No Death No Fear – Session 10 – Why is Bliss so Important?
Featuring: Robert Thurman
Why is Bliss so Important?
I feel very honored and privileged to be here in this field, in this field of love with all of you. Love meaning the will to everyone’s happiness – basically that’s what love is. Now, one factor that’s in there, one thing that might let people feel a little less worried is that the basis, although Buddha is very careful about it and other great teachers are very careful about it, but the real basis of it is the ‘Ananda’ part. You know, in Vedanta they say, “Sat-chit-Ananda” the nature of ultimate reality. Being, awareness and bliss.
Satchitananda. Ananda means joy or bliss, and Sokar also means bliss. Bliss is very key.
Actually Ram Dass, for example, is someone who has experienced in his life a tremendous amount of bliss. We mustn’t underestimate the role of the entheogenic in his life. It’s good because there’s been this horrible reaction in our culture for the last 50 years of people of the ilk of our current Attorney General who are very much afraid of bliss, and they want to make sure it stays illegal. I don’t mean any particular substance. What I mean is the actual bliss of a being’s health. Every single one of you has bliss, in fact your health is your bliss. Why are your cells, for example if you have a nice arm or body or belly or chest or bones, marrow, brain, it’s because one cell likes the cell next to it?
Those two cells like each other, “Oh let’s have some protein and do something. Let’s move the muscles, let’s do some yoga, let’s stretch.” So your inner bliss, everyone has. But you’re taught that you can’t have such a thing. So you’re very guarded, “Oh no maybe Jesus had bliss after he got strung up and escaped. Or Maharaj-ji had bliss or somebody else does but we’re not allowed to.” Because you have to obey somebody. And when people are blissful they don’t necessarily feel like obeying, you know? We all know that. Even the commercial monstrosity that our culture has become knows that. Do you all know the Zoloft commercial?
Has anybody seen that? Zoloft is a mood enhancing thing, a really pathetic one compared to some good ones. But it’s one that they can sell, it’s one that they can sell. It’s a commercial where there’s a lady in a kitchen with the window outside looking out to a suburban garden or field with some yellow flowers in the field. And she’s having a terrible time. The kid has just thrown his porridge on the floor, the dog is doing some unbelievably horrible thing, she’s just burned one of those plastic waffles that they sell you full of peanut genes and it’s smoking, the husband looks really cranky, like where’s my paper and my coffee, and she’s all ohhhawwww you know?
And then the camera pans for a few seconds out the window. And the little yellow flowers come off their stalks and they arrange themselves in a pattern that says (musical voice) “Zoloft” and then you know she took one. Then it’s like BOOM, the dog out the door, eat your porridge kid, new waffle in the toaster, husband get your own coffee and she’s just totally great. Then they go into that long after-tale in the commercial about how if you start feeling like an ax murderer, if you take this for 2 days, go to your doctor.
You know those kinds of commercials. In other words the Zoloft is supposed to provide that sense of zing, that sense of bliss. We all know that’s when we really do whatever it is well, and that’s the essence of compassion actually.
You cannot really feel that someone who is suffering really shouldn’t be suffering unless you have a sense of what it’s like to be free of suffering. And realize that they too have that. You have to see the bliss in them even though they’re suffering, you see that way. Maharaj-ji did that, the Dalai Lama does that, people ask him, “Oh you’re having this terrible thing, this genocide going on in Tibet by the Chinese communists, you’re going out for 60 some years, how do you remain cheerful and happy anyway? Even though you’re not happy and not accepting it. You’re speaking out, you’re going all over the planet trying to speak up and get people to put a little pressure on the dictators and so forth not to do it. But personally, you remain happy.”
The point is, if you want to be effective compassion you have to be happy. People who are suffering are not interested in your laying down on the bed next to them and saying, “Oh yeah, we’re really suffering here.” That doesn’t really help them. They want someone who is feeling better, but is not showing off that and having schadenfreude, but is then therefore out of that better feeling able to do something. It’s like the mother who is with the child at the checkout counter at the grocery store. The child is in front of that huge stack and array of candy that they put there to freak out the mother and sell to the child. Then the child is having a tantrum and the mother doesn’t know what to do and she’s trying to pay the bill.
But when she feels really good she completely distracts that kid, “Oh hey what do you want something?” But if she has a headache or something she might even give him a smack and then they’ll have her arrested, if it gets really bad. Or she might buy 10 candies and then be having to pay for diabetes in another 10 years. So bliss is a very big key and that’s what this is really about. No death, no fear. It sounds very brave and wonderful but actually it has to do with bliss.
Coming back to Ram Dass, the entheogenic, the psychedelics, all-natural societies have some kind of sacrament, but it’s a sacrament with a kick. It’s not just Manischewitz. It has a little kick. It temporarily melts down, it melts down the conditioning structure that you’re supposed to be obediently inhabited, the voice of your culture. Mine used to be the voice of Walter Cronkite. Some of you older people know what I mean. That was the real voice, the real voice is a voice that tells you “Don’t be too happy, that’s dangerous. Oh, that’s not right, oh that’s awful.
