Burgs - The Flavour Of Liberation Part 2
Interview by Renate McNay
Renate: Hello, and welcome to conscious.tv. My name is Renate McNay, and my guest today is Burgs. Hello Burgs.
Burgs: Hello, good morning
Renate: Nice to have you here. Burgs is a teacher of meditation and chi gong, and he has written three book. They are The Flavour of Liberation volume 1 and 2, and Beyond the Veil. I’ve only had time to dip in and out and I’ve decided I have to go for a long vacation to read these books.
Burgs: Apologies they’re so long…
Renate: They are really fascinating. So Burgs, you’ve just finished an interview with Iain, and I would like to pick up on something which you mentioned at the end: that we all would benefit from organising our minds. Now that seems to be such a big project – a lifelong project. So how can we do that?
Burgs: Gosh. How can we do it? Well, first of all let’s look at why it is important…
Renate: And yes, why it is important?
Burgs: Yes, why it is important, yes. Well as we were just discussing, the quality of our mind is the definitive factor in the quality of our experience and if our mind is poorly organised, our capacity to really enter into our experience in a balanced and rewarding way is usually compromised. So we tend to think that our happiness will be the result of finding a pleasurable experience. But there is no guarantee that meeting what we might hope would be a pleasurable experience will be satisfying, if the mind in that moment is extremely scattered, or poorly organised, or overwhelmed, or stressed, or whatever. So… since the only thing that is with us for twenty four hours of every single day of our life is our mind, taking care of the quality of it, is something that investing in, will bring tremendous benefits to us. So…how do we do it, you say. Well I mean, what I’m suggesting is that if we look at meditation as a vehicle by which we might make our mind fitter and more healthy, in the way that we might look at participating in a fitness regime, or sport to get our physical body more healthy, then in the way that gradually refining our physical capacity means that our body is better able to carry us through the life, taking care of this physical body, which we all agree is very worth doing, whether we do it or not, equally perhaps more importantly taking care of our mental health will impact and contribute towards the quality of our life, every bit as much, as our physical health.
Renate: Yes. You know, it seems that we are in such a difficult time at the moment and people are really struggling with all these thoughts, and with what’s going on in the mind, and how to survive. Isn’t one of the reasons we suffer, that we believe what our mind is telling us?
Burgs: [laughs] Yes, interesting. Yes The Buddha said, “That of all the things that bring beings to suffering, nothing brings suffering more than our inclination to come to views, and that it’s the coming to view and ideas, that bring beings more suffering, than anything else”. We… have this perceived need to try to understand what’s going on within us, and within our lives and often it’s as a result of not being able to pay enough attention to what is going on so that we see the suchness of it. So the gap in our understanding, the gap in our experience actually is what our mind is. Our mind is the function of consciousness that we use to try and to add meaning to what we perceive ourselves to be experiencing. And it’s quite likely to be the case that eighty percent of our experience or more, is our abstract inner world of ideas of what we think, or perceive might be going on, and twenty percent, or maybe even less is our actual experience, of what is actually going on. So not so much attention to what is going on, but an awful lot of thinking about what might be going on.
Burgs: Now that produces a tremendous amount of noise, energetic noise – all this fluctuation and variation in the mind - and the one thing that appears within your body twenty four hours of every day, is your consciousness. And everyone would agree that the quality of the food that you eat has a huge impact upon your state of wellbeing and order within the body. But what you eat today isn’t there tomorrow, you eat something different the next day it has a different effect. But your mind is appearing all the time in your body. And the quality with which it appears has a tremendous impact. You only have to look at what happens to you if you don’t sleep for one or two days, how quickly the body starts to break down. Now why is that? Because sleep is the only time we get a rest…
Renate: … from our mind. [laughs]
Burgs: ...From our mind. Yes. Our body literally cannot cope with what the mind does to it, which is why we have to remove the mind from the equation for long enough so the body’s innate intelligence can do its job of reorganising us and bringing us back into a state of balance. So yes, organising our mind is an extremely worthwhile thing to learn to do.
Renate: Yes. There’s something you just mentioned which triggered a question, and that is, you are talking about our bodies are breaking down. Can you say a little bit more? Why are our bodies breaking down?
