Small self to big self to no self
..By the practise of Ch’an one can eliminate the ‘I’; not only the selfish, small ‘I’, but also the large ‘I’, which in philosophy is called ‘Truth’ or ‘the Essence’. Only then is there absolute freedom...
...When you are in the second stage, although you feel that the ‘I’ does not exist, the basic substance of the universe, or the Supreme Truth, still exists. Although you recognise that all the different phenomena are the extension of this basic substance or Supreme Truth, yet there still exists the opposition of basic substance versus external phenomena...
... One who has entered Ch’an does not see basic substance and phenomena as two things standing in opposition to each other. They cannot even be illustrated as being the back and palm of a hand. This is because phenomena themselves are basic substance, and apart from phenomena there is no basic substance to be found. The reality of basic substance exists right in the unreality of phenomena, which change ceaselessly and have no constant form. This is the Truth...
A lecture by Master Sheng-yen (1977)
In 1977 Shi-fu was at the very beginning of his teaching career in America. He was invited to give talks in various places and these were admirably translated. In this talk the crisp vision of Ch’an that Shi-fu was bringing from China and from the Japan of his final training is clear for all to see. As we set about creating a Ch’an suitable for Europe this lecture has striking and helpful cogency. It was published in a small pamphlet of which probably only a few remain. Tim Paine was rummaging through the library at Maenllwyd when he came across it and spotted its excellence. It was in fact one of the inspirations for John’s first visits to the New York Ch’an Centre. We are glad Tim uncovered it again and we trust our readers will find it equally inspiring. Shi-fu permits us to reproduce it here. Eds.
I wish to start by telling you that Ch’an is not the same as knowledge, yet knowledge is not completely apart from Ch’an. Ch’an is not just religion, yet the achievements of religion can be reached through Ch’an. Ch’an is not philosophy, yet philosophy can in no way exceed the scope of Ch’an. Ch’an is not science, yet the spirit of emphasising reality and experience is also required in Ch’an. Therefore, please do not try to explore the content of Ch’an motivated by mere curiosity, for Ch’an is not something new brought here [to the USA] by Orientals; Ch’an is present everywhere, in space without limit and time without end. However before the Buddhism of the East was propagated in the western world, the people of the West never knew of the existence of Ch’an. The Ch’an taught by Orientals in the West is not, in fact, the real Ch’an. It is the method to realise Ch’an. Ch’an was first discovered by a prince named Siddhartha Gautama (called Shakyamuni after his enlightenment), who was born in India about 2500 years ago. After he became enlightened and was called a Buddha, he taught us the method to know Ch’an. This method was transmitted from India to China, and then to Japan. In India it was called dhyana, which is pronounced ‘Ch’an’ in Chinese, and ‘Zen’ in Japanese. Actually, all three are identical.
Ch’an has universal and eternal existence. It has no need of any teacher to transmit it; what is transmitted by teachers is just the method by which one can personally experience this Ch’an.
Some people mistakenly understand Ch’an to be some kind of mysterious experience; others think that one can attain supernatural powers through the experience of Ch’an. Of course, the process of practising Ch’an meditation may cause various kinds of strange occurrences on the level of mental and physical sensation; and also, through the practice of unifying body and mind, one may be able to attain the mental power to control or alter external things. But such phenomena, which are looked upon as mysteries of religion, are not the aim of Ch’an practice, because they can only satisfy one’s curiosity or megalomania, and cannot solve the actual problems of peoples lives.
Ch’an starts from the root of the problem. It does not start with the idea of conquering the external social and material environments, but starts with gaining thorough knowledge of one’s own self. The moment you know what your self is, this ‘I’ that you now take to be yourself will simultaneously disappear. We call this new knowledge of the notion of self ‘enlightenment’ or ‘seeing ones basic nature’. This is the beginning of helping you to thoroughly solve real problems. In the end, you will discover that you the individual, together with the whole of existence, are but one totality which cannot be divided.
Because you yourself have imperfections, you therefore feel the environment is imperfect. It is like a mirror with an uneven surface, the images reflected in it are also distorted. Or, it is like the surface of water disturbed by ripples, the moon reflected in it is irregular and unsettled. If the surface of the mirror is clear and smooth, or if the air on the surface of the water is still and the ripples calmed, then the reflection in the mirror and the moon in the water will be clear and exact. Therefore, from the point of view of Ch’an, the major cause of the pain and misfortune suffered by humanity is not the treacherous environment of the world in which we live, nor the dreadful society of humankind, but the fact that we have never been able to recognise our basic nature. So the method of Ch’an is not to direct us to evade reality, nor to shut our eyes like the African ostrich when enemies come, and bury our heads in the sand, thinking all problems are solved. Ch’an is not a self-hypnotising idealism.
By the practise of Ch’an one can eliminate the ‘I’; not only the selfish, small ‘I’, but also the large ‘I’, which in philosophy is called ‘Truth’ or ‘the Essence’. Only then is there absolute freedom. Thus an accomplished Ch’an practitioner never feels that any responsibility is a burden, nor does he feel the pressure that the conditions of life exert on people. He only feels that he is perpetually bringing the vitality of life into full activity. This is the expression of absolute freedom. Therefore the life of Ch’an is inevitably normal and positive, happy and open. The reason for this is that the practise of Ch’an will continually provide you with a means to excavate your precious mine of wisdom. The deeper the excavation, the higher the wisdom that is attained, until eventually you obtain all the wisdom of the entire universe. At that time, there is not a single thing in all of time and space that is not contained within the scope of your wisdom. At that stage wisdom becomes absolute; and since it is absolute, the term wisdom serves no further purpose. To be sure, at that stage the ‘I’ that motivated you to pursue such things as fame, wealth and power, or to escape from suffering and danger, has completely disappeared. What is more, even the wisdom which eliminated your ‘I’ becomes an unnecessary concept to you.
Of course, from the viewpoint of sudden enlightenment it is very easy for a Ch’an practitioner to reach this stage; nevertheless before reaching the gate of sudden enlightenment one must exert a great deal of effort on the journey. Otherwise the methods of Ch’an would be useless.
The Three Stages of Ch’an Meditation
At present , the methods of meditation that I am teaching in the United States are divided into three stages.
