- Beyond Joy
- What am I?
- Be the Witness
- Go with the Flow
- Mind and Brain. Not-Self
Lester Levenson was sent home from the hospital with an incurable heart ailment. His medical situation caused him to examine his life. What he discovered transformed him. This transformation is described in Lester Levenson's story at releasetechnique.com. It is only 20 pages long and I highly recommend reading it.
What is happiness?
"Happiness is when I am loving!" He realized that in every instance his feeling of love for the other person had been intense and that's where the happiness had come from, from his own feeling of loving.
How far could he take this?
"When I mixed with people, and again and again when they would do things that I didn't like and within me was a feeling of non-love, I would immediately change that attitude to one of loving them even though they were opposing me. Eventually I got to a point where, no matter how much I was being opposed, I could maintain a feeling of love for them."
He realized that the cause of his ulcers was that he had wanted to change everything, starting with his nearest and dearest and extending out to the rest of the world, including the United States, other countries, government heads, the weather, endings of movies he had seen, the way businesses were run, taxes, the army, the President; there was nothing he could think of that he had not wanted to change in one way or another.
What a revelation! He saw himself subject to and a victim of everything he wanted to change! He began dissolving all that. When he thought of something that caused him pain about a person or situation, he would now either correct it with love or dissolve wanting to change it.
Lester asks "What is intelligence"?
I began to examine thinking, and its relationship to what was happening. And I saw that whatever was happening had a thought behind it at some time prior. And that the reason I had never before related the two was because of the element of time between the thought and the happening.
Above all, I saw that I was responsible for everything that had happened to me, formerly thinking that the world was abusing me! And I saw that my tremendous effort to make money and then losing it was due only to my thinking; that I had been always seeking happiness, and thought that making money would do it. So whenever the business started to make money, and the money did not bring me the happiness I wanted, I began to lose interest and the thing collapsed. I had always blamed it on other people and circumstances, not realizing that it was simply my subconscious knowledge that this is not happiness which caused me to lose interest and that, in turn, caused the business to collapse.
How joyous could he get?
He felt light, living for weeks with joy exploding inside him every moment. Everyone and everything became exquisitely beautiful to him.
After several weeks, he began to wonder if there could be anything better beyond this joy. He was sitting in his chair in the usual position, slumped down, legs stretched out, chin touching his chest. He had the idle thought without expecting an answer, but the answer came.
What was beyond this incredible, joyous state that didn't stop? He saw that it was peace, imperturbability... and he realized with certainty that if he accepted it, if he decided to move into that peace, it would never, ever go away... and he went... slipped into it so effortlessly... with just a decision to have it... he was there.
Everything was still. He was in a quietness that he now knew had always been there but drowned out by incessant noise from his accumulated, uncorrected past. In fact, it was more than quiet; it was so far beyond anything imaginable that there were no words to describe the delectable deliciousness of the tranquility.
His earlier question about happiness was answered too. There were no limits to happiness, but when you have it all, every minute, it gets tiresome. Then this peace is just beyond ... and all you have to do is step over the line into it.
"Is there anything beyond even this?" he wondered. But as he asked, he knew the answer.
This peace was eternal and forever, and it was the essence of every living thing. There was only one Beingness and everything was It; every person was It, but they were without awareness of the fact, blinded by the uncorrected past they hold on to.
He saw this Beingness as something like a comb. He was at the spine of the comb and all the teeth fanned out from it, each one thinking it was separate and different from all the other teeth. And that was true, but only if you looked at it from the tooth end of the comb. Once you got back to the spine or source, you could see that it wasn't true. It was all one comb. There was no real separation, except when you sat at the tooth end. It was all in one's point of view.
The great value that I see in Levenson's writings comes from the fact that he discovered the same truth Buddha did and had the same experience, but he did it independently without any knowledge of Buddhism. Because of this, he has his own perspective on the subject which adds to what we learn from the teachings of Buddha. And Levenson is a man of our own era so he can explain things in ways that make sense to us.