Burgs: mmm. Well if we look at the proliferation of chronic and degenerative sickness, it is far more prevalent today, than it has been. We’ve always suffered from sickness, but it in the past it was usually infectious disease that was the major cause of illness, sickness, decay and death. But chronic, degenerative breaking down of our body is far more prevalent today. And there are a number of reasons for it, but one of the reasons is the fact that our minds have become so inordinately complex. The number of things that we have ideas about, attitudes about, opinions about, our insistence upon these attitudes, opinions and views, the forming of them. The complexity of the ideas that we have about who we think we are these days, is so elaborate that the energetic noise that this complex mind creates within the body, it’s very, very difficult for this extraordinarily delicate piece of machinery to integrate. We know more about health physically than we have ever known and yet we are sicker than we have ever been. Now, it’s not all because of what’s going on in our mind. Our minds have become more overwhelmed. We have got more things that we are trying to do. We have less time to apply ourselves to what we are actually doing. So we are more scattered than we’ve been. We’re more overwhelmed by what we’re doing than we’ve ever been before, because there’s just so much more going on in our mind all the time. Even though it’s not the only cause for this proliferation of degenerative conditions, it is a major issue. We spend a lot of time trying to look at how our diet is impacting our health.
We spend a lot of time looking at how the quality of our environment is impacting our health. And we do the best we can hopefully, to organise our environment and what we put in our body, in such a way that it would support it, hopefully. But even doing that, we still might get sick. I mean, one thing is interesting that I’ve noticed running meditation retreats, we get an awful lot of people looking for specialist diets these days and more and more all the time. There’s more and more food intolerances appearing. Now why’s that?
Burgs: What is an intolerance? It’s an in - tolerance. The mind is not able to assimilate what it used to. Now, we can make tremendous efforts to eat really well, very healthy, nutritious diet, but if we are very obsessed about it to the point that the idea of not eating it would create tremendous vexation in our mind, that obsessiveness, or that vexation does more damage to us, than occasionally not getting what we want to eat. So how we react and the ways we react to what is going on around us, is having this impact upon the information flow through our body. And the more reactive we are, or intolerant we are to what goes on around us, the more this flow of information that supports the life faculty within the body, becomes disturbed by our mind.
Renate: Yes, and you talk in your books about how meditation actually can have this incredible effect on our mind and therefore on our bodies, and how actually spending just a few moments in Samadhi, is able to heal different illnesses.
Burgs: Well, even in Samadhi, or not in Samadhi, it’s more about just to allow your mind to calm down. To start to pay attention to what’s going on, and to be with what’s going on completely, so that this reactivity and volatility in the mind comes to a cessation for a while. It gives the body a chance to decompress and become more coherent. So yes, one of the things meditation brings about is more coherent and organised states of mind, which of course as we’ve just said, that mind appearing in the body twenty four hours a day, when the mind is more coherent, for example if there’s less restlessness, less agitation, less craving, or less aversion, then the flow of information or energy that the consciousness is producing as a support to the body, becomes more coherent, and so gradually the body gets a chance to reorganise itself. It’s not that we are consciously reorganising the body through meditation, we are removing the incoherence in stages that our mind has produced.
Renate: Yes. I’ve experienced it several times myself after a mediation retreat. It happened a couple of times, I saw my doctor for a check-up. She tests people with this bio resonance machine and every time after a meditation retreat the body was completely in balance. Nothing showed up. She always said it was a false reading; you need to come another time. [laughing] That’s also my experience, how meditation keeps my body in balance and flowing.
Burgs: Exactly. The mind is like water. It’s so easily disturbed. But if you leave water alone for long enough, it inclines naturally to stillness. You wouldn’t have to do anything to it. Leaving yourself alone for long enough with your mind, brings you naturally to that settled state and the capacity that has, as you’ve just described, to bring us into a state of coherence is extraordinary. I mean it’s why we need to sleep. I was in hospital for eight weeks, I broke both my ankles when I was younger and I sat in a ward opposite someone who had been in a coma. Over the days I looked at this person, and I recognised how well they looked. Now it was very interesting, he had been in a coma for a very long time, and his body had not started to atrophy. Consciousness was still there supporting the life faculty within his body, but in his state of coma the active aspect of his mind had become abstracted, and so was not any longer appearing within his body to create all the disturbances that it normally produces within our body. And I realised, gosh when we get out of the way this body is much more capable of supporting itself, than it is when we’re in the way. It has an exquisite intelligence within us. We don’t even need to understand how it does what it does. If we can just let it be, it doesn’t incline naturally to sickness. It inclines naturally to wellness. The sickness is only an expression of incoherent energy as we accumulate it within ourselves.