Stage 1: To balance the development of body and mind in order to attain mental and physical health
With regard to the body, we stress the demonstration and correction of the postures of walking, standing, sitting and reclining. At the same time we teach various methods of physical exercise for walking, standing, sitting and reclining. They are unique exercise methods combining Indian Hatha Yoga and Chinese Tao-yin, and can bring physical health as well as results in meditation. Thus, one who practises Ch’an and has obtained good results will definitely have a strong body capable of enduring hardship. For the mind we emphasise the elimination of impatience, suspicion, anxiety, fear and frustration, so as to establish a state of self-confidence, determination, optimism, peace and stability.
A good student, after five or ten lessons here, will reach the first stage and be able to obtain results in the above two areas. One of our student’s reports stated: “This kind of Ch’an class is especially good for someone like myself who, by profession or habit, has been used to having the brain functioning just about every minute of the day. I often find this Ch’an sitting very helpful as rest or relief. So even for no greater purpose, this Ch’an class has been very useful and should be highly recommended.” [from Ch’an Magazine Vol.1; No.1]
In the first lesson of each class, I always ask each of the students individually his or her purpose in learning Ch’an whether he or she hoped to benefit the body, or sought help for the mind. The answers show that the latter were in the majority. This indicates that people living in American society today, under the strain and pressure of the present environment, suffer excessive tension, and many have lost their mental balance. Some are so severely tense that they have to consult a psychiatrist. Among those who come to learn Ch’an, I have one woman student, an outstanding lecturer in a well-known university, who asked me at the first meeting if I could help to relieve her from tense and uneasy moods. I told her that for a Ch’an practitioner this is a very simple matter. After five lessons she felt that Ch’an was a great blessing to her life.
The method of the first stage is very simple. Mainly it requires you to relax all the muscles and nerves of your entire body, and concentrate your attention on the method you have just learned. Because the tension of your muscles and nerves affects the activity of the brain, the key is therefore to reduce the burden on your brain. When your wandering thoughts and illusions decrease, your brain will gradually get a little rest. As its need of blood is reduced, more blood will circulate through the entire body. Meanwhile, because of the relaxation of the brain, all the muscles also relax; thus your blood vessels expand, you feel comfortable all over, your spirit feels fresh and alert, and your mental responses are naturally lighter and more lively.
If one’s object of study is just to acquire physical and mental balance, and not to study meditation proper, then one will probably feel that the completion of the first stage is enough; but many students are not content with this, and indeed, some from the outset are looking for the goal of the second stage.
Stage 2: From the sense of the small ‘I’
The first stage only helps to bring concentration to your confused mind; but when you practise concentration, other scattered thoughts continue to appear in your mind - sometimes many, sometimes a few. The concept of your purpose in practising Ch’an is for mental and physical benefits. This is a stage where your concept is purely self-centred. There is no mention of philosophical ideals or religious experience. When you reach the second stage, it will enable you to liberate yourself from the narrow view of the ‘I’. In the second stage you begin to enter the stage of meditation. When you practise the method of cultivation taught by your teacher, you will enlarge the sphere of the outlook of the small ‘I’ until it coincides with time and space. The small ‘I’ merges into the entire universe, forming a unity. When you look inward, the depth is limitless; when you look outward, the breadth is limitless. Since you have joined and become one with universe, the world of your own body and mind no longer exists. What exists is the universe, which is infinite in depth and breadth. You yourself are not only a part of the universe, but also the totality of it.
When you achieve this experience in your Ch’an sitting, you will then understand what is meant in philosophy by principle or basic substance, and also what phenomenal existence is. All phenomena are the floating surface or perceptible layer of basic substance. From the shallow point of view, the phenomena have innumerable distinctions and each has different characteristics; in reality, the differences between the phenomena do not impair the totality of basic substance. For instance, on the planet on which we live, there are countless kinds of animals, plants, minerals, vapours, liquids and solids which incessantly arise, change and perish, constituting the phenomena of the earth. However, seen from another planet, the earth is just one body. When we have the opportunity to free ourselves from the bonds of self or subjective views, to assume the objective standpoint of the whole and observe all phenomena together, we can eliminate opposing and contradictory views. Take a tree as an example. From the standpoint of the individual leaves and branches, they are all distinct from one another, and can also be perceived to rub against one another. However, from the standpoint of the trunk and roots, all parts without exception are of one unified whole.
In the course of this second stage, you have realised that you not only have an independent individual existence, but you also have a universal existence together with this limitlessly deep and wide cosmos, and therefore the confrontation between you and the surrounding environment exists no more. Discontent, hatred, love, desire - in other words dispositions of rejecting and grasping disappear naturally, and you sense a feeling of peace and satisfaction. Because you have eliminated the selfish small ‘I’, you are able to look upon all people and all things as if they were phenomena produced from your own substance, and so you will love all people and all things in the same way you loved and watched over your small ‘I’. This is the mind of a great philosopher.
Naturally, all great religious figures must have gone through the experiences of this second stage, where they free themselves from the confines of the small ‘I’, and discover that their own basic substance is none other than the existence of the entire universe, and that there is no difference between themselves and everything in the universe. All phenomena are manifestations of their own nature. They have the duty to love and watch over all things, and also have the right to manage them; just as we have the duty to love our own children and the right to manage the property that belongs to us This is the formation of the relationship between the deity and the multitude of things he created. Such people personify the basic substance of the universe which they experience through meditation, and create the belief in God. They substantiate this idea of a large ‘I’ the self-love of God and formulate the mission of being a saviour of the world or an emissary of God. They unify all phenomena and look upon them as objects that were created and are to be saved. Consequently, some religious figures think that the basic nature of their souls is the same as that of the deity, and that they are human incarnations of the deity. In this way, they consider themselves to be saviours of the world. Others think that although the basic nature of their souls is not identical to and inseparable from that of the deity, the phenomenon of their incarnation shows that they were sent to this world by God as messengers to promulgate God’s intention.
Generally, when philosophers or religious figures reach the height of the second stage, they feel that their wisdom is unlimited, their power is infinite, and their lives are eternal. When the scope of the ‘I’ enlarges, self-confidence accordingly gets stronger, but this stronger self-confidence is in fact merely the unlimited escalation of a sense of superiority and pride. It is therefore termed large ‘I’, and does not mean that absolute freedom from vexations has been achieved.
Stage 3: From the large ‘I’ to no ‘I’
When one reaches the height of the second stage, he realises that the concept of the ‘I’ does not exist. But he has only abandoned the small ‘I’ and has not negated the concept of basic substance or the existence of God; you may call it Truth, the one and only God, the Almighty, the Unchanging Principle, or even the Buddha of Buddhism. If you think that it is real, then you are still in the realm of the big ‘I’ and have not left the sphere of philosophy and religion.
