“When in the midst of things you do not give rise to views, it is called comprehension. Comprehension means not engendering thought in relation to things, not engendering covetousness for things, and not engendering defilements in connection with things.”
What is it within us which is always judging, weighing, and measuring? The term “Maya” is often used to describe some cosmic illusionist, often portrayed as a feminine deity, but it technically means “to measure.” Naming it grants it a certain substantiality, but it is neither solid, fixed, nor independent. In reality, it is not even an entity, regardless of how we tend to fancy it. Rather, it is an activity, the activity of delusion, which we nevertheless habitually indulge to navigate this realm of duality. Of course, to maintain the delusion, we must cling to the sense that phenomena and self are two separate things, that there is an “out there” versus an “in here”, when in reality both are mental figments. Indeed, the great Tibetan Adept Longchenpa succinctly noted: “Not realizing that everything is nothing other than the manifestation of one’s mind is called samsara.”
Based on numerous testimonies of near death experiencers (those who were on the “other side” long enough to have been granted access to what we might call “Universal Knowledge” or “Expanded Consciousness”), all human views regarding the nature of existence — including our highest conceptions of Enlightenment — are instantly recognized as merely primitive approximations at best, and actually quite naive in the larger scheme of things, as if a toddler were trying to describe celestial mechanics, for example.
In my own case, although I had studied spirituality for several decades, including seven years in a Catholic Seminary and three years in a Buddhist monastery, I eventually came to the recognition that all of my beliefs and views were essentially based on false premises. It became unmistakably clear to me that the whole system and description of reality that we as humans buy into, based on our conditioning, is a somewhat humorous staged pretense (Divine Comedy), although from the human persona’s perspective it is often far from funny, and indeed sages like the Buddha speak of this world as a realm of ignorance and suffering.
At best, it seems to be like a running software program within the confines of a holographic-type environment, a type of mandala designed for the much denser and slower frequency of vibration that pertains to the human 3-D mechanism. This program includes all the religious, philosophical, and cultural assertions which we as humans cling to and depend on to become self-aware and define our place in the universe.
To most of us, it comes as somewhat of a shock when we discover that there is no religion “beyond the veil”, nor any need for one. Religions are recognized to be purely human contrivances (and rather obsolete ones by now), and they invariably melt away when we separate from the human bio-vehicle and its environment, release our identification with its accompanying vexations, and resume our truer nature as immortal spiritual beings.
Nevertheless, although all human views are ultimately incomplete (the physical receptor itself is far too dense and rudimentary to hold anything but tiny fragments of Universal Knowledge), there is still the need for discernment in determining the more skillful views from the less than skillful, as we encounter the various experiences and challenges presented to us during this earthly sojourn. In other words, some views will lead to more expansive and harmonious levels of awareness, and some to narrower, more contracted and conflicted levels of awareness.
Based on our limited view of things, it appears that we can move up or down, liberating ourselves from afflictions or adding to our emotional burden. I say “appears”, because in reality, we never truly move, but only project ourselves into creative adventures composed of consciousness alone. Actually, it is the Universal Source which is expressing itself in the form of you and me and everything – the whole world is its self-generated projection, wherein there is no actual separation into subject-object dualities, except as a kind of ineffable play!
Moreover, non-identification with and non-dwelling on any views whatsoever (whether right or wrong, good or bad, high or low, pure or impure, positive or negative), can serve to reveal a transparent spaciousness right here and now, in which all opposites are recognized as void. Such a practice or discipline of stepping back from the passing parade of thoughts, emotions, memories, and perceptions, and bringing full attention to awareness itself, can in fact provide a portal to the dawn of recognition of our fundamental luminous nature.
Indeed, such a disposition is recommended by the more advanced teachers among us, the sages who have appeared to shine a light on the developmental process. A few levels further up in awareness, and even the greatly expanded views we attain in the afterlife will come to be regarded as lingering yet in the realm of children’s fantasies, and beyond that, no human imagination can begin to comprehend.
Essentially, views (mental positions) are produced by and in turn produce mental conditioning in this virtual reality scenario called human life. They are fabrications of consciousness, interpretations on perception, and due to the limitations of the human perceptive mechanism, are based on insufficient information to actually correspond to reality.
In other words, all human views are by-products of conditioning within a dream-like realm, and since consciousness itself is impermanent (comes and goes), then no view is anything but a provisional and non-binding modification of evanescent consciousness. As the great Chan Master Mazu affirmed: “All phenomena are mental; all labels are labeled by the mind. All phenomena arise out of mind; mind is the root of all phenomena.”
The Buddha, according to the legend, having attained the state of unconditioned mind, is said to have “passed beyond the bondage, tie, greed, obsession, acceptance, attachment, and lust of view.” He furthermore states that he himself has no viewpoint. The so-called “Right View” (the first part of his Noble Eightfold Path) leads ultimately not to the establishment and maintenance of “correct” views, but to a detached form of cognition, free from all mental positions.
“Does Master Gotama have any position at all?”
“A ‘position’ is something that a Tathagata (Awakened One) has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: ‘Such is form, such its origin, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origin, such its disappearance; such is perception . . . such are mental fabrications . . . such is consciousness, such its origin, such its disappearance.’ Because of this, I say, a Tathagata — with the ending, fading out, cessation, renunciation, and relinquishment of all construings, all excogitations, all I-making & mine-making and obsession with conceit — is, through lack of clinging/sustenance, released.”
~ Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta
Indeed, regardless of the views and dogmas we may have espoused, defended, and even evangelized in our human life, we will be made vividly aware, upon “crossing over”, that what really mattered was not the clarity of our brilliant insights into existence or emptiness, nor any adherence to some human religion and its doctrinal views, but the love that we shared (or didn’t) while alive. As Nisargadatta noted: “Clarity is not enough. Energy comes from love — you must love to act — whatever the shape and object of your love.”.
If our religious/philosophical views served to help us in leading a life of integrity, gratitude, and compassion, eliminating greed, envy, pride, ignorance, and hatred whenever those tests presented themselves, then they could be considered expedient means, enabling us to make the best use of this human opportunity. On the other hand, if our convictions led to divisiveness, arrogance, squabbling and bickering, and self-righteousness, then there is a very good chance we will find ourselves back for another round in a comparable 3-D environment, mostly because we do not want to leave a mess behind.
As Nisargadatta wisely put it: “You cannot leave a mess behind and go beyond. The mess will bog you up. ‘Pick up your rubbish’ seems to be the universal law. And a just law, too.” In this case, rubbish includes all of our attitudes and behaviors that qualify as less than loving kindness, less than humble honesty, and less than open receptivity. All such holding back falls short of the heart’s own deepest yearning for true self-awareness.
Alternately, by releasing all limiting viewpoints, all judgments, all “me stories”, and all egoic claims of “mine”, we approach a transparency that is both liberating and satisfying to the soul. That is the fulfillment, the sufficiency, and the birth of genuine heart-felt gratitude.
“If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. If I have the gift of prophecy, understanding all the mysteries there~ are, and knowing everything, and if I have faith in all its fullness, to move mountains, but without love, then I am nothing at all. If I give away all that I possess, piece by piece, and if I even let them take my body to burn it, but am without love, it will do me no good whatever.
Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offence, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes. Love does not come to an end.”
~Corinthians 12:31- 13:8