the contents of consciousness appear and move against the clear, pure surface of Awareness. Without Awareness, we would not be -- could not be -- cognizant of the contents of distracting thoughts.
Victor: Staying present in the mirror of Awareness, then thoughts technical or otherwise merely rise and go away?
Metta: Absolutely! Shadows moving across a mirror. The mirror remains clean and clear, regardless.
Victor: And, we merely notice them?
Metta: Exactly! Sometimes we even get distracted by them! And that's all part of the process.
Victor: Thoughts could be emotions, anger, bliss etc.
Metta: Yes! Very good point, Victor. When I talk about the "content of consciousness," I include anything that moves within our internal field of Awareness: thought, emotion, etc.
Bliss too! Very good point! Epiphanies do come and go.
Victor: So when we are disturbed, we are only disturbed within the mind -- not within Awareness?
Metta: Yes! Exactly. Awareness remains pure, unperturbed and undisturbed. And, it's much easier to cope with the perturbations and the disturbances when we recognize that that is only very small part of who/what we really are.
Victor: It's so simple, it makes you laugh because you didn't recognize this years ago?
Metta: Absolutely! How delightful! Do you remember the Four Faults I mentioned in our forum? There are 4 reasons we don't recognize this:
Victor: Yep, Kalu Rinpoche.
Metta: (Yes, thank you.)
I also love what Thich Nhat Hanh says: he likens this to searching for a key for hours on end, and then suddenly discovering that has been in your pocket all along! We laugh, and we feel silly, even.
One more story: There's a marvelous Zen tale about a student asking his teacher: "How did you feel when you had this experience of satori (or sudden realization)? His reply: "Embarrassed."
Victor: Mullah Nasruddin searches for the key in the wrong place!
Metta: Please tell me more.
Victor: As do we. This is a Sufi story.
Metta: Yes. Thank you, Victor. Did you have a 2nd question?
Victor: I'll stop.
Metta: Thank you, Victor, very much.
Metta: John? Any reflections and/or questions?
Metta: Please continue.
John: Does Awareness grow? I feel limited in what I am aware of.
Metta: Good question! Are you familiar, John, with the references I've been making to the contents of consciousness, and the background of Awareness? I discuss this distinction in a few of my reflections on the AIA site. More specifically, I make a distinction between Awareness and consciousness.
John: I follow the background of Awareness underneath thoughts, feelings, etc., but not between Awareness and consciousness.
Metta: OK. The way I use this language, consciousness is limited. It can grow, change, even "evolve," if you will. However, ultimately, it is limited. Awareness, on the other hand, as I experience it does not have an edge. It is vast, limitless. I cannot see/experience anything beyond or outside of it.
So my direct answer to your question is: Awareness does not grow because it is already vast. The limitations we experience are simply the limitations of consciousness within the field of Awareness.
John: Your distinction escapes me at this time.
Metta: Ok. Let me come at this another way. There was a lingering thought I wanted to share anyway, so this will provide that opportunity.
For me this is important: all that can show up in the field of Awareness are finite things. We cannot see/experience/be conscious of the Infinite directly, except as it shows up in/through the finite. So, it is perfectly natural that our consciousness should feel/seem limited. It is only one aspect, one manifestation of the Infinite.
My sense of self (small "s") feels contained within a body, and I don't know what it is like, John, to see out of your eyes, or to have the consciousness of a rock or of a star. In that sense, consciousness is naturally limited.
And, at the same time I have not yet found the limits of the field (Awareness) within which this consciousness appears.
Metta: Do you want to try your question another way, John?
John: As you have said, we have a common experience of 'I am', so you do know in a sense what it is to see out of my eyes.
Metta: (Smiling) That, I do. Very good point! This is the Awareness we share in common -- in contrast to the consciousness that is limited. Thank you, John!
John: But, I am not satisfied with my sense of clear awareness as being all there is.
Metta: Ah....What more do you want there to be, John? There is Awareness, and there is the Infinite showing up in and through it. What else would you like to have?
John: Once I had an experience that I was engulfed in love. I took it that God loved me. I liked that.
Metta: (Smiling) No doubt! Sounds good to me! Do you want that experience again?
Metta: Experiences come and go. This is a simple fact of life. And yet, love....There is so much to discover about how it moves through our experiences, no?
John: "Infinite showing up in and through Awareness"?
Metta: Yes, I want to reply here, John, and I am also aware that we have 2-3 more questions pending....My short answer is that I think Life is a miraculous experience of love continuously being made manifest in and through finite form....That what we are experiencing here is love in it's most grand and magnificent form....And it shows up in this field of Awareness: "I am aware now." So much is showing up....Eventually, with a shift in perspective, it all looks like love....being engulfed in and by it.
Can this hold us for now? At least until our session with you on Wednesday?
Metta: Thanks, John. I appreciate your patience with the constraints on our time.
Christiana? Did you have any reflections/questions you'd like to share?
Christiana: Ok...Metta, this may segue with what you just said, and it may also be too big for this time frame, but this is a question on my heart today.
Metta: Certainly. Please continue....
Christiana: As you know, I've lived all of my life with a sense of a guiding Presence. I sometimes struggle with the notion in some nondual discourse that there is no "guiding" and no "Presence." That this is "false objectifications and solidifications of nondual awareness," to quote something read today. Can you speak to this?
Metta: Big is right! (Smiling) Give me a moment....This is about purpose, in part, no? Guidance as related to purposeful direction?
