Moller de la Rouviere, 
on Avoiding the Conundrum 
of Doing vs Non-doing

see also his comments on  Nisargadatta's "I Am That"

In which "ego" as separate self-sense is a central organising concept.
Other discussions relating to "ego" can be found at / by:
Chögyam Trungpa
, on the mechanics of ego formation

Gene Poole, on ego as necessary psychic immune system

Bruce Morgen, ego seen as quasi-reiterative process
Various authors, other writings which might illuminate something on this important if nebulous spiritual concept

In the following reply to a questioner, Moller addresses the fundamental issue of the difference between his consideration and that of the "intellectual latter-day Advaitist teachers."

Q. You seem to take your position from the ultimate sense of wholeness or non-duality, yet you are also very critical of the current wave of non-dualist teachings sweeping the USA and even other parts of the world. Could you explain the difference you see in your own teaching and that of the advice regarding no-doing, non-effort and no-doer offered by so many present teachers in our country?

A. Yes, you are right in suggesting that I facilitate the transformative process from a non-dual point of view. In this there is resonance between me and many of the Advaitist teachers. It is important to introduce the notion of non-duality or wholeness right from the start, so as to orientate the student intellectually in the understanding of the non-dual nature of all manifest existence.

However, this is where the resonance generally stops between my work and that of the great majority of other Advaitist teachers.

The argument they bring to their students for consideration is that BECAUSE the non-dual condition is already the case, nothing needs to be done, or even COULD be done to allow for its manifestation since no movement is possible towards that which you already are. This perfectly LOGICAL statement usually leaves the student in a very vulnerable position, because it is felt that although the truth of the non-dual vision makes perfect sense, nothing can be done to bring this truth down into the reality of his/her actual experience. In other words the truth of the non-dual statement is presented in such a way that it stands in opposition to the truth and living reality of the student's integrity, which clearly tells h/her that it is not the truth of their present experience of themselves.

This is clearly a case where logic departs from reality and where it creates further fragmentation, rather than becoming an instrument in the process of healing.

A further dilemma which the Advaitist teachers very often bring to their students is the question of the apparent necessary involvement of the ego in all forms of practice. They simply assume that the ego is the basis of practice, and therefore all practice must of necessity strengthen the ego (the separate self-sense) instead of showing it up as simply non-existent. So here again we have the sense of disempowerment in the student where it is felt that not only can nothing be done about h/her condition of separation or "I"-consciousness, but that should one dare to enter any form of practice, it will be utterly detrimental and counter-productive because it cannot but be ego-enhancing.

Now in my understanding all of this is clearly false and misleading. All it achieves in most of the students who try to make some sense of this impossibility, is for them to internalise this misinformatiion about non-practice, non-doing and so on into their own understanding and to start believing themselves that they truly don't NEED any practice. It simply leaves them stuck where they are in their own confusion and unhappiness.

After all, if practice is precluded for you by your teacher, then you only have the IDEA to live with. And so this intellectual Advaitist movement is beset by the proliferation of ideas ABOUT non-duality which tend to confirm one another in the absence of real practice and experiental verification. In this way the lie has become truth.

What I am trying to bring into this matter for the intelligent consideration by any student of life, is the fact that although the final revelation of human potential is indeed the recognition of the non-dual nature of existence, this can only be stated as a kind of retrospective DESCRIPTION of experience. In other words it is a statement of factual experience to those who truly stand in the freedom of their own wholeness. And from this natural clarity ALONE it is obvious to these completed ones that those who do not share their "vision" of non-duality are nevertheless already living in the wholeness of being.

BUT, and this is the great BUT, for those in whom the separate self-sense still forms the functional basis of everyday existence, such a description of wholeness may be interesting, but rather meaningless. It can only become another form of mental projection more or less in line with all other forms of mental projections which have been pointed out as the basis for fragmentation and illusion..

