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.

The Sacred in “The Shack”

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A lovely aspect of the film “The Shack”, which I saw yesterday, is that God is portrayed in several images – none of them traditional. This film, based on a best-selling Christian book,  offers as well a universal message that divine love is unconditional just like our love for our children, and that the tragedies of life are not “allowed” and cannot be prevented by God, but are part of the experience of living as humans.

This is a film about how we can heal. Presented through a Christian lens, it may not appeal to those who follow eastern practices, but essentially the message of Buddhism, Vedanta and the Perennial Philosophy is the same, as expressed in the teachings about suffering found in Buddhism, and in the challenges and questions Arjuna (representing every man) faces in the “Bhagavadgita”, the most universal scripture in India. It is a message about facing darkness and healing the broken heart through love, forgiveness, wisdom and trust. Christians encourage faith to accomplish this, but more than faith there must be a deep internal turning and releasing in order for healing to happen. Eastern teachings are more focused on this internal path, and view God more as a primary source of the energy and consciousness of life rather than a physical form. The images are only transitional objects defining aspects of this One Source, because our minds more easily relate to Source in the form of a human body, and cannot mentally grasp the wholeness and radiance of the First Cause. It is too much bigger than mind.

Some Christians are really afraid of this internal turning. One woman condemned me recently as offering teachings of the devil. I don’t know why, but I guess she came to this conclusion by watching an interview I did recently on Conscioustv about living with kundalini energy. Such a perspective distorts a person’s ability to find joy and contentment in life, because it denies our own direct connection with the sacred.

It is sad when people are brought up believing that anything arising within them is evil, and unloved by their God. The darkness among humans is often something passed down generationally by people who have experienced extreme neglect and pain, and pass this unconsciously along to their own children. Violence begets violence. Prejudice is taught. Self-loathing is taught. Hatred of those who are different is taught. We as a culture do very little to prevent these teachings as much of our entertainment is focused on violence and prejudiced images of those who are different. Parents are stressed to provide a living, often unsupported and occasionally harshly reactive with young impressionable children. Children in poverty often lack enough food to eat and time with their over-worked parents. Fear is promoted as a way of marketing goods, religion and politics.  Evil emerges from the cracks in a culture – the unwillingness or inability to recognize what is needed for love and self-acceptance, and compassion for our fellow humans, to thrive.

Unfortunately some churches do not preach the universal sacredness and connection to God that is in all humans. Some governments are managed by people more attracted to power and personal gain than the emotional and physical health of their communities. This places a huge burden on an individual family system to model inclusiveness and compassion, while also meeting basic human needs.

If there is an original sin it must be this human tendency to care only for our own gain and neglect the needs of others. If there is a hell it is likely the lives of some in our societies who are caught in war and other unspeakable pain.

The true gift of Christianity when rightly used has nothing to do with walking on water or going to heaven or recruiting more Christians. In the teachings attributed to Jesus it is  finding the kingdom of God within – the simple connection we each have with wisdom and love and others of our species that can only be found by facing and eventually releasing our personal dramas and traumas, demands, disappointments, anger and grief. It happens when we let go into ourselves and discover our True Nature. Then we may experience forgiveness for the way things are and discover the freedom of seeing the joy and possibility of creation. Then we can find each in our own way how we can express the sacred that has been latent within us.

 

 

Fear of Transformation

When the energies of spiritual awakening arise very often so do the energies of fear. Awakened living is supported by the heartfelt release of this fear.

images-4If you are a serious meditator, longing for awakening, you may someday feel odd sensations like the body quivering, or the head spinning, or the brain feeling it is being rewired.  You may have sudden out-of-body sensations, or hear an inner sound or wake in the middle of the night with the body moving into an unfamiliar yogic posture. You may have  inexplicable emotional upheavals that seem out of character, or hear a sudden psychic message or inner voice. You may be confronted by recognizing  the need for major changes in their life.  When you go deeply into inner stillness change happens. And it is not always the quiet strength, stillness and centering that meditation typically offers.

It is in these odd moments when the body feels invaded and out of conscious control that the experiences of transformation becomes real, and the illusion that we can jump out of all of our personal conditioning into a permanent stay of transcendence is shattered. Our body, mind, emotions and spirit are in a process of radical change.

Our bodies are fields of energy — living, changing and vibrating with the life force. Awareness moves through these energy flows connecting us with many experiences.Yogic science describes 72,000 lines of energy in this grid, connected by chakras. The prana or chi in this grid carries thoughts, emotions and sensate experience, and facilitates our movements and responses including breath, coughing, sneezing, blinking, digestion, elimination, the heart pumping and every other condition we experience as living beings. Without energy we are inert and lifeless.

When Kundalini energy activates it unlocks our vital energy at the source and intensifies the experiences we have, as it moves through the body and into the brain, connecting us ultimately with universal energies. What I have seen over the years of listening to many who have awakened kundalini energy is that this is essentially a clearing process, shaking loose old patterns, memories, blockages or knots in our energy field so that the body can become open and present without contraction or habitual reactivity. It makes it possible for a more impersonal quality of presence to impact how we move in the world. It opens new abilities and possibilities.

When people write about negative experiences with kundalini on the web they are describing their own challenges with letting go, either at the physical or emotional level. The “letting go” is trying to facilitate the release of identifications with our body, mind and feelings. Deep unconscious material may arise, or archetypal visions related to the collective unconscious. Kundalini is not dangerous, as some contend, but it is threatening to those unwilling to face the personal work that it demands, and who are not open to the shifting worldview that it generates. It can amplify hidden or suppressed emotions and illnesses so that they will be seen and addressed. It can trigger unfamiliar phenomena. It requires flexibility and integrity if the activation is going to facilitate spiritual realization.

There is a place of deep stillness and presence available when we are not identified with the history and beliefs stored within us, personally and collectively – rather like the deep sleep we have when we are not for the moment aware of our personal self. Awakening is awakening to this consciousness/awareness that is alive in us prior to association with all these attachments. The letting go that comes with awakening is not under our control, but is a deep transformative process that is taking us into this unknown or unremembered realization and it can be very frightening for the little “me”, the holder of a separate sense of unique perspective and history we each collect as human beings.

There are many experiences in this journey to awakened living, and discovering the deeper Self, the Oneness of consciousness shared by all. Some of them are exquisite and expansive and overflowing with love. Some of them feel invasive, out-of-control, disruptive of our lives and self-image. Many of them are unfamiliar and some feel overwhelming. To the extent you can see the fear as energy, a reaction of the little “me” who prefers control and predictability, and release yourself to explore with curiosity and openness, or become willing to just let go and let be whatever is, you will be leaning into a more awakened life and discover wonder and grace in this evolutionary process.

As awakening becomes more stable it does not mean the end of all feelings.  But as we learn acceptance of whatever arises the energies can help the feelings release more smoothly and quickly, because there is no longer a need to hold on to the stories they represent. Awareness notices the feelings with compassion, and holds them in a more broad perspective of the nature of consciousness manifest as humanity. They are just energies moving through, perhaps as a personal release, perhaps for the universal good of the species.

If you need to know more about kundalini please look for “The Kundalini Guide” on Amazon, based on the stories of many experiencers and offering practical advice. You can get on my email list for webinars through http://www.kundaliniguide.com.

Awakening As Process

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Are you one of the thousands of people who are in an awakening process and don’t know it? The light of transformation is always available, and today there are so many options in meditation, energy and healing practices, internet experiences, psychedelics and even through the basic traumas of living that can trigger the intensification of your subtle energy field, moments of vision, light or bliss, emotional releases, past-life memories, and other shifts in consciousness. We live in a time where many ancient and secret practices are available to anyone, without the normal cautions and preparations they traditionally demanded. So it is easy to enter a transformative stage of your life without knowing what is happening or realizing why it is happening to you.