I must emphasise that the content of Ch’an does not appear until the third stage. Ch’an is unimaginable. It is neither a concept nor a feeling. It is impossible to describe it in any terms abstract or concrete. Though meditation is ordinarily the proper path leading to Ch’an, once you have arrived at the door of Ch’an, even the method of meditation is rendered useless. It is like using various means of transportation on a long journey. When you reach the final destination, you find a steep cliff standing right in front of you. It is so high you cannot see its top, and so wide that its side cannot be found. At this time a person who has been to the other side of the cliff comes to tell you that on the other side lies the world of Ch’an. When you scale it you will enter Ch’an. And yet, he tells you not to depend on any means of transportation to fly over, bypass, or penetrate through it, because it is infinity itself, and there is no way to scale it.
Even an outstanding Ch’an master able to bring his student to this place will find himself unable to help any more. Although he has been to the other side, he cannot take you there with him, just as a mother’s own eating and drinking cannot take the hunger away from the child who refuses to eat or drink. At that time, the only help he can give you is to tell you to discard all your experiences, your knowledge, and all the things and ideas that you think are the most reliable, most magnificent, and most real, even including your hope to get to the world of Ch’an. It is as if you were entering a sacred building. Before you do so, the guard tells you that you must not carry any weapon, that you must take off all your clothes, and that not only must you be completely naked you also have to leave your body and soul behind. Then you can enter.
Because Ch’an is a world where there is no self, if there is still any attachment at all in your mind, there is no way you can harmonise with Ch’an. Therefore, Ch’an is the territory of the wise, and the territory of the brave. Not being wise, one would not believe that after he has abandoned all attachments another world could appear before him. Not being brave, one would find it very hard to discard everything he has accumulated in this life - ideals and knowledge, spiritual and material things.
You may ask what benefit we would get after making such great sacrifices to enter the world of Ch’an. Let me tell you that you cannot enter the world of Ch’an while this question is still with you. Looking for benefit, either for self or for others, is in the ‘I’-oriented stage. The sixth patriarch of the Ch’an sect in China taught people that the way to enter the enlightenment of the realm of Ch’an is: “Neither think of good, nor think of evil”. That is, you eliminate such opposing views as self and other, inner and outer, being and non-being, large and small, good and bad, vexation and Bodhi, illusion and enlightenment, false and true, or suffering of birth and death and joy of emancipation. Only then can the realm of Ch’an or enlightenment appear and bring you a new life.
This new life you have had all along, and yet you have never discovered it. In the Ch’an sect we call it your original face before you were born. This is not the small ‘I’ of body and mind, nor the large ‘I’ of the world and universe. This is absolute freedom, free from the misery of all vexations and bonds. To enter Ch’an as described above is not easy. Many people have studied and meditated for decades, and still have never gained entrance to the door of Ch’an. It will not be difficult, however, when your causes and conditions are mature, or if you happen to have a good Ch’an master who guides you with full attention. This Master may adopt various attitudes, actions and verbal expressions which may seem ridiculous to you, as indirect means of assisting you to achieve your goal speedily. And when the Master tells you that you have now entered the gate, you will suddenly realise that there is no gate to Ch’an. Before entering, you cannot see where the gate is, and after entering you find the gate non-existent. Otherwise there will be the distinction between inside and outside, the enlightened and the ignorant; and if there are such distinctions, then it is still not Ch’an.
When you are in the second stage, although you feel that the ‘I’ does not exist, the basic substance of the universe, or the Supreme Truth, still exists. Although you recognise that all the different phenomena are the extension of this basic substance or Supreme Truth, yet there still exists the opposition of basic substance versus external phenomena. Not until the distinctions of all phenomena disappear, and everything goes back to truth or Heaven, will you have absolute peace and unity. As long as the world of phenomena is still active, you cannot do away with conflict, calamity, suffering and crime. Therefore, although philosophers and religious figures perceive the peace of the original substance, they still have no way to get rid of the confusion of phenomena.
One who has entered Ch’an does not see basic substance and phenomena as two things standing in opposition to each other. They cannot even be illustrated as being the back and palm of a hand. This is because phenomena themselves are basic substance, and apart from phenomena there is no basic substance to be found. The reality of basic substance exists right in the unreality of phenomena, which change ceaselessly and have no constant form. This is the Truth. When you experience that phenomena are unreal, you will then be free from the concept of self and other, right and wrong, and free from the vexations of greed, hatred, worry and pride. You will not need to search for peace and purity, and you will not need to detest evil vexations and impurity. Although you live in the world of phenomenal reality, to you, any environment is a Buddha’s Pure Land. To an unenlightened person, you are but an ordinary person. To you, all ordinary people are identical with Buddha. You will feel that your own self-nature is the same as that of all Buddhas, and the self-nature of Buddhas is universal throughout time and space. You will spontaneously apply your wisdom and wealth, giving to all sentient beings everywhere, throughout all time and space.
What I have said reveals a small part of the feeling of one who has entered the enlightened realm of Ch’an, and is also the course which one follows in order to depart from the small ‘I’ and arrive at the stage of no ‘I’. Nevertheless, a newly enlightened person who has just entered the realm of Ch’an is still at the starting section of the entire passage of Ch’an. He is like one who has just had his first sip of port. He knows its taste now, but the wine will not remain in his mouth forever. The purpose of Ch’an is not just to let you take one sip, but to have your entire life merge with and dissolve in the wine, even, to the point that you forget the existence of yourself and the wine. After tasting the first sip of egolessness, how much farther must one travel?
What kinds of things remain to be seen?
For many years I sought genuine exploration and discovery of what it means to live a fully human life, and in October 1992 I discovered, once and for all, what I was looking for. Since then I have been consistently living an incomparable condition which I choose to call actual freedom – and I use the word ‘actual’ because this freedom is located here in this very world, this actual world of the senses. It is not an affective, cerebral or psychic state of being; it is a physical condition that ensues when one goes beyond Spiritual Enlightenment. In September 1981 I underwent a monumental transformation into an Altered State Of Consciousness which can only be described as Spiritual Enlightenment. I became Enlightened as the result of an earnest and intense process which commenced in the January of that year. At approximately six o’clock on the morning of Sunday the sixth of September 1981, my ‘ego’ disappeared entirely in an edifying moment of awakening to an ‘Absolute Reality’. I lived in the Enlightened State for eleven years, so I have an intimate understanding of the marked difference between Spiritual Enlightenment and actual freedom.
