V: I happened to see your book Doing Nothing in a bookstore yesterday. In the spring of ’98 I had of vision of doing nothing. I believed it appeared as a result of some sincere inner inquiry about the nature of surrender, and the desire to know God. When I emulated the “vision,” my whole life changed. I stopped doing (and started living). My mind dissolved, and the emptiness took over.
It was kinda cool to see a book called Doing Nothing, when that’s what sums up my life since the Spring of ’98. I browsed your web site and found your talk about Sustained Transcendence interesting, particularly the part about Suzanne Segal.I hadn’t heard of her until now, but I found it interesting that she died of a brain tumor, because there have been times I have felt like something was “growing” in my brain ever since my mind retired a year and half ago. There seems to be a constant “tingling” in my head. When I’m sleeping or dreaming it goes away, but as soon as I awake until I sleep, its presence is there. I am not sure if the “tingle” is the result of, or the cause for, the empty mind experience. Whatever the case may be the experience has been nothing less than a savior. It is like novocaine for the mind!
So, how did you stop doing? How did your search finally end? How did it dawn upon you that you just have to do nothing?
SH: There is no particular circumstance around this realization/non-realization. There are lots of circumstances occurring in my life all the time, as yours no doubt, and this is what interests me more so. In this respect I am interested in exploring the nature of relationship, community, education and so forth.
V: What circumstances in your life have occurred or are occurring?
SH: Much of my doing involves speaking with people in public events/dialogs and currently beginning a school for children which will attempt to embody inquiry into education. Is there something which is of deep interest to you that we should investigate?
V: I am interested to know more about your realization/non-realization, as you put it. How did your search end? What was it that enabled you to stop doing after many years of “searching”?
SH: There was never a search, only the attempt to acquire power and control over life. This idea, based on the notion of separation, is unrelated to any actuality, as such there is no obvious beginning or end, no point of resolution. Accounts of sudden shifts are interesting in that they imply a before and after, a kind of dualism maintained as memory in the after phase. If there is no before or after, no time to sequence events, then when is the end of the search, the beginning of the search and for that matter what is the search and who is searching?
V: In your book Doing Nothing you write:
“At a young age I was moved by the pain and discord around me and inside me. I sought to find a complete, final and universal answer to this pain. For 25 years I studied the world’s philosophies and religions. I sought out every mystic, seer and magician I could find throughout the world.
It was all useless.
Somewhere in all of this, the discovery occurred that pain and discord were not the problem, but the seeker was. The very grasping for an answer, for a response, for a solution that relieved me of the burden of feeling, was the problem. Without the grasping of the seeker; the nature of the problem fundamentally changes.”
What I am asking is how did the discovery occur? What enabled you to see that the seeker was the problem?
SH: I have no idea. It is an oddly meaningless question (not your questioning which appears to be sincere and to the point) as this notion of the discoverer of the absence of the discoverer then explaining the causality of the discoverer (who isn’t) finding that he isn’t. Maybe language, since it creates a subject-object time bound world is a difficult medium to work with here. The sense is more like the the deconstruction of the ideas surrounding “seeker” and “problem,” but also the sense that this was always known anyway. But I wouldn’t want to imply that there is now some altered state unlike a previous state. There appears to be only one thing occurring, which has always occurred and is outside the mental construction of time.
V: You have no idea how the discovery occurred? I find it interesting that you feel that the “how” of the discovery is not relevant or “meaningless.” Language does make subjective reality hard to explain. I did not follow your explanation. If it was always known anyway, why was there a time in your life when you felt like you were seeking, doing, etc.?
When I visit Niagra Falls, I realize it was always there whether I knew it existed or not. This realization occurs after Niagra is discovered. Could it not be said: When one visits the ONE THING (Niagra), one realizes that It (and only It) was, is and always will be?
SH: Of course, this could be said and has been said by the spiritual all along. What is it that Niagra Falls (the one thing)would say about this discovery, the discoverer or the question of what it would say?
V: It (Niagra/the One Thing) would probably say something like, “Welcome Home!”
SH: Here’s where language is difficult, because the narrative above comes from the separate entity (in concept only) which animates the one with its idea of response. But from the “perspective” of the one, nothing has left, come home or done anything in particular — since there is no causality, separation, location, time, rather in beingness there is simply “as isness.” In this respect, how can we talk about a point of change, discovery, enlightenment, merger etc since that places us outside of this beingness, gives a before and after, a location, process etc.
V: Could not Advaita and Dvaita co-exist? Many examples in life could lead one to know and believe that both realities are true. It depends on what perspective you want to take. If you are It (Niagra), then there is only ONE. There is no search, searcher or searchee. But I could argue that you and I are not IT. Identification with It, does not necessarily make us It. We may sit in the presence of Niagra, we may even merge with the water of Niagra; however, that does not make us the biggest waterfall on Earth.
Therefore, would you not say that you are ONE with IT, but not IT, ITSELF (yet)? For if you were, you could employ all the power, character, and creative force of IT? I can enjoy IT and be ONE with IT, without having all the traits of IT. Is that not duality? Is that not duality co-existing with oneness? Many of us have enjoyed the bliss of God without being able to wield the Power of God. Is this not duality?
I can enjoy Niagra, but I cannot yet fill a stadium with water in 15 mintues. Perhaps you can. If we were not human, there would be no search. There would be no discovery. But is that not the purpose of our existence? Is that not why we were given Human lives? So that He could place Himself outside of “this beingness, to give a before and after, a location, process etc.” Is that not the “purpose” of our time-space existence, i.e. human life, to discover Niagra, and become more like It?
SH: This is certainly how it appears, but I would suggest that you have it backwards.
From the perspective of the One, it is not about the discovery of Oneness by the relative but rather the expression of Oneness in the relative. Since our vantage is conditioned to be through thought (which is always dual) we construct the search as our meaning, much as the rat may consider the movement through the maze as purposed by the resulting food. It is perfectly logical from the though perspective. But thought is only a mechanical process conceptualizing life, it is not life itself. Thought cannot access totality, but Life (totality) has the capacity to move through thought. Although it looks like there is the relative and the absolute (two) there is really only singularity.