You should sink so deeply into the silence that there aren’t any forces left focused on restoring the old situation.

Advaita Post, Volume 10 No. 14

The eyes – they’re dependent upon your attitude:
Do you see them as belonging to a sheep,
the infinite non-duality,
or both?

Introduction and talk on May 28, 2008 in Gouda (part 1): The ego mechanism and liberation

Douwe: When the release and opening don’t happen automatically, it’s of great importance to see precisely what processes are at work in your self-sphere. This looking will continue on subtler and subtler levels if you want the release and opening to become radical. When you look well, you’ll always see the same thing: the tendency to hold on to things and to release them. That holding-on-to is a process of identification: you create an image, a self-image with various elements, and you throw yourself into that limited image. Then you enter into a self-being that’s limited, to a viewpoint that we call: “I experience this, I want that, I don’t want that …”. There is a construction of a special ‘I’ and its special world.

Seeing this ego mechanism is an opening in awareness. You can distinguish this mechanism on increasingly subtler levels: there is the continual return again and again to an ‘I’-position in a world that you are more or less familiar with and that you want to maintain. That’s how it works.  In the silence and the relaxation this tension dissolves.

How is it with yourself?

Visitor: I was completely quiet. That’s totally clear. Yes, but that’s also the case when I return to daily life from Schiermonnikoog [an island off the coast of the Netherlands where weeklong Advaita retreats are held], and then it goes wrong…

Notice your formulation; because precisely there is the restriction we just spoke about: “I came back from Schiermonnikoog”.

It is, in any case, “I” that experiences these things.

Do you see how the ego mechanism works?

As I said: sink right through the ‘I’-silence.

(A mobile phone rings.)

There are all kinds of things that happen when a mobile phone rings like that. Do you notice the ego-mechanism in you? Most people are narrowed down to an ‘I’-person who is focused on the sound and begin judging!

Yes, but ‘sink right through the I-silence’; you can’t really force that, can you?

No, but it surely must happen. Why doesn’t it happen?

Yes, there are resistances which prevent it, I would say.

You will have to see the holding-on mechanism on an even subtler level. Now it’s just a formulation. Why do ‘you’ go back into your daily life, when you have truly sunken into the real silence?

I think that’s precisely the difficulty in daily life. When you sink into the silence, you are in an impersonal realm.

If it’s impersonal, then it’s apparently impersonal. And that’s ok, but only if you don’t return to the old patterns.

But that’s not something which you can decide for yourself?

In the silence there can be a lucidity with the knowledge: this is it.  In that silence there is no ‘I’-person. That has to be affirmed.  The ego process doesn’t need to return. After the retreat week you get onto the boat and then you step into the train … at every moment and with each step, you can realize yourself: once again, how is it? Oh yes: silence. When the clarity remains, no concentration of energy or identification arises, so that there isn’t an ‘I’ contraction any more.

Yes, but that certainly happens…

The only thing that helps is: always return to the clarity, until it stays stable and no limitation occurs there.

You know it: it will have to proceed further in that direction. But you must look: most people are totally ignorant. Apparently that’s the standard situation which most people take for granted.

In that sense there’s a gradation of insight or seeing…

When the ignorance doesn’t break totally open, then you haven’t gained from that gradation. Then you can say once again: I feel it’s necessary to go to another day of silent meditation.

That doesn’t do it…

It depends upon your situation. At a given moment you can be sick and tired of always spinning in the same old circles, and of the thought that later you will have to say: “I’m ninety years old and I need to go on a weeklong silent retreat again”.

But if it doesn’t break through, you surely will.

That’s exactly what it’s about; to investigate the cause of ignorance and what creates the chance to break through the endless cycles.

These ego tendencies can appear within the clarity until the old patterns simply dissolve. If you are really clear in the open silence, without a person, then that’s the basis on which these tendencies, these forces that still function somewhere totally dissolve. Apparently, that happened in the Silent Week [a retreat], because otherwise you wouldn’t have sunk into the silence. You should sink so deeply into the silence that there aren’t any forces any longer focused on restoring the old situation. Staying in ‘the now’ is not sufficient. You should sink through the now, so that the now, with its reference to the past and future, is gone. That self image of yours, it’s a psychological representation of yourself. You create it, and that form also determines your behavior, your way of thinking. It’s much more than just an image. You identify yourself with it, you embody that image. And then you say: I am that, this physical person. And with that you forget who you really are.

Who can you blame for it?

I don’t blame anyone. Of course not. The issue is that at some point the pattern cracks open. That’s what this is about. And this can only come from an incredibly deep pre-personal motivation, so that it really does happen by itself. The only thing you can do is to look there, to be aware of it. I only refer to certain things and say: “Go look. Exactly, there, deeper, deeper. Do you see the deep desire to not remain stuck, a very deep knowledge that that’s not necessary? What does that mean, when you can’t hold on to anything any more?”

Actually it’s already true that you can’t hold on to anything.

Exactly. When you realize that very clearly, then you don’t hold on any more.

Yes, but everyone knows that you can’t hold on to anything.

That’s a pitfall. How many people believe that and still sit there, shaking their heads ‘yes’, but without anything happening?

Illusion has so many faces…

So, you need to be very sharp so that you see through every illusion. Every image is a virtual image. When it arises, you give it a stamp of reality and it receives resistance. Only when you see through that, then the images are neutral and their effect disappears. See in what way these images aren’t neutral. You give them your own living energy. You offer yourself to them. You make an idol of your self image: I am the center of the universe, I am the most important, I think only of myself, I’m always busy with caring only for myself and well, a little for the people I see that are a little like myself.

Yes, that’s the selfishness of the ego.

That’s the structure. Only through insight can you see through it. With understanding and surrender the structure disappears and then there is freedom.

You can certainly say that we should let go, but the ‘I’ doesn’t do that.

That sinking away through everything, that’s surrender.

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