Thank you, Dr. Robert. I am awake, and your words guided the way.
I stumbled on the archives four and a half months ago, searching for perspective on sociopathy. It began as I read your exchanges with the pseudonymous Mr.Birdick, with the father of a sociopathic child, and with the anonymous soldier. I saw, and read, and made sense of what I saw and read with my own, long-developed concepts about the mind, action, consequence, morality, and purpose. It was in the context of a psychiatrist that I came to respect your words. The moment I began reading, I sensed something about your words that resonated. I have been a gifted reader all my life, and in the course of the two hours after I stumbled upon the site, I read all of your exchanges speaking of or about sociopathy and sociopaths. They...addressed a lot of questions I had been exploring independently for many years. Then I read the queries from those, who as I used to, suffered under the weight of their stories; the tortured lover in a repressive culture, the depressed, the lost. The questions were a reflection of many of my old fears expressed through the words of others: abandonment, loneliness, worthlessness, dependency. Things I had grown past with the realization that my conscious experience was of my own (sort of, you see how it is) creation. I saw that many of your words to them were consistent with the understanding of consciousness I had developed, and stood up to my critical scrutiny, which is rare. It was only on the second day of knowing of your site that I clicked on the links about meditation, and then, on non-duality. It's funny, in retrospect, I recognize clicking those little green links as a turning point in my life. Hilarious. I sure as hell didn't see it that way at the time. To me, this place was just another source of the understanding I had been cultivating.
I had recognized, at that point, some months ago, that reading is often an illusion: comprehension may take many tries at the same terrain. And wow, were your (un)concepts challenging! I have read this page: (http://www.dr-robert.com/Awakening%20Never%20Ends.html) many, many more times than I would care to count. Your long interview was also tremendously insightful. And then there was that absolute monster of a description of awareness from that anonymous fellow....yeesh, I think I only had to go through that one five or six times, but damn did it address a lot. Not that this has been anything like a 'eureka' experience, far from it. I got lost deep in my egoic forest many times since I came across this place. What brings me here, saying this, is the fact that it was your words, amongst the many (many) that I came to read on this topic, that spoke most directly to my experience at a fundamental level. Over the past month in particular, your words, 'how absurdly frightened' the ego is...they hit the mark. I always, always had to come to the place where your words would finally 'click' by myself, but once I arrived at a new, let's call it...realization, I would often find that your words were there to usher it in. I had come across Krishnamurti when I was 19, but I was still only just coming to recognize my anxiety. I spent a full day reading his works, but they were, in my violently anxious egoic state, still too remote. Nothingness was a bit much for me! I hadn't adjusted my story, as you like to call it, enough to make sense of more than the stage I was at at the time: the mind produces (experiences, take your words as you will) emotions, which give rise to thoughts, which give rise to emotions. It's been a long way since then. The tao, the buddha(s), God, neuroscience, history, politics, sex, love, physics; I've wondered and wandered far and wide in my long love affair with What Is. And now, I am here, immersed in the current (a double entendre if I've ever seen one!)
The sun is setting in a brilliant blue-orange medley. The wind is rushing through the forest, and I'm sitting in my underwear, taking in what is. I turn 23 in a few days. The trees outside my window, the subtleties of the sky, the beating croon from my headphones; it's a lot to finally see.
Assorted denizens of the forums: if you're wondering why the hell I'm posting this here, for everyone to see, rather than passing it on directly to the good doctor, I'm doing so in the hopes that, like with marketing, a little bit of honest word of mouth might entreat you to look again at the doctor's orders (they're not orders, I know, but I always prefer a pun to none.) His words aren't the truth, they're a candle that can help you shine a light inside yourself, where the truth really is. There's more than enough guidance on the subject to get you there within the site. It's all a rough map, principles from which what you experience arises. But the specifics of your terrain? Only you can know. Just remember, no matter what your terrain looks like, the principles hold. Don't feel bad for not 'getting' them; you'll come to realize it eventually, if you keep your eye and attention trained on how, when, and why you feel. Fuck any fantasies of 'awakening'. It's a real thing, but it's an experience without context. You can't reach that shelf yet, do your best not to be bothered with it, if you were there you'd see it. If you have to wonder if you've found 'it' or not (I've caught glimmers and been fooled a few times the past few months), you almost certainly haven't. I know I see it now, because it just is, beyond doubt.
In conclusion: I lucked out finding this place. I came here seeking, and I am here, now, (un)found. Thank you, Robert. I don't know if this act of thanking means anything, or if there's really anything at all that I'm thanking in the first place. But just in case: thank you, beyond words and intention thank you. You have helped me open my eyes, and I will never forget it. Thank you, for everything.
