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Scott Kiloby 2nd Q&A Responses


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Tyler wrote:
I understand that awareness is prior to thought, and as it is what we are, cannot be affected by thought. Thought cannot understand awareness, because it's an appearance of awareness, easy enough. Here's what boggles my mind:
Prior to recognizing awareness, we lived our lives through the simulated self. The knowledge of that self was all that we knew was needed. So then, what is it that leads the simulated self on the spiritual search, if that spiritual search is going to make the simulated self fall away (lose control, die)? Is it just inevitable? Is it what the simulated self is always headed towards? Or does the simulated self not know what is in store for it through the recognition of awareness?

Scott's response:

For me, the spiritual search is an identity crisis. It comes from not knowing what we are. Everyone is on a search. Some are seeking enlightenment. Others are seeking a new girlfriend, a new car, or a promotion. Others are seeking drugs. It's all the same. There is this unexamined notion that the future holds our salvation, whether it be an intoxicating high or a relationship.

Although those things can give us temporary satisfactory feelings and thoughts, they cannot give us what we are. This dissatisfaction, for some, leads them to want to know the truth about life. It's beautiful when that search for material things and self-centered pleasures turns to seeking to know the truth about what we are. Awakening can, however, still be about ego if the movement to look for that truth continues as a movement towards future rather than present awareness. For others, dissatisfaction is very painful, leading to depression, addiction, anxiety and/or hopelessness. It becomes a matter of necessity, "I need to find the truth because I can't live like this anymore."

But this search is all about not knowing what we are. For that identity crisis, there must be a direct recognition of awareness. This recognition releases the personal seeking and suffering. The simulated self, which is a time-bound story, essentially, is doing everything it can to avoid this recognition. We come to see, however, that it isn't real at all. It is merely a set of appearances that were being interpreted a certain way, as if life was happening to "me." It's as if it is all about a "me" at the center. We come to see there is no "me" there. There is only that set of appearances. And what sees those appearances is awareness. In that recognition, the identity crisis is solved. The moment we go seeking this in future, the story is behind the wheel again. This is why the invitation is always to recognize present awareness and see that the story, "I must find something in the future" is only a thought coming and going within awareness.
Chapters 1 and 2 of the text are relevant to this post. 

 

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Brian wrote:

With regard to the three bundles of thought (past, present, and future) that the text says makes up the time-bound, thought-based aspect of the separate self, it seems straightforward to see that the past is just a thought/memory/gone but the future bundle seems a bit stickier because it is going to happen. You are going to the Dr. to hear whether you have cancer or not, for example. Any thoughts?

Scott's Reply:

The invitation in Living Realization is not about deciding whether a thought is true. No thought is absolutely true. The only thing you can really know (the only absolute truth) is that you don't know what is going to happen. Are you going to go to the doctor? Will you have cancer? If you think you are certain about the answers to those questions, consider this: you might not even take your next breath. Tonight, your heart could stop while you sleep. Not trying to scare you, but isn't that a possibility? The "future" is not guaranteed at all.

And so thoughts are not delivering absolute truth, they are like little stories of what might happen. The story of future is an attempt to keep the time-bound, thought-based story alive. As long as you have a future, you have a separate self.

The rational mind will play with those future stories endlessly, rehashing the various possible outcomes of going to the doctor, often trying to talk "itself" out of the fear. It's trying to feel better, to escape fear.

But, having spent a good part of our lives trying to figure it all out and trying to rearrange thoughts hasn't provided much real freedom, has it? If the rational mind had been the answer to fear, would you be asking this question?

If you can see the limitation of thought, there is another way.

In the moment a thought about future appears, simply notice it. And see that what is looking is awareness. If something comes and goes (e.g., a thought) then it is temporary. Whatever is temporary cannot provide your sense of identity. It's too fleeting. Nothing sticks around for long. And so no stability can be realized in fleeting thoughts. Yet this is what that thought stream is trying to do. It's looking for stability, for a sense of identity and permanence. The question "What will happen to me in the future," when you look more closely, is really all about identity. Thought is essentially asking the question, "Who am I and will I survive?" As long as there is a belief in a future, then the thought-based self has a false sense of certainty. It's false because you can't really know whether the body and mind is going to survive even beyond tonight.

