Wisdom Without Dogma

Wisdom Without Dogma

Here is an opportunity to receive a free e-book “Wisdom Without Dogma” that includes an excerpt from my upcoming book “When Spirit Leaps: Navigating the Process of Spiritual Awakening”, to be released in April  My publisher, New Harbinger and Nonduality Press, is offering this collection of selected excerpts from several of their authors.

As New Harbinger writes “With these essential teachings, insights, reflections, practices, and real-life examples—written by renowned spiritual teachers and authors who speak from direct experience—you’re sure to find the guidance and support you seek on your own spiritual journey.”

I am honored and  excited to be part of this wonderful collection and encourage you to go to www.newharbinger.com where you can download for free this remarkable collection, and join their email list to get the first announcements when my book is released.  The sampling includes selections from:

  • Being Aware of Being Aware by Rupert Spira
  • White Fire by Mooji
  • Shakti Rising by Kavitha M. Chinnaiyan
  • The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer
  • Yoga and the Pursuit of Happiness by Sam Chase
  • Kabalah Yoga by Audi Gozlan
  • The Kindness Cure by Tara Cousineau
  • Boundless Awareness by Michael A. Rodriguez
  • The Courage Habit by Kate Swoboda
  • When Spirit Leaps by Bonnie L. Greenwell
  • Suffering Is Optional by Gail Brenner
  • The Heartfulness Way by Kamlesh D. Patel and Joshua Pollock
  • Undivided Love by Lynn Marie Lumiere
  • Living the Life That You Are by Nic Higham

We invite you to explore all of these books, and wish you true well-being, peace, and joy.

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How Consciousness Becomes Blocked

It’s not uncommon to find you have a block in your body, a place that feels tight and inflexible, where perhaps breath or movement is limited, but have you ever considered you may also experience blocks in your consciousness?hs-1998-13-c-thumb

People who have had energetic awakenings often feel they must unblock a chakra or a stuck place in their belly, chest, or throat before their energy will flow smoothly, enabling them to reach another degree of expanded consciousness. But this is only addressing the relative level of physical form. What I am seeing is that it is blocks in our consciousness, even more so than our body, that keep us from awakening and living from our true nature. Consciousness gets stuck!

How we Become Stuck

How does this happen? It is the nature of mind to create an identity, collecting data points that help us form a framework for what we are. So experiences and lessons learned are organized and programmed into our subtle body structure, our patterns of thought and emotion. When we awaken in the morning this programming reasserts itself and we remember me. Do you ever lie in bed when you first wake up and recall what day it is, and what you have to do today, before you move ahead? At a more subtle level you have first remembered me. This me holds your history and beliefs and an underlying assumption that everything that ever happened to you is true. And it is stuck.

This stickiness is like liquid cement forming blocks where you are not free because you are glued to an old memory, event or feeling that colors every aspect of your life.

These stuck places keep you from the freedom you are seeking. They were built at moments of great intensity – perhaps because of trauma, loss, fear or grief. I have seen them in people who cannot release the intensity of a past love, or the grief of a childhood loss, or the sense of a major failure. The intensity of a great love or a sacred experience that expands you beyond the boundaries of the personal self can also create a stuck place. The mind returns to it over and over again, or interprets the world through this lens and finds ordinary life insufficient, lacking the light and magic once experienced briefly. Anything felt intensely or believed thoroughly becomes a stopping place. It can create a sense of limitation, of failure, even of completion that inhibits further depth of understanding.

A block in consciousness can be as ordinary as believing in money as the proof of success (or conversely, as evil), or that a soul mate exists that must be found (or is lost), or the world is collapsing or that a new age is coming. It can be a strong belief in a spiritual tradition or a traumatic event lived over and over. It does not matter if it is negative or a positive stopping point: consciousness colors your awareness in the lens that became stuck in that moment of intensity. We see the world and experience our emotions through this distortion, and our lives are colored by it. It can be a personal lens, such as a belief you are seriously flawed, or a collective lens, such as the world is dangerous.

One example is the many ways our American political structure influences us. We are bombarded with perspectives designed to distort our perception, based on the perspectives of politicians. Our media carries continual reminders of the possibility of disaster and this information flows into our stuck places amplifying anxiety and keeping our attention focused on what can go wrong. Our brains can be spinning with concepts that support our stuck places.

It is an incredible breakthrough for anyone who can drop these heavy and dark influences long enough for consciousness to awaken itself.

