IN REALITY THERE ARE NO SENTIENT BEINGS TO BE LIBERATED
AND NO SELF TO ATTAIN ENLIGHTENMENT
In the DIAMOND SUTRA, CHAPTER 3the Buddha says: "All bodhisattvas who are sincerely seeking the truth should control their minds by focusing on one thought only: When I attain enlightenment, I will liberate all sentient beings in every realm of the universe, and allow them to pass into the eternal peace of Nirvana.
And yet, when vast, uncountable, unthinkable myriads of beings have been liberated, in reality no being has been liberated. And here is why: no one who is a true bodhisattva entertains such concepts as self or other. Thus, in reality there are no sentient beings to be liberated and no self to attain enlightenment…"
All beings are a state of the Buddha's mind, that is, your own mind. Why? No true bodhisattva is able to entertain such concepts as self or other. Each self or other is found purely to be as state of mind evaporating in the face if inquiry. Self, no self. Other, no other.
No sentient beings here or there or anywhere are to be liberated . All imagined. All that appear to exist are gone. "He was the one who broke my heart; I was the one who broke my heart." His identity is no more, and neither is mine. His is his, mine is that, and both evaporate in the face of inquiry.
HOW CAN YOUR SUFFERING EVER
In this chapter the Buddha talks about bodhisattvas. A bodhisattva is someone who wishes to attain enlightenment for the sake of all beings. According to some accounts, the bodhisattva vows not to enter Nirvana until all other beings have entered it first.
But if you believe that you must postpone freedom for any reason, or that you even have the power to postpone it, that's not freedom. Postponement is nothing that someone does out of a generous heart. It assumes that your peace isn't the greatest help you can offer all beings. It assumes that because of your generosity and compassion you need to keep suffering.
But how can your suffering ever help anyone? The kindest thing that you can give all sentient beings is to end your own suffering. This leaves no teacher of misery in the world.
ALL BEINGS ARE WITHIN THE BODHISATTVA
NOT OUTSIDE HIM
The concept of a bodhisattva also assumes that sentient beings need to suffer until some sort of wiser, higher being or consciousness comes to save them. That isn't necessary, nor is it possible, other than from within.
The reality is that some well-intentioned and a bit confused person imagines all the apparently terrible things that happen in the world and all the apparent beings that are suffering, and if he believes that any of those images in his head are real as though they really existed on the outside, in his own lack of freedom the freedom of all these beings is postponed, and they keep suffering along with him.
But once he realizes the truth of it, all these imagined beings are set free in an instant, and in that the bodhisattva is enlightened, and the enlightenment is sealed by its own selfless inner laughter.
Sentient beings are here to serve the enlightenment of the bodhisattva, not the other way around. All beings are within the bodhisattva, not outside him. they are consistently and without interruption here to enlighten him, as love would have it. And they are here to enlighten you.
IT'S PAINFUL TO BELIEVE THAT YOU CAN ACTUALLY SAVE ANYONE
OTHER THAN YOURSELF
Even if I had a young child who stood at the edge of a cliff, out of arm's length, tottering, I would know that she was safe. Of course I would try to catch her, but as I was running toward her, I wouldn't be slowed down by the concept that she needed to be saved. She might be leaning toward the edge, innocent, laughing, reaching out for me, and what could be more beautiful than a laughing child, connected, joyous, beautiful, complete, overflowing with life?
Images with thoughts attached to them, of a future even a nanosecond ahead, would obliterate the reality of that perfect moment. The mind might override reality and show you images of the child slipping and falling off the cliff to her death or smashed on the rocks below, images of yourself finding the child and sobbing and bereft when the child is dead.
And all the while, in that obliteration of reality, you would be missing the gift of the moment, and the simplicity, clarity, and ease of taking ten more steps to the child without panic, without frightening her with your own confusion and fear, completely free for whatever happens, gracefully moving in the reality of the uninterruptedly beautiful.
The young child doesn't know danger. That's liberation: loving the dream. I do everything I can to help, but I know that the child falling is as beautiful as the child caught.
