Selected Dialogues from Gathering 1999

by Staff

Francis Lucille
FL: I suggest we spend a few moments in silence to make acquaintance at that level. Without words. There is no teacher sitting in this beautiful armchair. If, however, questions arise, answers may arise. And questions and answers have nothing to do really with this body sitting in this armchair, or that body sitting in that much less comfortable chair down there. It’s just God playing with itself, or with herself, or with himself. So we have been called to play the game and now we are on the court, and it’s up to us. If there are any questions an answer may come. If there are no questions, it’s always the same perfection.
Q: When you have a moment where you really do feel connected, you feel this perfect moment. And something for some reason happens and then you are out of touch again and you want to reproduce that perfect moment. I don’t know what keeps you away from that presence, but once you are away from it you have a tendency to want to go back again.
FL: You have to know, to understand what seemingly takes you away from that presence. That which seemingly takes you away from that presence is the belief that that which appears can be good or bad. And the belief that what is right now is not good, not as good as that which was. In other words, that your happiness is dependent upon things, upon events and, therefore, if that is true, you are trying to manufacture events to acquire things, or to get rid of things in order to secure happiness. But if you think about it, that’s what we have been doing for such a long time, without success, that it must be a mistaken way. Because we know happiness, we all know happiness, we all have experienced happiness. But the way which seeks happiness through objects, through events, obviously is not the way. Then where is happiness? If it is not in objects there is only one other place, only one, that which we call “I,” consciousness, our nature, that which is ever present. And then the moment we turn around and look towards this new direction, a ray of light comes to us, a ray of causeless bliss. And then we are taken.

So we have to understand the mechanism. Intellectually first, and then in real life situations. In fact, everything has always been perfect. It’s only our belief that it is not perfect that seemingly makes it not perfect. But the moment you surrender your judgment, judging that good and that bad, the moment you stop escaping the now, escaping that which is, then you fall in love again.

Ram  Dass
Notice the silence after the heart opening that we have just experienced. The Jnana (knowledge) experience and also the Bhakti (devotion) experience. The Bhakti experience is to approach the infinite with the heart. When you approach the infinite with the heart, the lover and the beloved are one. You love something, and as you merge in it, your individuality goes by the boards.

As you go into death there is expansion; that’s just one metaphor. The signs of going from one plane to another . . . we all have these distinctions as ladder-rungs during our climb to the top. When I was guiding psychedelic trips, people would bad trip because of two things: going out and coming back. Going out, as they faced eternity, and coming back when they faced limitation. When you let go of your individuality, your name, your history, your friends, your cat, your body . . . that “letting go” is meeting the Infinite. There and here is the same place.

I used to meet my Guru. He was the statement for my eyes, of the Infinite; he was the doorway through. I was fearful that he might swallow me up; I mean “me, . . . me.” And then the little thought  would come in: “How can that be me . . . I can be Infinite.”

Dr. Vijai S. Shankar
You must have heard so many words, timeless, beginningless, formless, this-less, that-less, everything-less, less-less. But really, what does it mean to us? You are awareness. Try to understand whatever comes without any of your previous understanding. Not that you’re going to get anything new, because there’s nothing called new. You are awareness. And so are your fellow passengers. Every one of them. Whether they like it or not. Try to understand whatever is coming without your screen of understanding. If you try to understand with your concept of understanding, you will be only listening to yourself.

Listen without your understanding to whatever you have gathered in your mind, which people have given to you. Don’t use that as a measuring stick to understand what is happening here. This awareness, that which is, came to know it is. Merely awareness became aware of awareness. Consciousness is reflected awareness. Awareness of who? We reflect it. For instance, there are seeds of various types. In that seed contains all the hardness of the tree, the richness of the tree,  the flowers, the fruits, the magnanimity of it is in it. But once the tree comes through, we cannot find the nothingness which was in the original seed.

If you look at lightning, lightning happens merely because water particles rub against each other. But surprisingly, though the water particles gave rise to lightning, you cannot find a drop of water in the lightning. It’s like that. So that is how it came. It became aware of itself. Or in physical terms, you can say it set about a set of vibrations or motion, a flutter. Consciousness was reflected. This is what you can term as universal mind.