How Consciousness Awakens

 I have known many blocks in consciousness, as all of us have. My perspective is clearly limited to that which is known through my own direct experience, included what is colored by the input of my family, culture and media. My parents, and then my partner in life had a strong influence on how and where I live, the children I have birthed, my lifestyle and perspectives (and I on him). One example — the loss of my mother at an early age colored how I felt about the stability of family and the anxiety I projected onto my children. When that block broke, a new perspective emerged. As I began exploring transpersonal experiences in graduate school many of the blocks of religious and cultural conditioning cracked or dissolved. But still, as a human, conditioning and outside influences shape my life. Spiritual freedom may open me to new ways of interaction with this, but does not end the encounters of my unique destiny in time and place.

I believe that every person and new experience we allow into our life adds a point of view, an opportunity for consciousness to become more inclusive, but our blocks limit who and what we let in. When blocks crack open, consciousness awakens more expansively, that is, out of the boundaries of the personal me.  This may happen through an encounter with an awakened person, through the deep silence beyond the mind discovered in meditation, and in some cases, spontaneously during moments when mind slips out of identity with our personal collection of beliefs about who we are.  The blocks

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may break suddenly like a dam that has burst. This can be felt as a shock or a blessing. We each adjust to the shift uniquely in line with our background, understanding and openness to change.

Can there be a limit?

The consciousness that has been stuck in the patterns of our belief system is originally unbounded – it permeates all the universe. It allows itself to be limited in order to have the experience of me. Who can say why, other than its inclination was to move toward creating and expressing in form, to know itself in billions of variations. We are aware that forms will arise and fall, live briefly and pass away. Underneath we believe we should never pass away, that life is too short, that we lose those we dare to love. We are afraid to lose our separate sense of me. When there is fear in an awakening process it is generally because of this attachment – the same as in the fear of death. But in fact we are only losing the limitations, the stuck places that happened in the process of living as a human, because we cannot lose the consciousness itself, the essence we are. In awakening moments we glimpse this possibility. We know it thoroughly, however briefly. We feel freedom or liberation from our stuck places. It is an openness beyond imagination. We rarely stay in this place because unfinished business recalls us to our old identities, but it is never the same again, because many of the blocks to perception cannot be rebuilt. And yet, unless we are vigilent, over time new stuck places arise. We need to meet these intensities with compassion and inclusion and then they gradually lose their capacity to create blockages in the free flow of consciousness. We need openness to what consciousness might explore, know more fully, expand into next. We need to allow this with curiousity and gratitude, rather than the drive and greed for experience characteristic of our separate self, and then we can realize more and more of what we truly are.

 

 

Self-Inquiry and the I Am

A student has asked about self-inquiry and whether he needs continually to remind himself to question “Who am I” and remember the “I am”.  His sense is that only in deep stillness is he present as the  “I am”.
One way of thinking of this awareness of “I am”, often emphasized in non-dual literature and approached in various ways by teachers, is that no matter what you are doing or thinking awareness is present. It is awareness noting your thoughts, emotions, stillness, sensations.  The way I think of self-inquiry is to just become curious about awareness itself, what is this awareness?  Where is it coming from in me?
Sometimes you are distracted by thoughts and when you notice this , you can step back out of your busy thoughts and inquire  what noticed these thoughts and distraction? How I am aware of what is happening here?

IMG_1390 Be very curious! But do not ask the mind for an answer. It is like tuning into a felt sense, and there is no mental answer — it is more like feeling into the unknown.  I think of it as turning awareness into itself and sinking into that.  Of course you can’t do this in the middle of a conversation, but you can take a breath and drop awareness into the gut and ask if what you are saying is true or authentic. Eventually when there is enough clearing so that  awakening is more consciously present you will discover how there is a felt intuitive sense in your gut .

 This intuitive knowing can guide our actions more authentically than our thoughts, and we can lean into this to establish what is true in the moment. It is like a compass connected to Source. If we go against it we usually feel uncomfortable.
However, we  can also go for years after awakening with occasionally getting entangled in an old pattern or emotion and this is not a problem, as long as we do not give up facing it.  As Adya says when these old parts of us arise, they are just old patterns that have not awakened yet. They arise for us to face them. We can then either write about them, or sit down and meet them fully and inquire about them seeking to know their source and release them or question if they are true(Byron Katie’s style) .  It is best not to be concerned about their arriving — we will always be in a human form and there can always be some old piece of work to do.  When there is, consciousness will let us know by bringing up division, confusion or emotion that doesn’t pass quickly. (We can always feel a wave of emotion but usually after a somewhat stable awakening it passes through quickly because there is no one here to hang on to it.) If it is sticky then we know it is an edge of our old identifications.  We need to accept it and meet it and see what it has to show us.

