Donna Quesada:: Well, good morning Arjuna. Arjuna Ardagh: Hey.
DONNA: I want to thank you for joining us. I know that our Awaken.com listeners will love what you have to say. And especially about your new book. You have a new book called Radical Brilliance, is that right?
ARJUNA: That’s right.
DONNA: And could you please tell us, what is the proper pronunciation of your last name?
ARJUNA: Ardah like Harda, but softer, with no “H,”so Ardah.
DONNA: I know last time we spoke, I fouled that one up.
ARJUNA: People call me Ardog! Like arcat. Aredog.
DONNA: Yes! I think I made that mistake, as well. Anyway, it’s a pleasure to have you join us again, and I appreciate your time and our listeners will appreciate your time. And I would like to start our time together today by simply asking you about awakening because that is, after all, the theme of our web site. And we love to explore this idea of what it really means to awaken. So, could you share your thoughts about that with us?
ARJUNA: Okay. Well…yeah. This is sometimes a little bit tricky. It’s a question of language because when we say what it means to awaken…that language suggests that it is some kind of event, in time. Like…until the 3rdof May, 1968, I was not awakened and then I was awakened. And that makes it an achievement of an individual, in time. But, the problem with that way of seeing it, is that the whole essence of awakening is that it shifts your reality from individuality, as a frame of reference, at all. So, it’s kind of like…it’s the wrong way of seeing it. What I would suggest, at least a good way to understand what I mean by awakening is something like this: Imagine you and I are on a mountain trail. We’re on a trail. Can you imagine that?
DONNA: I can.
ARJUNA: So, we’re hiking together…and imagine that you go a little slower and I go a little faster. I kind of run ahead a little bit. And I run ahead and I get to this incredible view… You can see for miles and miles and miles in every direction. It’s like a breathtaking view. And so, I go, “Wow, this is amazing! Donna would really love this.”
So, I come back down the trail and I see you sitting there under the shadow of a tree, drinking from your water bottle. I say, “Donna, you’ve got to come see this view.” So, you’re sitting there with your water bottle and you go, “alright.” Now you are a view seer. You are one that has seen the view. I say, “come on, see it.” And you say, “I’m looking at you and I can see that you are transformed by the view.” We start to make the view an attribute of your hiking partner. The view is the view, you know. And the view is always there.
So, when I have come back down the trail to meet you, I am not looking at the view, then. I’m looking at you drinking from your water bottle. It’s the seeing the view that is important. What do you see? When I rush ahead on the trail and see the view, it’s vast…it’s limitless. Wow, it’s huge. So, I come back down and say, “it’s vast…it’s limitless…it’s huge.” What happens is, we tend to focus on the attributes of the one describing the view, instead of the view itself. The view itself, means…awakening means, to pay attention to consciousness…to become interested in consciousness.
In the nature of awareness, you discover that the nature of awareness itself, is without boundaries. It’s limitless, like the sky. It makes no sound. It is silent. But in the full of paying attention to consciousness, there is no individuality in it. It’s consciousness. It’s pure awareness. And so, there is no Arjuna in that; there is just awareness. So, it’s kind of a little bit misleading to make awakening an attribute of a person. There is no person that belongs in the awakening. The awakening is what happens when awareness pays attention to itself.
DONNA: Wouldn’t you say, it’s awareness paying attention to itself through this form that we temporarily called “Arjuna?” Or, a form that is temporarily called “Donna?” So, although this is just merely the form, it’s still the vehicle that allows me to be a funnel, so to speak. To be transparent. Tolle’s word. Transparent, so this consciousness, this universal consciousness, can reflect upon itself, for this amount of time…
DONNA: …that is blooming through me, so to speak. Would you agree to that? Or, would you phrase it differently?
ARJUNA: I don’t know if it’s a matter of agree or disagree. We can say things anyway we want. It’s just…it seems like the most accurate way to describe it is not to reference individuality. It’s misleading. When we bring individuality into it…one of the dangers in this, is when we bring individuality into it, we want to say “now this person is awakened…enlightened.”
DONNA: Is that what bothers you? To start to associate it with the person?
ARJUNA: Well, it becomes an achievement with the individuality. And the individuality is constantly obsessed with achievement. Really, that is the very nature of individuality. Individuality…there is nothing wrong with it, but the very process of identifying as an individual is, I’m identified as this little separate node…now to some degree, separated from the whole.
DONNA: …that has had an experience.
ARJUNA: Hang on. We are not quite there yet. Let’s just go back to the nature of individuality. Forget about the experience.
