This is a hybrid (or perhaps a halfbreed) combination of an oral, in person teaching and a solitary written one. It doesn’t scan well but that is perhaps the nature of the beast. Thanks to Susan Westlund and Jan Schaeffer for their assistance.
Barbara Cordts’ Teaching, Sanctuary in the Pines
Saturday, February 9, 2019
There is never anything wrong with what is happening. There is never anything wrong. It doesn’t matter if it’s in your life, in politics, in war—it doesn’t matter. There is never anything wrong with what is happening.
I’m going to assume that there is something in all of you—that when you consider what I’m saying—there is something in you that resists that idea, that thinks it can’t possibly be right. But as much as we can say that anything is true, we can say there is never anything wrong with what is happening.
Of course that also means there is never anything right with what is happening.
The problem we have with non-duality is that it really is non-dual. Notice in the second paragraph that “true” is a dualistic idea, implying that something could be false. We have trouble with the language about this because once we use words we’ve strayed from the center.
The first step toward non-dual awareness, and ultimately the only step, is acceptance. We have to accept what is happening. And we must accept thoroughly and completely, without reservation or doubt. Then all the apparent dualities—good, bad, right, wrong, spiritual, non-spiritual, moral, immoral—all of those dualities disappear from thought. Non-dual awareness leaves no room for judgements or preferences. It leaves endless room for faith and trust which lead to openness and deep relaxation.
This is from the Tao Te Ching (#1), attributed to Lao-Tzu.
“The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.
The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.
Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.
Yet mystery and manifestations
arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding.”
From the human standpoint, there is a great mystery at the heart of all Being. Being emerges from non-being, and is not different from non-being—the darkness within darkness, the No-Thingness, the Source. All things emerge from the No-Thingness. It is unknowable. We can approach it—and in the fullness of realization, the human being disappears into Source. It doesn’t mean you become invisible. It doesn’t mean you cease to be. Such a one lives in the Not-Two, not separate from what is happening.
We think we know who we are. We have a whole list of our characteristics. We tend to be pretty seriously identified with them, although they are all contrived. They are all made up with a lot of help from our family, our education, our culture. There are personality and aptitude tests that help us find our “identity.” You can look in a magazine to “find out what your personality type is.”
None of this is essential to your identity. None of it. When we get right down to it, we have confused the space between birth and death as Life, my life. We think, “I was born in this place and time and will die in some place and time, and that is/was my life.” But that is NOT your life. Your life does NOT end (or begin). It is eternal. Maybe this confusion is an unintended consequence of creation, or maybe it’s intended. We can’t know. There is really nothing we can know, which makes us uncomfortable, which scares us. We want to know. It makes us feel like we have some control over things, this feeling of “I know.” But the desire to know and understand and the sense of comfort and control it brings occurs because we don’t know who we are or what life is.
We have an idea, not necessarily conscious, but not hidden. We have this idea that whatever is going on in our minds, in our life, or in the world—we have this idea or feeling— “this is not it”. We are sure there is something more or different. “Soon I will be enlightened.” “Someday I’m going to have the life I want.” “If I just do this right, things will all get better.” “When I have enough money all will be well” “I am not enlightened.” We refuse the moment—what is right here right now. We resist the moment.
The basis of identity is always and only in the moment. Eternal life is always in the moment. You are always eternal life. You just don’t recognize. We can give up the idea that “this is not ‘it’.” Give up the thought that “I am not enlightened” or the idea that finding “it” it will take a long time, or that you have to go to this retreat and that retreat and do these practices and meditate and… You will realize that you were always already That, already Source. All of those ideas I just mentioned stop you from recognizing it. You can’t make yourself be spiritual and enlightened because you are already That. You can’t make yourself into something that you already are. It doesn’t matter what kind of practices you do. Some practices move you away from the realization that “I am That.” Some practices affirm that you are not already That. But mostly it is our thinking and our beliefs that stand in the way.
This is the difficulty that people have. We resist. We say “I don’t like this.” Or, “I have this bad habit.” Or “There is something wrong in the world and I need to do something to change it or get away from it.” Or we think: “The way I need to change the world is to help other people, have compassion.” Those ideas and all of the actions that spring from them will keep you from realization. Mostly the ideas “there is something wrong” and “I am not enlightened” stand in the way of recognizing: Nothing needs to change. Nothing needs to be fixed. Nothing is wrong. It is simply what is happening. If it is helpful to you, you can think: “God is happening.”.
