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Never Move From Where You Already Are

by Andrew Cohen(more info)

listed in meditation, originally published in issue 21 - August 1997

The meditation instructions that I give are very simple. I ask people to relax as much as they can, to be as at ease and as free from tension as possible and at the same time I want everyone to try to pay as much attention as they can to everything. This means that we don't need to concentrate on any particular point.

We don't need to concentrate on our breath or on any particular point on our body, but we allow our attention to become very vast, very wide and very deep, and we remain as alert as we possibly can.

Andrew Cohen

As we are sitting quietly together it's good to reflect on the fact that deep and profound relaxation and freedom from existential tension is the foundation for Liberation. It's the foundation for the discovery of true freedom. Deep and profound relaxation is not simply a pleasant state to be attained, but it's the foundation of a condition that enables us to stop running away from the truth, to stop running away from where we always are, but are rarely aware of. At the same time we want to be very alert, very aware and very sensitive. Because to be very alert, aware, awake, very sensitive, undistracted and fully present is the expression of an enlightened condition.

When we're sitting in meditation it is also very important not to move, to be very still, because not moving and being very still is a metaphor for Liberation. One who has realized the goal of Liberation is one who never moves, never strays. Even though they appear to walk, to talk, to respond just like everybody else, inwardly they never move. They're always at the centre. This is why it's important to learn how to be still, to be completely still, because being completely still can help us to understand these things. The deeper the concentration, the deeper the relaxation and the more profound the attention, the easier it is to let oneself go, to fly. So in this meditation it doesn't matter if thoughts come and go. It doesn't matter if feelings come and go, if memories come and go, if fear comes and goes, if doubt comes and goes, if happiness comes and goes. None of it matters. The only thing that matters is that we don't move, that we're completely at ease and that we're fully awake. That's the only thing that matters.

When I speak about not moving in meditation many people think that I mean not moving physically, not moving one's body. When some people hear "not moving" they feel that their mind shouldn't move or that their attention shouldn't wander. But the not moving I'm speaking about is deeper than that. It has to do with not moving away or straying from our true nature.

When we for some mysterious reason fall into a condition where we find that we suddenly want nothing at all and we need nothing at all then we really begin to discover what our true nature is all about. At times like that we begin to settle down, and by settling down I mean we begin to fall very deeply within ourselves. It's like falling into the mouth of a volcano, sinking down and down and down – way, way down, very deep, sinking so deeply that we even forget about the falling.

When this happens, when everything falls away, there is a very deep contentment because there is a recognition that nothing is lacking. Nothing is lacking, but what is there is very difficult to define. We might be able to define it in terms of a lack of unfulfillment, but what actually is there is very difficult to describe.

We could say fullness, but that's a very dangerous thing to do because the minute we begin to give a quality or a qualitative description to emptiness, immediately the mind starts to paint pictures, and of course one of the pictures that the mind paints is God. When we go very deeply within, what we want to try to do is to see clearly, to know clearly, to understand, to feel, but we want to be very careful about imposing pictures or fixed ideas upon our own experience, because the minute we do, we lose touch with a depth that can't be measured.

One way to understand what the goal of Liberation is all about is to discover and experience this depth which cannot be measured, to find out what it's like not to want anything and not to need anything. And as we begin to find this happiness without a cause, peace without a cause, joy without a cause, the most challenging thing for a human being to do is to not move away from it. So when I'm speaking about not moving, it is this that I'm referring to.

Now moving away takes various shapes and forms. One shape that it takes is that something is wrong. This is the one that catches almost everybody. It's the primordial problem. The minute we believe something is wrong we have to seek for a way to fix it.

So as a result we get up from our seat and we go looking for a way to fix it. And as we're looking we keep wandering and wandering, and we get farther and farther away from where we were. Now if the individual who has gotten up and started to look for a way to fix their problem is ever lucky enough to find Liberation, of course they'll always find that there never had been anything wrong. And if they only could have resisted the temptation to believe that something was wrong, they could have been free their whole life. If they could have resisted that temptation they would never have left where they'd been all along. And as many of you I'm sure have already heard, in profound awakening one realizes that one has been there all along but simply has forgotten about it and become unaware of it because one has become distracted by this belief and conviction that something is wrong. So the work that has to be done is giving up the belief or conviction that something is wrong, that something has to be fixed.