ARJUNA: So, this kind of contraction into individuality creates a continuous, legitimate feeling of inadequacy. It’s an intelligent, accurate feeling. When consciousness coalesces into a little point of me, it feels afraid, legitimately, because it’s disconnected. And it feels constant desire because of this deep, deep, deep intuition of infinity. It’s constantly trying to get stuff because it feels so small and separate and it is small and separate, you see? So consequentially, the small individuality is obsessed with trying to add stuff to itself. It wants more money. It wants to be a better lover. Look at me, how great I am! It wants a bigger house. It wants. It wants. It wants. It wants.
And finally, the ultimate nightmare of this addiction is that acquisition and achievement is enlightenment. We’ve run out! I want a house. I want money. I want people to look at me. I want to be enlightened. It’s another desire fueled by the feeling of inadequacy. It is actually rare for someone to say “I am enlightened”… Because if somebody said that, it would be a pretty sure sign that they missed the point. So, hopefully we don’t do that too much. But what does tend to happen is, we say, “this person over there is enlightened!” So, it fuels this feeling of inadequacy. It’s like, you are going to McDonald’s because you don’t have much money. And you have this little hamburger, and you look across the street and you say, “that person is really rich. They are better than me. I want to be like that.” So, in the same way, we put somebody on a pedestal. “This person is enlightened…and me, I’m just this little pile of doggie poo.”
DONNA: And I want to have that, too!
ARJUNA: Exactly. Hang on. The alternative is to see through the nightmare of acquisition. And instead of trying to become something or achieve something or fooling ourselves that we have achieved something… The alternative is very simple. Give me a moment, if you wouldn’t mind. The alternative is to recognize what’s here. In this moment, Arjuna is talking on zoom with Donna, so, there are computers and things involved, but right here…there are the sounds that we hear. There are the things that are being seen. This is true for anybody watching this video. There are the things you see, which these hands are…this face. There’s the things you hear…there are the things you feel in your body. So, all of this and we can put aside the whole ambition for enlightenment. Put it all away. And just come back to the simplicity of what is happening here. The simplicity of what is happening here is that these things are being experienced through the senses. And so, we say in this moment…anybody spiritual or not…people say “I can hear your voice. You hear me….Yeah, I hear you fine.” If everybody says that, “I feel a tension in my back.” Simple language. “Can you see me? Can you see my fingers?” Donna, you see my fingers?
DONNA: I see them.
ARJUNA: How many fingers? I see them. I see. So, that’s already there. We can put aside the whole spiritual blah blah thing. I see. I hear. I feel. So now, I’m a little curious. Someone is having the experience of seeing and hearing and feeling. What is that? What is it, in this moment? Put aside the whole conveyor belt of spiritual ambition. Put all that aside, what is it here that is already seeing and hearing and feeling? Whether or not you think you are a spiritual person… What is it that is seeing and hearing and feeling? It makes me curious about the nature of consciousness. As it has always been…as it is now…as it could only be. We get curious. What is the nature of that which experiences? And attention turns back into itself, becomes curious… and there is the recognition, it’s vast! It’s always been vast. It’s not that it used to be contracted and now it’s super duper improved…enlightened. Awareness has always been limitless. Awareness has always been silence.
DONNA: Let me jump in here now.
ARJUNA: I’m not quite finished yet.
DONNA: If you wouldn’t mind because I’m thinking of people like Buddha…or, Ramana Maharshi, in recent times, who have had this experience, which I’m not going to even name at this particular moment. In very plain and simple language…is that what happened to them? They didn’t attain anything, but they had the experience, just as you’ve described, of awareness or being aware of this faculty of awareness or sensation of awareness. The flow of awareness.
ARJUNA: So, I have not personally met Buddha. We have not sat down for tea together because he died before I was born. I have, however, read the Diamond Sutra and the Heart Sutra and according to his words, yes that is what he says. He says “sitting under the BodhiTree nothing happened. Nothing changed. There was just a recognition of being awake. So, according to his words, yes that is what happened.
DONNA: The recognition of being awake.
ARJUNA: Honestly, I’m not a Buddhist anymore than I’m anything else.
DONNA: I don’t think Buddha was a Buddhist either!