Lester Levenson explains how he attained his realization in his book KEYS TO THE ULTIMATE FREEDOM Thoughts and Talks on Personal Transformation which at stillnessspeaks.com.
When I started my quest I thought “thinking” would give me the answers. I had a mind that was as active as any mind could be. But I was at the end of the line. I had had a second heart attack and they told me I was finished, that I had only a short time to live, and so I had to have the answers. And even though my mind was far more active than the great majority of minds, the intensity of the desire for the answers caused me to hold to one question at a time, obliterating all else. This concentration did it!
I started seeking with no knowledge of metaphysics, no knowledge of the way. In fact I was anti all religion and all metaphysics; I thought it was nonsense, for the weakminded, for people who believed in fairy tales.
But it was only because of the intensity of the desire to get the answers, I had to have the answers, that they began to come, and they came relatively quickly. Over a period of three month’s time I went from an extreme materialist to the opposite extreme: the material is nothingness and the spiritual is the All.
The wish to get the answer was so strong, that in spite of my mind being one of the noisiest of minds, the answers began to come. I automatically fell into things (I knew no words for them) like samadhi. I would concentrate on a question with such intensity that I would lose awareness of the world, lose awareness of this body, and then I would be aware of just a pure thought, the thought itself would be the only thing existing in this universe. That's absorption when the thinker and the thought become one. One loses consciousness of everything but that one thought. That's a very concentrated state of mind and the answer is always discovered right there.
I started with “What is happiness? What is life? What do I want? How do I get happiness?” I discovered that happiness depended upon my capacity to love. At first I thought it was in being loved. I reviewed my life and saw that I was very much loved by my family and friends and yet I was not happy. I saw that was not it. Continuing, I realized that it was my capacity to love that gave me happiness.
The next question was “What is intelligence?” I persisted until Ah! I saw it! There is only one intelligence in the universe and we all have a direct line to it.
Then I worked on responsibility and discovered that I was responsible for everything that happens or happened to me. Creation was something I created!
Finally, I held the question “What am I?” until the answer presented itself.
And this went on and in a matter of three month’s time I believe I saw the entire picture, went all the way, only because of the concentrated approach. I knew nothing about the subject; I knew nothing about the direction, the way, the path, but I wanted to know: “What am I? What is this world? What's my relationship to it?”
You discover that the whole world is nothing but you, that there never was anything but you all along, because there's only One and you are It! But that isn't the final state. You come out of it and there's still a certain amount of mind left. So you go back into the meditative quest until there is no more mind controlling you. When you've eliminated all the habits of thought, all the tendencies of mind, you are free; then you can use your mind and you are the master and director of it. It no longer determines you, you determine it.
The way to this inner Being that we are, is to direct our attention inward. We first focus the mind back upon the mind until we discover what mind is. We then focus our attention on our Self to discover our real nature. And it turns out that our real nature, the infinite real Self that we are, is simply we minus the mind; that the mind was a limiting adjunct covering our Beingness; that all thoughts have limitation (and we develop millions of thoughts of limitation) which prevent us from seeing this infinite Being that we are; and that by turning our attention inward we discover all this. When we do, we naturally let go of all these limitations. Then we see that we have always been, are now, and always will be, this unlimited Being.
The mind finds it very difficult to imagine what it's like beyond creation, because the mind is involved constantly in creating. It's the creating instrument of the universe and everything that happens in the world. So, if you take this thing called mind, which instrument is only a creator, and try to imagine what it is like beyond creation, it's impossible. The mind will never know God or your. Self, because you have to go just above the mind to know God, your Self.
To know the infinite Being that you are, to know what it's like beyond creation, transcend the mind. The final state is beyond creation. It is the changeless state. In creation everything is constantly changing, and therefore the ultimate Truth cannot be there.
The thing that keeps us from recognizing and expressing our infinity is simply the mind, conscious and subconscious. If we are to express this infinite nature, we can do it only by getting behind this mind. When we reach the realm behind the mind we operate without thoughts, intuitively, and are in harmony with the whole universe.
The direction is to still the mind. Quiet the mind and you'll see your infinity right there.
