Try not to think about a destination. Don’t let yourself imagine endings or stages. Avoid the traps of examples, ideals or stereotypes. Instead imagine yourself a pioneer, exploring virgin territory. There’s no map, no travel journal to guide you. Every day brings something new and you wake with no expectation of how your journey will unfold. Much more important than words of wisdom from other explorers is your attention to the here and now. The path you leave behind soon vanishes and can’t be discerned; there is no path ahead other than the one you make with each step you take.
There are rules or guidelines to any exploration, aren’t there? Attention is the most important and courage, but there are some basic do’s and don’ts designed to keep us safe. The process or path of nondual inquiry is no different. Common sense can reveal most of them so let’s not labour the point here. Because there is much to be seen. That’s the reward. It’s not any specific thing, every turn, every new vista is different and it is the experiencing of this that connects our heart to this journey; this process.
Even before the sense of self drops away glimpses of a selfless experiencing might arise. With no sense of self, although we can still interact and fall back into role, into the content of this apparent arising, the ability to do so alters over time. Perhaps it fades or we lose the drive to, but gradually the Unborn becomes more than the born.
At first this shows up as a disinterest in things that held fascination for us before. Personal drives, ideas of becoming, goals and desires; these lose their shine, their glamour. They seem ordinary and unappealing. This can be challenging if our lives had centred on such things before and we had strong identifications associated with them. We can feel adrift from the familiar patterns of our previous life.
But what value was there in these things? Did they ever make anyone truly happy or fulfilled? It may feel disquieting to watch them go, as they slip away, we may even grieve for some of these things or for the person we felt ourselves to be. That’s natural.
But whilst ‘we’ haven’t gained anything there is now something there wasn’t before. It has many labels but please don’t attach to these or the baggage each one holds. In my tradition it is referred to by what it is not, as it defies any description. It is said to be: the unborn, uncreated, unformed, unconditioned. And even to say ‘it is’ is going too far, it isn’t manifest.
But there is the direct experiencing of this, not as someone having an experience but of experiencing happening to no one. You couldn’t call it bliss or joy or happiness, these words don’t and can’t describe it. Would you feel comfortable calling it the direct experience of God or the Divine? I’m not sure I do but you’re welcome to if you like.
But it’s always there, closer than your next breath. That which knows, the beingness of this moment divests itself of all identifications like slipping easily out of a robe and as it falls away, there is no thing, no being, the unborn.
How could words travel to this? You can’t remember it any more than, as someone said to me, you can’t remember awareness. It can’t be thought so it can’t be framed in language but we don’t need to, we just allow; divest; un-be; let go into it dissolving in it like sugar in tea but instantly. Instant nothing; not nothing as a concept or a belief, just simply not in the frame of reference where things and happenings arise. Not here, nowhere.
I feel like I’m dissolving in it, a little each day. It has an impact on the conditioning that came with the arising of a sense of self. Perhaps it’s not accurate to say it corrodes it but there’s nothing now to sustain it and so it follows the nature of all things and fades away, little by little like an iceberg melting back into the sea, gradually losing its shape and its features.
I should say something about love. The only definition I ever came across that made sense when describing love is that it’s the complete absence of a sense of separation between the apparent subject and object. That sounds a bit cold, I know but of course the experience of it is anything but. The opening of the heart, which I’ve always related to as an aperture rather than a thing, allows for the direct experience of no inner/no outer, no me/no you. So this is very much related to the Unborn. In this sense it is very much the experience of love. It is love.
It’s not an empty, cold experience, it couldn’t be fuller. It’s abundant, it’s overwhelming. With no safe shell to refract experiencing through it is direct allness, boundariless, and there’s no ‘going to’ and ‘coming back from’ it, it’s right here. Always. It is our true nature; our true nature is that ‘we’ aren’t. This never was born, it only appeared as.
It can be called the ground of all, and I don’t mind that phrase but it’s not connected to, nor is that which appears an emanation although I can see why some people default back to that notion. The closest we could get is to consider the process of induction. A magnet doesn’t create electricity, it doesn’t come from the magnet (and vice versa of course) but even though there isn’t a direct connection one requires the other.
That’s a poor and inaccurate analogy but it’s about as close as we can get. But really what good are words? What need is there for words? This can be experienced directly. So every teaching worthy of the name points the way to the realisation of this; leads us away from this limited, tawdry identification and towards the real. Maybe you think your life isn’t tawdry but then Venus looks bright until you see the sunrise doesn’t it? The morning star, Lucifer, only reflects light, it doesn’t create it. And a poor, dim, tiny reflection it is compared with the source, Sol.
So why don’t I talk about it more? Well because it’s not easy to put into words, it can’t be expressed clearly, so all we can really do is point to the way of realisation, to inquiry, to presence or mindfulness as part of the process of seeing clearly and losing the attachments that prevent us from seeing.
Would I or anyone else even bother to guide, to meet, to discuss, to explore if this wasn’t worth it? Do you think we’d waste our time if the inexpressible unborn was just another experience to be had alongside everything else? But of course not everyone does. Some see this, they realise truth and they realise it’s beyond words and they don’t feel inclined to do more than be. At the other extreme there are those who get so attached to the words they come up with they’ll spend their days arguing about it on social media.
But don’t be put off by either of these, they’re just the underbrush you have to hack your way through. Don’t get caught in it and don’t let it stop you. Keep going, you’re on the right path. You’ve always been on the right path, once you start to see the lessons you’ve learned from it. And where you end up is right here, right now. There is no destination.