By Dr. Tan Kheng Khoo
There is no me or you, no seeker, no enlightenment, no disciple and no guru. There is no better or worse, no path, and nothing that has to be achieved. All appearance is source. All that apparently manifests—the world, the life story, the hypnotic dream of separation, the search for home, is the one appearing as two, the nothing appearing as everything, the absolute appearing as the particular.
There is no separate intelligence weaving a destiny, and no choice functioning at any level. Nothing is happening, but this, as it is, invites the apparent seeker to rediscover that which already is . . the abiding uncaused, unchanging, impersonal silence from which unconditional love overflows and celebrates. It is the wonderful mystery.. . Tony Parsons
Tony Parsons was born in London in 1933. At the age of 20 he discovered "the secret" of his intrinsic nature--unlimited awareness. Until 1996, Tony only shared this sudden but natural revelation with friends. Since 1996, Tony has been meeting with larger audiences and leading retreats throughout Europe. Tony is very approachable and easy to talk to. But his message is another thing.
Tony Parsons went through the same routine as anybody else in getting himself enlightened. He started on religion---Christianity. Then he tried therapy, meditation etc. All these efforts are of no avail. Then one day all of a sudden he was awakened while walking across a park in London. Seeing that this dissolution of the self is so unique and unpredictable, I prefer to use his own words in his book, The Open Secret.
“One day I was walking across a park in a suburb of London. I noticed as I walked that my mind was totally occupied with expectations about future events that might or might not happen. I seemed to choose to let go of these projections and simply be with my walking. I noticed that each footstep was totally unique in feel and pressure, and that it was there one moment and gone the next, never to be repeated in the same way again.
As all of this was happening there was a transition from me watching my walking to simply the presence of walking. What happened then is simply beyond description. I can only inadequately say in words that total stillness and presence seemed to descend over everything. All and everything became timeless and I no longer existed. I vanished and there was no longer an experiencer.
Oneness with all and everything was what happened. I can’t say I was at one because I had disappeared. I can only say that oneness with all and everything was what happened, and an overwhelming love filled every part. Together with this there came a total comprehension of the whole. All of this happened in a timeless flash, which seemed eternal.
Contained within and directly following this happening occurred a revelation so magnificent and revolutionary in its nature that I had to sit down on the grass in order to take in its consequence. What I saw was simple and obvious in one way but completely untranslatable in another. It was as if I had been given an answer that had no question. I had been shown a secret that is open secret; and that all and everything that is known or unknown contains and reflects this open secret. Nature, people, birth and death, and our struggles, our fears and our desires are all contained within and reflect unconditional love.
I felt I had been suddenly overtaken and everything took on a new sense. I looked at grass, trees, dogs and people, moving as before, but now I not only recognised their essence but I was their essence, as they were mine. It was in another way as if everything, including me, was enveloped in a deep and all-encompassing love, and in a strange way it seemed that what I saw was also somehow nothing special…it is the norm that is not usually perceived.
Why me and why now? How could I have deserved to receive such a gift for nothing in return? I was certainly not pure in the biblical sense, or so my mind told me. I had not lived a disciplined life of meditation or of spiritual dedication of any kind. This illumination had occurred without any effort on my part! I had apparently chosen to watch my walking in a very easy and natural way, and then this treasure had emerged.
I also came to recognise that this apparent gift had always been available and always would be. That was the most wonderful realisation of all! That utterly regardless of where, when or how I was, this presence was ready to emerge and embrace me. And this treasure was to be re-discovered not through arduous and seemingly significant practices and rituals. Not at all. This wonderful all-encompassing treasure was available within the essence of a footstep, in the sound of a tractor, in my feeling of boredom, in the sitting of a cat, in feelings of pain and rejection, on a mountaintop, or in the middle of Balham High Street. Anywhere and everywhere I am totally surrounded and embraced in stillness, unconditional love and oneness.
Later on I began to wonder how this treasure could be retained. But I have again and again come to see that what I had sought to rediscover can never be achieved or contained. There is nothing I have to do, and the very belief that I have to do anything to deserve this treasure, interrupts its inherent quality.
And this is again the paradox, for the divine instinct is continuously available, simply through the allowing of it. It is always at hand, in an eternal state of readiness…like the constant and faithful lover it is ready to respond to our every call.
When I allow it, it is, when I avoid it, it is.
It requires no effort, demands no standards and holds no preferences.
Being timeless it sees no path to tread, no debt to pay. Because it acknowledges no right or wrong, neither does it recognise judgement or guilt. Its love is absolutely unconditional. It simply watches with clarity, compassion and delight as I move out for my return.
It is my birthright. It is my home. It is already that which I am.”
That’s that. That is the total description of Tony Parsons’ enlightenment. He described enlightenment’s qualities as unconditional love, compassion, stillness, and joy. Enlightenment to him is the loss of self-hood and self-image and the eradication of a separate entity. Enlightenment also possesses another quality, which bridges the timeless and the illusory sense of separation. That quality is Presence, which is with us all the time but interrupted all the time by our expectations. Presence is within the essence of what is. This is where aliveness resides. Presence is like what other non-dualists called consciousness. Presence is timeless and is the source of nothing and everything.
Presence should also not be confused with “being here now” which is a continuous process of the separate self. Presence is welcoming of open awareness, which is dedicated to what is. Within this awareness there can still be someone who is conscious… say the taste of tea or the feeling of fear or the weight and texture of sitting on a seat. And then there can be a letting go of the one who is aware, and all that remains is Presence. All of this is totally without judgement, analysis, wish to reach conclusion or to become. There is no traffic and no expectation. Here is simply what is.