The Buddha speak of enlightenment. But he knows that enlightenment is nothing. When you wake up from the dream of self and other, you realize that is was never real. You've been asleep because you have been believing stories that were so compelling that they created even the storyteller.
NOTHING EVER HAPPENS IN A FUTURE
The Buddha suggests that bodhisattvas should focus on one thought: "When I attain enlightenment, I will liberate all sentient beings. " But then he undercuts that thought with the next one, when he rightly says that when all is said and done, no being has been liberated. The vow "When I attain enlightenment…"is a noble trick of the ego. It's noble because it points to generosity and compassion. But it assumes a future, and any future is a delusion. Nothing ever happens in a future. Whatever happens (if anything happens) can happen only now.
THE BODY IS NEVER OUR PROBLEM. OUR PROBLEM
IS ALWAYS A THOUGHT THAT WE
Bodies don't think, care, or have any problem with themselves. They never beat themselves up or shame themselves. They simply try to keep themselves balanced and to heal themselves. They are entirely efficient, intelligent, kind, and resourceful.
Where there's no thought, there's no problem. It's the story we believe, prior to investigation, that leaves us confused. My pain can't be my body's fault. I tell the story of my body, and because I haven't inquired, I believe that my body is the problem and that if only this or that changed, I would be happy.
The body is never our problem. Our problem is always a thought that we innocently believe. The Work deals with our thinking, not with the object that we think we're addicted to. There IS no such thing as an addiction to an object; there is only an attachment to the uninvestigated concept arising in the moment.
THE BODY IS A PROJECTED IMAGE, A METAPHOR
OF YOUR THINKING, MIRRORED
BACK TO YOU
If my body gets sick, I go to the doctor. My body is his business. My thinking is my business, and in the peace of that, I'm very clear about what to do and where to go. And then the body becomes a lot of fun, because you're not invested in whether it lives or dies. It's a projected image, a metaphor of your thinking, mirrored back to you.
OWN YOUR BODY, CARE FOR IT,
TAKE A LOOK AT YOUR
BELIEFS ABOUT IT
How do you live when you believe the thought that your body should be different? How does that feel? "I'll be happy later, when my body is healed." "I should be thinner, healthier, prettier, younger." This is a very old religion. If I think my body should be different from what it is now, I'm out of my business. I'm out of my mind!
I'm not asking you to let go of your body, as if such a thing were possible. I'm asking you to own your body, to care for it, to take a look at your beliefs about it, to put them on paper, inquire, and turn them around.
"BODY" AND "PAIN" ARE ONLY SYMBOLS
THAT TAKE US BACK TO
Please don't do this work to alter your body - for example, to stop pain, to be physically healthier or more beautiful, to stop drinking or smoking, or to lose weight.
When you do inquiry with a motive, answers will come out of that motive. Do The Work solely for the love of truth. It's your truth that sets us free. Do you really want to be a specific physical image - such as young, healthy, and beautiful - if it means to continue to live in the delusion and pain of that desire? Or would you prefer to love what is throughout your life and to see "your mind, your thinking", as beautiful?
"Body" and "pain" are only symbols that take us back to The Work, into the recognition of our true kind nature now.
As long as our mind identifies as a body, we will look critically at other people's bodies as well as "our" own because mind needs to identify as "something" to exist. And it has to continue to project what it believes.
For example, if I think I am too old, then I may notice fearful or even harsh judgments when I see old people. When you notice yourself looking critically and fearfully at others' bodies, you may want to inquire and turn your judgments around to "what you are thinking" and see what is really truer.
MIND CAN NEVER FIND A HOME IN
THE BODY. BODIES DIE
If I focus on body… I can't even say "My body," because that would assume it belonged to me, and that's crazy. How does it belong to me? It just goes on and has its life…
If I focus on the physical, I'm focused on an outside cause. This is not me. So I'm out of my business. And when I'm mentally out of my business, that is a lonely experience. So I notice and come back to my thoughts, because that's where the solutions are. So my mind is finding a home in itself, and the body is not its home. Its home is in itself, in its own wisdom. Mind can never find a home in the body. Bodies die.