Byron Katie
BK
: Hello, family. Are there any questions? Yes, sweetheart?
Q: I know that at least in my work, it’s taking a lot of effort to cut through all of my knowing. A lot of effort. And there’s a sense of jealousy and a sense of awe at people who just awaken. You know, for years and years and years I’ve been trying and I know that trying is part of the problem, but what was the psychological pain or psychological tension that produced this awakening from your best understanding of it? What can produce this spontaneous awakening?
BK
: I don’t know.
Q: It just happened?
BK: It was on the floor and it rose. And this spontaneous awakening thing, I don’t know, you know that is a definition, and how can it be a spontaneous awakening, it’s…
Q: Or grace, I guess you could call it just grace.
BK: There’s no difference here. Why do you think we have to call it something? Because if we don’t we know. So we all call it something and agree, like it was, and it’s not. We haven’t inquired. The Work, by the way, for those of you that aren’t familiar in it, it’s an inquiry, that’s all. What I say is, “Judge your neighbor.” It’s what I did best; I had to have a place to start. Judge a neighbor, write it down, ask four questions, turn it around, or not.
Q: My teacher says “Call out to God, cry out to God.” You know, some say it’s when you want God so bad…
BK: I say cry out to God, on your hands and knees and sooner or later you’ll hear it. Start your listening. Are you listening, honey, are you listening? So you need this awakening. People said, “You’re awakened.” I go, “Good.” What does that have to do with me? It’s their concept, it’s not my experience. So you need awakening, sweetheart. So let’s look at the inquiry. Is that true? Can you really know that that’s true? You’re not awake. Can you really know that that’s true?
Q: No.
BK: So, what do you get? And this is the third question, what do you get when you attach to that concept: ‘I need to be awake’?
Q
: An awful lot of pain, a feeling of distancing from being present.
BK: How does that feel inside of you?
Q: Not good.
BK: Can you see the reason to drop this story? And I’m not asking you to drop it.
Q: Yes.
BK: Isn’t that amazing? No longer masochistic. Can you see one good reason to attach, to hold the story ‘I should be awake’? One good reason that is not stressful? Just one.
Q: I don’t see a good reason that’s not stressful.
BK: Well, that was my experience, with every concept. Until I met each one with some understanding, there was no understanding. It’s like—kiss each thought. Meet it with understanding. I don’t shun them or throw them away, or try to cut them off like they were separate from me: “there’s only an internal world”? I met them with understanding, just quiet.

The fourth question: who would you be without that story? I need to be awake. Who would you be without that story?

Satyam Nadeen
There is a shift happening right now and this shift has nothing to do with all the traditional concepts and conditioning that you might imagine enlightenment or awakening would incur. Because if you leave it up to the mind, if the mind can fill in the blanks on a wish list for enlightenment, it would be miserable after it got it. So that’s not it.

So I set about, very scientifically, to examine this shift. I had a lot of time in prison to do that. There’s nothing else to do. I started off the first two years in a little crowded jail cell in Florida, where I was the only white boy in 32 young black gang bangers, who did not appreciate a white boy in their midst. So I got to be real still and quiet and listen. And I would consider that my “Dark Night of the Soul” period, because we are going to talk a lot about the Dark Night of the Soul today. And in there, mysteriously, never ever at any point because of me, but in spite of me, there happened a shift. A dimensional shift, of how I viewed reality. And remember now, I have no external reference to what’s happening to anybody else in the world right here. These young boys are trying to kill themselves and each other and all sorts of stuff,  and I’m  trying to be invisible and just kind of watch what’s happening.

And in my own shift I experienced a dimensional quantum leap from 52 years of being a seeker, starting with 13 years in a Catholic seminary monastery to be a priest, and after that 25 years of intense Eastern spiritual seeking in Ashrams, in meditation, in yoga, in fasting. It never brought me anywhere, except finally to the place that I’m finding is almost a universal in this shift. It brought me to a period of what I describe as The Dark Night of the Soul.

You arrive at a point after looking all your life to know the thoughts of God and you go home. You’re in touch with this longing, this intense longing, to know God, and you don’t even know what God means. What it comes from . . . the separation . . . and your true essence as the source locked into limitation by design, to have a unique experience in this realm we call the third dimension. And when you’re in this Dark Night of the Soul, everything begins to fall away, that you’ve held sacred and important in your life. Your relationships start to crumble, your careers, your hobbies, everything that you thought was important to you goes flat.

But if you’re a seeker, and you’re in touch with the intensity of this longing to go home, source is not a cruel joke. It’s a happening. It’s happening right now like it’s never happened in the history of the world. We’ve always had a handful of awakened ones walking among us, telling us a lot of dos and don’ts about this field of enlightenment. Again, not a mistake, purposeful disinformation, like all religions and all philosophies, they all have a piece of the truth. It’s like the six blind men describing the elephant. Source was waiting for the mango to get ripe enough to fall off the tree by itself. You can take a gale force wind and blow a mango tree and if they’re not ripe, they’re not going to fall off. If you’re a seeker, if you’re in touch with the longing, you’re part of it, whether you like it or not.

Rabbi Rami Shapiro
The yod stands for “yeda“—consciousness. When your consciousness is centered, you are not there. When your conscienceness is on the outside looking around, well then you get perspective, and then suddenly you are there. So the whole practice of Judaism is simply taking the yod and moving it into the center. And then when you find it in the center, it pops back out to the outside again. Judaism is not content with looking inward only. You go deeply inward enough you’ll end up back on the outside again. It’s like a Mobius strip, where it appears to have two sides but it’s really just single sided. In and out, up and down are all the same. From God’s perspective, which is our true perspective, there is no in or out. You don’t turn inward to find God, because here (tapping), that’s God, and it seems external to me. Ultimately when the yod, that consciousness, is centered inside, your sense of separate self is gone, all there is, is what is. You can call it God, you can call it whatever you want to call it, the ayin, the nothingness.