 

Eventually there is no need to feel into the I am — it is always there without words, like a relaxation into life.The one who is working to stay there falls away. Awareness can be engaged or it can be resting in spaciousness or stillness and it is all the same because no one objects or tries to change either experience.
There is a meditation on http://www.kundaliniguide.com that blends balancing energy with tuning into awareness. You might want to try it and see how it feels.

What Does Awakening Mean To You?

Awakening, for me, means an inner peace that exists prior to any of the outer challenges that life brings. It means being present with what is and free of mental reactivity that triggers resistance and contraction. And it means a gradual unfolding of consciousness into many aspects of living. When we accept how it is, how we are, we become free and awakening continually unfolds.

Awakening does not bring a perfect life and continual bliss, nor the opposite — absence of all feeling, and a dry and passive emptiness — as some people might imagine before navigating this passage. The terms emptiness and detachment are common in the world of non-duality, and are greatly misunderstood.

As we become empty of our conditioned self we move through stillness and into a vividness of the senses that is more immediate and more appreciative than previously lived. In any moment that we are really here and now we see life with more nuance – for example, the darkness or discouragement brought on by world events is seen in relationship to the innate beauty of the earth and the inherent kind spirit of most humans, who long for love and understanding and mutuality rather than violence and suffering. We see the creativity in humankind. It is seeing the whole, and while a feeling of sadness may float through the heart at certain times, this is not held as a filter through which we view all the world. Anger may arise but along beside it is a witness wondering why it is there – what hidden belief is it unveiling, what part of us is still waiting to come awake? Feelings move through and guide us to deeper truths within our self.

Awakening unwinds gradually in our life. It may come in spurts that seem to magically open before us, in an unguarded moment in which no thoughts are arising and yet presence is there. It may come when we step back out of an old pattern and feel compassion for our self and all other humans entangled in conditioned beliefs and anxieties.

Moments of awakeness may come because of a stunning sunrise, or vast view of the world, or a sense of consciousness slipping free of the limits of one body and embracing the allness of itself. They can happen when a baby smiles, or you relax into a lover’s arms just to be there, or when you are swimming and suddenly at one with the water.

Awakening is simple in that it is prior to all the complications of mind and conditioning. It is like the sky with no objects or with the planets and stars so scattered that they present no interference with the stillness. It is the moment between thoughts that is ripe with any possibility. It is the quietude in the heart that needs nothing more to happen.

You may have thought you had to be a saint to be awake, or go through a lifetime of austerity and the abandonment of human love and pleasure. But if you are only awake when in a deep meditation, separated from all the forms of life expression, then you are only half awake. We are not just awake to ourselves when we are pure untrammeled consciousness – we become awake with eyes open to the wonder of being here momentarily in the play of a human experience, with others to meet and dance with through our lives. We are here to bring consciousness and light to our world as embodiment, if even for only a brief period of time.

As we face our contractions and resistances we become more free personally, but also collectively, and generationally. We are breaking lineages that were confused and had been passing dysfunction from one generation to the next. We may wish we could wake up all at once and stay awake and never have an issue to address. But life unfolds itself more gradually, and our awakenings bring us more and more opportunities to clear away our patterns and see our potentials. Just as maturing takes humans some time to unfold, so does the maturing of our ability to live awakened in the world.

The Transformative Power of Mind

Awakened living happens when we have the courage to live in the present moment, and give up our attraction to the divisive thoughts of our minds. It is the freedom to try something new here and now – look at our lives from a fresh perspective, unburdened by our history or old habits. It is greeting the unknown without the weight of anxiety.

All of us have baggage from our past – it is carried in our emotional and thought patterns and spills out whenever we have to face a problem or a challenge in our life. Whenever we fall into a rage, or a depressive perspective about our future, or self-criticism or judgment about the actions of someone else it is as if this baggage has tumbled down at our feet and is slowing us down, blocking us from clarity about our next obvious move.

Neuroscientists are now telling us that when anything negative happens to us it stays entangled in the neuronal pathways much more readily than a positive event. Then when something similar happens we respond with all the intensity of the backed-up emotion from earlier events. This is why you can feel overwhelmed when a colleague yells at you the way your dad once did, or you feel crushed by losingan argument, or fall into fear and depression when you hear negative political news.

How do we find a way to enjoy the vitality of living despite the negative energies so easy to encounter in our world? We cannot live an awakened life if we are dragged down by conflict, depression, anger or confusion. Awakeness requires holding a fidelity to the awakening we have glimpsed, remembering that underneath the surface of human contradiction is an innate happiness and pleasure that the incarnated spirit knows, even when the mind is doing its characteristic division and worry. These self-defeating tendencies are the reason that thought is disparaged in non-dual teachings – we must get liberated from the fear and catastrophic patterns of thinking humans are so prone to. We must learn our thoughts are rarely true.

