Question: What do you mean by “as soon as possible is forever?”
Michael Richardson-Borne: There are two ways I’ll approach your question.
The first is from separation which frames both “as soon as possible” and “forever” as conceptual byproducts of a separate self. Even though “as soon as possible” and “forever” ultimately have the same meaning, from the perspective of your separate self, one word is defined as short term and the other defined as long term – a separation in time that you’ll find doesn’t exist. From separation, “as soon as possible” is a demand or wish from the separate self, “forever” is an open-ended amount of time that has the same starting point as “as soon as possible” – a separate self that is an illusional extraction from the totality. Again, the separate self is unaware that “forever” is just as finite as “as soon as possible” because it has forgotten that both are in relation to an individual it believes in.
For example, take the phrase “his or her memory lives forever.” It’s fairly simple to see that there is an assumption of an individual as the subject, an assumption molding it into a form of psychological time that limits “forever” and “as soon as possible” into equivalent fictions that express separation. The key here is to ask yourself, “his or her memory lives forever as what?” This question is the opening to a suspension of solely focusing on the objective world from the perspective of an object – and is the beginning of what I call the Path of Non-separation.
After you get to an understanding of this first inquiry, the statement, “as soon as possible is forever,” is held in a different fashion. Your conditioning moves from one with a starting point of separation to having the separate self white-washed into an activity of that which is living it into being. You are able to see both “as soon as possible” and “forever” as contents of consciousness seamlessly released as a common thrust. Neither is separate from the self-animated awareness – an awareness that has no need for the illusion of a further self-directed animation. Why would your separate self need to animate what is already animated? It doesn’t amplify the animation in any way. What it does do is ignore the fact that the animation is already there and proceeds to take credit for something that is not its own doing.
From this deeper understanding, “as soon as possible” is known to be a deceptively personal experience while “forever” is known to be impersonal existence. Or more precisely – first, it is recognized that personal experience lies within impersonal experience and, second, it is recognized that the personal and impersonal experiences are not two, both being lived as the natural impulse of impersonal existence. It is here where both “as soon as possible” and “forever” become eternal – an existence with no beginning and no end. This is where the understanding of Non-separation originates as the impersonal existence of being that includes the personal – just another way of saying that “as soon as possible is forever.”
Q: I’m here with you because I want to lose my sense of separation, my ego, as soon as possible. What’s the shortest path to self-realization?
MR-B: I’m afraid that is unknowable, and not something I can speak to. There are some so-called teachers who will sell you a sure-fire solution or path to enlightenment, taking advantage of your rushed confusion – but I’m not one of them. The more important question is to find out who is actually interested in the shortest path to self-realization. Awakening is not self-willed and can’t be passed from one individual to another. It may seem like, in the moment, you’re being spiritually guided in some way – but once you see more clearly, you will look back and know what was truly the case. So, again, there is no known fool-proof system that one can engage to reach the dissolution of the self. There is no objective system that will expedite your awakening. Remembering Non-separation happens on its own accord to no one in particular. There is nothing that requires your individual effort and nothing to personally worry about. This is the understanding you are searching for.
It sounds cliché, and it annoys me when I hear teachers use worn out phrases like “pathless path” – but here I go using it. Why? Because you asked about a path – and there really is no path for an individual to recognize and trod along that is outside of the pathless. As long as you believe there is a path to follow, you are stuck in the mind of an individual on a self-authored journey headed to a destination you think will be a locale for a personal experience of awakening to happen. This is an off-shoot of the status quo narrative that believes in the fiction of separation.
However, as Non-separation, it is noticed that “pathless path” is the same as saying “as soon as possible is forever” – “pathless” being the eternal impersonal and “path” being a personal journey lived by and as the deeper reality of the pathless.
Q: You say there is nothing to worry about when it comes to accessing the realization of Non-separation. But how can I not worry about it and still remain fully invested in my seeking process? If I stop caring, realization will never happen.
MR-B: You are still imagining that the separate self is in control of your seeking. You think your personal worrying or caring is what keeps you on task when the worrying is just an individual with a false sense of self-authorship being fooled by the belief in the separate self. Your worry is attributable to not knowing what is going to happen circumstantially in the world outside of your self – which is the conditioning of separation. In reality, worry is an attachment to an outcome where you desire a control that isn’t yours, and never will be. Embrace the experience of no outcomes and see that worry is a product of not knowing your true nature, Non-separation.
Do you think consciousness needs you to worry about it? Is this even possible? Notice how worry itself is just an impersonal activity living itself into being. If you are meant to continue seeking, you will be continued. If you are meant to take a detour, you will be detoured. Your separate self is not writing this script. The mind may be reacting to and interpreting reactions to this script – but the production you are watching unfold is nothing but an expression of consciousness, your true being.
Q: That all sounds great. But, tangibly, how do I stop the worry?
MR-B: How do you stop the worry? Get out of the mind’s future. Being in the future results in wanting to know or achieve a specific outcome “as soon as possible.” Instead, rest in “forever” and sink deeper and deeper into it until it consumes the separate self and the limitations of separation are revealed. Worry may still arise in the mind at this point. But once you are able to let life happen spontaneously, and only the happening is present, all worry that was formerly taken seriously evaporates. This is remembering “as soon as possible is forever.”
Q: This sort of hands-off approach runs contrary to American culture. We want the quick solution, instant gratification. Then, as soon as that gratification is secured, our attention seems to be pacified for the moment, and then it’s on to anticipation of the next experience or possession.
MR-B: This is an important observation you are making. Stick with this line of inquiry. Pay close attention to the instant of gratification. Pay close attention to the space between “I want” and the re-appearance of “I need.” You will find that the behavior you are pointing to is a forgetting of “forever” and a worshipping of “as soon as possible” – which is a blindness to the impersonal and a forgetting that the personal and the impersonal are not two.
What you are pointing to is a symptom of what I call “the culture of separation,” a culture fueled by the false belief in the existence of a separate self as the primary unit of exchange in a world filled with personal transactions.
Q: But there’s no choice but to remain in the culture of separation. It’s what is available here and now. How can I be surrounded by and living in this culture and simultaneously break free into Non-separation? When I walk out my door, separation is there no matter what I do.
MR-B: Ask yourself who or what is surrounded by and living in the culture of separation. Understand there is no one to break free and nothing to break free from. Understand that the culture of separation is still an expression of “forever.” Notice that what you are asking is sped up by the mind and that there is something to do “as soon of possible” rather than just relaxing into your pure being.
Any sort of self-authored push along a path towards obtainment will, more than likely, just leave you pushing towards a concept in your mind – because a mind that is hunting outside of itself is always committed to doing instead of being. Doing is an action of separation, while being is just an action – being is an action that includes the doing. Doing is the personal, while being is the impersonal – the impersonal is an action that includes the personal. Comprehending this relationship (that isn’t a relationship of opposites) between personal and impersonal leads one to effortlessly become an invitation to the understanding that “as soon as possible is forever.”