He cannot ‘do’ presence, simply because he is presence. Presence is totally effortless and is nearer to him than breathing. Presence can only be allowed and recognised.
Existence would not be if it were not for presence. Presence emanates from the source of all and everything known or unknown. We are the source of our own unique manifestation.
If there is no presence, we would remain separate. Presence is the light in the darkness. In Presence all action is uncluttered and unsullied. It is spontaneity born from stillness.
In allowing Presence, we embrace a kind of death. What dies is all judgement and expectation and effort to become. What dies is the stuff of separation and the sense of self-identity. If we let go of simply what is, we will be in a place of unknowing. With Presence it is the death of individuality. We do not need to feel constantly to be a separate entity.
When Presence is opened up we enter into oneness, which is what we really are. This is the bridge between the dualistic world and enlightenment, once crossed is no more. This is the open secret. In Presence there is awareness, which is the light that enters the darkness. When light enters darkness it dissipates those illusions that interrupt oneness. Awareness brings the light to evaporate all that is illusory.
Presence is available in any situation or freedom is already continuously available.
Presence is all-encompassing and is its own reward. When there is Presence the whole being relaxes into its embrace. There are no more questions and there is no more striving. I rest in that which never comes and never goes away.
When there is Presence there is total intimacy and the senses are heightened to a degree previously unrecognised. We see and touch in innocence, We taste and smell for the first time, and hear a new sound that is vital, fresh and unknown.
When there is Presence, all that is illusory falls away, and what is left is real, vital and passionately alive. Life full on… not my life not anyone’s life but simply life.
Presence does not bring heaven down to earth or earth up to heaven. All is one.
The World before Enlightenment
The experiences in this world are totally unique. Subsequently, the experiences shape the beliefs. At the unenlightened state, one started to spin the sequel of one's life, called “My Story”. The people or friends that are attracted have similar beliefs, experiences and inclinations. At this point, we thought that our belief systems can change our experiences. But what we truly are is beyond the limitation of experience and belief. There is a hidden agenda behind all our wishes, desires to create what we want. This agenda is a much more powerful principle of unconditional love that is inherently functioning continuously, but unrecognised. In this dualistic world, all existence is only a faint reflection of that hidden agenda which is continuously inviting us to remember what we really are. Within this invitation, there is no right or wrong, better or worse.
This dualistic existence is our state of dreaming. In this dream state, all the goings on are governed by the law of opposites: the positive is equally counterbalanced by the negative. We are on a wheel repeating itself over and over again in differing images. In spite of the apparent free will and choice, we are actually dreamed characters in a divine play.
We are the dreamers in this dream, which has absolutely no purpose other than our awakening from it. In reality we are surrounded by and embraced in unconditional love, whether we respond to it or not. The source of the hidden principle is ourselves, and it is fired by our longing to come home.
In this dream the main characteristics of the individual is fear and guilt. This is because the dreamer has a dream that in order to be enlightened he has to practice and purify to perfection. But in oneness, there is no individual, no separate person. There are only billions of body/minds striving to go home.
The Death of the Body/Mind
When we die it is merely the ending of a dream or the ending of a journey in time. When we die we are immediately awakened to unconditional love. When the body/mind is dropped there is no process of preparation or purification. There is no ‘after life’ or re-incarnation : these are illusions of the mind. The story is over. Not one jot could have been different. Our existence begins and ends with this dream that has been played out. We have always been the ocean and the waves, the darkness and the light, the nothing and the everything.
Thinking creates time and time creates thinking. While thinking I maintain my illusory sense of self-identity and separation. I think, therefore I continue.
My thinking in time grasps and divides, continuously producing ideas of progress towards satisfaction or calamity. It disturbs and speaks of order and make promises and speaks of destruction.
My time thinking moves backward and forward over a sea of memories and projections from a place I call myself.
No amount of thinking will tell me what I am, but understanding can take me to the river’s edge.
Stillness in not brought about by not thinking. Stillness is absolutely beyond the presence or absence of thought. I cannot make myself still, but when that which appears not to be still is seen, then that seeing emanates from stillness.
Creative thinking emerges from stillness.
Tony Parsons states:
I am not. . .
. . . my life story, the mind, the body, feelings, experiences of pain or pleasure, struggle, success or failure. I am not loneliness, stillness, frustration or compassion. I am not even what I think is my purpose, the seeking, the finding, or anything which is called a spiritual experience.
When I do not know what I am I sanctify these experiences, take ownership of them and give them great significance. I believe they mean something which, once understood, will give me answers and provide formulas. But these experiences are only consciousness concealing and revealing itself in order to be recognised. When I discover what I am I discover that I am not existence, I am the presence, which allows existence to be. Existence either blossoms in that presence or reflects back my sense of separation.
Tony Parsons continues:
I am. . .
. . .the divine expression exactly as I am, right here, right now. You are the divine expression exactly as you are, right here, right now. It is the divine expression, exactly as it is, right here, right now. Nothing, absolutely nothing, needs to be added or taken away. Nothing is more valid or sacred than anything else. No conditions need to be fulfilled. The infinite is not somewhere else waiting for us to become worthy.
I do not have to experience ‘the dark night of the soul’, or surrender, be purified, or go through any kind of change or process. How can the illusory separate self practise something in order to reveal that it is illusory?