IMG_1868Imagine for a moment you could erase all thought – all influences of the outside world, and all doubts in your inner world. Take a deep breath and look up at the sky. What if mind was as vast and clear and open as this? What if mind has the depth and expansive potential of the boundless skies above us?

 

 

Living awakened is not about transcending or pretending there is no darkness in our world; it is acknowledging the world is not only darkness, but is also infused with great light, great potential and great love. It is bringing balance into the overly negative mind, and recognizing that we personally each can bring in some light, some new consciousness, some love even if only to our small corner of the world. We can refuse to indulge in watching programs or hanging out in systems (external or internal) that promote anger, conflict , suffering and isolation. We can seek time in nature where the ions bathe us in a calming presence. We can be present and take note of our immediate surroundings, recognize that we are likely ok here and now.   We know if we move into the middle of an emergency we can simply respond and do what is obvious. It is not the rare physical emergencies that get us down so much as the thoughts about past and future. Rarely are we, in this moment, in a crisis. When we are, then courage and action arises. It is the psychological and imaginative crisis that most debilitate us. These are promoted by thoughts that stir our emotions and cloud our capacitiy for clarity and freedom. Like smoke hovering over us after a fire, they must be cleared away if we are to know our true nature.

Being awake is standing free of limiting thoughts and being present in the moment, doing what is obvious in the moment, listening to the intuition of heart or gut or spirit, and taking care of ourselves and others in a loving way. It is the natural state of Being, bringing us the potential to redesign the way we live based on our authentic moment-to-moment understanding of what is needed now.

 

The Golden Flower of Awakening

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The ancient Taoists understood spiritual awakening and used poetic symbolism as a transmission to those who were ready for it, and some westerners have discovered the potency of these teachings.  It is clear in “The Secret of the Golden Flower” that an inward turning of the light of awareness leads to the realization of the original Self , or primal Consciousness, from which the awakened life can flow.  “The Golden Flower’ as translated by Thomas Cleary describes this process.

In Chinese practice this inward turning is accompanied by a practice of circulating the breath, which awakens and moves subtle energy, while paradoxically containing and expanding it.  This eventually activates the primal energy of the life force, generally in a more harmonious balance than the typical kundalini practices. The emphasis is on living from the center of  rather than entering expanded transcendent states of Samadhi. Some of those who have contacted me over the years have used these ancient practices to enter into the awakening process.

            Although some non-dual teachers will say that awakening is sudden and thorough, either complete or non-existent (only an experience), I have seen thousands of people who are in and out, or half way through, what I can only call a process or an unfolding  into Truth and Self-realization.

            From a non-dual perspective mystical moments, flashes of light, deep insight, rising energies, opening the heart and many other phenomena attributed to a spiritual encounter are not what awakening is.  Instead, Awakening is the time when everything falls away and you realize yourself to be no-body separate and yet unified with all and emerging from One source. It is a ground-level switch from personal to impersonal identity and an opening into the possibility of living from this realization rather than from the separation and identifications of the so-called ego.  When one has only a moment of this realization and then gets entangled again in separation the realization is called a glimpse.  When one can live totally from this place of beingness, and yet function as their own unique expression in the world, it is called enlightenment.  It may, but does not invariably, include extraordinary gifts, as some people believe.  More commonly, awakening expands compassion and an impulse to aide others to awaken.

          All the other phenomena attributed to awakening are preparatory, related to the clearing of blocks in the energy field, the opening of brain centers, or shifting into dimensional frequencies and states of consciousness not often understood by the rational mind.  Most who awaken will have some of these non-ordinary experiences either before or following awakening.

            Far more people have glimpses of awakening than live as enlightened. This is why i think of awakening as a process that evolves and deepens over time.  It is not surprising that this is so – after all, our body/mind is constructed to live as separation, to create unique and individualized structures in the brain that move us through our life.  Consciousness is trained to identify with these structures and they are woven through our energy field impacting patterns of thinking, feeling, moving and sensing.  Consciousness lives in our bodies and enlivens the patterns that are intrinsic to our DNA and imprinted by our conditioning.  Although when we awaken we feel the freedom of consciousness, and realize the conditioned irrelevance of many of our patterns of thought, our old patterns are like magnets that keep drawing back the expansion and reorienting us in familiar ways.    The thinking mind may even feel alarmed by this expanded vibration and generate anxiety that holds us in a cul-de-sac of consciousness, aware of awakened primal consciousness but unable to function consistently from an awakened place.

