The Individual “… could eventually see that happiness isn’t out there in the world but in fact inside themselves …” ~ Jimmy Hurley
In this Part 3 of the series, we continue Jimmy Hurley’s exploration into nonduality, our True Nature … the series is in support of his GoFundMe campaign to raise $90K for his stage 4 prostate cancer treatment …
…. Jimmy is a long time Stillness Speaks community member and a generous supporter … our “call to support” him began in our most recent newsletter (Sep 18th), which was an appeal to our subscriber community and it continues in this multi-part series featuring Jimmy’s writings.
We are most grateful to the Stillness Speaks community for generously raising approx. $6,000 towards the goal of $90K (total raised is $18,538 as of the publish time of this post) …
… in Part 1, we took a peak at Jimmy’s unpublished book Zero Distance that’s about “A paradigm to understanding WHO YOU ARE And finding lasting happiness and peace” … and “partook” some of his poetry which overflowed in him during “… periods of intense reflection ...” with Francis Lucille …
… in Part 2, we began Jimmy’s essay on spiritual identity, titled Release The Releaser, from Greg Goode’s book Real-World Nonduality (published by New Sarum Press) … please visit Part 2 for Greg’s summary of his book and also of Jimmy’s essay … Jimmy shares his journey of discovering Lester Levenson and The Sedona Method, which was very beneficial to him … but despite that … something was missing …
So, … in this Part 3, we find out what was missing and the “gems” that were revealed …
All text below (except the blockquotes) are directly from Greg’s book and is published here with his and New Sarum Press’ generous permission …
But something was missing
But there was something inherent in this path and how I was implementing it that was a problem. It was incomplete.
The funny thing is Lester told me so from the beginning. He said I would even have to let go of the Method if I wanted to go “all the way.” The Method was intended to help the individual get what they wanted in life, so that they could eventually see that happiness isn’t out there in the world but in fact inside themselves.
I didn’t actually confront the flaw in the Sedona Method until after I’d met Francis Lucille. But looking back, I remember I noticed it early on, as I was learning the Method from Lester’s first and main teacher, Virginia. She was explaining how we perceive: I, through my discriminator, sense what’s going on in my environment, and I make decisions on the basis of information I receive. I asked her right after the presentation, “What about the I-sense?” She replied, “That’s not important now,” and when I asked Lester, he said we could discuss it after I had learned the basic premise of the Method, how to let go. So I set the question aside. Little did I know then that that was the missing component that the direct path and Francis would fully address and clear up later.
Presupposing the me
The Method did work as initially promised—it had life-changing benefits for those who used it—but only up to a point. You most definitely can release feelings. But it failed to address the question of the releaser. Someone believing themselves to be a separate individual can learn the method and use it to remove most of the feelings that arise. Where it failed was that it was incomplete in understanding, and thereby perpetuated the very source of the problem: namely, the idea that we are separate entities who can do something to set ourselves free or otherwise facilitate our own enlightenment.
Using the Method at all presupposed three things: one, that a me as a separate entity even exists; two, that this me as a separate entity can in fact be free by virtue of something I do or don’t do; and three, that life situations and emotions were the problem that needed to be fixed, and by making changes, this me would then be okay!
I was able to see that the very use of the Method supported the idea of a separate individual. Let me give you a real example. I’m in line at an event, and some jerk tries to skip the queue and get ahead of me. My Irish gets triggered, and I want to go to war. But before I approach the guy, I look within at how I’m feeling, and the impulse arises to release the feeling, because it doesn’t feel good. This is the Sedona Method.
What nonduality adds
But here’s nonduality’s contribution: then I stop and ask myself: who doesn’t like feeling this way? During this introspection there’s the unstated understanding that consciousness is always welcoming, whatever is happening, because its very nature is open, empty, and free.
So I choose not to release. Actually, no: I see the activity caused by the me-feeling wanting to get rid of the upset—and I stop there. I’m just witnessing, just being globally open to what’s present. And that openness gives room to what’s being presented. Not because of something being done, but as a result of the very nature of being this globally witnessing present. Consequently, the sense of me softens, recedes into presence, along with the uncomfortable feelings and the need to say or do anything. After all, this is New York, and people jumping queue is a fact of life here. And so is how other New Yorkers respond. In this case, others in line ripped him a new one. Ultimately I didn’t have to say a word.
Thus what became so evident was this movement, this movement of wanting to get rid of something, this desire to do something, to change what was. Consciousness doesn’t do that—a sense of a someone does. This someone, if engaged, only perpetuates the struggle, the wanting things to be different, to continue. The someone was keeping the struggle, and himself, alive.
A lingering sense of separation and fear
I taught the Sedona Method from 1977 to 1993. Lester died in 1994. He was gone now, but I was still troubled by a deep sense of separation and fear. Not suffering, mind you. I was not miserable (at least not yet), but definitely not satisfied. And definitely not at peace.