None of this is about any one particular "person" or another. Good pointing exists in many places. Some is here on this website, but good pointing is not that rare. Actually ATTENDING to it is rarer. If someone "gets" the pointer, it does not matter who or where it came from. A pointer is not something you have to believe or take on faith. All it does is advise you to look in a certain "direction" different from the habitual. If you do not see something interesting, nothing much lost. But sometimes the right pointer comes along, and you DO see something interesting. What you see which is interesting is not the person who spoke or wrote the pointer, and not even the meaning of the pointer itself, but something which is beyond words, something which cannot be put into words. For example, here is a pointer:
Just be yourself, and find out what NOW is.
I can very much relate this to one of my observations from my first post: that I would never 'get' anything from words, but, rather, after I saw something one of the pointers would indicate, I might remember words to describe them. This idea, of experience as opposed to meaning, is one that I got to know intimately as I experienced a number of 'little jolts' over the past several weeks.
I was driving my car one morning, when, without warning, I was suddenly seized by the perspective that for all of the scripting in my head, I was just driving in my car. I was just driving, and thinking. And that was all. If someone had asked me, logically, to see that I would have obviously seen it. But, in a way that was beyond logic, I just felt that all that was happening was me in a car, rather than 'feeling' the protracted egoic drama that my thoughts coalesced around. Another instance of experiential understanding struck me a few weeks afterwards, when I recognized suddenly that everything just was, and would always just be, and that any change or non-change I effected within the universe would happen now. Simple. I, of course, slipped back into egotism after this, but it was another important experience. Finally, four days prior to the day I awoke and wrote the first post of this thread, I saw Nisargadatta in a dream. I hadn't read any of his work, but I had googled him after reading the doc's interview. His eyes stood clearly out in my dream-perception, as they had in the pictures I saw of him. It was very odd, I've never, ever really put much stock in the symbolic potential of dreams as they had never had any within my life. Dr. Robert's experience of awakening involved one, but I didn't expect one for my own in the least. I certainly had no inkling that awakening was nigh. None at all. It was odd to see Nisargadatta. Odder still, just later that day, in an event that was unrelated with the dream (as a matter of fact, I had forgotten I had it), a piece of perspective shifted and I was very briefly jolted into a sort of pre-awareness. Very strange.
I will, however, say that, for all of the insights and concepts that were way over my head, the impetus to continue to look and observe the nature of my experience was derived from things that I -did- understand. For example, one thing that I found very useful in cultivating my ground for awakening was the narrative the doctor outlined about his own process of awakening. The story of Walter, especially, mocking the doctor's friends and feigning drunkenness, in the context of my own long experience watching the specific triggers of my social and general anxiety, helped me understand exactly -why- those tactics might be such an effective tool to get someone to see how frightened the ego is, which helped me understand that mine was just like that. That story was something that I -did- see and understand within the scope of my life, and it was part of the platform from which my awakening was realized.
Another good example of this phenomena of knowing vs. concept is the following sentence, which is on the doc's front page: "Time is not separate from substance. They are both versions of the same unknowable, unnamable suchness."
Now, I read that sentence maybe dozens of times scrolling up and down the site intermittently over the past few months, and not once during that time did it mean anything experiential. Conceptual? Yes. I turned it over and over within the abacus of logic. Now? I experience what it's talking about. Traditional Western thought (let alone education) doesn't engage with this distinction: the difference between reading the line above and knowing it conceptually, and living it. I understand that now, but I certainly couldn't at the time that I was seeking. And, of course, from the perspective of a seeker the sentence is still something obscure; which is totally OK, if you keep looking honestly and diligently, it will become clear.
Another shift along these lines, for me, has been in how much I get out of Koans; though some still seem a little silly, others are great.
"A monk asked Tozan when he was weighing some flax: `What is Buddha?'
Tozan said: `This flax weighs three pounds."
The distinction between conceptual knowing/consciousness and reality is something that continues to reverberate in my experience. My ego has had...a time of things, let's call it, adjusting. Of course, the joke is that the experience which it periodically attempts to deny is in and of itself the experience that precipitated the denial! If the ego can deny something as clear as awakening, it can deny any damn thing; watch yours carefully, and you'll see what's really going on.
"The search for Reality is the most dangerous of all undertakings, for it destroys the world in which you live."- Nisargadatta
I used to be afraid of what he's talking about: loss of the world. The funny thing is, as I kept looking, I realized that what was just was, whether I wanted to see it and think of it that way or not. I'm not going to lie, on the whole, I feel as if I lucked out. I had no idea where this would lead, or what it would lead to. I, of course, now know better than to bother asking. Thank you, doctor, for making this place available for this kind of strange dialogue. Loneliness certainly isn't the right word to use...but it's nice to be able to discuss this kind of stuff. My friends and family, brilliant and loving as they are, aren't really cut out for these conversations yet.