Metta: Please clarify, then what you mean by "guidance."
Christiana: No, more akin to: Is there a Guiding Intelligence, whether we call It "Christ" or "All" or "Self"? Or, is it more a void of Ground arising?
Metta: All I can share is my own interpretation, Christiana, as you well know. I see / experience this as both [dual and nondual]. For me, Presence manifests when we look into the eyes of another and recognize Awareness -- Authentic Presence. It is also that intimate sense of Identity/Awareness we experience "subjectively" as "I am aware now."
It is for me, ultimately and completely nondual, and -- this is important --- it manifests in and through the realm of duality!
Guiding intelligence? My sense is that Wisdom is infinite beyond our wildest imaginings, and it is in the process of manifestation that this guiding intelligence is revealed.
Christiana: Not sure I understand....I suppose to be specific: I am in a deep split about whether Christ, who I have felt to have known my whole life, is an objectification -- an illusion -- which needs to be seen through?
Metta: "Needs" to be seen through? According to what criteria?
Christiana: The nondual party line. (Smile)
Metta: Doesn't sound like a real fun party to me....(Smiling)....Christiana, are you an illusion?
Christiana: It calls everything about me into question.
Metta: Good. Spacious space, into which the Infinite can manifest and take form....
My experience is one thing, Christiana. I can share my interpretation, but is that what you really want right now?
Christiana: I am conscious of the time....
Metta: Ok. We can continue at another time, if you wish....This is vitally important because it is all about understanding the nature of Reality as it manifests in the most magnificent of ways -- as through Christ.
Christiana: To me as well, but I don't want to usurp others' time....
Metta: My thought is we could dialogue separately on this, or we could explore this in another mentoring session as part of our intensive.
Christiana: Do you feel moved to share more now?
Metta: I could....
Metta: How are others with time? Limited or ok?
[Others indicate they are ok.]
Xan: I am ok with time, and I have two responses I would like to share with Christiana and the group. I could give my response to Christiana now, if it is ok with you both?
Metta: Certainly. Christiana?
Christiana: Thank you...Yes.
Xan: I would like to say to Christiana that everything in us deserves our honest investigation, even our most precious treasures, and that by such investigation you, yourself, can find what is truth and what is projection, and what has real substance for you. You are the only one who can know this.
Xan: If someone comes at you with a belief about your beliefs, who is said to be "right"? My personal experience is that stripping away all ideas leaves me with what is essential for me as I am in the moment, and that is all I want.
Metta: Beautifully said, Xan. I have nothing to add at this point.
Xan: I have a name for it. I call it "radical self honesty."
Christiana: So, what I hear you saying is, the struggle to wrangle mind around the appearance of opposites is merely mind's dance. That the mind, stripped, allows What Is to be Present, beyond name or concept. That this Stream that I live in is All that is needed.
Xan: Yes, and that how this Stream manifests for you in this present time is unique to you and is a gift of love...in whatever form it appears.
Christiana: Thank you my, dear friends.
Victor: Metta, May I ask another question later when everyone is finished with their questions?
Metta: Certainly....Right now, Xan, it was your turn. Is there anything more you wanted to add or share?
Xan: The description of commentary running in the eternity of silent awareness is a common experience, I am sure.
Xan: And yet, I have an abiding passion for the silent wholeness to be pervasive and unbroken...for my individual consciousness to be entirely absorbed into this silent beingness so that the distinction disappears altogether, and mind noise along with it. In fact, I know as a certainty that I will not settle for less.
John: A sensory deprivation tank.
Xan: Yes...but no tank, no senses, and certainly no deprivation. (smiling)
Xan: The increasing periods when this is my reality will not allow for compromise.
Metta: It seems your passion is clear on this, Xan. Is there a question in this?
Xan: No question, just an urge to share. Thank you for the chance to speak my heart.
Metta: Absolutely, Xan.
Victor: But who is it that wants this, Xan? Wanting this is thoughts, perhaps?
Xan: Who wants this is those parts of my mind that play out their patterns as a personality, and which I have learned receive no benefit from their denial.
Metta: Ron, did you have anything you would like to add?
Ron: Not right now.
Metta: Ok. Victor, did you have one more reflection or question?
Victor: Ok. One's personality and morality is within the thought process. What keeps us from criminal behavior? Everyone including the amoral have their awareness. Do we have a choice in the matter, or are we simply being lived?
Metta: Ah....the choice and free will question! You all brought in the BIG ONES tonight! (Smiling) My short answer on this is that I like Allan Watt's reply: Choice and free will are like breathing: autonomic and subject to your control, at the same time. I do feel choice is significant, even though, Christiana, it may not be part of the standard nondual party line.
What keeps us from criminal behavior? First impression: choice.
Victor: Autonomic within awareness and subject to control within thought?
Metta: Hmmm....Interesting way of looking at this, Victor! I'll think on it. Thanks!....To build on this idea: perhaps choice within thought, destiny within Awareness?
Since we've been going 2 full hours, maybe we can ponder this one on our own now, and reconnect again in our forum and on Wednesday night here?
Victor: Metta, you have such an extraordinary gift of articulating That which cannot be verbalized. Not many can do this. You are a real blessing to speak with. Thanks bunches.
Ron: Just remembered: Ron said to himself, "This stuff is too simple to be explained fully, and too obvious to be noticed."
Metta: Ah! Thank you, Ron. You are dear for remembering to add this in! I will certainly close our transcript with this gem!
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