It's nice to be kind to the physical and nurture it and support it. Why not? You know you like yourself when you do that. It's not personal. Work with that. Work with the mind, then the body follows.
IT'S YOUR BODY… CAN YOU
ABSOLUTELY KNOW THAT
That's a very old concept. "This is mine. I say so. That's what makes it true." But just because I say so, think so, believe it, doesn't make it true! If this is my body, what is it doing looking like this? What is it doing at sixty-three? If it's mine, why don't I fix that? AND my gender, AND my height. If it's mine, I don't seem to have a lot of control.
And actually, it's not very interesting. the body is just too much to worry about. And you worry, worry, worry and it still does what it does. It gets cancer; it gets sick; it gets well; it does… it's DOING all that. It's an amazing miracle.
When you know that you're not that, you can sit back and watch. It's not personal and you can support it, the way you would help your son and your mother, or your clients when you go to work. You just care for it and nurture it. it's not personal.
BODY FOLLOWS MIND - IT DOESN'T
HAVE A CHOICE
Bodies don't crave, bodies don't want, bodies don't know, don't care, don't get hungry, or thirsty. It's what mind attaches to - ice cream, alcohol, drugs, sex, money - that the body reflects. There are no physical addictions, only mental ones. Body follows mind. It doesn't have a choice. Actually, it's simultaneous, but as long as you're mentally experiencing duality, body follows mind.
YOU'RE IN THE PERFECT HEALTH
WHETHER YOU LIKE IT
You tell the story of how you're supposed to be stronger or healthier so that you don't have to know that your condition is perfect. My condition is perfect for what I need to do now, for where I need to be now. I'm without a future.
When you believe your thoughts, you rape your body by saying that it should be more beautiful, it should be healthier, it should be taller, shorter, fatter, thinner, younger, stronger. You take a perfect body and trash it.
WE'RE ALL WAITING UNTIL WE GET THE
BODY PERFECT TO BE
There's nothing else to do but get well, and that's not up to the body. Ultimately the body isn't going to make it. This is good news - it's over, forget it, let's work with what we do have.
Can you get it from here? If this body story were true, it would mean that no fat person could be self-realized, no one in a wheelchair, no one old or sick, no one who isn't beautiful. This leaves out practically the whole human race! Almost no one has a chance for freedom under this theory. We're all waiting until we get the body perfect to be peaceful. Can we just do it from here, now?
AWARENESS IS SO MUCH MORE
My heart is always healthy. Even if it were having an attack, it would be healthy. It's perfect for that moment. Whether it's beating strongly of blasting into oblivion, it's as it should be. If you argue with what's happening, you'll have a heart attack with a lot of fear. But without a story, without arguing with reality, you can have a heart attack in peace. "Wow! So this is how she goes out, so this is how the story ends!" A heart attack can be very exciting. This is just about awareness. The awareness of what is: you are that movement itself. (And not even that.)
MY BODY IS NOT MY
I was in Holland a few years ago, and I was running a very high fever. And The Work went on every day. I was working with people from early morning until late at night. And I noticed that a few times during a break, I would be just huddled up in a corner, exhausted, with a high fever, in heaven.
My body is not my business. If you don't tell me I'm sick, I have no way of knowing. And in the clarity of that, I always seem to be well. No story: no sickness. There was snow, there was cold, there was sky, there were people, there was breath, there was fever, there was exhaustion, there was joy - everything! Without a story, I'm free.
WHO WOULD YOU BE WITHOUT THE
STORY "I SHOULD FEEL
How do you live when you believe that your health problems shouldn't be there? You can't even tell us the truth. You can't even cough or blow your nose honestly, or let us know you're not feeling well. Who would you be without the story "I should feel better"? You'd be free.