Oh, there’s nothing we can do about. Oh, lead a life of quiet desperation,” as Mr. Thoreau said about 150 years ago or something.
More than that, 170 years ago.
That voice temporarily gets suspended. Now if someone just does that then they’ll end up like poor David in a tree. So it’s not that by itself, but it sort of opens the veil. But then people like Ram Dass, then they find out how to do that permanently. Remember he understood who Maharaj-ji was because he gave that veil opening self to Maharaj-ji and Maharaj-ji was just the same.
Therefore he knew by inference that Maharaj-ji was living without the veil and that you could do that. Then he decided to do that himself, so that’s very, very key. We must remember that the key to a living representative of Maharaj-ji, our channel, our vessels of Maharaj-ji, which is this group, that they do have this bliss. That is the key thing that you all have to have and find on this retreat, you have to have bliss.
When your intellect is like, “Oh it’s so awful.” Then that’s a kind of version of what’s called the pride of humility. It’s a mental affliction, you have to get over it. People who die, if you lost them, they’re not sitting up in heaven with a misery meter like “Oh good! They’re still miserable because I’m gone!” No way! They want you to be happy. So we should remember that, that’s very, very key.
The second way I wanted to approach this is with the fact that now that Yogi Berra got us past the anxiety of the Buddhist Hindu division, which I’m so thrilled. Right? Because we’re all taking the fork, we’re all going with both branches, that means. I really like that. Imagine coming to Maharaj-ji’s field and being spoken to by Yogi Berra. And that is this, everyone is scared of dying someone was saying yesterday, oh you must help them, everyone is so worried about it.
Well excuse me, how much do you hate falling to sleep at night? Any of you? Don’t you love it? Ahhh, it’s all over now. Oh it was great. The lecture was great, the chant was great, the teaching was great, the beach was great, the water was great, the food was great and that’s enough of it all – crash. Don’t you love it? Well. You fall asleep because you entrust yourself to absolute nothingness. You lose consciousness, you’re happy to get rid of it. No consciousness. If you don’t lose it – where’s my Ambien? Give me a sleeping pill. Oh, you’ll feel terrible tomorrow. You love losing consciousness.
Why do you think people got into the opioid thing when they lost their jobs? Because they wanted to lose consciousness while they’re awake. The human being is very escapist, the unenlightened one. They have this problem. They think their real self is something separate from their body, and therefore they are ignoring the actual bliss of their life force. Then they feel therefore they don’t have enough happiness, they’re dissatisfied with everything. Then all they can do is worry about “How happy am I? Was that a great talk? Oh that was great, but was it really the greatest? Could there be a better one some other time? Oh it was much better before when I saw so and so. If someone else was here I’d be so much happier. Oh if my guru was here I’d be so happy.”
Then when you think about evaluating how much you have, you’re unhappy. What is the source of your unhappiness? Is it the lack of anything you could possibly want in the moment? No. It is that you are not appreciating everything that is there. You are not seeing the bliss in your fingertip. Your fingertip would be growing a weird growth if it was miserable, because it would be worrying about some other weird intruder in there. It wouldn’t be embracing the intruder and turning into something useful. That’s what we do when we eat food. We put in alien substances and our happy microbiome. You know about the microbiome? You know that you’re a community of a million billion beings, and your miserable 23,000 genes you have as a little bit of hairless chimpanzee, which is what we are.
You know we have only 23,000 genes. They thought they were going to really get to, the scientists, the materialists, thought they would really control everything with that. Then they found we have like a billion genes in our microbiome. Those mango eating bugs, there’s billions of them in your stomach. They enjoy being in your stomach. They enjoy being in your stomach and they love it. They go in there and you put in some weird hotdog with some weird sauce and strange chemicals and MSG and I don’t know what all. Entrails of some ranch with some dead cow in there, and then they turn it into something nice because they’re happy. But are you aware of the happiness of your microbiome? Nooo.
(Whining) “I don’t know, where’s guru-ji?” Okay? And then when you fall asleep, this is a very important thing. When you fall asleep you go through all the stages of consciousness, disillusion, that you will go through at death. Which, I’m sorry, we are all definitely going to go through that. Even enlightened persons, the reason enlightened persons do that though, a really enlightened person is not ordinary. Don’t believe this crap about “Oh you get all enlightened and it’s the same old dishes to wash.” Or something like that. No way. Don’t believe any of this, “Oh enlightenment was so great, but now I’m washing dishes.” If you hear that then that’s not, that guy missed the boat.
