Spiritual Practice As Preparation

sky w stairsThe fact is it is rare when a spiritual practice wakes someone up. Practices are not designed to wake up; they are the preparation. Just as the sun and the rain prepare a fruit tree to produce the fruit, they are not what cause the fruit to fall from the tree. It falls when the moment is right.

I held a retreat called Opening to Grace this weekend in a beautiful rustic mountain camp called Camp Latgawa. I realized in hearing the many traditions and practices the retreatants had experienced that while spiritual practices do not consistently wake up most of us , they do a wonderful job of preparation. They lay the groundwork so that both consciousness and energy can flow freely and joyfully into an expression of the awakened state.

If you have done years of TM or Bhakti (devotional) practice , or sat in meditation or prayer for long hours, or worked with kundalini or other yoga practices, or followed Zen, Mindfulness or Qigong, but you feel as if you are still not self-realized or awakened to the Truth that cuts away longing and seeking, look at those years with gratitude.

Awakening in the Non-Dual perspective comes suddenly, like a lightning storm that shifts the inner landscape, when consciousness “gets” that it (consciousness) is the fullness of our sense of self, and the essence of all existence. Consciousness wakes up. The ego self may burst or just go into hiatus for a while and the body may be roiled with bliss, tears or even laughter.

But in almost every case there is a period of regression, with periodic returns into the old mental and emotional patterns, or difficulty with the changes in the energy that carries the life force throughout the body. The ego structure collapses and if the person believed this awakening was going to give them a new tool or capacity to be more special or important or just an improved version of themselves they are astonished at how all the old reliable identities have fallen away.

Awakening and living in the vastness of Truth requires a reorientation of the body and the psyche. The energies of the subtle field must become free of contractions and blockages and flow throughout the nervous system into all areas of the body. The mind must learn to move free of all beliefs, bias, judgment, self-criticism, attachments and rejections. Basically the possibility is one of living in the moment, without the influences of the past and the worries of the future. At the same time this newfound detachment from old ways of thinking does not ultimately mean there is no action or compassion. But these move spontaneously from a different source.

Generally speaking, after an awakening, a deeper level of clearing and opening moves through the body.   Consciousness feels more alive and present in the moment, and the qualities arise of moving usefully and more sensitively in the world.

This is a transformation of body, mind and spirit. It thrives on love and devotion — a non-dual kind of devotion that is to the All, to the inclusive beauty and grace of the form and formless. So when non-dual consciousness is clear the human expression can be fully embraced. This does not make the awakened being dualistic. It makes him or her whole, and capable of bringing wisdom and love into the world. He or she knows it is not the little me doing this — it feels like a spigot is opened and whatever is meant to be flows forth. There is no division.

The years spiritual seekers spend in preparation, by opening their bodies, or quieting their thoughts, or clearing their psychological hurdles, or discovering other dimensions of experience, offer the following gifts:

They help the body/mind relax about letting go,

They wash away the barriers to feeling free,

They open the channels through which conscious and energy will carry love,

They make a person more receptivity to grace and the boundlessness of Source.

They reorganize and harmonize the energy flows in the body

Often they provide a community that supports the spiritual quest

Be grateful for the time you have given to your spiritual search and the trust you have had. Waking up without any preparation is much more challenging to body and mind and often the realization cannot stabilize because the physical/emotional/mental system is just not capable of being present with the vast potential of consciousness. Whatever time you have spent in preparation, be grateful, as it will serve you well.

But paradoxically, when all attachment to the process falls away, consciousness is most inclined to awaken itself and strike in an unexpected moment, like lightening on a clear day!

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