But, as Robert Adams once said, "All is well
and unfolding exactly as it should."
The Chris story is a brilliant example of
ignorance in it's glory: one attempt after
another to complete myself through objects
of all sorts: career, politics, philosophy,
beliefs, drugs, alcohol, woman, family,
travel, luxury....the classic symptoms of
greed, lust and vanity, the bell weather of
In a word, my prescription was simply,
Once thing was certain, this profound and
deep sense of lack could be satisfied
through obtaining some object that was
always just out of reach.
Extroverted, entrepreneurial, even slightly
sociopathic, this certainty began a slow
motion train wreck, culminating in 2006.
I was experiencing a crisis
in all areas of my life. I was in litigation
with everyone from ex-business associates to
the U.S. government. I lost a very
successful business that I had run for over
10 years. I lived in economic fear as one
problem seemed to build on top of another.
My entire economic estate was ruined by
costly litigation and unfruitful business
My wife had divorced me,
leaving with our one year old child. My
mother, father, Uncle and Grandmother had
all died--all within one year. Two of my
pets died unexpectedly.
A routine surgery for an
impacted wisdom tooth went badly resulting
in my jaw being broken, being wired shut for
5 months, requiring 5 surgeries and causing
the permanent loss of feeling in part of my
I was facing a huge tax
liability and was in danger of losing my
I could not sleep. I had been
taking sleeping medications for many years
and they no longer seemed to work. I would
take the medication and it would force me to
sleep for a short period of time-- only to
wake up a few hours later, full of dread,
fear and anger. I was at war with the world,
which I felt was treating me unfairly.
One sleepless night, I
experienced what I can only call a complete
During an extreme "dark night
of the soul" experience, I had a massive,
catastrophic collapse which left me spent
and speechless, praying fervently to a God I
did not believe in, the only honest prayer
there is: "Please help me!"
This collapse was sudden,
left me completely empty, with not even one
ounce of resistance left in me, with no more
answers of any sort, in a sort of cathartic
and limp state.
Pulling myself up from the
floor, where I had been curled in fetal
position, still sobbing, I poured what was
left of me into a wing back chair,
While I sat in this darkened,
private library in the middle of the night,
mentally and spiritually exhausted, in final
despair, with absolutely no clue on what to
do with my next breath, much less the rest
of my life, a most peculiar phenomena
occurred: sitting in absolute silence, I
noticed my thoughts arising to me.
Mind you: these were no
longer "my thoughts".
For some peculiar reason, in
this stillness, it was spectacularly clear
to me, that these thoughts, which were
arising in the stillness of 'me', were not
me at all, or, more specifically, that what
I was had to be something quite separate
from these thoughts. For, it was clear that,
if I observed these thoughts arising, then,
who was observing them, if not me? And, if
it was what I call 'me' that was observing
these thoughts, then, what exactly was this
'me' which so clearly did not include these
This was a profoundly
unsettling awareness; in fact, it completely
shattered my world. Everything that I had
taken for granted up to this point, came
roaring back into question: my career, my
marriage, every decision supporting the
entire direction of 'my' life. The only
thing I was certain about was that I was
uncertain about everything.
In this space of not knowing,
of complete uncertainty about everything, I
began to reach out for help. Desperately, I
searched for any clue as to what I was
experiencing. For better than a year, I
locked myself in an apartment, meditating,
journaling reading everything I could
locate, leaving my residence only when I
uncovered authentic teachers who might offer
This initial experience, completed
shattered and redirected my life. I can
not imagine how I could ever reconstruct
From there, I have merely followed the
perfume. It has been a spectacular
journey that has honored me with meeting
many gifted teachers who patiently and
gently tolerated my fumbling , feeding
my deep curiosity with insights and gem
like experiments designed to challenge
deeply held beliefs that colored what
remained of my confusion.
This sadhana left nothing but scorched
earth as lightning struck many more
I suspect revelation never ends.
So, this is how my interest in advaita
I hope this answers your question.
Bring it on, John!
Ok, thanks Chris. When
you first noticed that these thoughts were
arising and that they were not "you". Did
you clearly understand what this meant at the
Or did this
take some extra outside help from a teacher?
No, I gained nothing. Quite the opposite.
This "seeing" disintegrated the fabric of my
belief in identity. What became crystal
clear was that I understood nothing about
what I thought I was and, thus, knew nothing
about anything else either. I had no clue
about what had occurred and was bewildered.
