Dialog from the Website Email

(The following are excerpts from email exchanges with Steven Harrison.)

If indeed there’s “nowhere to go,” and “nothing to be,” then why the vigorous exploration into the nature of life? Is your exploration aimless? (Mine doesn’t seem to be.) Who’s exploring? Isn’t there some ardor on “someone’s” part to see clearly? To understand? How does that get done without a doer?

Part of this question seems to be that our language is built around subject-object and noun- verb structures. We ask how there can be a subject without an object, or whether a noun without a verb is really a sentence. But, life is not language and isn’t limited to those structures.

There does seem to be ardor and exploration in our lives (among other things) but why does that require a psychological center? Indeed, the exploration of life is only possible when the limitations of the conceptual world are obvious. This transparency of thought — which implies a thinker but doesn’t possess one — leaves us in a universe where it appears the space around thought is now the foreground and the thought-form is the background. On closer examination even that distinction (foreground and background) collapses. Now we are left in a universe where there is only one thing happening which can neither be described as subject or object, noun or verb. What is this world? The inquiry has started. There is no one to ask or answer and the questions aren’t verbal or intellectual anyway. The inquiry is the movement of life itself.

I wonder what role the body has in your work? (I use “work” rather than “teaching,” but both seem awkward.) It seems to me that the body and brain are very much like a web browser (or vice-versa). That is, the body contains one’s individual awareness and “manages” the exchange of data between the “user” and physical reality, per the specifications of the software. Or maybe one could say the body is a very, very fancy, well-equipped space suit. Whatever. At any rate, my take on it is that it’s precious and deserves looking after. And I wonder if there’s even more to it than that. I may be poisoned from a past association with Gurdjieff study groups, but I sometimes suspect that there be a science to this awareness stuff–one that incorporates the study of the body and how we dwell in it; not abstractly, but specifically.

On a practical level we have to take care of our bodies or they will get sick, die or otherwise become problematic. But, the more interesting question is whether there is a body there at all, that is in some discrete way that clearly separates it from everything else. We are certainly conditioned to consider it so. The movement of consciousness doesn’t seem to sort the universe in the form of bodies. This is an area that we should look into more deeply.

I found my way to your web site via a friend with whom I explore Krishnamurti’s ideas in a monthly dialogue. There seems to be some common ground. One thing seems common at least, and it troubles me some: In the exclusion of method and technique (those troublesome rascals), things seem to get talked about awfully abstractly sometimes. For all the negation of the grasping mind, we have to expend a lot of thought and words to communicate about it. Perhaps you can see that I’m grappling with a fear that to put aside the concept of enlightenment and gurus leaves one in danger of losing all hold on the specific, and becoming an airy philosopher. And, I guess, I’m really grappling with whether “enlightenment” is really, as you say, a myth. Do you mean that literally–that there’s simply no such animal? Or that the concept of it — the goal of it — is wrongheaded? (Or something else, entirely?)

Enlightenment exists as an idea projected by thought as one of many means to keep itself occupied. Outside of this ideation, enlightenment has no existence. This is not abstract, although the talking about it is. My interest lies in a fully engaged life (which in fact I have) and the living of life in freedom. Websites are limited to words, but life is not.

Being interested in the source of this thing called “me,” I followed that interest — using the best info I had on hand — to various paths, submitted myself to gurus, lived in ashrams,etc. Then something exposed all those as just more subtle forms of sleep — actions I believed would give me the credits, grace, or credentials to gain entry into the sacred. At that time, I saw (though I confess the “seeing” was profoundly disturbing — not at all blissful) that the division posited by all those “methods” between the spiritual and the non-spiritual was false. So now, to “meditate,” means simply to respond when the wish or impulse to be more fully awake — to be more right here, and right now — arises. That may mean doing nothing special, or it may find me sitting cross-legged for a few minutes, or going to a silent retreat, or whatever. But — and I say this with a laugh — I sometimes wonder if I’m deluded.

 

In your interview at your web site you mentioned, “There is some consideration now of setting up a residential community.” Can you say more about that?

Regarding a community — I have a deep interest in the possibilities inherent in the experiment that takes place when people put themselves together in a living situation where the challenges of life are met with the same inquiry and transparency that we create in the rarified atmosphere of a public dialogue or weekend retreat. What kind of community will we structure out of this intensity to live fully? Can this be brought into the practicality of our lives or is it just some abstract verbage? Further, for those of us who are raising children, there is a great need for safe, creative, stable and loving environments.