Awakening from the dream of separation and suffering may be as simple as looking for WHO is trying to wake up. Who ARE you? Using self-inquiry (like meditation on steroids) to unlock your true identity.
Get Dr. Angelo DiLullo’s book on awakening, Awake: It’s Your Turn, here. Check out Angelo’s YouTube channel with excellent pointer videos here. Sign up for Angelo’s email list for future meditation retreats and updates here. And watch ALL of our videos on awakening with my fellow Dr. D here. Full transcript in the “transcript” tab below.
– [Zubin] Angelo DiLullo, back again, another episode. You are the author and doctor and guy that did Awake: It’s Your Turn. The link will be in the description along with a way to sign up for your email list for retreats and things like that. We’re talking today about inquiry. So this process of looking, that’s how I think of it. And I’d love you to talk me through this inquiry into, into the present moment, into who we are as a matter of identity and why… Well, let’s just start. What the hell is inquiry?
– [Angelo] What is inquiry? Yeah, so I recently released a video that was titled “Why Meditation is not enough,” or “Meditation doesn’t always work.” When it comes to this topic of awakening or this topic of finding your way through the boundaries of identity, which results in a shift in identity, which we call awakening, just meditating in and of itself is not really sufficient, generally speaking. And not everybody might agree with with what I’m saying, but the reason is is meditation is relaxing. It’s peaceful, it can calm the mind and calm the body, calm the body mind, but in and of itself, it doesn’t really push the ego structures. It doesn’t threaten the ego structures in any way. In fact, the ego, you could say what you take yourself to be enjoys being relaxed and enjoy, it feels good, the ego wants to feel good. The ego wants to feel good of course. It wants to relieve its own suffering. What it doesn’t want to do is go away. You know,-
– [Zubin] Yeah.
– [Angelo] it wants to self-protect. So it’s actually quite flexible. The ego is sort of a fluid. It can find itself in many different situations and find a way to be comfortable and it can learn to be comfortable on the meditation cushion as well.
– [Zubin] And actually, not to interrupt, but I think this is where a lot of the self-help and administration say in medicine are like, “Oh, meditation, meditation, meditation, a way to…” and the ego grasps onto that and says, “Oh, I can relax, I can be more productive, I can be more focused, I can be more centered,” whatever that means and all of that, but that is not what you would describe as, say, realization or awakening or any of that, right?
– [Angelo] Correct? Yeah. That’s a good way of saying it. I’m not against meditation at all. In fact, I recommend it and I would recommend a meditation practice for anyone who feels that as relevant to them or relevant in their life. And even as a baseline or background for inquiry or for these more direct approaches that we’ll talk about for awakening. So, I’m all for meditation. And the book has some different ways to approach it. But to, to answer the question, “What is inquiry?” Inquiry is a way to directly get at the boundaries and the structure of your identity, because awakening really is about a transformation in identity. It’s simply stated, you are not what you take yourself to be and what you take yourself to be as uncomfortable, inherently uncomfortable, if you’ve gotten this far, you probably already understand that we typically say most people experience some degree of suffering, whether or not they’re fully aware of it or consciously aware of it at all times. But that recognition that the suffering is there is what often starts this ball rolling, or start someone on this pathless path. So how do you get at identity when what you take yourself to be is an assumption. Like you don’t question it, right? Typically you wouldn’t normally question that. In fact, we’re living in the information age. We love information. We love to question things and look into things and research and compare and argue. Like we do this all day long, right? On the internet, online, social media. But it’s really fascinating that we conspicuously ignore looking into the one thing,-
– [Zubin] The biggest mystery!
– [Angelo] that almost makes the most sense, like, “Who am I?”
– [Zubin] Yeah.
– [Angelo] Like what’s at the center of all that? Why am I trying to collect all that information? What am I looking for? Why am I trying to arrange my life to make myself feel better? Why do I struggle, like? So the big questions, all point, all those arrows. If you just turn them around, they all point back to this me, right? “What’s actually going on with me?” In fact, what am I? What is it that I take myself to be? And why is that? Not necessarily what I am, what am I, who am I, where can I find that, where am I, right? These very fundamental questions that might sound ludicrous. But when you actually start asking, and if you ask earnestly and you actually look at where your attention goes when you start to ask these questions, you will notice something change. You’ll notice things start to shift or change, or you’ll notice experiences that are uncommon in your day to day life, that’s inquiry. That’s inquiry starting to work. You’re actually asking a relatively simple question in a relatively usual way, but you’re directing it in a place that you usually don’t look. And that starts with looking into who you are, who you are right now. And it can also be a matter of looking into what you take yourself to be, which is often thought-based, right? Because if you ask somebody, “Well, who are you?” And they just say, “Oh, well, you know, I’m Joe, I was born in this year, I have this, this is my family, this is my history.” They would just go through the collection of thoughts and beliefs. Then you might notice, well, those are all thoughts, right? Those don’t actually tell me what you are right now in this moment,-
– [Zubin] Hmm.