At times, I believed I might need
There was also a visceral recognition of
boundlessness, "spaceless space" that,
alternatively, was experienced as infinite
peace and discomfiture. It was like a vase,
shattered but still standing in place.
There is no way to explain how completely
disorienting this experience was on
absolutely every level. It changed
Up until this point, there had been no
interest in non-duality, advaita, self
inquiry. There simply was no reference point
in my experience for what had happened.
In this sea of uncertainty, my interest
became dramatically redirected. As
little as I understood, I had no clue as
to how to return to my former life nor
where I was heading.
So, seeking took a new direction, with a
singular intensity towards discovery of
what had occurred. This journey
eventually led me to my teacher. This
role, the role of the teacher, was
absolutely vital here.
NDM: When you say "
It was like a vase, shattered but still
standing in place.
How long did this last for exactly? And
was there also any kind of physical, or
an energetic shift that took place.
again, I can only share what is true
here. What is most true here is that I
truly don't know.
questions implies an end. It is not
clear to me it ever does. The apparent
process is like revelation; I do not
know if it ever stops.
is seen as an invention of mind.
with the definition of two terms which
may be helpful in answering this
question: enlightenment and self
Enlightenment could be defined as the
timeless and instantaneous recognition
of our true nature as boundless,
causeless reality. Enlightenment is
Presence recognizing itself.
cliche, but, there never has been an
enlightened human being. Enlightenment
could be said to be the sudden
realization that there is no one who
could ever have been enlightened.
recognition is unmistakeable, total and
irreversible. Once God has kisses you,
there is simply no turning back.
follows, relatively speaking, over time,
could be characterized as Self
Realization. It is the process of
dissolution of residual conditioning
born of the core belief in separation.
It is a comprehensive realignment: it
extends into very nook and cranny our
thinking, our sensing and our
sort of virus, it's influence is buried
not only in the mind but in how we sense
and perceive that which we call the body
and world. In fact, it creates it.
to change what is--is the bell weather
of separation; in the most extreme, it
manifests as suffering or lack. In it's
least noticeable forms it is missed
entirely: boredom and daydreaming are
two safe places for this sense of
separation to hide and maintain itself.
It's offspring is the bitter fruit of
deepest sense, seeing resistance and
desire operate is like watching the
leaves on a tree flutter about in the
wind after the ground root has been
severed with an axe. Since much of this
change occurs outside of time and space
altogether, we may only notice it's
absence in retrospect.
It is like
the classic Indian metaphor of the rope:
after it has been burned up in a fire,
all that remains of the rope is it's
ashen skeleton, standing in it's
previous form. It's substance has been
consumed by the fire. It stands
ghostlike as the silence eventually
blows it away.
conditioned behaviors, originally
created by this fundamental sense of
lack, may seem to continue to arise from
time to time, but, have little traction,
dying quickly, like a clutch that slowly
spins long after it is disengaged. Both
sage and seeker continue to experience
Maya; the difference is that the sage no
longer believes it. What never leaves is
the "spaceless space" in which even this
apparitions are simply seen with loving
indifference; things get very roomy
upstairs. We cooperate with this process
out of our interest. All of it and none
of it truly touches you anymore. In it's
path, equanimity arises and a
continually deepening peace remains. All
things are equally held gently, in the
loving hands of indifference, which
births it all, sustains it all and
welcomes it home in dissolution. This
under-standing never leaves; it is the
ground of all experience.
difference is that you have realized
that you no longer live in the now;
instead, you are the now.
this is the "energetic shift" you refer
to, although this "shift" is actually
nothing other than the clear unveiled
recognition of your forgotten nature.
Relatively, this grounding stabilizes
this is too much.
When you say that
is "Presence" recognizing itself. By presence
do you mean:
1. The fact or condition of
: The part
of space within one's immediate vicinity?
presence in nature
presence among all human beings
presence in each human being or something
along these lines.
when you say
leaves is the "spaceless space" in which even
this appears" Is this is something you see
with your eyes?
Or inside your
Yes, good catch. I find that much of the
confusion understanding non-dual teachings
results from failure to define the words we
use--before we start! Many common words have
significantly different meanings in different
In this case, we are using Presence, Awareness
and Consciousness interchangeably.
The definition I would like to use is one taught
to me by my teacher:
Consciousness, Awareness or Presence is whatever
it is that is actually reading these words right
It is also that which hears, sees, smells,
tastes, feels and thinks...right here, right
Self inquiry quickly proves that what we are is
not the body. The body does not see, hear,
smell, taste or touch (perceive). It is actually
perceived by that which we are.
might say it is the brain that
perceives, but, upon close examination
this does not hold up either. How could
a mass of cells be the sensing agent?