Our incessant worry and fear around future events, as well as our hope for the future, results from lodging identity in thoughts. So in order to know that this self is going to be ok, we look to the future, hoping that we won't have cancer and won't die, and being afraid of having cancer and dying. We make up a story to protect ourselves from the fear of the unknown.

But in the moment of simply noticing a thought when it appears, a totally new opportunity arises--one that is not based in a mental viewpoint. The opportunity is to recognize that what sees the thought is present awareness. In simply recognizing the thought, you have the first real opportunity to experience the feeling of fear in the body that is driving the thought. Facing that fear, and letting it be exactly as it is, without resistance, is key.

Because the thought is appearing in awareness, that which sees the thought is what you really are. In resting there for one moment, you sense that this awareness is ok. Its well-being is self-evident. Its well-being is not dependent on stories. Well-being is not something we think into existence. It is a natural attribute of awareness itself. In recognizing that this awareness is your identity, the movement to grasp after thoughts about future naturally dissolves away. The stability and certainty (i.e., well-being) you are seeking is seen to be a natural aspect of timeless awareness, your real identity. No effort or personal will is needed. This seeing is enough. Just trust awareness completely, in all situations, especially those situations in which there are future thoughts torturing you. 

Chapter relevant to this post is Chapter Three: Appearances (thoughts)
 

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Is it necessary to fully accept the shadow side?

 Dede wrote:

Do you think it is necessary to fully accept the shadow side...
The totality of ones relative nature, before absolute nature can be fully realized?

 
Scott's reply:
 
This question deserves a detailed response.
 
No. Nothing stands in the way of recognizing present awareness as your real identity because it is already and always ever present. It is what is looking and awake right now--that aspect of your present experience that has never moved or changed, despite the many thoughts, emotions, states, sensations, and experiences that have come and gone within it.
 
There are no causes, no prerequisites, and no prior conditions one must fulfill before present awareness can be recognized. Causes, prerequisites, and conditions can only be known through thinking and all thoughts are temporary, empty images which flash or come and go quickly within awareness. Awareness stands as the ever present essence of life, totally unencumbered and unaffected by the many thoughts and other appearances that come through it. And appearances have no separate existence from awareness. So it's all awareness, you could say.
 
Let me use a metaphor to show how awareness is immediately available as what you are and how shadows play into this.
 
What you are is not a separate person or dualistic story. No thought or personal trait can define you. You are space-like, impersonal, non-dual awareness itself, much like the open sky. Thoughts are like clouds coming and going within the sky. No matter what cloud comes through, it never actually affects the sky. It is nothing more than a temporary appearance that is inseparable from the sky. The cloud and the sky are not two. The cloud is none other than the space of the sky taking a temporary form. The space of the sky permeates and is none other than the cloud. The belief that something must happen or be recognized, including a shadow, before awareness can be recognized as your real identity is like the sky believing that it must do something with or understand the nature of a passing cloud before it can be the sky. This is what we mean in Living Realization when we say "don't manipulate appearances." There is this belief that awareness--as the sky--must manipulate the clouds (appearances, thoughts, etc) in order to know that it is the sky.
 
Your real identity is the sky, ever present. This is the invitation in Living Realization to recognize present awareness always, to recognize that you are this no-boundary, sky-like spacious awareness and that all appearances are like clouds coming and going inseparably within you.
 
Think of shadows this way: Imagine one day, the sky decides (albeit unconsciously) that one of the clouds (a dark, stormy cloud) is separate from it. The sky begins believing that this cloud belongs to someone else, some other sky. There is no other sky. There are not two skies or two awarenesses. Awareness is undivided. Non-dual. The cloud is disowned because it is ugly and stormy. The sky forgets its identity or fails to recognize its identity as undivided awareness. It chooses a dualistic story instead. It starts telling itself that it is not the sky. Instead, it starts to identify with passing and personal traits. It thinks it is a warm puffy soft cloud that brings only sunshine and good weather.
 
