Nondual Zen Article:

Don’t Monkey with the Monkey

nondual title

Don’t Monkey with the Monkey
by Kathleen Sutherland

The character can be neither asleep nor awake, cloudy nor clear. There is no character. We know this, but we still so often fall into regarding and speaking of ourselves as awake or not, or awake, but with varying degrees of cloudiness or clarity.

There is only awake-ness. There is no separate entity that can be awake or not. We are the awakened state. And we cannot avoid being what we are. As Adyashanti recently said, "We humans seems to have an infinite capacity to evolve and grow into what we already are." *YouTube: Buddha at the Gas Pump, Adyashanti and Michael Rodriguez, Nov. 5, 2017. We may or may not enjoy this process. But it's helpful to keep in mind that we are never getting anywhere. We are never changing. We are already all that we dream of becoming.

We only need to see this. That should be simple enough. But the key is understanding who needs to see it. It is not the character. Yet we have been deeply conditioned to believe that it is the individual’s responsibility to see that he or she is awake, to attain realization. Most spiritual traditions instruct the individual on this level, at least initially. They advise us to engage or refrain from certain actions or ways of thinking, and they paint an enticing picture of personal liberation.

Even if we understand that realization involves a union with Oneness, and hence the disappearance of the separate self, we still hold ourselves responsible for a lack of attainment. In awakening, Oneness gets the glory, but any failure is attributed to the character’s lack of willingness or wisdom or even the character’s lack of character. So we must again return to this simple truth: there is no character.

You and I, as individuals, can neither awaken, nor stubbornly remain asleep. We bear no responsibility for whatever the prevailing state may be. This is good news and a relief. You can stop tinkering with the character. Leave her alone. She’s weary of your constant direction and judgment.

Now that you have shifted your focus back onto yourself, where you might actually be able to wield some influence, there is even better news: you are already awake. But please don’t run this news back to the character. She would likely and rightly respond, “But I don’t feel awake.” Keep the news to yourself. It’s for you. You are awake!

It is actually even simpler than that. You are awakeness itself. You simply need to remember who you are.

But could I have become so deluded, if I am awakeness itself? Isn’t it the character who becomes deluded, and I, Oneness, am ever shining clear? Strangely enough, it is only awakeness that can become unconscious. If the character could be deluded, then it could awaken, which it cannot do. If anyone’s sleeping, it must be you, awakeness. After all, you’re the only one around. Don’t try to shift the blame elsewhere! Your shadow side can be projected onto an imaginary character, but still it remains nothing more than a manifestation of you.

So direct your attention away from this dream character. Don’t monkey with the monkey. It is using up your precious time and energy. Don't try to better it or prod it awake, or keep it awake. Relax back into who you truly are. You are the source of the light; you are the sun. You are eternally shining.

Continue to enjoy your dreams, but know you are dreaming. Should you ever again feel cloudy, know that this is from identifying too closely with your dream character. Delusion arises not because the dream character fails to see you clearly. It is because you are not seeing yourself clearly. Look in the mirror. You’ll be dazzled by your own reflection. You really are all that.