Thursday, August 19, 2010

ANNETTE NIBLEY, THE SELF-EFFACING NON-DUALIST

ANNETTE NIBLEY, THE SELF-EFFACING NON-DUALIST

[How many of us really seriously care for our dreams? Remember too that almost all of us go through at least 4-5 dreams every night when we go to bed. We look at our wakeful world as the reality and consider a dream to be just that – ephemeral, irrelevant to and unconcerned with our daily life. What happens if you can clearly see that your wakeful world is nothing but an extension of the dream? Will you be any more interested in the awake world or what goes on in it?


Annette Nibley (http://www.whatneverchanges.com/) is an example for one who lost all interest in the waking-dream of life. She gives no weight to the idle chatter and machinations of the mind – what we call our life. Nevertheless, she is ready to help with True advice if one approaches her. She does not talk to what you think what ‘you’ are, but to that unknown or unknowable ‘inner you.’ She can be brusque and ask you to ‘shut up’ if the dialog goes vain, but next minute she can speak to your ‘heart’ holding your hand and guiding you to ask the real question.


Annette started out as a Christian like most Americans, but became a run-of-the mill New Age seeker in about 1980. It was Nisargadatta Maharaj’s "I AM THAT" that really stopped her quest of nearly 25 years. Seeing John Wheeler validated her understanding and Stephen answered a lot of her subsequent questions over the years. She started a website of her own in 2005 to help fellow seekers. Her writings and advice are always simple, clear, to the point, eruditely expressed and compassionate.


When I requested Annette for a write up for the Blog, she politely stated that she had nothing to write about. When I suggested that she could give a message on Advaita, she said that there could not be a teaching without a ‘question.’ When I asked her to share some details of her own life story, she was extremely reluctant saying that “she was not the point here.” She added: “The person is only the carrier, and its life is just another life.” Here are a few examples of her short crisp write ups gleaned from different sources -- ramesam]

1. The End (2008):

I am no longer burdened with the concerns of the world that you are. I have no connection to that world. I see sights and hear sounds, and all kinds of stuff goes on, but I'm not emotionally attached to any of it. I walk around in your world, but it doesn't touch me.

I still see a framework within which things operate - objects, bodies, actions, relationships - but what happens within that framework is unimportant to me. I have no interest in what happens.

I just live. I get up, do a day's worth of stuff, and then it's time to go to bed. And the next day I do that again.

And what I notice is: there is freedom itself, just being free. There is joy itself, just being joyous. There is life itself, just living. That's all. Not "me" being those things - those things being themselves. Nothing, being nothing.  So how did this happen to me? How did I lose interest in the world? How did I step out of this picture? How do I see only joy, only freedom?

Well, I stopped believing in the unreal. When I got a good look at the intricate fabrication called "me" that I had been taught to build and reinforce for many decades, and found it to be a fabrication, all of the emotional attachment to events and objects and people was rendered irrelevant.

Now, if you think this emotional attachment is what makes us "human," and you like that whole human experience of action and reaction, desire and satisfaction of desire, read no further. The rest of this essay will not interest you.

If, on the other hand, you find "humanness" to be the equivalent of insanity, and seek the eternal peace and love that is promised by every holy man and woman that ever walked the Earth, then maybe you will be interested in what follows.

If what you want is out of this game completely - out of the insanity, off the wheel of human suffering - then direct your attention to one thing only, and that is: Is this - the separate me that seems to be real - real? Am I real?

I don't know what led me to this inquiry inward, to the question of the veracity of the sense of "me." Many things. Reading "I AM THAT" and meeting John Wheeler really began turning my thinking around, but it was just a bunch of coincidences that led me to those things. So who knows? But I do know that the focus was turned inward, to the question of "I" - not a psychological inquiry into what made me tick, or what my obstacles to "awakening" were, but to the question of whether there actually exists an "I" at all.

Up to that point, my search had been a normal one. The first twenty- five years of it were focused outwards, on what could be gotten, by me, for me, to end my pain. I was looking in the wrong place. Looking outward only brings more of the same insanity. Something finally led me to discover the final question: Am I real?

If it is found that "I" am not real, then all of the concerns I have been wanting to be free of apply to no one! This is a radical, drastic ending; it is not a palliative for the old mindset. This is done in private, not in public. This is done alone, not in a group, not even with a guru. This is really a solo flight.

I never did desire enlightenment. I never wanted some kind of blissful state. I had enough "bliss" from all the bad habits I had cultivated to get me through the day. I didn't need another diversion. What I did need was to end the pain of feeling alienated from my own source. It was this pain of feeling cut off that led me on this journey. Millions - billions! - of people never face, feel, or even notice that pain, and are never called to make this drastic move. But when you feel it, it's got to be dealt with. There's no option. Eventually, the pain will be eradicated at the root.  So what is the most noticeable thing about this, in my experience? No thought. There is registering of sensory information, and there is registering of some passing mental activity, but all of it is immediately let go of. Nothing lingers from one moment to the next. Nothing niggles at me, nothing needs to be planned or remembered. My mind is at peace.

