Nihilism

The Void

The Void

FLAGSTAFF, AZ—Every time I see the word, nihilism, I think of the movie, The Big Lebowski, and every time I think of The Big Lebowski I think of what a perfect movie it is for any serious student of any nondual teaching because The Big Lebowski is anything but serious.

The Big Lebowski is about the Dude, who just wants to abide (and bowl). The Dude is a simple man who keeps getting draw into the entirely mentally-based lives of everyone else around him: Walter, the war veteran, where everything is about Vietnam; Donny, the clueless guy, who is so trapped in his mind that he has to constantly ask what’s going on around him; the feminist who wants a baby; the gold digger who wants a sugar daddy; the broke sugar daddy trying to maintain a facade of wealth; and of course the nihilists.

“We believe in nothing, Lebowski!”

Every serious spiritual student must face the Void… the Emptiness, the Meaninglessness, the Hell of Eternal Darkness… the Nothing.

Every serious spiritual seeker—because as I’ve said before, it’s all about identity—must face their existential angst.

“We believe in nothing, Lebowski!”

The Dude, chatting up the gold digger, comments on a guy, passed out and floating on an inner tube in the pool (ironically in bright sunlight… a pool of Light) and the gold digger says, “Uli doesn’t care about anything. He’s a Nihilist.,” to which the Dude replies:

“Ah, that must be exhausting.”

In the movie, the nihilists are always excessively dramatic. They are so forcefully adamant. The nihilists, who believe in nothing, take their nothing very seriously.

How can Nothing be so exhausting?

The spiritual seeker when confronting Emptiness—because their very identity is collapsing and at risk—take Nothing very seriously.

How can the Void be so frightening? How can Emptiness be so full of foreboding. How can nothing be full of such… something, such dark energy?

Because when the spiritual seeker honestly looks deeply into the Void, they become a Nihilist, and just like every other character in the movie—everyone except the Dude of course—nihilists believe in a mental concept. Nihilist believe in Nothing, and Nothing (Emptiness, the Void) is a mental concept and mental concepts are exhausting.

It is called the Gateless Gate for a reason. You are stumbling around in the dark, but you’ll never find a wall that you can run your hand along to an opening. Nope, you’ll find nothing. Nor will you come across some giant iron door, that when opened reveals a glorious Light. Nope, not that either.

It’s called the Gateless Gate because there is no gate, there is no wall. It’s called the Gateless Gate because the Endless Darkness that you are stumbling around in, the Nothing that appears so real, is just another mental concept.

“We believe in nothing, Lebowski!”

“Ah, that must be exhausting.”

The Light doesn’t shine out of the Darkness—there is no Gate/Darkness. It is the exact opposite: the Darkness comes out of the Light of Awareness.

The “Nothing” is an object in the Light of Awareness. The “Nothing” is a concept of the mind.

The Tao is the source of the ten thousand things…

The Tao is the source of the Nothing/Emptiness/Void.

The Tao is the Light.

See What He Sees

Portrait of a Pine Cone

Portrait of a Pine Cone

FLAGSTAFF, AZ—When I got serious about taking photos, I did what a lot of serious photography students do: I found a photographer whose work I loved and blatantly tried to copy his style.

My hero was Harry Callahan (no, not that Harry Callahan).

But here’s the thing about photography—about any art form for that matter (I include spirituality here): Once you get the theory down—once you’ve learned the techniques—you need to learn how to see.

For a photographer, you need to learn how to see color and shape and texture and negative space. For a musician, you need to learn how to see tone and rhythm and pauses and flow. For the spiritual, you need to learn how to see Love and Light and Emptiness and the Divine.

When I started trying to copy Callahan, I wasn’t trying to copy his technique—I was already well versed in photography theory at that point—no, what I was trying to do was to learn to see how Callahan sees. I wanted to see what Callahan saw before he took those photos.

There’s a saying in Zen that goes something like this, “Don’t try to be like the sages of old, try to see what they saw.”

Once you get your spiritual technique down, try to see through all the mental boundaries. Try to see the music behind it all—the tempo and rhythm and pauses. Try to see the Archetype of Everything.

Once you get the theory down, pull away all self-contraction and open your eyes to the Love and the Light and the Emptiness and the Divine.

And in no time at all, you’ll become one with your art.

The Healing Thing

The Bridge

The Bridge

IDAHO FALLS, ID—In reference to the previous post, reader Rimas asked how I do the healing thing I do. I’m a little hesitant to describe it only because it’s a bit too “woo woo” for my tastes, but in the interest of transparency

Though my technique varies according to the state I find myself in—Mystical Oneness (typical) or No Self (rare)—it always involves the dissolution of the me-thing.