I don’t need to be serious, honest, dishonest, moral or immoral, aesthetic or gross. There are no reference points. The life story that has apparently happened is uniquely and exactly appropriate for each awakening. All is just as it should be, right now. Not because it is a potential for something better, but simply because all that is, is divine expression.
The invitation to discover that there is no-one who needs liberating is constant. There is no need to wait for moments of transformation, to look for the non-doer, permanent bliss, an ego-less state, or a still mind.
I don’t even have to wait for grace to descend. For I am, you are, it is already the abiding grace.
The Book---The Open Secret
Here it says that enlightenment is a sudden, direct and energetic illumination that is continuously available. It is the open secret, which reveals itself in every part of our lives. No effort, path of purification, process or teaching of any kind can take us there. For the open secret is not about our effort to change the way we live. It is about the rediscovery of what it is that lives.
No one concept, or set of concepts, can express enlightenment. It is quite futile to share with others through words what we truly are. Verbal communication can only be an expression of an understanding. Parsons is sharing his understanding of what he feels as the most significant and liberating insight that is possible to comprehend.
There is nothing new being expressed here. It has been written and spoken about in various ways and from differing influences and backgrounds. We have all an inkling of it.
There are various reactions to the Open Secret when they first hear of it. They either do not believe in it or retort that “life is not that simple” or “enlightenment takes time”. Some insist that freedom can only realised through effort, sacrifice and discipline. Some having heard made the leap to enlightenment in their unique way.
This insight has no connection with belief, path or process. It cannot be taught but it is continuously shared. Because it is our inheritance, no-one can lay claim to it. It can only remain unrecognised and rejected, or realised and lived.
The above covers the whole essential ingredients of his book, “The Open Secret”. Out of his five books, 'The Open Secret' is the only narrative in which he describes his act of awakening and elaborating on features of that state. The other four books are all dialogues of his retreats in various countries. There are quite a few gems arising out of these dialogues. I will bring out some of these to illuminate how crisp and precise his mind is and how powerful is his grasp of the English language. These four books are:
1.Nothing Being Everything
2.All There Is
3.Invitation To Awaken
4.As It Is.
Starting with 'All There Is', he states:
All there is is this . . .and that . . .
the one appearing as two
nothing appearing as everything
the absolute appearing as the particular
emptiness appearing as fullness
the uncaused appearing as the caused
unicity appearing as separation
subject appearing as object
the singular appearing as plurality
the impersonal appearing as the personal
the unknown appearing as the known
It is silence sounding and stillness moving and these
words appearing as pointers to the wordless
. . .and yet nothing is happening
At the opening of the London seminar in October 2002, Tony Parsons said:
“I'd better warn you right away that I'm not an enlightened person and no person in this room will ever become enlightened. There is no such thing as an enlightened person. It is a contradiction in terms.
I would also like to say that what is going on here is not a teaching of any kind. There is nothing that is taught here, because there is no one here who needs to learn anything.”
A master can call himself enlightened and promises that he can help you to be enlightened too. This is a fallacy, because awakening is the realisation that there is no one there. It is utterly simple. Seeing that there is no one---there is only being--- so how could anyone do anything? All there is is being. And what arises in that being is the idea that “you” exist. It is just an idea, it is just a thought, that there is someone.
Awakening is simply the dropping of an idea, a pretence, an idea of pretending to be someone. Once this message is heard, then the 'me' simply drops away. The idea of 'me', the pretence of 'me' is absent and there is what is always there—simply being.
There is no story. The story is a pretence. This story about your life is going nowhere. All there is is this. 'There is simply life. There is no story—there is simply life'.
Oneness plays the game of being two asleep looking for oneness. When awakening happens, it is only the dropping away of taking two-ness seriously; that's all we're talking about here. . .This whole thing is as simple as this--all that's in the way of awakening is a false idea. It's a pretence which you've been conditioned to believe. And when the idea that you are two drops away, there is oneness.
Oneness is immaculate, because the whole source of everything is only unconditional love, and obviously it embraces everything, including hatred and anger. Nothing is excluded—all is the absolute.
Someone who dies becomes light, which he was all along. There is no one that died, and there is no karma or after life or re-incarnation. These are the ideas of the mind which longs to go on and on forever. This is like a wave in the ocean: we are the waves and the ocean at the same time. If you insist that you are a wave and separate from the rest, then you have not awakened. It is actually the ocean waving.
Awakening has nothing to do with goodness or bliss-- awakening is the realisation that there is only oneness and two-ness arises in that.
I am all there is. Awakening is aliveness. It's a love affair with aliveness. It's about dropping the idea that anybody has a life and realising that all there is is life. You do not have a life--- you are life, and in life ego, desire, hatred, love all happen. And I am the one in which that happens. And so are you.
Nothing can hasten or bring about awakening. One realises that it is pointless trying so hard. This hopelessness leads one to let go and the seeing of this may help. Once the seed has been planted, everything starts to change and something new takes over. The happening is beyond the mind, beyond the heart and beyond understanding. It is also beyond good or bad. Expecting something amazing, the awakening is very ordinary and quite an anticlimax, but it is also magnificent.
The character and personality of the person has no bearing on the awakening. It can happen to anyone, but not to a special person. It is the constant unconditional love that makes Bill or Mary drop his or her ego. It is what is. Nobody can realise that, because there is no one there to realise that. There is no one seeing. It is simply seeing because there is no one there.