If they say, “I got enlightened and now washing dishes is ecstasy,” then it’s okay. Because then, the ordinary thing they are doing in the moment and being aware of that and so it is ecstasy. We are so lucky you know? How lucky are you all here?! We are all so incredibly lucky. We’re human beings. We ate a lot of mangoes. We were bugs a lot of times. Bugs can be happy too; our microbiome are happy. Because they get to see Guru-ji you know, they’re in there digesting rice and dahl and then somehow through you they get contact in the field of an enlightened being, so your bugs are happier than other people’s bugs. But the thing is, you’re so lucky because you’re a human being, you know?
Do you think it’s easy to become a human being? Of course, you think that it just happens naturally, “My genes did it.” Materialists, materialism is one of the most psychotic world views that can be. Definitely. These people, either Hindu or Buddhist, these people in India, they are great scientists. They are not religious fanatics. There are many religious fanatics of course in every form, Buddhist as well as Hindu as well as whatever. Although Hindu doesn’t really have a proper word, either Vishnivites, Shaivites, Shakyites.
There are different religions in India. Hindu is just a word made up by Arabs to cover all religions ever existing in India, it isn’t really a particular one. My point is, their main thing is science. They have their great universities, where they didn’t have a dark age, by the way. When we were having a dark age in Italy and Europe they were having these fabulous universities, and the queen and the king of the sciences which is what they call inner science. Inner science is how to manage your mind and how to come prepared to Baba Ram Dass’ statements about the 3 levels of the soul level and then the One level. The One, the Soul and then the meat puppet, he talks about.
He told me at lunch, I was saying “Non-duality, non-duality…” and he was saying, “I’m a dualist.” And I said, “Non-duality supports dualism. Non-duality loves dualism, that’s why it’s non-duality and not just monism, oneness. It’s non-duality. Non-duality means we’re all already in the soul, all of us, we’re already in Nirvana, that’s really what nonduality means. You’re already with Brahma, this is Brahma. Guru-ji is with you, you can’t be separated from Guru-ji. Those who are missing Guru-ji because he’s dead were missing him when he was alive, actually.” Unless they were like in his lap all the time, like a few of them – where is he? (Laughter) But he kept kicking you out on the other hand! Driver, driver, go back to America.
“We are all the Buddha”
You can’t miss these people, these beings who are you. Don’t you understand? Your Buddha nature is all the Buddhas in you, is all the great Maharaj-ji’s in you. He’s in you. You are completely enfolded in fully enlightened beings. But their problem, they have a problem, Buddha has a problem. Okay imagine this. You fall in love with all beings, you see them like you see – beauty is in the eye of the beholder right – they all look absolutely beautiful to you. Totally beautiful. It’s not “no judgements” it’s that they all look beautiful, completely, like when you’re fully in love.
Then – all of them, and you feel therefore one with them. Then, and you can do that because you see them all as made of bliss. They are all brahma’s best effort, their embodiment. They are just fabulous, especially human ones have come to a point where they could conceivably understand that themselves. So they are especially to be fussed over. The gods are also very smart, but the gods tend to be self-indulgent because they’re gods you know. So they wouldn’t come to a lecture here or a talk, they’d be just floating in the jacuzzi all day long for 50 million years, they have 50 million yearlong jacuzzies. They don’t like to come out and listen to a dharma talk or meditate.
But humans, we’re vulnerable, we’re these incredibly intelligent, divine intelligent, bliss beings and so they really like us – all enlightened beings – because they’re like our moms. How about the nightmare of thinking that every being that you see is like your only beloved child? How about that. Anybody been a mom? Did you lose some sleep? Did you get worried when the kid was sick? Did you freak out? Now, how about you think that way about every being – how could you possibly manage that? And even the problem is this, you’re in bliss, you see them all as bliss, but you can’t (make) them into bliss.
A paranoid person, “I want my boundary. Don’t step on my toe.” People in the subway, “I have my boundary. Don’t sit next to me.” In the subway, people sit down 2 seats, in the New York subway, nobody can get that close to me. They don’t mind that little ridge in the crack there, so nobody else can get in the seat. Everybody’s got their boundary, right? You go up to a paranoiac and you flood them with bliss, what are they going to do? They’re going to think it’s smack down time! So you are them, and you feel their bliss, at the same time you feel that they don’t feel it, so what do you do?
You enfold them in a Lila that gets them to discover their own self. Do you follow? That’s the trick. That’s why the greatest of all gifts for Buddhism or Hinduism is not the gift of material things, is not the gift of protection, although those are two really important generosities and gifts. But it’s the gift of teaching.
When you’re open you’re vulnerable, but then you’re also happy when you’re open. You can absorb the suffering, as Frank so beautifully said, by being open because you have awareness of your deeper inner bliss. You know, give and take meditation that Roshi Joan was teaching?
Give and take, where you give out your happiness as you exhale in the form of light and you draw in other beings’ suffering in the form of smoke or mist or some dark thing, and you bring that in. But how can you do that if you don’t have an engine of bliss in your heart, and what is the engine of bliss in your heart? It’s the wisdom of knowing reality.
