Monday, June 19, 2006

Non-dual exchange with an Integralist, I think

Here's a post from the Wilber forum in an exchange with Heru that came out of the Wilber fracas. I hope I'm making sense here, but again, I'm not entirely sure.

Heru's Post

“...however, like Dzogchen recognition and abidance in rigpa, this doesn't need to exclude other practices that might assist it, and one's wellbeing in general. I mean if it is truly nondual then it can be "not-two" with any activity, right?”

Wrong. The essence of non-dual practice is inactivity, or really, “not doing”. This is why teachers like Papaji are against ALL forms of practice. His recommendation is to do nothing, literally, not even think a thought. Of course, he doesn't consider self-enquiry to be an activity, so that implies how different self-enquiry is from anything else one might “do”. The point is that self-enquiry can't be prepared for or approached by any other means. It's a stepping out of the whole world of ego-activity, even if at first it merely seems to be another activity one “does”. With practice, it becomes clearer, however, that this is simply not the case. But you are right that enquiry can be practiced in the midst of any activity, and is not incompatible with anything. It just isn't compatible with anything either, meaning it doesn't “interface” with any other activity, except perhaps at the level of the witness.

Now of course its true that some practices can be said to assist enquiry. A good diet, basic health practices, etc., but on the other hand none are really necessary. People have become realized with lousy diets and bad health. The point is that such practices are best left to nature. In other words, don't think you have to do ANY of those things in order to be realized, just practice enquiry and surrender. The thing is, if you practice enquiry and surrender, you will find yourself naturally moved to do all kinds of sensible and appropriate things that assist your practice of enquiry. But that's exactly the point, you don't “do” those things, the enquiry moves you to do them spontaneously. A natural integrity begins to come over you, a natural functionality, and you start doing appropriate things without thinking about it, without making systems about it, without some agenda in mind. In the absence of enquiry, all those things have to be organized into a system, an institution, a “tradition”, which is really a way of making the secondary features of true practice the primary activity of religion, and relegating what is at the core to the periphery, even eliminating it altogether. So you end up with all kinds of rules for the things you would naturally do if you practiced simple enquiry, and none of the enquiry. In fact, you usually end up with all kinds of things on your list of practices that you never would have done if you'd actually been practicing enquiry, but somehow the mind began to imagine that these thngs would “help”. Most such help is actually detrimental, and so spiritual traditions are filled with rules and practices that are actually detrimental to the core approach that would have made the way true.

“Perhaps a better analogy than the bungy cord is that of a vessel, a boat. If we want to ride the ocean of life, we need a seaworthy vessel. Even if we realize that we aren't ultimately the boat it will still sink if it has leaks, so at the very least relative world practices provide one with a stronger bodymind vessel. A healthier "me." We are both the ocean and the boat; absolute and relative.”

No, we are not both. We are the ocean. There is no boat. The body-mind is not a boat, it's just a wave in the ocean, not in the least bit apart from it. There is no “wave” as an entity, there is just the ocean in motion, which creates the illusion of a separate wave. But there is no point at which the wave ever becomes a thing, an vessel floating on the ocean that we could call a “boat”. The idea that we need a boat to get “there”, is the primary illusion to be overcome. And that is exactly the point. The building of better boats actually increases one's deluded idea that one is a boat, that one needs a boat, and that we have to study all the details of boat-building in order to reach the other side of the ocean. In fact, we need to stop dreaming that we are boats, realize that we are waves of ocean, completely inseparable from the ocean, and that there is no other side to the ocean to get to. All we are trying to “get to” is our real nature, and the boat-illusion is actually the primary obstruction to seeing our real nature, which is a wave of ocean. So there is no “relative” world. The relative world that thinks we are boats on the ocean is simply a fantasy world. The wave is not “relative” to the ocean, it is the ocean. And the boat is not the ocean, it doesn't even exist. There is no boat, only an ocean in motion.