The healing thing I did with my mother a few days ago was similar to what I had done spontaneously while she was in surgery a few years backI/She/We merged/blended with her life force and added to it. This is distinctly different than the No Self version of extracting the disease/damage and taking it into my No Self body that I did in this account.

Basically, the merging method entails slipping into the Emptiness state (seeing and dropping all self contraction/boundaries), focusing on the Light/Life Force within this me-thing, becoming that Light (consciously identifying with it so I can control it), and—in an almost astral projection kind of way—“flying” to and merging with the Light/Life Force within my mother. Once merged, I/She/We expand, brighten and “burn out” anything that doesn’t belong there.

The Identity Block

A theory I have for why this doesn’t work on everyone: My father has fused vertebrae and only one fully functional lung (half of his other lung was surgically removed due to cancer). When I have tried the merging technique with him, I only see a slight increase in his energy level and that only lasts for about a day. But here is a key difference between my mother and father: my father identifies with his bad back and breathlessness—these qualities have become a part of who he believes himself to beand as I’ve posited beforeTaoGodHer won’t mess with a person’s ego (identity).

The Other Side Of Emptiness

Looking Up Into The Leaves And The Light

Looking Up Into The Leaves And The Light

NEWPORT, OR—Though she hasn’t been “hit” yet with the Realization (“OMG, I’m just a bunch of thoughts!”), Michelle is definitely “tasting” Emptiness and is already running into the problem of “bringing it into everyday life.” This brings her to the point of how I largely function on a day-to-day basis: Radiance post Emptiness/enlightenment. I don’t have a word for this Radiance-after-Emptiness state, but its key difference from “practice” Radiance is that you no longer identify with the portal (think of yourself as the portal), but see it as a natural contraction needed to bring Emptiness into the world.

From our dialog:

Michelle:

More quiet time home thanks to a hurt wrist and personal time from work and I’m able to feel emptiness beneath the me thought cluster. The cluster I call me does have weight and form and familiarity, but it’s still a shadow. Just a heavier one. If I could bring that awareness into my everyday life… That would be amazing.

Wayne:

I’m not convinced that Emptiness can be brought into everyday life.

But, the integration of the levels definitely can. My point is to question the assumption: that Emptiness can be brought into everyday life. Can it? I don’t know of anyone who has done it. I’ve seen a lot of teachers on stage, or giving satsangs, but that isn’t everyday life.

Anyway, keep focusing on Emptiness, but now bring Radiance into play also. Feel the Love and Light arise and shine forth from the Emptiness. I don’t have a name for Radiance-after-Emptiness, but the difference from “regular” Radiance is that the portal/shell now feels like a contraction that is a part of the experience, but no longer you.

Pre-Emptiness, the portal/shell felt like Michelle, now, see if it doesn’t feel more like a bridge or opening that allows the Love/Light into the world… to shine the Love outward and provide it to others.

Try to start seeing the self-contraction as a bridge between the world of Man and the world of the Divine. Let me know how it goes.

END DIALOG

What You Reveal

The Often Unseen

The Often Unseen

WICKIUP RESERVOIR, OR—He was an old man, a veteran of a war mostly forgotten by the masses, and he approached the van with trepidation. Trepidation which arose from concern, and concern which arose from fear.

And the fear—as most fears do—arose from his mind.

While the van is practically invisible in an urban environment, in the woods, it looks out of place—and when things look out of place, minds often assume the worst. It would help if I set up a tent or an awning or a ground mat—some sign of a typical camp—but I like the simple life and tents and awnings and ground mats weigh heavy on my being… so I don’t set them up and the van sits in the woods mysteriously out of place.

When the old man—a man who still largely lived in a war long lost—when this combat veteran saw me through the window, sitting in my easy chair, the trepidation fell from his face and his shoulders visibly relaxed.

As I stepped out of the van to meet him, I felt the Love and Light spontaneously shine forth and I smiled and said, “Hi.”

Within five seconds he was comfortable.

Within five minutes he spoke as if we were the best of friends.

Everyday you have the opportunity to meet a stranger.

Everyday you have the opportunity to practice living from the Heart instead of the Head.

What will you reveal when you meet your mysterious stranger today? What will you show them?

Will you act from your head and reveal the fears that reside there?

Or will you open your heart and reveal the Love that exists within us all?

Feeling and Sharing Divine Love

Lake Shaver

Lake Shaver

FRESNO, CA—With the weather expected to be a mix of rain and even snow for a couple days around Lake Shaver, I decided to head down to Fresno. With libraries, movie theaters, coffee shops, hardware stores, cheap supplies and all the other benefits that modern-day Sprawltowns offer, it beats the hell out of hunkering down in a van on a cold and drizzly day.