Renate: I remember you telling a story in one of your books about this woman who was blind and had a car accident and she went into a coma. And she was three weeks, or four weeks in coma and [then] she woke up.
Burgs: And she could see again
Renate: And she could see.
Burgs: Yes. That was interesting. That was a story I heard on the radio whilst travelling to a meditation retreat one day. Scientists are calling it a miracle. A blind lady had a car accident, went into a coma and when she emerged from her coma, she could see. It’s a miracle. Well, in the back of our eye, is a very subtle piece of software that’s produced by consciousness. And without it, we can’t see. There are a many people born blind who have a perfect eye, retina, optic nerve and they can’t see. Without that piece of software there, you’re blind. When it functions, this interface, this capacity to turn a visual object into the knowing of it, functions. For whatever reason that piece of software would have become damaged, and she would have gradually become blind. She was blind. She hadn’t been born blind. She had become blind. Whilst in a coma, whatever unconscious reaction’s going on as a reaction to what she sees, whether it’s aversion to what she sees, that’s creating a subtle disturbance, or attachment, or craving for what she sees, creating a subtle attachment, that piece of software was broken. During the time in a coma, that disturbing consciousness not appearing in the eye base was removed from the equation and the body repaired itself. Now I don’t consider that to be a miracle at all, I can see that would be what we would hope to happen, when the interference that our mind adds to the equation, is removed. So when we look at how meditation has this capacity to heal our body, it’s not because we are actively seeking to heal the body. The healing is really just a by-product of coming gradually in stages into a more coherent state. A less interfered with state.
Renate: So what about all these things which are lurking around in our unconscious, like traumas and experiences from our childhood… all these stories are attached to every cell of our body. So when you say organising our mind, how does that get organised? How does that get released? How can we free this body?
Burgs: Ok, well let’s look at it… there are two main aspects in which the mind is interfering with the body. One is through the bad reactions to our memories, what you described as trauma, as an extreme case; the other is the negative habit patterns of our mind arising moment to moment to our ordinary experiences. So there are three roots to the mind. There’s what we call the hot root, which is aversion or non- aversion, in that the mind has a tendency towards aversion or non- aversion; a tendency towards greed or non- greed, which is cold energy; and a tendency towards ignorance, which is not to pay attention, or towards mindfulness, which is the paying of attention, and the ignorant energy is the blocked energy. So the body atrophies by the flow of energy becoming blocked, or it becomes hot through an accumulation of aversion, or excess of cold energy in the body as an accumulation of attachment energy. With regard to things like trauma, it is important to understand that it isn’t what happened to us, that is the issue. Whenever we might make the reflection: what’s the worst thing that ever happened to me? Two things are almost certainly true. One, it’s not happening right now, and two it almost certainly has happened to somebody else. Was it the cause of their undoing, or their sickness? So how we react to what happens to us is what produces this either incoherent, or coherent flow of life force within us. If we’ve had a particularly strong unwholesome reaction to what happened, that you call trauma, it’s the identification with the fact that it’s me, arising in the present moment, which continues to allow it to impact upon your body. Not what happened in the past, because there’s no aspect of your body arising now, which was arising then when you had that experience. It’s a totally new body that has rebuilt itself many, many times. It is continuing to be impacted by that unconscious association with the idea, that it was me. When we can let go of the idea that it was me that this happened to, then all it is, was something that happened. So for example, let’s make a rather trite sounding example – let’s say your mother left you out in the garden, in a pram one day when you were very young and it rained, and she was indoors having a coffee morning with her friends, and she forgot completely about you.
Burgs: Now, one way we could react to that experience was, “Oh dear my mum’s forgotten about me and left me out in the rain.” Another way we could react to it is, “I can’t believe my mother has forgotten about me and left me out in the rain. How could she? She obviously doesn’t love me.” Now exactly the same thing [has happened]. You got wet, and sooner or later your mother remembered you and brought you in. Very different impact upon you that experience depending upon how you reacted to it.
Renate: But there’s a third option. The third option is, I have forgotten about it, but something in the body remembered.
