What is Death?

If death of a loved one is felt as a finite loss for those left behind it is seen as an infinite gain for the departed. His death is in truth your death, the death of multiplicity and the rebirth into an eternal unity. What is apparently perceived as a loss of a loved one is our loss of his/her glance, the look in their eyes, a look that turns away from you and toward God. If the body is lost, the glance is never lost as it is only turned inwardly and reabsorbed into its immutable source in the Disinterested Onlooker, the Witness.

Thus, a man, insofar as he is identified with his consciousness, never really dies but only looks away, hither and thither, appearing as this or that. In his death and looking away you disappear from his sight more than he disappears from yours: If your thoughts of the them are with you, nothing of you is with them because their apparent death is their waking up to your absolute nothingness. For the departed soul it is you who are departed from his eternal glance, now turned away from you and looking into the void where he always dwells.

The glance is the indestructible center of the soul. If I tell you this it is because I have lived so many lives and died so many times, and all this in a timeless instant, the source of all duration but itself not a duration. This worldly life is for the soul like being buried alive, and the apparent worldly death is but the resurrection of the soul, an emerging from the mass-grave that this world is. You people who roam around as if living and willing are indeed the dead and nothing more.

Your worldly death is in truth the death of the world and worldliness of your glance. Death is the withdrawal of your celestial gaze from its captivation with this world-mirage. This worldly life of yours is but a passing deja vu. You think that when you wake up from a dream your dream characters mourn your departure!? No; no one lost anything, for you only left behind, and below, that which never was.

Your worldly death, being the death of the world, is the death of death, hence an eternal birth and breakthrough into the other side of Darkness. When I die in the world I immediately realize that there has been no world to begin with, no life; how could there be any death?! Thus, my life in the world is a living amongst the dead. What you perceive as life is death, and what you perceive as death is birth, an awakening to the nothingness of the world and creaturely existence. Ontological death, i.e. liberation from suffocating existence, is a waking up to the supra-ontological life in the permanent actuality of the Self, a Self that is infinitely like void as is infinitely unlike it. This you shall See for yourself.

The Secret of The Veil

Deep deep inside me is sitting a naked man. Though I am in space He is not; though I am in time He is not. In this world I may be a man but in reality I am just His idea. I live this life and He lives me. The man you may know in this world is just His avatar, as the man of my dreams is only my avatar.

He does nothing except looking and He never blinks. The gaze of my eyes are His. You see Him when you look into my eyes, yet we are both slaughtered spirits suspended from His piercing gaze. He is the invisible man in whose shadow we live and know. Our breaths and our knowledge are indeed His.

From the depths of the abyss He is looking out a vacant look. He is detached from all this existence; all our worldly detachments are pale copies of His supreme detachment. He, that is Shankara, is the very essence of detachment.

Shankara, this infinite man staring into our world from the abyss, Shankara the sole dweller of the void, He is all that there is and I am nothing but His wavering shadow; we are all but the many images of Him in the shattered mirror of this world.

Shankara neither hates nor loves; He has no needs and desires; He is the perfect man and that is why He is mute. Shankara is the unsettling silence of bare existence. He is the inexpressible sense of Being that we feel in silence and solitude.

In the theater of this world there is only one audience, Shankara. But Shankara is not just the audience; He is also the actors and the actresses, the play, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, and He is the theater itself. This is all the play of Shankara. The mere sight of Him shatters all illusions, including those of the self and its hopes and aspirations. We are all Him, not so much because He is in all of us but because we are not and only He is.

Shankara is not really a man that looks; He is the look itself; He is the looking, the detached and anonymous sense of “I” in all of us. Shankara is the look and cosmos is the mirage appearing in it.

My dear seeker, this Shankara better not be seen, for He is never anything that anyone can imagine before that uncaused  Encounter. Shankara’s gaze is the sharpest of all swords, for if His glance falls upon the soul It cuts through her existence and makes her naught. So, love Him as veiled, for He is not apart from what you imagine. But if you dare remove the veil, then be prepared to be devoured to the marrow, to see the real face of madness; He is one hungry mother.

The Way itself is a mystery; but there is a greater mystery awaiting you at the gates of His dimensionless abode: It is the secret of how to remove the veil behind which Shankara is sitting. This is The Secret of The Veil. Oh, my dear seeker, the secret is that you are the veil. It is always Shankara who does the unveiling; it is He who will cut you, the veil, into pieces in one glance when He so wishes.

