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Jeff Foster_Twenty Questions June 2012

Questions and answers on nonduality teacher Jeff Foster
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  Twenty Questions with Jeff Foster Life Without A Centre is about the non- separation („nonduality‟) between you and your world. It is about the srcin of suffering, and the discovery of freedom within that very suffering. It is about the ways in which we try to run away from uncomfortable and painful experiences, and the possibility of discovering ease and relief right in the midst of those experiences. It is about seeking, and the end of seeking. It is about seeing life as it is, right now. ~ Jeff Foster 1.) Are you a teacher? Well, I don‟t consider myself to be a „teacher‟, in the same way that I don‟t consider you to be my „student‟. I don‟t feel that I have anything that you lack. I‟ve always seen what I do as a kind of sharing. A sharing between friend s of something that‟s really too intimate, too alive, too present to talk about. And yet talking happens, and that‟s part of the adventure. Why would one share the sunset? Well, why not? Why do I talk about nonduality? Well, why not. Call me a teacher, or call me a friend, or call me nothing at all, it doesn‟t really matter in the end. I am what you are. Underneath our individual stories, what could possibly separate us? 2.) Do you consider yourself to be enlightened or awakened? Well, to see myself as „enlightened‟ or „awakened‟, as a rare and special human being, as different from or better than you in any way, I would, on some level, have to separate myself from you. I would have to tell a story about what I am, and about what you are not. It would be my own belief –  I would have to believe my own story. It would be my own dream. Beyond the dream of identity, how can I know what I am? Beyond the dream, how could I ever separate myself from you?  “I‟m enlightened” or “I‟m awakened” or “I get this and you don‟t” or “I‟ve transcended the ego and you haven‟t” (and the list of boasts and claims made by the ego are infinite) are all just thought-constructed identities.  In other words, somebody who thinks they are „enlightened‟, and that you are not, is simply somebody with a belief that they –  a separate individual –   are „enlightened‟ and you are not. They see themselves and you as separate. Beyond this, there is no way of knowing that you are  „enlightened‟ –   and so there is no enlightenment. The question „are yo u enlightened?‟ becomes totally irrelevant when things are seen clearly. The question simply burns up in the clarity of present seeing. 3.) Somebody who claims to be enlightened still sees themselves as separate perhaps? Of course, since there is no other way to see yourself as enlightened! A self- image, including any „enlightened‟ self  -image, is always separate. It is always part of the dream. This message is about seeing through the dream of separation. That‟s why when it comes to this message, there are no authorities, no  „enlightened‟ or „awakened‟ people, no gurus and no disciples. It is the person, „enlightened‟ or not, that is seen through in the end.  An authority figure is someone who thinks that they know. This message is all about the not-knowing. And who could be an authority on not-knowing? Can I know more about not-knowing than you? Can I possess more nothing than you? Can there be any more Being herethan there is there? Can there be an authority on life? Or is life itself the only authority? 4. What is enlightenment or awakening? Do those words have any meaning? Okay. So let‟s take a fresh look at those words. You see, for me, enlightenment has nothing to do with „somebody‟ becoming „enlightened‟. That‟s the mind talking. That‟s the voice of   the seeker. Awakening has nothing to do with „somebody‟ becoming „awakened‟. That‟s the myth. That‟s the dream –  the ultimate dream of the ego, in fact.  „Enlightenment‟ is simply a word that points to the en -lightened nature of life itself. If something is en-lightened, it is in the light. It is lit up. It is  visible. And what can be seen is this: Life itself is already fully visible –  it is already fully enlightened, filling all space, appearing as everything, right here and right now. Open your eyes and the world is simply there. What a miracle! Sights, sounds and smells simply appear. A bird singing. Hunger. Cars whooshing past. A thought about last night‟s football match.  Life simple appears, out of nothing. It appears, and is seen, and life is notseparate from that seeing. Was there ever anybody here separate from this seeing? Was there ever anybody here, separate from life, who could become enlightened? Maybe that was part of the dream…   Similarly, „awakening‟ is simply a word that points to the ever -present awakeness of life itself. Life is not asleep, it is awake. Life is not switched off, it is switched on. It is already awake to itself, appearing as everything. It is already awake to sights, sounds, smells, to colours, textures, movement. To the sound of that bird singing. To present feelings in the body. Was there ever anybody here separate from this ever-present awakeness? Was there ever anybody here who could become awakened? Maybe that was part of the dream too…  5.) Could it be said the, that Life Without A Centre is about the discovery of who I really am? It is the discovery of what you are –  and what you are not! All your life you have taken yourself to be an individual, a separate person. You live with a story of yourself, a self-image that you attempt to protect and defend. This story becomes your identity –  who you think you are –  and you end up forgetting who you really are, beyond that story. Thought weaves a story about who you are, based on past experience. Before you know it, you are a  „someone‟ rather than a no -one. You are a person in a world. You have a past and a future. You try to fit in, to adapt, to make things go the way you want them to, to make your life work. You build up a list of achievements and failures. You work on yours elf. You try to fix yourself. When asked, you tell your story of „me‟. You listen to stories about other „me‟s‟, and compare and contrast, defend and attack these stories, forgetting that your „me‟ is simply a story, and that story cannot even begin to describe what you really are. You start to believe that this „me‟ really exists outside of thought. You take it to be so much more than a story. You start to believe that this   „me‟ is who you really are! You defend this illusory story of „me‟, and forget that you are defending nothing more than an image appearing in awareness. This is the srcin of all violence and suffering. Violence and suffering do not begin „out there‟ in the world, they begin with „you‟.   The „me‟ is your personal journey, your life story.  It holds everything: Your successes and failures. Your past and future, your memories and projections. Your beliefs, your judgements, your opinions. Your fears, your regrets, your worries, you‟re seeking. I refer to it all as „the story‟, because that‟s u ltimately what it is, a story, a narrative, a tale, appearing in awareness, appearing in the present moment… and there is  only the present moment. Ultimately, your entire past and future are merely thoughts appearing in the present moment, and that‟s the only reality this personal „you‟ has. The personal „you‟ has no reality outside of presently arising thoughts…   6.) Is there anything wrong with having a story of „me‟?  Well, there is nothing wrong with the story, in itself! Many people believe that this „individual self‟ is what they are, and they ignore the space, the openness, the vast ocean of Being in which the  „individual‟ arises. They identify exclusively as a „separate person‟ and never stop to ask if that is what they truly are. You see, this message points to the possibility that you are not what you think you are. You have taken yourself to be a separate wave in a vast ocean. You see yourself as a little person in a vast ocean full of other people. You see yourself as an individual in a world which is fundamentally separate from you. But of course, the „separate wave‟ in the ocean is not really „separate‟ from the ocean at all! The „separate wave‟ is really just the ocean appearing temporarily as a wave. The wave is actually one-hundred percent wat er. In essence, it‟s the same as the ocean. And so really there is no „separate wave‟ at all.  There only appears to be a separate wave. The wave is in appearance only. It is a temporary appearance of the ocean.
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