Just let things happen without making any response and keep your minds from dwelling on anything whatsoever; for they who can do this thereby enter nirvana. Attained, then, is the condition of no rebirth, otherwise called ‘the gate of non-duality, the end of strife, the samádhi of universality’. Why so? Because it is ultimate purity. As it is free from the duality of self and other, it no longer gives rise to craving and aversion. When all relativities are seen as non-existent, naught remains to be perceived.
It is an extremely rare one indeed who, upon hearing the truth, is immediately able to drop all their accumulated stories of preference and separation, grasping and aversion, “me and mine”, and fully open their eyes to the real. This is why the old masters, the ones who themselves have awakened and are moreover fit to serve as authentic guides, typically recommend certain preliminary practices that bring one’s whole being into such an available condition that they are then prepared and ready to make the leap beyond the confines of duality and awaken to their own true identity, nature, and condition.
These recommendations include attending to the healing and balancing of the “food” body, the mental body, and the emotional body, for starters. It is also understood that, unless one has gotten straight with “the basics” first, it would be ridiculous to presume that one is capable of fully engaging a practice which requires the pristine concentrative skill and self-mastery (and not just for an hour on a cushion, but 24/7) that a teacher such as Dogen Zenji prescribes:“Do not think of good and bad. Do not care about right and wrong. Stop the driving movement of mind, will, and consciousness. Cease intellectual consideration through images, thoughts, and reflections.”
Just as an athlete might have outstanding potential, but nevertheless must rigorously practice to fulfill that potential, so too are we all born with the innate capacity to realize our prior nature as powerful immortal spiritual beings of the highest order, but few are willing to undertake the preparations necessary to fashion a diamond-pointed arrow of consolidated attention and intention, which can then be summoned to pierce through mind’s habitual overlay of delusions that obscure who and what we truly are.
Among the various time-tested recommendations in this regard, I would offer that the practice of “non-dwelling” is one of the most effective. Essentially, it consists of a sustained refusal to grant reality to that which is not real, or to fixate attention on any of what changes, including one’s transient moods, hopes, desires, fears, memories, schemes, or regrets. In other words, it is refraining from clinging to any mental or emotional formations which would lead to the fabrication of a separate and enduring self-sense.
The great sage Nisargadatta Maharaj put it succinctly when he said: “Leave your mind alone, that is all. Don’t go along with it. After all, there is no such thing as mind apart from thoughts which come and go obeying their own laws, not yours. They dominate you only because you are interested in them. It is exactly as Christ said ‘Resist not evil’. By resisting evil you merely strengthen it.”
In Zen practice, it is called “no-mind”, or non-abiding mind, which is the true spontaneous condition of one’s own mind when freed of all obscuration and distraction. In Tibetan Buddhist practice, the contemporary Dzogchen teacher Tsoknyi Rinpoche depicts true meditation as “not dwelling in any way whatsoever, and yet totally present throughout everything.” In a nutshell, it is simply self-existing awareness itself.
In the Christian mystical tradition, John of the Cross shared a similar insight when he wrote, “Beyond human knowledge and understanding, in order to come to union with the wisdom of God, the soul has to proceed rather by unknowing than by knowing. When thy mind dwells upon anything, thou art ceasing to cast thyself upon the All. This perfection consists in voiding and stripping and purifying the soul of every desire. In order to be free and void to that end, (the soul) must in no wise lay hold upon that which it receives, either spiritually or sensually, within itself.”
Essential to the practice of non-dwelling is surrender. That is, all of one’s most cherished beliefs, ideals, and self-images must be released, until there is nothing left to let go of. At that point, insight or recognition into one’s true nature may become spontaneously evident. Nevertheless, even after one experiences a first revelatory awakening into their primordial identity, as life-changing as it may be, there usually must follow a substantial period of integration, while all the various “bodies” are brought into full alignment with the truth realized in the initial glimpse. Remarkable mental clarity and insight alone are still not fully indicative of real liberation, as long as the chronic emotionally reactive contraction has not been dealt with sufficiently enough to awaken the heart of unconditional compassion.
If the resulting insight that arises from perseverance in non-dwelling mind is to be truly worth anything, then genuine compassion and humility will shine through in one’s life, filtering into every nook and cranny of one’s being. For that light to manifest, sincere effort is necessary, or as Suzuki Roshi noted, “You are all perfect the way you are, and you could use a little improvement.” Such effort involves consciously creating a life of impeccable integrity, in which every trace of greed, envy, hatred, contrivance, judgmentalism, and emotional/sexual contraction is seen through and transcended, and all relations harmonized.
The good news is that this is all possible, people can and do awaken at the heart, and they do find liberation from the afflictive states of emotional contraction (in so far as such awakening is possible on a relatively low-level war planet such as this realm we are currently touring).
Does this constitute true “Enlightenment”? No, but it does represent a substantial deepening and clarification of vision, as well as an increasingly skillful embodiment of the conscious principle, thus enabling effective adaptation to successively more profound vibrational frequencies of Light.
“You don’t have to do anything with your mind,
just let it naturally rest in it’s essential nature.
Your own mind, unagitated, is reality.
Meditate on this without distraction.
Know the Truth beyond all opposites.
Thoughts are like bubbles that form and dissolve in clear water.
Thoughts are not distinct from the absolute Reality,
so relax, there is no need to be critical.
Whatever arises, whatever occurs,
simply don’t cling to it, but immediately let it go.
What you see, hear, and touch are your own mind.
There is nothing but mind.
Mind transcends birth and death.
The essence of mind is pure Consciousness that never leaves reality,
even though it experiences the things of the senses.
In the equanimity of the Absolute, there is nothing to renounce or attain.”