To Retire

To Retire

nautilus shell
Photo by premasagar

There is a word in the Rig Veda, Nivartadhvam. It means to “twist within” or return or retire.
We retire from the world through samadhi or transcendence.
Then we return to the world by retiring from transcendence.

This is like the analogy of dying the cloth. To dye a fabric the old way, it was dipped in the dye to soak, then hung up in the sun to bleach. That cycle was repeated until the colour was fast.

Too much time in the dye (practices) and the fabric will rot. Too much time in the sun (activity) and the dye will bleach out. But by alternating them, presence becomes fast.

But Nivartadhvam also has a deeper meaning. That is to retire from retiring.
If we stay with being a seeker and practitioner, we can get stuck in a role. We have to retire even from who we think we are to awaken.

This is why you sometimes see people wake up after they give up, after they throw away all their ideas about becoming enlightened. They retire from a role and find reality.

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  1. It’s interesting how going within can be like spiraling down into a point and yet the process by which infinite consciousness becomes manifest can also be experienced as infinity spiraling down to a point – something I mentioned in my SAND talk article.

    Some illustrated this as like an hourglass – infinite expression coming to a point and infinite consciousness coming to a point. We’re at that point.

  2. Phil

    Hi David,

    This is a timely post as in the last 12 hours or so I’ve hit a crisis of confusion and direction and want to throw all ideas of becoming enlightened out myself – perhaps just live a normal and peaceful a life as I can. I really am exhausted to tears with it all. Forgive me if I use this comment to exercise some of my struggles.

    It comes from the conflicting messages of different teachers and spiritual educators (the downside of the internet esp something like youtube, where a thirsty seeker has access to all this overwhelming diversity at once). Perhaps an issue highlighted by your recent experience at SAND18 where you say there were “confused seekers, saturated by the divergent approaches”.

    While this seeking and confusion is in the realm of the mind and it is said enlightenment is beyond mind – this too is even a very point of contention. You have teachers such as SAND regular like Jac O’ Keeffe who espouses anti-intellectual/anti-thought/anti-mind approaches exemplified here:

    Contrast this with traditional Advaita lineages such as teachers as Swami Dayananda Saraswati and Chinmayananda whom where traditionally taught Jnanis (Ramana wasn’t a traditionally taught Jnani and asking “who am I?” isn’t Jnana yoga, but that’s a whole other can of westerner misinterpretation worms for another time).

    Traditional Jnana principally uses the intellect as a tool of liberation. Jnanis argue that for whom is enlightenment for if not the apparent individuation of the Self??. The Self is always already free – timeless, unborn, undying – it is beyond enlightenment and unenlightenment, beyond all states and stages – there is no becoming for ‘it’. It is pure satya. But for the jiva appearing as mithya, illuminated by the Self, it is either under the spell of ignorance (avidya) – identifying as the body/mind experience, or conversely knows and identifies as that which is beyond the body/mind jiva, yet illuminating it all (vidya). All objects, which is all experience, sheaths and layers are of the Self, but the Self is free of all objects.

    So traditional Advaita argues that enlightenment or unenlightenment is only “happening” on the mithya side of the street. What else but the Self is having the experience of appearing as an unenlightened or enlightened facet of individuation? Enlightenment is both freedom from the individual and for the individual. Traditional Advaita is highly intellectual requiring distinct qualifications of the ‘apparent’ individual. It is the proverbial thorn that removes a thorn.

    So while it is my mind that wants answers and assurances, understanding can’t happen anywhere else. It may not be the surface intellectual mind, but it must be a deeper reflected knowing, yet still mind: The analogy of the mind as a whole being as a lake, either murky (tamas), choppy (rajas) or still (satva). Only when still and clear can it reflect the truth. But the truth is ever-present and any and all change, including enlightenment and stages beyond that, can only ever be in the reflection. Maybe the Self in this context as used by the likes of Swami Dayananda, is what you refer to as parabrahman, as they say it’s the knowing behind which all things are known, inc all possible states and stages. They say there can be nothing beyond it and if there was, by means of what knowing would it be known other than the Self.

    What I think is the issue is language and people using the same words for different aspects – this is why sanskrit is so precise where English is not.

    My biggest bugaboo: You have the aforementioned Jac O’keeffe announcing that there is no free will and that all time exists at once and there can be no influencing the ‘future’ and that it is all in the “can” as she puts it – that we experience a sequential play back of a “movie” and any volition, choice and thus responsibility is an illusion. The apparent individual is quote, a “marionette”. Whatever we do as apparent individuals has no baring on what happens it just seems it does. The message is a clear fatalistic one of what will happen is going to to happen anyway.

    (This begs the question of why even bother going to Jac O’keeffe talks, or Parsons etc for that matter, in the first place and employing therein confusing teachings, as that they would be consequential would merely be illusory too.)

    Then you have those such as Tom Campbell who argue that free will is fundamental to the development of the soul (facet of Self) and the future is absolutely not “done”, as those like O’keeffe espouse – that the future is probabilistic not deterministic and that “God does not play with his pet people”, that namely the individual is not a marionette. In Campbell’s model, free will exists only in the present and the past is not happening now, but rather what is available is an historical database of actualised and possible, but unactualised timelines.

    The future is also not happening now but what is available is a probabilistic database of higher and lower probability timelines, none of which is actualised or ‘happening’ but mere myriad divergent possibilities. There is always a given present choice, albeit with different degrees of limitation. He also says as one develops, clears and heals, decision space opens up and free will is actually expanded. Harri Alto argues something similar.

