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Neither Nor

By Greg Ascue.

Many people do inquiry around the “bad” things in their lives in the hopes that they will “disappear”. Negative identities, threats, addictions etc. This is entirely natural. Who wants to suffer? But in the end, this is only part of the equation. “Good” things can constrain your experience of life too.

Recently, after an inquiry session with a woman I work with, I mentioned that it is useful to look for (in inquiry) opposites. Both possible sides of a subject. Good and bad, presence and lack, existence and non-existence and so on.  In mentioning this I pointed out that many people naturally (perhaps subtly) set up beliefs in the findability of the opposite of what they could not find in inquiry. But the un-findability of one end of a pair of opposites does not imply the findability of the other end of the pair. By looking at both sides you can address such subtle tendencies. No matter how pleasant (or unpleasant) a belief may be, inevitably there is some form of constraint. All things are unfindable.

Neither a “self” nor a “not self” can be found

Neither “something” nor “nothing” can be found

Neither “existence” nor “non-existence” can be found

Neither “duality nor “non-duality” be found

Neither “volitional” nor “non-volitional” can be found

This form of inquiry works equally with any belief or thing (including beliefs and things associated with the inquiries themselves). Taken to their ultimate, these inquiries leave you with no views or concepts to promote or adhere to. Again, all things are unfindable. Simple, spacious, and clear.

The woman’s reaction was one of surprise and she asked what about things like love and intimacy? Without thinking about it I replied “It’s pretty hard to love or be intimate with a story” (to love or be intimate with something unfindable). Understandably, perhaps, she displayed even more surprise. But what underlies this statement is my experience that beliefs surrounding such concepts often tend to create suffering too. Love is “this or that”. And when this “this or that” is not here there is “the lack of love”.

Neither “love” nor “the lack of love” can be found

Neither “intimacy” nor “the lack of intimacy” can be found

What is important here is that in saying “love cannot be found” I am, also, saying “the lack of love cannot be found”. This is why it is useful to look at opposites. There is no promotion of any opposite. Neither a limited, constrained, conditional love nor a cold, unfeeling, nihilism. There are no assertions being made here, no limited beliefs. Whatever this is, it is beyond any such assertions. Such assertions have never been known here. This allows experiencing to be done nakedly without limits or constraint. Oddly, love and intimacy are liberated by their unfindability.

What are the implications of this in how we should live our lives? None whatsoever. Any such implications would be unfindable as well. True freedom. I have been married for over 25 years.  In not finding love nor the lack of love I am not constrained in loving my wife, it gets better with each passing year. I savor these passing years. For someone else this may mean leaving behind some dead relationship. Stepping away from the tyranny of unfulfilled dreams. For someone else none of this may be relevant in any way. The freedom to do what is best is here.

Life is liberated by its unfindability. Unfindability is liberated by its unfindability. This moment is born anew. You are born anew. This world is born anew.

 “All knowledge is bondage” – Shiva Sutras

“All that is heard is non-existent” – Adi Shankara

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