The veil is the veil of ignorance, the ignorance that fuels all seeking and desiring, that there is an I apart from Shankara, that there is an I at all. Dear seeker, this experience of ours has no subject, no object; it is pure experience. Drop this veil of ignorance and be joyful. What is there to seek when there is only one thing?!

My dear seeker, your seeking is the veil, for in seeking you constantly presume that you are apart from the sought, and worst of all that you are. What you seek you yourself put there in the world; how else would you know there is something to be sought?!

Your Fall is your forgetfulness. Forgetfulness of truth is the seed of belief and opinion. To know the truth one must be devoured by Shankara: Opinions are for man, for Atman knows only the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth. All that a human can think or imagine of Shankara are false, for Shankara is sitting behind all thought and imagination. The sage who knows this cannot say it, because he knows very well that to say is to transmit error: Truth is not something to be told but to be realized in silence and solitude.

Knowledge of Truth doesn’t make somebody a saint: Knowledge of Truth makes the saint a nobody.

The Holy Gaze

World is a mirage in the gaze of the Onlooker.

This world! This world is nothing but the gaze trapped in the maze of its own making. What is is truth dreaming it is man seeking the truth.

The seeker must at once free the gaze that is entangled in its own fantasy, the world.

The point of this existence is to find the gaze and liberate it. The way out of this maze is to realize that we are at once the maze and the one in it.

Liberation Par Excellence, that is to realize there was no bondage in the first place.

The true seeker is not so different from a kamikaze :), for she knows that the gaze is freed only upon her death; she knows that she must die to achieve immortality.

If all this seems paradoxical it is because it is so; and what is paradox but the state of a consciousness trying to grasp the infinite gaze with a finite mind! Paradox is fitting the ocean in the pond. The gaze itself is pure and simple; paradox is only of minds and men.

The seeker who frees the gaze from the bondage of that beginningless acceptedness, that seeker is forever annihilated in all its personal aspects; what remains is neither the world nor the Onlooker but only the gaze itself.

The seeker must die before dying. It will be known only after her death that there was no death in the first place; she was never born to begin with, and in fact it will be known that she never was. It will be known only after that incomprehensible Return that there was no return at all, that we had never left our home, that the sense of separation was itself part of the mirage in the gaze.

Hence Vico’s maxim: “We can only know what we have made.”

Only upon annihilation it is known that the seeking too never really happened, that nothing ever really happens, that there is nothing to seek as there is nothing lose, that the immortal gaze of the eternal now has been forever free, dwelling in the void and immersed in absolute silence of home.

The Sole Dweller of the Void, that Inexpressible Ray that removes all bondage and ignorance in one glance, that is not a thing; it is pure gaze: It is The Holy Gaze.

Heideggered & Daseined

This piece dates back to August 19th of 2013.

The world imposes itself on me; it wants to be; the world likes to be. The world is that parasite that sucks my erected attention as if we were mutually dependent in existence, as if we were Yin Yang. But the world is not content with its Being for me; the world is a world that is also real and is bragging about its reality: “Here I am, and I am.”  And the world’s bragging about its Being and being real has so consumed my entire attention that I am solely concerned with its Being rather than its Being There, as a system of possible accomplishments! But this world and all its objects never interest me; it is Being as such that I see and nothing else. Ever since the weight of Being stole the virginity of thought I have been a devotee of Being itself.

The world is; the world needs my undivided attention, and my undivided attention needs a world. Yet the world, as the pointer, wants to mean something; it wants me recognize its autonomy, its Being There for me as if it were there before and after me. The world tells me to my ear in our most intimate moments, that “I am There for you.” I hear the world and yet can’t tell the difference; I know he means something, he’s pointing, but whether the world says, “I am there for you,” or “I am therefore you!” I am not sure! Is world a face of me I have never seen before!

The world is the withdrawing pointer, and it points not to itself as There-ness but rather to the fleeting Being of there-ness. The world seems to me to be the meaning of Being and yet the referent is always ahead of me, and I catch it only when I am six feet under; so the world makes sense in the face of death. Like everything that means something by a promise, the world too promises reunion, a mirage of a thousand martyrs.

Therefore, life is a verb; life is the instance of meaning; it is the Being of meaning itself, an act of continually meaning something and not just as something passively meant: Life is neither the sense nor the referent. Life is being on the way of joining the two ends, being in the middle of the act of meaning. The world is a carrot on a stick.

