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.

 

 

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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.

Meditation and Centering

I recently enjoyed a conversation with Heidi and Mark in Italy  who provide a you-tube program on Conscious Aging through The Wisdom Factory.  We talked about the value of meditation and I provided a brief meditative practice that I find centering and calming. If you would like to see this program here is the Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=kOQVtwXQZkA
Meditation is useful at stages of life for calming the mind and finding the still point within you, which is never in the head but more in the center or what is called the hara, a place just above or below the naval. You can learn to rest here or to move from this point and to be present with what is around you as you walk or sit in silence. This is nurturing for the spirit and in time provides a new perspective from which to view the world.  You will find an increase in mental clarity, greater peace and a more open heart if you follow a sincere meditation practice.  At first you may find it difficult to be still and quiet the mind, but one day you will find yourself drawn to it the way you are drawn to food when you feel hunger.  Meditation becomes  food for the spirit and the heart.
If your longing is for Self-realization meditation is also the most classic and ancient path to this knowing of the Truth of who you are — connecting you to the stillness of pure consciousness.  We cannot discover this realization through thought and belief because the Truth is beyond language and form and the world of thought is limited. Understanding is not the same as knowing, just as reading about water is not the same as drinking it. There are physiological changes that happen when we mediate for a long period of time that prepare the body for realization by calming the senses, clearing negative energies and opening up channels into brain centers that produce new possibilities.
There are many styles of meditation that suit various personality types and stages of practice.
There is a meditation available on each of my websites: http://www.kundaliniguide.com and http://www.awakeningguide.com.
You can also  access links on to my interview at the Wisdom Factory website: https://thewisdomfactory.net/bonnie-greenwell-meditation-and-centering/
I have also been invited to speak at the Science and Non-duality Conference in San Jose, CA next October.  This is a wonderful gathering of scientists and non-dual teachers from around the world with many talks and experiences and a great place to meet others who share a longing for or encounter with non-dual awakening. The SAND website is http://www.scienceandnonduality.org.  Look me up if you are there.

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.

Standing Up for the World

How many people need to stand up in order to create positive change on our planet?  Change is usually initiated by one insight or action. Movements begin with one or a few who care about this change.

h042luminousearth-5x7s-1      I admit I have never been an activist. As someone who has spent most of my life caring for family, college and career, preoccupied with personal growth  and spiritual realization, while living in comfort, I can recognize easily how much effort it takes to let go of personal concerns long enough to become involved in the greater picture of planetary and political issues.  Most Americans are busy with daily challenges and experiences, both positive and negative, and feel they have little energy or interest left for the bigger needs of the collective, hoping somehow our political structures will support us, since that is felt to be their job. I believe the majority feel, as I have often felt, they can help a person one on one, to get what they need, but trying to support the overwhelming greater needs of the planet seems both exhausting and impossible.

            All the ordinary and self-serving activities of my own life have happened with the backdrop of WW2 (as an infant), Korea (as a college student), the Civil Rights Movement,  the women’s movement, and Vietnam (as a  young mother), the Gulf War , and invasion of Iraq, the assassination of John and Robert Kennedy, the shooting of Martin Luther King, nuclear proliferation and numerous other tragedies of human interaction based on the delusion we are separate and must fight and eliminate one another.  I remember when we bought our first tv, and as an adolescent watching with horror films from WW2 showing the release of those few who survived the concentration camps. I remember watching the killing of Sirhan Sirhan iive on tv as I was ironing one morning shortly after JFK’s death.  I have watched the increase of violence – or at least our awareness of it – grow exponentially as our media became more sophisticated. And in the shadows of this most of us continue to lead ordinary lives.

            Today our world problems appear to be random terrorism, environmental degradation and threat, challenges to our educational opportunities and scientific integrity, the pressing needs of immigrants, corporate profits displacing human needs, challenges in healthcare, and the possible disappearance of jobs as technology advances.  And once again we are people in a cultural values division. Distrust of government, and fear of its impact on our personal lives is uprooting our peace of mind.  The challenges change but the cultural anxiety stays the same.