To the sky, this other, stormy cloud threatens its story. So it disowns that cloud, that trait of "darkness," believing that it is some other sky's problem. We tend to disown those aspects of our selves that are too ugly or too beautiful or that threaten our story. So these traits, when they appear in others tend to bother us. We are shadow boxing ourselves when this trait bothers us in other people.
 
Funny to put it this way, but sometimes metaphors can help. In order to be separate selves, we tell dualistic stories. I may carry around the story that I am a good person, a spiritual person, an awake person who is not greedy, controlling, someone who has no ego. This isn't of course true. We aren't stories. Stories are clouds passing through what we really are--present awareness (the sky). The sky is not a "white puffy cloud." "White and puffy clouds" are temporary appearances coming through the sky just as "dark and stormy" clouds are temporary appearances. All appearances are equal in the sense that no single appearance can define the sky. Similarly, dualistic traits have nothing to do with identity. In order to tell the story that I am this separate person who has all these wonderful traits, I have to disown the ugly traits, just like the sky that disowned the stormy, dark clouds in favor of its dualistic story of being a white, puffy cloud. It's self-deception through and through.
 
To continue the metaphor, nothing stops the sky in any moment from re-acknowledging its real identity as the sky. Just one moment of looking into your present experience and recognizing that you are the awareness in which all appearances come and go is all that is needed. No conditions, no prerequisites, and certainly no shadow work is needed.
 
But, keeping with the metaphor, even if the sky recognizes its real identity, there can be a little subtle story that there really are "others" out there. The sky has recognized its real identity as the sky yet it is still playing a game of self-deception. It is still pretending that there are others, finding itself at odds with others who carry certain traits. So it finds itself shadow boxing this imagined "other" who has the dark, stormy trait.
 
Let's drop the metaphor and come back to our experience. We can recognize awareness or non-duality as the nature of life and still believe in little, subtle stories of separation. For example, if I have recognized awareness as my real identity, yet I find myself really bothered by "others" out there who I find to be egos, chances are I'm still telling a highly personal, thought-based story of "having transcended ego." It's ego 101, masquerading as a story of "I am non-dual awareness." There are no egos or non-egos. There are no selves and non-selves. Those are relative, dualistic stories that appear and disappear within awareness, which is not a story.
 
It doesn't matter whether awareness has been recognized or not, shadow boxing can happen either way. The simulated self (i.e., ego) will tell any story it can in order to have a sense of separation. It may do this whether there is a recognition of awareness or not.
 
It will take up the story of being humble, for example. This is not a conscious story-telling. We don't always walk around telling ourselves that we are humble. Yet this is the story we are telling, and it reveals itself as we make a big point to pick out everyone else who isn't "humble." We have personalized a trait. Awareness is not humble. Awareness is the space in which humility comes and goes. Humility is really a word that describes the absence of personal identity, the absence of placing identity in one, dualistic story, and the absence of shadow boxing. So the trait of humility tends to show up when separation is seen through. Humility is not a story that a person can own. But if I tell myself that I am a humble person, there is a chance that I will start shadow boxing the others "out there" that are not humble. This non-humility might really get under my skin when I see people with that trait. This is how I continue telling the lie that I can personally own or be humble.
 
Suddenly, my friend Tammy, who isn't very humble starts to really get under my skin. And that is the key to spotting shadows. If some trait in someone doesn't get under your skin, then it isn't a shadow. It's just thought and it if isn't causing suffering, let it be just as it is. However, if you find yourself really at odds with (shadow-boxing) certain negative traits of others or really idealizing (shadow-hugging) certain positive traits of others, chances are that will continue even if awareness is seen to be your real identity. Shadows always appear as "others." So recognizing awareness doesn't reveal them. To awareness, it is always someone else's problem. The sky believes there is another sky out there, some other trait in some other awareness. This is why it is self-deception. All appearances (good, bad, dark, light) are equal appearances of impersonal awareness--our real identity.
  
We all know that the recognition of non-duality is no guarantee that shadows will be seen through. We've heard the stories and seen the examples of egoic pride, jealousy, sexual exploitation, ambition, conflict, master-servant relationships in our spiritual teachers. Those who look to these teachers are often perplexed as to how their message can be so clear on one hand, yet these personal demons appear on the other hand. The teachers are often perplexed also because they have no idea that they are shadows. They really think there are others to exploit, outshine, be "more awake than." Most would never admit this because they can't see this stuff operating in themselves. This is why we call it a shadow. It always appears as "others." So shadow work can be helpful. They supplement non-dual realization very well in my view.
 