Just let go of the mind completely and what's left over is your infinite beingness, all knowing, all powerful, everywhere present.
In your imagination you have written and projected a cinema show of acts, actors and audiences on a screen and have lost sight of the fact that it is all in your imagination, your mind. Discover this and you discover the absolute Truth.
The reason why thoughts wander back into the world is because we believe the world is real. But for this belief, Realization would be!
All thoughts are of non-truth. It's so simple. You just stop the thoughts and the infinity that you are is self-obvious.
The mind will never discover the Self because the mind is the cover-up over the Self. It's only by letting go of the mind that the Self is seen. You get the mind quiet enough to allow your Self to be obvious to you so that you may use It to let go of the mind.
You use your mind to still your mind. When you are meditating, holding one thought, other thoughts drop away.
People who have had realizations of the ultimate reality, Brahman, experience themselves as the consciousness that creates all reality. They see themselves as all things and they see all beings are one. They see that ordinary reality is an illusion projected by the mind. They understand the Buddhist concept of emptiness: all is illusion, individual self is an illusion, material reality is an illusion, separate (other) beings are illusions. There is only Brahman. Even the unity of self and other is still illusion because there is no self, there is no other, there is only Brahman.
There is nothing mystical about how the mind projects illusion. For example, many negative emotions are not really necessary but the mind produces them anyway. It makes us unhappy and can poison the quality of our existence. If something annoys you, there is no law of physics that requires that you get annoyed. You might even recognize that being annoyed is unwanted but you still get annoyed. The mind produces this annoyance, it has no basis in physical reality, it is totally unnecessary, and it is unwanted. It is an illusion. You might say that there is a biological explanation for it, but that is just an explanation of how the projector works. A projection is not something real. And the mind does this to us constantly, it produces opinions, attachments, aversions, worries, fears, ... all are illusions, but most of the time we swallow the bait and think they are real. Because they appear in our mind, we assume that they are our ideas and we accept them as part of our reality, we rarely question them.
Realization allows you to become free from these illusions.
Realization cannot come to you as a thought or as a logical understanding. The analytical mind is no help here, in fact it is the problem. The realization is going to come to you as an experience when you stop using the mind, stop thinking about the world through the mind and stop thinking of yourself through the mind. The mind only projects illusion, the illusion of self, the illusion of things, the illusion of other separate beings. To attain realization, you have to turn your attention inward so far inward that you go inward to a point before all conceiving of or thinking of.
There are various ways to free yourself from the illusions projected by your own mind. One is through insight / mindfulness practices in which you observe how the mind produces illusions. Another is meditation where you still the mind by thinking of one thing, meditating with a single pointed, focused mind, until there are no other thoughts, then let go of that one thing. Another is working with a koan such as "Who am I?", "What am I?", or "What is this?"
In addition to posing this question ['What am I?'] until we get the answer, it is good practice in our daily life to be not the doer, be not the agent. Just be the witness! Acquire the “It is not I but the Father who worketh through me” attitude (which several in this group already have). This is the main conduct of life that we should strive for. The more we become the witness in life, the more we become non-attached to the body, the more we are our real Self.It seems that Levenson's idea of being the witness and the Buddhist practices of insight and mindfulness are, in part, getting at the same thing: to develop a sense of detachment. If you've done insight meditation and mindfulness practices, "be the witness" makes perfect sense and is easily done. But, it also makes sense out of those practices. It helps you to understand the purpose of them in a way that helps you to do them with the right frame of mind and understanding of purpose.
So, there are two things I'm suggesting, one is the question “What am I?” and the second is, in life itself, be not the doer; be the witness. Let things happen; allow life to be. That's the way we are in the top state, and the best behavior in life is that which is characteristic of the top state.