– [Zubin] you, as the conscious one, you as the one that’s hearing this, receiving this, communicating, interacting, and even recalling those memories. Who is that? Who or what is that? What is its nature? What is its actual nature? Can you inhabit that nature? You know? And so the more you start to look into this and the more you realize, well, “First of all, it’s not a thought.” It’s not a thought because the thoughts come and go. But what I, whatever it is that I am, the experience of “I am,” experienced of me or this awareness right now, it’s not contingent upon thoughts. It doesn’t change when the thoughts come and go, come and go, come and go. And thoughts come and go all day long, right? So you start to realize like, “Oh, wait a minute.” “So whatever I am is not defined by any thought, belief, memory, et cetera.” So then it becomes a little bit more mysterious. And yet you can still continue to ask, “Well then, who am I?”
– [Zubin] Hmm.
– [Angelo] “What am I? And you can turn your attention back on itself. In fact, you turn your attention back to the root of attention itself. And that’s where the magic is. That’s proper self-inquiry as I would describe or teach someone to use or utilize, if they want to start to investigate their identity or they’re wanting to wake up, that’s how I would direct them to kind of look. So the first stop is often the thoughts. “Okay, well, I know I’m not this memory or that memory, this belief and that belief,” because those change all the time, right? You could say, “Well, I’m a carpenter.” Okay, well, what were you before you were a carpenter? You know, what, if, what if all of a sudden you’re not working in that profession anymore? Did you cease to exist and reappear as something else? Or was there something there the whole time, right? So that’s like the first stop as you, as you go. Okay, well, I’m maybe I’m the thoughts. And then you start to learn, “Oh, I’m not any of that.” “I’m not the thoughts, the beliefs, the memories.” So the next stop is this ineffable presence of just awakeness right now of consciousness, awareness. There’s no exact word for it, but it’s damned well obviously you, right. It’s you, it’s you listening to this, it’s you, who is aware of the thoughts, it’s you, who can be completely aware with no thoughts, even for a second, for two seconds, for three seconds. And what happens is you start to actually learn to just turn your attention back into that, and that gap can get longer until you really start to notice, “Oh, there is a full-on obvious self validating sense of me, sense of I, without even having to say the word I internally, or have a thought about it, that doesn’t come or go, it’s right here, right now.” And the thoughts can actually start to calm down quite a bit. And it’s still sort of an inquiry. It’s still a question, but it’s not a question you need a thought answer for anymore. So it’s just a sort of fascination that turns inward onto itself and the fascination and that sense of self, are sort of seamless with one another.
– [Zubin] Hmm.
– [Angelo] And you can learn to just rest in that. And that’s sort of where inquiry leads you. That’s kind of the second step. And then by staying there, some predictable things usually happen. It may take some time and may take you a few days, weeks, months, even a couple of years, depending on how adamant you are to stay there. But often you’ll hit a fear barrier, and this is pretty predictable. You’ll actually at some point when the thoughts calm down enough and you just remain in that sense of “I,” pure sense of being right now without grabbing the next thought at all, without entertaining thoughts, just remaining right there, not thinking about anything, you’ll start to feel a fear bubbling up at some point, it’s a, it’s a physiologic fear response because you’re letting go of all of the thought identity. So all the stuff you thought you were is literally being disentangled from identity and the body interprets that as fear or a certain kind of, almost like a death.
– [Zubin] Death?
– [Angelo] Yeah. But the thing I always tell people about this is, it can be even quite an intense experience. I mean, your heart rate might go way up. You might physically feel like you’re physically in danger, but you know you’re not, because there’s nothing happening. And I tell people, just sit, sit through it. It’s okay. It won’t last forever. It’ll last a few minutes, usually. Might last five minutes, might even last 10 minutes, who knows, but it will go, it will pass. And often when the first time someone experiences that, even if they’ve heard me say this, it’s so surprising because it’s so intense. And we’re so used to believing our body, which you know, is a good idea. If your body feels fear, you should probably pay attention, that we can’t help it but back off, right. So that’s the most common response people get. Is they just back off, and they’re like, “Well, I don’t know what that was.” And then they go, “Oh yeah!” “That’s that fear response you were telling me about.” Yeah.
– [Zubin] Hmm.
– [Angelo] Or I’ll just remind them, “Hey, totally normal.” “It’s perfectly okay.” Just don’t entertain thoughts during that and notice the physical experience. It’s a physical response to the body’s having and just wait it out. It doesn’t usually take that long. And most of the time, the second or third time they come across that they just go right through it. And then you this is still the beginning. What happens then is things tend to get very, very quiet. Very, it’s a very neutral experience, but it’s contentless or largely contentless, literally no thought, but just a pure sense of aware being, it’s wide awake. It’s not sleepy, it’s not, daydreamy, it’s wide awake, clear crisp consciousness.
– [Zubin] So this is, I’m gonna make one interruption because this is where often I find myself. And you mentioned a fear barrier. Sometimes what happens here can be a boredom barrier. The mind, this is absolutely peaceful, quiet, awake awareness that you feel it. And the mind goes, “Boring!” “Come here, come here, you got stuff to do.” And can yank you back into thought, at least for me, is that something that’s common or no?
– [Angelo] Yeah, one of the handful of things that will happen and two of them are the most common at this phase. Once you’ve kind of gone through a fear barrier, and you’re not really experiencing that anymore. And you can lead yourself to that neutral contentless experience of being, right. And you’re not sitting there thinking “I’m in a contentless experience of being,” I’m just using those words to describe something that has no content, okay. And it’s very neutral, actually. It’s not a big deal. It’s not like mind expanding universe exploding kind of stuff, it’s nothing mystical. It’s, it’s very, very, very present and contentless.