            Our bodies are sensitive vibrational entities.  This is why powerful music impacts us, and sounds can either enliven or disturb us.  Ancient systems in many cultures realized the power of sound and devised practices such as drumming,  mantra, and chanting,  to open up our energy fields. On the other hand, sitting in deep silence and finding the still point within is the path of awakening.  Imagine yourself as radiating light vibrations out from a center of silent aware presence. Vibration is life itself; the still point is source. Vibration creates the molecular structures that allow the appearance of form. But some vibrational tones may carry you inward to stillness.  They block the distractions of thought and form.  The two creative aspects of energy and stillness are symbolized by Siva and Shakti in Kashmir Shaivism, and as yin and yang in Chinese Taoism. They are interwoven in all of life.  Awakening is knowing the center through becoming it, and enlightenment is this golden flower unfolding into the life force.IMG_4835

            In the ”The Secret of the Golden Flower” the practice is in turning the light that shines out through our eyes into the center, so that the source can be revealed and expressed, profoundly transforming how we live our lives.  This silent center is not empty, although the mind may have a time of seeing it that way.  It is the light and source of all, the vibration of wisdom and creation.

            The great Advaitic sage Ramana Maharshi called this center the Cave of the Heart.  In The Secret of the Golden Flower it is also called the “higher soul”. In Christianity it is the Christ within.  In Buddhism it is the True Nature.  Awakening is simply knowing this infinite and unbounded One Self, and releasing any attachments to a separate identity.

            If you want to be touched by a poetic expression of knowing the infinite and discover a powerful ancient practice,  I recommend Cleary’s beautiful translation of “The Secret of the Golden Flower”. For an understanding of awakening as process check out my book “The Awakening Guide” available on amazon and kindle.  I am currently completing editing on a new book to be published by New Harbinger in the spring: “When Spirit Leaps” that explores all the nuances of this remarkable evolutionary process.

An Idea Worth Exploring

An idea worth exploring is the possibility of an individual evolving greater insight, creativity, longevity and compassion through shifting the level of energy in their body. In ancient Chinese and Indian cultures these gifts were clearly valued and practices like Qigong and yoga emerged to activate energetic patterns and transform human perspectives and capacities. There is also evidence that indigenous peoples used collective rituals, dance and trance states to altered their brains in ways that produced visions and insights, enabling them to jointly resolve problems and get clear direction for the needs of their tribes.            images

It is clear that great inventors, artists, musicians, spiritual masters and inspired writers had gifts believed not possible in the common person. However many gifted people did not fit the collective model of normalcy in their societies during their own lifetimes, and were only recognized by future generations. Now we call them genius. Yogis would say they have opened brain centers that are dormant in the rest of us.

Today western culture is dominated by commerce and fueled by the over-developed and narrow perspective of left-brain thinking. We train minds for analytic thinking, memorization, behavioral conformity and accomplishment. Generally, creative people who contribute to society are valued only if their inventions can be commercialized, even if they are not necessarily used for the common good. Our psychological world is dominated by stored memories from family and social conditioning, along with judgments about ourself and others when we do not fit in. We become preoccupied with our personal drives, defenses and self-image.

To change our culture we must change our minds. We recognize now that brain patterns can be manipulated through chemistry and substances. But perhaps there is a more safe and inherently natural way to transform out of old patterns, and open new creative pathways in the brain. After all, the first evolutionary movements into human form were not through chemicals, but promoted by some mysterious inner force we have yet to discover in the west.

My work for the past 30 years has been to assist people who spontaneously experience energetic change and transformation, either through meditation or energy practices, or spontaneous events such as NDE, trauma, grief or other highly concentrated moments. My research indicates that these energetic changes, usually movement in the spine or heart, happen either before or after a major shift of consciousness. I consider this as consciousness awakening itself, supported by life force energy that clears out old patterns and activates new potentials.

 

Today a few brain researchers are studying the kinds of brain patterns produced by those who have had such “awakenings”, or who report a Samadhi event, a moment in meditation when one feels connected to the vast expanse of universe and outside of time. Such research is in its infancy, and yet it is clear our species needs to develop new perspectives and insight into how to advance our own evolution, or we may not survive. (See www.andrewnewberg.com and www.bigthink.com)

Some people see outer space as the way to expand and escape the damage we have done or may do to our planet. But this is a projection of the outward-focused mind ignoring our true need, which is to open and explore inner space – to clear out limiting patterns and awaken the consciousness within. Our connection to Source – discovered through awakening energy and consciousness — can help our species to bring forth the next evolution of human expression.

When enough people commit to inner evolution it will become the basis for a future generation with a DNA that sees more clearly and creatively how to best inhabit our bodies, nurture our collective life, and support our planet. This is the ultimate value of kundalini research.