ARJUNA: Right, right. I’m not anything. But anyway, according to what I’ve read, he returned to Sarnath… His friends in Sarnath said, “Whoa”…because he looked different. “Oh, what happened?” And he said, “nothing happened. Nothing changed.” There was simply the recognition of that which has always been here. Now. Ramana Mahashi… Again, he died in 1950. I was born in 1957. I have read a lot of his writings and yes, that is also what he describes. However, most human beings aren’t really interested in what is here already. Most people don’t have the…space to pay attention to the nature of awareness because they are too busy trying to get something in this endless stampede of acquisition. And spiritual questing is part of the stampede. It’s part of this craving for more. It now gets put into spiritual language and we think because it’s in spiritual language that it is not greed. It is the same greed…now just recontextualized.
DONNA: Paying attention. Those two words that you just said. Paying attention. Is that all it boils down to? And the piggyback question is, what will that do for us, if we begin to pay attention? Why is it such a big deal?
ARJUNA: Well, you see, when you say, “What will it do for us?” Really, the question is “What will it do for me?” And before we ask, “What will it do for me?”…first,we’ve got to find me. Find what is the nature of the me that we are hoping it will do something for.
I’m hesitating to use personal pronouns now because I’m trying to use language accurately now. Of course, normally, I use personal pronouns, I’m not an idiot. If I go to a coffee shop and they say, “what do you want?” I’ll say, “I would like a coffee.” I’m not going to avoid using “I” but, just in this conversation only. When we are talking about this stuff,we’ve got to use our language accurately. Because if we start bringing “I” and “me” into it, it gets confusing. From this speaking point, here, a kind of weird way of saying, “from my experience”… 30 years ago. A bit less, 28 years ago, I was lucky enough to bump into this man, H.W.L. Poonja, who is known sometimes, as “Papa G.” But he was not a teacher in the way people usually talk about that. He didn’t prescribe any path. He didn’t ask you to join any organization. He simply asked, with great sternness…he was a retired army officer…he said, “Who is experiencing this?” But, he said it very aggressively, you know?
DONNA: Like the old Zen approach. The stories of Bohdidharma. Bring me your mind!
ARJUNA: So really, what happened for me in a week with him, is that, there was for the first time…instead of trying to improve the me or add to the me, or enlighten the me…there was actually an innocent trying to find the me. After a week, it became clear, not intellectually clearer…inescapably clear, that there is no me. The me is made up in thought. It’s a story. It’s like someone who keeps talking about their dog but they don’t have a dog. It’s a story that exists in the mind.
DONNA: It’s a concept.
ARJUNA: There actually is no me, except to the degree that it is made up for convenience. But there is actually just consciousness. So, I could use really pretentious language and say, “the way that this life is lived”… But, it’s better just to say, the way that “I” live. You could say that there is a daily returning to emptiness, in its purity. And that,for me, happens very early in the morning. So “I”… I’m going to keep putting these air quotes… So, I wake up very early in the morning…4 Am. This time of year, I get up an hour before the dawn. And I dedicate that time to awareness. So, I usually just sit still for 30 minutes to an hour. It’s dark then. It’s dark outside. Just sitting in awareness…and that is the time of day devoted to that. But then after that, there is a little bit of moving of energy, which is called Chi Gong. Then breakfast. But then as the day unfolds, there is no problem with entering into an identification with the me. You have to—it’s not a problem. It doesn’t hurt anything. Then, I become a father to my children. A husband to my wife. A co-worker to my colleagues. Like, right now, I am me talking to you. We don’t have to keep it like, totally, no me. It just needs to be clear that it is a made-up story that we pick up again, and then we put it down again.
But when we try to make this awareness as something to do with the me, me is now trying to reach awareness. It’s a distorted way of seeing things and it’s never going to work. Me trying to become enlightened is never going to happen. Because the me is a made-up story, which is never going to be other than that. It disintegrates in death and the awareness has never been unenlightened. It doesn’t work like that, you see? At least not in my experience. You asked about Buddha.I don’t know about Buddha… I never met him. You asked about Ramana Maharishi. I’ve never met him, although I have a lot of intimate contact because Poonja-ji was with him. I can tell you that for this human being, right here, there is no seeking because it’s…not because I achieved something…because the very preoccupation with any form of seeking… any form of being on a path, has been clearly revealed to be utterly nonsensical waste of time. It’s an absolute waste of time trying to get to where you already are! Better to relax and recognize that you…that which is experiencing this is already aware. And that’s a matter of relaxing, you see, the first book that I wrote, 20 something years ago, was called Relaxing into the Clear Seeing.
See and Read Arjuna Part II, The Components That Allows A Human Being To Become Brilliant.
See and Read Part III Here: Live This Life On Your Own Terms and According To Their Own Values
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