The Blessing of Impermanence

An advantage in seeing impermanence as the nature of existence is in the knowing that all things pass. lightning While we often grieve over this passing, there are many blessings to knowing that we are in movement, life is in movement, so even the difficult problems of our culture are in movement.

Many people are stressed by the choices being made by the US, and especially the President, at this time in history.  They seem to be permanently destructive to the future of our country and the world environment.  And yet there have been many dark turning points in this country – beginning with the Indian massacres, forcing Mexico out of California, slavery, the civil war, the depression and the dust bowl, two world wars, Vietnam– to name just a few. Our ancestors have all been through events similar to those that cause us fear.  Nothing has ever been permanent.

 

As a country we are often in turmoil because of the push for power, greed, and the division of minds. Yet there have been gradual improvements in human care and responsibility – freeing slaves, laws against child labor, allowing women the vote, social security, education,  easier transportation and communication,  etc. etc.  Historically, most other countries have known the same or worse turmoil  over centuries (e.g. Germany, Japan, China), but experienced gradual movement to support their people.

It is paradoxical that most of the individuals we know personally long for peace and love within themselves and the world, and are generally kind to one another. They value families and friends. And yet as a collective this is rarely reflected, and positive change seems to be so slow.

We live in a world of opposites, continually shifting and emerging with new perspectives.  An awakened mind can see a larger picture – an expansive, never-ending but always changing movement through time.  We are the movement, the life that brings transformation.  Our pain forces us to see what is needed, and brings many into positive action.  Just as when we are wounded physically we must seek help for the body, when we are a wounded culture we must seek solutions.  It does not serve us when our minds only bring us to despair, and our thinking is clouded with anger and fear.  It does not serve us personally or serve our culture when our hearts close down with bitterness.

Negative thoughts are rarely real and true – they are based on emotional reactions and our accumulated convictions of what ought to be.  They are neurons firing stored information interwoven with our discomfort.  Our awareness becomes entangled with thought, and limited by it.

This is why awakened people often stress living in the now. Now is what is in front of you this moment, and is always present as Now. It may be a beautiful garden. Today for me it is a smoky sky in Oregon hovering over a pond and garden. It is difficulty breathing outdoors. It is the computer before me.  It is also good neighbors and a safe house and good health. Tomorrow it may change.

For you today it may be work that needs to be done, or a child that needs to be fed and dressed, or a piece of art you are inclined to create, or a desire to help in a political campaign. We each stand in a unique place in the Now.  Look around and define what is here for you in this moment. Your presence is part of this Now. Your True Nature is always Now!

We are always in motion in this Now-ness.  The question to ask yourself is will you move from your own center and for the greatest good (either your own inner peace or to assist another) or be contracted by a fearful mind? Will you be what you are fully in this moment, or be entangled by thoughts that bring you down? Yes, you are impermanent, but change can be positive and where you are Now has a big impact on what happens next..

We cannot afford to let the world issues, even those created by our own government, block our freedom to love, enjoy and create a meaningful life.  In our choices and movement we can respond in a way that feels authentic to us, and trust that slowly, since all is impermanent, change will come. When there is smoke in the skies remember that it will be clear again. Be like those firefighters who meet it in service to all of us.

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Awakening and Evolution

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It is helpful for some people to think of an awakening process as a biophysical and evolutionary shift rather than pigeon-holing the experience into a spiritual framework. While many spiritual traditions have an understanding and even a procedure for awakening to our True Nature, the possibility can emerge from many factors, not only from a meditation, prayer or energy-based practice,

The Renewal of Spirit

The outcome of a true awakening can be labeled spiritual, because it is a renewal of spirit, a shift of perception into an inclusive and more loving relationship with self and others. It may include occasional ecstasy, visions or mystical experiences, or it may not. These are side effects and not the point. Awakening is clear seeing in this moment of the underlying nature of existence. It becomes a relaxation into life. It is a continual unfolding of deeper perception.

It is paradoxical that as identification with a separate self falls away, we see not only the unity of all but the unique gift of its many expressions. When ego stops struggling for self-improvement and to be more compassionate or loving, our natural nature brings forward compassion and love spontaneously when least expected..

Consciousness Shifts Identification

Awakening shifts the locus of identification from “me” to “this”, from past and future to here and now. It is biophysical because such a radical change in perception must include a reorienting of our energy field and the way it holds our past and focuses our attention. So the energies of our life force often arise that bring up insight and stimulate a clearing away of old patterns.. There can be shaking, vibration, heat and inner intuitive guidance. Never let anyone tell you this is an outside force or any kind of foreign intervention. The messages of awakening are never threatening or fear-based, the way the unconscious voices of a troubled soul can be. They say things like “Be still” or “Stop thinking” or “Peace be With you” or “This is needed now”.