I travelled the country – and overseas to India – meeting with people from all walks of life in an attempt to discover why Spiritual Enlightenment, which has been within the human experience for thousands of years, had not delivered the Peace On Earth it seemed to promise. As the process of becoming Enlightened is an extreme test of one’s mettle, requiring nerves of steel, it seemed that only a rare few humans were destined to become Self-Realised. The question that commanded my attention was why this was so. I was looking beyond the superficial and questioning even the most closely held ideas and beliefs. Was there something more to discover ... something that lay beyond Enlightenment that would usher in the beginning of a genuine possibility of peace for all? Some Masters hinted at and alluded to ‘Going Beyond Enlightenment’ ... yet their Teachings remained exactly the same. Some disciplines suggested that such a condition existed after physical death: when the soul ‘quit the body’. The Hindu Mahasamadhi and Buddhist Parinirvana are two examples of this kind of thought.
Over the eleven years I had numerous experiences of a condition that seemed so extreme that one must surely die to attain to it. To go beyond Enlightenment seemed to be an impossibility whilst still alive and breathing. Then at midday on Friday the thirtieth of October 1992 a curious event occurred, due to my intense conviction that it was imperative that someone evince a final and complete condition that would ‘deliver the goods’ so longed for by humanity for millennia. Just like my ego had dissolved, back in 1981, my ‘soul’ disappeared. I was no longer a ‘Self’ existing for all Eternity and transcending Time and Space. I no longer had a feeling of being – or ‘Being’ – and I could no longer detect the presence of The Absolute. There was no ‘Presence’ at all. Since that date I have continued to live in a condition of complete emancipation and utter autonomy ... the condition is both permanent and actual. This is different from Enlightenment in that it is most definitely substantial: there is no longer a transcendence, for I have neither sorrow nor malice anywhere at all to rise above.
They have vanished entirely, leaving me both blithesome and benign – carefree and harmless – which leads to a most remarkable state of affairs. The chief characteristics of Enlightenment – The Presence of The Absolute, Union with the Divine, Universal Compassion, Love Agapé, Rapturous Bliss, Ineffable Ecstasy, Exalted Euphoria, The Truth, Timelessness, Spacelessness, Immortality, Aloneness, Oneness, Pacifism, Surrender, Trust, Beauty, and Goodness – being redundant in this totally new condition, are no longer extant. Herein lies the unmistakable distinction between this condition, which I call actual freedom and the Enlightened State: I am no longer driven by a Divine Sense Of Mission to bring The Truth, Universal Love and Divine Compassion to the world. I am free to speak with whomsoever is genuinely interested in solving the ‘Mystery of Life’ and becoming totally free of the Human Condition.
Thus, after The Altered State Of Consciousness has manifested itself, the soul is still present as ‘The Self’. No matter how Enlightened or Liberated one may be, an ‘I’ is still in existence ... Timeless maybe, but still an ‘I’, still in the body. The soul, as ‘The Self’, is a psychological entity identifying as being an Enlightened Master. The ego is only half of one’s identity; the other half is the soul. When the ego dies, one has dispelled an illusion – the illusion of a personal self – only to wind up living in a delusion – the delusion of an impersonal Self. To take oneself to be ‘The Self’, the ‘Immortal Soul’, ‘The Supreme’, ‘The Absolute’, or ‘God On Earth’, is nothing short of institutionalised insanity. The delusion must be dispelled in order to be actually free: along with the ‘death of the ego’ there must be a corresponding ‘death of the soul’. Then ‘I’ – the self or ‘The Self’ – do not exist, psychologically speaking, in any way at all. Then the Eternal Present also vanishes – along with all that other capitalised nonsense. Surpassing the Altered State Of Consciousness is the third alternative ... an actual freedom.
Spiritual Enlightenment has been around for some thousands of years ... and there is still no peace on earth. Nowadays I know, experientially, why Enlightenment does not deliver the goods ... and, of course, I now know what does. I am not an ‘Enlightened Master’ sitting in an exalted position ... and what a relief that is. I am a fellow human being, who happens to live in a condition of perfection and purity, offering my experience to whomsoever is interested. We are all fellow human beings who find ourselves here in the world as it was when we were born. We find war, murder, torture, rape, domestic violence and corruption to be endemic ... we notice that it is intrinsic to the human condition ... we set out to discover why this is so. We find sadness, loneliness, sorrow, grief, depression and suicide to be a global incidence – we gather that it is also inherent to the human condition – and we want to know why. We all report to each other as to the nature of our discoveries for we are all well-meaning and seek to find a way out of this mess that we have landed in. Whether one believes in re-incarnation or not, we are all living this particular life for the very first time, and we wish to make sense of it. It is a challenge and the adventure of a life-time to enquire and to uncover, to seek and to find, to explore and to discover. All this being alive business is actually happening and we are totally involved in living it out ... whether we take the back seat or not, we are all still doing it.
In spite of the fact that every single human being has had at least one pure consciousness experience (PCE) – and usually more – in their lifetime, they somehow can not differentiate between that peak experience of apperception (wherein ‘I’, the thought and felt ‘being’, temporarily quits the scene and the actual world becomes apparent) and their pre-conceived notions that everyday reality is an illusion disguising some metaphysical ‘Greater Reality’. The Glamour and the Glory and the Glitz of the Altered State Of Consciousness has a tenacious grip upon the minds and hearts of a benighted humanity. It is indeed strange, to the point of being bizarre, that so many persons will turn their backs on the purity of the perfection of being here – of being alive – at this moment in time. Here in this actual world, which is where this flesh and blood body is living anyway, is the peace that everyone says they are searching for. All that is required is that one comes to one’s senses – both literally and metaphorically – and spend the rest of one’s life without malice and sorrow. One will then be blithe and benign.