ULTIMATELY YOU'RE LEFT WITH YOUR THINKING
ABOUT YOUR BODY - THAT'S ALL
THERE IS TO WORK WITH
"Yoga makes your shoulder feel better"- that's one of your sacred beliefs. Can you really know that that's why your shoulder stopped hurting? When you're focused on your shoulder, focused on "yoga (or massage or carrot juice) is going to make it better," you're body-identified. At night we pass out from these concepts. We don't sleep, we pass out. You're scared of pain in your body. When the carrot juice stops working, you're left with your own thought system. You try to hold it off with yoga.
There's only one true yoga, and it's mental, and it's a free flow. I'm a lover of what is. I have tested all these theories, and I know that even if the massage or the yoga or the carrot juice or the wheat grass work now, eventually I'll have the grace of getting old and knowing that they can't help. Or hopefully I'll get some kind of disease, where all this thought catches up with me, and I can take a look at my stressful concepts. It's all grace.
And don't you want it all? Freedom from the body, freedom from the concept that you are a body. Something's always going to hurt. Ultimately you're left with your thinking about your body. That's all there is to work with.
WE ARE INFINITE
As long as we believe that we're our bodies, we don't have to know that we are infinite, our cells without limit, like music itself, free.
I'm not asking you to let go of your body, as if such a thing were possible. I'm asking you to own your body, to care for it, to take a look at your beliefs about it, to put them on paper, inquire, and turn them around.
IF I LOSE MY RIGHT ARM - HOW DO I KNOW
I DON'T NEED TWO ARMS?
I HAVE ONLY
There's no mistake in the universe. To think in any other way is fearful and hopeless. The story "I need two arms" is where the suffering begins, because it argues with reality. Without the story, I have everything I need. I'm complete with no right arm. My handwriting may be shaky at first, but it's perfect just the way it is. It will do the job in the way I need to do it, not in the way I thought I needed to do it. Obviously, in this world there needs to be a teacher of how to be happy with one arm and shaky handwriting. Until I'm willing to lose my left arm, too, my Work's not done.
EVERY STORY WE TELL IS ABOUT BODY-
A STORY THERE’S
When you believe that you are this body, you stay limited, you get to be small, you get to see yourself as apparently encapsulated in one separate form. So every thought has to be about your survival or your health or your comfort or your pleasure, because if you let up for a moment, there would be no body-identification.
Every thought has to be about “I” … that’s how you survive. And then, as soon as you get your little piece of turf, your little house, your little car, your thoughts turn to the story of how you need to be healthy and comfortable. You get stuff in the shopping cart, you get stuff in the house, and as soon as you’re comfortable, your thoughts turn to pleasure.
This is full-scale body-identification… there’s no thought that isn’t about the body. So you go to pleasure when you have all your little ducks in order. And all pleasure is pain, until you understand.
Your body is not your business. If you’re sick, go to your doctor. That way you get to be free. Your body is your doctor’s business; YOUR business is your thinking, and in the peace of that, you’re very clear about what to do. And then the body becomes a lot of fun, because you’re not invested in whether it lives or dies. It’s nothing more than a metaphor for your thinking, mirrored back to you.
I AM THIS? I AM
If you don’t identify as a body, the mind may occasionally find itself as a galaxy or a rock or a tree or a moon, a leaf, a bird. It may identify anywhere in the vastness of itself. I am this? I am this?
To be a human is no more and no less important than to be a rock or a speck of dust. It’s all equally important, all the same thing. It’s limitless. It’s still. It’s what we all are without a story or a particular identification to believe in.
USING SYMBOLS TO STAY
It's not ever going to be about food or alcohol or drugs or money or health. We just keep using symbols to stay body-identified. And eventually nothing holds.
THE MIND IS UNLIMITED WHEN
THERE'S NO PARTICULAR
When you believe that you are this body, you stay limited, small, apparently encapsulated as one separate form. So every thought has to be about your survival or your comfort or your pleasure, because if you let up for a moment, there would be no body-identification.
When you dream, you are the whole dream and everything in it. You have to be: you're the dreamer. You're bodiless, you're free - you're a man, you're a woman, a dog, a tree, you're all of it simultaneously; you're in the kitchen one moment and on a mountaintop the next; you're in New York and suddenly you're in Hawaii; nothing is ever stable because you can't body-identify. There's no identification you can attach to. That's how unlimited the mind is when there's no particular body to be.