The Last Veil

Between man and truth lie only his own ideas and expectations of truth.

One who is obsessed with endless talks and descriptions of truth, the truth which is by nature inexpressible, only adds more veils to the path toward truth. Language which works by way of concepts and conceptualizations is precisely that which lies in between us and truth.

Truth is a matter of direct experience rather than excessive reading and reasoning. Reading and reasoning which is a possibility of human mind and language and which makes sense only against the background of conditioned knowledge can only produce a personal and biased version of truth. Nothing is father away from truth than the talk or truth, for to talk truth is not to experience it, and to reason about truth is to delay a direct perception of it. Reason is by nature discursive and indirect while truth is gasped only in an intuitive and direct manner and not in any other way. This is of crucial importance particularly for those who are used to chasing truth and spiritual experience in the lives and words of others, be it spiritual and intellectual giants or not. Listening and reading is of help no doubt; but it must have a negative role in that one should realize at the end that “even that was not it.”

Although all formulations of truth have a relative import in the plane of human existence, namely all of them being attempts at expressing one and the same inexpressible truth, however all such formulations are pure and simple false in the face of the Absolute itself. Truth is not something to be thought or imagined or arrived at by sheer reasoning. Truth is only to be seen directly with one’s own eyes, eyes that will be opened only at the moment of confrontation with the truth. Thus, everything thought or imagined  or reasoned about truth cannot be it and must be discarded sooner or later; it cannot have any resemblance to truth whatsoever, for thought, imagination, and reason are operative within the sphere of human possibilities, while truth dwells exclusively and in principle outside this sphere. In other words, one can see the truth if and only if one has already outgrown one’s human form and content, and hence has witnessed the extinction of one’s ego which is much more intense and destructive experience than anything comprehensible in human terms. Anyone who has not felt the pain of total extinction and annihilation has not yet known or experienced it. After all, that which ultimately faces the truth and sees it directly is no more a human person but the truth itself, for only infinity can contain infinity; only God can know God. The human receptacle which is by nature mundane and finite is not a vessel that can contain the infinite and the absolute truth; this human phenomenon is not a vessel at all no matter supreme its intelligence or spiritual powers, for its very existence is the hardest veil and the most difficult one to pierce.

Human being is in principle the very veil that conceals the Absolute. Our humanity is the first and the last and the only veil to be torn apart before a direct vision of truth is made possible. Thus, no amount of human effort, whether spiritual or intellectual, can bring about a direct perception of truth, for anything pertaining to human sphere is by nature a veiling force with veiling influences. It is with this understanding that total renunciation is prescribed as the direct path to the heart of truth. Even those who choose different paths must at end come to the total renunciation in order to face the beloved. But true and effective renunciation, whether partial or total, is not about facing away from the material world and despising what is worldly. In the face of the truth the spiritual is as mundane and veiling as the worldly and the material. After all, religion and spirituality like wealth or anything else are possibilities within the world and not outside it, and hence they are as worldly as anything else in this world. A wealthy materialist who creates jobs for a hundred humans in this world or puts a smile on a family in need in this life is much more spiritual and Godly than a corrupt Pope or guru living off people’s donations while praying and lying in their face and molesting their children behind their backs with a promise of better lives in another world. The distinction between the spiritual and the material is only a human creation for the benefit of the religious elitists. The total renunciation that takes us to the feet of the beloved has nothing to do with the world and its objects, for as we emphasized above what keeps us away from the truth is not anything but ourselves, our very humanity, our own ideas and expectations of truth and God, the crooked veil that we are.

Total renunciation is not a leaving of the world but a leaving of one’s own ideas and expectations of the world which includes a leaving of our own ideas of God and truth; of course this cannot be done by the fainthearted or one who is emotionally or intellectually invested in religion and spirituality. The face of the truth is for a few to see, for most men and women prefer what they like rather than what is. As simply put by Jack Nicholson: Not everyone “can handle the truth.”

Total renunciation which is perfect objectivity is the highest ideal of mankind and the only means by which he/she can attain to truth as it is in itself. In other words, one attains to a direct perception of truth precisely when one has let go of all ideas of truth, of all that one knows or has heard of it, of the search for truth, for to seek truth in any way is at once to miss it. This is the known peculiarity of truth which is hinted at by mystics many times: To seek it is at once to miss it.