 

This blog was written for http://www.cybergod.com, a site seeking funding for the development of a kundalini research project to activate energy and consciousness under a controlled scientific observation to see if such awakenings can improve intelligence and other positive qualities in the human species. Gopi Krishna, who wrote the first book translated into English in the US about kundalini awakening, believed it was the source of genius and that such research and evidence would change human consciousness and  the world.

(Bonnie Greenwell Ph.D. has 2 websites – www.kundaliniguide.com and www.awakeningguide.com and two books of similar titles av. on amazon and kindle.)

World in Chaos or World Awake?

We are, once again, living in chaotic times. Each generation seems to endure it’s own brand of chaos, with new issues arising but old patterns of violence and despair recurring over and over in our so-called “civilized” societies. Those who have spiritual inclinations, and those who simply wish to love, visualize a world without this strife and suffering, and imagine that if all would wake up we would be a kinder world, with all people thriving. Perhaps this was the way Jesus hoped things would go when he advised us to love our neighbor as our self, or Moses when he offered ten commandments that would greatly improve human conduct on the planet. (I have often wondeIMG_1375red how we can ignore the simple dictum ‘thou shalt not kill!’.)

Despite the efforts of many teachers, guides and compassionate leaders to suggest models for human compassion and cooperation, our patterns of human interaction continue to generate violence, hatred and insanity. For others they produce anxiety, depression, and despair. In some they are met with courage, caring and a renewal of the desire to contribute something hopeful and positive to our societies. In many others there is escape from these patterns through economic, sexual or family preoccupation or many other social distractions. As far as I can tell, these have always been human patterns on this planet and most minds are entangled in the energies they produce.

There is a growing sub-culture of people seeking answers through  what is clearly an inward journey – an exploration of their own conditioning and a seeking for a calm center or a sense of connection with “god” or “Truth,” or the primal source deep within. When within this depth of self-exploration the primary and universal consciousness awakens itself, and it is clearly revealed and experienced how you are entangled in thoughts, emotions and beliefs not true but only generationally conditioned, then “awakening” occurs, and there is the possibility of becoming “free” of yourself, and ending  suffering. We each have a potential to “awaken” beyond the boundaries of the personal self and into a new perception of our universal connectedness, but very few access this realization consciously in their lifetime.

The search to awaken may emerge in the psyche as a way to end suffering, or the divisive thoughts of the mind that cannot understand the terrible things humans do to one another. It can be triggered by a trauma or by simply wondering why there is so much struggle in many lives. It feels very personal at first. For myself, it came when I recognized that I felt a hole inside related not only to my mother’s sudden death when I was a kid, but also because my faith in God had died along with her. I wanted to know what was True about life. Did something called god even exist?

Usually it is personal pain that propels us to ask these questions. But I have met people who simply fell into the vastness of pure consciousness for a short time due to a shock, injury or deep despair, and when they emerged they felt driven to understand more. Many who are drawn to the peace offered through meditation and self-inquiry go deeper, and find consciousness stirring itself into revelations that surprise them. There are many doorways into the transformation of perspective about who we are.

This searching for Truth is not the personal escape you may imagine it to be. When successful it cracks open the destructive collective patterns that trouble our world. There is a collective consciousness that allows the darkness on our planet to flourish – or we might say a collective un-consciousness. Each of us that can awaken ourselves to the universal collective field hold a potential for healing a small facet of it, bringing light in some degree into the whole. It makes clear the possibility of love and compassion to overrule hate, first within ourself and then in the greater collective. No authentic spiritual guide or teacher is in this work to further their own lives – they are driven to bring more light into the collective. They may not know how to do this effectively – they are ordinary beings after all – only awake – so they give pointers from their own experience to encourage awakening in those who are available to it. They may teach from heart or intuition or a process they have found transformative in their own lives.

It is unfortunate that in some systems the way to encourage Self realization is to discount the attractions of human relations with the world. This approach has a place in helping you to recognize the inner world may have something more fulfilling, lasting and joyful to offer. It helps you to release the addiction to form so that you can directly know the ecstatic essence prior to forms. But once that is felt then awakening will optimally be brought back through the heart and into the lived experience. Great poets. musicians and artists sometimes radiate this. Brilliant inventions may be birthed from this insight. Mental confusion, violence and suffering can be transformed into understanding and compassion, along with a profound appreciation of the beauty and the miracles of the ordinary life.

We may never have a world without some chaos and a percentage of wounded or misguided people striking out at others. But the hope for me is that awakening generates greater wisdom and an evolution of  a new perspective within humanity, so that we understand that we are One interdependent species, and it is to our benefit to accept and support our common human needs. Awakening is not for you alone – it is for all of us.