            Today we are more aware of what is happening everywhere, thanks to the web, and people are marching and writing, and pulling themselves away from their personal concerns to seek a voice in the larger collective.  Many average citizens are choosing to run for office. Sometimes those who speak up are met with harsh resistance, or the indifference of those who carry power.  But we humans are the web of society and we need to connect and interact for the good of the whole, and in many places this consciousness of our larger role in our society is starting to rise.

            Indigenous cultures thought and acted from a collective field for the welfare of the community.  Our great modern accomplishment of individualization has left in its shadow our capacity for awareness of and compassion for the whole.  Our inability to recognize that we are rooted in One consciousness, One source, no matter our intellectual theories about its nature, divides us into separate camps and identifications, and allows us to witness tragedy without much response, unless it is happening in our own neighborhood.

            But slowly we are beginning to recognize that what happens in one region of the world profoundly impacts all others.  We may still feel helpless at times to be a corrective force when greed and anger and violence emerge like a hurricane or volcanic eruption in the human experience, but it is harder to be unaffected and unmoved.

            It appears that every great movement or great invention arose through the insight of one person who inspired a small group and instigated a new perspective.

Every political, psychological, educational, spiritual theory,  and every new invention from the wheel to the automobile to the internet emerged from the smallest imaginative thought in one or a few creative minds or hearts.  Everything begins with one and expands (sometimes more slowly than we wish) into the world of thought and then into manifestation.  We think of it as genius when we like the ideas, and as horrors when they cause destruction.

            If you believe you are moved through spirit, what is the one thing you have to contribute to the world?  Is it an idea, a service, a movement from love, a potential that can help the life of a few or someday, perhaps many.  Find your own unique skill, something that moves you from the heart, and find a simple way to express it. If every one does one action for the good of the whole, the forces of good will outweigh the forces that cause suffering and pain.

Light and dark, joy and suffering, will always be part of this human experience, and the challenges bring many of us into personal searching for freedom and self-realization.  But this movement to awaken cannot be limited to the personal life – not if there is one consciousness under all experience or one source.  If you are clearing yourself from your personal suffering you are also clearing your lineage, opening new possibilities for the next generation.  If you will find the one thing for which you have the time and talent to contribute to the welfare of the whole, you will become part of  the future health and wellbeing of the planet.  We each need to release our self from fear and avoidance of the world, and bring the strength of our true nature , which holds love and creativity,  into the world we share.

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.

 

Energy & New Perspectives

img_4814When energy moves in your body it is a sign you are on the verge of a shift of perspective. All of your beliefs and points of view are simply perspectives, and they are conditioned by culture, family and experiences. If you have been in an awakening process and are experiencing energetic shifts you are having birthing pains, moving into a new experience of the world.

Our religion, politics and other belief systems, even beliefs about ourselves, are not real – they are all happening in the mind, as bleeps of random thought. They are transient and sometimes repetitive thought forms. The impact of what we believe is programmed into our energy field, and we often suffer because of the limitations of our beliefs about ourselves and others. As new or better things happen in our lives these thoughts change, and with disappointments and discouragement they may also change. If I believe I am inadequate or you are dangerous or life is unfair I will live accordingly, until my perspective shifts. If you have suddenly experienced  energy vibrating or releasing in your body and you believe it is dangerous you will feel afraid; if you understand it is your own vital energy trying to release old and difficult patterns so you can feel free, then you can feel relaxed and curious and you may find bliss as releasing happens. If consciousness shifts out-of-body and you think you are mentally ill you will be alarmed; if you are surprised and curious to find you are not your body but this awareness that transcends it, you may feel joy.

