The question on the… You said something that the feeling –which is something that I think leaded into… looking into the question– feeling when you’re doing the first half, the Neti-Neti –usually, not always; but usually– when I’m abiding in the Self, there is some kind of feeling; even though that clearly is not the Self, there is some… That’s…
Yes. That’s fine. That’s not important. Ahm… Like the sound of the traffic now, for instance. It is not important. Why is it not important? Because you’re not giving it your attention. You don’t have to get rid of the sound of the traffic. The sound of the traffic doesn’t… doesn’t harm the space of awareness in which it appears; so there’s no need to get rid of it.
I guess the mind is still giving it some importance as a verification that I’m done with the Neti-Neti as a practice.
Say that again.
The mind is giving it –the mind “small I am”– is giving it importance, to the feeling Let’s have peace; or some kind of vibration, as a verification that… You know, I’ve sort of completed the Neti-Neti process.
Well, you know when you’ve completed the Neti-Neti process, the “I am not this, I am not that” process, when you have first of all recognized, that “What I essentially am, is the unchanging presence of awareness”, and then… So, that’s the first step, the recognition of the presence of awareness. But, the next step is to recognize the nature of that awareness; to recognize its innate peace, and fulfillment, because that puts an end to the sense of lack and the desire to seek happiness in objects, and it puts an end to the fear of death or disappearance.
So, it’s fine. The Neti-Neti process can bring us as far as “I am the presence of awareness”.
But it is then this abidance, as Awareness –what Ramana Maharshi called self-abidance, or… it was misleadingly translated as self-enquiry; it really means self-abidance– it is this abidance that the mind is gradually… that the nature of Awareness becomes evident; its inherently peaceful and unconditionally fulfilled nature is felt.
So when you ask, “Are you aware now?” the answer is self-evident immediately; there is no thinking involved…
Yes. That’s a shortcut; that bypasses the Neti-Neti process.
The Neti-Neti process;
you have to say,
I am not my thoughts; I am aware of my thoughts.
I am not my feelings; I am aware of my feelings.
I am not my sensations, or perceptions; I am aware of my sensations and perceptions.
That’s a long way round.
The question “Are you aware?” is a shortcut. It takes you directly to the experience of being aware, which is where you arrived at, through going through the Neti-Neti process. So the question “Are you aware?” is just a shortcut; extremely done right.
Which works great for me, but I feel there’s still this habit – because you were pointing out to the abidance and… removing, you know, the fear of death, and… ahm… the seeking for happiness and other objects…
Yeah, but that’s… that’s not a removal of it, it’s a dissolution of it, and that dissolves when the innate peace of Awareness is felt. If… if there is this recognition that Awareness is nature, is at peace and fulfilled, then there’s no longer any need to seek happiness in objects, substances, activities or relationships. So, the recognition of the nature of Awareness puts an end to the sense of lack which impels most people to seek happiness in objects or relationships.
It doesn’t mean to say that we no longer have relationships…
Right, right, right…
… or engage with objects and activities. We just no longer engage with them, or have relationships, for the sake of finding happiness. They can still be used to express, and share and communicate happiness, but they no longer become a means of finding happiness.
So that is the real, sort of, or the full Neti-Neti approach.
That’s the culmination. The Neti-Neti process is really only… only establishes the presence of Awareness; it doesn’t establish the nature of Awareness. What is traditionally called “Enlightenment”, or “Illumination”, is not just the recognition “I am Awareness”. It is the recognition of the nature of the Awareness that I am. It is that recognition that puts an end to the search for peace and happiness in objects, substances, activities or relationships.
And the recognition would come just by continuously abiding, or…?
Yes… It’s a… Occasionally, it comes [snaps his fingers] suddenly, and we all know stories of… such stories; but in most cases, it comes gradually. It’s like the peace of Awareness begins to make itself felt in the background of experience. And it’s …
So it’s not like an effort that…
It’s not an effort, and it can be… It doesn’t have to be an extraordinary experience. You just notice over time, that there is less and less impulse in you, to seek happiness in objective experience, and there’s less and less fear of disappearance, or death. It sometimes happens in a sudden… in a particular moment, and then you can say on… at 3 pm on the 24th of June 1979, this happened to me.
But it often doesn’t happen like that. It can happen so quietly, that the mind doesn’t even notice it, to begin with, that it’s only in retrospect that the mind notices, “Oh, I used to be so agitated, and fearful… and lonely… and all of that just left me; I find myself at peace, nearly all the time.” Let’s not say “all the time”, let’s not be too perfectionist about it, but “nearly all the time”. Very few situations can disturb this background of peace, and if they do disturb it, the disturbance doesn’t go in deep, like it used to, and it doesn’t last long. The peace of our true nature is… is… asserts itself relatively quickly.
And again, for those that don’t have that… sport, let’s call it, of quick enlightenment or whatever we wanna call it; ahm… that recognition after you’ve done, you know, self-enquiry… Neti-Neti… whatever, would just gradually happen, without your involvement in it per se.
Yes… In a way it’s much better if this recognition of our true nature doesn’t come as an extraordinary experience, because then we can never lay claim to enlightenment.
We never say “I am enlightened”.
We… we can never… We never make that claim.
There is… there’s such a misconception, in… in a whole kind of spiritual world, that enlightenment is an extraordinary experience. It very occasionally has extraordinary side effects. But the side effects aren’t, even in those cases, the extraordinary side effects that we hear about, are not enlightenment itself.
Enlightenment is a non-experience; it is a recognition; a simple recognition. It’s not something extraordinary; it’s not, in fact it’s not an experience. It is just a simple recognition that what we essentially are… that the nature of what we essentially are, is inherently peaceful and fulfilled. That puts an end to the sense of lack, and the fear of death. And it… Most people’s lives revolved around trying to fulfill the sense of lack, and trying to avoid the fear of death. Seeking and resistance; these are the two guiding feelings that the separate self revolves around.
It doesn’t mean to say we stop engaging fully in life; we can engage fully in life; we can have relationships, or have a family, or do whatever work we please. It doesn’t mean that we become… we retire from life.
This means that we… we engage with life, but no longer from the point of view of lack, and fear.
For instance. Relationships.
When we… If we… When we seek relationships;
either ordinary friendship, or intimate relationship…
We don’t do so, in order to put an end to our fear.
In other words, we don’t use the other person as a means of fulfilling our self.
That is a recipe for disaster in a relationship; as we all well know.
But it doesn’t mean to say we stop having relationships.
We keep having friendships or relationships.
But no longer as a means of finding happiness, or love.
Yeah. That was very clear.
Rupert Spira transcribed by Leon Hieros