This is what I always wanted. I just wanted my mind to be at peace. I wanted to quit wanting. I wanted to quit feeling like more was needed. I wanted to stop. I wanted my mind to stop.

Is this what enlightenment is? I don't know. I know that I'm not looking for anything anymore. I know that my day is filled with ease and flow, and I see softness in the hearts of all people, no matter what they project. I have no concerns and no worries. So whether this is enlightenment or not is of no interest to me.

And in the three years that I've been writing about this experience, the sense of a solid, individual person has been lessening. Now, after three years, there is no more sense of a separate person at all. Learning I was a separate "me" took time; the unlearning of it also took time.

I still function completely normally. You wouldn't know the difference. My closest friends probably notice that I'm not fearful anymore, and I don't try to control things. They probably notice that I rarely go anywhere, that I find pleasure in the simple things, and that my life has become very peaceful. Some of my habits have changed. But my life appears pretty much the same, from the outside.

What now? Can I tell you how to find out that you are not real? At this moment, nothing like that is arising, but perhaps it will. I don't think it's possible to tell another person how to begin or conduct this inquiry. Yours is unique, it is intimate. It is your business. What you need will come to you when you need it.

If I offer a pointer, it assumes that you are "ready" to hear it like I was when I met John Wheeler. Otherwise, you'll just continue the way you are going, and you'll distort my words into something that fits your existing mental view. But just in case you really are done with looking to your mind for solutions, this would be a solid pointer:

Ask, Am I real? Look for no other information. Ask no other questions. Find out if you are real - that's all. If you are not real, then the boundary between you and the source of all life is not really there, is it? If the boundary between you and the source of all life is not really there, then you would notice yourself as the source of all life, wouldn't you?

2. You Don't Need a Suitcase (2009):

I had many misconceptions at one time about what "this" looked like - this freedom, or whatever - and it always looked like something I could imagine or create from the experiences I already had, extrapolating from what I already knew. But this can't be imagined. This is a total surprise.
I always expected more life goodies, like peace, happiness, ease, a fulfilling relationship, perfect health, respect from my peers, and also, I expected that everywhere I laid my eyes there should be some feeling of total bliss - shock and awe every moment for the joyous bounty that is in front of me, if only I could see it without my own limiting selfish mind standing in the way of me and the truth. I would see every cell of life animated before my eyes, because I would not be distracted by petty stuff. How frustrating that I could not see this psychedelic world I surely lived in!

But this was all selfish imaginings. I wanted more for me, spectacle for me, drama for me, peace for me, adoration for me, love in every moment, for me. And this turns out not to have anything to do with me. And the surprising thing is, it's joyous! It's love, it's life, it's freedom, all unfolding naturally in my path - but none of these things is for me. They are there, they have always been there, when I'm not conjuring up a problem; life, love, and joy are there, but they don't need me. And interestingly, the "me" was made entirely of those problems I'd been thinking of. Without calling up a problem, there is no "me," and all that remains is impersonal life, impersonal love, whatever you want to call it. Nothing that "I" want, because if I can imagine it, it's just part of the prison.

So any idea you have of what this is - it is not. It can't be. This can't be something conjured out of your existing memories, which is all you have as a self. So if you go to any idea of what you must have in order to feel like you "have" it, that can't be it. It can't be thought of, it can't be imagined out of what you know. So you can stop trying to second-guess this. This arises only in what is not known. All that is known or imagined, or can possibly be known or imagined, is part of the prison.

All that remains is living, with no problems. Is it really as simple as that? Yes, it is. But is that my living, with no problems? No, it's not mine. When no problems are conjured up to think about, no "me-ness" arises; which tends to reinforce the idea that this livingness is impersonal; and that tends to reinforce the idea that there is nothing to lose, because nothing in the general "livingness" can ever be lost. So the validation starts building on itself, and the problems are conjured up less and less, until they are seen to never have existed at all. So, where was the "me"? Where was it, ever? Did it ever exist?

The point I've been trying to make is: don't be under the misconception that you can set a goal of "having this" and work towards it, by reading, watching videos, going to seminars, or meditating about it. That is just stuff your mind already knows and wants. Prison.

Subtract, and don't add. Don't add another goal, don't add another seminar. Drop one of your suitcases today, and drop another tomorrow, and don't pick anymore up, and see what happens. Drop the suitcase of opinions. Drop the suitcase of "I know I'm right." Drop the suitcase of "It has to be this way or I'll die." Drop the suitcase of "I have to do something to be free." Don't pick up another one.

If you accidentally stumble across a place where you don't know anything at all - your mind is blank and can't find a single thing that means anything - stick around for a while. Feel around, get to know the place. It doesn't mean you've failed, it means you're beginning to let go of your death grip on your suitcases.

Let them all drop. You don't need a suitcase where you're going.