Burgs: Yes, because you haven’t forgotten about it. The body arises in this moment, each moment depending on the various conditions for its arising. One of the conditions for its arising is the arising of, as you called, the unconscious mind and all its associations with what it thinks has happened to it. You’ve forgotten about the fact it happened, but you still remembered, if you did remember it, how you reacted. You haven’t let go of your bad reaction to your memory. When you can think about the fact that you mother left you out in the garden and completely forgotten you and it was, “Oh dear my mum forgot me, bless her, she’s quite forgetful…”
Renate: …no big deal.
Burgs: The memory is still that you got left out in the garden, but there’s no agitation associated with it. Now in extreme cases, where there is extreme trauma it can be quite a challenge to get to the point of being able to accept that it is what it is. But the truth is, whether you like or not, it remains a fact that it happened and it is what it is. And the only impact it has upon your present, because it’s not happening now, is the way that we continue to react to it. One of the processes, one of the functions of meditation, is that it brings about through paying enough attention, a capacity to allow ourselves to be with what is as it is, even if it’s the arising in our mind now, of a memory from the past. So with more discernment we might recognise that it wasn’t the fact that my mother didn’t love me. And even if it was the fact that my mother didn’t love me, it doesn’t need to be the cause for my undoing. The cause for my undoing is the fact that I don’t like the fact that my mother didn’t love me, for example. Very unfortunate it might be, but it remains a fact that it is what it is. Are you with me? So it’s not what happened to us that is disturbing us – momentarily the stress and anxiety of being left in the garden, yes - but as we continue to carry that with us it’s our association with the idea of it happening to us that continues to impact upon us and create incoherence. When you can be with the feeling associated with your experience without being disturbed by how you feel about it in any way, then the bad reaction in your memory is let go. Then that charge that you just described at a cellular level is released from what we call the base of our body, the software side of our body, the information side.
Renate: Do you think we can manage in one lifetime to release all this information? Or what’s going afterwards with the information?
Burgs: But our body is going to get decrepit anyway as an act of going through the life. It’s a great burden on the body to carry us for eighty years on this planet. So it doesn’t matter. The point is that allowing your body to be how it is, you’re not adding to that natural process of ageing and decay with your resistance, or aversion to it, or too much attachment to it, concern that my body’s a little out of balance today. Some days we wake up feeling a little bit under the weather. That’s as maybe. But not being able to bear feeling under the weather, that has a really detrimental effect upon us. So whether or not we can let go all of the charge we are carrying, as long as we can be with how it feels right now - it may not get to the point that it all feels pleasant. The Buddha suffered from back pain, and that was as a result of past karma. In one previous life he injured somebody. He would have to sit daily, to remove that tendency to produce atrophy in his back, so he could sit comfortably. So not all the charge we’re carrying from the past is necessarily let go. What’s really important is that we can be with it. Some of us maybe are going to develop degenerative conditions that aren’t going to go away. That’s as maybe. But how much suffering that produces is conditioned by our ability to be with it. So there are sicknesses which left alone they’ll get better on their own [by] just being with it. And there are those sicknesses which no matter what you do, they’re not going to get better. So the best we can do is to be with it. There are those sicknesses where, were we to take away the misinformation, that is the root cause of them, which is incoherence in our mind, then we would expect to recover. Now that misinformation is still… [we] are not being able to be with it whatever it is. So always the approach to sickness is to allow it to be what it is and accept it completely. So that gradually our aversion to it being like that and our attachment to it not being like that goes away, so that we’re not putting petrol on a fire. That fire may burn out – it may not burn out, but we’re not adding more petrol to it. Are you with me?
Renate: Yes, but being with it doesn’t mean not going to see the doctor.
Burgs: No, of course you see the doctor. It’s acknowledging the fact that I’m going to be sick for a few days. Or I’ve got this condition, it’s not going to go away because I want it to go away. It goes away when the conditions for it not being there, are present.
Renate: I think you give healing seminars where through meditation a lot of healing can happen. Can you talk a little bit about that? How that happens? You also mention in your book about hot cancer and cold cancer, I’d be interested in [knowing] what that means.
Burgs: Cancer is very interesting scenario, because cancer is uncontrolled energy. So the cells are behaving in an uncontrolled way. It’s not the way that they’re programmed to behave, but they’ve developed a tendency to behave in an uncontrolled way. So where’s that uncontrolled energy coming from? It can be from our environment - that we have too much exposure to electromagnetic fields or geopathic stress. It could be the exposure to toxic substances in the body that have uncontrolled vibrations or energy. But what’s the most uncontrolled thing that we are exposed to? Our mind.