It is, of course, a bold step to forsake lofty thoughts, profound feelings and psychic adumbrations and enter into the actuality of life as a sensate experience. It requires a startling audacity to devote oneself to the task of causing a mutation of consciousness to occur. To have the requisite determination to apply oneself, with the diligence and perseverance born out of pure intent, to the patient dismantling of one’s accrued social identity indicates a strength of purpose unequalled in the annals of history. It is no little thing that one does ... and it has enormous consequences, not only for one’s own well-being, but for humankind as a whole. With an actualism spread like a chain-letter, in the due course of time, global freedom would revolutionise the concept of humanity. It would be a free association of peoples world-wide; a utopian-like loose-knit affiliation of like-minded individuals. One would be a citizen of the world, not of a sovereign state. Countries, with their artificial borders would vanish along with the need for the military. As nationalism would expire, so too would patriotism with all its heroic evils. No police force would be needed anywhere on earth; no locks on the doors, no bars on the windows. Gaols, judges and juries would become a thing of the dreadful past ... terror would stalk its prey no more. People would live together in peace and harmony, happiness and delight. Pollution and its cause – over-population – would be set to rights without effort, as competition would be replaced by cooperation. It would be the stuff of all the pipe-dreams come true.
But none of this matters much when one is already living freely in the actual world. In actual freedom, life is experienced as being perfect as-it-is here on earth. One knows that one is living in a beneficent and benevolent universe – and that is what actually counts. The self-imposed iniquities that ail the people who stubbornly wish to remain denizens of the real world, fail to impinge upon the blitheness and benignity of one who lives in the vast scheme of things. The universe does not force anyone to be happy and harmless, to live in peace and ease, to be free of sorrow and malice. It is a matter of personal choice as to which way one will travel. Human beings, being as they are, will probably continue to tread the ‘tried and true’ paths, little realising that they are the tried and failed ways. There is none so contumacious as a self-righteous soul who is convinced that they know the way to live as revealed in their ancient and revered scriptures ... or in their much-prized secular philosophies and psychologies. So be it.
14 Apr `11, 10:57AM
I live in peace and tranquillity, beholden to none. With no loyalty to bind me, I have nothing to defend. With nothing to defend I have no need to attack. I have no sense of mission to ‘change the world’. I am not driven by mystical forces to evangelise, to proselytise, to convert. If anyone is genuinely interested in finding out what the reason for their existence is, I am only too happy to participate in their enquiry. Nevertheless, I can only help those who wish to be helped in the only way that I can help. I am free to be here in the world as-it-is. Unadorned and unencumbered, I can stand on my own two feet, owing allegiance to no-one and nothing at all. I am supremely content with life as-it-is, for perfection can be found in what others call imperfection ... and I have no desire to change anything. To be here, intimately here in this moment in time, where this actual world is such a marvellous place to be alive in, is a satisfaction and fulfilment unparalleled in the chronicles of antiquity.
Actual intimacy – being here now – does not come from love and compassion, for the affective states of being stem from separation. The illusion of intimacy that love and compassion produces is but a meagre imitation of the direct experience of the actual. In the actual world, ‘I’ as ego, the personality, and ‘me’ as soul, the ‘being’ – both subjectively experienced as one’s identity – have ceased to exist; whereas love and compassion accentuates, endorses and verifies ‘me’ as being real. And while ‘I’ am real, ‘I’ am relative to other similarly afflicted persons; vying for position and status in order to establish ‘my’ credentials ... to verify ‘my’ very existence. To be actually intimate is to be without the separative identity ... and therefore free from the need for love and compassion with their ever un-filled promise of Peace On Earth. There is an actual intimacy between me and everyone and everything ... actual intimacy is a direct experiencing of the other as-they-are. I am having a superb time ... and it is a well-earned superb time, too. Nothing has come without application – apart from serendipitous discoveries because of pure intent – and I am reaping the rewards which are plentiful and deliciously satisfying. Actual intimacy frees one up to a world of factual splendour, based firmly upon sensate and sensual delight. The candid and unabashed sensorial enjoyment of being this body in the world around is such a luscious and immediate experience, that the tantalising but ever-elusive promise of the mystique of love and compassion has faded into the oblivion it deserves.
The search for meaning amidst the debris of the much-vaunted human hopes and dreams and schemes has come to its timely end. With the end of ‘me’, the distance or separation between ‘me’ and ‘my’ senses – and thus the external world – disappears. To be the senses as a bare awareness is apperception, a pure consciousness experience of the world as-it-is. Because there is no ‘I’ as an observer – a little person inside one’s head – to have sensations, I am the sensations. There is nothing except the series of sensations which happen ... not to ‘me’ but just happening ... moment by moment ... one after another. To be the sensations, as distinct from having them, engenders the most astonishing sense of freedom and release. Consequently, I am living in peace and tranquillity; a meaningful peace and tranquillity. Life is intrinsically purposeful, the reason for existence lies openly all around. Being in this very air I live in, I am constantly aware of it; I breathe it in and out; I see it, I hear it, I taste it, I smell it, I touch it, all of the time. It never goes away – nor has it ever been away. ‘I’ was standing in the way of meaning.
This is an actual freedom. It is possible to be actually free, here on earth, as this body, in this life-time.
Description of being Enlightened
In 1980 I had a peak experience wherein I saw that everything was already perfect as-it-is and that ‘I’, the psychological entity, was standing in the way ... and no-one else was preventing me from achieving the ultimate goal of being a human. In that peak experience I saw ‘myself’. ‘I’ was the end product of society and nothing more. ‘I’ was an emotional construct of all of the beliefs, values, moral, ethics, mores, customs, traditions, doctrines, ideologies and so on. ‘I’ was nothing but an emotional-mental fabrication ... a sense of identity with its conscience. I also saw that ‘I’ was a lost, lonely, frightened – and a very, very cunning – entity. Just as those Christians who are said to be possessed by an evil entity and need to be exorcised, I saw that every human being had been endowed with a social entity ... and it was called being normal. To say that I was amazed rather fails to adequately describe the feeling of relief that after all there was a solution to the human situation here on earth. I was ecstatic.
That proved to be my undoing – as far as actual freedom is concerned. Ecstasy led to euphoria and euphoria led to bliss. In the blissful state I manifested and became Love Agapé which led to an emanation of Divine Compassion for all living beings who were suffering and in sorrow by virtue of the fact that they were ignorant of the Divine Order of things ... for an Absolute had been revealed to me in that Love and Compassion – it was that Love Agapé and Divine Compassion – and I had been chosen to bring this self-same Love and Compassion to earth. I was to go through a process, when I returned to normal, that would result in my being well-prepared to usher in this new age of peace and prosperity to all humankind. As this revelation continued, I saw a new ‘me’ coming into existence ... a grand ‘Me’, a glorious ‘Me’ and a spiritually fulfilling ‘Me’. I was the Saviour Of Humankind!