Exploring the Four Types of Compassion
There are 3 types of wisdom in Buddhist psychology, Indian psychology will tell you – well 4 types. The first type – I’m sorry 4 types of compassion.
The first type of compassion is in a way called false compassion or sometimes called sentimental compassion. And it is said to be the compassion that has a concept of love. It is good too, actually, the reason they call it false or sentimental is that it wears out the person, you get compassion fatigue as they call it. With just the idea that you want to feel sorry for the suffering being, and you should feel sorry for them.
This will totally wear you out because if it’s not combined with a level of wisdom, the knowing the reality of that being, you will be subliminally feeling that’s just the way they are, the way they suffer. So you will have no drive to take away that suffering and replace it with bliss. You will not be able to have that kind of energy, you’ll have a kind of empathy maybe, but that will wear you out.
The first compassion that’s really genuine that has power goes along with the wisdom of impermanence. Which is why death is so valuable to think about. Stop resisting it because it’s a way to be happy. If you think about your death you’ll be more happy because you’ll realize you’re not dead. How about that? If you think about you will be (dead) and then you realize you’re not – WOW you suddenly can appreciate something about the present. If you don’t, your death is sort of lurking there because subliminally you know about it, and then you pretend you don’t, and then you’ll be here forever and you’ll be happy later and you’re just running around – but it’s just lurking there and you’re much less happy and you take for granted being alive and you don’t decide you’re going to really rise above whatever it is and really enjoy and really be loving and really do it now.
So you get very, like that. The wisdom of impermanence grows from reflecting on the reality of your own death. All great yogis, not just Buddhists. Christians – you know Franciscan monks have a skull in their room, it’s a little candle holder in a skull. That’s to remind them that they are just there so they will be in the moment of a certain positive thing. Because they’re called the 3 roots of meditation on the immediacy of death. Some of you older people might have read Carlos Castaneda, and you know that idea of taking death as your advisor. That’s a brilliant idea from the Yaqui tradition, from the Native American shamanistic tradition, that’s wonderful.
Really reflect on your own death, think about your own skull. Lama Sultrim I think she told people in other years this thing about “Think of giving your flesh to demons to eat.” That’s a little extreme. That’s advanced, that’s advanced – it might freak a normal person out. The main point is really become aware of that. The second root is called “Realize that you don’t know when it will be.” It could happen any time. It’s no guarantee that someone who is very sick, who has a lot of pain, there’s no guarantee that person will die before someone who thinks they’re very healthy.
It can strike at any time, we all know that. That brings you even more into the moment. You’re definitely going to die, but you’re alive so I’m really happy! Then I don’t know how long I’m going to be alive, so this could be my last day, this could be my last moment! We need to get that level of intensity in the moment, this really brings you in the moment. Then 3rd root is, when I do it is my soul that will go with me. And then there gets to be controversy about exactly what is that soul? But what the soul is something like, we have a concept in Buddhist Science called the Soul Gene. It’s like a super subtle process wherein the residue of your deeds in life, but not just this life – many previous lives – are encoded.
The first level is the level of knowing impermanence. So the first level is the level of knowing impermanence. When you have the wisdom of impermanence and therefore when you see other beings who are suffering, and you realize that will pass, that they could be happy actually. Then you can connect to your deeper vision of their actual bliss nature, you can connect that to – it may not be fully manifest in you yet – you can connect it to the fact that at least this suffering condition will change. Then your own bliss will rise in you with skill, with skillful means, with art, with artfulness. Upaya, the word upaya means artfulness, art. And the art, every mother knows the art of making the kid get out of the tantrum, of making someone feel better. Everyone knows the art of getting their friend out of the dumps, out of the bad vibe, we’re all artful.
When you feel compassion for beings then what your compassion expresses itself in is art. Your life becomes art, a work of art for others.
Then the 2nd level of compassion is the compassion that, and that first one is the compassion that is combined with the wisdom of impermanence and that sees personalities, beings as personalities. But sees them as impermanent, changing personalities, so it doesn’t get stuck with them on one kind of suffering personality that they have.
The second level is combined with what they call personal selflessness. This is where you have an experience, that in Zen – which has always good expressions – you have the experience as if your face fell off. Do you know what I’m talking about? Did you ever have an experience like that? It means your persona, you know what the word persona means in Latin? It means a mask. When you have a rigid personality identity then you’re always putting up a certain mask between you and life.
Then sometimes you have these blown away experiences, it doesn’t have to be with psychedelics, it doesn’t have to be with a religious thing, it could be in a chant, it could be something like that. Somehow your face is not the screen between you and reality. Somehow. You could fall in love, or you could be blown away by an aesthetic experience, but somehow the sort of upholding your rigid personality disappears from you. At that time you see other beings as a process. You don’t see them as a rigid personality either, because you no longer have a sense of rigid personality, you become responsible for constructing your personality and realizing your personality is a constellation of rigidified habits, and you being to replace those habits, you begin to make better habits.