Transcending the Inner Committee

I’ve always appreciated the concept that we humans have a committee in our heads, often with parts of us holding different perspectives and goals.  This analogy comes from a transpersonal therapeutic model called Psychosynthesis.  The collection of various ideas and positions we hold represent different aspects of our psyche that cause us to feel divided, undecided, impulsive, moody, and to make choices one day that we might regret the next. These parts of us are always jumping up and demanding our attention.

Perhaps you have a spiritual seeker on your committee that is trying to help you wake up out of the suffering in the world, and another character that turns on the news at night andIMG_0667 keeps you angry or frightened about world events.  Most of us have parental introjects – the part of us that responds the way our mom or dad responded in times of stress.  The inner mom might hold a belief in a god that is punishing and demanding, or a lifestyle you do not entirely enjoy.  The inner dad may be a critic telling you that you are never quite good enough, or successful enough. We often have a character that wants to lose weight, and another that says “Life is short. Eat sweets, Feel Better.” Addicts are taken over by a committee member that wants to escape emptiness, or be high one more time, while other committee members with better judgment are wasted in the background of the mind.  Take a minute to make a list of your personal committee members – perhaps a judge, a protector, a problem finder, a problem solver, a conflict avoider, a dreamer,  a poet, an activist – what attitudes are carried in your committee?  Those thoughts of yours are neurons firing. Their content reflects the committee.

            Our minds are full of opposites.  Our human experience is one of division and multiplicity.  We can feel paralyzed by indecision for weeks because of these committee members who argue about what we should or should not do, where we ought to go, what are our goals, what someone else thinks of us, and corresponding emotions of fear, anger, inadequacy, desire and failure.  (Isn’t this the outer world as well? )

            Is spiritual awakening simply the addition of a new committee member, discovered by the seeker inside of you, or could it be the locating of a witness, a neutral observer of  all these characters within the play of your life?  What if you could rest as the witness or become a centered peaceful presence that sees through these committee members as simply belief structures? What if you knew them to be irrelevant most of the time? Would you like to have the power to step out of the boardroom and into the sunlight where there is no chatter, no conflict, and new clarity? Awakening offers this chance.

When you have a glimpse of your awakened Self it seems as if everything else falls away, and you are standing with no objections, no needs and no defenses in the field of timeless existence. It is the consciousness that you essentially are – the I am — realizing its connection to Source, or seeing clearly that all is One and Whole. In this moment the world of human thought has fallen away, leaving a knowing presence that cannot be defined. It just is. You just are. You are free of following the demands of the apparent separate and conditioned little self you have always depended upon.

            These flashes of realization are not permanent.  You cannot stay transfixed
by this moment and function in the real world.  To the extent you are ready, the impact  of awakening can last indefinitely.  But most often there is a long period of slipping between ordinary functioning as you always have known it and moments of perception where you see the world in a new way.  IF you return over and over to trusting the Truth of what you have seen underneath the habitual veils of the human mind, gradually you will become able to live more and more from an awakened perspective.  This means you become less reactive, more light-hearted, more flexible, more compassionate and more intuitive than you were before the realization. The critical mind loses influence. You may find yourself to be more creative, more sensitive, more alive. These are signs of freedom taking hold in your psyche.

            Most of the committee members fade away once there is a strong awakening of pure consciousness.  But many of them put up a fight.  You may have the judge telling you how you should be more enlightened. You may have a doubter telling you that what was experienced was only imagination.  The inner striver may insist you have not accomplished enough, learned enough or earned enough money and you need to put your attention there.  The inner parent may say you cannot let go now because you might stop loving your kids,  Often there is a wanderer who shows up – a part of you that wants to give up everything and just float around the world or hide in a cave somewhere.  The adventurer may seek more dramatic ways of feeling high. The lover may seek a soul mate.

            Some eastern teachings suggest it is the belief in an “I” that holds all these parts of us together.  Instead of facing and releasing each character, one of them at a time, we can just release the sense of the I, the do-er, and be done with the whole scene. Like a house of cards the separate self will collapse.  Something new and more authentic  can then enter and direct our life choices, and there is no one in you to object to what arises.  This  is a greatly condensed description of how it is to lead an awakened life.  To most of us who have developed a workable life and functional mind this sounds crazy, until it happens.

            If you are honest with yourself, haven’t most of the major turns in your life begun with something you never planned, beginning with your birth, a random event caused by two other people? You didn’t plan the family, the place or  the time.  Didn’t your friends and your partner just show up in your life one day with no planning or expectation?  Someone was there and you recognized them!  Did you pre-plan your career and all the turns it took?