(As all this was happening, a passing thought occurred to me, which was briefly contemplated ... then banished: Who or what was it that was observing these two ‘me’s – the social ‘me’ and the grand ‘Me’? This trifling question was to be of immense benefit years later when I realised that I was living in a delusion and that there was an actual freedom lying beyond ... but I jump ahead of myself).
Three nights later I had a similar experience and what I had witnessed on the first revelation was confirmed. Then nothing untoward happened for the next five months – this had been in late July 1980 – until on the first day of January in 1981 when I began a ‘process’ that was to last for nine months, culminating in my Divine Awakening on that September morning. The ‘process’ was both prosaic and extraordinary: on the one hand I began undoing all the social conditioning that I had been subject to since birth and on the other hand I generated love for all and sundry. I examined all the social traditions and customs etc., one by one, and released myself from their iron grip. I diminished hate and anger and sadness and loneliness by surrendering to and living in love and oneness ... which is the best that a normal human could do by virtue of the socialisation process. I moved in and out of Sacred States of Heavenly Bliss and Love Agapé and Divine Compassion and immersed myself in the entire ‘process’ with dedication and resolution. I adopted the principle of pacifism (‘turn the other cheek’) and developed Goodness of the highest order. I cleansed and purified myself of all impure thoughts and deeds and worked both hard and industriously in my daily work. I practised honesty and humility in all my interactions with other people and pondered the significance and ramifications of the Divine Order.
I totally believed in and had supreme faith in The Absolute and its ability to bring about the Peace On Earth so long promised. That I was to play the central role in this Divine Plan no longer came as a surprise to me, as I began to realise that I had long yearned to be part of the Salvation Process. I understood that I had to die and be reborn and, consequently, went into a catatonic state that resulted in my being carted off to hospital and kept under intensive care for four hours until I came out of it. I was never to be the same again, as Divinity had been working on me whilst I was catatonic and from that date forward I was permanently in a state of human bliss and love ... I could do no wrong. About six weeks prior to the sixth of September 1981 I had a revelation that I was going to really die this time, not become catatonic again, and that I was to prepare myself for it. I mustered all of my faith and resolution, renewed all of my trust and dedication, and awaited the day. The night before I could hardly maintain myself as a thinking, functioning human being as a blistering hot and cold burning sensation crept up the back of my spine and entered into the base of my neck just under the brain itself. I went to bed in desperation and frustration at my apparent inability to be good enough to carry this ‘process’ through to its supreme conclusion.
The next morning I awoke and all was calm and quiet. Expressing relief at the cessation of the intensifying ‘process’ that had reached an unbearable level the night before, I lay back on my pillows to watch the rising sun (my bedroom faced east) through the large bedroom windows. All of a sudden I was gripped with the realisation that this was the moment! I was going to die! An intense fear raced throughout my body, rising in crescendo until I could scarcely take any more. As it reached a peak of stark terror, I realised that I had nothing to worry about and that I was to go with the ‘process’. In an instant all fear left me and I travelled deep into the depths of my very being. All of a sudden I was sitting bolt upright, laughing, as I realised that this that was IT! was such a simple thing ... all I had to do was die ... and that was the easiest thing in the world to do. Then the thought of leaving my family and friends overwhelmed me and I was thrust back on the bed sobbing. Then I was bolt upright once more laughing my head off ... then I was back on the pillows sobbing my heart out ... upright, laughing ... pillows sobbing ... upright laughing ... pillows sobbing. At the fifth or sixth time something turned over in the base of my brain – in the top of the brain-stem. I likened it to turning over a L.P. record in order to play the other side ... with the vital exception that it would never, ever turn back again.
14 Apr `11, 11:02AM
It was over. I had arrived. I had become Awakened to the Greater Reality. I was Love Agapé and Divine Compassion ... there was no separation between me and The Absolute. I had a Divine Sense of Mission to spread The Word and I embarked on fulfilling my Sacred Duty, gathering some disciples on the way, until 1984. Then I started to question just what I was doing and just what had happened to me. Something seemed to be wrong ... this had all been done before by other Masters and Messiahs, Saints and Sages, Avatars and Saviours, to no avail. In fact, instead of bringing Love and Peace, they had left in their wake much bloodshed and hatred ... and I was one of them! Accordingly I travelled to India to find out for myself exactly what was amiss with this whole Enlightenment business by meeting some of these hallowed Gurus and imbibing the centuries of Eastern Spiritual Tradition for myself, instead of merely reading about it in books.
It was to take me eleven years to get out of this massive delusion I was living in and go beyond it to arrive at where I am today. It was eleven years of coming to terms with the understanding that what I was living was a massive delusion of grandeur ... and that it was what every human being believed in, in some way, shape or form ... but that is another story. Today, I am no longer an Enlightened Master living in an Exalted State of Being ... I am me-as-this-body only, a fellow human being who has no sorrow or malice whatsoever to transcend; hence I am both happy and harmless. I am what I was on that fateful night in 1980 when I asked the question: ‘Who or what was it that was observing these two ‘me’s – the social ‘me’ and the grand ‘Me’?’ I am these sense organs in operation: this seeing is me, this hearing is me, this tasting is me, this touching is me, this smelling is me, and this thinking is me. Whereas ‘I’, the identity, am inside the body: looking out through ‘my’ eyes as if looking out through a window, listening through ‘my’ ears as if they were microphones, tasting through ‘my’ tongue, touching through ‘my’ skin, smelling through ‘my’ nose, and thinking through ‘my’ brain. Of course ‘I’ must feel isolated, alienated, alone and lonely, for ‘I’ am cut off from the magnificence of the actual world ... the world as-it-is ... by ‘my’ very presence.
Any identity whatsoever is a delusion.
Description of a 'Glimpse' of Actual Freedom
I was coming to the end of a time I went through in an endeavour to purify myself which I call my ‘puritan period’. I retreated altogether from civilisation to a group of uninhabited islands in the tropics off the north-eastern Australian seaboard where I stayed for the best part of three months in total silence, on my own, speaking to no one at all and moving from island to island at whim. I had whittled my worldly possessions down to three sarongs, three shirts, a cooking pot and bowl, a knife and a spoon, a bank book and a pair of nail scissors ... I was homeless, itinerant, celibate, vegan, (no spices; not even salt and pepper), no drugs (no tobacco, no alcohol; not even tea or coffee), no hair cut, no shaving, no washing other than a dip in a river or the ocean. I possessed nothing else anywhere in the world and had cut all family ties ... whatever I could eliminate from my life that was an encumbrance and an attachment, I had let go of. In other words: whatever was traditionally seen as an impediment to freedom I discarded. It was there I finally discovered that it was ‘Spiritual Enlightenment’ which was at fault and that I could ‘purify’ myself via these ‘Tried and True’ means until the cows came home ... to no avail.