Instead of thinking about how miserable you are because of something you failed, you start thinking of the name of god, then your connection to that becomes your new personality and you have to keep shaping it like that, as you follow. That’s mantra and all these things related to that.
But then the highest one, the highest compassion is called the compassion that does not perceive anything. That compassion is one where, as Frank so beautifully talked about earlier, is natural. You naturally feel the suffering in another being and it just seems wrong that it’s like that. You don’t see them as another being. You literally feel it with them and you automatically do whatever it takes to help them free themselves from that. You become walking therapy person. All mothers are walking therapy persons. So that’s not so remote to us all.
The Parallels Between Sleep and Death
Bob: So you love falling asleep, don’t you? Now this is something I normally only share with people when they come to Tibet House’s Retreat Center which is not as nice as this one, because we only have 120 people in the Catskills, and it’s only in the summer. But this is a special sleep yoga. Why is that? When you sleep, you turn off all the lights, you close the doors, you put in earplugs if you’re in a noisy place and you shut down your senses.
You go down through a meditation where you stop seeing things, you stop hearing things, you stop smelling things or maybe you have a nice lavender scented pillow so you’re content with one smell – and then you give that up. You stop tasting things. Because you brush your teeth and rinsed it out after that rice and dahl that you ate, and you stop feeling tactile sensations, but the last one is the nice soft pillow. So you shut down your five senses, and then your mental sense you also let it go away. And if it doesn’t go away and keeps you from falling asleep you get irritated with it, and then take an Ambien.
That’s exactly what happens to you at death, in some form or another. You want to have a peaceful death in your own bed if you’re lucky – people pray to do that. But even if it’s sudden you go through the same stages. Then we normally don’t notice but according to the scientists, this is not religious business, this is scientific reports from the equivalent of materialist astronauts, which I call them psychonauts, they’re voyagers in the psyche.
They have done not near-death experience, they have post death experience.
These are guys who don’t get revived by electric shock or a doctor or something. They actually go through death and then in another life they remember death, because they are able to lucidly die.
If we knew how to lucidly fall asleep we would then go through 3 more stages, which we do every single night according to these scientists. We would see a white light, like a moon lit, like a vast space white light, we would see a light like that. Not a moon, but moonlight, just moonlight. Then the moonlight, our consciousness in that moonlight expands because we’re used to sort of, the subjectivity actually melts into the moonlight and there’s no sense of subject/object.
But we’re not comfortable with that, we’re used to being boundaried. The consciousness wants to expand in that and in a little bit there’s a little mini-explosion. That turns it kind of, it heats it and it becomes kind of reddish like a sunlight. And that becomes strenuous and then it becomes nice and dark light, a brilliant darkness. Then we’re unconscious, we’re asleep in that darkness. And then we wrongly think, all of us, that we spend the night in a simulated state of nothingness. That’s what we think. But I have this one question to ask you. If you were lying in nothingness – your body, your cells, your brain, everything – all night long, 8 hours, 10 hours, 7 hours, why would you feel energized in the morning?
How come you feel all ready to go in the morning. Nothing gave you energy? Excuse me, how did it do that? It was a big bang? That nonsense idea? Guys I have a news flash, nothing is nothing. Therefore, it is not a place, it has no energy, it’s not there. So, darkness is not nothing. So, you’re not lying in nothing. What happens is when your busy mind is turned off, when you let it become unconscious because you feel safe enough, is you go into what is called clear light.
Clear light is Satchitananda. You’re familiar with that from Vedanta, right. Satchitananda. Being, awareness, bliss. When you say awareness, wait a minute I didn’t wake up. No, because it’s not your subject/object awareness.
It’s not your boundary awareness. And actually all the awareness you have is the nothing state in which you went unconscious, in which you sort of let go of all your selves, you let go of everything. Then instead of lying in nothingness, you are lying in a kind of infinite bed of infinite energy, ready to resupply any kind of cell that felt a little depleted. Anything that has a problem and it’s just humming there.
You’re like an Iborg spaceship. You’re standing there and you’re re-energizing. That’s what’s really happening. You wouldn’t do that because you wouldn’t allow the infusion of infinite energy into you normally, because you’re boundaried. I don’t want alien energy in me! You only allow it when you’re unconscious. Which you are, in the dark light in sleep, then you’re in what we call clear light – being awareness bliss. That is infinite love actually. It isn’t any person’s love, it is every person’s love. It is the basic energy of the universe.
If you let it all go, all the default energy – this is something really deep for those of us from Jewish, Christian, American, Materialist, Anti-Jewish, Anti-Christian, Muslim, Anti-Muslim, every one of these organized traditions that we be like a member of the collective, all of us are taught that the default is something horrible. Hell.