Lester was the first one to expose me to Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta , and nonduality, which I was growing to love. And even though I stopped teaching, I continued to use the Releasing Method in the midst of feeling this lingering dissatisfaction. I continued to seek in a spiritual way, too. My encounter with Advaita through Lester led me to finding out about Robert Adams, Ramesh Balsekar (1917-2009, a disciple of Nisargadatta), Papaji (H.W.L. Poonja, 1910-1997, a disciple of Ramana Maharshi) and other Advaita teachers, and the love continued to grow.
But it wasn’t until I first met Francis Lucille and experienced the perfume of nonduality for the first time that things changed. Francis and I became friends. There was a period, over a year and a half, maybe two, in the beginning that I didn’t have to work, and I just went to his retreats. I attended lots of satsangs in the NYC area as many new Advaita teachers began to appear on the scene, most notably Gangaji, Wayne Liquorman, and Catherine Ingram. But I just really resonated with Francis.
When I first met Francis he invited me to accompany him to his next scheduled meeting, which was in Boston. We drove, which was a wonderful opportunity to just be together in a relaxed way. It was during our ride that I did something that felt egoic, for which I apologized, and Francis immediately said, “Oh don’t worry about it, Jimmy. It’s not who you are.” Imagine knowing you didn’t have to kill the ego in order to be free of it!
You see I had grown up believing that the ego, with its wants and desires, was the source of suffering. One could even argue, as the Buddha did, that on an individual level the ego was the problem and had to be gotten rid of. I mean, wasn’t it my ego that suffered from being self-conscious and insecure? Wasn’t it me who felt jealous when someone I liked showed interest in someone else? Or angry when I wasn’t being heard or paid attention to sometimes? After all, didn’t the problems somehow have to do with something being wrong with me that I had to fix or overcome? Certain spiritual teachers would even say that in order for there to be enlightenment, the me had to disappear or that thoughts had to stop and the mind had to be quiet. And with the same breath they’d say there was no mind outside of thinking and that the mind was the ego that stood in the way of our true self.
When Francis said to me, “It’s not who you are,” I felt an immediate sense of relief. I felt off the hook, so to speak, because I saw something, a separation of sorts, inside. He then went on to explain that, if I could see the behavior and feeling, if I could stand apart from it, I necessarily wasn’t it, and that explained how I was feeling.
Boston was such a wonderful continuation to our first meeting in New York that I wanted to take every opportunity I could to be with him in order to learn everything about the direct path. You see, I was tasting what I had only been reading about all those years concerning the direct path and, for what felt like the first time, I was beginning to know with Francis what those words really meant.
Like when he’d point out that thoughts and feelings happened in the same place as did bodily sensations and sense perceptions, and that “it” was none other than this awareness I referred to as me. Seeing this was so freeing. In his company what I’d read became real, became alive.
That in-seeing got my attention, but it was short-lived, as the me-identification with the thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations was so strong. So I would sit and look at the content of my inner self. I would discriminate, asking myself, What do I know? What do I see when I look inside? And it became obvious that thoughts would appear and disappear there inside me. The same held true for feelings, emotions, and bodily sensations. I saw clearly that they were appearing inside me, this awareness. I could not see any difference between me, awareness, and these comings and goings. And then seeing that the perception of, let’s say, a chair, or a tree, happened in the same place as my thought or my feeling was mind-blowing. Intellectually it made perfect sense too, that if I as the looker or awaring witness, if you will, was that which these thoughts appeared to, lived in, and then disappeared into, they had to owe their existence to this very same awareness.
But that the chair or the tree wasn’t outside of me. I don’t know…I was having trouble with that one, even though I was experiencing it as such, because it also included, heck, everything, the world. Just goes to show you how strong this idea of a separate me is that I doubted my own experience …
Jimmy’s quest for clarity was still somewhat lacking … which lead him to Atmananda’s (one of Francis’ teacher) teachings … which further led him to the questions How do I know the outside world if not through my senses? What’s the first thing I know? … and ultimately that led to discovering what was further upstream to feeling and sensing? What was present?
So, … stay tuned for the next post where Jimmy continues sharing the discovery of the answers to these questions … and the ultimate inquiry into the Self and That which is always here …
And, again, please do visit Jimmy’s GoFundMe page by clicking here and contribute whatever your heart calls you to …
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Release The Releaser text: From Real-World Nonduality by Greg Goode, published by New Sarum Press … and used with New Sarum Press and Greg Goode’s permission.
Images: (edited and logo added): Featured and 1) Composite of a) Galaxy in space, beauty of universe, black hole. Elements furnished by NASA by Shad.off and b) and b) Human silhouette in yoga pose and meditation by teotarras, 2) New York Central Park by sepavone, 3) Francis Lucille from Stillness Speaks archives. 1&2 purchased from depositphotos, for use only on our website/social channels (these images are not permitted to be shared separate from this post).