BODY IS NOT MY BUSINESS -
MY THINKING IS
Someone said this morning, "You look like you're losing weight." Good. "You look like you're gaining weight." Good. Body is not my business. My thinking is. So watch the masochistic thoughts you believe in order to stay body-identified. And have fun!
BEGGING, THE BUDDHA WAS JUST GIVING PEOPLE
AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE GENEROUS, TO
SUPPORT WHAT SUPPORTED THEM
The Diamond Sutra begins with the simple act of begging. The Buddha begged for his food. Since he understood how the universe works, he knew that he was always taken care of, and he didn't see himself in the position of a lofty transcendent being, or even of a spiritual teacher. He refused to be treated as someone special, someone who should be brought food and waited on by his disciples. In his own eyes, he was a simple monk, and it was his job to go out every morning and feed himself. One meal a day was all that was necessary. He was wise enough to go to any house without wondering if they would feed him or not. He held out a bowl to any householder and calmly waited for a yes or a no. If the householder said no, the no was received with gratitude, because he understood that the privilege of feeding him belonged to someone else than that particular householder.
Food wasn't the point. He didn't need it. He didn't need to keep himself alive. He was just giving people an opportunity to be generous, to support what supported them. The Buddha has seen through all the thoughts that would override the experience of gratitude. When he goes out begging, he experiences a receiving that is so deep that it is itself a giving. It's the food beyond the food.
THE BUDDHA ASKS ONLY FOR WHAT
Question to Katie: how do you relate to the Buddha's begging food? Can you imagine yourself being penniless and homeless, like a monk, fully dependent on other people for food? Answer: But I AM fully dependent! If people don't grow vegetables, there are no vegetables in the stores. If people don't give me money, I have no money to buy food. I had no money in the bank before I married Stephen; I thought it was silly and unnecessary. I knew that money would come when I needed it, and if it didn't come, obviously I didn't need it. Having a savings account isn't my way, but it's his, so now it looks like mine as well, and so it is. The Buddha asks only for what already belongs to him. He is never hungry, yet he's generous enough to ask for food. He knows when to ask and what to ask for. He knows what to eat, which is precisely what you give him and no more. I am always free of hunger until food comes; I'm always perfectly fed, perfectly on time, with the right food, gifted out of grace. If you give me food, I thank you not in words but from within your own self. If you don't give me food, I thank you, and maybe, as love would have it, in another time and consciousness, you'll be ready to eat the only food worth eating, the thing we all hunger for, and what I offer truly: to serve what serves.
THREE KINDS OF BUSINESS IN THE UNIVERSE:
MINE, YOURS, AND
For me, the word GOD means "reality." Reality is God because it rules. Anything that's out of my control, your control, and everyone else's control - earthquakes, floods, war, or when I will die - I call that God's business.
If I am mentally in your business or in God's business, the effect is separation. When I mentally used to go into my mother's business, for example, with a thought like "My mother should understand me," I immediately experienced a feeling of loneliness. And I realized that every time in my life that I had ever felt hurt or lonely, I had been in someone else's business. And: it's not your job to like me - it's mine.
WHOSE BUSINESS AM I
When you're mentally out of your business, you experience immediate separation, loneliness, and fear. If you're lonely or sad, you may ask yourself, "whose business am I in mentally?" Just to notice that you're in someone else's business can bring you back to your wonderful self. What a sweet place to be. Home.
If you just understand "the three kinds of business" enough to stay in your own business, it could free your life in a way that you can't even imagine. The next time you're feeling stress or discomfort, ask yourself whose business you're in mentally, and you may burst out laughing! That question can bring you back to yourself.
And you may come to see that you've never really been present, that you've been mentally living in other people's business all your life. And if you practice it for a while, you may come to see that YOU don't have any business either and that your life runs perfectly well on its own.
CAN I KNOW WHAT'S RIGHT
To think that you know what's best for another person is to be out of your business. The result is worry, anxiety, and fear. When you mentally step out of your business, you think that you know more than he, she, or God. The only real question is "Can I know what's right for myself?" That is your only business. And, as you eventually come to see, not even that.