I was recently reading one of the leading popularizers of scientific materialism. They make a new hell, they call it entropy. Those British guys who were upholding that Empire and that British life and their stiff upper lip, and science, material science, yes it was God, but God died so forget him. We are God, we are the empire, so therefore, we know about everything and there’s no wrong and there’s no purpose to life and everybody’s nothing, but temporarily we’re alive and we can uphold the empire.
Buncha looneys. Buncha psychos. That’s a psychotic idea. That you can become nothing is a psycho, escapist idea. Guess what? I’ve asked many scientists this, because I debate them all the time because I’m a heretic you know, they want to burn me at the stake. I’ve been working in their company because I couldn’t afford not to, and I’m a heretic because I keep asking them this question, all the natural science people. I said, “Okay Francis Bacon, Newton, Maxwell, Einstein, which one discovered the nothing that awaits you at death? Who discovered it? How come they didn’t get a Nobel Peace Prize?”
(Imitating) I discovered nothing. Then I like to ask them, “Did Carl Sagan show up and say, ‘It’s cool guys, I’m nothing, you can relax, just die painlessly and it will all be nothing.’ ” No, he didn’t. Carl didn’t show up. Carl was thinking of a mango. Or maybe mango ice cream. But that’s all right. It doesn’t mean he’s a bug, it just means he might not get tenure at Cornell next time.
The point is, nothing is the one biggest non-discovery in history of all science. Nobody has discovered nothing. They never did. You look for things and didn’t find them. Then you say “Oh I didn’t find anything,” or “I found nothing.” But you didn’t find nothing, you just didn’t discover what you were looking for. So you can’t be nothing, it’s not possible. You’re always something else. You’re not nothing now. Your ground state of you is not nothing, if you shoot yourself, as people too much tend to do, bang. You’re going to be a ghost with a headache, you’re not going to be nothing.
You’re going to carry that headache into the bardo with you. “Ohhh my head, well I don’t really have a head anymore, but it still hurts.” Seriously. You’re always going to be something. Then this leads to the wisdom of Lake Woebegone. Once you know, no matter what, no matter how bad it is, it could be worse, you have a new energy to make it better no matter what. Right? Even if it’s only a tiny little bit.
They have a wonderful verse in the Samadhi Raja Sutra, king of concentration sutra, field concentration samadhi. Which is: who understands karma, cause and effect, will understand emptiness which is not nothingness. Emptiness is relativity. Who understands emptiness and relativity becomes attentive to the tiniest little details. Isn’t that beautiful? That’s non-duality, see. You know the soul being.
I was teasing Baba Ram Dass and urging him to stay for a long time with us, because it’s so important how he shows his courage in his pain, and he shows that his bliss is greater than his pain, his awareness of bliss. Bliss of love is greater than his pain, but he has great pain. That is so powerful to us who have so little pains in comparison usually. Then when we have them we say, “Oh I can’t be loving.” We get all like, “Oh our pain is such a big deal.”
Because as my old Mongolian Maharaj-ji used to say, “Everybody is right, they’re real and their pain is real and their bliss is real. The problem is everybody thinks they’re really real.” So they exaggerate their own personal realness and therefore they become blinded to the realness of others. Because they think they’re, well another thing he used to say, which, because he used to say it so often it was ingrained in me, it was like a mantra. It’s why I really loved the Matrix when I saw that movie, he said, this is the 2nd noble truth by the way, “Everybody goes around secretly thinking ‘I’m the One!’ They do!”
And then, what do you think when you think secretly you’re the one? Of course you hide it, even from yourself maybe. “Oh after you, please you, no you first.” We do all this, we have courtesy, societies do. Otherwise we’d have no society and everybody would be tearing each other to pieces. But because we’re thinking that we’re all uptight. Why? Because no one else agrees with us. Not only do they not agree they think they’re the one and they don’t think we agree with them. So everybody is like, that’s a really unfortunate situation of the underlying world, the samsara.
Is that everybody thinks I am the one, “Oh nobody agrees with me, they think they’re the one, oh they’re so deluded.” Then someone falls in love with you and they suddenly say, “Oh you’re the one.” Wow! “Somebody agrees with me.” And then if they’re lucky you think they’re the one. And then the two of you finally have corroboration. But the problem is everybody else hates your guts. And you can’t really enjoy your moment of delusion which spirals out of control, like Romeo and Juliet.
That’s the Second Noble Truth. The correction is not to think that you don’t exist, that’s a mistake. Emptiness doesn’t mean that. Emptiness means you are empty of any non-relational element, that means you are totally interrelated with everybody else, it doesn’t mean that you’re nothing. All you are doing to become enlightened is correcting, “I’m the One” with, “I am one of the Ones.” Then there are many more other ones, then their happiness is a bigger bunch of happiness than my happiness.
