Associated Inquiry and Double Attentiveness
“To know who we are, we don’t need to be “figured out”.
We just need to be exposed!”
Acceptance and Impermanence
Associated Inquiry is a way – a method – to look through appearances. It consists of three pillars:
We can’t embrace an experience if we don’t accept it. We must be able to let ourselves be absorbed into an experience a feeling or a mood. By experiencing something deeply we will come to see that it is passing, impermanent and transient, and in this deep understanding the experiencer “falls” into the experienced. When that which is experienced is seen as passing – as empty – the experiencer also dissolves!
I will try to explain this in a different way. If I ask someone “are you conscious?” the person will immediately turn his or her awareness towards something, to an object or a thought. We need an object in the mind to feel ourselves – the subject. The subject and the object exist simultaneously – no object, no subject.
When you “wake up” in the morning, you become aware of your body or of the clouds outside the window. When the body or the clouds appear you appear simultaneously. How could you be conscious if you where not conscious of something?
The natural state, or the awakened state, is that “undivided being” that makes up both the subject and the object. In our true nature we are both and as the undivided being we are playing both the roles. The famous statement “Tat Twam Asi” (“I am That”), means the same. I am That which makes up everything there is and ever was.
I’m not talking about a lofty philosophical statement. I’m talking about a direct wordless understanding, so unbelievably simple and beautiful! Realizing that all experiences are impermanent the experiencer is also becoming impermanent. This is realized as the non-dual state where the experiencer is the experienced. It is like becoming a child again and maybe our longing for Enlightenment is the longing back to something we once used to know.
All the content of the mind can be used to help us to wake up, because awakening has nothing to do with the “what” but with the “is”. If, for example, anger is understood as impermanent it can be the stepping-stone.
In one of my satsangs somebody said to me “I don’t understand a single word of what you are talking about”. I asked him “can you accept that experience unconditionally”. Just embrace that experience for what ever it is, pleasant or unpleasant?” It is very difficult for the mind to understand that by accepting your non-understanding you will gain the ultimate understanding.
Then what is the inquiry about? Let me give an example. A woman asked me about her fear: “How do I get free from my fear?” I asked her “Is it there all the time?” (which means that is it permanent) “No”, she said. “But if it is impermanent, is it not OK then to let it be the way it is? It’s going to pass any way!” She relaxed and said “yes”. If the fear had been her only problem, she could have awakened in that moment of acceptance! But there was more to it. Under the fear there was an even deeper split, a deeper fight. I asked her to inquire, if there was a feeling deeper than the fear? She rested into the question for a moment and then she said “Yes, there is a fear of being without love!” I asked again, if she could let the feeling of no love be present in consciousness: “Since this feeling also comes and goes, wouldn’t it be OK to just let it be as long as it wants to be?” She hesitated for a while and then said “yes”. If this had been the last layer, she would have touched the undividable – her true nature. But she was still restless. I asked her to inquire deeper: “What is underneath this feeling of no love?” She allowed herself to fall deeper! “There comes a very scary feeling of emptiness!” I asked her “Since everything that can be experienced is transient can’t you just let this be as it is?” She relaxed and I asked her to enquire deeper. Suddenly her face became radiant and relaxed and her breath was very slow and harmonious. Now I knew that she was touching the “Source”. From here I encouraged her to go back and invite the loveless state and the fear she had encountered in the very beginning of our session. Now she could no longer identify with these states or take them seriously.
When you are at the very centre of your being – the undividable
– you can embrace every thing right away. When you are not at your centre there is no embrace, then there is only the mind fighting with itself.
This session is an example of “Associated Inquiry” where we go on asking for the underlying conflict until the “soap bubble bursts.”
What often happens in Associated Inquiry is that the very first feelings or moods that we are fighting with are those close to our personality. This means that we feel that they are very personal. These feelings or moods are often directly associated with friends, lovers and family members. The deeper we go, the more the feelings and moods become impersonal. Feelings like “the universe is without love!” or “all is empty!” are deep states of consciousness that are not directly associated with any particular person or situation.
Through the ages all the organized religions have given us answers to these profound existential questions, maybe not realizing that by giving man “cheap answers” to these questions, religions also prevent us from coming into our true state of being. It lies so deep in our conditioning that we must avoid any attempts to investigate issues such as aloneness, emptiness, and lovelessness. But these are the very last fights to be surrendered and embraced. They are the treasure keepers and they should be welcomed with great love and respect. No answer from outside can silence these ultimate questions. Thank God for that! And this is why any organized religion is bound to fail. Religions are bound to leave people deeply frustrated, because truth has to arise from within – only then is it emancipating.
With associated inquiry people can realize the Source directly, but often they realize a state of “being”, which is not the natural state because there is still separation – the separation between “being” and “me”!
To overcome this final separation you can stay in that state of “being-heart-fullness” and invite whatever the content of the mind is into the heart of being. It is literally to allow the mind to sink into the heart. By allowing the content of the mind to sink into the heart, the awakened mind is born. This is what I call “Double Attentiveness” because you keep your attention on two things – the mind and the heart – at the same time. This will become effortless after some time when the old habit of duality has gone!