One who longs for truth but doesn’t know anything scriptural or intellectual about it is closer to it than the chatterbox of truth. This peculiarity is exactly what makes direct perception of truth a difficult task; it is difficult and almost impossible precisely because it is so unbelievably easy and straightforward to see it. Truth is so close to us that we always miss it. To seek the truth is like trying to bite our own teeth. To seek is to go, but truth is always where we are standing, for only truth can seek the truth; only truth can seek itself!

The situation of people seeking the truth by going outside themselves and looking in the lives and words of others is like the ironic situation of people who are running all over a globe looking for its poles, little knowing that every point on a globe is a pole; everyone is standing on a pole.

It is a well known fact by all mystics that the realization of truth, which is a matter of direct perception, comes precisely at the moment where they realize that the seeker, the sought, and the way are one and the same and have always been so all along. Bayazid Bastami, a renowned Muslim mystic living in the 9th century perfectly captures the situation in the following words:

“The truth of which we speak can never be found by seeking, yet it is found only by those who seek it.”

The inner meaning of this saying is that the goal of spiritual life is not something to be found in a place, be it in thought or imagination or mind or in someone’s words or in reasoning. Truth is nowhere to be found, for it was never lost to begin with. There is nothing but truth; there is no seeker, no path, no world and no beings; truth is all that there is and it is forever inexpressible.

One cannot find truth; one can only become it, and this is possible only because one was never anything but the truth. Again, one cannot find the truth; one can only see that one is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The human state is the self-forgetfulness of the truth. One cannot find the truth; one can only remember it, and this remembrance is not a human kind of remembrance; it is a seeing of a new kind, a seeing that is at once a remembering with the highest degree of certainty and self-evidence: Truth is the transcendental seeing of the nothingness of man and world. That is why nothing of the world, whether its reasoning or chanting or imagining, can bring us any closer to the truth; any movement in this mundane world, whether of body or mind, is a movement away from the truth which is transcendental and inaccessible by all human ways and means. As Rumi says, to see the truth, the beloved, in this life you must “die before you die.” This death before the physical death is the same as the total renunciation.

Despite the all-pervading and transcendental nature of truth, and though it is not found by seeking it, only one who longs for it can see it at the end. Thus, the true seeking in the spiritual path is not seeking in the literal sense of the word, for truth is neither outside us nor inside us. The true seeking is in fact a longing for a direct perception of truth. It is this intense longing that brings about such direct experience.

Thus, longing for truth in silence and solitude is the true path instead of outwardly searching for it, worst of all reading and thinking too much about it in terms of the opinions of others, for what you read is someone else’s experience; it is their interpretation; it is what they see and not what you must see. The only exception is what one learns from a guru who has realized the truth for him/herself and has had disciples and many years of experience teaching the way to serious aspirants within the framework of a revealed tradition. Such rare teachers are devoid of egotistic motivations and refrain from too much talk and lecture about the nature of truth, for they can impart knowledge by a glance or a gesture. They too know that the real guru, the true guide, is the inner Self of man: You will eventually see what is right in front of you precisely when you let go of seeing the world through the eyes and ears of others, precisely when you realize you need nothing outside yourself to see or know the truth directly. Even if we get inspirations from the outside world, we must always return to ourselves where the ultimate confrontation will take place. Everything others say about the truth becomes a veil if we fail to realize that “even that was not it.”

Wake Up! Remember Who You Are

I am not something that exists. I am not something that is known, nor the knower of anything. I am not someone who can be free, nor someone who can be happy. Instead, I am the very condition for the possibility of the existent, the known and the knower, the free and the happy. To be more precise:

I am existence itself. I am knowledge itself. I am freedom itself. I am happiness itself.

As knowledge of a defect does not make the knowledge itself defective, I too am untouched by all defects and imperfections though I may witness them day and night.

As knowledge of misery does not make the knowledge itself miserable, I too am free from all misery and lowliness though I may witness them day and night.

As knowledge of bondage does not entail the bondage of knowledge, I too am devoid of all bondage and ignorance though I may see nothing but them.

As knowledge of mortality does not make the knowledge itself mortal, I too am immune to all death and decay though I may witness them day and night.

I am perfect and pure, wise and immortal, free and happy, blessed and beautiful, for I am forever untouched by all that is unlike my nature: I am the Transcendental Witness.

I am the “I” in all of you. Remind yourself this truth: If you are bounded and miserable it is only because you say so.

Questionable World: A Phenomenology of Wonder

Why does man raise questions? 

