Moderator: From a participant in New Jersey, “One spiritual teacher talks about awakening in terms of being in the now and essentially out of the mind and time. How much of our enlightenment is a matter of choice? That is, where we place our attention.”
David: The basic resolution in someone who wants to fathom reality is to move to deeper and deeper understanding, understanding of Self, if such an understanding even exists, if even a Self does exist. Whether one exists or not, a person pursuing knowledge of reality, what is frequently called enlightenment, liberation, freedom, illumination, that being is compelled from within to move toward deeper levels of understanding. At the same time, knowing that understanding is often construed as a mental occurrence that being also pursues experience, deeper more intensified experience of Being, of selfhood, of whatever construct is used in the mind to represent reality.
Once that resolution is formed then typically a person seeks teachers, seeks out teachers, enlightened teachers, that is if their aspiration is clarified to that degree, if they are lucky enough to even think that that is where reality or the experience of reality might exist as a gift from another human being. But if they are not so fortunate then they will seek to read books and try to think about this more and more thinking that one could attain some kind of ultimate understanding through the mind alone or perform practices or simply search in general for this deepest understanding that of course is imagined by the mind. One has to begin somewhere in the spiritual process, so we begin with ideas in the mind that represent to it what the ultimate might be and the various ways to then approach that realization.
Beyond that primary resolution to understand and experience reality, beyond that is a direct relationship with oneself, which comes about spontaneously when attention or consciousness begins to recognize itself. This is something that actually circumvents all paths and even talks such as “being in the now” make absolutely no sense with regards to this transformation in attention. “Be here now or live in the now,” represent really generalized slogans that somehow are supposed to mean something, as though being reminded of the fact that you are not paying attention is enough to really begin paying attention inside of a fully awakened reality.
So, if a resolution is set up, a powerful resolution to understand and experience reality then typically the path unfolds spontaneously. Both in terms of a spontaneous intuition of the nature of attention as well as various actual choices that might be made, which are not separate from that resolution. This is where it becomes tricky to describe what must and must not occur on the path, whether choices are required or one abandons choice.
From the highest point of view, from the clearest point of view one can talk about neither choices nor choicelessness, both are imagined by the mind, by the separate identity that itself is what has to undergo dissolution as the real spiritual process. The real spiritual process is a dissolution of the hardened sense of identity that wills itself around. It uses will to fling itself around casually, aggressively, it might even call it spontaneously, but the will, that angry center of attention that moves in its own friction, in its own lack of grace, that is itself the area that undergoes a change and that then informs the mind and the heart about the nature of existence.
So, the entire resolution along with the various instructions that come to a person in that resolution to self-liberate is the real momentum, it’s the first step and it’s the last step toward liberation although there could be a long time between the initial movement of that resolution and then its fulfillment. It could be a very long time. It could be a very intense time which is why whether one goes all the way or not depends on the initial crystalline clarity and power inside of that resolution, how much dissatisfaction and intensity of desire is built into that initial resolution to realize.
You remember the parable from what we call The New Testament, whatever that is, whatever those texts are. It’s hard to say what they are historically, who wrote them, how much is attributable truthfully to a person named Jesus, but according to what one of those texts say is that, if a sower sows seeds, some of those seeds grow if they fall in the right spot, if they get the right nourishment and other seeds die. That’s a metaphor for the strength, the potency, the intensity of the resolution inside the unenlightened person that leads toward waking up out of the dream of delusion. So, if the initial impulse is not so clear, not so strong, vague, polluted by a lot of unhealthy forms of selfishness and so on then it really doesn’t go far. But if it’s highly informed, it’s clarified, it’s deep, then it meets its destination. It begins meeting its destination immediately and has the wisdom to know how the self dissolves. It begins to intuit that right away even at the initial stages and then recognizes that to be the essential process of realization.,
So, how much choice is required? How much relaxation is required? How much actual deliberate effort is required? No one can answer those questions because those considerations, those issues don’t happen outside of the process itself. They happen from inside a momentum, a genuine spark of desire to understand and therefore unfold as part of that spark. Generally, with regards to spiritual teachings, the more mass produced they are the cheaper they are. That’s a good indication of the depth of a spiritual teaching. If you’re getting millions of students flocking toward a spiritual teaching and especially if they’re book based, you know, they’re superficial, profoundly superficial. But the real esoteric sharing of awakening happens spontaneously from a heart to a heart, from a human being to a human being, from nature to nature if your process involves other forms and vehicles other than humans. It’s an unspeakable process. It’s so subtle that it defies all forms of logic, and all forms of understanding and that’s precisely why it itself is instantaneous clarification. It is itself instantaneous liberation. It is liberation which liberates. It’s not that ignorance needs to be liberated by awakening, it’s that liberation, the spark of it produces the wholeness of it and that process is both in and out of time.