Moderator: Namaste, David. How can I trust that the Shakti will come true and show me my path in a time when I feel I am feeling I have no purpose and no direction in life?
David: The best way to garner trust is through direct experience. The taste of the Shakti validates direct experience. Direct experience is tasting, tasting means it’s self-evident. That’s the first consideration. The mind will travel many routes in its process of evolution, not that the mind evolves but that the process of spiritual evolution will create all kinds of moods that will be experienced both emotionally and mentally. It’s only natural that one goes through such mood swings while on the path. The path though should be interrupted by breakthroughs. You can call those breakthroughs insight, awakening, enlightenment experiences and so on. Only that direct experience will alleviate many of these concerns about motivation to live and so on. One thing that might be helpful is to understand that when the Light of the Self makes itself known it’s quite obvious what reality is and of course what one’s self is. It is That. But when the Light of the Self subsides and goes into its dark quality of pure quietness, the living quality, the bright and radiant quality of the Self will naturally diminish. You can imagine the stages of the moon, how in its new moon phase there’s very little moon, moonlight. But as time goes on in the course of a month, the moon becomes full of radiant light. In the same way the Self will blossom from within itself, full of Light, full of Bliss, full of Freedom, a freedom that is felt, not an abstract freedom but a Freedom that is tactile. It’s a living quality. But whatever arises must set even from within this viewpoint of the Self. So, we can say metaphorically that the Self goes into a dark aspect. I’m not here talking about the Dark Night of the Soul as it was discussed in the literature of Saint John of the Cross. I’m here talking about the existential fact that Consciousness, which here means the Self in the context of this discussion right now, can become radiant and then it can become empty of that radiance. It can turn back to pure emptiness. A seeker should know that. It’s important to have this understanding so one can accept when the radiance changes to the non-radiant, when Bliss disappears into no quality. It’s all the Self. But even from within the Self, because we are talking here about an apprehension of the Self, things change. There can be changing flavors or moods, but the most important point to stress is the need for direct ongoing experience which is to have one’s sadhana lively. Lively means it’s working, you’re breaking through into your own consciousness at sufficiently deep levels. That is what is crucial to this discussion. So, if you have that then you just weather this temporary mood fluctuation. If you don’t have that then you should be looking for that, either within a practice that you learn from an enlightened being or tradition or you can come to a place like this where the direct experience is offered via human contact, human relationship. If you ask me which path is better, the path of learning through traditions, lineages and teachings or taking it fresh from another living being’s heart, I say the second approach is superior because the first approach is often laden heavily with conditioned paraphernalia, conditioning, which has to do with the survival, which is the fear of destruction of the lineage in question. In other words you are dealing with an organization. In a situation like this there is virtually no organization. So, I say it’s a more exalted, beautiful way to learn about your own Self which itself is not conditioned. So, if you’re learning about something which is not conditioned the optimal path is the one that clings least to conditioning to offer itself. That is the quality that is permeating this gathering. It’s the attitude behind it and it’s also transcendentally flavored in that way uniquely.
Moderator: A follow-up David. “Thank you. There was a lot for me to take in. Would it be appropriate at this stage to ask what is adequate sadhana?