– [Zubin] And it’s not like everything goes black? It’s not like your senses stop?
– [Angelo] more like light,-
– [Zubin] Yeah…
– [Angelo] because you could almost say consciousness, which is the stuff thoughts are made of, which is also the stuff that you were made of, the sense of being you is kind of like light, light can shine on something, can shine on the book. That would be one thought, it could shine on the keyboard. That would be another thought, it could shine on the wall. You could say those are the thoughts that it’s sort of shining on.
– [Zubin] An illumination-
– [Angelo] It’s illumination, but it doesn’t really shine on. Thoughts appear in consciousness.
– [Zubin] Right.
– [Angelo] But that’s the analogy, right?
– [Zubin] I see…
– [Angelo] But because it has that illuminating nature, because it’s like light, it can also just shine purely into itself. It can be nothing but a pure shining light of consciousness or awareness or being-ness, or “I am,” pure sense of I without being something. So it’s a little bit more like light, but it is very much awake and alert,-
– [Zubin] Hmm.
– [Angelo] but neutral. So one of a handful of things that happens, or two of the most common, one is, it’s neutral. And the next thought… It’s always going to be a thought that catches you. And it’s it’s you believing that thought, the next thought that’ll happen is like, “Oh, this can’t be it, because it’s neutral.” It’s so it’s so uninteresting. It’s so uninteresting. The minds says, “Oh this must not be it.” “Maybe I’ll go read the book.” “Maybe I should look for something else.”
– [Zubin] Yeah, yeah, yeah..
– [Angelo] You were standing right on the doorstep of death of the ego. And then the mind’s like, “Oh no, this can’t be it.” “This is definitely not it.” Right? So you could say like a really subtle, simple, innocent doubt is what is what catches attention off in there.
– [Zubin] Ah hah!
– [Angelo] And when I tell people that, often they’ll go, “Oh my God, that’s exactly what happens, every time!”
– [Zubin] Yes, that’s me, yeah.
– And then another one is “I’m bored.” Like it’s boredom. But I always say, “Well, look at what is boredom?” They’re like, they don’t even know what it is, what is it? Well, it’s a thought telling me I need to do something, but I don’t know what I want to do. Okay, well, that’s one thought, right? What happens when you just say, “Oh, that’s a boredom thought and then go back to the neutrality?” What happens then? Well, nothing happens then, right. Then you’re in really good territory, you just stay there. And I have no instructions beyond that because it’s just a matter of staying there. I could say that there’s almost a sense of, you may come to a place where you could jump or let go or release. But I really hesitate to say that, because people will imagine that.
– [Zubin] Right yeah!
– [Angelo] They’ll imagine themselves coming to a cliff and that’s not what I’m saying.
– [Zubin] Yes, yes!
– [Angelo] It’s something, it’s an instinctual feel sometimes though, where you’re like, “Ooh, I could really let go here.” And it’s kind of a big letting go in a way, but again, I don’t want anyone to imagine that, it sometimes just comes upon you. And it’s just a dropping away.
– [Zubin] A trust fall.
– [Angelo] Yeah, That! That is the goal of self inquiry, is that shift in identity. And it’s a very simple and very small thing, but the implications are huge, huge change. It causes a shift that doesn’t shift back.
– [Zubin] So that is a potentially permanent uprooting of the sense of identity that is, that comes about from this process of inquiry that is driven by a curious looking, that does not require a conceptual answer. So, you know, even the question, “Who am I?” is kind of loaded with concept. Like you said, you have to get past that. Oh, I’m a dad. I’m Zubin. I’m 48. I’m this? Oh no, no, no, no, but, that’s a thought, right? So if that’s who you are, but it can disappear, then can it really be you, because there’s a you there when there’s none of that.
– [Angelo] Before you were asked to consider that thought, did you not exist?
– [Zubin] Exactly.
– [Angelo] Like one second before, of course you were there.
– [Zubin] Right?
– [Angelo] So…
– [Angelo] Or in deep sleep, do you not exist?
– [Zubin] Right.
– [Angelo] That’s a question. And so this then inquiry turns attention back on itself to the source of the questioner really this aware awakeness. And then you’re there and you try to stay there and thoughts will come and try to distract you in the ways, either through fear response, physiologically, almost an emotional feel, sensation feel, or a thought response. Either you’re bored or this can’t be it because it’s too…
– [Angelo] Yeah. It’s such a simple and quick thought. Actually the one that says, “Oh, this can’t be it,” but you don’t even overtly think it, it’s just attention just turns away. It’s like, “Okay, that’s not it.” It’s like, you’re looking for a gem in a room. And you’re like, “Oh, that’s not the gem.” “That’s not the gem, that’s not the gem.” And you find something that’s so uninteresting. And you’re like, “Well, that’s definitely not it.” It’s like, “No, no, no, go back to that.”
– [Zubin] Aah…
– [Angelo] That’s the gem we’re looking for, although it didn’t look like your mind thought it wasn’t going to look, this does not look like your mind thinks it’s going to look because your mind will make it into something. And this is exactly not something, it’s not something in that way, but it is something important.