3. Hereness (2009):

This clear space of “hereness”, is it present? You don’t need to ask this, because you know it to be true. It is the one thing you have no doubt about.

Of course, you have plenty of doubts: you doubt whether this non-duality stuff is true, you doubt that you understand what is being pointed to. You have doubts about the possibility of ever ending your seeking. Those things can really agitate the mind sometimes. But not this. This is not even a question. It is simply so obvious and so present that it never occurred to you to doubt it, to not doubt it, or to question it.

This clear space of “hereness” is so obvious that it never even occurred to you to acknowledge it.

4. The New Compassionate Shift (2010):

Yes, there has been a shift in my writing. I was taking a very hard non-dual line in my writing, even calling out Great Freedom for being dualistic, but I found it finally not to resonate completely with me – particularly, with my experience as a human being, which cannot be swept under the carpet, as strict non-duality tries to do.

It’s not that anything I said in my prior response was wrong; it’s that it’s not helpful. And the point here is to be helpful. I realize it was helpful to a degree, to really pinpoint that misidentification with the “small I” and be aware of the misidentification as the cause of all suffering. But when the experience of the life is still unsatisfying, as it unfolds over time, then something else needs to be done. There need not be any dissatisfaction. In fact, we are entitled to deep, abiding love and peace as our moment-to-moment experience, and this is indeed something we learn to deepen more and more over apparent time. So I now agree with you that it is a gradual process, though I may have argued with you about that before.

Non-duality applies to there being no time, no space – nothing but THIS, which is unchanging, undivided, presently eternal. So you can see, then, that THIS does not touch this apparent world of moving parts. Though THIS is what you really are, it does not intersect with the world of apparent objects. So it does not intersect with the experience of a human being, which arises due to false concepts.

So you have this “false” experience of being human, and yet here it is. And you have non-duality, which does not acknowledge the existence of anything false, and does not acknowledge time. So basically, if one insists on a strict non-dual stance, he removes the tool by which he can affect the suffering that is falsely there. That hamstrings us, basically. Even though your human experience is falsely there, it’s still there! And it needs to be addressed.

So what you have been practicing with Great Freedom is good, since it helps you to stay in the “pray without ceasing” injunction of St. Paul, because this “without ceasing” is really the key. The key to what? The key to having your human experience align more and more, over time, with THIS, with God – with the qualities that are unknowable, and yet are what the reality of the human being is, when the conceptual shell of its falsehood is worn away. What are we, anyway? We are nothing but THIS, God, One Power, One Law. So nothing in reality changes; you are always just this ONE. But your experience changes. As you say, it’s a gradual process.

So I am recommending now, when people are dissatisfied, that they seek out other writings and teachings. I don’t think that throwing more non-duality at the problem fixes it, because the fact that one has “an experience” means that the concepts of non-duality are unable to touch you as you are right here in the false, apparent world, and uproot that experience. Non-duality does not uproot or improve anything.

There is no growth or process possible in non-duality. Non-duality is a true assessment of the way things are, but it does not make a bridge from the Absolute to the experience of selfhood, time, and learning. That bridge is to be found elsewhere, in whatever way works for you. The important thing is to be faithful about it and devote yourself to it, and in this way, the abiding peace of God is found within, and it grows as you become more and more attracted to this inner goodness, and less attracted to the phantoms of the outer world.

I am finding a lot of solid, reliable teachings which make this bridge without throwing away the truth of non-duality – which address the need for a process, in the experience, of replacing the consciousness of the individual with the one Christ consciousness – the consciousness which is aligned perfectly with God. Many of the Christian mystics and healers have this message right, and I found that when I went looking for it, there was much support for such a bridge.

Finding this bridge is a personal matter. Whatever you’re led to do – let God lead you. Great Freedom is good, but for me it kind of lacks the juice. The juice is important, but it’s different for everybody. I went back into some traditional Christian stuff, for inspiration, and for that experience the music and rituals evoke of being in the holy presence of God. I’m reading some Catholic and Orthodox saints, the Bible, and Paramahansa Yogananda’s commentaries on Jesus and the Bhagavad Gita. I’ve also found that Joel Goldsmith (The Infinite Way) speaks to me; I had a health issue I wanted to deal with, and Goldsmith addresses healing. I use Stephen Wingate’s site as a guide often – he spends a lot of time checking things out, and always has interesting leads that are reliable. Mostly what I rely on, however, is quiet, solitary contemplation. Lots of it.

Remembering that you are not a separate, individual person – but that you are in actuality THIS – pray without ceasing, with no thought in mind of personal gain, but just for the sake of THIS itself. What else is there?

2 comments:

presence-awareness said...

Yes. And that about sums it up perfectly. Thank you, Annette.

Peggy van Zalm said...

Thanks what a lovely account. Very penetrating, clear and helpful for the seekers who have found and yet continue to look for more depth in a process that is this unfolding moment. much love
Peggy
http://peggysmuse.com