Why Can't I See It?


Q:
I'm very frustrated, right now, and all I can think to ask you is: WHAT AM I MISSING?

All of the teachers I trust, say (paraphrasing), "It's right in front of you, only you can't see it, because it's so simple." I sometimes feel like it's one of those 3D images that will pop out of the 2D picture, if I stare at it long enough for my eyes to eventually focus just right.

So, if it's right in front of me, and I actually apparently can see it – then why in the world can't I see? Specifically, why can't I see it in the same (or similar) way that those teachers (and, presumably, you) see it?

I realize that what I'm asking is rather pedantic, but it just seems to be the most obvious question to ask. If I were a gold prospector, I'd be a fool not to ask someone who knows where the gold is how and where to look for it, wouldn't I?

If you could offer me a few words of wisdom on the matter, I would greatly appreciate it.

A: When you say "why can't I see it?" Let's just say that you ARE seeing it, but you don't understand what you are seeing.

In what you see, there is a mixing up of what is actually there and what is only apparently there.

I'm sure you've come across this idea before. The "world," or Maya, or Leela, is often referred to as imaginary, or an illusion. These are gross oversimplifications of what is really meant by that, but no worries, there are ways to sort that all out.

And then there is what is NOT an illusion. What's that? That's the background on which everything appears. It's that which doesn't change, is not bound by limits like time and form, and cannot be divided into parts. Otherwise known as awareness, consciousness, being, presence, The Self, you. This is what the “direct path” people say is staring you in the face, and indeed it is – you can't get away from it – but the trick is learning to un-mix this, the self – YOU – from all the stuff that appears. We constantly confuse them and take the unreal to be real.

So all this stuff is happening – our lives, our bodies, out thoughts, "out there" – and for
moksha, the idea is to know the difference between what is real and what is only apparently real. Knowing that you are not one of the changing, vulnerable, separate apparent things, but are actually the one unchanging eternal that can't be harmed by anything – that is moksha (permanent freedom). Knowing the real from the unreal, knowing the not-you from the you.

The direct path which just says, hey you big dope, just see it, what's wrong with you?!....it does not ever address this process of having to inquire into the experience of a human being taking himself to be real. Direct path people often say, "There is no person!" But that's not your experience, is it? So is that useful?

So I think what I'm telling you in answer to your question is, reality is simple, but as a conditioned being accustomed to thinking of yourself as the body/mind complex, it is anything but simple to see that. What, you're just going to suddenly drop off a lifetime of conditioning and just "break through" to see that the body/mind complex is all imaginary? Ain't gonna happen. It's slow, working through that. It's worth it, though. You really do get actual real lasting freedom once everything has been looked at in a systematic way and analyzed for its reality. It's in this way that little by little we shed the layers of false identification with the body/mind, and come to see that we are just the pure awareness that the body/mind appears in.

Of course you know I'm going to recommend
Vedanta for this, right? So yeah, if you're prospecting for gold, look at Vedanta. Maybe once in a million times moksha happens spontaneously by just "seeing" this that's right here in front of you, "closer than your breath" (which Gangaji says that used to frustrate the hell out of me when I was a newbie seeker :-)). It doesn't matter how close it is – you have to LEARN how to sort out the real from the unreal bits, which are infinite in number. The unreal is your story you spin all day long, your idea of your body, your relationships, your responsibilities, the world out there, everything apparently separate and other.

Hey I've watched all those Gold Rush shows on TV hahaha! You know how they think they're gonna come and just easy peasy strike it rich? When in fact they have setback after setback, useless claims, equipment failure, injury, running out of money.....and sometimes somebody works long and hard enough that it really pays off. That's what this is like.

I wish I could offer you a fast way. People will offer you that! But if you just hear
James Swartz' introductory comments at the beginning of any of his series, you just can't escape the basic logic that this is a gradual process of self-inquiry, each insight providing the new ground upon which to stand to uncover more of your ignorance, until you know for sure what is real and what is not real. And then it's over. Once you work it through all the way, you see that nothing can be real but you, and this "you" is totally free, non-separate, and eternally safe. And the world is free to be just as it is, and it's fine.

It's worth it to take the time to do this. Little by little the whole dream dismantles. Most people like experiencing their personal separate life in the dream, but seekers do not, and find it too painful because of the feeling of separation. I was highly motivated to stop seeing myself as part of this dream. High motivation helps.

I could try to say what I "see" but words really fail. I've tried to say it and it's not really possible. But I'll try: It's all one. I am that. The world is also me, since it is all one. Nothing is "other," and so I am playing in a benign kind of game which I have already won.

I could go on but I think you get my drift. All of the inquiry is useful – even the direct path stuff. So just do what you are doing, follow what is interesting to you, and your ....well, I hate to say it this way but your frustration will guide you! It's the frustration that drives this effort, the desire to clear up the frustration. And it's possible, so take heart!