Although you say ‘it is’ there is nothing that ‘it is’ can affirm. Although you say ‘it is not’ there is nothing that ‘it is not’ can negate. It is not true to say ‘I am’ and it is not true to say ‘I am not.’ It is not true to say that the world is there and it is not true to say that the world is not there. In other words, all affirmations are provisional and all depend on a point of view; and just in the same way all negations are provisional and depend on a point of view.
We tend to believe that the world is as we see it. We say, ‘that is it.’ And we are astonished to find that other people see things quite differently and we then assume that they are mistaken or do not understand. The idea that people can see the world radically differently to the way we see it is something we find intolerable.
What I know to be the case is the case – this is basic to the way we see the world. It is fixed. This background that we have, that we know to be the case, is the problem. When you assert that it is, there is nothing that ‘it is’ can affirm. This is a point of view that we have. Once we can call into question the very basis of our world, we are freed from the rigid prison in which we have found ourselves. The two most fruitful ways of working on this is to see into the belief that “I am something,” and at the same time see into the illusory notion that the world is independent and real apart from my perspective.
When ‘is’ and ‘is not’ are gone beyond, success and failure, winning and loosing are no more. This means that winning in an absolute way, or success or failure as an absolute state, are no more. One can undertake work in a completely new way: the process of doing things, the creativity involved, are the attraction, not the result. The joy is in the doing. All is open and unobstructed. Instead of having a world of things that are jostling against one another, one sees the world more in terms of a flow: of movement, development, change.
We have the question, “what is in front of me?” The answer depends on what you regard as ‘me’. If it is the body, then it is a window in front of me. In that case, what is in front of me will be quite different from what is in front of someone else; what is in front of me may in fact be behind another person. This brings out clearly that the world is the result of a point of view.
We must be careful not to look on this as the world is only a point of view. If we do that it suggests there is another superior way of seeing the world. But there is no superior way of seeing the world. By seeing that the world is a point of view we can see that it is a creation, and see at the same time that we are both one and a multitude: I am myself, but in being myself I am you as well. To put this in another way, selfhood includes otherness. Normally we look on otherness as the not self, but the self and the not self are one; although they are not the same. When people hear it said that the world is one, they think it is an homogenous condition, everything the same. But a diamond is one, yet gets its beauty from its multi-faceted character. It is the same way with the world, it is a sparkling diamond.
We must see the question ‘what must we do?’ as different to all the other questions we can ask. All the other questions look outside the question for the response, for the resolution. All the other questions are the expression of the separation, the dualism, that is our condition. How do you practice without practicing? Whatever you do is no good. There are so many hidden agendas. You must start with the correct orientation, you must listen to what is being said. The problem is the problem. There are all these thoughts, wave after wave of the mind; there is the upheaval of feeling, there is all the disappointment of life, the anguish that has come from failures, betrayals, humiliation and frustration. But this doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Take away every thought, every feeling, and now, what is there? You cannot get behind yourself. You cannot step outside yourself. You are bigger than any question you can ever ask. You encompass every problem, every failure, every frustration. You do not see this because you always start with where you want to be; you are already out in the distance, running to find yourself. Come back to what is.
It will always be uncomfortable when you first open up. Let go of wanting to get into heaven with your boots on, as Gurdjieff would say. See all the debts that have accumulated, but not as something to be overcome or seen through or worked with. Just see it all as it is, for what it is. You will only be able to do this for a fraction of time, because the mind slips away into a self calming routine because of the way we have trained ourselves. But come back, and see it is always you, it is always life, living. It is you as your own way of being. It is not something inflicted on you. Embracing this in this way, there is no separation, there is no before and after.
From the beginning all beings are Buddha. Whatever your practice, your practice is that. If you start with the assumption you do not know the answer to your question but that you will find out one way or another, you have entered into a maze from which there is no exit. It is that need for something that is holding you up. The only breath that you can follow is the breath being breathed right now. And that is life. There is no truth outside the breath going out, the breath going in. All truth is contained in that.