Brecon Residential - November 2002
It is just a shift in perception from this to that. It is utterly simple, utterly direct and available. Enlightenment is totally available. Light is all there is. All these ideas that you have about climbing a mountain and meditating for twenty years, giving up desire . . . Awakening has nothing to do with any of that. Light is all there is. There is nothing that has to be done, simply because it is just seeing of this. Who has to do anything about that? There is always this. Wherever you go, there is only this.
Don't get the idea that awakening can only happen to people who have been intently seeking for years. There are quite a number of people, who have never been down any path or made any effort or been devoted in any way, and for whom awakening has happened and is apparently established.
There is nothing belonging to a central 'me'. What arises is a need to satisfy a hunger drive---not to satisfy my hunger drive. In normal language, we personalise all the need or suffering. There is no one who is suffering or who is hungry. Hunger just arises.
What can happen in awakening is that people move into something which Parsons call detachment or non-identification. It's not actually awakening but it is an opening to awakening that happens; and in it, there is awareness of objects arising. One lives in an awareness which is very detached from everything; it is non-identified with everything. But subtly there is awareness of objects arising, so in a subtle way there is still a dualism. Liberation is not anything to do with non-identification or detachment—it is a love affair. It is the ultimate love affair. It is the marriage of ice and fire. But let us be very clear that this arises in awareness and it is not therefore necessary to be in a relationship. Relationship is only a representation of the awakening that is beyond it and yet embraces it. The apparent body/mind organism consists of both, the masculine and feminine polarities, as everything does.
On the other side, feminine energy can have a very emotional sort of experience which is very powerful and has all the colour and fire of love, devotional love. But somewhere there is not the impersonality there that the male energy has. And then what happens is that if there is a real marriage of clarity and passion, then again liberation can happen.
So really liberation is just a marriage. It is not just a marriage—it is the marriage. Fire and ice extinguish each other and the result is nothing awakening into everything.
The mind gets hold of the idea that what it's looking for is a state; what it's looking for is something that it can hang on to and fence in. Meditation is one of the ways in which the mind tries to establish such a state. The theory is -- quite rightly, it seems-- that if you sit and meditate, then it's possible that you can reach a state where there is no longer a meditator. So you could say you are reaching a state where there is no 'me'. And people can sit and formally meditate and find that there is a space where there is no meditator, where there is no one there any longer. That state can stay around for hours, minutes or seconds or whatever.
The difficulty is that thereafter the apparent meditator comes back and gets up and goes out into the kitchen to make a cup of tea, and there is a frustration because that state that was there is no longer necessarily there. There is also a meditation where one can create a state of bliss which can be very lovely. When one goes off to do something or one comes back, then again that is not necessarily there any more.
The theory is that the more one can promote this state of there being no meditator or there being bliss, then maybe it will permanently stay there and you can live in bliss or live in there being no one. But actually, the whole thing is artificial in that it is based on the idea that enlightenment is something apart from what is normally known. 'There is a state called “no one” which is enlightenment. Therefore if I can capture that, I can somehow put a piece of fencing around it and maybe live in it'. The frustration with meditation is that it is like holding sand in your hand---it just runs right through. This kind of attempt to fix something is like trying to write on water.
What we are talking about here is something that actually already is the case. What we are talking about here is something that has never come and never goes away. It is presence. It is stillness . . .The words do not express it, but it is not a state and it is not something that is here and then is not here. It is actually all there is.
Nowadays, when one is awakened, there is no explosion as in 40-50 years ago. Everything seems so ordinary these days. It is not a big deal.
Amsterdam - April 2002
You are the main actor in a film, but you are not the screen or the film. You are the light that allows the film to be. And if you see it all from another point of view, you begin to open up to the possibility of dropping the idea of a journey towards somewhere that you'll never get to. You'll never get there—you are already there. And so in a way, the film is sacred. It is telling you are that. Something wants to get you out of the idea that you are on a journey.
When there is simply presence, all meaning ends. Meaning is always attached to a story--'We are going somewhere'. There is nothing to be frightened of. It's the only security there is. Presence is the only secure constant.
Everything that has apparently happened in your life is absolutely perfectly appropriate. Not one thing could have been any different. That's the way it had to be. If, for instance, in your work, you look back and say,
'With that person. I could have done better', actually that person needed exactly what happened-- not another thing that seemed to be better- as the absolute invitation for them. The invitation is present and being re-created all of the time, and when it seems as if somebody apparently behaves against a person or could have 'done better' with them, in fact what happened at the time was totally appropriate. It is totally appropriate to 'no one'.
Unworthiness is something we grow up with- that's part of the drama. We grow up, most of us, feeling unworthy about being able to deal with the world, and feeling unworthy in ourselves in comparison with the perfect images of other people seem to be better than us. And we come to this sort of thing, of course, we feel even more unworthy. We look at people like Ramana Maharshi and say, 'Well, I can never be like that'.
It's all a way of avoiding the actual reality, and that is that what we are is beyond who we think we are or are not. There is no way that anybody has to be more intelligent, more sensitive . . What you are is the one, the absolute, the presence, the immaculate conception.
The idea that you are a person is something that was adopted when you are a kid, and since then you have gone on reinforcing the idea until you take it really seriously. You take seriously that original idea that you are separate and that you are an individual. You've spent years building up a very strong belief in your existence. There is a huge investment in the person you think you are; you think that's a real thing. You take seriously the idea of the person and for years and years you have maintained and created a life that sustains that person and serves that person. For years and years you have protected that person and tried to satisfy the needs of that person.