I was already in an Altered State Of Consciousness (this was in 1985 and my ego had dissolved in 1981) and living in what has been described as the ‘Unknown’. I had had some serious reservations about the validity of this as an ultimate state and had been to India the previous year to see if I could ascertain why. My discoveries there had led me to consider the possibility that Enlightenment was not the final stage, so I was ripe and ready to plunge into the ‘Unknowable’. I was able to experience what lay beyond Enlightenment several times ... the first of these experiences occurred at maybe three in the morning (I had no watch) and was accompanied by a sense of dread the likes of which I had never experienced even in a war-zone – made all the more acute because I had not experienced fear for four years (I was living in a state of Divine Compassion and Love Agapé which protected me from malice and the underlying fear). This dread contained the existential angst of discovering that ‘I’ was nothing but a contingent ‘being’ and that ‘I’ would cease to ‘be’. Then the condition I went on to experience had the character of the ‘Great Beyond’ – which I deliberately put in capitals because that is how it was experienced at the time – and it was of the nature of being ‘That’ which is attained to at physical death when an Enlightened One ‘quits the body’ ... which attainment is known as ‘Mahasamadhi’ (Hinduism) or ‘Parinirvana’ (Buddhism) and so on.
It seemed so extreme that the physical body must surely die for the attainment of it.
To put it into a physical analogy, it was as if I were to gather up my meagre belongings, eradicate all marks of my stay on the island, and paddle away over the horizon, all the while not knowing whence I go ... and vanish without a trace, never to be seen again. As no one on the mainland knew where I was, no one would know where I had gone. In fact, I would become as extinct as the dodo and with no skeletal remains. The autological self by whatever name would cease to ‘be’, there would be no ‘spirit’, no ‘presence’, no ‘being’ at all. This was more than death of the ego, which is a major event by any definition; this was total annihilation. No ego, no soul – no self, no Self – no more Heavenly Rapture, Love Agapé, Divine Bliss and so on. Only oblivion. It was not at all attractive, not at all alluring, not at all desirable ... yet I knew I was going to do it, sooner or later, because it was the ultimate condition and herein lay the secret to the ‘Mystery of Life’.
Edited by realization 14 Apr `11, 11:15AM
14 Apr `11, 11:04AM
The ‘death of the ego’ is only for the orthodox-minded people; it is for those who are easily seduced by the Glamour and the Glory and the Glitz of the much-touted Altered State. This is why pure intent is an essential prerequisite to ensure a guaranteed passage through the psychic maze. With pure intent one will not rest until one has gone all the way. One will not be bewitched by the psychic Power and Authority, either. All these allurements are but welcome food for the cunning entity, which wanting only its own survival, readily sublimates itself into The Spirit. With the clarity born of pure intent one can see this play for what it is and move on freely and willingly to what lies at the end of the wide and wondrous path ... the end of ‘being’. With pure intent one will not settle for second best, for it has been seen in the peak experiences that the very best is possible, here on earth. One sees that ‘I’ must disappear entirely. There will be no transcendence, no transmutation, no metamorphosis ... not any of these. For one who goes all the way, no phoenix will exist to arise from the ashes – nothing Metaphysical will remain. There will be no ‘being’ at all. ‘I’ will become extinct.
I use the word extinct deliberately for it carries a definitive meaning. Physically, death is the end of an individual member of the species, whilst extinction is the ending of the species itself. The psychological annihilation of ‘I’ – in its entirety – is the psychological ending of the species known as ‘humanity’. It is the end of ‘being’ and the end of an illusion. It is also the end of ‘Being’ and the end of delusion. The Human Condition, with all its appalling sorrow and malice, can come to an end. All those would-be wise people who state: ‘You can’t change human nature’ are, fortunately, wrong. Because it is possible for ‘me’ to become extinct, thereby releasing the body from the ‘being’ within, I can walk freely in the world as-it-is ... this actual world. I, as this body only, can live in that perfect purity twenty-four-hours-a-day. I can live in a state of benignity, which means a kindly and harmless disposition. Life is a sincere and yet playful game and one is then free to enjoy it all, every moment again.
‘Humanity’, which gave birth to ‘me’, is being sustained by ‘me’ remaining as a ‘being’. ‘I’ am forever fettered by the Human Condition. The species known as ‘humanity’ has searched for an Ultimate Fulfilment within the arena of the Human Condition for all of history. Such a search is endless and futile, for it is a search within an illusion. Only further illusions – further states of ‘being’ – can be found there ... or delusions. Becoming Divine is a delusion – a state of ‘Being’ that is actually an insult to intelligence. ‘I’ will never find the ultimate fulfilment for ‘I’ am standing in the way of the ‘Mystery of Life’ being revealed. There is no way out, ‘I’ am doomed. ‘I’ must, inevitably, cease to ‘be’. Instead of bemoaning ‘my’ fate and vainly searching for an escape, ‘I’ can see ‘myself’ for what ‘I’ am. This seeing is the beginning of the ending of ‘me’. The extinction of ‘me’ is the ultimate sacrifice ‘I’ can make to ensure the possibility of peace-on-earth for not only me but for all humankind.
Ultimate fulfilment lies beyond extinction.
Description of Becoming Actually Free
In late September 1992 a woman, who had been coming to see me on and off for some time, earnestly asked that she be taken on as a disciple ... she seriously wished me to be her master. I was astounded, for I had been at pains to explain that I was not interested in being anyone’s master, for I considered the entire system of the master-disciple relationship, with its attendant surrender, trust, worship and obedience, to be not only insidious, but pernicious as in regards to another person’s freedom. I declined, of course, yet I had to question just what I was ‘putting out’ to people to precipitate such a request. What was my part in all this? What was I doing – indeed what was I being – to encourage another to consider taking this step? I had been dismantling various aspects of the make-up of the Altered State Of Consciousness that I was living in – a state of Spiritual Enlightenment that I called Absolute Freedom – and had thought myself to be virtually free of all that hocus-pocus that goes on in the name of freedom. I asked myself what turned out to be a seminal question:
‘What am I in relation to other people?’