“Furthermore, leaks are distracting to say the least; following Maslow's basic hierarchy of needs, the higher needs don't become relevant until the lower needs are adequately met, or least come to terms with. For example, if you're hungry you generally don't care about self-actualization; if you don't have a roof over your head--or more accurately, if you deal with basic survival issues and the accompanying sense of fear--then self-transcendence is meaningless.”

I don't consider non-dualism, or self-enquiry, to be a higher practice, or the fulfillment of a higher need. To do so would be to place it in opposition to lower practices and lower needs. This is part of Wilber's error. Non-dualism is a fundamental need, not to be confused with a higher need. It's simply the need we all have for reality. It's applicable to everyone, regardless of whether they are at a “higher” or “lower” level. By placing non-dualism at the apex of his system, he's made it into an elitist phenomena only for the “higher types”. Adi Da makes the same error. And he's also made it into something other than non-dualism. He seems not to understand the relationship non-dualism has to the hierarchies of life. It isn't in the hierarchy, it isn't a part of that game. It's the reality in which hierarchy arises. It's the reality in which the dream arises. So it plays no favorites within the dream, and it isn't attainable by rising through the hierarchies of the dream. Again, it's simply reality, what is, rather than what the mind thinks and perceives.

Non-dualism isn't in conflict with conditional needs. It just isn't one of them, and it doesn't respond to them specifically. It treats them the same way the body treats digestion. You don't spend time thinking about it, it just happens in a fairly orderly, automatic way. As Nisargadatta says, he doesn't really pay any attention to all his worldly interactions, even though to others it seems that he's sharp as a tack and on top of it all. In his view, he's hardly aware of all that, the same way we aren't aware of our digestion for the most part.

The kind of problem you are talking about, I think arises when people have misconceptions about non-dualism, and as Wilber or Da does, tries to put it on the top of a hierarchical pyramid, which only serves those who think of themselves as top-of-the-pyramid types. It confuses everyone, including themselves, and makes nothing but problems. The solution is simple, but most of these types don't want to take it because it means giving up their privileges and status. And ordinary people are confused because they think they have to someone “balance” their higher and lower needs, The primary need we all have is for reality. Everything else is secondary. You can't play a balancing act with primary needs. Oxygen, for example, is a primary bodily need. Food is secondary. You can't balance your need for oxygen, it's a fundamental need that can't be compromised. You can go without food for days and weeks, but you need oxygen every minute. You can balance your need for food with your need for exercise, say, but you can't balance your need for oxygen with anything else.

“I tend to agree with Gurdjieff when he said that freedom is not de-programming, but being free to choose what program one is running. To be completely de-programmed is not only a myth, imo, but not necessary or desirable (if I may use that word in a positive sense ).”

I don't think deprogramming has anything to do with it. It's about transcendence. Which to be honest isn't something I think Gurdjieff knew much about. I agree that one can't be fully deprogrammed, but one can transcend all samskaras, which is a bit different.

“As I see it, nonduality and integralism aren't antithetical. Just as "striving" and "abiding" (or resting in Self) aren't contradictory, because striving is the movement of the Self in time and space.”

The Self doesn't move through time and space. The Self doesn't exist in time and space. Time and space exist in the Self. These kinds of misunderstandings lead to all kinds of problems. The one who strives in time and space is not the Self. That's the ego, the false sense of being a separate self. That whole perspective is an illusion that can never be made real. It doesn't mean that reality sees illusion in opposition to itself. Nor does it mean that the needs of the body are illusory. But the needs of the ego are. I don't really know what “integralism” means, but I gather it means regaining the integrity for the body-mind. This is a project that can never be accomplished by trying to integrate all one's parts and pieces. Real integrity comes from reality itself, from being real, which makes one honest and strong in all the most basic ways. Non-dualism is the nature of reality, and if the integral movement bases itself in non-dualism, then it will achieve integrity. But if it bases itself in a dualistic striving for integrity, for wholeness, it won't ever get there. I think there are problems with Wilber's approach that he is blind to, because he doesn't want to give up the things which the dualistic approach seem to offer him. Of course, that's true of all of us in our own way.

No comments: