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Withdrawing the Mind from the World - Part 3
Editor's note: This transcript has been lightly edited to bring clarification to certain points of the dialogue and for easier readability. For this reason, it does not match the corresponding audio mp3 word-for-word. However, the overall content and the expressed ideas remain unchanged.
"The following discourse was given during darshan at Mata Amritanandamayi's Ashram in Kerala, Southern India. It was prompted by a question of how a householder can live in the world and still maintain a spiritual life."
Let me just see if I can pull some things out here and see if we can work off those.
"A householder who wishes to lead a spiritual life after completing his responsibilities in the world should exercise renunciation from the very beginning. Renunciation demands constant and long term practice. He may not be able to relinquish everything externally. Therefore, he should try to be detached from within. His mind should get too involved in things in order to keep this spirit of inner detachment, [?], constant awareness of the goal is very important.
Whatever should happen in the home or outside the home, one should always contemplate and pray in this manner: My goal is far beyond all these trivial and worldly problems. Oh Lord, please do not push me into these conflicts and arguments. Give me that strength and courage to be in the midst of these problems and still remember you and remain detached. Let me try to work through them as part of my duty but let me be untouched by their vibrations."
Speaker: We probably should get into some of those right away because even to be in the midst of problems and yet still be detached... and also that whole idea of the inner and outer. "Help me be inwardly detached even though I still have outward [conflicts]". What we are coming to is trying to dissolve that dichotomy between the inner and the outer. Because even when we say that there is an external reality that’s apart from my mind we [still have to go back and ask,] "Where did it come from?" It’s still has an underlining assumption that ideas would have to leave their source. And then [there is that] last part in there about the vibrations. As I’ve traveled the country you hear all kind of different things about certain microwaves that can get you and… all kinds of things, and certain people who have bad vibes and good vibes….stay away from that. You can see that underneath all of that is the assumption that ideas have left their source and that there are things that are harmful, causative, in the world in some way. And that’s one of the things that as we keep going into it more, we want to have it dissolve.
Participant 1: So, what's a better term?
Speaker: Well, for me, it’s kind of like, “Purify my thoughts, Holy Spirit. Take all my thoughts; and the thoughts that have elements of truth in them, keep those elements, wash them clean; the elements that are not in line with you, shine them away... help me let go of them.” Because even when I get into that inner/outer thing, there just never seems to be a solution. We’ve been around and around and [said that] changing the form without really looking at the beliefs [is not a real correction]. The other thing would be to think that, "Well, I won’t change the form. I should be able to get this in any situation. I’m a person in situations and so I’m going to stick it out." And that has to get questioned too because if I believe I’m a person in a situation, whether I’m a householder in a household, so to speak, or an employer/employee in an institution or a person in a family or whatever, that’s still something that I have to start to question.
Whenever you hear that, "I ought to be able to get this in this situation" it’s saying that there’s a perceptual reality to the situation and also to me as a person, and I ought to be able to get peace [while] perceiving myself as a person in this situation…when in fact, the only way that I’m ever going to be able to get peace is to let go of the way that I’ve constructed my life, so to speak…my identity. Otherwise it just never works because I still have something in mind that I’m going to defend, no matter what the situation is.
Participant 2: That whole inner/outer thing... just that thought that that is the way it is, that construct…[?] all of it. That’s it.
Participant 3: One of the things that’s been coming to me as we’ve been talking is that I’m either at peace in the knowledge of who I am truly or I’m in my conflicted mind and trying to construct this self image and it’s like those are the two choices. And I still notice [that] the question comes up... When I’m in my conflicted mind and I’m feeling this turmoil I know that one option is to talk [about it] and to put it out on the table, and I notice that I still would rather to do it myself at times.
Speaker: Which is my…
Participant 3: ...self concept.
Speaker: It's a 'personhood' thing.
Participant 3: I guess one of the questions that I have is... and this is a doing question; What is there to do to get past some of the fears so that I feel like I would be open and receptive to being that vulnerable and putting the issues on the table?
Speaker: What is there to do?
Participant 3: Yeah.
Participant 2: [inaudible]
Participant 3: Well, that was just so big that there wasn't any choice but to call and talk. But, for a couple days now, I’ve just been walking around being miserable and thinking there was something I could do to get through the fear, and feeling so fearful... I just didn’t want to give it up.
Participant 2: Didn't want to give up the fear?
Participant 3: I didn’t want to deal with the issues…
Participant 2: Just shutting down?
Participant 3: Just shutting down... until last night. I just took some forgiveness worksheets and went out and sat in the parking lot and wrote and cried.
Speaker: If we get back to that original thing that you were saying [that] it’s either this construction I’ve made or who I am... to say "who I am", that’s [really saying] Christ or true Identity, [and that's beyond the perceptual realm]. [It would be more appropriate to] just say [either]; the construction that I’ve made where I’m this little figure in the dream, or the dreamer of the dream. Because the dreamer of the dream is still [within the realm of] perception. It’s not saying there is no dream; that seems just too unimaginable, not even conceivable of [a] true reality. But the key thing is this thing of 'dreamer of the dream vs. dream figure'.
Participant 2: So are you saying that to try to zone in on my true identity is too big a stand? It’s too much like going from A to Z, whereas if I could use the analogy of 'dreamer of the dream' that’s more like hitting somewhere in the middle?
Speaker: Yes. The call is to use that analogy. Or, the Holy Spirit; He is the mediator between truth and illusions. He’s the one who sees the illusions but knows they are not true and keeps reminding the mind, "this isn’t true." Or [you could say] the miracle or [the] right mind. Like you [used it,] "I’m not in my right mind." Wrong mind / right mind; they’re both still perceptual. One of them, [the right mind is] is above the battlefield; [it] has a wholly different view of everything. And what I want to be able to do is to look at the false calmly. When [the false] starts coming into awareness, it does not feel comfortable or calm because my mind believes... that these judgments... are real; whether I’m judging myself as an independent, strong, powerful person which is a judgment on that end - or I’m weak….I’m crying, I’m helpless…I’m afraid, I’m never going to get this Course, [on the other end]. Whichever way it’s coming, the mind is giving a reality to judgment.
Participant 1: As I was leaving today, and I left storming away from home, skidding the car, [I said], “I can’t deal with you, Steve” I rolled up the window and I left. The only thing he said to me was, “I can’t believe that you’re that going through this Course that’s supposed to bring you peace of mind and you’re acting like that. I can’t believe that Speaker went through this when he…” I said, “Well, Speaker wasn’t married and in a relationship with three kids in this trap and now I’m in this and I’m trying to figure out how I need to get out of this.” And the whole idea of "getting out of it", Speaker; that’s a scary thing; I don’t want to be thinking about that right now. That’s what came up. For me, [and] this is definitely a defense and definitely illusion, I still have it in my mind [that] it would be a lot easier if I were not... I mean I looked at someone in my yoga class who said she’s not married and doesn’t have kids and I thought, “How lucky! I wish I had never started this...." That’s where I’m at…"...so I could just start fresh." But, I know that in the mind I’m at, there would be something else trapping me [inaudible]. But that is what has been going on.
Speaker: Yes, you could see where [the comparison] could stir things up or [that] it could be [perceived as] some kind of a threat with Rhonda being such a symbol because there seems to be so many parallels. It’s that whole [idea that] if somebody [else] could do it then I could even do it. I would say of anybody who’s clear and who’s traveled around... and you hear them... all of your objections get swallowed up in the clarity of their ideas. All of [the excuses you put up], "but...but...but...but" or, "I could never because…" or, "if my life was the same as yours..." ...all of those different things get swallowed up into that [and]... that question of what’s stopping you starts to come to mind. If I really sense that if I followed this all the way through %100, all the way to the end, that I will have peace and happiness, then I can really seriously and with great sincerity and passion, entertain that question, "What is stopping me" Holy Spirit, what is standing in my way?" But, if I’m too terrified of following it all the way out to the end, then I’m to the point where I don’t know if I even want to ask that question, because I don’t know if I can make it.
Participant 2: In the fear, I want to be able to hold onto one really legitimate excuse, because I think that’ll save me. But like you said and Participant 3 said earlier, "If it’s not this then it will be that. Who am I kidding to think that if the form changed that somehow that would be the answer.
For me, it’s being willing to say, “Yes, I still have some excuses.” if that’s what’s going on. This is very uncompromising and as long as I think I have a legitimate excuse for delaying then I can give myself permission to delay.
Participant 3: I notice that... I don’t think that I want excuses. I’m sure there’s a part of my mind that does. But, I look at all this and I [think], “How will I ever be able to detach myself from all of this?” and I know that’s an ego question. But, I look and I just feel so overwhelmed and so hopeless.
Participant 2: Something that got clearer to me when I was listening to one of the tapes was this whole idea that my attachment to form is a projection of my attachment to judgment…to my thoughts. And so obviously the only way to become detached in form is to become detached from my thoughts…my ordering of the thoughts. There is no merit in becoming detached from form; you can’t really become detached from form, you can only become detached from ordering of thought and then it may appear that there is no attachment to form. [editor's note: "ordering of thought" is the same as judgment.]
Participant 3: How do you become detached from the ordering of thoughts? It soundsl like that's the next question to address.
Participant 2: I think it’s [done by] starting to notice where the ordering is going on [to see that I am ordering] and to start to question and examine the ordering and [to ask], "Does it serve me?" And then looking at the metaphysical underpinnings of that and recognizing through that; that [ordering thought] doesn’t bring me what I want it to bring me [nor] what I thought it was bringing me. I thought it was bringing me peace and joy and happiness and salvation. But, actually the judgments, the ordering of thoughts brings me nothing but pain and misery and hurt. You were starting to address, a couple of different times today, getting down to the deeper levels of purpose and use, and it feels like that’s real appropriate here.
Speaker: Also, to [add onto] what you were just saying about ordering of thought; the mind has a choice and that is [either] to forgive [or] to judge. It really is that simple. As Participant 2 was just saying, to the deceived mind, judgment seems to offer something because if I fail to forgive I need to put my faith in something, in judgment. The ego is continually saying, "Judgment brings you something. It’s brought you nice things. You’ve learned. You’ve been educated. That’s what you’re whole education and maturity in life [is based on]. To become a mature adult is to become better and better with your judgments so you know the things to pursue and the things to avoid." So it really seems to have brought something of value. We’re starting to get to the point where Participant 2 is saying, [that it] has not brought anything except pain and misery even though it has seemed to bring something.
Participant 2: The deceived mind, in its desperate attempt to bring order and organization to the chaos, resorts to this whole system of ordering thought. And according to that then it wants everything that it sees to fit very neatly into the boxes, the definitions, the pictures that it has made up to try to keep things in some kind of manageable system. And so, when things seem to be fitting in those neat little boxes then it seems like life is a bowl of cherries… and when it doesn’t seem like things are fitting into these boxes and pictures and definitions that are too my liking, that’s when it's bad news.
Speaker: Or at the very least it's disorienting. [That is] what I sense Participant 1 was saying. She’s feeling very disoriented because she is starting to question the boxes.
Participant 2: And the forgiveness really is just to recognize that these boxes that I have made up are not real. It’s not the truth. It’s something I have made up. That’s all. [Then] I can start really looking at different boxes, different concepts, and different definitions that I hold and recognize that I made them up and I made up a whole system to support it.... I made it up so that everybody I know agrees with me on it. It’s very convincing the way I’ve constructed this whole thing.
[inaudible talking in background]
Speaker: The thing about forgiveness is complete forgiveness is the Atonement and the Atonement is a total commitment. That is very very frightening and fearful to the deceived mind. Just think of... I know when I first was getting ready to commit to going to college... Commitment with a relationship; marriage. that's quite a thing. You’ve heard all the stories about people getting cold feet and nausea on the day of the wedding just thinking those thoughts, “What am I committing to here? With these vows? "Til death do we part. What if...?" and on and on. And those are... You can see in looking at, "Til death do us part" you can see they’re all commitments that involve time and linearity. The Atonement is a total commitment and... it seems to the deceived mind that to accept the Atonement... obviously, it senses that it is a total mind overhaul. It is a complete, absolute overhaul of every thought and belief. To the deceived mind it just seems easier [to judge]... total commitment, complete mind overhaul on the one hand; judgment on the other. "What the heck, everybody else judges." It seems easier to just fall into: "Life is suffering, we’re come here, we just do the best we can. Yes, we judge. Everyone judges. There are ups and downs, that’s what life’s all about and then you die."
Participant 2: "I know how to judge. I’m pretty good at that. I’m pretty familiar with that. This mind overhaul business. How do you do that? What’s that like. Who’s doing that? Who do I look to? Where’s the handbook? Where’s the instruction manual on that?"
Well, I think we’ve got one. [referring to A Course in Miracles]
Speaker: All of the experience in this world has indicated that peace is not constant. Pain, conflict, upset and all that; to me, it just gets clearer and clearer these are the alternatives; the section in the Course is, "The Real Alternative." All of the thoughts and all of these judgments have brought me down [a dead end] road. None of them has ever brought me that [peace]. [As] it gets clearer and clearer in my mind then I can see… I can grasp that real alternative. I look for witnesses in the world for that real alternative in the sense that [in] every encounter I’m not going to pay attention to what the person says, what they do, how they look or whatever; my intention is to be at one with them. If that’s the intention and my mind is that powerful then how can it be anything different?
It just comes back to really being clear on purpose and intention. I have to really have the Holy Spirit sort these two purposes out in my mind, and that’s what we do when we come together. We spent that one time going into the attraction of guilt. I’m sure things got stirred up after that. You have been really candid sharing about the things that have come up in dreams. Most of you have had dreams that the way things were happening... was not good; there’s an uncomfortable feeling. But, just take the dream as an interpretation and start to look at the beliefs that are below it. That’s what we do when we come together; we just start to take a look at the beliefs like that. It seems to intensify as you keep coming together to do it and if you really are in it, so to speak, to go to the end, then I’m saying [that] I’m in it too, with you. That’s all I can say from my mind, that I’ve joined with that intention to do that.
Participant 3: How many times do we have to go into it? I notice I want it to be over with.
Speaker: We just have to go into it until we can see the impossibility of the duality of the world. When I talk about it as the screen; when I talk about it as a projection it can just seem hypothetical and 'airy fairy' but the duality... I have to be able to see that the split is in my mind.
Participant 1: I have been with Zen masters who have meditated all day, all night, who have starved themselves, who have been to the Himalayas and every other mountain cave in the world and the bottom line is [that] there is no duality they’re very clear, except one; good and evil. Now, I haven’t spent any time like that meditating. I’m sitting here talking a mile a minute. How am I ever going to get to the point of that? How am I ever? I mean these are Zen masters. Who am I to ever get to the point of seeing no duality in this world? How many Course in Miracles conversations are we going to have before I see no duality in the world? That totally boggles my mind. I’m satisfied to just keep meditating and get to, "there’s good and evil" and that doesn’t bring me any peace. I might as well just stay right where I’m at. [editor's note: The idea that was expressed in the above passage regarding the concepts of good and evil was not addressed during the course of this conversation. However, the idea that any concepts of duality can exist apart from Oneness contradicts the teaching of A Course in Miracles.]
Speaker: I would say very simply, when that’s
come up in the Course... and I’ve read what Jesus says... he says,
"Ask your self this question. Would God have a plan for my salvation
that could fail?" Good question. That’s the question that
I ask myself if I have a thought like, "How am I going to..."
before I let it go on and on. [I just ask], "Would God have a plan...[that
Speaker: Not necessary.
Participant 1: Not necessary to believe in God...! This is bringing a lot of resistance up because that's precisely... I sit in a meditation... and in fact Zen meditation makes sense to me because there is no God essentially, in it. I’m not sure that I believe in this God, or this Holy Spirit or this Christ. And if I don’t believe in that then how am I ever going to appreciate a statement like, 'Would God ever leave me in a plan that wouldn’t work'?
Speaker: Okay, the next step is; what about forgiveness? Can you believe in forgiveness or to use more Zen terms, detachment? or however you want to word it. That psychotherapy pamphlet is helpful to me in the sense that it says, "Formal belief in God is not essential because God can only be known" and any kind of even advanced so called 'belief' [in God] is still a concept. He does say in there, 'What about forgiveness?' Even if you don’t believe in [God], just the idea of forgiveness or of healing or something like that [which] seem to have a resonance. That’s what I go to if the idea of a God just seems too [uncertain].
Participant 1: Yes, that I can see. [Participant 3] presented something that I’ve also thought about. "How many times?" I can see me at age seventy five, "Excuse me guys, I got my cane. Let’s be sitting down now. Can you go over that again? What does this mean about this, huh?" And the next day I croak. And by then I will have spent 35 more years going over this... creating havoc with my family, havoc with my friends and havoc with myself. Am I ever going to get it? I've got to get it before I’m seventy five. It’s just not bringing me any peace.
Participant 2: I think the key factor is willingness. I don’t think it has to do with how many times, how many years... and I say this with an experience of that. I feel like things have just zoomed right a long for me. Three years ago I was feeling like this was an impossible task and now I’m sure it's a possible task. It seems very attainable to me. [In regards to] what you said about 'how many times', I guess the thought that came to my mind while you said that was, "well, until you get it." It’s reprogramming. When you think of all the thoughts that have reinforced the wrong mind... I don’t know what the shock treatment would be, as it were, to just erase all that in a flash and be constantly and consistently in the right mind.
Speaker: It takes a real commitment and passion for it and that's tied right in with the willingness. The key thing, if you listen to all those tapes and teachings; the central [theme] will be that our mind is 'it'. So anything or anyone we see that even seems to represent clarity is just a symbol in our own mind, and we have called forth that witness from within our own mind; it eliminates the whole trip of the teacher, the pupil, the guru, the follower... all these things that the ego [gets caught up with]. That’s another [aspect of this that] Rhonda is experiencing as she feels a real strong draw to step out of everything. Things are coming up like, "What is going on? Is it a cult? Is it this? Is it that?" Instead of feeling defensive you could say, "Well what's a cult to you?" A cult is where there is a central figure that’s authoritative that has followers, that gives orders. The Course, if you really listen to the tapes and teachings over and over, the whole point is bringing and returning power; bringing empowerment to my own mind. There isn’t a central figure. The ego can seem to hold figures up; the authorities of this religion or the Course or this or that. But that’s not the teaching. The more you really look at what the Course is saying; it’s not saying that there is a figure outside your mind that is the savior. It’s saying that if you experience clarity then you are calling witnesses in your own mind to that clarity. That says a lot. That should be a powerful witness to your mind of where it’s at. The ego will have all its evidence, "I’m not getting this. Look at all the seeming conflict I’m going through and the fear." But if you’re hearing clarity, if things are making sense in these ideas, whether you’re reading it from a book [or] whether they seem to be coming out of someone’s mouth or whatever, then just say, "Yes, this is the symbol for what I really want. I will choose this as my evidence for how my awakening is coming."
Participant 2: Profound clarity is all I can describe it as. Speaker symbolizes for me my own willingness; at some level I know that I have brought forth Speaker as a witness to my mind’s willingness to go very deep, because there isn’t anything apart from my mind.
Participant 3: Essentially I was just going to say that and I appreciate your bringing that up because I’ve needed some evidence for my willingness and so I’m real glad that you [Participant 2] and Speaker and you [Participant 1]... It’s just an out picturing of that. I need to hang onto some [witness] that I am making progress, if you will. It's like I need something to hang onto.
Participant 2: I feel like I’m drawing witnesses as never before to my own heart’s desire to just be very passionately and uncompromisingly committed to awakening and that’s what’s been reflected back to me from these letters that Speaker was referring to, that we’re beginning to receive from various corners of the country. Again, that is simply a witness to where my mind is and the willingness that is there and the desire that is there.
Speaker: To me that’s a 'time collapse' too. One of the fellows in the letter was writing [that he] had been in this community and had all these [experiences], 'What about this instance and this instance?' And this woman [?] wrote back this beautiful letter just bringing it back to the present and talking about all these perceptual associations and saying, "I can’t relate to all those little separate specifics" and was just very gently, very clearly, very joyously, very humorously just expressing in this letter that, "I can’t see you like that because I’m seeing everyone as a projection of my own mind. I cannot blame or feel victimized by a master teacher..."
Participant 1: Who was she writing?
Speaker: This is a friend in Canada who has been writing to a number of people.
It was just wonderful. The heart chords were just dancing as I’m just reading the letter. The beautiful clarity.. didn’t try to get into, 'I could have said this or I could have said that' ...but it just brings it back to the present moment. It’s that 'quantum leap' that the Course keeps talking about which takes it away from this long linear process. Like when you were saying, "When I’m seventy five will I still be asking this?" That can get depressing to even projected [it] out over that long [span of time]. It just seems like, 'Oh, the struggles that I’ve seemed to have had...' If I multiply those and I string that out, that can just seem overwhelming. But, it’s that collapse into the [Holy] Instant....
Participant 1: ...but, I was just going to say [that] if I look at it as a "collapse" (that’s jut the word I was going to use) then there shouldn’t be any struggle. There should be no projection in the future in terms of time or looking back at the past. Regardless of when we meet or how we meet or whatever it's just part of the flow and we won’t be thinking of that.
Participant 2: Remember that idea that you and I were talking about not too long ago [where we] have thought that, in looking to the past, we could be so much smarter and wiser and responsible about the present and the future. I was thinking of that as Speaker was speaking and saying, "You’re looking into the past and projecting that into the future and, 'its going to be another thirty five or forty five years before I get it.' Again, it’s an example of thinking that I can look to the past, believe something from the past, and let it teach me about something that I want to know about the present and the future and it doesn't work. That’s also looking to the Holy Spirit and saying, “I can’t really rely 100% on you. I’ve got to look to my past some and I’ve got to do something about this and be smart about the present and the future based on what I know I know from the past."
Participant 3: Edie [?] was a wonderful witness to
this having been with her family at the death of her father. She knew
she wanted to be an instrument of peace and over and over again as things
came up what she got was, "Be here, just be here." And she
said that, essentially she didn’t make any decisions. She just
felt like she was being orchestrated to go here, do this, and come to
the funeral home and that what she was to be was to just be this loving
presence through out this while experience. It was wonderful listening
to her share about the joinings that she had with people; even when
she walked in the funeral home and they were all standing in a [formal]
line; the brothers and sisters, and the resistance that she had to that,
just total resistance to that. She wanted it to be real informal and
people just standing around talking and [so she] talked to someone about
it and they said, "Well, this is how everybody gets to see everybody
and they just want to see us." So, she thought, "Well, alright
I can let go of that too" and just kept surrendering; that really
touched me. This is the invitation; Be here now; Be in the moment and
listen. That’s all that’s asked.
End of Transcript
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