Spiritual awakening is all about shifting perspective. It is opening yourself to seeing the wholeness, the unity of all things, and the underlying consciousness that permeates our lives.This undermines the ego, and a new point of view arises in its place. Energy shifts happen because we are molecular structures and the ability to live from a new perspective calls for the reorganization of this structure away from division and toward wholeness and balance. It is disarming because many of us fear change and feel we are losing our world when we change our ego’s perspective of it. But the ego is only a movement of identification with the experiences of a separate “Me”.  It is not real..

Because each of us has accumulated our perspectives from differing sources we sometimes have clashing perspectives, and we tend to choose friends who share the perspective we are most comfortable with. Thus we bond with various religious, political, national or social groups and the ego tendency is to avoid, distrust or even hate those with different values and beliefs. Many people who have shifts because of spiritual or energy practices feel they no longer fit in or enjoy the groups that used to be compatible for them. They find it harder to project evil on the other side. They might feel they have become an entirely different person inside. The mind may  at times be alarmed about this, but it is an important evolutionary step for our planet. It brings us closer to recognizing our alignment with nature and our connection with all forms of life.

I attended yesterday the 3rd conference held by a group called Architects of the New Paradigm. They had a large attendance of people concerned that our culture and our world needs new paradigms if it is to survive the environmental, economic and social issues that trouble us. A paradigm is a way of seeing things, the way we construct our interpretation of the world. They questioned whether it is a revolution or an evolution that is needed in the current paradigm, where corporations focused on making profits rule the economics of our government, and our freedom as individuals is compromised by regulations and laws. I would define revolution  as an external movement and evolution as internal. From my perspective the internal needs to move first, and freedom from our old patterns needs first to be claimed within. Without these internal changes any new movements will lack appreciation for the wholeness the planet needs to come into balance.

The speakers at ANP offered a diverse exploration of new ways to view the human condition as it impacts government, economics, health and science. They offered inspiring perspectives of revolutionary change based on the impact of our recent discovery through space probes that millions of exo-planets exist in our galaxy that likely contain some varieties of more advanced life-forms, radical new potentials in technology and environmentally friendly inventions, and examples of ways to change how government and health care function through taking personal responsibility. There were no definitive answers, but questions asked with an openness to discovering new and compassionate solutions.

Ego and the thoughts generated in mind are not real (although some are useful), but what is real is the experience you have before your mind makes a decision or creates a story. Holding a flower in your hand is real. Labeling it a flower is not. Your heart opening with love is real. Labeling it love and expecting a response is only perspective. The environment is real; your relationship to it depends on how you think and feel about it and this can be changeable and varied.   Ultimately form is not “real” either, as everything, including you, is made of cells that are 99.99% space. It is a miracle of nature that we have forms that appear in relationship with one another, and can see, touch, smell, hear and taste all the beautiful aspects of our planet.  These forms of ours contain what is real – a consciousness within that is connected with everything and indestructible.

Some physicists are beginning to recognize that each of us is a microcosm of the macrocosm of our universe. The space we are is not empty but is full of all possibilities, just as the vastness of space. At AFT one of the speakers called our bodies receiving stations for consciousness.

What does this have to do with non-duality or with spiritual awakening? Why should we care about the world around us if it is all illusion, as some Advaita masters like Ramana Maharshi or Papaji have indicated? As near as I can tell we are the world!  If this is illusion we are all it together! It is a dance of molecules and particles and color and explosion and it is never-ending no matter how the forms change.  Awakening is not an escape into blissful detached alternate realities. It is a simple realization of what you are. If you are to live from this realization then you will live with a new paradigm, expressing wholeness and gratitude, aligning with an authentic deep intuitution that may be unique to each situation (instead of conditioned) and available to meeting life as it is and making choices from love rather than fear.

This is the evolution our species needs. It is not easy to accomplish in ourselves, and each day can bring a new challenge. But your willingness to allow your energy and your consciousness to shift and to be part of the movement of humans toward living in wholeness, is what will make you free.