And there is a belief that if that person is not there, then that is the end of everything. The other fear that arises, is that if the person is not there one's mind is lost and one's mind becomes unbalanced. Certainly, for most people it is losing that which is in a way most precious- the sense of 'me'.
Awakening does not come down to you – there is simply light. The apparent darkness that overlays the light is the idea that there's a person there, which has been reinforced during what seems like a process of years. But that feeling of there being a person can drop away in your conscious day just like that – because it is simply an idea.
And that is what awakening is – the realisation that there is no one to awaken. Liberation arises when it is discovered that there is no one to liberate.
Amsterdam - July 2002
People come here with the idea that if they listen to the words, if they succeed in understanding the nature of what they are, they can fall in that. But it doesn't work like that, because the nature of what we are is totally beyond understanding. In fact, it is understanding that falls away before clear seeing happens. Clear seeing has nothing to do with understanding.
The only thing that can happen here, in terms of understanding, is the dropping of the ideas you have about enlightenment, about what you think you are. The ideas can drop away and you can be left with no idea, with nothing. And when you are left with nothing, what emerges is this. What emerges is the invitation. All of the sensory messages that you're getting – touching, smelling, seeing – are all the lover inviting you to see that there is only oneness.
It is utterly simple and totally immediate. You are sitting in what you are. In fact, you are what is.
And it has nothing to do with who you think you are. You are just a character in a play. The play is not going to change – nothing is going to get better or worse – but what emerges is the one that sees. Clear seeing is simply seeing without anyone being there.
All the time we are looking from the point of view of the separate being, we do not see what is really there; we see through a veil. Somewhere we are still trying to get something out of what we see – we look and hear in order to get something back. In clear seeing there is no one there who wants anything, and so what is seeing there is no one there who wants anything, and so what is seen is the reality. The reality that there is only oneness.
You can not drop 'you'. There is no one there – there has never been anyone there who could drop or choose anything, so there is nothing that can be done. But there is something, just behind you, looking at you sitting here looking at me. What is seen is the character that has never needed to become anything better, that is totally and absolutely perfect in the play. That doesn't need to change for this clarity to happen; it can not change. There is no question of you having to change in order for liberation to happen. Liberation has nothing to do you.
Everybody in the world for whom awakening has not happen feels alienated. Whether there is a war going on, or whether you live in a beautiful penthouse in New York . . . .all the time there is a sense of separation there is something missing. After awakening that apparent life story still goes on but the identification with it is totally lost. However, the difficulty with the mind is that it tends to personalise awakening. Oneness has nothing to do with anyone and totally embraces all that appears, including ego, belief and knowing. Liberation denies nothing. Knowledge and ego are oneness ego-ing and knowledge-ing. All of it is the dance happening. It is all the one, playing the game of two.
Berlin - January 2002
There is only source appearing ...
In the film projector, there is light, a constant light. And the film – which is your life runs through the projector. It runs through with all the characters on it and at the end it falls out and is not there any more.
What you are is the light, eternal light. The light is the no-thing from which everything arises. And what also rises is this character sitting here. You are the presence, the absolute, the nothing or the light which allows that character to be there.
The light is the knowing, but there is no creation and no story – only the appearance. This is difficult, because in a way the story emanates from the light, but the light is timeless, totally impersonal and still. Therefore there is not something in the light making the story up. The story just manifests. It is not something that can be understood . . it is the divine mystery.
And what is even more difficult to understand is that there is not a purpose or a journey – there is only this. There never was a beginning and there never will be an end. There never was a moment where the source rested and did not know itself and then wanted to know itself and created this. That never happened – nothing ever happens. There is only the eternal this.
There apparently is a story – here is Tony Parsons and there is the world – but it is just an image. And it is only one image. The mind makes it into a series of images called a story. But actually, it is only one image. It is light . . It is oneness.
This is beyond understanding. It is a mystery – the mind can never conceive of this. Parsons can only confirm that the light knows itself. There is a knowing. And it knows itself as everything and nothing.
There is not something which is at rest and which then creates something. In the eternal manifestation is the rest, the stillness and the movement, the emptiness and the fullness – everything. And until that is seen, there is always that subtle separation of 'me seeing conciousness manifesting'.
Words are difficult. There are several words you could use for what I call the source - the light, presence, the absolute, the nothing which is everything, the emptiness, consciousness, the beloved. Those words all mean the one thing.
You and I are not the source. There is only the source. There is not anyone there that is the source – there is only the source, there is only presence. There is only awareness. These are words. They cannot express what you are. It is impossible.
Out of the source emanates unconditional love. Stillness is the nature of the source and everything in the world or in appearance has that nature of unconditional love, stillness and impersonality.
Again, there are words - there is no way in which they really express what is. The apparent should be used in front of everything. It is all only apparent. It is all only a metaphor, a parable, a suggestion, a reflection of another possibility.
Awakening brings a totally different perception. It is not you who has that perception – it is no one who has that perception. Awakening is the realisation that there is no one there. And when there is no one, all that has been talked about is seen by no one, including the character Bill or Mary; they arise in that.
All the time there is only one image or there is not. There is only the beloved. There is only the absolute appearing as the particular or not, eternally. It is all there is. Wherever you go in the world, whatever you see is the source appearing. All you see is the beloved, apparently moving, apparently in something called time. It embraces all those things that seem to make it into a story.