I am not a scientist but 30 minutes of
research will demonstrate that brain
tissue is comprised of neurons, which
are composed of molecules, which, in
turn, are all made of atoms. Atoms are
made of protons, neutrons and electrons,
which are composed of quarks and gluons,
waves and particles which behave
strangely. A physicist will lead you
from here into string theory and other
fascinating research but, none of them
will come close to identifying the
intelligence where understanding
But, this is just so much conceptual knowledge
meant to quiet a busy mind, determined to locate
a phenomenal source of sentience which simply
does not exist. A better source to determine the
answer to the riddle, " What is it that actually
reads these words on this page, right here,
right now?" is our direct experience....right
here, right now.
In actuality, we never experience anything but
the present. Notice I did not say "the present
moment", as this would imply that something
existed before and after it. But, do we ever
directly experience something existing before
"now" or after it? That which is experienced as
"before", also referred to as the "past" is
nothing more than memories "arising" in the
present. Memories are simply a kind of thought
arising now. The only "place" thoughts can occur
is "in" the now. What we refer to as the future
is also a concept, as it is never present, it is
a projection of some "thing" that never arrives.
It is not difficult to identify the objects we
experience as the body presently. Broadly, we
could categorize them as thoughts, sensations
and perceptions. We experience the "mind" as
thoughts, the "body" as sensations, and the
"world" as sensory perceptions. So, what is this
thing we call "the body"? Is it not a collection
of bodily sensations...perceptions received as
sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch? In
reality, don't each of these sensations appear
to that which we are?
We actually never experience a "body", we merely
experience perceptions we refer to as a body.
What we call the body, ultimately, consists only
those perceptions identified as "ours", while
"the world" is a projection of perceptions
identified as "not ours".
For this mind, it was important to explore
perception very deeply; what resulted was a
series of DVDs that walked with the viewer step
by step thru the process some refer to as Neti
Neti but in a directly experiential way. I have
received correspondence from all over the world
from seekers for whom this work has been very
beneficial, even pivotal to a much deeper
understanding of the ever present reality of our
This investigation never gets us any closer to
that which perceives. It only dances around with
the objects of perception, constantly ignoring
the majestic reality that never changes...that
which perceives. The deeper we explore, looking
for this "perceiver", the more obvious it
becomes that "what we are" is not phenomenal at
"What we are" in actuality is "beingness"
itself. Our "beingness" only ever exists in what
we call "the now", so, what better word to
describe it than Presence? Is Presence divine?
The great discovery is that there is no "part"
to this thing we are calling Presence; it has no
borders at all. The examination of perceptions
reveals the subjective reality of the witness.
Further exploration proves that this "witness"
has no borders and boundaries. The boundaries we
perceive between us and the world are, in fact,
simply more artificial, conceptual creations of
the mind. Some refer to this process of naming
and fracturing our seamless reality by the
ancient Indian term, Nama Rupa. No place can
ever be found where " what we are", this present
awareness, ends and objects begin. This, then,
is what I mean when I refer to "beingness" as "spaceless
space", the "glue" of the objective "mirage".
Seeing this reality is a life shattering
experience. No words can effectively describe
About my self, one thing is certain, and it is
that I exist. This one fact may seem so obvious
that we continually overlook it, but, when
inspected closely, we discover that this is the
single fact known to us without any objective
reference. Think about this: It is the one
certainty based upon a source of information not
subject to any objective confirmation.
When we consider this, it makes sense. Clearly,
for something to change, there must be a
changeless element. All objects, be they
thoughts, feelings, images, bodily sensations or
perceptions begin and end. How could this be
possible unless there was a changeless element
to report it? We are this changeless element.
There is no evidence that consciousness is
contained in anything, much less a body. This
recognition is as far as the dualizing mind can
go, for beyond this, duality dissolves entirely.
Nothing separates what we are from that which is
But, this is fine. The process of investigation
has set the stage for the only certain
requirement for under-standing: the mind must be
satisfied and surrender. It is exactly this
voracious need to "figure it out" that is the
ultimate veil to seeing. Remember, this
discovery is simply the sudden re-discovery of
that which always has been and will be. It was
never "not present." It is all that ever is.
There is simply no witness at all. Like two
sides of a coin, eternal emptiness and fullness
co-exist simultaneously, one a reflection of the
other. Perception is creation.
Continue to part