So who am I really? You are God in extension. Just like a wave is the ocean in extension, you are God’s consciousness playing out, in this case, my case, Rami. That’s what you are. And what’s the purpose of it? This morning, as I was walking along the Coast Boulevard here, walking in the little park, the purpose of God playing Rami out on Coast Boulevard—there was trash, so I picked it up. So this morning I was the way God cleaned up the park a little bit. And that was it. Sometimes I’m the way God takes out my dog, mostly though, that’s my wife’s job; God has chosen her for that task. But um, you know, I guess I’m just the way God gets to sit in a stuffed chair; I’m just the way God gets to have a drink of water, you know, God’s thirsty. I’m just the way God gets stuff done. Whatever needs to get done. And that’s who I am.

Coleman  Barks
These poems were spoken spontaneously, as part of the work of a dervish learning community, in 13th century Turkey. They are the words of Jullaladine Rumi, and they are his work with a community; say, exactly the size of this community, it was actually about 300 people. And the work was the work of opening the heart and exploring the mystery of what they call union. They used music and spontaneous poetry and silence. They used restlessness and stillness. They used feasting and fasting. They watched the animals a lot. They cooked. They told stories and jokes. They used anything that human beings do, as a lens to look into the growth of the soul.

Sometimes in those communities questions would arise, big questions would come up. Like “What is the nature of a true human being?” Or, “What is the purpose of desire?” Or, “What are dreams? What is a song? What are the new architectures that we can imagine, that will help us come together in new ways? In new and old ways? What is the source of the universe? And, how does it connect with our individual selves?”

Enormous questions like that would come up, and sometimes they would get answered by a song, or a poem, or some movement, or a synchronicity, somebody coming in from the outside. Sometimes they wouldn’t get answered, they would just stay as a question. And they would use these poems that Rumi spoke spontaneously to try to answer some of the big questions, and even some of the small questions like “Should I go to law school?” or “Where did I leave my shoes?” or “What’s for lunch?”

Here’s one of those questions, maybe being answered:

One night a man was crying “Allah, Allah”
His lips grew sweet with the praising,
Until a cynic said, “So, I have heard you calling out,
but have you ever gotten any response?”

The man had no answer for that.
He quit praying and fell into a confused sleep,

Where he dreamed he saw Hidder, the guide of souls, in a thick, green foliage.
“Why did you stop praising?”
“Because I never heard anything back.”

“This longing you express is the return message
The grief you cry out from draws you towards union
Your pure sadness that wants help,
Is the secret cup.

Listen to the moan of a dog for its master.
That whining is the connection.

There are love dogs no one knows the names of.
Give your life to be one of them.”

Catherine  Ingram
Let’s begin by sitting in silence together for five minutes . . . There is a presence we each know so intimately, it is most familiar. A quiet that has never been perturbed by any of the dramas, the imagined failures, the sorrows, that you’ve lived. This quiet presence that was there all along, never ruffled, always immaculate. Let’s  say you get a phone call in the middle of the night, someone has died, there’s a wave of shock, of sadness and yet, there’s this witnessing presence, this witnessing silence, in which nothing much is happening, no matter what.

This quiet, this natural peace is actually your fundamental nature. Not something you have to attain—impossible to get rid of. And realization is nothing more than the noticing of that, and the living as that. And it’s a living as love itself, not really even a love that calls itself that or is self-conscious, or self-referencing, but it’s the love that you notice with a new- born baby. It’s there, just in brightness, in shining presence. We sometimes call them little bundles of love, that’s the experience of being with something, someone so innocent. This is your nature.

This recognition is only arresting in that knowing, a relaxation, a relaxation into the naturalness of your being, the ease of your being. Nothing to do, a simple noticing of what already is. Already is immaculate, unstained, nothing has ever stuck to it, none of your stories, it’s never been rippled, never been marred. Is always fresh, is always innocent. If this is not what you are experiencing, then perhaps you’re experiencing imagination. But check it out for yourself.

Q: I have difficulty discerning, or discriminating, or separating a sense of presence from a sense of bodily presence. Should I even worry or think about that?
CI: Don’t worry about it. This is so simple, it eludes people, because the mind jumps in and starts saying, “Was that bodily presence or was that just pure presence?” This is just a thought occurring in this sparkling presence, you see. Don’t worry about these ideas. Fall into a language-less sense of being. No knowing of anything. Just quiet where nothing much is happening. Just fall into that. Then the perception is direct, you see. I sometimes edit Shakespeare, when he says, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” I say, “A rose by no name at all would smell as sweet.” So there’s this direct experience of reality, prior to language. Just being in total simplicity.