Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Being (Total)
A Felt Understanding Irrespective of the Particulars of Experience
Furthermore, when I recognize myself as Total Being, I don’t simply mean that I’m experiencing the totality of everything that I perceive. I do mean that, but I also mean that I am experiencing what I experienced yesterday, what I will experience tomorrow, what you are experiencing, what you experienced ten years ago, what you will experience twenty years from now. Total Being is inexhaustible, absolutely inclusive, and totally indeterminate. It is not defined by any particular experience; however, every experience expresses it. Any experience, any dimension, any quality, any form, any formlessness is bound to be an expression of Total Being. What is Total Being? It is too indeterminate and too variable to be encompassed by any one particular experience, too subtle and too vast to be encompassed even by any combinations of experience. And yet, we can with full awareness and knowing realize that we are Total Being. It is more in the nature of a felt understanding, irrespective of the particulars of experience.
Runaway Realization, pg. 93
A Liberating Indeterminacy
We will see as we go on that Total Being is a liberating and mysterious and subtle perspective of reality. As I said, in being anything and in not being anything, we are Total Being, because whatever we are, whatever we are experiencing, is the expression of Total Being. But it’s actually much more than simply being the expression of Total Being, because anything—any particular thing, any experience—is Total Being in its entirety without our necessarily having to perceive Total Being. In other words, we experience Total Being completely no matter what we are experiencing. If we are simply experiencing our body and have the illumination of Total Being, we realize that our body is Total Being and does not exclude anything. We realize our body as Total Being that is everything that is, was, will be and can be—all potential and actuality, in all times and spaces. This is one of the subtle, paradoxical mysteries of the realization of Total Being. Every experience that we have is an expression of Total Being, but Total Being remains always elusive and indeterminate—neither a thing nor a being, but rather a liberating indeterminacy.
Runaway Realization, pg. 101
Distinguishing Total Being from Classical Mysticism
The understanding that we glean from the illumination of Total Being is somewhat different from the standard or classical model of mysticism, which emphasizes the various experiences of nonduality—the oneness of reality or the unity of Being. As we work with the view of totality and the understanding of Total Being, we see that reality includes these experiences, sees their place, and expands beyond them. The view of totality reveals that these are the ways, the stations, the states, and the steps that open up reality so that it is free to manifest itself in whatever way it wants to. Following these steps to nowhere in particular opens up the dynamism of Being so that Being can simply and spontaneously evolve. Not being able to experience and realize these states implies that we have issues—obstructions, delusions, identifications, fixed views and attitudes, structures, images, object relations—that will constrain the freedom of Living Being, which is, after all, our freedom.
Runaway Realization, pg. 172
Expressions of Total Being
When you are or when there is realization of absolute reality you are or the realization is an expression of Total Being. When you are the quintessential manifestation of boundless presence or awareness, you are an expression of Total Being. When you are boundless love, you are an expression of Total Being. When you are an individual soul, you are an expression of Total Being. When you are being your body, you are an expression of Total Being. When you are angry, you are an expression of Total Being. Total Being is not simply now; it is not only the nowness that holds everything. As time and space open, we see that Total Being is everything at all times and everything outside of all times. Nothing is excluded. No experience or truth is excluded. No form is excluded. No formlessness is excluded. The realization of Total Being is basically an understanding of the nonexclusivity of what we are. We might begin to see that our practice is to realize the freedom of Total Being—the freedom that means whatever we are at any moment is Total Being and whatever we are not is also Total Being. The recognition of Total Being takes the question of realization out of the arena of particular experience, and out of the arena of time and space without necessarily leaving time and space.
