Releaser disappears: “… I am awareness itself. And as such, awareness is ever present, open, and unmoving …” ~ Jimmy Hurley
In this Part 4 of the series, we conclude 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 newsletter on 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. $7,800 towards the goal of $90K (total raised is $22,610 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… in Part 1, we took a peak at Jimmy’s unpublished book Zero Distance that’s about “A paradigm to understanding WHO YOU ARE And finding lasting happiness and peace” … and “partook” some of his poetry which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 …
… in Part 3, we find out what was missing and the “gems” that were revealed: Jimmy discovered Francis Lucille and “experienced the perfume of nonduality” …
We closed Part 3 with the Jimmy’s quest for clarity 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, in this Part 4, Jimmy shares the answers to these questions … and the ultimate inquiry into the Self and That which is always here – Awareness …
All text below (except the blockquotes) is directly from Greg’s book (full attribution at the bottom of this post) and is published here with his and New Sarum Press’ generous permission …
It didn’t become really clear that there was no-thing outside until one day while I was reading Atmananda’s Atma Darshan and Atma Nirvriti (Both of these works are out of print and not generally available). Francis Lucille considered Atmananda one of his teachers even though they never met. And I couldn’t get enough of reading him, especially this book. It was when I read, the section “The Origin and the Dissolution of the World” for the umpteenth time that something started to percolate. I was struck by his claiming that the truth could be found by tracing the objective world back upstream to its source. I’d wondered what that really meant concerning the knowledge of things that appeared. So I thought, How do I know the outside world if not through my senses? I took the sense of touch. I held a pen in my hand and asked, What’s the first thing I know? And it was clearly that I had a pen in my hand. But I already knew that the word isn’t the thing. The word “table” doesn’t signify what a table is, does it?
So dropping the words “pen” and “hand,” what then did I know? Well, there was the shape and texture I could feel as I moved it around in my hand, but I was thinking again. So what else was present that I knew? Well, I was feeling something, and I had previously done body-work meditations with Francis where he would instruct us to give the bodily sensations room to expand in our awareness. So I did that to what I was feeling in my hand, and pen and hand lost their distinctions. There was just this open awareness of sensations. But wasn’t that also something I was yet again naming? Nevertheless, I was seeing what he meant by going upstream, and it was exciting.
So what was further upstream to feeling and sensing? What was present? I knew I was sensing and feeling and, according to Atmananda, it was knowledge that comes to know anything! So there was this knowing of sensations that was present. And as I contemplated this knowing, sensations per se had vanished, and knowledge was all that remained, until I thought, what’s upstream from this? Poof! There was nothing! Well, not nothing-nothing—I was just awareness. I repeated that process again and again with the other senses as well. Sight wasn’t as clear; I would often get stuck with that one as I would with other things along this path.
Investigating the releaser and discovering awareness
Once I was stuck at an impasse and Francis told me I had to let go of the releaser. “What the hell!” I thought. “What do I do with that? I mean, I’m the releaser. How the hell am I supposed to let go of me?” That actually became a seminal moment on my nondual path. So what to do? Go to the laboratory and begin to investigate. What are the components of what was present?
❖ I see there’s the awareness of feeling stuck.
❖ There’s the feeling of not liking being stuck.
❖ There’s the trying to let it go and a sense of making an effort and being frustrated in the process of failing.
The very first thing I learned in the direct path is to start with the truth, namely that awareness is the subject to which all else, the objects, appear, and that I am that: awareness itself. And as such, awareness is ever present, open, and unmoving. So that’s my starting point, I am the very awareness that all I know appears to, and what appears is ever changing. I saw this clearly. What I saw next was the impulse or movement to try and let go, which also was manifesting as a wanting to get rid of feeling stuck, a desire to change being at an impasse—all of which was an arising in the unmoving awareness that I am. Seeing this was huge. Awareness never moved. As a result, I saw that they were all one and the same arising. There wasn’t this multiplicity of things. All of it was how Jimmy was manifesting as this movement.
The releaser sneaks back in
What tripped me up was that the releaser, the separate me-sense, kind of snuck in the back door as I was trying to do nonduality. The identification with the sense of a separate self can be very subtle at times and can kind of hijack consciousness, if you will. It was actually the same problem I’d had while I was involved with the Sedona Method. I was just seeing it more clearly and deeply.
