You Are Already What You Seek
International Centers of Divine Awakening (ICODA) methods are never intended to “fix” or “change” anyone. Rather, the Advaita position that ‘you are perfect just as you are,’ fully represents our actual experience and true point of view. When you have recognized that the Universe deals only in perfection, and that nothing else is even possible, then the entire paradigm that includes the need to “fix” anything, gets turned inside out. A natural and quite spontaneous acceptance occurs, that instantly creates correct perceiving: a problem is an opportunity for creativity, growth and expansion, rather than a something to be solved, or a difficulty to be overcome. Problems are neither dilemmas nor obstacles. They are doorways. ICODA is not about fixing you or changing you in any way—or about making you any particular way. It is not designed to artificially change you or your point of view. We are not asking you to trade your philosophy for ours. This is about ‘recognizing what is,’ about the natural actualization of what is already present in you—present AS you. This is the great paradox—that we all need to be trained, to be ourselves! And in actuality, ‘beyond self’ is real self.
Begin With True Understanding
All realizations and self-actualizations begin with understanding. Understanding is the first rung of the ladder, but only the first. One of the problems in our society is that most of the time we settle for understanding, and go no further. Then the understanding is of no real use, because we haven’t ‘done’ anything with the understanding—it hasn’t sparked transformation. The understanding has to penetrate completely and be ‘lived,’ and only then will it change you—bring you closer to who you really are. Real ‘progress’ means becoming who you really are. As the word is used in the conventional sense, there is no such thing as “progress.” Progress is a language-created concept, like the word “unicorn”—an idea, with no correlation to anything actual. The world is as it has always been, and as it will always be. All ideas of ‘progress’ are deceptions, delusions—to keep you from knowing yourself. Real progress is inner, never outer. Real progress is an ever-deepening knowledge of self, a surrender into what truly is. Real progress is becoming ‘less,’ not more. Although this notion may be scary, and runs counter to what our culture teaches us, in actuality, the ‘less’ we are (or the less there is of us), the more freedom there is. The more room there is, for freedom to be there.
You Are Already Enlightened
The corollary assumption to the Advaita position that ‘you are perfect just as you are,’ is that “you are already enlightened.” This is absolutely true. In fact, nothing exists but enlightenment. Enlightenment is perfection, and vice versa. Everyone and everything is entirely enlightened (perfect). Although true, this idea may not help you. If anything, it may act as a hindrance to coming to know yourself—especially if the ego seizes upon this notion and you becomes grandiose, puffed up, or you in any way delude yourself into believing that you have somehow arrived. The mind is unfathomably powerful; you can convince yourself of just about anything, including realization. We encourage you to truly examine the idea that ‘everything that exists is enlightenment,’ and to let this become a source of good news and of realization, not just another idea or belief to mislead or confound. Let enlightenment and the experience of perfection be your reality.
Suffering is an Overlay That We Create
ICODA espouses its own (practical) view regarding suffering, which is simply that suffering is an overlay that we bring into our experience. We create it needlessly; we infuse it. It is an afterthought, superimposed. It does not come automatically with the package—it is ordered separately and delivered instantly. It is a decision, made in the space of a hairsbreadth, yet traceable. Mostly because these aspects/mechanisms of how suffering actually works are so simple and knowable, the end of all suffering is entirely possible, and in fact does not even take gargantuan effort! But it does take a willingness to allow what is natural, and a willingness to not suffer.
You Are Resistant to Becoming a Non-Sufferer
Surprisingly (not unlike any addiction) most of us are actually unwilling to let go of suffering. This is very significant, and must be understood: most of us are unwilling to give up suffering! People always ask “why is there so much suffering in the world?” or “why do I have to suffer so much?” Yet, more than for any other reason, the actual answer is: because you are unwilling to stop suffering.
You are resistant to becoming a non-sufferer. You cling to your suffering like a man freezing in the winter wind, when someone tries to tear his coat away. You are warmed by your suffering, somehow—satisfied by it somehow. It is an attachment and an identification. If you dropped your suffering, you would need an entirely new definition of yourself. You would not be the same person you are now. You might not even recognize yourself. This is the identification (over-identification). You believe yourself to be your past, your history, your story. And it is a story of suffering.
Suffering is Not Inherent to Life
We believe suffering to be inherent to human life, unavoidable, and this gives us a certain righteous justification for our attachment to our suffering, and for our identification with suffering—no matter how painful or undesired that suffering may be. But the fact of the matter is that all suffering is infused from the outside. It is not inherent to any particular human experience. For example, one can be in immense physical pain, but that does not necessarily require that suffering be present. But most of us infuse suffering, when physical pain occurs. Have you ever watched, when a small child falls down or injures themselves, how their response is determined entirely by the reaction of the parent? And have you a small child be completely calm and unconcerned with an injury—no tears or upset—yet when, with upset and much emotion the parent says “oh my god, don’t worry Johnny; oh I know it hurts but try to be brave; I know it’s awful but try to be a big boy”—and then and only then, the child becomes upset and begins crying and screaming. It is amazing to watch parents teaching their children directly, how to suffer—giving clear and intensive lessons in how to infuse suffering, when they see their child not suffering!
Pain, grief, anger, rage, confusion, sadness, sorrow, misery, despair, frustration, disappointment—all of these are part and parcel of the human experience. What we are hardly ever taught, however, is that none of them imply, or need be experienced as, a condition of suffering. Pain or grief or sadness can simply be pain or grief or sadness, without infusing the dimension of suffering. In the simplest sense, suffering is a learned behavior, a habit.
Animals provide yet another great example of how suffering is infused, and not required. Have you ever seen a crippled dog? Have you seen it right after it becomes crippled?—right after it becomes blinded or loses a leg? It cries for a moment or two at most, out of confusion, out of pain, or out of genuine despair–and then goes on. It completely and utterly accepts the situation, and goes on immediately, without looking back. It adapts instantly to 3 legs instead of 4, and makes do. There is no look of complaint in its eye. There is no air of victimhood in its demeanor. It accepts reality, including pain and loss, including agony and limitation, without infusing suffering. Even further proof is the fact that some animals are more neurotic than others. Some dogs lose their leg, and insist on infusing suffering! Perhaps they have learned it from being too close to humans. They lose their leg and they become depressed and listless. They stop their activity, they lose the gleam in their eye, and they vegetate in self-pity. Even a dog can infuse suffering, if it insists on doing so! This is even more evidence of how suffering is a choice. Most dogs don’t choose suffering, but now and again, a few (perhaps the more human ones) do!
The ‘first noble truth’ of Buddhism is that “life is suffering.” Contrary to the usual interpretation of the essential Buddhist teaching that (literally) defines life as suffering and posits suffering as unavoidable, our actual experience suggests the validity of a more esoteric interpretation: that suffering is unavoidable, until you give up your attachment to suffering. This can be seen, learned and practiced—until that day when all suffering ends, because something else has taken over—something that is more basic than suffering.
Non-Acceptance Is The Only Method You Have Ever Used For Creating Suffering
That ‘something’ is your natural and innate capacity for love and acceptance. Suffering is created in one way and one way only: non-acceptance. Non-acceptance is the only method you have ever used to create any suffering that you have ever experienced. Know this fully, and the secret key has been found. If you drop your identification with the story/drama of any given event, how is suffering possible? If you let go of your attachment to a given set of circumstances, then how could those circumstances ever be spun into a tale of suffering?
“Become a non-sufferer, and there’ll be one less place of suffering in this world. … This is how one ‘saves the world’—by ending suffering where you are. It’s completely possible, in this very lifetime.”
— Swami Premodaya