I asked the question in such a way so that I would not get a carefully thought-out and reasoned answer. I wanted an experiential result – and I kept the question burning in the depths of my psyche, discarding any intellectual answers that inevitably popped-up in the course of the next five or six weeks. It troubled me deeply that I was in such a situation because I seem to be driven by some force to ‘Spread the Word’ and that was never my intention all those years ago when I first had what is known as a ‘Peak Experience’ which initiated my incursion into all matters Spiritual, culminating in the ‘death’ of my ego and catapulting me into this Absolute State. My intent back then had been to cleanse myself of all that is detrimental to personal happiness and interpersonal harmony ... in other words: Peace on earth in my life-time. Instead of that rather simple ambition, I found that I was impelled on an odyssey to be the latest Saviour of Humankind in a long list of Enlightened Beings ... and this imposition did not sit well with me, as they have all failed in their Divine Work. After something like five thousand years of recorded history, humanity is nowhere nearer to Peace On Earth than before. Indeed, instead of the much-touted Love and Peace, much Hatred and Bloodshed has followed in their wake. This abysmal fate is something I wish to avoid repeating, whatever the personal cost in terms of losing this much-prized State Of Being. My diagnosis was simple: if I were driven by some force – no matter how Good that force be – then I am not actually free.
14 Apr `11, 11:06AM
Then in the late afternoon of the day before Friday the thirtieth of of October 1992, whilst out in an abandoned cow-paddock planting tree seedlings, I was struck by the curious fact that at the beginning of my life I had been engaged in chopping down trees to turn the land into cow-pasture. Now the needs of the situation were sharply reversed and so I paused in my task and stood erect, looking about me in this little sub-tropical valley that the ex-dairy farm was nestled in. As I looked I idly mused upon the irony that the change in human needs regarding physical survival had wrought such radical transformation in the attitudes toward the environment during the forty five years I had been upon this planet. In a flash of a moment a vast understanding of the enormity of the Human Condition transfigured my comfortable comprehension of what it was to be an Enlightened Master ... a Self-Realised Being. My entire affective and cognitive configuration – my highly prized state of awareness – was seen at a glance to be nothing more than a passionate mental construct. In other words, my world fell apart.
I entered into a repeat of what I had first experienced on an uninhabited island some seven years previously and nervousness and apprehension mounted to a fear that moved rapidly through terror and horror to the dread that I knew so well from long ago. This was what my seminal question had produced and, turning weak at the knees, I sank to the ground ... to no avail. I could not escape my destiny, for I was situated in a living nightmare of what I swiftly came to see was nothing short of institutionalised insanity. Any altered state of consciousness was a delusion born out of the illusion of self ... but only because of humankind’s ignorance. It is truly dreadful to be trapped in a massive delusion for eleven years, unable to find any way out and knowing that no other human being can help, for the altered state has been held up for millennia as being the Summum Bonum of human existence. All the literature on the subject praised the state of consciousness I was in (Enlightenment, Illumination, Moksha, Samadhi, Satori, Nirvana, Sunyata and so on) and yet I just knew it was a mirage that I was living.
I had no choice but to retire to my bed for a sleepless night of frozen immobility ... which continued throughout the morning of the next day. I knew that I would – I must – proceed, but how could I be right and all those ‘great’ and revered masters be wrong? Who was I, a mere boy from the farm, to set himself up to be the ultimate arbiter of human experience? The agonizing doubt was virtually unbearable ... I would not wish this upon anyone ... I would want no one to follow in my footsteps, for I had to run the full gamut of dread to break through to what lay beyond the deception. I realised, at about nine in the morning, that eleven years ago I had inadvertently surrendered my will to a god ... the ‘Absolute’ that I cunningly considered to be ‘That Which Lay Beyond’ had turned out to be Divinity in disguise. I took myself up the hill into a pine plantation that I particularly favoured as a contemplative place and spent an hour and a half digging deep into my psyche to regain my ‘surrender’ ... to get my autonomy back. With a shaky will somewhat in place I returned to my home and, mounting the verandah steps, collapsed in a heap on the bare boards. Unable to move, to think or to feel I could but lie there as my very soul fell away. It was about midday when the process was over and I came to my senses – both figuratively and literally. For along with the dissolution of my soul, my feelings – my emotions and passions – disappeared, never to return. My psyche disintegrated and the second ‘I’ died ... ‘I’ became extinct.
14 Apr `11, 11:08AM
The Altered State needs to be talked about and exposed for what it is so that nobody need venture up that blind alley ever again. There is another way and another goal. The main trouble with the Altered State is that whilst the ego dissolves, the identity and soul remain intact. No longer identifying as a personal ego-bound identity, one then identifies as an impersonal soul-bound identity – ‘I am That’, ‘I am God’, ‘I am The Supreme’, ‘I am The Absolute’ and so on. This is the delusion, the mirage, the deception ... and it is extremely difficult to see it for oneself, for one is in an august state. This second identity – the second ‘I’ of Mr. Venkataraman Ramana fame – is a difficult one to shake, maybe more difficult than the first; for who is brave enough to voluntarily give up fame and fortune, reverence and worship, status and security? One has to be scrupulously honest with oneself to go all the way and no longer be a someone, a somebody of importance. One faces extinction; ‘I’ will cease to be, there will be no ‘being’ whatsoever, no ‘presence’ at all. It is impossible to imagine, not only the complete and utter cessation of ‘me’ in ‘my’ entirety, but the end of any ‘Ultimate Being’ or ‘Absolute Presence’ in any way, shape or form. It means that no one or no thing is in charge of the universe ... that there is no ‘Ultimate Authority’. It means that all values are but human values, with no absolute values at all to fall back upon. It is impossible for ‘me’ to conceive that without a wayward ‘me’ there is no need for any values whatsoever ... or an ‘Ultimate Authority’.
Thus I find myself here, in the world as-it-is. A vast stillness lies all around, a perfection that is abounding with purity. Beneficence, an active kindness, overflows in all directions, imbuing everything with unimaginable fairytale-like quality. For me to be able to be here at all is a blessing that only ‘I’ could grant, because nobody else could do it for me. I am full of admiration for the ‘me’ that dared to do such a thing. I owe all that I experience now to ‘me’. I salute ‘my’ audacity. And what an adventure it was ... and still is. These are the wondrous workings of the exquisite nature of life – who would have it any other way?
I am this infinite and eternal universe experiencing itself as a reflective, sensate human being.