Being around people is also a good time for me to test out new spiritual practices. One I’m working on is a slight refinement of my typical Radiance practice.

I put the details of it—of experiencing and sharing the Love/Light of TaoGodHer—in the forums to make it easier for future readers to find as well as a central location for discussions about it.

You can find the practice here. You don’t need to sign up to read it, but to comment on it you will. (To keep things organized I’m turning comments off on this post.)

How She/We/I Shoot Photos

Leaf Lost

Leaf Lost

PISGAH NF, NW of MILLS RIVER, NC—It’s funny how letting go, how not trying to control, often leads to surprising (and pleasurable) results. Case in point: the photo above.

I love this photo. I don’t know exactly why, but I do. Even though the subject of the photo—the reddish-purple leaf—is out of focus, there is something mysterious and intriguing about it.

A good photographer would have steadied the camera on a small tripod, a beanbag, or at least a rock, and closed down the lens a bit more to get the leaf in focus. But I am a bad photographer, a lazy photographer, a technically horrible photographer and I simply don’t care that much about going through a lot of effort to get a shot. My whole technique is I see something, I spin the aperture dial to my best guess and I shoot.

And that’s pretty much how I take 99% of my shots which is what makes me a such a lousy photographer. My point is I don’t try to control my shots—I don’t try to set them up. I don’t think about them, I don’t place things in the frame or take junk out.

Now what I said above is true, and it’s a nice rational explanation for how I take photos… but it’s only half the story.

Here’s what if feels like when I take a photo:

She/We/I see the Light within something, and a connection forms between us (see Step 7 of this practice). I spin the aperture dial until it feels right then We point the camera and push the button and I’ll know instantly if I got the shot—even without looking at the preview screen.

There isn’t a lot of control involved—of trying. It is almost as if a relationship between me/us and the object forms and then She takes the picture. I—this clunky thing whatever that is—am there just for the ride.

Note: I do do post processing work to help reflect the way I/We/She saw the subject when the image was taken (the Light/God within), but all the post processing in the world isn’t going to save a lousy shot… and when I do get in Her way, I take a lot of lousy shots.

Intimacy

Abandoned

SOMEWHERE OUTSIDE SOCORRO, NM—By a synchronistic coincidence, I received an email on the same day as the email from yesterday’s post. Synchronistic because while yesterday’s was about distancing yourself from, well, yourself, this one was about feeling too distant from others the deeper you go into your spiritual practice.

My Reply

Yes, I know exactly what you mean, that serious spiritual practice can lead you to feeling separated from others—as if you share nothing in common with them. This is largely due to the fact that your values (what you find important) have changed as a result of your practice… what is important to you, isn’t important to those you know (and vice versa).

While shared values are the fabric of relationships, friendships, cultures and societies, they are—from a mystic’s point of view—fleeting and temporary—they die with the individual.

But the mystic values something far deeper, something that is eternal: the Light. The Light is that which is seeing out your eyes right at this moment. It is the love of everything that you call “you.” It is that which does not die when the body dies. It is the essence of both “you” and “Her.” It is the Tao, the Godhead, the Source.

It is also intelligent.

As a mystic, what I have in common with others is only the Light—all else if fleeting. When I interact with someone, if the discussion isn’t too cerebral (those often distract me from the Light), I focus on the Light inside them.

And when I focus on the Light within them, it is as intimate as “holding” the robin I spoke of or petting the deer in the night. What can be more intimate that that?

So in interacting with others, focus on the Light. Focus on the Love that all aware beings have inside them (yes, even plants and animals love themselves). Focus on that which is eternal and you’ll find that your relationships with others are much deeper than you could ever have imagined.

If you found these words of use, please follow tradition with a gift of alms (donation). If you found nothing of use, simply ignore this email and be at peace. (This text is placed at the end of all Wisdom for Alms emails)

Radiant Advice

The Road and the Riverbed

Since this fits so well with my last post about Radiance, here’s something I shared with Michelle (my “student”), who, in surrendering to the Light, is regularly experiencing the wonders of the Radiant level. From my journal:

Date: February 3, 2013 9:52 AM 

Radiant Advice

To Michelle I wrote:

Yes. At the Radiant level, your relationship with Her/God IS intimate, like two lovers, two soul-mates. I never feel alone b/c She is with me always.

The Light is Her. The Light is you. It’s a weird dichotomy, but like soul-mates, you and your Beloved our joined, are One.

Pull away and drop your thoughts (the shell or portal). Merge with Her the Light your Beloved. You are not your thoughts but the Light behind them. You and She are One… and always have been.