Runaway Realization, pg. 96
It is Reality Itself that Organizes and Reorganizes Our Understanding
The realization or the illumination that we are Total Being goes hand in hand with the view of totality, because the view of totality signifies that there are many ways that we can experience realization, many ways that we can experience enlightenment, many ways that we can simply experience. Usually, we believe that our mind has to organize our experience, giving it an order that is stable so that we can feel oriented and secure in the next moment. We don’t trust that reality has its own self-organizing force. But it does—it has been organizing and reorganizing all the time. We think that we have been understanding reality, but it is reality itself that organizes and reorganizes our understanding. We will see as we go on that Total Being is a liberating and mysterious and subtle perspective of reality. As I said, in being anything and in not being anything, we are Total Being, because whatever we are, whatever we are experiencing, is the expression of Total Being. But it’s actually much more than simply being the expression of Total Being because anything—any particular thing, any experience—is Total Being in its entirety without our necessarily having to perceive Total Being. In other words, we experience Total Being completely no matter what we are experiencing. If we are simply experiencing our body and have the illumination of Total Being, we realize that our body is Total Being and does not exclude anything. We realize our body as Total Being that is everything that is, was, will be, and can be—all potential and actuality, in all times and spaces.
Runaway Realization, pg. 100
Recognizing that We are Everything and also that We are Nothing
When we know that we are Total Being, we recognize that we are everything and also that we are nothing. We are everything and we are nothing and we can experience those separately, or we can experience that we are everything and that we are nothing at the same time. When I say that we are everything, I don’t simply mean nondual experience. Nondual experience is only one kind of experience. When I say that we are everything, I mean the dual and the nondual and everything else that is neither dual nor nondual. I am sure many of you are scratching your heads right now; and you might be scratching your head for a long time. We are all naturally driven to find out who and what we are. And we must find out. However, this drive to find out who and what we are and what reality is, which is an expression of the enlightenment drive, is intermingled with the obsession to be something. We also want reality to be something, something in particular—even if that something is formless or unknowable. We are obsessed with being something, even if the something is boundlessness or emptiness or nonduality or totality. Even in those conditions, we are still being something. People say, “I’m being absolute reality and am not anything in particular.” But being absolute reality is being something. Being nondual awareness is being something. Even pointing to nondual or pure awareness is pointing toward something.
Runaway Realization, pg. 95
Seeing the Conceptual and the Nonconceptual as Two Ends of One Polarity
As we recognize the subtle concepts in the nonconceptual dimensions, we begin to see that it is possible for Total Being to manifest true nature as a nonconceptuality that is not the opposite of concepts, a nonconceptuality that transcends both the concepts of the conceptual and the nonconceptual. This total nonconceptuality becomes instrumental in illuminating the precognitive structures. Total Being manifesting as total nonconceptuality powerfully challenges and illuminates precognitive structures. It does this by the mere fact of not being opposed to concepts. Because total nonconceptuality is not the absence of concepts, it is a nonconceptuality that has no trouble with concepts. In this condition, both the conceptual and the nonconceptual are categories that manifest within this awareness and are recognized as the two ends of one polarity. Many people can arrive at this insight logically. I remember that when I was in college studying mathematics and formal logic, I realized that calling something nonconceptual made it a concept. But that was a thought; I didn’t have the experience then. Here, the understanding of total nonconceptuality happens as a result of the realization of total nonconceptuality. And again, this is a condition that is present all the time, regardless of whether we discern it or not.
Runaway Realization, pg. 196
The Understanding of Total Being Reflects a View that Sees Many Perspectives at Once
As we have been exploring the paradox of realization, I have been using the terms “Living Being” and “Total Being” more than the term “true nature.” This is because Total Being and Living Being refer to the totality of existence in all of its conditions. The understanding of Total Being reflects a view that sees many perspectives at once: the conventional perspective of a self relating to others and to the world; the essential perspective of a self that recognizes itself as an expression of a more fundamental truth or of a relationship to a larger reality; the boundless perspective of a field of reality in its purity, as the true nature that pervades everything and is the nature of everything; and many other perspectives as well. And, because it includes all of these perspectives, the view of Total Being refers to reality in all of its conditions, refers to all of these perspectives and their interrelationships—which means that Total Being includes the states of enlightenment as well as the states of ego. Total Being includes the many kinds of realizations, the many intermediate states, and the many conditions of suffering and pain.