– [Zubin] Yes, and it’s intuitive, it’s it? You know it when it’s there, well, let me ask this this way. If you stay in that space of awake being, and that shift happens, however it does for you, whether it’s a letting go, whether it’s a spontaneous thing, whatever, and you have that fundamental awakening, that identity shift, what happens after you’ve had that, and you do the same process, you inquire in the same way, but you’ve had that identity shift. How is that?
– Well, you can confuse yourself. That’s possible too, you know, because you’re not gonna wake up. You’re not gonna wake up to something that is already completely obvious in your experience.
– [Zubin] I see. Yeah, yeah.
– But I will back up and mention that you said, I think he used the term terminology, a permanent…
– [Zubin] Uprooting.
– [Angelo] Uprooting. Okay. I’ll reword that a little bit.
– [Zubin] Yes.
– [Angelo] It’s more like you find the plant that’s there, that the roots of ego and you hack at it. And so you do cause critical disruption in it,-
– [Zubin] Uh huh?
– [Angelo] but it’s not dead yet. What it does,-
– [Zubin] Aah, yeah…
– [Angelo] the way it responds to that is it seems to die away and you forget about it. And then it grows back like Maurice from “Little Shop of Horrors and it turns into your-
– [Zubin] Feed me, Seymour!
– [Angelo] Yeah, so the ego comes back with fire-
– [Zubin] Yes, yes.
– [Angelo] typically after an awakening, it does it after the honeymoon period, the honeymoon period’s wonderful and all that. But so you have started a process that will end in the dissolution of ego at some point, truly. Ego, meaning the sense of being a separate self, being someone who’s struggling against life, pushing and pulling on life all the time,-
– [Zubin] Separate from life?
– [Angelo] Separate from life.
– [Zubin] Yeah.
– [Angelo] Separate from the physical experience you’re having-
– [Zubin] A perceiver of this?
– [Angelo] Yeah.
– [Zubin] Right?
– [Angelo] Yeah, that’s what I mean by ego structures in this way.
– [Zubin] Right.
– [Angelo] And they will, they fully dissolve at some point for most people who go through this, but it takes time. And the first part, it feels like there is no ego, everything’s gone. Everything’s free, fluid, beautiful, wonderful,-
– [Zubin] At first shift.
– [Angelo] Simple, yup. And then you start to feel the emotions come back. The repressed emotions, the resistance patterns, it starts to come very much into consciousness. And the nice thing with this is that you have had a permanent shift in identity, that you know you have the capacity for this now. So it’s like having a foot in two different worlds, like one foot in one world, one foot in the other. That’s how it feels to go through this. In a sense, the emotional pain and stuff that comes forth is even more intense. But it’s more intense because all these layers of identity have been stripped away so you can feel it directly.
– [Zubin] Right!
– [Angelo] And you have to feel directly. You have to ultimately integrate all of this. And the way it gets integrated is through nonresistance. Ultimately.
– [Zubin] You have to experience it all without resistance…
– [Angelo] Hm mm, because the resistance to it, dividing yourself internally, experientially was what was causing all of the suffering anyway. So it’s an uncomfortable process. This part at times and other times, it’s not, but you will go through that and integrate it all. And so that’s when we really get under, or get down to the roots of identity and at some point. Pluck up those roots.
– [Zubin] Is it fair to say that resistance can only happen if there’s a resistor,-
– [Angelo] Hm mm.
– [Zubin] a separate, a sense of separation from what’s happening that can push on what’s happening?
– [Angelo] Yeah. A hundred percent. So that’s a good way of saying it. Resistance is a very interesting thing because you actually never find it, but you have to look, you have to keep looking. You have to look everywhere. It’s an energy signature. It’s a feeling and you start to recognize it more and more clearly when you’re resisting anything, you know, it’s happening-
– [Zubin] The friction, yeah…
– [Angelo] A friction with life, a friction with yourself, with your emotions, with people around you, very simple life situations. And you start to pick up how it operates. And it’s very strange how it operates, it operates because of the complexity of human consciousness. We can compartmentalize our consciousness in a sense, we can fracture our own identities in a lot of ways, we can have competing agendas internally. We can have views that we don’t see behind, that shadow, right? So you think, “Oh, I’m gonna do shadow work and then integrate my shadow. The truth of it is the shadow is casting you, the shadow is running the show. And you, as you take yourself to be, you’re being cast by your own shadow. And at some point you have to get back into that shadow. Somehow you have to find the material-
– [Zubin] The unconscious material…
– [Angelo] it’s unconscious, that’s running the show that’s causing you to feel like yourself, but also causing you to feel like your suffering self. And also co-opting some of your behaviors, your beliefs and that sort of thing. And so, yeah, that kind of work is really a work of love, of curiosity, fascination with what you are, who and what you are, what reality actually is, what thought is, what emotion is, what a sensation is. And you really just start to deeply experience all of it. And then you learn that the reason the resistance causes suffering or resistance is suffering is because in the the actual world, there is no such thing as resistance. That’s the beauty of the honeymoon period-
– [Zubin] In the real, yeah.
– [Angelo] is you feel the flow, you feel the spontaneity, you feel absolute spontaneity. And there’s a huge release of that feeling of like, I have this huge weight of being me in life and I’m working it, I’m managing it, I’m pushing, but it’s always heavy-
– [Zubin] I’m responsible for it…
– [Angelo] I’m responsible, it’s just gone. And it’s like, oh my God, everything is in flow. And it always is in flow.