There are many criteria based on which man is distinguished from animal, such as language and logic. One peculiar aspect of man, in contrast with animals, is his ability to refuse to accept matters of fact, to turn away in the face of the inevitable, to act as if, to pretend, to believe in the invisible and to get away with it, to doubt and to raise questions. To raise a question entails man’s conception of the alternatives to the fact: He sees what is in front of him, the factual aspect of world; but he questions this facticity because he can conceive of it being otherwise. The question of “why this” presupposes a “why not that?” the two being equivalent formulations of man’s peculiar mode of consciousness. In other words, man is distinct from the beast insofar as the world is questionable for him.

The questionability of world for man is a questionability of world’s facticity; world being a matter of fact can always be, or appear, otherwise. Man’s consciousness of this logical structure of the world makes it possible for him to raise questions in the face of what is since he knows that nothing has to be the way it is. It is this ability of man that poses the perennial question “why is there something rather than nothing?” To be more precise, man’s consciousness of world is a consciousness of contingency. Man knows that fact is contingent; world can always be a different world, even not be. Without consciousness of contingency man would not be able to doubt or raise questions in the face of facts. Question is the backbone of civilization; it was man’s ability to perceive the contingent character of his condition and to realize that his condition can be other than what it is that pushed him to change the condition from above, to change the very conditions that condition the course of future changes; thus, man entered into a dialectical relationship with his environment. Man’s civilization defined as constant transcendence of environmental and existential conditions is possible only in virtue of his realization that his condition can always be better, a realization that entails man’s ability to distinguish between fact and essence, necessity and contingency.

Consciousness of contingency is a possibility only against consciousness of necessity. Man can know the contingency of world if and only if he understands the essence of contingency as that which is not necessary, that which is possible but not actual. In other words, man’s consciousness of contingency, being at once the consciousness of what is possible but not yet actual, is possible only where there is consciousness of the Absolute: If man raises questions it is because he is conscious that fact is contingent and that it is so by necessity.

The same is true of man’s consciousness of the relative character of phenomena. Consciousness of relativity entails consciousness of the absolute. Man would not be able to understand relativity if he didn’t know what it is like not to be relative, hence the absolute. Relativity is not possible without the insertion of the absolute. An analogy may help us here: Einstein’s theory of relativity is based on two postulates: First, the laws of nature enjoy the same form in all inertial reference frames; that is, all inertial reference frames are equally valid in their formulations of these laws. Second, the speed of light is constant and has the same value in all inertial reference frames in vacuum; that is, the value of the speed of light doesn’t depend on the particular reference frame in which it is observed and measured.

It is evident that the first postulate is possible if and only if the second holds; in other words, all reference frames are equally valid since the speed of light is independent of all reference frames, thus being the absolute criterion based on which all reference frames can be considered equally valid.

This is similar to the case of man’s consciousness of relativity. If we posit that everything is relative, then this is so if and only if there exists an absolute reference frame relative to which everything is equally valid or relative. Everything is relative relative to man’s consciousness which has to be absolute in its apprehension of the relativity of all phenomena. The consciousness that posits relativity is at once the consciousness that posits itself as the absolute, the absolute criterion for the apprehension of all that is relative.

Man is the being for whom world is finite, contingent, and relative. If man raises questions about the world it is because he is in principle capable of conceiving of what is possible but not actual, which springs from his consciousness of world’s contingent character. Man’s consciousness of finitude, contingency, and relativity entails his consciousness of infinity, necessity, and the absolute.

It is against the consciousness of the infinitude, necessity, and the absolute that man grasps his own finitude, facticity, and relativity.

World is questionable for man because it stands in sharp contrast to the intrinsic values of his consciousness, such as perfection and immortality. The most factical aspect of man’s existence is his mortality; yet this mortality is that which man cannot be comfortable with; he readily accepts the existence of improbable phenomena such as aliens or transmigration of soul but cannot accept the most certain of all things, his death. If man struggles in the face of the inevitable death, if he is always bothered by his mortality, it is because he is at once in possession of the consciousness of immortality; it is against his consciousness of immortality that man’s mortality and finitude concerns him so much, being the very basis of all religions and philosophies and art and literature.

In a world that is essentially finite, contingent, relative, and mortal, no consciousness of infinity, perfection, and immortality can possibly grow. But it is a matter of fact that man is in possession of such consciousness, for otherwise world could not possibly be questionable for him. The questionable character of world for man entails an element within him that is not of this world, an element against which this world is what it is for man, a questionable world.