“It doesn’t interest me what you have let go of,
but what you are still holding onto.”
– Nisargadatta Maharaj
I really resonate with this quote from Nisargadatta, since what interests me these days is not the ‘event’ or story of your awakening – however beautiful and valid that may be – but how that recognition of who you are is moving in your life, how suffering and seeking is being extinguished in even its subtlest forms, and how your relationships are transforming through the recognition of your shared essence with those around you.
Yes, you may have no self, and yes, you may recognize that there are no others and that there is no choice, as the nondual clichés go. But those are just words, right now! Tell me, how does that knowing move in your intimate relationships, with your partner, your mother, your father, your loved ones, your students, your friends and acquaintances on Facebook and in the workplace?
When someone – a friend, a student, a parent or partner, someone on Facebook – disagrees with what you say do you rush to defend a conceptual position, an image of yourself? Or are you able to stay radically open, deeply listening from a place of nonresistance and nonjudgement? Or do you feel hurt, and rush to hurt someone back? Do you identify temporarily as ‘”the hurt one”, and feel attacked, and rush to defend yourself, forgetting that who you are is never an image, never a solid “person” and doesn’t need to be defended at all? Do you remember that who you are is the vast ocean, always deeply at rest, always deeply allowing the upsurge of thoughts and feelings?
Or do you fall back into some spiritual cliché, spouting words like “there is no me” or “choice is an illusion” or “everything is perfect”, secretly suffering and boiling with hurt and anger but unwilling to take a fresh look at that? Have you come to conclusions, or are you willing to drop all conclusions and look again, in the moment?
Do you really think that you know, and they don’t? Or are you willing to drop all stories about yourself, including the story that you are the awakened “expert”, and truly meet this fresh moment as a dear friend to be embraced, rather than an enemy to be rejected? Are you able to deeply meet the one in front of you, and for a moment, not try to fix them, or heal them, or try to be “right”, or spout spiritual clichés at them, or try to win some unnecessary argument, proving your identity and spiritual superiority? Can you remember the deep silence of yourself?
Yes, you are consciousness, and yes, that recognition brings clarity. But do you also remember that, as consciousness, I Am what you Are? That there is nothing to defend? That we are only ever meeting ourselves? That mutual recognition is compassion. There can be no true awakening without the recognition of this compassion. Because if ‘I AM THAT’, then ‘YOU ARE THAT’, too, and we are already deeply related on the most profound level, before we even begin to talk.
We can believe “there is no me” all we want to, but the test is in this living, vibrantly alive compassion, in which it is really seen that the image of “me” and the image of “you” can never, ever separate us.
Life is always, always whispering, “How deeply can we meet?”.