– [Zubin] It’s always been that way.
– [Angelo] I never had to struggle. I never had to suffer. So, you know, damn well that in natural, let’s call it natural reality or unfiltered reality, there’s actually no resistance. It doesn’t, nothing is resisted. And you know that intimately, you know what in your marrow now. So then when the resistance comes back, you know, it’s not fully natural. It’s something you’re doing.
– [Zubin] Right.
– [Angelo] You know, you’re not a guilty party. It’s a habituated response to your own experiences, to your own emotions, to thoughts. But it is something that you can reverse. It’s something that you can, by looking closer and closer and closer, and seeing there’s no agent in there actually doing it, it will soften. And at some point it will completely relax.
– [Zubin] It will release.
– [Angelo] Yeah.
– [Zubin] It requires looking, a bringing into the light. Again, you made the, the analogy of awareness as a conscious, as a kind of a light and shining that light on that material without, without identifying as a person who’s watching it. It’s kind of interesting because there’s a distinction in my experience that if I’m suffering, if I’m feeling friction and now I can become quite acutely aware of that. Like if I view it from a viewpoint of an observer, it still hurts a lot. Like it hurts, meaning I feel the resistance even strengthen. If I dive into that, which I feel is what I’m resisting, whatever the feeling, the raw feeling, the thought, the pattern of energy, whatever it is, then it almost becomes, you become that. And by becoming that it, for lack of a better word, it kind of transmutes into whatever it’s going to be.
– [Angelo] Yeah!
– [Zubin] And that releases, and then the suffering component of it is gone. It doesn’t mean the pain or the, whatever that feeling is, is gone, like anger or shame or fear or whatever it is, is there. And often in me, it manifests physically. It’s like, “Oh, there’s an elephant sitting on my chest.” Like what, where, why am I dying? Do I need to go see the doctor? No, I know what this is. It’s this one day it’s going to actually be a heart attack.
– [Angelo] Right.
– [Zubin] And then I’m screwed.
– [Angelo] Because it’s just that elephant again.
– [Zubin] Yeah, it’s just the elephant. So yeah. And the inquiry, so inquiry continues though, after awakening?
– Well, yeah, I wanted to bring it back around and you started to bring it back around when you said it’s about looking so there are three very common preconceived ideas that people carry for a long time in this process, even after awakening that I bumped into a lot, and most questions I get from people that when I’m working through this stuff with them, this deeper stuff, can fall into one of these three categories, and it’s a belief, it’s beliefs we have, and they didn’t adopt this belief through the spiritual process or the awakening process or anything like that. These beliefs came from a long time ago. They come from the way we perceive ourselves being a human being, and doer-ship, and moving through life and struggle and, reward and all of it. And the, the three main categories are, I’m going to get something in this process. Like, I need to find something, I need to add something. I’m gonna lose something. I’m gonna get rid of it. I’m trying to get rid of something well I can’t remember the third one. I was going to say three, but anyway.
– [Zubin] You know what? It’s always nice, comedy comes in threes. You always have to have a third. So just make one up, right?
– [Angelo] Yeah, right, exactly.
– [Zubin] Hotdogs.
– [Angelo] Yeah. And hot dogs, the third one is corn dogs. No, I think the first one is kind of has two nuances to it is what I was thinking in my mind. But the, the gist of it is that the, the perception you have as you’re working through this stuff often sort of guides itself down into one of these categories of like, I’m gonna gain something, like I’m gonna find something. I’m going to find the, the big realization. I’m going to find my awakening again. And I redirect that and say, “Notice, that’s a thought, there’s nothing to find.” And you know that now after awakening, I can redirect people very easily because they get it. They energetically get like, “Oh, of course, that’s a thought, I’m not gonna get anything.” There’s nothing to get. Right?
– [Zubin] Yeah.
– [Angelo] Or you’re gonna get rid of something, you’re gonna go in there and find the pain body and kick it out or you going to go in there and find resistance and kick it out. And again I’ll say there’s another thought, right? And someone will say, “Oh, totally, of course.” You know, and I’ve done this too with myself a hundred thousand times too. So that’s where the mind tends to go with this. But the truth of it is, and this is kind of usually what I say after that, is I say, “This is all about clear seeing, there’s nothing else.” Reality is such that if you just see closely what’s happening, if you see closely enough in a vulnerable way and an honest way in a direct way, and repeatedly until it’s seen clearly, everything takes care of itself. Reality is your best friend. It’s the lover that never leaves you. You will be pleased as punch how this all comes out. If you just keep looking, just keep looking at what’s happening and being honest and being honest with what’s not happening, which are thoughts, your thoughts about what’s happening. That’s not, what’s actually happening.
– [Zubin] That’s not reality?