Runaway Realization, pg. 152
Total Being Cannot be Defined in any Final or Ultimate Way
Many traditions talk about realization as some kind of condition—a natural condition or primordial condition or absolute condition. The kind of featureless realization that I am describing is a noncondition. There is no one condition that can be isolated and called featureless. All conditions are welcome and available for experience. Whatever condition or experience arises is part of the presentation of Total Being, but Total Being doesn’t need to be defined or limited to any one condition. So Total Being cannot be defined in any final or ultimate way. And this is partly because it can present itself in all of these delineations and all of these definitions. But the experience of Total Being does not have to be that “I am experiencing everything in the universe and reality. I am experiencing all possibilities at once.” Although that might happen, Total Being can also present itself in more subtle ways. At some point, we see that experiencing any presentation of Total Being, any dimension of reality—whether realization or nonrealization—is the experience of Total Being. We have the immediate recognition that being that, experiencing that, whatever that might be, is being Total Being, is being everything.
Runaway Realization, pg. 213
Total Being has a View that Includes all Known and Possible Views of Reality
Reality is, in some sense, always dependent on the view we have of it, and there are many views and many ways that reality manifests. These are views we individually have that at the same time originate in Total Being. All these views of reality are the ways that Total Being manifests itself. So Total Being can present itself within one view or another. Total Being also has a view of totality, which is a view that includes all known and all possible views of reality. Teachings, philosophies, and different fields of knowledge are different views of reality; each one of them is a presentation of Total Being.
The Alchemy of Freedom, pg. 178
Total Being is Everything that Is, Everything that Was and Everything that Will Be
So far I have differentiated true nature from Total Being. I have been using true nature to refer to the purity of reality, its secret nature that remains hidden until it awakens to itself. Total Being, on the other hand, means anything and everything. Total Being is not only the experience of being; it also includes all the things we see, all the things we experience, all the things that exist—people, lives, events, everything. And as we experience the unity of being, we realize that all these things are not only Total Being but are unified. And when we understand that everything is unified also beyond time and space, we realize that Total Being is everything that is and also everything that was and everything that will be.
The Alchemy of Freedom, pg. 172
Total Being is Not a Being
For many of us, the understanding of Total Being initially might feel like a loss and might feel disorienting, because we still feel the need to be or the need to be something. Total Being is not a Being. The language is tricky—I don’t mean Beingness, but I don’t mean nonbeing either. Both of those are experiences that can happen. You can experience Being, you can experience nonbeing, and you can experience Being and nonbeing inseparable from each other. From the view of Total Being, none of those experiences is privileged. The realization of Total Being is that whatever is happening at any moment, whatever you are experiencing—whether you are experiencing it as what you are or as what you are not—is Total Being
Runaway Realization, pg. 97
Total Being Refers to the Sheer Indeterminacy of Reality
But Total Being doesn’t refer exclusively to either of those two dimensions of experiencing totality. Total Being does not refer to any experience at all. It does not refer to a particular way of experiencing reality. It does not refer to a dimension of experience. It does not refer to a combination of dimensions of experience. It does not refer to all the dimensions of experience taken together. Total Being refers to the sheer indeterminacy of reality—to its nonexclusivity and its noncontainability. So Total Being is everything, including your experience of whatever totality you are experiencing. Total Being includes all the experiences of totality, and much more. However, Total Being itself is not an experience. We awaken to it through a recognition, an understanding, an illumination that includes all experiences.
Runaway Realization, pg. 93
True Nature is Always the Source of True Breakthroughs
Each of us is different. Everybody has their history, capacities, and situations and, as we do our work, each of us will need to use whatever resources we have. But one thing we have in common—which I have observed both in my own experience and in the experience of others—is that when there is a true breakthrough, when there is a new knowledge about reality, when there is experience of reality that brings in new dimensions, it is always because of true nature. As we have seen, it is never because of our own individual efforts. It is never because of what we think we’re doing. This is a central insight of the dynamic of realization: In our practice, it is Total Being practicing.