I brought shadow work into my message for a very specific reason. I found myself boxing shadows. I saw that many other teachers, writers, seekers, fathers, mothers, brothers, engineers, secretaries and everyone else were doing this also. Yet no one was talking about it in non-duality. Without talking about it, I felt I was passing on a message that contained a virus, that just continued this game of separation and conflict. Non-separation is love.
  
The proof is in the pudding. In other words, until there is an openness to spot shadows and do shadow work, there is no recognition of the tremendous freedom and love available in it. You begin to see that every dualistic story--from the ugliest to the greatest--is an appearance within impersonal awareness. Nothing is owned or disowned. Everything is allowed to pass through completely. All appearances are inseparable from what you are--awareness. There is great love in this. Nisargadatta Maharaj once said, “Wisdom tells me I am nothing. Love tells me I am everything. Between the two my life flows." This quote means nothing if there is any exception to the word "everything." And thankfully, there isn't. There is no way to section myself off as something separate and apart from some other out there that carries a trait that is foreign to me. Our real identity is the nothingness of awareness and it is being everything, every trait, every perceived "person," from the good, the bad, to the ugly. Recognizing this is incredible fullness because every opposite that you might have wanted to deny and push away is seen to be included. You (i.e., awareness) stop dividing yourself in two and shadow boxing yourself. Everything is seen to be an appearance of what you are.
 
Shadow work is the only place in Living Realization where we invite you to manipulate appearances. Without that invitation, there can be a recognition of "non-dual" awareness, with a continued fixation on the traits of imagined "others." Without re-owning (manipulating) this disowned trait, we just stay in self-deception. Once the shadow has been re-owned, we don't invite you to start telling the story that you were repressing and projecting outward as an "other." We invite you to see that both stories--the one you were telling and the one you pushed away (all dualistic opposites, in fact) are appearances within non-dual awareness.
 
But nothing stops you right now from recognizing present awareness. You can do that, certainly. And we invite you to do that. It is just no guarantee that shadow boxing and hugging won't continue.
 
So my invitation is to do shadow work along with recognizing present awareness. The two go hand-in-hand in my view.
 
The chapter relevant to this post is the chapter on Shadows.
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Separating awareness from content?

 Sylvia wrote:

In reading the basic invitation, "Recognize present awareness, don't move to manipulate appearances, and see that all appearances are not separate from awareness" this question arises for me.  For one person awareness appears as poverty and lack.  For another, awareness appears as wealth and abundance. How do you reconcile that?  Is the answer that it is what it is?  You get the appearances that you get?  Seems like there is no choice in the matter.  Maybe my question has to do with choice. Is choice involved in Living Realization?  Seems like it isn't.  Am I missing something?
 
Scott's reply:
 
The recognition of awareness reveals complete wealth and well-being not dependent on any circumstance, appearance, condition, or life situation that comes and goes within awareness.  It is available to everyone because it is our real identity.  It is not something we own or that appears for us and then disappears.  It is not just for the rich or the poor, the attractive or the unattractive.  It's not here only when there is money or good fortune.  It is unconditional, unmovable, unchangeable.  It is what we are.  
 
The recognition of awareness is a stable and permanent seeing that our real identity cannot be found in appearances.  It is what is presently awake.  It’s so simple that it is being overlooked the moment we move to manipulate a question like “Is there choice?”  When the question is just allowed to be as it is, without trying to analyze it, the question falls away, and we see that what is looking is what we are.  This provides the well-being we are looking for IN the question.  I invite you to look to where the words are pointing rather than going back to mental viewpoints about choice v. no choice.  What happens when you answer the question, "Is there choice?"  You have an intellectual answer, that is all.  If the intellect were the key to freedom every scientist, professor, lawyer, doctor, philosopher and scholar would be free.  It is not the key.  The intellect is just a tool, an appearance within what we are--awareness.  
 