Renate: Our mind, yes.
Burgs: Yes, our mind. So cancer is an interesting one because it’s extremely difficult to treat. Using medicine, we would have to kill those cells and hope that no new cells arise in an uncontrolled way. We’ve seen so many times that you treat the body extremely aggressively with a chemical substance that will kill those cancer cells in the body, but there still remains a tendency for the body to continue to produce new cancer cells, which is why so often it reappears. If you can remove that subtle uncontrolled – you said about hot energy and cold energy - a subtler version, it may be not at all subtle. It can be a very strong uncontrolled dislike for things that’s going on in the mind. Just now we talked about intolerance – a mind that is extremely intolerant, inflexible, has a lot of aversions to things not being the way it wants them to be, creates a tremendous mass of uncontrolled energy in the body. Now that’s going to put a lot of petrol on any fire that has a tendency to produce cancer. If you don’t remove that uncontrolled energy, you can kill all the cancer cells in the body, there’s every likelihood it’s going to continue to produce more. If you can work to remove, at the root, this tendency towards aversion, particularly that type of aversion that is so strong that we have no control over when it arises – we become beside ourselves - if you can work to remove that, if it isn’t produced through geopathic stress, or some other factor, when you kill those cancer cells, there would be no reason to expect the body to continue to produce those cancer cells. If the misinformation is removed, the body will continue to produce the cells in the way it was… it’s got a very well organised instruction manual within it, in our DNA and our DNA gets gradually impacted by the way its basic awareness, or consciousness itself, supports the life faculty within the body. But that consciousness carries with it the nuances, the energy, the vibration, the charge of the mind that also arises within that consciousness. So if you remove that charge from the mind, you‘ve just got awareness or consciousness supporting the body which it does when we sleep or when we’re in a coma. The body then should, and frequently does as we’ve seen so many times when people have learned to meditate, how their body recovers as a by-product of doing that, of removing the misinformation. So there’s no wanting the cancer to go away, or wanting the sickness, or fighting with the sickness, or trying to kill cancer cells, there’s merely the removing of that misinformation at a conscious level.
Renate: So on your healing weekends, there’s no work as you said on particular illnesses, is there a certain type of meditation you teach to enter deep into the body, or what do you do? How does it work?
Burgs: There are two levels of approach. There’s one level where we learn to recognise that basic state of awareness itself as the innate state of consciousness. So we learn to see that mind is an occasionally arising process, or conditioned process arising within awareness itself.
Renate: So that is an experience.
Burgs: Yes. We learn to disassociate somewhat with this idea that this mind is me, so we can be with our experience as it is. That’s one step in learning to be with things as they are.
Renate: And you guide people through this experience.
Burgs: Teach them to learn and practice meditation where they learn to recognise and learn to abide in awareness as such - leave the mind alone. The other aspect we need to learn, is how to reorganise those conditions states of mind that do have a tendency to continue to arise. So if our mind is prone to greed or craving - and it’s not something we can do because we don’t want it to be there - we learn to reorganise the habit patterns of the mind so that we are less prone to greed and craving. If we are prone to anger, aversion and ill will, then we learn to reorganise the mind in such a way so that we are less prone to anger, aversion and ill will. If we’re prone to ignorance, i.e., non - attentiveness, we learn to pay attention through mindfulness. So one aspect is to learn to recognise that part of our mind that is quite happy to allow things to be, the other aspect of meditation is to reorganise that part of the mind that tends not to be able to leave things as they are.
Renate: And you reorganise by understanding, or by seeing…
Burgs: By paying attention. As you pay attention to your experience, the more completely you pay attention to it, the more its true nature reveals itself to us. Now our mind is a process that we use to fill the gap in our understanding. And why is there a gap in our understanding? Because we can’t pay enough attention to see what is actually going on. So not knowing what’s actually going on, we formulate an idea about it, an opinion, or a reaction to that idea of what’s going on. For example I couldn’t see whether my mother really loved me or not, it appeared that she didn’t. We’ve created the idea in our mind. I can’t see what’s going on around me in the world. Or what’s the cause for the way things are, so I’ll create an idea about it and an opinion, and a reaction to it. So it’s this not paying enough attention that causes this tendency to proliferate with the mind. In the act of learning to pay attention through concentration, and through mindfulness, first of all we meet our experience more completely as it is and secondly, as all our attention starts to enter into the experience itself, less of our attention is placed upon the mind. So the mind in the process tends to quieten down anyway, and entering into the experience more completely creates less of a perceived need to add something to the experience, with the mind.