Awareness is the unchanging, open, unmoving, unfragmented whole that I am. What’s in the way is the idea that I, as an individual, am trying to let this other idea go, and I can’t. The movement was exposed as Jimmy-feeling-frustrated-and-stuck. That was the obstacle. The very movement of the releaser trying to release was exposed. So as the witnessing presence, I just didn’t move. Then I saw that there never was this separate Jimmy releaser. It was just an idea arising in me. The problem was seen through and solved, and I didn’t have to let it go.
Seeing through the releaser
The in-seeing was the undoing. That was pure Advaita. It also drove home another very important point I’d learned, namely that consciousness isn’t a function, a doing. It’s always just knowing!
Seeing through the releaser happened many years ago, as I spent long periods of time with Francis. He helped me see that having thoughts and feelings isn’t a problem in and of itself; believing that they were real and were who I am is the only difficulty I’d ever had. God, what a relief!
I was on fire back then at his retreats. I mean, imagine being brought face-to-face with the palpable understanding: “You are Zero Distance to all you know!” That little tidbit struck me like a thunderbolt. Years after investigating the ramifications of that insight and understanding, I wrote a (unpublished) book with that as the title: Zero Distance.
The on-going path
The need to be around Francis has all but gone. It’s been replaced by wanting to spend time with him and other like-minded friends who also like such company. But the looking continues. Actually, it’s intensified. Turning 72 carries with it all the wear and tear that happens to any machine over time, meaning things start to break down—only now it’s so much closer to home. It’s my body, not the car or the toaster. I’m smiling inside as I write this, because I suspect some of you who are reading this, if you’re from the nonduality camp, might be saying to yourself, “He’s still identifying with the body. He’s not there yet!” But I have to report that at this stage I can see everything as “me”! And it’s not like that’s stopped the world from doing what it’s doing.
I still experience getting stuck, even… and as I sit with this statement I have to say it isn’t really true. The truth is phenomena still arise, and as provocative as they may feel and appear, at no time do I ever feel lost or stuck in or with them, as conscious awareness is ever present, which takes the sufferer out of the picture in the midst of whatever is present living itself out. This is especially so when intense fear arises from some failing body function. Or the announcement by the medical profession that I’ve got one of those dreaded age-related conditions that could prove fatal. Remember wanting to survive as a body? Well, that feeling is deep—like DNA-deep—and will be as long as I have the slightest identification left with this body.
Reminds me of a story. A Zen master nearing death was asked by a disciple how he was doing. The master replied, “I’m fine, but my body is having trouble keeping up.”
So, although I can’t imagine not having the wisdom that is available with a nondual-direct-path perspective, and although having this knowledge at the moment brings with it great feelings of gratitude, I can honestly say that the direct path is not a prescription that takes away or otherwise shields one from the vicissitudes of life. In fact, being knowingly the open, non-local field of the present awareness I call James allows everything to be experienced fully.
Even thought. It is crystal-clear here that feelings, bodily sensations, and sense perceptions come and go in this awaring presence and have been recognized as having no power to change either way, positively or negatively, this awareness. I still am confronted with the aches and pains and discomforts of living in a 72-year-old body. And let me tell you it has been intense at times. Because it brings you face-to-face with the inevitable reality that nobody gets out alive. Seeing I am the unchanging reality that the sensations and feelings that comprise this arising body appears to, is the ultimate reward. And the reality remains that realizing this arising will, one moment in the time of this life stream, be no more—this sometimes still causes a shudder within. It still exposes yet another layer of a me-identification.
But that’s okay! It’s part of the whole. Nothing is separate. The me-feeling, the ego-idea, bodily sensation, our assumed humanness—these are all part of the whole, as is feeling free of it all, as is getting stuck in identifying with it all sometimes. The only thing that matters is one’s point of view, and sometimes that just takes being willing to be with what is unflinchingly until the right perspective shows up, which is, I’m okay no matter what!
Stay tuned for another series from Jimmy’s unpublished book Zero Distance …
Also, please do visit Jimmy’s GoFundMe page by clicking here and contribute whatever your heart calls you to …
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