The words of the basic invitation are pointing to the fact that your real identity is like pure, boundary-less space.  It cannot be destroyed or created.  It is not affected by the many appearances that come and go within it.  Appearances like monetary wealth or poverty, good and bad days, sickness and health, ups and downs, all come and go within awareness.  They cannot move awareness in any way.  Awareness is the unmoving, unchanging aspect of your present experience.  It is the only aspect of your experience that is always there.  It is present awakeness itself.  Always here, always present.  Appearances come and go.  
 
The appearances are like the rays of the sun.  Awareness is like the sun.  No single ray can define, destroy, or move the sun.  The sun of awareness shines always.  The rays are merely inseparable appearances of it.  They burn out, fade away, grow larger and smaller, but the sun shines radiantly always.  
 
We’ve been lodging identity in appearances so this very simple recognition is being overlooked constantly, in favor of mental viewpoints.  We’ve been emphasizing the rays rather than recognizing we are the sun.  In the belief in being a separate self, there is a constant movement to cling to or emphasize appearances (money, drugs, relationships, sex, career, material things).  Nothing wrong with any of those things.  They can be enjoyed fully.  But we are trying to define ourselves by them.  This overlooks a fundamental fact which is that what we are has never been and will never be moved or affected in any way by what appears on its screen.  
 
In the belief that we are these embodied individual entities, rather than awareness itself, we carry this notion that if appearances in my life are good, I’m ok.  And if the appearances in my life are bad, I’m not ok.  This is a conditioned existence that can never really provide the ongoing, indestructible well-being and contentment available in awareness.  We then may entertain the notion, "It's just my lot in life" because I'm poor or unattractive.  These are just passing thoughts in awareness.  Nothing more.  They come and go like flashes of light in the night sky.  They have no more power than that.  We give them power by emphasizing them.  When they are allowed to come and go without being manipulated or analyzed, they come to rest in what we are--awareness.  And awareness is the contentment we are seeking.  The recognition of awareness as what we are allows us this incredible capacity for letting all appearances just be exactly as they are.  They are all seen as perfect expressions of awareness.  They are perfect because they are appearing.  The fact that anything appears at all is a miracle really.  Life is miracle.  
 
The only choice that matters, when it comes to this message, is the choice to stop looking in the mind for identity and for the answers. This is the most important point in a person’s life, when he or she stops emphasizing appearances (mainly thoughts) and begins to look from and as the pure spacious awareness that is prior to appearances.  There will be plenty of time to take up philosophical questions about free will once awareness is stably realized.  But when we make the experiential recognition of awareness are main focus, rather than mental viewpoints about awareness, we get to the root of the whole dilemma.  The root is an identity crisis.  Once that is resolved, we can talk about whether there is free will, but most of the time people report that the question is no longer that important.  Most of our philosophical questions are rooted in the question, “Who am I?”  Once that is resolved, the questioner falls away.  We can then play with the questions without seeking identity from them.  
 
What we find is that the treasure we have been seeking in appearances is actually what is looking at the appearances.  So if you are interested in the question of choice, make this choice to look.  This seeing frees you from the idea that your well-being is in any way tied to what appears or disappears.  It seems too simple to be true, but only to the mind.  The mind wants to complicate everything.  This whole message is simply about dropping our ideas about life long enough to look from the place that is presently awake and looking and confirm that this presence is what we are.  That recognition ends the questions and the seeking.  Then, we see that every appearance—good or bad—is not separate from what we are.  So the question of whether we have choice ultimately doesn’t matter in this seeing.  We see that choice and no choice are both thoughts that come and go within awareness.  They don’t move awareness.  They don’t make awareness shine more brightly.  Awareness is already here, shining brightly, like the sun.  We’ve just been focusing on the rays (the appearances) so much that we continuously miss it.
 
But when we make the experiential recognition of awareness our main focus, rather than mental viewpoints about awareness, we get to the root of the whole dilemma. 

Part of the Action

We remain committed to be on the forefront of what will support life, both in your family and on planet earth. 

 

My interaction with you is an Experiment to further enable this vision to be true, and up to the rhythm that you are a part of the action.  

 

Please contribute to make this vision real.  

With Heart Felt Thanks, Richard Miller.

  

 

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