Participant: I mostly want to say thank you. I was here in February… and I meant to make it back… it feels even better than it did in February, a lot of light. And on that topic of pain that you were describing, like, an example of the worst kind of life and a lot of suffering, that’s my life, plus, there is a lot of joy and love. So I kind of question this. Do you think there is some, like, divine intelligence, that these painful, horrible things happen for some purpose, like for me to seek the end of suffering?
David: Sure. Yes, it’s all connected. It’s all interrelated. There are no separate events in their own category. Everything is tied up into this big theme, this universal theme. Absolutely. And also, great suffering gives you the capacity for tremendous empathy. And what a gift that is, compassion and the understanding of the entire context or web of pain in which humanity is embedded, on its manifest level, what the Buddhists describe as samsara, the Hindus describe as samsara, the wheel of birth and death. There is tremendous pain in that, unfathomable actually, like an ocean of pain. And yet there is an ocean of nectar juxtaposed right next to that. In fact immersed in that pain, all one, all kind of interpenetrating.
Participant 1: It’s so true.
Participant 2: Isn’t it kinda like a cosmic hide and seek?
David: I don’t know.
Participant 2: A kind of joke.
David: It didn’t occur to me. You can say it’s a joke but it’s not hitting me right at this point. I wouldn’t want to say it’s a joke because that has a kind of macabre aspect to it. Like, I was watching a film on South American natives, primordial natives, you know the ones who live in the rain forests. And a mother was with her baby by the ocean, the river, the huge river. What is it, the Amazon? And she left the baby just for a second and a huge boa constructor came and took the infant. And within a few seconds you got to see this woman wailing. I wouldn’t call that a joke. Like the bonds that exist among human beings are so powerful, that we are organismically, biologically tied to each other in love, and reliance, and surrender. We surrender to each other for food. The child surrenders to its mother to be fed. The mother literally feeds the child from its own body. There is something to be said about biological existence and the symbiosis, and how that’s really reflective of a higher love. It’s not some base thing. It’s not some mistake. So, because of that and the capacity for loss and pain in this realm, I refrain from calling it a joke. I’ll avoid that term, because I also realize there is so much suffering in the room with me at any given occasion. Unless we really all get very high together, then I might exclaim that it’s all a joke, but only at the proper timing, there is a time….
Participant 2: So, you feel the pain.
Participant 2: No, ok. Because I was having this conversation with a friend and I’m just in such joy. He’s just like, “but all humanity is suffering,” and well, maybe it’s more advanced or something. I don’t know.
David: This is really a story.
Participant 2: Yeah, a story.
David: It’s a story outside of my own Being. There is no suffering going on, in my Being. But within the fantastic regions of the mind suffering happens even to me, at the same time.
Participant 2: And that’s to your relative mind?
David: What’s that?
Participant 2: And that is just the relative story of your mind?
David: It’s a projected movie. But it’s a movie in which my body is actually engaged. It’s not like I’m involved in a movie that I know it’s a movie and therefore I can sit back and witness it in that sense. You can have spiritual experiences that give you that taste where you’re actually removed and you are watching yourself. You’ll be shopping and you feel that there is a part of you that’s just witnessing the whole activity of shopping and paying your bill at the register. But that’s a temporary spiritual condition. It’s not the highest spiritual condition. It’s just a spiritual condition that gives you the knowledge that you are that which is beyond the world. Then, later on, you chop wood again. You come back into the world and you share your life with people. You share both your joys and your sorrows, knowing implicitly you are beyond it all. But being beyond it all does not prevent you, nor does it insulate you from the impacts of experience. There are different levels on which we can speak here. It’s very complicated actually once you start talking about it.
Participant 2: I’m learning if I meet any experience, like it turns into a….
David: What’s that?
Participant 2: If I meet any experience, like if I go and investigate something inside myself and pain. You know, then I respond to it and all of a sudden it’s blissful.
Participant 2: So, it’s….
David: It depends on your temperament. Some people will suffer a lot and other people won’t suffer much. It depends on all type of factors. But at the core, the existential reality, if you are enlightened, you look there and there is nothing. Nothing touches That. But you can’t turn that into a hiding place which is often what this gets generated into. Its like, “oh, you are suffering, you couldn’t possibly be enlightened.” It becomes a kind of macho criterion with which to judge whether people are really awake or not. You know that picture of Ramana Maharshi, the one where he is looking…. It’s like you are always supposed to be in that state if you are enlightened, [Laughter] always and forever, you never stop looking into the camera. But that’s not how life is. Those are spiritual imaginings. It’s our vulnerability to turn anything into a story and bloat it into a stereo type, for the sake of fulfilling certain world philosophies that are either pro or anti- suffering, pro or anti-transcendence, pro or anti-participatory. At any given moment if I look inside, there is just that ocean. But I don’t think of that ocean as a place, you see. To me it’s in an instant that that’s revealed and it’s not even in time, that that’s known. So, therefore you cannot lodge yourself within it and claim a status or status-based position. You can’t acquire spiritual status over your own realization. You have to become empty again. Which means, when I look at you, if you come in and you are suffering, and there are tears in your eyes, I have to be an empty mirror with which your pain can reflect. I have to be your pain with you.
Participant 2: And you experience the pain.
David: I may.