Then, “Wow, if I focus on their happiness even if I’m in a gloomy mood, if I have bad vibes and they all have good vibes, I can ride on their good vibes, I’ll be so happy.” That’s the switch to real compassion. Comes from that knowledge.
This is the sleep yoga. Before you fall asleep you think. “I am a bad meditator, I didn’t achieve Samadhi, I didn’t meet Maharaj-ji, He passed away, I didn’t meet the guru, I didn’t meet Ramana Maharshi. But every night I fall asleep and when I really let go, and when I make a prayer before I do with intentionality, I’m not going to be lying in anything, I’m going to be lying in Satchitananda. I’m going to be in the clear light, and the clear light is going to flow, I’ll be one with all beings, all Buddhas, and all beings in the clear light. All lies in bliss in the clear light.” Then bang, you’ll fall asleep.
That’s the sleep yoga. That’s actually the way you want to die. You can learn to lucidly die. And then you will, and that’s what will go, whatever inner turning that you’ve had in your life, however minor it is, the 3rd root of becoming aware of death and overcoming – it’s not overcoming fear. We should be afraid actually. This no fear thing, those guys, Milarepa didn’t say he wasn’t afraid of anything, he did say he wasn’t afraid of death. He is afraid of other people suffering. He is afraid of them being trampled by yaks, his disciples. He is afraid of the planet going into holocaust.
He is afraid for people suffering. Buddha is afraid for people suffering. That’s his job. Maharaj-ji is afraid for people remaining idiots. So you should be afraid, but not of the wrong thing. People are afraid of death, when they should be afraid of life going wrong for other people and themselves. Where there’s no need for it. We’re these magnificent human beings with this tremendous intelligence, tremendous, you all have it. So, whatever you’ve turned inward, whatever mindfulness you have, whatever self-awareness, whatever little level of self-restraint, ability to question your 4, to restrain them, the negative ones, to replace them with positive ones.
To think something sensible like, “Gee whiz why should I believe those people at MIT when they tell me I’m going to be nothing when I die, and my life has no purpose when they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.” And they love to say, “What the hell.” Because they’re not afraid of things getting really worse. They’re not afraid of that. Because they think the worse that could happen is bang, nothing. No wonder the one great sales pitch in America is anti-depressants. Why? Everyone is told: You’re meaningless, you’re worthless, you have no mind, you have no spirit, you’re just a bag of water with some weird chemicals and actually Monsanto mixed some real bad ones in there. So who cares?
You shouldn’t care. That’s kind of a palliative, at least you’re not afraid of hell supposedly. Although they make you afraid of entropy and they make you afraid of not having enough money to buy their crappy drugs, and watch their crappy programs, and their fear-inspiring, greed-inspiring programs and fear-inspiring commercials. Fear-inspiring news programs.
You then can say to yourself “They don’t know that I’m nothing.” That’s blind faith, the blindest faith. You could be Moses walking on a mountain and suddenly some bush is burning and then the bush is talking to you and it gives you some nonsense errand to go talk to Pharaoh and I’m going to tell Pharaoh to tell you to shove it. “What do you mean?” “You talk to Pharaoh, you can burn a bush you talk to Pharaoh.” “No you go talk to him.” Some senseless thing, but at least you had an experience of something. The one thing you never experienced is nothing. And they say science privileges experience over theory. That’s blind faith over nothing. There is no nothing. News flash, psychos.
Seriously, there is a meditative experience that will seem like your idea of what nothing might be; which is rather dangerous. The only thing that saves you from that is the knowledge of emptiness. Emptiness is the knowledge of slipperiness. Everything is empty of being stuck in anything.
There’s no, everything that is only relational, all relational things such as ourselves, body speech and mind, are empty of any non-relational component. And that doesn’t mean we don’t have magnificent enlightened experiences that feel like an absolute. But it means that even they are not.
What is Real Enlightenment?
What do you think enlightenment is? Do you think enlightenment is like some big explosion? They talk like that and they have these kinds of experiences, you know. But actually, if enlightenment is defined not as some solipsistic inner light that you have by yourself, but rather where you fell in love with all beings. In other words, your sense of identification expanded to identify with the entire universe and you felt it was all your body, then you suddenly, instead of expecting yourself to be a big super-duper, you’re suddenly everybody else.
And then they are, they come in a dual package. On the one hand everybody else is already super-duper luckily, so you don’t abandon them; but then they don’t think so. You suddenly feel you’re all of them! I was going to have a big blowout, I’m enlightened! And then suddenly I’m some idiot who’s worrying about this guitar. And then I have to fuss with him, and have someone bring me some dahl and chapati at 3 in the morning. Do you follow me? I thought it was going to be like (explodes) and sometimes some people need to think they’re in some state like that because they want to escape.
