teisho 1170 (2009)
Nisargadatta says that all happiness comes from awareness. It is interesting to explore what this word happiness means. A lot of the time it is associated with being transported, caught up in in an excited response to something like a soccer game or a New Year’s Eve party. But what Nisargadatta means here is something quite different. He is referring to a subsidence of the sense of self, leading to a feeling of serenity, of just allowing it to be as it is, pure awareness, openness.
There are these two contrasting ways by which one is transported beyond the limitations of the self. One is violent, the other is peaceful. The more we are aware, the less there is of cause and effect, of any kind of separation. This gives an indication of the direction in which the practice should go: allowing the sense of self to subside. The problem is that the sense of self has been built up as a way of reconciling the conflicting elements of our personality. So allowing the sense of self to subside brings a feeling of tension and dissatisfaction.
Nisargadatta says that acceptance of pain, non resistance, courage and endurance, opens deep and perennial sources of real happiness, of true bliss. If we are asking the question “who am I?” in a true way then we are letting go of the sense of self. But very often people feel that to see into “Who am I?” they need to become more identified with the sense of self.
He talks about courage, which is the willingness to let the sense of self subside. Courage in the face of fear, of anxiety, means that one is no longer trying to find a way to resolve the fear, the anxiety. One is just open to it. One goes on in the midst of the difficulty, of the discomfort. This work of arousing the mind without resting it on anything, without resting it on the sense of self, is very hard work. But it is a special kind of hard work, the doing of no doing. In Zen it is called shikantaza, just sitting. It requires endurance and courage, a willingness to just go on, when all the time one wants to relax into the comfort and security of the sense of self. One needs to maintain an alert interest, with the intention to understand rather than to judge.