Berlin - June 2002
This is you being the wall (pointing at the wall). When there is no one, then that is simply seen. There is nothing magical or strange about that. The one is totally ordinary, and very natural. That is the way we are.
In a way finding it or not finding it does not matter, because there is nothing to find and there is nothing lost. When the body/mind dies and the mind ceases its function of dividing everything, there is oneness, Now that can happen within the living body, which people call enlightenment; it always happens at death. When the mind ceases this function of splitting, there is oneness. So there is no hurry.
Separation is the root of fear, but when there is no one, there can still be fear. When there is no one, then that no one is everything and lives in appearance where fear arises. Let us also be clear that even after awakening, a sense of separation can still arise, but it has nothing to hold on to so it leaves again. Once the one is established, the one sees all, and fear can come, be seen and fall away – everything is transient.'Wisdom is knowing that you are nothing – love is knowing you are everything'. There is still a subtle 'me' in staying with wisdom, as there is no clarity.
It is the silence that sees the thoughts. Stillness is not stillness of the mind – stillness is that which sees that there is thought. You could say that everything emanates from silence. Silence is absence and needs nothing. Thoughts arise out of silence and fall back into silence . . this is the manifestation of oneness.
Invitation to Awaken
This book has the same contents as As It Is except for two chapters. It includes dialogues in Southern California and it is an in-depth exploration started in As It Is.
The synopsis of this book is as follows:
The Source, full of unconditional love, emanates through Absolute Being again filled with love. When it chooses a particular body/mind to manifest it also incurs the help of consciousness as an executor to run things in this 'apparent body/mind' in the apparent world. Presence also lives through the body/mind at all times.
Absolute awareness is synonymous with Being, unconditional love, and the beloved, which are all the oneness. This absolute awareness is using consciousness to manifest everything from no-thing. At the beginning consciousness is all that appears to arise. So you, I, and we are all the source of all that seems to be happening, including the illusion of separation and the longing to come. Everything is part of consciousness arising as creation. The one creates the many, and in that plurality resides the illusion of separation that we play as a game.
The concept of time and space are also held in consciousness. As consciousness is all there is, one has to go beyond it to look for the reality of Being. Although life appears as to be composed of separate events, it is actually one photograph. The mind pieces together one apparently separate photograph with the next one and the next one, and it thinks that all these pictures tell a story. But it is simply Being that is manifesting, whose only meaning is the invitation to awaken.
Being is also the light which runs through this game. The manifestation is also filled with presence, which is unconditional love. Different words are used to point to this nameless source. You are the no-thing which is the constant, and everything emanates from this no-thing. Our timeless nature is closer to us than our breath.
Presence, which is constantly with us, is very subtle, still and silent. It exists behind thoughts. It is the witness of our thoughts and feelings. It has always been there, watching everything that has gone in our apparent life. Everything that has happened has been perfectly appropriate as an invitation to see behind all the activity into our true nature. Behind all the activity, searching, fighting, and struggling is the lover, who simply watches the game and waits for the activity to end.
The lover also watches the mind as it thinks. There is no individual; there is simply Being pretending to be you and me. We can not do anything to awaken because there is no one to do it. No one can tell you to awaken because there is no one to do it. No one can tell you to do anything or can help you do anything because nobody needs any help to awaken from the game of the one being two.
There is no one here except Being, which is also “I am That”. Being allows everything to be as it is. Everything is perfect: you don't have to convince anybody else. Just drop the belief that you do not get it because you are it, just as you are. Nothing has to be better. Nothing ever happens; the whole creation is simply an appearance. It has absolutely no meaning. It will never get better, and it will never get worse. It is always like this. And the only purpose you will find for creation is the invitation for the truth seeker to awaken and rediscover that there is only one. Nothing is going anywhere, and no one needs to go anywhere since this is it.
Before this great adventure began ----- although it never really did begin and it will never end---- we are pure Being, held a committee meeting and decided to play a game of manifestation, which includes the idea of separation. We decided to spilt up into little bits and pretend to be separate beings who were no longer in touch with our own source. However, we also decided that at some point in the adventure we would want to come back home. How to do it? So we decided that everything that manifested would offer an invitation to return. This means that everything you are looking at this moment is the source of all that is. Whatever it is the wall, a piano, or a chair, everything comes from the source, the Absolute, which is unconditional love. Everyone is the One, playing the game of separation and pretending to be two.
Everything manifested comes from the source of light and love. Therefore, it is always at home in its original nature, which is what you are. You are looking at yourself manifesting as the flower or the wall. If you become intimate with any seemingly separate thing, you can lose your illusory separate self in that intimacy. It can die in that intimacy, just like making love. Sometimes when we make love, we can vanish in the rapture of union. We can die to ourselves by being intimate with anything-- the wall, the floor, another person, music or feelings in the body. In each case, the beloved extends an invitation to the lover and says, “Come home”. There is not anything that is not the beloved, and Being's sole purpose is to invite our apparently separate self to come home.
Sometimes awakening happens to people who have no idea about anything we are talking here. A book called Super Consciousness Revisited has accounts of ten such awakenings, six of them by people who have never heard of the words “enlightenment” or “meditation”. These awakenings happen simply because everyone is in the invitation. What the body/mind sees is a separate manifestation, an unreal world. When awakening arises and the sense of “me” drops away, what remains is the real world, which is simply a manifestation of unconditional love. One no longer sees separate people; one sees unconditional love “people-ing”. That perception can take place only in the consciousness, where the sense of “I am” arises as unconditional love, people-ing. The source of all this is pure Being.
