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The Novel of Life

When you read a novel, and you read about various characters, you may like some and not like others. Or when you watch a movie, think about your relationship with the characters. You might like them; you might not like themóbut youíre not finding your sense of self in them. Youíre not referencing your self-worth by the characters in a novel or when you turn on the TV. You just have your thoughts about them.

But imagine if you turned on your TV or you read a novel and you actually completely derived your sense of being and your sense of self from one of the characters. Immediately your perspective is very different, isnít it? Now your perspective has gone from something thatís very vast to something thatís very limited, seen only through the eyes of the character. Sadly, thatís how most human beings spend their lives. They have this little character in their mind called "me," and theyíre actually viewing that ďmeĒ as personal when itís not.

The ďmeĒ is very impersonal, not meaning cold or distant, but just meaning without inherent self nature, in the same way that when you read a book, the characters are without self nature. They actually donít exist outside of your imagination. They donít even exist in the book, because the book is just words. And without someone reading the words and bringing it all alive within imagination, nothing even exists on the printed page. Itís all within the reader, all the life.

When the Buddha talked about the realization of no-self, he was talking about the self thatís an image in the mind being completely seen through. And when there is no image of self, experience has nothing to bounce off of. Everything just is as it is, because there's no secondary interpretation. The one thatís interpreting is the one thatís in pain. And thatís the one who suffers. Thatís the one who causes others to suffer.

The false self, the self thatís an image in the mind, uses every experience to measure itself: ďHow am I in relationship to whatís happening? Am I wise? Am I stupid? Am I clumsy? Am I courageous? Am I enlightened about this?Ē Thatís the movement of consciousness reflecting on an image of itself that doesnít actually exist. Itís always measuring each and every experience, and then believing in the interpretation of the experience rather than seeing ďEverything just is.Ē

Everything actually just is. From the perspective of consciousness, even resistance just is. And if you resist resistance, thatís just what is. You canít get away from it. You start to see that the only thing that goes into resistance, a story, or an interpretation of what isówhatever it isóis this mind-created persona. It's like a character in a novel. When you read a novel, every character has a point of view. It has beliefs. It has opinions. Thereís something that makes it distinct from other characters. Our persona is literally this mind-created character thatís always making itself distinct. So it always needs to evaluate everything against its preconceived idea.

Thereís another vantage point. The other vantage point is not only outside the character, it's also inside the character. Itís the ultimate vantage point thatís outside, and itís also playing all the parts from the inside.

Thatís basically what it means to really wake up: weíre waking up from the character. You donít have to destroy the character called ďmeĒ to wake up from it. In fact, trying to destroy the character makes it very hard to wake up. Because whatís trying to destroy the character? The character. Whatís judging the character? The character.

So you leave the character alone. The character called you, just leave it alone. Then itís much easier for the awakening out of that perspective to happen.

You donít lose the character; you just gain the whole novel of life. Itís not like you lose anything. You just gain the whole book. You gain the whole universe. As Buddha would say, ďLose yourself, gain the universe.Ē Itís not a bad deal. Or Dogen: ďTo know yourself is to forget yourself, and to forget yourself is to be enlightened by the 10,000 things,Ē which means to see yourself everywhere. Wake up from your character, and then you see your self nature in all charactersónot just one, but all of them.

So we donít lose anything. We gain all characters. We just lose the fixation, thatís all.

Excerpted from Palo Alto Satsang, 6-22-05

© 2005 Adyashanti



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