What comes to mind when reading a book about no objective reality, no self, no identity, no ego, no separate other? An author telling us that everything is illusory?
Maybe you think:
‘Well, who the hell are you talking to then?’
‘Why write a book if there is no one to tell?’
It’s an interesting conundrum.
It becomes more and more obvious that the apparent reality of who we are and of everything else is illusory. Ultimately there is no one here. There is a transient idea of me and a transient idea of you arising and that is not who we are.
We are not here in the way we think we are.
Yet, even in the midst of this exploration, here we are apparently talking to each other, messaging each other, arguing with each other. Here are we together on webinars or chatting in the street, talking about apparently real events and real circumstances.
So, what’s going on here? In this exploration of reality, how do we know what to take as real, what to honour, and act on?
If it looks real, then it is just what is in that moment.
To experience something here in our reality or self and try to say it is not real makes no sense. In the denial, the person or thing we are trying to refute just gets more and more apparently real.
We could look at a bill on the table and say ‘well non dualism says nothing is real so there is no bill there, there is nothing to do’. What happens? The bill doesn’t get paid, charges and interest are added on and the bill just gets bigger. Through attempted denial, the bill just gets more present not less, more consequences, not fewer. This is because in our experience of reality, the bill is actually there.
We could look at two hungry, cranky children in the kitchen at dinner time and say ‘well this exploration says there is no other so there are no children, there is no such thing as food or hunger’. What happens? The kids, of course, get more cranky, more hungry. They are not going anywhere. And this is because, no matter what we try to tell ourselves, in our experience, they are actually there.
We could sit with a client and tell them they are not who they think they are, that their experiences, needs, desires and wants aren’t real. What happens? They cling even tighter to those experiences, to that identity. And this is because it is ludicrous to tell an apparently real client sitting in a chair in our office that they do not exist.
If someone denies my existence and experience, I just get more fixed in what I need, more apparently real, not less. More distant from the denier. More separate. And the denier will feel the same because, even though they are denying the existence of a separate person, in their actual experience I am real and I am separate and we are apparently moving further away.
Trying to tell another person there is no separation when we clearly, in that moment, do not see it for ourselves (by virtue of the fact that we are talking to an apparently separate person) is incongruous and slightly insane.
It always begs the question – who are you talking to then?
It makes no sense to mix up the two. There is the understanding of how reality arises and then there is the reality that is here. And that reality is apparently real.
And this ultimately is about the honouring of and intimacy with that reality as it appears.
The only thing to do with a bill is honour the apparent reality of it. Explore it. Say ‘yes’ to it. Just meeting it exactly as it appears. Noticing everything that arises with it. Any attempt to deny just fixes it in place.
The only thing to do with hungry children is honour them. Notice how they appear in this apparent reality. No resistance. No pushing away. No denial. Just the doing of whatever makes sense given that reality.
The only thing to do with a friend is honour them. Notice everything about them. No overriding, no arguing, no spiritualising away their experience or needs. Just presence to whatever is right now.
The only thing to do with a feeling, a thought, an experience, a reality is to honour it. Meet it as it appears. Welcome it in. Ask it questions. Explore it.
The only thing to do with someone who needs something is honour them. No resistance. No denial. No pushing away. The ‘yes’ or the ‘no’ to their request will arise from the apparent reality of the right now.
And it is only in that openness, only in that ‘yes’ to reality, only in that absence of denial and resistance, that we can get so close to it, so intimate with it, so complete with it that it no longer exists as separate from us.
Through the opening up to whatever is, we move into it. From the honouring and welcoming of apparent separation we see that ultimately there is nothing to resist or deny in bills or children or clients or issues or circumstances.
There is nothing to resist and there is nothing that could do the resisting.
Nothing to deny and nothing that could do the denying.
We explore this apparent reality of self and other with humility, congruence, sanity, authenticity and honesty.
There is just the simple reality of what appears for us all to explore more and more deeply and more and more lovingly.
It is in the honouring of apparent reality and openness to whatever is right in front of us that its true subjective, temporary nature reveals itself.
Always that way round.
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