When we attain this top state, we are not zombies, but we are all-knowing and everywhere present. Everything falls perfectly into line. We move in the world just like anyone else moves, but the difference is that we see the world entirely different from the way everyone else sees it. We see our body and every other body equally as our Self. Likewise, every animal and every thing as our Self. Seeing everything as “I,” gives us that singular Oneness throughout the universe which is called God, or the Self. We watch our body moving through life like an automaton. We let it go its way. And since we are not really that body, nothing that happens to that body can effect us. Even if it were crushed, it wouldn't mean much to us because we fully know that we are not that body. We know our eternal Beingness and we remain That!
So, one who has attained the top state is difficult to distinguish from anyone else. He'll go through the same motions of life and whatever he was doing before, he might continue to do. But his outlook on life is entirely different. He is completely egoless; he has no concern for his own body. He is interested in others and not in himself, he is interested in all humanity. Whatever he does has absolutely no ego motivation. His body will continue to live its normal span and usually goes out, in the eyes of the unknowing, the same way most bodies go out, via so-called death and coffin. But the one who was originally connected with that body never sees any of this death. He sees this entire world and body as an illusion that was created mentally just as we create scenes, cities and worlds in our night dreams. When we awaken, we realize there never was such a thing. And in the same way, when we awaken from this waking state, we see that the whole thing was a dream and never really was. That the only thing that ever was, was my Being, the absolute Reality, being all beingness, infinite, all perfect, all knowing, all powerful, omnipresent.
A witness is also an observer. Realization is not going to come from logical thinking. Being a witness means forgoing a lot of mental chatter, logical thinking, that is involved in analyzing situations. An observer doesn't have to analyze.
Q: To not be the doer, don't you plan? Don't you do everything normally?You don't have to control everything. You don't have to be constantly thinking about plans and contingencies.
Lester: No, the right way is not to plan. Let it happen. Let go and you'll be guided intuitively. Instead of planning with thought, you'll do the exactly right thing, perfectly at the right moment, from moment to moment.
Q: There is a situation where someone might take a position of that kind when he hasn't really felt it; for example, he will say, “I'll just stay in bed until I'm moved.” Meantime his rent isn't paid.
Lester: So, he'll have to move! If we assume that we are there and are not, we are soon awakened to the fact that we are not there, see. Bob, I'm talking from a higher level now, the perfect state, where everything is in absolute harmony every moment. There you never think, and at every moment you know from within just the right thing to do. You're guided intuitively each and every moment and everything falls perfectly into line. Now, if you're not there, of course you have to think; you have to plan.
Q: Well, in practice then, in the beginning, it's probably a combination of the two where things go very easily, and then there's a hump in which you have to plan.
Lester: Definitely yes! In the top state you do by knowing; you just know from moment to moment. One feels “I know it!” That's just the way it feels and there's no thinking to it, only “I know it!”
Realization involves the mind and not just the brain. You do not experience realization just because you leave the physical body.
What he was the moment before he died, he is the moment after, except for the fact that he has let go of the dense body. The physical body is an exact copy of the astral body. And when you step out of the physical body, it feels the same to you and you try to do the things that you were doing just before in the physical body, if you have attachments to the physical world. If you don't have attachments, you adapt much easier to the freer way of life in the astral body.
The mind is the brain of the astral and causal bodies.
There's no mind in the physical body. It's the mind of the astral body that operates the physical body.
Realized knowledge is non-intellectual although the means we use are intellectual. We use our mind, we direct our mind toward the answer. But you will discover that the answer does not come from the mind. It comes from a place just behind the mind. It comes from the realm of knowingness, the realm of omniscience. By quieting the mind through stilling our thoughts, each and everyone of us has access to this realm of Knowingness.
This helps to explain the Buddhist concept of not-self. If the mind is the brain of the astral body, then the mind is not self in the same way that the brain of the physical body is not self. When you understand the mind is not self, it is liberating. When you understand
this body is not me or mine and
this mind is not me or mine, you also understand that
this personality is not me or mine,
this life is not me or mine,
these mistakes are not me or mine,
these failures are not me or mine,
[fill in the blank] ____ is not me or mine.
This is not a license to do wrong, the law of karma still pertains, the life review and reincarnation still loom. However, it explains why there is no blame or punishment in the afterlife, only karma and learning.
Those who experience realization tell us that each of us is all of us and all things. The reason we don't see this is because the mind creates illusions that confuse us.
These illusions are the opposites of the three characteristics of all things. The three characteristics are unsatisfactoriness, impermanence, and not-self. When you have a deep understanding of the three characteristics you are no longer fooled by the illusions that desire can be satisfied by impermanent things, or that there is a self. When you are not fooled by these illusions, you will naturally let go of all attachments and aversions.
If you don't believe in the self, then when something good happens to me it is no different than if it happened to you. If you don't believe in the self, then if you harm me, it is no different from harming yourself. If you don't believe in the self, then if your body is damaged, it is no different than if a rock is damaged. If you don't believe in the self, then you are no different from everyone and all things, you are limitless, unbounded.
When you produce happiness and love through meditation, you can see through the illusions of desire and self. When you are happy, you don't need anything to make you happy so you have no desires. When you love others, if something good happens to another person you enjoy it as much as if it happened to you. When you love others you would not harm another person anymore than you would harm yourself. If you love unconditionally and have no desires, when someone else has something nice, it will give you as much pleasure as if it was your own. If you have no desires and you are not attached to self, you will not desire anything permanent or impermanent. You will not fool yourself into believing that anything can be permanent. You will not fool yourself into believing that anything impermanent can satisfy a desire. You will not be troubled by the impermanence of things.
When you are not attached to self, and you learn how to experience happiness and love while all sorts of things are happening around your not-self, that is nibbana. When you are free from attachments and aversions, wisdom and compassion will arise naturally and inform your actions.
When we love, and only love, we are using the most formidable power in the universe. No one and no thing can harm us. We can never ever be hurt or unhappy if we would only just love without any hate. You can never be hurt when you love in the sense that the love is full, complete, divine love. It's just love with no, not one bit of, hate in it. It requires turning the other cheek, loving your enemy, that's the kind of love it takes.
Q: Love is understanding?
Lester: When you love fully you understand the other one fully. Love is understanding. It's identifying with the other one, being the other one. Coming down a step, it's wanting the other one to have what the other one wants, loving the other one, the way the other one is.
Q: Then who is our enemy?
Lester: In reality we have only one enemy and that's ourself. No one can do anything to us; no one can do anything for us. Someday you'll see this, that we in our consciousness determine everything that happens to us.
When we see someone doing wrong, we have to know that this is a god-being, misguided. He's looking for God in the wrong place. Am I making sense? That's the understanding.
So we love everyone, see them as misguided beings, forgive them for they know not what they do. They're like children, misguided. Attain the highest state of loving everyone equally as Christ did!
You will begin to see that the joy is only in you abiding as your very own Self. Then, when you discover this, you're not going to look for joy where it isn't. You will immediately let go and just be. And finally, you reach the place where you need no one and no thing to be happy, you just are happy, all the time!
The prime overall thing is that you move toward happiness in the direction of where it really is, in you, not in the externals. In that way you establish a state of happiness that is continuous.
There's no happiness in people or things. Happiness is our basic nature. Happiness is our very own beingness. And when we are only being, we are infinitely happy. Yes, when we are only being, and nothing else, we are infinitely happy!
You must let go of all your thoughts. Every thought has limitation in it. Drop all your thoughts and what is left over is you in your infinite happiness, your Beingness. Then you will realize that it is as easy for you to discover that you are an infinite Being with infinite happiness as it is for you to discover that you are a male or a female!
The entire body of happiness is being what you are, the Self. Happiness is exactly what you are. Misery is exactly what you are not. The natural state is happiness.
This thing we call happiness is merely the infinite Beingness that we are experiencing to more or less of a degree. The real Self we are is infinite joy. And if we would take it only directly from where it is, that's all we would have. But we miserly take it in tiny amounts through external means by assuming that we need something; we are not whole; we are not complete; we need something out there to make ourselves complete; and we create a want, a lack, which, when we fulfil it, the thoughts for it drop away, and when our thoughts drop away we remain at that moment more in our real Self. And that's what is called happiness, joy.