            Sometimes the committee members worry too much and take too much credit or blame.  In their efforts to protect you and guide you they create great unnecessary arguments and generate fear and contraction.  If by chance a part of you gets its way there can be great joy for a time, or if life calms down and a crisis has passed there can be great relief. Your committee members enjoy these times of agreement with what is, and may even feel a sense of accomplishment,

If you wake up and leave the committee behind you may have less intensity, less drama in your life.  Even the spiritual seeker part of you will fall away eventually, and you will wonder what to do with yourself. The deeper part of us is free of seeking,  anxiety, anger and demands.  As it becomes more of your “go-to” place life is
smoother, even though the same challenges may arise.  You still have to face whatever lands on your doorstep, and at times a committee member may arise to yell about it or weep. You may have to deal with sexual desire, or the emotional bonds of family and  other human conditions that are part of your DNA.  But you have found a home base, a quality of stillness, and a breadth of perspective and even unconditional love.  This can sustain you and bring light into the darkness you encounter.  This is why some non-dual teachers say there are no problems.  Situations arise. Response arises and action coming from the heart may move you.  But the perspective through which you see this dance of life IMG_4835unfold has changed.   This is what makes you free. This is, as far as I can tell, awakened living.

If you are drawn  toward awakening you will find support  in “The Awakening Guide”available on Amazon and Kindle and the website:

http://www.awakeningguide.com

Questions for Awakening

What does it mean to awaken spiritually? Should it be a struggle to “get there” and take years of spiritual practice? Or is it pre-existing and so obvious you will laugh hysterically when you recognize it?   These are the opposite opinions of teachers who invite you into their perspective of self-realization. Spiritual seeking invitIMG_1375es you into a world of many paradoxes. Partly it is because awakening itself happens in many ways, as unique to each of us as the varieties of our faces.

You are already what you are seeking, say many pundits. Just Stop. See what is here right now! If only our thoughts were not so full of limitations and our emotions so plugged up by a sense of inadequacy, desire, resistance and discouragement, we could notice that underneath it all is a simple awakened state of presence that has no argument with life as it is. We are what we seek. When we give up all efforts at self-improvement, and simply trust our intrinsic value, we find that underneath all this efforting is a simple beingness that enjoys the experience of living without any attempt to make us better. Like the lotus this part of us is not rooted in our stories but springs from a spontaneous universal impulse toward life.

So how can we be free and awake and enlightened already when we feel rotten much of the time! What is this mystery that no one seems able to describe? Is it something you must discipline yourself to find and make sacrifices to accomplish? Or is it a realization you just fall into through an act of grace?

Of course we, in our human incarnation, have many arguments with life – our personal life may have loss and suffering, physical and emotional pain. We sometimes feel like lost children, seeking to find our way home. Even if we are well physically and emotionally, it is clear that many other people we share the planet with are suffering because of the inhumanity of man, or the vagaries of fate. And sensing we are One, we all share the suffering of all. Minds can be obsessed and overwhelmed by the challenges of incarnation, and any thought about anyone can trigger suffering. If only we realized we are not our minds, and our thoughts are only neurons firing away to keep us preoccupied and motivated to hold on to our separation.

There are many qualities of mind. One is the working aspect of mind, useful to help us remember how to do tasks, and figure out relative solutions. There is the speculative and inventive mind that wants to know answers and helps humanity evolve. There is memory, which keeps us identified with the sense of a separate self. And there is the catastrophic mind that worries continually about the past and future. Where do you hang out most of the time? Does it serve your life?

And most importantly, are any of these tasks reflective of what you really are, or only facets of your human experience?

You did not come into the world with all these activities of mind – you grew into them. They developed the way a seed grows into a tree, and like the tree, there is a lifespan and it will eventually fade away. Like the winds that can bend a tree, your emotions flavor the way you evolve, and the view you have of yourself and the world.

What if for only a few moments you could drop all the activity of mind, and see if there is something underneath that is more eternal than the world your mind presents? What if there is a radiance in the cells of your body, or a knowing deep in the chest, or an energy that thrives on being alive – all functioning without the activities of thought? You might find all of this below the neck, in the experience of your body. You might find it in stillness. Just for a moment release all the mind from its work of holding you together and see what else is here now, having no arguments with life. You can fall now into this knowing, or you can struggle for a lifetime to touch a glimpse of it. Either way it is a great and humbling gift that will change the perspective looking out of your eyes. It will open you to understanding, compassion and expression in a new way. Nothing in the world will change, but you will relax within it and follow a new rhythm in your relationship to it.