Before I came across Tony Parsons, my idea of the universe is that all of us including animals, vegetables and all minerals (inert materials) are empowered by the Universal Consciousness. Humans have the most and minerals have the least amount of consciousness in them. There is nothing personal or individualistic about the impregnation of consciousness. All there is is consciousness. However Tony Parsons has gone backwards in his interpretation of Advaita to that of the Source, which emanates to each body/mind a Beingness. This Being is constant and it is nowhere and everywhere. An awareness can happen in Being. This awareness is transient: it comes and goes. This awareness can also contract a consciousness to oversee all the activities of the body/mind through the mind. Sometime after being born, this body/mind was given a personality as either Mary or John, which is separate from mother. From thence onwards, the body/mind continues to reinforce the self as an individual, who now lives only in a dream. This separate person becomes a seeker right away hoping to become enlightened one day. When the body/mind awakens from its dream or become enlighten, it is at that moment when it recognises that there is no self in its body/mind. It is at that moment when the light will disperse the darkness and there is only seeing, but no body is seeing. There is hearing but no body is hearing. He will then realise that only Presence propels all the humans, animals, vegetables and minerals in the universe. This Presence is an impersonal energy that enervates all categories that inhabit the universe. This Presence is also imbued by unconditional love. On its own it is silent and still, but consciousness brings in an incessant movement through the mind. Presence is synonymous with Beingness.
Tony Parsons teaches the above as a true and accurate version of Advaita. This is the absolute interpretation of Non-duality. It is high-powered. It is also not coloured by his personal tinted glasses. Neither is it tainted by any religion. Fortunately his English is excellent and his teachings come out with clarity, the more so because non-duality is the most difficult dogma or philosophy for a person to understand. Unfortunately, his students are still very much in this world and very dualistic in their thinking. So his students would have to make a great leap to his level of non-dualistic understanding. The chasm is very wide indeed. Fortunately the books of his retreats are all verbatim dialogues of his teachings. And therefore for those who have come across Advaita teachings from other teachers (even if they have been wrongly taught), a superficial understand of what Advaita stands for can help in enjoying the dialogues.
Parsons reckons that in Oneness, there is no one that can do anything and there is nothing that needs to be done or known. There has never been anyone to do anything. The whole misconception that keeps us firmly in the sense of being separate is the idea that we can do anything or the idea that we need to do anything. Why do we need to do anything? There is just what is happening. It is all immaculately complete and without need. Awareness is a transitory state and it needs another object to be aware of. This is also dualism. In reality there is no one, nowhere to go, no goal and no prize. All there is is this. The difference between there is just being that is happening and that it is happening to you is immeasurable. There is no person and no choice. There is also no past, no future and no present. These are all concepts of a separate person arising in time with goals, meaning, purpose, cause and effect, karma, and past lives. So the seeker will go and look for a guru who will tell him the meaning of life and how to get out of life by enlightenment through effort, sacrifice, devotion, change, personal refinement of the body/mind or whatever teaching of becoming.
Many people after coming across Parsons' teachings will say that it is all hogwash or a gimmicky concept. It is a belief with strong concepts concerning an awakened state. One can easily work oneself up towards this state of enlightenment, especially if one were to listen to Tony Parson often enough or read all his books often enough. The crux of the 'practice' is to believe and to conceive that there is no self in this body/mind complex. Some people might call it brain-washing.
Others who have been practising for many years and are quite tired of not getting anywhere will welcome this radical teaching. This is because there is no need of a practice: no meditation, no therapy, no purification and no devotion. One just need be sceptical of any religion or any practice and one fine day it will happen: the 'me' will just drop away and one is awaken to be a nobody. This is most enticing. So why not try it---a lazy man's guide to enlightenment!
The remainder will keep in mind this teaching, but continue with his hitherto practice. This is the 'wait and see' attitude.
In the chapter, A Happy Life in the Lotus Sutra, Buddha encourages his disciples to meditation and seclusion in order to control his mind. In this first sphere of intimacy of a bodhisattva he taught:
“Further, a bodhisattva-mahasattva contemplates all existences as Void-----appearances as they really are, neither upside down, nor moving, nor receding, nor turning, just like space, of the nature of nothingness, cut off from the course of all words and expressions, unborn, not coming forth, not arising, nameless, formless, really without existence, unimpeded, infinite, boundless, unrestrained, only existing by causation, and produced through perversion (of thought).
In another translation of this chapter from the Lotus Sutra:
The Buddha said, "Do not try to apprehend phenomena, to understand or to see them. This is what I call the practices of the Bodhisattva. All phenomena are empty, without being, without any constant abiding, without arising or extinction. This, I call the position the wise person associates himself with. From upside downness comes distinctions, that phenomena exist, do not exist, are real, are not real, are born, are not born....Place yourself in quiet surroundings, learn to still your mind, remain tranquil, unmoving, like Mount Sumeru. Look upon all phenomena as having no existence, like empty space, as without firmness or hardness, not born, not emerging, not moving, not regressing, constantly abiding in a single form."
This teaching is pure non-duality (Advaita). One can see how similar Tony Parsons' Open secret is to this Lotus Sutra.
