teisho 1246 (2011)
We have become fascinated by the content of experience. We have learned how to extend our experience through the medium of books, television, films. One could even say we are hypnotized by it, and you could say that our practice is to break that hypnotic trance.
What is it about the content of experience that is so fascinating? People have left the farms and gone to live in crowded cities because the stimulus from a variety of different experiences is so attractive. But there is not only the content of experience, there is the fact of experiencing. There is no experiencing without the knowing of experience.
So much of what we experience is discordant, contradictory, and this brings about a heightened sense of awareness. It is by trying to make sense of chaos that our awareness is heightened. It is not the content of experience itself that is so sort after, it is this heightened sense of awareness. In our practice we are going directly to the source; instead of looking for a stimulus from outside, instead of needing a variety of experience, we are drawing upon our own resources.
This heightened sense of awareness indicates that what is basic, what is real, is awareness, it is not any content. Experience itself cannot give happiness, only stimulation. One of the features of experience is that we have to be able to know it as something. This conceptualization is a way by which we fix experience into what we call the world: the room, the car, the film, the cup. Without that naming, that fixing, there would be no content to experience.
Nisargadatta says “your burden is a false self-identification” – the claiming to be something. He says, “there is only one mistake you are making: you take the inner for the outer and the outer for the inner. What is in you, you take to be outside, and what is outside, you take to be in you. Thoughts and feelings are external; they are something you experience and therefore are outside. You say, ‘I am angry’, ‘I am uncomfortable,’ ‘I hurt,’ and now you have internalized it, you have made it into what it is not, and then you cannot work with it. You need to detach yourself from the thoughts, they are not ‘my’ thoughts. You should look at your thoughts as you would look at the traffic going by in the street. In the same way one needs to detach oneself from feelings. If you sit and allow anxiety to arise, sooner or later you will see that it is not ‘I am anxious,’ but ‘there is anxiety.’ A completely different experience. I am anxious’ means the anxiety takes on the absoluteness which is your birthright. I am is absolute. This is the dominating feature of negative emotions.
There is not you, the room, and experiencing the room. This is what happens when you freeze it with the magic of words. But if you look at it as is, it is just experience. People feel they should ultimately get into a state where they are always in pure being. That they will leave behind the world of experience, the world of phenomena, that they will be able to live in a kind of purity. But there is nothing wrong with living in the world, with enjoying living in the world; enjoying the whole process of life, all the ups and downs of life.