The fact that I'm saying that we need to give up the belief that something is wrong doesn't automatically mean that everything is great. Because as long as we are convinced very deeply that something is wrong, there is no doubt that our life will be a mess, an expression of fear and confusion in a world that is frightened and confused. Throughout my travels in the modern spiritual world, I have met and continue to meet so many people who are doing everything they can to tell themselves that everything is okay even though they don't really believe it. And if we don't really believe it and at the same time we try to tell ourselves that everything is okay, we're deceiving ourselves and deceiving everyone else.

So this is not merely a superficial matter that I'm speaking about. It's something that is really quite challenging because as we look within ourselves and as we look with greater and greater depth, we will become more and more aware of this impulse to move away. This impulse to move away, to turn away, to run away, to become, to create, is for most simply a compulsive and habitual way of being. It's a state in which we're constantly running away from where we already are, towards where we think we want to be. And of course when we look more deeply we may find out that what we think we're running towards is not really what we want.

Now the fact is the lives that most people lead are quite superficial, and by superficial I mean lacking in depth. When a human life lacks depth this means that what the individual is preoccupied, concerned and endlessly busy with are matters which do not have great significance. So if we not only want to get in touch with where we've always been, but we also want to learn how to resist the temptation to move away from where we've always been, we have to cease to live in a way that is superficial.

There is no other way that it can work. So the challenge for the individual who truly wants to be free is not only to deeply experience the truth, which is that one has never been away from home, but more importantly, to look into what it means in a very practical sense to resist all of the countless temptations to move away, to become.

What I'm speaking about has nothing to do with anything that is passive. I'm speaking about something that's very dynamic, very conscious. I'm speaking about giving oneself very fully and very deliberately to a much deeper relationship with life and with truth.

Unless we can succeed in liberating ourselves personally from this compulsive need to run away, to become, to have and to be, it will be next to impossible to realize and manifest the kind of depth that I'm speaking about for more than just a very few moments. A life that expresses true Liberation is one where the individual has not only realized this depth, this stillness, this fullness, this emptiness once or twice, but they are permanently abiding there, whether they are busy or not, whether they are active or not. Unless we're willing to turn within in a way that is very absolute, in a way that far transcends the mere practice of meditation, the likelihood of this kind of transformation actually occurring is very small. So in order to not move away, we need to not only begin to look deeply within ourselves with great consistency, but we also have to cease to live in a way that is merely superficial, and that is the hardest part.

Many people have told me that they find something and then they lose it, and then they find it and lose it again. Then they wait and they seek, and then they find it again and lose it again. Most of the time seekers are trying to rediscover or re-attain something that they tasted but lost touch with. The reason that we lose touch with that which is most important, most precious and most sacred, the reason that we constantly move away from it is not that it's far from us, not that it's distant, but it's because it's not the most important thing for us. Often people take things for granted that are very near to them. Wives take their husbands for granted, husbands take their wives for granted, parents take their children for granted, children take their parents for granted, etcetera. That which is most dear to us and so close to us is very easy to forget the significance of. This also has to do with our own heart. Even when we discover it very deeply it's the easiest thing to take for granted. It's the easiest thing to move away from even though in certain states of consciousness it appears to be the most important thing that there is. Sometimes it's just because something is so close that we tend to not give it the kind of importance that it really deserves. After all, we have to remember that we live in a world in which most people give the greatest importance to things that are impermanent and ultimately insignificant, and very few people give the greatest importance to that which is imperishable and has the greatest significance.

So a big part of what this is all about has to do with a willingness to reeducate ourselves. If we recognize ourselves to be unfree or not as free as we know is possible, then it is only because of choices that we are making all the time without being aware of it.