YOU THINK HE'S SUPPOSED TO BE WITH YOU,
BUT YOU CAN'T EVEN
The reason you experience pain and loneliness is that you're mentally in your partner's business, and it doesn’t leave anyone here present with you.
Of COURSE you're lonely! Your husband's girlfriend is over there with him, you're over there with him, everyone's over there with him, and there's no one here with you. You think he's supposed to be with you, but YOU can't even do it. He leaves you, you leave you - what's the difference?
The way to stay present is to question your thought. "He shouldn't sleep with other women"- is that true? "I would be much better off if he were with me and not her" - can you absolutely know that that's true?
He's not responsible for your misery, you are. You're believing a lie and that's what is causing your pain. Can you see a reason to drop this thought that argues with reality, "He should sleep with me only"? (Yes… I hate to suffer!)
WHOSE BUSINESS AM
I IN NOW?
It's confusing and painful when you try to mind someone else's business. This is especially true when the person whose business you've stepped into is someone you love. Often, you don't realize that you're doing this. Every time you try to second-guess what someone else is thinking or feeling, every time you believe that you know what's good or bad for them, you have moved out of your own business and into someone else's.
For example, your partner looks upset and seems to be avoiding you. She cuts a conversation short and snaps at you. When you ask her what's the matter, she says she doesn't want to talk about it and needs to spend some time alone. Being in her business mentally means worrying about what she is thinking. Can you know what she's thinking or feeling? No. And how do you react when you believe you can? You form theories about it: she's angry at you. She doesn't really love you. You've done something wrong.
How do you treat yourself while you're frightening yourself with these thoughts about her? You put your own life on hold. If she is over there living her life, and you are over there living her life (mentally), there's no one here for you. You neglect yourself and put aside the activities that you enjoy. You make yourself feel separate and lonely, and you think that she's the cause.
And if you believe any one of your theories about her, you might easily act on it. You might find yourself demanding an explanation from her. She said clearly that she wants to be alone, but verifying your theory is more important. Why do you think that? You've been suffering, and you're confused enough to believe that she's the cause of it, so you feel entitled to an explanation from her.
Now you are literally, physically, in her business. She gets angry at your intrusion and refuses to talk to you. In your mind, this only confirms your suspicions. This is the torture chamber of a life lived in someone else's business. And once you notice this - around her and other people - you may discover that you live there most of the time.
What does it mean to stay in your own business? In this instance, you would ask yourself who you would be without the thought that you can know, or need to know, what she's thinking. It would allow you to lead your own life, and to let her lead hers. And it would allow you to know what your own life is about, maybe for the very first time.
One of the most loving acts you can do for yourself, and for everyone else, is to ask, "Right now, in this moment, whose business am I in?" For example, "Whose business is what's bothering her?" The answer is, obviously, "Her business." "Whose business is what I feel, and whether I feel loved?" Obviously, "Mine."
There is no more loving way to be with someone than to stay out of his or her business mentally. What he should do, what he should feel, whom he should love, how he should see you… all this is his business, not yours. When you understand this, and someone tells you, silently or aloud, "Mind your own business" or "Leave me alone", you can hear it as good advice… as love.
Do you really want to enter the inner room in which someone's feelings are formed? Do you want to control his mind, to barge in and insert the thoughts and feelings YOU want him to have? Is it even possible? When you're afraid of what your lover thinks about you, that is the time to go to your inner room and check on your own thinking.
Even when you and your partner are physically close, you're still living in different worlds, and there is great beauty in that, the beauty of the unknown yet familiar person you're with.
When you stop believing your theories about your partner, you return to the reality of your own life. You stand in a solid place from which you can deeply appreciate her, without the slightest impulse to enter the private room in which her feelings are formed. You get to see who she really is. You get to love her with all your heart and not expect anything in return.
When you no longer intrude and have stopped trying to manipulate or control her, you meet someone who is more amazing than anything you could have imagined.