Renate: So where should the focus of our attention be? On the inner experience, or the outer? Or by looking at things for example, talking to somebody, or doing something? Where should the focus be?
Burgs: What we’re suggesting is that, whatever experience that is arising around you…
Burgs: Yes. It arises within awareness and associated with that perception, of that experience, as it arises within you, is a feeling associated with it, and associated with that feeling, is a reaction to it. So these three aspects of, what we perceive to be going on, how we feel about it, and how we react to it, are all arising within awareness itself. So how we react to it, how we feel and what we perceive, those are all aspects of our mind. If we rest within awareness, we witness the arising of the experience together with the perception, the feeling and the reaction. So you rest upon the completeness of the experience which contains these three aspects. Our feeling maybe pleasant, neutral, or unpleasant. There’s no guarantee that it’s going to be a pleasant experience, sometimes it feels unpleasant. But what we tend to do is to glue together the unpleasant feeling with the, “I don’t like.” And the pleasant feeling with the, “I want, or I like.” With enough attentiveness we can recognise the feeling is one thing: it doesn’t feel very nice. The reaction: I don’t like it, is another. But how about it doesn’t feel very pleasant, but it is what it is. In that moment, that’s equanimity. That equanimity cuts off at the root, the, “I don’t like.” So now associated with this unpleasant feeling is a reaction, or a non- reaction of equanimity, and the charge that we’re carrying around the feeling, which may well be unpleasant, is gone. So it’s not about always seeking a pleasurable experience, because we’re not always going to succeed in always finding a pleasurable experience. It’s about meeting the experience as it is, regardless of what it is.
And if it’s unpleasant, then so be it. Not that we would seek the unpleasant, but when it comes our way, to be with it means we’re not dragging any trace of it when it’s gone into the next moment, or the next moment, or the next moment. We merely allow it to be what it is. So it’s through discernment, through paying enough attention to what actually constitutes our experience, is what we learn through mindfulness, through meditation. We learn to see how it is the way in which I’m reacting to my experience, is the thing that’s really governing and conditioning the quality of the experience itself - not the experience itself. Not actually what is appearing within us. So it’s these reactions to what’s gone on, [that] is the charge that we’re carrying.
Renate: The disorganised mind as you would say.
Burgs: Yes, disorganised. But these are habit patterns, they die hard. You have to work. Choosing not to be angry, or saying I must not be angry – the first thing is to recognise that actually it might be my restlessness, or my greed, or my craving, my aversion, or my intolerance that is one of the reasons I feel dissatisfied. That’s a major step. But then seeing, I’m prone to aversion, prone towards greed and saying, “I ought not to be”, doesn’t mean it’s going to go away. We have to work quite hard to undermine these tendencies that we’ve accumulated over a long period of time. And that’s where regular practice helps us. It’s no good just being told, “You shouldn’t be angry about that”, because you know jolly well you feel angry about it. You have to let the charge go first, when you’ve let the charge go, there will be no more grounds for the arising of anger.
Renate: So Samadhi. How long do we have to train to experience Samadhi? How many hours of meditation? You talked about in the experience of Samadhi, the sense of the me collapses.
Burgs: Yes. What is the single flavour of that complete experience? The flavour of it is its complete absence of any perception, or sense of me within the experience. There’s just the suchness of the experience itself.
Renate: Would you call that enlightenment?
Burgs: I’m not sure I’d chooses to call it anything, in particular. That’s one of the things that some people would call enlightenment. I don’t really like to label things so much. But what actually constitutes that experience, is when one is immersed completely enough within the experience that the arising of what we call Bhavanga – Bhavanga is a Pali or Sanskirt word which means the life continuum - those momentary states of consciousness that arise between the knowing of each object, each moment of consciousness that gives you the sense that it’s you that’s knowing it. So we sit here, you look at me and the experience of seeing me registers in your heart base, and the association and impression - the perception, feeling and how you react to just sitting here with me, registers in the heart base, and leaves an impression. There’s an aspect of consciousness that comes up as we receive that impression. What shall we call it to make it easier to understand? Let’s say it’s our memory, which contains all of your memory.
Renate: Are you talking of the heart base?
