Our True Nature
Bondage and Liberation
So called "Bondage" is in believing that our True Nature is an Object.
This belief system can take many forms - the belief in thought objects especially the "me", the belief that certain physical objects are "mine" (my Porsche, my lawn) and the belief that our nature is the physical body.
In fact all of them come down to a belief in thought objects - the so-called ownership and attachment is with the conceptual Porsche, or the conceptual lawn ("Get off my lawn" - Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino), or the conceptual body.
There is an actual Porsche and there is an actual lawn. All they are is actually a Porsche and actually a lawn. In themselves there is nothing conceptual about them and nothing "mine" in either of them. Likewise a body is just a body and there is nothing "mine" in that either - except as thoughts that arise long after the body has appeared.
There is not much different between a hundred Porches, or a hundred lawns, but when either becomes "mine" there is a BIG difference between "my one " and the others.
A person walking in a parking lot hears an announcement about a car that has just caught fire. The car is severely burnt and the number plate is unreadable. They dispassionately listens to that too. However when the person arrives at their parking spot they discover that the car that had been burnt is their Porsche. Suddenly it is all different, suddenly it is personal, suddenly there is suffering.
The Porsche that has just been barbequed was not just a Porsche - it was a Porsche to which meaning had been added. The meaning was added by thought.
The original perception - vision - was of the actual Porsche. This visual perception was internalized in the form of an image, or concept of the vehicle. Thoughts occurred which were attached to the internalized conceptual Porsche - "my" one.
The concept of the Porsche may very well have been added to the concept of "me", apparently enhancing that concept. However the "me" is a concept too - it was something that developed - we were not born with it.
So the concept of the Porsche was added to the concept of "me". Concepts All.
If a self image of "me" can be enhanced by a Porsche it can be damaged by its loss. But this damage is conceptual as well.
When we identify with an object, it is ultimately a thought object that has been identified with. Some people call that "attachment", but the attachment is with the thought object (to which meaning has been added) and not the actual. (Nothing wrong with the actual)
If we identify with an object which can come and can go, then the sense of self rises and falls with that. That is suffering and it is also bondage.
A Porsche has been used here as an example, but it may just as easily be a partner, a job, a stock portfolio or other investment, a team, or even a pair of shoes, or just a stick.
Identifying with objects is identifying with the changing, identifying with the impermanent. Identifying with that which comes and goes, as objects do.
The concept of "me" must already be extant to identify with any of these objects. In fact the "me" needs a constant stream of objects to identify with (in their conceptual versions of course) to continue to appear to exist.
It is parasitic in a way - relying on things that DO exist to give itself a sense of existing. No wonder it, the concept of me, needs a "fix" many times a day - like a drug addict just trying to make it through. (In the actual, the real world, the objects themselves play no part in this.)
It all boils down to the belief in a "me" and once this occurs there is the flypaper to which the other thoughts can stick.
The trick is - does this "me" actually exist other than as concepts? Does it have an existence separate from the Aliveness/Awareness that I am?
Seeing through the "me" undoes it all - the house of cards falls. Seeing through the 'me" means seeing that it is false, it is an illusion - and at that point it is not identified with.
Identification is always with the conceptualised versions of things. Disidentification occurs when the conceptualised version is seen to have no substance - it is seen through. Initially it might seem like there is something valid in the real world to disidentify with, but - as it turns out - there is actually nothing there of substance with which to identify or disidentify.
The "me" may be believed to exist and for all intents and purposes may be taken as existing in its own right. When the "me" is looked for it is seen that nothing was there other than thought. It appeared to exist but did not. All feathers, no meat.
Identification with an object apparently has a dulling or deadening effect. After all, Life Itself is being identified with a mental concept. It is not surprising that the concept (which has no Aliveness to it) is not as Alive as Life Itself.
In the conceptual world the "me" is assigned to be the source of it all, the part that provides the drive, the intelligence, the natural functioning and the joy.
There are no other players in this saga. The One Life continues to Live Life and we are Lived. There is no reference point called "me" and Life Itself is more of a movement than an entity. Vibrantly Alive. Life goes on as it always has whether for a cat or a human.
Ramana Maharshi has said
"Mukti means release from bondage which implies the present existence of bondage. There is no bondage and therefore no mukti (Liberation) either."
So called "Bondage" is believing that our true nature is an Object - but it never was actually that Object. It is only a belief. Just a thought. But to the "me" it felt like bondage, hurt like bondage, even smelled like bondage, so are far as the "me" was concerned it WAS Bondage.
It is interesting that even at times of suffering if you look at the raw feeling (See "The Raw Feeling") sometimes the suffering drops away completely for a short period of time and you can feel in its place a deep sense of Aliveness and indeed excitement. This is the conceptual falling away and with it, the "me". This is an apparent shift from the reference point of the mind to Aliveness itself - but what actually occurs is a deep mystery.
Eckhart Tolle almost always uses the term "the shift" and does not use the words enlightenment or awakening. It is an interesting term as it sounds geographic or spatial and is more than just shifting the furniture or rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
The "shift" is like a change in perspective (looking at the same stuff, but from a different location), or a different vantage point (the term that Francis Lucille uses - which has exactly the same meaning), rather than changing the apparent "state" of a so-called "individual".
This is also "everything changes, but nothing changes".
There is nothing "personal" about the so-called "shift". In fact it is the opposite of that. The apparent shift is from the deeply personal to the non-personal.
From the "me" to No Self, to use The Buddha's expression. From the reference point to Consciousness itself.
The "shift" is a disidentification - life is no longer viewed from the reference point of "me". It never was, actually. Rather, the perspective is from a "vantage point" that does not have a believed-in locating entity. (Words are difficult.)
Feels like a geographic or spatial change.
This cannot be what the so-called "shift" actually IS, as our Nature is already not personal. It can only be what it "feels like" to the human.
Bondage appears to fall away, but at some stage it is understood that Bondage itself did not exist. Ever.
Liberation appears to come about, but at some stage it is understood that Liberation never went away.
"There is no bondage and therefore no mukti either"
Written by Mike Graham, 28 November 2009.