– [Angelo] Right. And as long as you keep digging and you keep looking, it comes, everything comes out just perfectly fine. But you got to go all the way, you gotta keep going. With that said what that whole process I’m talking about, that clear-seeing, looking closer, closer, closer at everything, emotions, sensations, resistance patterns, whether there’s a self there, where there’s not a self there, what consciousness is, the nature of thoughts? All of it. If you keep looking and looking and looking that process is what I would call the broader term inquiry. So the first part of inquiry is self-inquiry. And a lot of times, yeah, a lot of times like Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta talked about, mostly Ramana, about self-inquiry, “Who am I?” But I would say that inquiry goes beyond that. After that first awakening, you can still inquire that way, if you want to, if it feels relevant, but there are much more specific inquiries you can look into with things like equanimity doership, the illusion of time, the illusion of distance, space and division, which is non-duality. So there are specific inquiries that can be very helpful because you’re looking at very subtle things now. The closer you look, the more subtle everything gets until everything turns into subtlety, until you realize everything is a paradoxical, extremely subtle. The most obvious thing in the room experience of unfiltered reality, you know, and it gets very difficult to talk about, but the fixations become more and more subtle that you have to engage looking at.
– [Zubin] But you’re still looking?
– [Angelo] You’ve got to keep just looking like a microscope, you know, that’s how it ends up being. So that is what I would call inquiry. And it can be directed inquiry, or it can just be a sort of surrendered inquiry of, “Oh, whatever’s happening now, that’s what needs to be happening.” That’s what I need to feel. What am I feeling? And just let attention draw down into that sensation in the body, fully inhabiting it. Seeing, does it have boundaries? Does it have an inside or an outside? Does it have a name? Does it have a label? Does it have a location, right?
– [Zubin] Is this idea of surrendered inquiry is really interesting to me, because I think in the book also, you use the term natural inquiry is another, these are labels, but the process of surrendered inquiry for me is you are, absolutely just open to whatever happens next with a curiosity tone. So there’s almost a big question in the mind. “What is this in general?” And you’re allowing awareness to go where it, and when it goes somewhere, you’re really just, what is this? What is this? What is this? And without attaching a lot of labels, judgments, how your mind’s moving, letting trying to let that drop. And it’s actually harder than it than it sounds to do. But when it does click into a flow, it is this kind of natural inquiry where everything is. And that questioning kind of disarms the mind in a way, because it’s like, it’s just looking with one big question mark.
– [Angelo] Yeah.
– [Zubin] That’s how that’s, when I’ve experienced it in that flow state, that’s how it feels to me. Is that crazy, or…
– [Angelo] No, I think that’s very much how it is. And there’s no finality to this whole thing.
– [Zubin] Hm mm?
– [Angelo] Exactly. But with regards to the individual identity, there is a finality to it,
– [Zubin] Okay, fine-
– [Angelo] because at some point you’ll see it doesn’t exist at all.
– [Zubin] The individual identity?
– [Angelo] At all.
– [Zubin] So the final stage of that-
– [Angelo] And that in a sense is very much a finality. With that said, realization that you could say the roots of suffering, the attachment to conditions in very subtle ways, there’s still an investigation of that which just goes on and on and on. However, from that point on it proceeds very much in a spontaneous nature. It proceeds as spontaneity because that’s in a sense what you are. You’re not anything necessarily. You’re not even not anything it’s, it’s just not, it’s not in that category of ways of talking don’t even make sense here. Identity, once identity is seen through, it’s done. You don’t have to look back to see that it’s not there. You realize it just didn’t make sense. It’s you can’t find it anywhere. And it’s gone. Yeah. The preoccupation with it has gone, and that’s a huge relief. From there, reality it’s just unfiltered reality. And it still is experienced through this body, this body mind, which has habits, filters and so forth. So that will continue to clarify over time. But it, it comes from a place of spontaneity instead of a place of a self-thinking it’s going through, looking for all these experiences and to dissolve itself. And, you know, like the ego can’t dissolve the ego. It doesn’t make any sense, right? At some point that’s kind of to be nonsense.
– [Zubin] It is seen to be nonsense, yeah.
– [Angelo] You really start to feel that surrendered inquiry. It has to be that way at some point until it’s just surrendered and it’s like, you could almost say the only thing left is surrender. And the only thing left is sort of inquiry, which is a fascination with reality, because what else, does reality do, besides do besides be fascinated with being reality?
– [Zubin] Okay, so people who think this just sounds crazy, I can just say this, like this morning, we’re sitting outside on the street, we’re drinking our coffee. You’re pointing at this with words to me, you’re saying, “This is what this is like,” and you can’t describe it in words, but you’re pointing to it and I’m sitting there and there it is like, it’s almost like reality is a alive process without a witness of it that’s self-aware somehow, somehow these phenomenon that are happening are just, they know themselves without a knower. And the whole thing is an alive process. That’s really eternal, timeless, and also empty of any real substance, but also full of incredible density of, it’s indescribable. And that’s what it felt like this morning.
– [Angelo] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, since we’re going out there, I’ll say it this way. It’s like, okay, if you’re sitting here and I’m also wanting to, to make a slight adjustment to how you’re describing awareness, but if I’m sitting here and like we were this morning, we’re having coffee. And I might be sitting here and the street is over there. As I’m sitting here in the street is over there. If you don’t experience separation, meaning there’s no sense of boundaries, the sense of being a body in the sense of being that street are not two things. So your, your sense of both of those are equally true and equally experienced, and there’s no space. So that’s not really over there. And I’m not really over here. You can see that the mind is trying to make it look like that, and it’s fine. It’s functionally reasonable. It makes sense. And it makes us be able to navigate the world, but it’s not actually like, you know, damn well, it’s not like that because you’re experiencing it not like that.
– [Zubin] Not like that.