And they’re not necessarily ready to be told, enlightenment is not escape from life, it’s eternal life, it’s infinite life, you’re there as everyone’s life, you’re one with it. They’re all you and you’re them. Then you’re aware, you can do that because they really are made of bliss, even those bugs eating mangoes are little bliss bugs. Imagine you’re a little bug and you’re crawling around on some concrete and this and that and you find a mango, half eaten because the guy didn’t want to slime himself with the seed and skin. Aaaahhh. That’s nirvana for you as a bug, you’re so happy! You shouldn’t put down such a bug!
They’re very happy. You see a bug like that. Then you realize the bug can be so much more happy if the bug would be all other bugs. So this is the thing, it’s a scientific spirituality from India. It’s scientific. Science tells you spirituality is better for your health, it’s better for your longevity, it’s better for your future. Science tells you there’s a future life, not blind faith religious life. People remember their previous lives, people know their future lives, who reach a certain level of knowledge.
Actually they warn you in the so-called Book of the Dead. By the way it’s not the Book of the Dead, that’s a stupid Western title, that’s not the title. The title is: Book of Natural Liberation in the Between State, by hearing it by understanding and hearing it in the between state. That’s what the real title is. When I discovered translating it, when I did, I was so thrilled, but I was amazed, I was so surprised. There are no dead people. There are not.
Nobody is dead. Death is when you hit Satchitananda, that’s death. Why is that death? Because when you hit Satchitananda you become not attached to your ‘meat space’ to your ‘meat puppet’ you’re everybody’s meat puppet. That’s not because you’re no meat puppet, you become everybody’s meat puppet.
And you’re no longer there for, driven to grab, to just jump on some meat puppet, you’re no longer driven to that. On the other hand, you’re compassion, you’re of infinite sensitivity, feels beings want to see a meat puppet that is happier than them to help them become more happy. Then that drives you, that’s the engine of what they call your nirmanakaya, your body of infinite emanation, right? That’s what drives you.
OK? So are you happier? Are you less scared? Sleep as nothingness, sleep, you must not think you sleep in nothingness. You know, old cemeteries are called Heavenly Sleep, Eternal Rest, you know? Nobody gets to rest.
Everybody is busy. When you die, you’re going to have a new thing. Then you can be a rock and roll guy, or you can be a chanter, or you could lose your voice. If you don’t bring with you the spiritual gene that is imprinted so that you go right through the death transition. Hari Hari, Rama Rama, Sita Sita! Buddha Buddha!
All the ethics of life is connected to the biology of karma, which is a biological theory about becoming enlightened versus becoming more and more isolated, more and more rigidly self-identified, more and more isolated, more and more lonely, more and more out of it. Okay? It’s really very simple. What the soul, the super subtle process includes all your deeds of mind as well as speech and body that are tending towards openness and all of those deeds that are tending towards closedness. And don’t worry, you wouldn’t be human if in your case your spiritual gene was tended towards much more into openness.
Because when you were a crocodile you didn’t easily imagine being a being with soft skin, and having a womb and not just dumping your eggs in the river bank waiting for them to crawl out and take their chances. You’re going to carry that in there, you’re going to have to deliver it which is a huge hard problem, a lot of work, a lot of labor, right? Then you’re going to have to take care of it until it’s 40, graduates out of medical school. And when you were a crocodile you didn’t think that would be the thing to do. You really liked having your big jaw, which just ate a zebra that jumped across the river in front of you and you had scales and this and that.
The one thing you didn’t have as a female crocodile though was any male crocodile having any kind of attractive foreplay. Point is, as a human being you are already included tremendous openness. So openness is the name of your game. Which could be a translation of emptiness, since Roshi Joan is so scared of emptiness you could call it openness. That’s the positive gene that you want to cultivate. Therefore learning to let go. That’s why generosity is a big thing, giving gifts, letting go of things, falling asleep, relaxing. Letting go is a big thing actually, it is a source of joy actually. If you can’t let go you can’t enjoy a concert, you can’t enjoy Rembrandt, you can’t enjoy anything.
Because your mind is like, “Oh that’s a Rembrandt, I’ve seen plenty of Rembrandts, that’s not the Mona Lisa, I don’t care.” You can’t enjoy it. you can’t even enjoy sex if you can’t let go. Don’t worry – you’re very human.
The last minute is not that critical. You can think of mangoes, you can be reborn as a mango mogul, a mango selling billionaire. Whoever really markets mangoes effectively in America, it’s such a delicious fruit, they’re going to be a zillionaire. You don’t have to be a bug, you can be a whatever, you can be a mango person.
The way you think about it is just practically, cause and effect, you want to open yourself to anything that you do and you want it to be a cause of greater and greater openness.
That’s what you do – you just be open. Do everything to lead to open. Embrace death. Realize it’s your chance to quantum leap into higher forms of being. Every moment is a death. Realize it could be any moment, so therefore be in this moment. And then keep your mind constantly open and do everything possible to open it. Okay? That’s the natural liberation to understanding in the between state, and we are all in the between state even now. Thank you. Goodnight.
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