The above is Mahayana Buddhism. The older and original variety of Buddhism is Theravada Buddhism. Buddha 's teaching is that life is Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta. Anicca is change. Dukkha is suffering or insecurity. And Anatta is selflessness i.e. Non-self. This last is based on the doctrine of Dependent Origination found in the original Theravada Pali texts. This theory enunciates that everything in the universe is empty of any essence. Whatever is present is conditioned by volitional actions which is also conditioned by consciousness. Consciousness itself is conditioned by the body/mind. Ananda, who is Buddha's attendant and cousin asked Buddha: “People say the word Sunya (Void). What is no self? And anything pertaining to self in this world is empty. Therefore this world is empty”
One can see that Buddhism is full of emptiness and void. Both versions of Buddhism emphasised Void and emptiness. His Anatta doctrine is unique in those days compared to all other religions, except Advaita of Hinduism.
Bernadette Roberts wrote a book called “The Experience of No-Self” in1982. In its introduction she states:
“This is the personal account of a two-year journey during which I experienced the falling away of everything I can call a self. It was a journey through an unknown passage-way that led to a life so new and different that, despite forty years of varied contemplative experiences, I never suspected its existence. Because it was beyond my expectations, the experience of no-self remained incomprehensible in terms of any frame of reference known to me and though I searched the libraries and book stores, I did not find there an explanation or an account of a similar journey which, at the time, would have been clarifying and most helpful.
Between the ages of 15 to 25 I lived in relative seclusion following the Christian contemplative tradition to pursue the Christian goal of union with God. Within the traditional framework, the Christian notion of loss-of-self is generally regarded as a transformation of the ego or lower self into the true or higher self as it approaches union with God; throughout the journey, however, the self retains its individual uniqueness and never loses its ontological sense of personal selfhood. Thus, the notion I maintained of being lost to myself meant, at the same time, being found in God as the sharer of a divine life. It meant a permanent state in which God, the “still-point” at the centre of being, was ever accessible to the contemplative gaze—a point from which the life of the self arises and into which it sometimes disappears. But this loss-of-self is only transient. It does not constitute a permanent state, nor did it occur to me that it could ever do so.”
“I took for granted the self was the totality of being, body and soul, mind and feelings; a being centre around God, its power-axis and still-point. I never found any true self apart from God. Because this was the limit of my expectation, I was all the more surprised and bewildered when I came upon a permanent state in which there was no self, not even a higher self, a true self, or anything that could be called a self. Clearly, I had fallen outside my own, as well as the traditional, frame of reference when I came upon a path that seemed to begin where the writers on the contemplative life had left off. But with the clear certitude of the self's disappearance, there automatically arose the question of what had fallen away--- what was the self? What, exactly, had it been? Then too, there was the all-important question: what remained in its absence? This journey was the gradual revelation of the answers to these questions, answers that had to be derived solely from personal experience since no outside explanation was forthcoming.”
There are two movements in her contemplative life. The first is towards self's union with God which runs parallel with the psychological process of integration, wherein the emphasis is on interior trials and dark nights by which the self is established in a permanent union with God---the still-point and axis of its being.
“After an interval of months or years, during which this union is tested by a variety of exterior trials whereby this oneness is revealed in all its enduring depths of stability and toughness against all forces that would move, fragment, or disturb its centre. The onset of the second movement is characterised by the falling away of the self and a coming upon “that” which remains when it is gone. But this going-out is an upheaval, a complete turnabout of such proportions it cannot possibly be missed, under-emphasized, or sufficiently stressed as a major landmark in the contemplative life. It is far more than the discovery of life without a self. The immediate, inevitable result is a change of consciousness, an emergence into a new way of knowing that entails a tremendous readjustment when the self can no longer be an object of awareness. The reflective mechanism of the mind---or whatever it is that allows us to be self-conscious-- is cut off or permanently suspended so the mind is ever after held in a fixed now-moment, out of which it cannot move in it uninterrupted gaze upon the Unknown.
This journey then, is nothing more, yet nothing less, than a period of acclimatising to a new way of seeing; a time of transition and revelation as it gradually comes upon “that” which remains when there is no self. This is not a journey for those who expect love and bliss; rather, it is for the hardy who have been tried in fire and have come to rest in the tough, immovable trust in “that” which lies beyond the known, beyond the self, beyond union, and even beyond love and trust itself.
Since the moment self-consciousness comes to a permanent end-- and the journey begins---is such a decisive stroke or milestone in the contemplative life, it is a great puzzle why the writers did not say anything about this second movement. Maybe the contemplatives take it lightly or they downplay it because they do not understand it. Lastly they might have thought that the two movements were actually one.
Bernadette Roberts then elaborated in her book the details of the process of the second movement.
The above 3 examples show that the emptiness of self theory is not new nor unique. Tony Parsons, however, has explained in detail the process of dropping the self. The above three examples did not describe the elimination of self in such elaborate detail. I will let the article stop here for all those who want to study and to decide for themselves whether Buddha had the same realisation in dropping of 'me' as described by Tony Parsons.
1. Parsons, Tony. 1995. The Open Secret. Open Secret Publishing.
2. Parsons, Tony. 2005. Invitation to Awaken. Inner Directions.
3. Parsons, Tony. 2003. All There Is. Open Secret Publishing.
4. Parsons, Tony. 2007. Nothing Being Everything. Open Secret Publishing.
5. Roberts, Bernadette. 1982. The Experience of No-Self. Shambala Publications, Inc.