Awakening is the way of transformation and it begins inside of us. Certain practices may activate it but it can also arise spontaneously, Often people ask “Why me?” Whatever pulled you toward this awakenng process was meant to be – your number is up! In this life you are invited to wake up to what is real and to a new perception of the nature of life and humanity that will not be so “me” focused, so fearful of life and death, or so trapped by the beliefs that arose from your conditioning. This is what liberation is,

Letting Go of Resistance

You may feel fear or anger as this new energy or shifts of consciousness begin to undermine your sense of being in control in your life. Contraction makes the process more difficult to navigate. Imagine your body was orgasmic and you were trying not to feel it! Your body is trying to clear out stale beliefs and energies and open you to bliss and peace – contraction only increases discomfort. Let go.

Be Careful Who You Listen to

I hear many stories as I mentor people in the awakening process, or who have felt the arising of kundalini energy. Some experiencers have been told they are in danger, or that some kind of entity or evil is interfering with their life. These are the fantasies of unhealthy minds, and they are passing on beliefs (not truths) that arose out of the dark ages, or that are aimed at gaining power over your mind. If you are awakening seek genuine understanding from people who are joyfully awake and compassionately real. Look for purveyers of peace and wisdom.   If you are having a difficult time with old memories and emotions seek a caring therapist because the human you is as important as the free spirit of consciousness now arising. This consciousness will not leap over your personal challenges, but requires you to meet them and heal. Be willing to grow into the fullness of an awakened life and trust the energies and the understanding that unfolds.

Many people are entering this new territory of awakening today. Perhaps the world needs you to become open and free and your consciousness has invited itself to bring forward something new. It may get labeled spiritual at times, but it is actually an evolution in humanity.

 

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.

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.

 

Are You in an Awakening Process?

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Every week I speak with several people who have entered a process of transformation. Usually their energy has accelerated and their bodies are moving or vibrating in ways that startle, surprise or frighten them, because the energetic aspects of a spiritual awakening are not discussed or explored in most spiritual traditions. And yet, we are all facets of consciousness living within biological and molecular structures. It is natural for any significant changes in how we view our self and the world to have an impact on our energy systems, as well as the way in which our consciousness operates. As our vehicle changes, consciousness gains new ways of expression through us. Awakening brings changes in every aspect of our lives and even the functioning of our brain. Meditation slowly reconstructs us, as does energy work, long-term yoga or Qigong practice, and even serious physical or emtoional trauma.

The fact is every cell of our body is always dying and rebirthing itself as you know from the fact your body is not the same today as it was at age 1 or 10 or 20 or 40. These changes evolve slowly so we do not notice them day to day, but it is certainly clear after a few years that we no longer look the same, that our consciousness lives inside a continual state of change. In fact I have heard it said that we as humans are more like active verbs than nouns, being in continual movement. The seeking of self-realization is the seeking of that within us that never changes, while all else is in motion.

When we have longed for Truth or God or simply to know who we are, it initiates a subtle change in our direction in life, and we adapt practices we hope will offer us new revelations, outside of our traditional cultural patterns. We may imagine a change that is beautiful and expansive and that will make us a happier person than we are when we begin. What we don’t often realize is that while these new possibilities arise, they do so because old patterns are being dissolved, previous belief structures are being torn apart, and conditioned experiences that block our capacity for freedom are being exposed, so that we can see them clearly and realize they are not the Truth of who we are. Awakening is either preceded by or followed by a necessary demolition project, just as a house may be rebuilt from the ground up.

What makes this most challenging is we don’t get to see the plan before hand, or have any control over the pace and style in which it will be rebuilt. It takes a great trust in the infinite, and the goodness of the universe. I suppose this is why many people get a glimpse of the radiant love or beauty or peace of Oneness first, and then feel they have lost it when the demolition project begins. We have to trust in this glimpse, that it was valid and real, and learn to navigate the process it initiates.

My websites and current books “The Kundalini Guide and “The Awakening Guide” on amazon are designed as supports for this journey and my new book “When Spirit Leaps: Navigating the Process of Spiritual Awakening” is moving toward publication next June by New Harbinger Press. It has excerpts from many stories of the ups and downs you may experience as you awaken. It has been the unexpected direction of my life to meet many who are in this process and be part of a movement toward changing consciousness that all of us are living in. While the World has many challenges today (and when has it not?) there is a subculture seeking Truth and love and understanding of how to be more complete in our human expression of this sacred opportunity for life that we share. I see our consciousness as wanting to help us grow into a true understanding of our relationship to one another. Awakening is not about dissolution into transcendent ethers and leaving our world. It is about bringing light to one another and evolving ourselves so that we are free of the many conditions that block our natural capacity to express human kindness, wisdom and freedom.

I encourage you to join me at the 2017 Science and Nonduality Conference Oct 19 to 22 in San Jose, CA along with multiple other speakers familiar with awakening. It is a place to find your tribe, and understand the process you are part of if you are awakening or longing to awaken. You can learn more about this gathering at http://www.scienceandnonduality.org.

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.

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.