Burgs: The heart base is the subtle piece of software that supports the arising of consciousness itself within the body. And within that arises this state of consciousness that is just the knowing of what’s happening right now and then the sense of what it means to me, i.e. the sense of it’s me that’s experiencing.
So this Bhavanga consciousness is arising between each moment of knowing every object, and it gives you the sense that it’s you that is experiencing it. Because it’s the relating of that experience effectively with everything I’ve experienced before. So how does that compare with what I’ve previously known? That’s how we relate what we’re experiencing now, to what we’ve known in the past. Now normally when we’re in a state of meditation, even if we become one pointed on an object, we continue to concentrate upon that object between each moment of knowing it, this Bhavanga consciousness continues to arise with the subtle sense of me, the knower of the experience. When we enter into a state of what we call absorption, or Samadhi, the attention becomes so unified with the object that it’s knowing, that there’s so little shaking, so little reaction to it, that the knowing of the object doesn’t disturb the heart base at all. So there comes a point when the arising of the Bhavanga consciousness becomes cut off. So between one moment of knowing the object and the next, there’s no arising of this sense of me as the knower. There is just the streaming of awareness, and the knowing of what it is experiencing. So this is the state of what we call Samadhi. What the mind then chooses to take as its object of concentration, that remains to be seen. We might start by taking the breath, a relatively easy to find object. Eventually we take a more rarefied object. The subtler objects are harder to concentrate one pointedly upon. We may in time learn to concentrate just as one pointedly upon that awareness itself, as we were able to concentrate upon the arising and passing of the breath. And the point at which attention rests upon the arising of awareness itself and enters into a state of unification with that, then that is that state of Samadhi that we talk about which is a pure state of consciousness, an unwavering state of consciousness. It’s a state of pure clarity, there’s nothing arising within it. It’s just the suchness. So it’s not actually taking any object, but its own presence. It’s a very refined state of consciousness.
Renate: Just to go back to this software you were talking about in our heart base, is this like a self- reflective mechanism, where consciousness bends on itself and looks at itself? Is this the split of here’s me, and that’s the object?
Burgs: This is something we can only really fathom through the experience itself, but the sense of our self as being the ‘experiencer’ of the experience is an illusion. It’s illusory actually. It appears to be there, but it’s not inherently there. Now that’s a very difficult thing for the mind to grapple with. The mind does not innately feel very comfortable with that idea. So rather than get into a deep and involved philosophical debate about the nature of self, perhaps what I’ll say is that, through entering ever more completely into our experience, our perception of self gradually fades away in stages. So the completely awake experience itself, is actually defined by the complete absence of any sense of self within it. So we come to see in the end, the sense of self is not innately there. It’s conditionally there. And through seeing that it’s not innately there, gradually we learn to disinvest in our ideas of it. Because it’s all very well to say there’s no self, but we’re not experiencing it in an ordinary state of consciousness. We’re very much experiencing self, but there are two aspects of self. There’s the perception of me being in the middle of my experience, and then there’s my ideas of who I think I am as the person in the middle of my experience. First thing , the ideas of who I think I am gradually become dismantled through letting go of our attachment to ideas of self, and then gradually the actual perception of there being me at the centre of my experience, fades away. That’s when we enter into what we call a unified state of consciousness where we realise that you and I, and everything around us, is all arising within the same basic state of awareness, and that you’re really just the universe experiencing itself as you, and in the same way that I am the universe appearing to experience itself as me. And although we’re both having what appears to be an extraordinarily personal experience of it, when we really enter into the suchness of the experience you’ll find there’s really no difference between your experience of it and mine. They’re exactly the same and there’s no sense of me there. Now that’s something that violates the ego.
Renate: Completely. [laughing]
Burgs: There is no need to discuss that in any great depth, but it’s something that reveals itself gradually in stages. And it’s that recognition of the fact that in the complete state as one in which I’m not there, that gives us the courage and conviction to gradually let go of this investment in this idea of me.
Renate: it’s Grace, when that happens.
Burgs: Grace, yes. You could call it Grace.
Renate: I guess we have to finish. It’s a nice ending. I’ll show your books again. There are two volumes of The Flavour of Liberation. And the third book is Beyond the Veil which is more about Burg’s journey, which is a wonderful read. Thank you Burgs for coming to us.
Burgs: Thank you very much.
Renate: Thanks for watching conscious.tv. Goodbye.
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