You Are the Whole Thing

Dear Scott, Could you say a little more about what part love plays in this? I am a Christian with strong Buddhist leanings, but I am having a lot of difficulty reconciling the two. Is love the key to spiritual awakening, or is it awareness? What is it like?

We don’t have awareness, we are awareness. And awareness is love. When it is wide open, when it is not fixated on some narrow and contrived identity, some narrow craving, argument, irritation, or fear, the nature of awareness is unconditionally affectionate, tender, sensitive, and compassionate. Advaita Vedanta, Christian meditation, the Buddhadharma, Kabbalah, Vipassana, Tibetan Dzogchen, Zen practice, Sufi practice, and all true forms of mysticism, at their very best, are simply doors to this discovery. The radical, unconditional mercy of Jesus, the uncorrupted compassion and understanding of the Buddha – these are just metaphors for your own pure heart, the core of your own being. Yours, mine, everyone’s.

Your life is Love’s life. If you try to take it away, if you try to limit it in an attempt to satisfy some mental or emotional obsession with security or pleasure, you will, in short order, find yourself habitually wandering through any number of hell realms of envy, fear, worry, possessiveness, jealousy, sorrow, stress, frustration, rage, craving, addiction, greediness, competitiveness, pettiness, loneliness, depression, or whatever. If you doubt that in even the slightest way, watch self-centered thinking very closely, and see where it all leads, over and over and over again.

How to bring hell to its end? Stop taking mental images and stories about yourself and other people seriously; stop indulging in them as if they are important, as if they might be reliable or useful, as if they actually mean something. Self-centered thinking, all self-centered thinking, is a kind of insanity. It is neither honest nor accurate, and is a constant, hurtful distraction from all that is. Even though there may be secure and familiar sensations of endocrine and nervous system habit, it is a pathological luxury you cannot afford. (If you want to be awake and free, that is.) The irony is that when you let go, when you give it up completely, the peace and security you sought in so many limited and transient forms, is everywhere.

The word “enlightened” simply refers to life without a past or a future, life without self-centered fantasy (all of which is made up of nothing but memory). Sex fantasies, romantic fantasies, money fantasies, power fantasies, political fantasies, prestige fantasies, security fantasies, control fantasies – there is no reality, no love, and no freedom in any of them. Stop indulging in that kind of escapist daydreaming, and you will suddenly realize that you are the world, all of it unfolding, moment-by-moment. You are the whole thing, and every sight, every sound, every smell, taste, feeling, thought, experience and circumstance, everything that takes birth, lives out its life, and dies, is you. The idea of separate identity, whether neurotic or grandiose, with all of its competitive and conflicting desires, using people, judging or blaming yourself or other people, none of it makes sense anymore. In fact, the memory of all such activity breaks your heart.

What is it like? It’s not like anything you could ever imagine or think about. The world is absolutely complete and serene, and you are struck dumb with infinite love and wonder. Words like good, bad, right, wrong, me, mine, you, yours, us, them, beauty, ugliness, loneliness, division, or isolation no longer mean anything at all anymore.

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