Beyond Words, Ideas & Images ...
What is that "veil" between ourselves & reality? Can we perceive reality directly?
"If we're living from the standpoint of a self-image of who we think we are, who we imagine ourselves to be, this also creates an emotional environment. For example, if we think we're good and worthy, we'll create good and worthy emotions. But if we think we're unworthy, then we'll create negative emotions. So we can have a good or bad self-image, a self-image that feels emotionally either better or worse, but no matter what it is, if we look deeply at the core of all our images, there is this feeling of not being authentic, not being real. There's a reason for this. It's because as long as we're taking ourselves to be an image in our minds, we can't ever feel completely sufficient. We can't feel completely worthy. Even if the image is positive, we don't feel completely enlivened.
If we're willing to look in a deep way underneath the appearances, what we expect to discover - or perhaps hope to discover - is some great, shining image. Most people, deep in their unconscious, want to find an idea of themselves, an image of themselves, that's really good, quite wonderful, quite worthy of admiration and approval. Yet, when we start to peer underneath our image, we find something quite surprising - maybe even a bit disturbing at first. We begin to find no image. If you look right at this moment, underneath your idea of yourself, and you don't insert another idea or image, but if you just look under however you define yourself and you see it's just an image, it's just an idea, and you peer underneath it, what you find is no image, no idea of yourself. Not a better image, not a worse image, but no image. Because this is so unexpected, most people will move away from it almost instinctively. They'll move right back into a more positive image. But if we really want to know who we are, if we want to get to the bottom of this particular way in which we suffer, arising from believing ourselves to be something we're not, then we have to be willing to look underneath the image, underneath the idea that we have of each other, and most specifically of ourselves.
What is the experience of feeling and knowing yourself as no image, no idea, no notion at all? At first, it might be disorienting or confusing. Your mind might think, 'But there's got to be an image! I have to have a mask to wear. I've got to present myself as somebody or something, or in some particular way.' But of course, that's just the mind, that's just conditioned thinking. It's really just the incarnation of fear, because there is a fear of knowing what we really are. Because when we look into what we really are - underneath our ideas, underneath our images - there's nothing. There's no image at all.
There's a Zen koan - a riddle that you can't answer with your mind, but that you can only answer through looking directly for yourself - that says, 'What was your true face before your parents were born?' ... What are you, really, when you look beyond all images and all ideas about yourself, when you look absolutely directly, right here and right now, when you stand completely within yourself and look underneath the mind, underneath the ideas, underneath the images? Are you willing to enter that space, the place that casts no image, no idea? Are you really willing and ready to be that free and that open?"
Adyashanti. “Falling into Grace. Insights on the End of Suffering.” Sounds True, Boulder, CO, 2011.