Not This – Neti Neti

The Endless Unfolding
The Ocean of Consciousness unpacks itself and rolls across the Multiverse, in the same way a painter splashes paint on a canvas, flicking the brush around in a detached, almost uninterested manner.  There are numerous forms coming and going on the screen of existence, most may never be seen and their presence will be felt from within themselves, only known by the internal pulsing, like a heartbeat we hear when we sit in our silence. No-one there to ‘name’ what presents itself or to add a ‘story’ or give any type of meaning or understanding to the ‘what is’.

Self Questioning
“Neti Neti” is a form of Vedic Inquiry, it is used by those exploring the Yoga of the Self to negate anything that presents itself in consciousness. The loose translation of it would be ‘Not this, not this’.  A simple example would be if a phantom appeared in the mind-space of a meditator, a God, a Master a great Yogi,  enticing him or her into an experience of some sort, the experiencer would use the phrase “neti, neti” to detach from the passing phantoms.  It would be done in a manner without a struggle, gently pulling ones attention back into the underlying emptiness.

Misunderstandings
This ‘detachment’ is at the core of Jnana Yoga, the Yoga of Knowing, or in truth would be better to be called the Yoga of Unknowing. There are many misunderstandings regarding Jnana Yoga.  In the same way that if you give a musical instrument, a hand made lute to someone who doesn’t understand how to play it, they would make strange sounds that don’t really resemble music, such is the fate of Jnana Yoga, the Yoga of Being at this point by the populace in space-time.  When people interpret Jnana Yoga who  come from other forms and traditions of yoga such as Bhakti  (the Yoga of Devotion), Karma Yoga (the Yoga of doing good stuff to sweat off all the supposed bad deeds and balance the account)  or those who come from any other practice,  all these others look through a window that has their own set of rules, visions and understandings.  To be quite clear, I will say it’s the wrong set of eyes.  And also there are those who are exploring Jnana Yoga who start to intellectualise the process and create a philosophy instead of being able to speak from a depth of experience, it all goes skewiff.

Making Sense
One of the very common pitfalls and misunderstandings of Jnana Yoga is there is a tendency to ‘run’, to attempt to transcend life, to turn things into an ‘us and them’, a ‘spiritual and a material’, as if spirituality was an island and everything outside of it is evil, ‘it’s gonna come and steal your fruit and veges or eat your porridge, it’s coming after you’; and if ‘life’ grabs you, you will be lost in the tunnels of time forever, a slave to delusion.  If we are serious about spirituality, we need to stop this nonsense and bring some sort of order and practicalness to it all; claim it back, do ‘our thing’ whatever that may be, and leave Jnana to its rightful owners instead of everybody having their tuppence worth about something that is outside their comprehension and field of experience, in the same way that a brain surgeon knows his or her area of expertise and stays out of dentistry, and does not attempt to use those annoying sounding drills on their friends and family.  Christians need to take back Jesus from the church, in fact all the faiths need to get their statues and baggage out of the way, it only interferes with the transformation process of the individual; without moving things out of the way, it will just reinforce the walls between ‘supposed self’ which is just thought, and Self… and i use the term Self with great caution, a word which has a lot of erroneous interpretations.

Not This, well What Then
Firstly and maybe mostly, the Universe is not our enemy,  I think this really needs to be addressed.  I have grown up around and in a number of so called spiritual communities; the division between ‘material’ and ‘spiritual’ seems to be a ‘constant’ that presents itself far too often.  In Buddhism (and I must state I am not a Buddhist), there is a leaning towards a middle-way, something that has a self discipline that allows life to mingle with practice, this is healthy. Having said that, any ‘ism’ will have zealots, we will always be able to identify them because they fit closest to the ‘ad’ and tick all the right boxes.

Misunderstanding ‘Not This’
When we take ‘not this’ to the extreme, we may find that we put ourselves in the situation of trying to walk on water, to live a life with a fear of water, as if we will drown if one drop gets on our skin.  It’s a bit like being chased by a dog across the heavens, avoiding its bite, not realising that it’s a tame puppy, or a shadow puppet. When we stop and look at the beauty around us, and give thanks to the rising sun, the chubby smiling faces of kids, savor the chocolate, or the kiss of someone tender to us, when we watch the colors of spring and autumn, feel the joy of someone overcoming something against all odds, watch a shooting star or an otter playing around…. when we stop to feel these things, then we have come home, heaven and earth are in balance. If we continue on ‘running’, separating heaven and earth, we will lose our spark, a withered vine, no grapes, a barren vineyard will be what we move in, tasteless, barely alive.

Dumping the Gods
Where we get into strife is ‘clinging’ to something; wherever we go, bringing the past with us, like a bag lady with her bags stacked on a shopping trolley; dragging our ‘story’ that we have left behind with us; swallowed and a slave to our acquisitions.  If we want life, the bitter and judgemental Gods need to be put out with the garbage, buried as landfill.  False Gods and their hypnotised followers are often life haters, they create a vision of how they think the world ought to be and pollute it with their ‘unnaturalness’, they push against the flow of the river, they train people in fearing life and pass it on generation to generation.  We do not need these people telling the world what is wrong with it and offering salvation and liberation.  With an alert questioning mind it is easy to resolve most things, to bypass what is not needed; most morality is ugly, it is not virtue, it is not integrity, it is fear and control based. Virtue unfolds in acts of natural kindness, tenderness to the world around us, by softening and trying to understand ‘our’ differences with others, constantly ‘giving in’ without submission to selfish agendas, by looking outside our square and attempting to make sense of the pain and needs of others and allowing them to be.

The Art of Neti Neti
Neti neti,to me is the ‘practice of constantly abandoning’, of letting things rise and fall in our consciousness with an attitude of ‘is that so?’; it’s a way of arriving at a form of constant unfolding peace.  Trying to define the ineffable is the job of madmen, not the Divine Madmen, the other ones, the ones who miss life and try and package the universes into a bucket, it just ain’t gonna fit, we don’t need their help.  The poets can point in the right direction, the quantum physicists can write formulas to imply the nature of ‘things’ to help break down traditional thinking that imprisons much of humanity. The lovers smile and the poets dream, the musician pulls the strings that touch the heart of the listener, children laugh, and the camel spits…. ahhh the beauty of life.  It is “not this, not this”, but if we allow it to have it’s moment on the blank canvas of the universe, to do its thing then take a bow and move on, then we are not bound.  Heaven and Earth are in order, and I am grateful.

Tilopa 2.0

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