David: Around me, that I can answer. If you’re taking instruction from another teacher or teaching, lineage or tradition, guru or master, if it’s someone else I can’t say what is adequate and not adequate except perhaps that you should be reaching the Self. If it’s not reaching the Self, it’s not adequate. Here spontaneously through Grace, through the aid of the Shakti along with the Divine Light of the Self, inside of a devotional nectar, people awaken. There’s no standard present here except how you experience it. All of the responsibility is placed on the person who comes to view subjectively what is happening after being around me for a while. I keep it very simple like this. It’s so powerful here. The connection is so direct once it’s established, that usually questions vanish. They vanish because they are answered in the one who asks them. The Shakti can provide this kind of deep experience. For it to provide that level of experience, of course receptivity is necessary. Receptivity happens when you begin to notice the presence of the Shakti and you invite it further into your experience. To allow it to move in this deeper way is to simply feel it, to let it circulate let the mind empty out in the presence of the Shakti. Remember, Shakti is just an arm of the Absolute. It is the Absolute, nothing else. In this teaching the Shakti is the Self. So, there’s nothing else besides the Shakti. When the Self is revealed through the Shakti to also be Shiva or pure silence then that’s another flavor, another taste to be acquired, to be enjoyed. So, you have the Bliss of the Shakti, you have the silence of pure meditation. When both of these things or even one of these things are going on then, that is a lively sadhana, one that is self-evidently showing itself. So, at that point one gains confidence. One begins to trust in one’s own process of receiving the Shakti. You also naturally acquire confidence in the teacher that your teacher is legitimate. And finally, you gain the confidence that life is guiding this whole procedure and therefore you have trust in life itself. So, you have trust in the teacher, you have trust in the wider context of existence itself, the teacher is the representative of existence itself in its enlightened state and you also have this direct experience that you cherish and enjoy and recognize to be the radiation of the Self. You should be able to feel something happening right now. There’s an enormous, vast quality to this moment right here, right now.
If you’re wondering about surrender, what surrender is, whether it’s necessary then just view surrender as love. When you are in love, when there is love there is surrender. When there’s no love then something else might be present. Surrender happens when one’s doubts begin to melt away. The doubts melt away on the basis of direct experience of the Absolute which always comes as a gift. It’s always received as a gift. It’s not an object. There’s just Bliss, just the Bliss of the Self, one reality never two, just one.
When we are here together just let everything fall away don’t hold onto anything. You’ll see that your mind becomes full of Bliss and then in that Bliss is the Self. Bliss causes the dissolution of all doubt, all fear. It’s the one that its itself, it’s not anything else. The Self is unity. Without knowing it you can still live in it. Not being an object, it cannot be known in duality. But in Being it is knowledge, it is the one who knows, it is the object of knowledge. It is the object of every perception. In one who is awake to the Self, everything has already been known. The mind has merged into the answer. It has merged into life. The Self is not just on the inside, it’s not just interior, it’s also on the outside. So, you can say it’s on the inside as well as the outside or you can say it’s neither in nor out. It’s beyond experience. Everything is arising in it. Shakti is the arising of all phenomena. The pulsation and rhythm of the Shakti, that is what everything is that we experience in the world. The flight of a bird is pure Being, but it is not motionless pure being. It is the living movement of energy in the Self. So, we say the Shakti is responsible for the movement of everything in the universe. The Self has no movement except when it becomes Shakti which is what it cannot help but do. So, because the Self is neither inside nor outside. It’s also all of that which is happening in the world and the universe. It’s not enough to say everything is pure Being because pure Being always points toward motionlessness, quietude, non-activity, non-movement. So, somehow we have to account for movement inside of unity, so we say that the Absolute singularly produces all that moves and it is also that which witnesses all movement. It never partakes in movement while at the same time giving rise to all movement. Everything is the Self. Therefore, the Self is not in one place and not in another. To taste it everywhere is to request the Shakti to reveal itself in that way. Otherwise the Self is perceived as transcendentally senior all the time, a story which gets old. The mind will reject that story at some point because of all of the evidence of the play of creation. The play of creation insists on an active creator, an active Self, not a non-active Self. So, you need to introduce the concept of Shiva-Shakti, Shakti-Shiva, both, both one, both Absolute and the Self is Immortal Bliss, period. Bliss is the victorious nature of the Self over everything, over silence and over action. The Self has a big smile on its face because it’s neither. It cannot be held in any specific posture and therefore it’s full of Bliss. It’s victorious stance of being nowhere and everywhere at the same time and being neither. On the one hand the Self takes the whole world away and then it gives it right back in the same instant. The height of the spiritual path is then to see the world as the Self, not to see the Self as beyond the world, even though that is one of its qualities. Where we want to end up is in something which is playing, not something which has become static, static truth, a truth we can count on. So, if you are so deep in meditation that you can’t hear the song of a bird you’re too deep in meditation. Perhaps it was good to be that deep in meditation for a while, so, you could encounter the transcendental aspect of the Self. But, if you form a philosophy around that, that that is what the Self is, then when the bird signs you won’t hear it in the Self. You’ll hear it as an annoyance. You’ll hear it as a distraction. So, the truly wise are those that are filled with the Bliss of Life not merely the Bliss of the Self. The Self is everything, everything. Everything is the Self.