    I did, overdosing on medical marijuana, have an experience in alignment to what O’keeffe espouses, that everything had already happened and each moment was a sequential playback. But that itself was just an experience in time. A very stoned experience where my normal neurological processes where clearly disrupted. I wouldn’t count my vision as reliable.

    So who’s right? Are they all right but from different perspectives, as you have said before? Do I accept the nondual nihilistic, fatalistic message that it’s all already done and curl up in depression, because there’s no point in putting one foot in front of the other because I have no say or causation in anything anyway? There’s no point in healing, for example with this message. Healing would be just a concessionary illusion, because whether I heal and clear or not, the ‘canned’ future is gonna be the way it is no matter what.

    Or do I follow a counterargument such as this by Adya, that every moment offers an empowering choice.

    But, do I prefer Adya’s, Campbell’s and yours message because it appeals to the controlling ego more or a genuine yearning of freedom from my soul?

    Confused. Want to retire from this whole spiritual jig at times like these. Although, perhaps I really don’t have choice in the matter. (Head in hands) 😉

    1. Hi Phil

      You raise quite a few points. For one, an awake teacher like Jac or Adya is generally talking from their experience. But as I talk about a lot here, there are stages in unfolding enlightenment and each stage has it’s own reality and sense of self.

      Time and space are constructs that arise from the dynamics of consciousness. Articles like this illustrate how our perception of time can change.

      Many teachers do express a kind of “right seeing”, typically to help the student see beyond their current world-view. But there are many ways to see the one reality.

      The right perspective now is primarily the reality you live in. If you experience choice, then that is your reality. But from that perspective, it can be useful to recognize there are other ways of seeing. As it works out, it’s all in and of the Self so free will and determinism are just 2 sides of one coin. I’ve written on that too.

      It is the Self that wakes up to itself through this form in Self Realization. This is beyond the mind. But then that awakening is progressively integrated into this person and life.

      It’s also good to recognize that mind and intellect are distinct in a Vedic perspective. Intellect is the discriminator, mind is the processor of thoughts and the senses. The intellect can be used as part of a path if the person is oriented that way. It also often plays a key role in the Unity shift in recognizing the Self within is the same Self underlying the world. That then progresses forward into a series of other similar recognitions.

      It’s also worth recognizing that most modern advaita doesn’t recognize post-consciousness stages. They only recognize 5 koshas, for example. This is ironic because true nonduality begins with Brahman. Prior to that, there is still subtle dualities.

      I’ll disagree on knowing. Mind is what translates inner knowing into words. We can’t communicate until the mind digests such. But we can very much know on levels deeper than the mind. Mind is an interface, it’s not the knower.

      Ultimately, it’s not about who’s right. Thats mind wanting the “right answer.” Its just all perspective. Whats important is instead recognizing your true nature. And the mind won’t get you there.

      A non-doing letting go is the way and why the collapse of the seeker can cause a shift.

    2. Generally, its suggested you find someone you resonate with and focus on their approach for awhile. Are they surrounded by the awake? ie: do they get results?

      Again, otherwise, its just mind chasing more. More concepts but not results.

      1. Phil

        Thanks David,

        Truth is, I genuinely don’t know – but there is a knowing or “radical subject” that knows/illumines this body and confused, seeking mind. That’s what traditional jnanis mean by knowing – not an intellectual knowledge, but the means by which anything can be known – the non-experiencing ‘experient’ of all experience. The mind and body and all other sheaths being objects of experience, from gross to subtle, appearing to a ‘knowing’ awareness that is subtler than the subtlest.

        Indeed, Traditional advaita would say I am not this body/mind seeker trying to find right answers, but that which the body/mind first-person experience/object is appearing to. The mind is a reflection of light but not the light itself. The seeker/person is a redundant role, and thus retirement is the only option.

        Here is such an alternate view from a someone in a traditional lineage:

        As an individual, I’m not possessed by any ideology or have allegiances to any one teaching. I am simply tired of the whole spiritual search and have no dog in any fight. I look at seeking as trying to listen to as many divergent views as possible and see where there is overlap; a la a Venn diagram.

        When there is overlap, of course it’s good. Logic indicates there may be truth there. But, when there is such contradiction of perspective and experience as say that of Jac’s and Tom Campbell’s, then it’s frustrating. The mind can’t understand how both can be valid.

        Of course I find Campbell’s perspective more resonant, because it is empowering – that an individual (in as much as there is one) has at least some choice in their destiny. Why would any’one’ do anything if it’s not to achieve something. There is always an idea of karma, of causation.

        If it’s all set in stone, as some make out, there can be no such thing as causation – creativity – novelty and the new – I have no choice but to write this reply exactly as it is and you have no choice or creativity in your actions either. As individuals, we’re indeed “marionettes” – from that perspective.

        Some would even argue that it is not my comment, for example, that caused your reply, but rather your reply drew my comment from the future. (Laughs) I have no idea – it’s all a big mindf*** for sure. 🙂

        Of course, my seeker mind is just trying to get peace so it can relax and calm and reflect some happiness. It plays devil’s advocate only in trying to ween out of the world what is what.

        Thanks for patiently responding to such an opus anyway. Maybe this is all an expulsion in the collapse of my seeker. 🙂

        1. You’re welcome. I can relate as I have a strong intellect. The key here was knowing enough that the mind was willing to be assured and would let go.

          None of my original understanding turned out to be accurate. The teaching had to be reevaluated in light of the shifts. Then it was understood in a new way, based on experience.

          The perspective these days is that its a mixture. There’s a kind of blueprint unfolding but lots of variation in how we respond. We have a path we’re on but we can chose how we respond to it.

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