And if that's the case, we have to make the effort to find out what choices we are making that are constantly taking us away from where we think we want to be. Once again, we have to remember that the goal is never moving from where we always have been, never straying from there, and never ever losing touch with and forgetting what's most important – always allowing that to come first before anything else. When we get to that point, our work is over, there is nothing left to do. Then we will become truly independent individuals. But before that point we have to succeed in a way that is sure.

Now for the ego, for the part of us that is separate and wants to be separate, this not moving, absolutely not moving, represents death, dissolution and non-existence. From the point of view of the ego it represents a complete loss of freedom. Imagine what it would be like if we came to the point where we were ready to stop running away, to stop needing, wanting and becoming. That would mean that in a sense our life would be over, human life as it is ordinarily lived would come to an end. Even though our body would continue to exist and our brain would continue to function, our relationship to life would change completely. When our relationship to life changes completely in this way, then we realize that we're not here to get, to accumulate, to take, to have our own. That's all finished. For most people that's a great renunciation. It's essentially a giving up of one's own life. That's the great sacrifice and ultimately it's the sacrifice that has to be made if we're really going to stop running, stop wanting, stop needing, stop becoming and stop constantly trying to add to a self that is tormenting us.

Going back to the metaphor about falling into the mouth of a volcano, in a sense we are returning to where we came from, which is where we were before creation ever occurred. And the point is to realize that and to return to that while being fully created, while being fully human – not avoiding in any way what that actually means. Because when we stop wanting and needing, taking and becoming, our understanding of what it means to be fully human changes very dramatically, and that's the whole point.

What I'm saying is that that which recognizes itself to be created, now recognizes itself to be that which is uncreated. That's when something stops. You see, the problem is that when we recognize ourselves to be only that which is created, there is a tendency to get swept away in that. Creation itself is an expression of becoming, of expansion, and if we only recognize ourselves to be that creation, then this compulsive and blind tendency to be that – which is to become more and have more – is all that's seen and all that's known.

But when that which has recognized itself to be creation recognizes itself to be that which is uncreated, unborn, this striving ceases.

That's what Liberation is. But simply because this striving and becoming ceases doesn't mean that creation comes to an end or that we cease to be a part of it. It's just that suddenly our perspective becomes very big. We simultaneously recognize ourselves to be that which is created and that which is uncreated. And it is the recognition of that which is uncreated in the midst of creation that makes it possible to be truly free in this miserable world. This is really the whole point.

You see, it is the recognition of that which is uncreated in the midst of creation that makes possible a relationship to life and an experience of life that is an expression of love. The way this works is not complicated. True love does not want and does not need.

Simply in the recognition of itself there is perfect joy, perfect ecstasy, perfect contentment and perfect fullness. In the recognition and discovery of that which is uncreated and in the abandonment of this compulsive need to have and to become, the discovery of what true love is and what it means begins to reveal itself. What happens is that life, and the consciousness and intelligence that is life and recognizes itself as life, realizes that the purest expression of its own nature is love. There is no why to this. This is simply a fact. But this kind of love, which is inconceivable by the mind and which does not want, simply is. The recognition and discovery of this love is joy, bliss, Liberation, and it can only be truly known when this ceaseless striving to have and to become is transcended.

This is why it is so important to stop moving away from where we already are. Because the division and endless destruction that is far too much the expression of our own species, is all only a result of the ignorance of this absolute fact. That's why it's so important that some of us be willing to dedicate ourselves to the realisation of this fact to such a degree that we're actually able to prove and demonstrate with our own lives that love is the only reality – that it's not just some religious fantasy, some new age belief, some romantic idea, but actually is a very absolute and unbearably realistic fact of life.

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About Andrew Cohen

Through his public teachings, books and meetings with spiritual leaders of almost every tradition, Andrew Cohen has tirelessly sought to convey his discovery that spiritual liberation's true significance is its potential to completely transform not only the individual, but the entire way that human beings, as a race, live together. In sharp contract to the cynicism which is so pervasive today, yet with full awareness of the difficult challenges that we face, he has dared to teach and to show that it is indeed possible to bring heaven to earth. This powerful message of unity, openness and love has inspired many who have heard it to join together to prove its reality with their own lives, igniting an ever-expanding international revolution of tremendous vitality and significance.

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