– [Angelo] So it’s like, being I’m here and there at the same time, and here’s the deal: the way our mind has to hear what I’m saying right now, is that there’s some kind of awareness of that, but there’s not an awareness of that. It’s literally that. it’s like there’s not something aware of this, all this, this interpenetrated experience we’re talking about. There is, it’s aware of itself as itself. That’s the awareness, the awareness is it.
– [Zubin] Yes.
– [Angelo] The awareness is-
– [Zubin] They’re not two.
– [Angelo] Not to, you know, I hesitate to say it, but me as that cup, me as that keyboard, me as that book, when identity drops away, you see that it actually was an illusion. And it was a learned belief system that I am separate from that, I’m separate from that. I’m separate from that. You literally experienced all of that as totally non-separate. And there’s not an awareness apart from an experiencing. It’s that close. It’s that intimate. And that is things are not in parts.
– [Zubin] Yes. And that is the punchline of all of this, but don’t worry about that guys. So yes, and again, to pull it to inquiry, you’re just looking at what’s here without the conceptual, releasing the conceptual judgments and the labels and the filters. So what’s actually here?
– [Angelo] That’s right.
– [Zubin] Yeah.
– [Angelo] And again, it doesn’t matter for me to tell you what’s here. ‘Cause I don’t care to tell anyone anything. Sometimes talking like that will actually spark it.
– [Zubin] Will point, yeah..
– [Angelo] But the key is, the thing I can teach you is how to actually look yourself and that it’s valuable to look yourself.
– [Zubin] Yeah.
– [Angelo] And all it, all you really have to do is look, as you said, without judgment, or you will, you can’t look without judgment, because the judgments are going to be almost automatic, they’re habituated. The labels will be habituated. What you do is you look, and then you go, “Oh, okay, I see whatever this is in front of me, I call it a table, whatever it is. I see the colors patterns. I see that. I also see that there’s a label, but is the label in that, that I’m looking at, or is it up here? Then, okay, now what does it look like when the label drops? Right. And then, oh, okay, well, I still know that it’s over there and I’m over here. Oh, really? Did your attention stay there? Or did it move back up into thought and turn into a concept of distance? Now let’s let that drop away, yeah. That’s the kind of inquiry you do for non dual. And it’s incredibly powerful. It really works. And I’ve seen people who are essentially beginners at this drop into non-duality and incredibly quickly, not everyone will, but I’ve seen it happen. And it it’s really a matter of sort of ruthless honesty with what a thought is, versus what you’re actually experiencing with the senses. And what’s interesting about this, is the smartest people have the most trouble with this. The most intelligent people have the most trouble. And it’s a little bit interesting. It’s a little bit of arrogance to the ego. The ego’s arrogant. It says, no, no, I know I know. I’m like, yeah, but if you’re so smart and you trust empiricism so much, why don’t you do something empirical? And actually look at the fact that when you look here, nothing there has a label that says table and nothing here says anything about distance. You’re making that up in your mind.
– [Zubin] Hmm…
– [Angelo] Isn’t that interesting? That’s ruthless empiricism. That’s the scientific method.
– [Zubin] That’s the science, applied to-
– [Angelo] Applied to immediate experience.
– [Zubin] Immediate experience.
– [Angelo] Nothing wrong with that. You’re using the microscope of experience that you’re turning it on this and smart people, like very successful people, I think you’re right, have more trouble with this because they are so conditioned to live in the conceptual mind as a tool that they identify with it much more. And it’s very hard for them to find, and I include myself in this, not by being smart, but by being up in my head all the time, they have a lot of difficulty identifying what a thought is. Like they think a thought is actually a real sensation or a part of the sense gate. For example, the feeling of being behind the head, this sort of window of eyes can feel like that’s real. When in fact, if you investigate it through inquiry, it’s a thought, it’s an image thought that just happens to be quite persistent. A conditioned image thought. Because all our life, we’re kind of conditioned to believe we’re here in our head and the world is out there. But if you really look at that very carefully and you’re ruthless about now, this is actually a thought, it starts to be seen for what it is, which is a nothing.
– [Zubin] And then it’s just this.
– [Angelo] – Yeah, the imagining of the self, like you’re describing visually is a good example because let’s say you woke up at 7:00 AM and you went to bed at 10:00 PM and you spent the entire day walking around doing whatever you do. How much of that day did you imagine? Not everybody does this as much as, some people do it a lot more than others, but you literally imagine yourself walking, yourself talking, you imagine the conversations you’re having. So if you spend that, that seven to 10:00 PM, right, all day long, how much of the day are you imagining yourself imagining your face? Or what are you’re saying? If you never actually look in a mirror or anything reflective, you never actually saw your face all day long, and so to say, “No, no, that’s not a thought, it’s kind of insane.” it is a thought, like it’s amazing how much, but here’s the deal, that makes it, that stark contrast makes it obvious. But what’s happening all the time actually is we’re overlaying that picturing that we’re doing onto everything we’re looking at. That’s what you actually undermine with non-duality with non-dual realization. And it’s a big shift in a lot of ways. Like you may get tastes of it so that you’re not too surprised, but it’s a big shift in experience. It’s a big experiential shift to all of a sudden have no boundaries and realize there never were boundaries. There were never boundaries. There’s not space in the way we think about it. And to directly experience it, not scientifically understand it because there are scientists who know that this is true. Consciousness puts all this together and makes it look three dimensional. It makes it look in a way that it’s not quite, this world does not look like our minds, make it look right. Okay. We’re seeing frequencies, right?