Avoidance and attachment—anything that takes us away from full acceptance of the right here right now (which is always dynamic)—keeps us from realization.
Realization is not something we can “get” by being good. Or by getting rid of all of our desires, or by changing something we think is wrong. It can feel really good being dedicated to a practice. But It doesn’t matter how many hours you spend in meditation, or if you spend any time at all. You can’t change yourself into something you already are. Just let go of the effort, the idea that “this is not it.” The difficulty is that some people have trouble believing that no effort is required or that effort directed toward a goal actually gets in the way. They resist. “I get sick,” “I am unhappy,” “I can’t pay my bills,” “No one loves me,” “My car broke down,” “My dog died,” “My wife left me.” (Makes a joke about a Country Western song.)
It doesn’t mean you need to give up your practices, just what you think and believe about them.
I understand the difficulty of letting go of those things. We’re just going on about our lives. That’s fine. There is nothing wrong with it. But if you can let go of some of those ideas, let them move out of range of their own accord, something else will begin to become visible. Our concerns and our desires and preferences are most always about ourselves: what I want or don’t want, what I feel, what I believe. Full acceptance of one’s self, others, the world as it is, can be quite challenging (although all it takes is a one moment of full realization).
It can be hard for people who have committed to a spiritual practice to understand that they don’t have to be more compassionate, more loving, more dedicated, do more practices. But there’s nothing you need to do. You are already That. Just give up the idea that you are not and do as you are naturally moved to do.
The closest approximation I’ve come across of what I am trying to say is “Be still and know that I am God.” Or just “Be Still”. Or “know that I AM.” You come from Source. You are Source. You are Source. What else could you possibly be. You have just turned your back and looked away, become fascinated with world of things.
Maybe this I by design. Maybe not.
If you understand this, you won’t need to concern yourself with being spiritual, compassionate, or anything else. Simply get out of the way and let everything unfold. When we try to change the world or ourselves or others, we are simply confusing things, mostly ourselves. We just need to let go and let it happen as it will.
One of the difficulties about this is that we need to trust enough to let ourselves be spontaneous, unplanned—and not partake of any kind of willful decisions, or invest in particular actions or outcomes. We need to drop our preferences. That means zero. Thinking is frequently a big obstruction.
Have no particular desire or aversion. Have no “I want this and not that.” Be true in each moment. So, whatever happens is okay. This includes any thought or feeling you have or any action you take or words you speak. To say it is okay is not to say it is good. Nor is it bad. It is as it is. This is what the Tao refers to as “non-doing:” genuine spontaneity. It doesn’t mean don’t plan. It means don’t invest in outcomes. It doesn’t mean don’t remember. It means don’t let the past drive you.
I wrote something about this and posted it on the website, something like this: “Spontaneity has no past. It’s unconditioned. Nothing that came before made this happen. It has no future, no investment in an outcome; it has no intended arrival point. It is exactly what it is right here, right now.”
If you have ever opened into bliss, the kind of bliss where nothing needs to happen, when everything is perfect, and you wonder “how would I ever want to move out of this bliss?” (Actually, you don’t wonder except maybe in retrospect. Words are so inadequate.). If you’ve ever had the experience of bliss, you know that eventually something happens. You do something. The action didn’t come out of any obligation or desire. You are that bliss and you have no sensation of time. No idea that “I need to do this or that, something else.” but in the midst of that bliss, you act. That act is spontaneous and natural. That is your true Being, your true life which is the same as all life, all truth: Source.
If we leave ourselves alone; if we leave the world alone, everything will take care of itself. Everything in the world will be fine. As Julian of Norwich said: “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.”. .We don’t need to reach understanding or find meaning. Let it be.
“But what if ... ?” We have these habitual ways of thinking. Don’t try to stop your thoughts, just experience them as if they were children playing in another room. They’re fine, but they don’t really have anything to do with you and you don’t need to hold on to them or follow them or change them. You just need to let them be. They will move of their own volition. The way we get involved with our thoughts is how we tell ourselves stories. And then we say, “That’s a good story,” or “That’s a bad story.” Or “I‘m a bad person.” Or “He’s a bad person.” “That’s terrible.”. That’s wonderful.” And that seems to us to be truth.