Moderator: From a participant in Woodstock, NY, “Is the Self even suffering?”
David: The Self is there when suffering happens. It’s still the Self. When we talk about physical suffering that is born into existence, to any body that comes here. But, a full immersion in enlightenment will clear up what is the Self, where it is, and where it’s not. It will clear it up, not as a question or answer but as a direct experience. Something will be cleared up because any question requires a fractioned answer and when you can no longer answer, the Self can still be there or even if you can answer, the Self will still witness that answer. It must be that the Self is in every particle, every moment, not as a hope but as a reality. Suffering is experience. Joy is also experience. The Self will not be found in any particular experience, but the Self permeates experience. At the same time because of the ego structure in a human being, it will still appear as though there is separation, psychologically, emotionally, even mentally. So, in this wide sense whether it is suffering or whether it is pleasure there’s still a distinction between the individual and the universe. That distinction never goes away, not in full realization, it does not go away. Instead, it is incorporated into the wholeness of the Self where it both exists and doesn’t exist. It’s form and it’s empty.
Moderator: Again from Woodstock, “Bliss is still present then even in suffering?”
David: Anything can be tasted. Sometimes suffering can become very vivid but it doesn’t mean that it defines experience as a whole. It’s something you might walk through and then there will be no suffering again. So, suffering is built right into experience. Experience itself is a form of suffering but that structure whereby suffering and enjoyment are built into experience are just two wings of a bird. The body of the bird is Bliss. The body is Consciousness itself. So, those two wings can enter into any conceivable scenario, anything ranging from pure happiness to pure unhappiness. It’s simply the range of experience afforded by having this human body. So, because of that anything can happen. You can go into dark states. You can go into very light states. The Self itself is not a state. It is a condition which transcends states and gives you knowledge of truth. That knowledge of truth may not necessarily shield you from particularized experiences of suffering nor of the consequences of intense pleasure and enjoyment, all of which should be seen as suffering because of the transitory nature of these experiences. They begin and they end. Because of that transient quality life is always permeated by a tinge, a quality, a tint of suffering. It’s like looking through a pair of sun glasses, everything is tinted, everything that you look at. So, the same happens with a human nervous system. It’s just that when truth has been realized, the registering of that relative reality has been transformed in some way. What that is, you have to taste and experience. I can’t explain everything, although I’m happy to try.
The question is, what is happening now, not what can happen tomorrow in terms of suffering. What is your experience now with me? What has happened during this webcast? That’s all that we can lay claim to. That’s the only thing we have a foot hold to talk about. What’s going to happen tomorrow? Who knows? I can be in the most abject state of suffering tomorrow, so can you. Who cares. You can’t control it anyway. I’m not creating a dream world of Bliss but a real world of Bliss and it’s up to us to discern the difference because almost any religion can offer you a fantasy of paradise, correct? Any religion, any teaching can offer you a fantastical hope or an imaginative voyage into another realm of thinking and imagining. But the truth of Being is none of that. The truth of Being is an unspeakable quality of living moment by moment, a discernment of truth moment by moment without strategy, without even the attempt to understand that that happens, why that happens, to whom that happens. So in this case liberation is a fact, not anyone’s liberation. That individual is still an individual and will continue to suffer and enjoy according to the rhythms of nature, the rhythms of experience built in nature. By this I mean the body-mind complex and all of the variations of experience that it offers. So, we are left with neither hope nor hopelessness but an interest in what is arising, in what is.