– [Zubin] Okay, okay. So, so much here so much, so much. Okay. First the fact that you point out what science actually knows about reality, which is exactly what experience will show you. When you look, that you know everything from quantum mechanics, all the way up that, again, the way consciousness, neuroscientists will tell you, there is no self in the brain. There is no little homunculus there. It doesn’t exist. It’s a series of processes that make us feel like there’s a cohesive whole, and this is not commenting on what’s physically real in the world, or is everything consciousness or everything material. It doesn’t matter. As a matter of experience, there is no self in there. So science agrees with this, but what is potentially destabilizing to people, if they’re not ready, is the actual experience of that, when the filters drop and you realize, no, there is no boundaries. Everything is this raw energy experience. I’m not going to talk about it. It can, people get because it’s so different than the overlays we throw on the video game that we build. And the interface that we built since we were very young and conditioned by society conditioned by our own minds to repetitively create this wave pattern of this is how it is, the idea of the face. Like you don’t see your face, right? But yet it’s there in your mind all the time for me, when I talk to you, if I’m not, if I’m just go unconscious and there’s a face talking to you, like my face, I see when my face in my mind, and it’s making these expressions and I can modulate it. And as part of it is conditioning of like talking to you guys all day. But if that drops and everything is what it is, that can be really disorienting.
– [Angelo] It can, when the contrast is that stark, right? When you have sort of eased up to it and done a lot of emotion work and all that stuff, and then the fear doesn’t come. And the dissociation. One of the big things that happens with people when the energetically or say neurologically find themself in a, in a really different experience, especially with when it comes to like boundaries and stuff, is they’ll dissociate. It feels like a very dissociated state, because the sense of isolation is sort of still there, the sense of being I’m back here I’m the subject. It’s very uncomfortable, but, but when you’ve worked through this stuff and you’ve, you know, kind of dissolved the different barriers and especially with equanimity, you’re not struggling all the time with everything. And the sense of the reactive self is very calm, than it actually is quite enjoyable. It’s things are just much closer. Things are very intimate, very direct, very, just alive. And, and there there’s nothing reacting to it, trying to pull back from it or anything like that. Then this boundlessness is very enjoyable. So it’s a progression and yes, when there’s a stark contrast, it can be like, whoa, what the hell? And there’s going to be a handful of people just listen to this, that happens too, It just happens. It just happens. I know it’s going to happen sometimes when I talk about this. So, but it’s okay, of course. When you do the work and you integrate the emotional, you know, repressed emotions and the resistance patterns and all this stuff that happens over a handful of years with this kind of process, it’s fine. It’s more than fine. It’s natural. It’s real.
– [Zubin] Yeah.
– [Angelo] It’s quite enjoyable. It’s real and unreal. It’s very paradoxical. It’s wild, you know, but the word intimate, I always come back to the word intimate because that’s the thing that we don’t realize that when we live in the standing wave of mind identification, there’s always a sense of isolation. Always a sense of subjective subjectivity of being back here, everything’s out there, right. Non-duality is a collapse of that. So everything is here. It’s just so intimate. It’s here, here, here, here. And there’s no center though, either it’s just super intimate. So it’s enjoyable. It’s, you know, Tony Parsons, like a non-duality speaker says it’s the lover that never leaves you. It’s a very good way of saying it.
– [Zubin] That’s beautiful. And, and I mean, there’s not much I can say. I think there’s, I think there is a disclaimer that, you know, we often will put on this, which is like, guys, like sometimes when you directly pointing there, some people will just experience these shifts and there’s, you know, there’s support for that experience. And sometimes the slower approach where it kind of, you know, the filters start to drop slowly. Yeah. But, but one interesting, last thing I think, and we want to save your voice, ’cause we’re going to do a bunch of shows. But one of the interesting last things is it’s very hard to be destabilized… If there isn’t a self to destabilize.
– [Angelo] That’s that makes all the difference.
– [Zubin] Yeah. Yeah. So that final dropping of identity, that final up… now we’ll use the term uprooting, yeah?
– [Zubin] Yeah.
– [Angelo] Is, that’s you know that, I guess you would call liberation? Because there’s nothing-
– [Angelo] Liberated from the illusion of having a suffering separate self.
– [Zubin] Yes. I think that’s a good way to end this video. It’s a, it’s a bit of a cliffhanger, isn’t it? It’s like the Dukes of Hazard. Whenever they go to commercial break, it would be like, they’d be launching like this. And it’s like, “Are they them Duke boys gonna make it this time?” And it’s like, are we gonna be liberated? Destabilized, or all of the above? Does it matter? Probably not. But it’s going to be awesome.
– [Angelo] Buckle your seat belt, Flash! Hot pursuit!
– [Zubin] Goo goo goo Flash I love you guys. A link to the book is in the description, link to Angelo’s website. Yes, and his YouTube channel where he does very direct teaching on all this stuff, like a video a day. You’re a machine, man. You’re a non-duality dancing machine. Is that a thing?
– [Angelo] Guess so…
– [Zubin] So it is now. I love you. We’re out.
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