It is indeed true that the ego cannot participate in its own destruction. It is also clear that the ego, as it is experienced as a separate self-sense, can not go beyond itself. Clearly any such endeavour must result in the strengthening of the ego-principle. But who has determined that all investigation into the totality of that which presents itself as ego, separation, dis-ease and disfunction must of necessity be done by the ego? This is where the intellectual Advaitist teachers depart in their view from that of mine.

I say that indeed ALL the work necessary for the investigation, illumination and transcendence of the separate self-sense can be done without the self feeling it is going anywhere. The reason is perfectly clear. In my understanding it is impossible to look for the Truth and even to find it. But what IS indeed possible is for us to look into the NATURE AND FUNCTION of fragmentation and illusion, and in the light of such clarity see the falseness of the `I'-process which is the active principle of the dualistic vision.

Here the investigation is into the "I" itself. So in this there is no necessary involvement of the "I." Just simple and direct observation. Just as the eye sees by itself, and reveals all the diversity of present arising without ever seeing itself, similarly does this act of direct observation reveal with great clarity the nature and function of the fragmentary process which is the self-sense, without having to have any sense of itself as doer.

Much depends on the nature and inclination of the investigation. If it is purposed towards some final goal or pre-determined notion of reality (non-duality), then the ego is indeed just continuing with its play of self-deception and thereby strengthening itself. But if the investigation is directed into the nature of that which appears to bind us and give us the sense of bondage, unfreedom and duality, then such an enquiry can have no end in view. It has only a live and radical spirit of enquiry which observes with a simple and direct clarity all that presents itself as fragmented existence, including the separate self-sense.

Such investigation most certainly has consequences. But its consequences tend not to enhance the ego, but rather to reduce its sense of reality. And with each release or "mini-transcendence" of the contracted self-state comes a greater sense of relaxed awareness which makes it further possible for the enquiry to deepen into the more subtle aspects of the ego-state. Soon, clarity itself becomes the ever-increasing basis from which we feel we operate, instead of the limitation we place on our being by believing in the contracted ego-reality. The process leads itself naturally away from contraction (ego-consciousness) to openness and clarity of Being.

If the process of observation is correctly applied then all this takes place without the overt involvement of the doer. Simply allow the mud to settle, and the water has always been perfectly clear from the start. Anything one tries to DO to the muddy water, wiil only make the water more muddy. But by carefully observing the muddy water, one will no doubt begin to see into the nature of what obscures the natural clarity of the water.

By turning the ego back on itself, as it were, the ego has nowhere to go. Once it becomes clear, through simple self-observation, that the ego is not just one single thought or even a "thing," but instead an ongoing process of thought projection, this process itself becomes a very interesting phenomenon to investigate. Observing this process in action, seeing its results, living with its consequences, suffering its very existence from moment to moment, such clarity will reveal that it is this very process which is the "doing" we are warned not to engage in.

The ego can only do. It is always on the move towards self-fulfillment or self-release. This is the very nature of doing. And to come into direct contact with this ego-doing, the very clarity which reveals this process, will also initiate the natural abandonment of this process which has for so long presented itself to us as the functional centre of our being and the basis of all fragmented existence.

So by clearly observing how this process creates and fulfills its destiny as separate entity, and the natural suffering associated with such sense of separation and alienation, such clarity of vision brings its own intelligence into play. It gradually becomes clear that this process within thought is not useful to be associated and identified with. It is recognised as the essence of human suffering, and in this pure recognition a natural abandonment of this process begins to assert itself quite naturally. No conclusion is reached from which again to start the process of bringing action in line with such a conclusion. It is an inherent aspect of such recognition within our own clarity that the very act of conclusion from which to determine `right' action, is again part of the process within thought which obscures clarity of vision.

The clarity of vision is sufficient unto itself to do the work. Clarity itself becomes the "base" from which we begin to feel our way into a life less burdened by the contracted self-sense. Clarity is not just pure vision. It brings with it the sword of real discriminatory Intelligence which functions totally free from the conditioned thought which has enslaved us for so many thousands of years.

And it is this natural clarity and Intelligence which progressively reveal the non-dual nature of all present arising and which alone has the power to bring the contracted self-state to its natural and unforced dissolution.

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