When we grab onto our thoughts, get involved with them, we lose the here and now. As soon as you know you’ve grabbed on, just let go, allow it to go its own way. Don’t follow. I guarantee it will change. Of course, even just sitting or just anything is perfectly acceptable. Let it be.
It is helpful to notice what is actually occurring, around you and in your mind and body. But noticing doesn’t take effort. It’s just paying attention without getting attached to particular ideas or feelings. In fact, once you are attached you can no longer notice without prejudice.
It seems to me that the development of the conviction that we are individual human beings—separate from other human beings, and the world around us,—that partaking of that way of being in the world—is possibly a requirement of “this grand experiment.” I don’t know if there was intention behind this grand experiment. What I do know is that there is an incredible, unfathomable benevolence involved in our creation, and it suffuses everything. No one is left out. Nothing is left out. Not war, …. not anything. The most wonderful and most awful occurrence is enveloped in that same benevolence. It is infused in the creation of everyone, everything and every action.
Find that deep relaxation of the mind and heart. Let the mind go to sleep without actually going to sleep. It’s probably tired from all that thinking. (Smiles.)
The world of things, of beings—the world we live in—emerges out of No-Thing. The intermediary step is image. I could say it’s idea, but as soon as I say that you think “words.” But it is still No-Thing. It’s this slight coagulation of No-Thingness into some vague thing that might be an image. Out of that, ultimately, Thingness emerges—human bodies, human experience, the world. Idea grows the way thingness grows out of No-Thingness.
In magical training, one of the tenets taught is that if you know the name of someone or some thing you can have power or influence over them. That is why in the magical tradition people have secret names.
Human beings like to know the names of things. But we can confuse ourselves with the names we use, the concepts, they no longer refer to what is real. Humans learn to use names. We make them up ourselves, we name things that aren’t really real. Things like time, culture, morality, right and wrong, good and bad, past and future. They’re constructions. We confuse ourselves and each other by telling ourselves these things have reality.
This is not to say that the world isn’t real, or that you aren’t real. But the nature of that reality is misconstrued, misunderstood. The world exists as your mind. The self you think you are exists because of this world. They are identical in essence. Not Two.
Kerry can you ask the question you have?
‘There is that poem that you’ve read to us over the years, the one about how everything is swinging back and forth and the “Silent One, slowly growing a body.” I feel like that is happening…”
Between the conscious and the unconscious, the mind has put up a swing: all earth creatures, even the supernovas, sway between these two trees, and it never winds down.
Angels, animals, humans, insects by the million, also the wheeling sun and moon; ages go by, and it goes on.
Everything is swinging: heaven, earth, water, fire, and the secret one slowly growing a body. Kabir saw that for fifteen seconds, and it made him a servant for life.
Kabir (translated by Robert Bly)
I have received a letter from at least one other student wondering about this, so I am going to try to put some words to it. I have been trying, but the words have just not come out.
This student wrote, “ I am now seeing images of an underground railroad station. It is as though it was created in consciousness and is now available to everyone, conscious or unconscious, like a path in the woods that has appeared. We don’t know how it appeared but we are grateful for those who came before us.” This is a lovely image and experience, leaning in the proper direction.
There are ranges of consciousness that are shared by anyone who enters into them consciously. If you open yourself to those ranges of consciousness, you can communicate with others, living or dead, and that community of consciousness has an effect. The word ‘community’ doesn’t apply in the usual way here, because it doesn’t consist of people identified with their bodies and minds, but with a ranges of consciousness and specific levels and experiences of awareness.
I’m not sure what the person meant by saying that “the ‘underground railroad’ is available to everyone, consciously or unconsciously.” If they happen upon it consciously, it would be a great boon. If they stumble upon it remaining unconscious of it, I’m not sure of its effect. The effect of a group happening upon it consciously would be like rabbits—put a male and female rabbit together in a hutch and you get more rabbits. And more rabbits. And more rabbits. It works kind of like that.
Let me quote a Taoist teaching: “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them—that only creates sorrow. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
It can take a lot of trust in the beginning, to let things flow naturally. Because who you think you are is not really who you are.
From the Tao te Ching: (#3)
If you overesteem great men, people become powerless. If you overvalue possessions, people begin to steal.
The Master leads by emptying people’s minds and filling their cores, by weakening their ambition and toughening their resolve. He helps people lose everything they know, everything they desire, and creates confusion in those who think that they know.
and everything will fall into place.