By Elaine Bayer
Neither fear, nor missing the past, are causes of unhappiness. Nothing experienced causes unhappiness.
There is only one cause of all unhappiness: mental reactivity.
The Buddha called this craving. What you react to mentally gives reality to what you are reacting to, strengthening and validating it.
When you don't react mentally to what bothers you, what bothers you disappears, revealing that what bothers you was caused by your mental reaction, not because of a feature or characteristic in the apparent thing that is currently experienced as troubling.
Mental reactivity springs from who you are. When you drop who you are, mental reactivity disappears.
The key to the understanding of who you think you are - what must be dropped - is awareness of your own mental reactions. Each mental reaction points straight back to who you unconsciously think you are.
When you don't react mentally, who you think you are collapses with the apparent external realities that are the causes of unhappiness, and non-dual awareness stands revealed as the only reality.
Since the understanding of mental reactivity is the key to perfect happiness in which there is no opposite, what does it take to be aware of your own mental reactions?
This is really incredibly simple. Cultivate awareness of who or what experiences everything: you (subject). This simply means shifting attention from whatever you experience (objects), to you (subject). Do nothing else.
Doing is your mental reactivity. Not-doing is mental non-reactivity. To arrive at the direct experience of non-doing, you must first notice what you are doing. What you are doing, you are doing against yourself, without any awareness, until you shift your attention to you, when you see that whatever you do, you do against yourself.
Whatever we perceive is dualistic, underpinning our dualistic understanding of reality, perpetuating this dualistic way of experiencing. On the other hand, who or what experiences this duality is by its very nature intrinsically non-dual. By withdrawing attention from duality - whatever you experience - to you, you establish non-duality. Even if you don't at first experience the disappearance of an external world, by doing so you are establishing the basis for non-duality. You are weakening the power and reality of duality, even as you continue to experience it.
Duality is not caused by making a distinction between yourself as subject, and whatever you experience, as objects. Duality isn't semantics. You can't think your way out of duality, since thinking itself is the basis, and ultimately the cause, of the experiencing of duality. The use of “correct terminology” cannot lead to the realization of non-duality.
The only thing that can lead to the experiencing of non-duality - the realisation there is no opposite, nobody and nothing to oppose or vex you - is mental inaction. You must discover what it means not to react mentally. This requires awareness of you (subject).
Most thoughts don't cause duality. The thoughts that cause duality have mental reactivity underlying them. So, thinking by itself doesn't produce duality. What produces duality is reacting to your own thoughts and feelings.
Therefore it is necessary, not to change your thoughts and feelings, but to be aware of your own mental reactions, caused by a certain kind of thinking. The kind of thinking leading to mental reactions to your own thoughts and feelings, are those thoughts concerned with who you are. Who you think you are, is comprised of the world around you. You (subject) are made up of what you perceive (mental objects): body, mind, thoughts, feelings, speech, action and behaviour. You perceive that these provide an indication of who you are.
You (as body and mind) are a being of form. The form your being takes, is a physical body and mind with boundaries, separate from other physical forms and boundaries. When the illusion that you are such a form self disappears, through awareness of your own mental reactions, no outside or inside can be found.
Yes, you can still point to what is inside your body, and what is outside it, because you don't lose your mind. As I have said, non-duality has nothing to do with semantics. However, you realise what is external to your body, is still internal to you. Whatever formerly appeared as external, is now perceived to be in you: inside consciousness.
All that has really happened, in this tremendous shift, is that you stopped identifying with your body and its offshoot: your mind. Therefore your experience that you are a form with stuff external to you, has vanished.
Instead, you now understand that all that exists, exists only as consciousness, awareness. Everything is inside awareness. Nothing exists that is not experienced.
When you turn attention around and direct it to its apparent source - you - you observe whatever arises from you. You then see your own mental reactions directly. You see that when you react, you suffer. When you don't react, you are free of all suffering. And so you realise nothing “out there", or even “in here”, could be a cause of your suffering. And so you lose your fear of them: that they can, or have, harmed you in any way. When you lose your fear, there is nothing to avoid, no need for control, no need for any “boundaries”, and thus your mental reactivity ceases. When you don't react mentally, you are free of self (as form) and others. Non-duality is now realised as the only reality.