What is awakening? It is a transforming of your perspective, your energy field and the way that consciousness moves within you. Ultimately, it is the consciousness within you waking up and remembering itself, free of the attachments to who you believed you were. The process that precedes awakening does not follow a predictable path because your practices, life history, emotional patterns, and probably previous life development all have an impact on how your mind and body responds to this awakening. In my research I’ve identified seven categories of phenomena that indicate a person is encountering the awakening of consciousness and with it the energies known as kundalini – pranic activity (shaking, vibration, heat rising, etc.), other involuntary yogic movements (i.e. asana, mudras or chanting), physiological problems, psychological and emotional upheavals, extrasensory experiences, parapsychological events and Samadhi. Most people experience some but not all of these phenomena, but if they experience 3 or 4 of the categories I believe they are in the unfolding of their awakening process.

We can call this spiritual awakening, but it requires no religious connotation. Many spiritual communities offer practices that can trigger these changes but this is a movement of the psyche – the deepest human capacity for an interior evolution that is far beyond any religious belief system. You wake up out of belief and into being. You discover directly potentials of mind and body that are out of the mainstream understanding of God.

This is not an escape from your human foibles and challenges, because you are living as a human and embodied in the world dream. Those who seek awakening to escape life can have a difficult time dealing with awakening when it is time to ground and learn to live an awakened life. In the end, only a relaxation into the ordinariness of life will bring the ability to recognize the sacred both in the form and formless aspect of existence. We cannot live only in the formless reaches of consciousness, but only be visited by them when we enter the stillness we are. Living requires the openness and heartfelt acceptance of life as it is.

If you are in this process, which brings with it many months and years of curious shifts and insights, and might begin to understand it better if you look up my websites www.kundaliniguide.com or www.awakeningguide.com and check out www.adyashanti.org .

 

What is Enlightenment?

What is enlightenment? I asked Adyashanti this question once and he said “It is being undivided.”  Unfortuimg_4835nately, many people imagine enlightenment to be a state of having magic powers, continual bliss, and connection with other-dimensional beings. Some think of it as genius or having omniscience.  I remember being told as a child that God knew everything and was everywhere, and this impression seems to be the way some look at enlightenment – as if it means becoming all-knowing, all-powerful, having control over everything.  This would be an exciting possibility for an ego, and may encourage some people to seek enlightenment who are not well suited to it.

But what does it mean to be undivided? Could enlightenment or awakening to the Truth of our real nature have a result as simple as this?  The ego’s way of being undivided might consider it as being one-pointed, determined and set in one way of looking at things, never allowing facts or feelings, or the needs of others to interfere with your set direction.  But that is being narrowly one-sided, rather than living the undivided way of an awakened mind and heart.

 I believe we come into life undivided.  It is the state of openness to whatever arises. It is availability.  It is a part of our cellular structure that naturally allows anything to happen.  It is always within you but from your first experiences of pain or sorrow, and your first lessons of separation and identity, you formed a shell around this openness and became a character with opinions, demands, emotional upheavals and drives that you think of us as “me”.  This “me” has fear and resistance to many aspects of the human experience and generates many problems and thoughts in a life.  Of course this “me” can have lots of accomplishments and feel love and joy and be a positive force in the world as well.  These options are usually thought of as free will – but since in the early years there is so much conditioning and shaping of identity – positive and negative — it is questionable just how free you are.

 When a person’s True Nature awakens there is a sense within the body/mind of no boundary or border to the energy of the heart and mind, no separation from either form or space, and no argument with life as it is. We might call this clarity. Some have called it radiance. This openness into life as it is can be felt viscerally, at the core.  It feels as if all identification with that “me” has fallen away and what remains is clear, at peace, sometimes kinestically flooded with love or bliss.  This realization may look like an experience but it is more of a knowing of what always was and will be, even before birth, and after death.

 There is no division in the True Nature. All division comes from the mind’s ideas about protection and separation.  When events in your life seem threatening this need to create safety is a genuine response of the body and mind.  The dimension we live in as humans has definite boundaries. We cannot fly off cliffs or stand in the middle of the highway and survive. We must have water and food and protection from the elements. As infants we need others to care for us and as emotional beings we crave love and community. Enlightenment does not remove these patterns that are part of our human imprinting. We are energies dancing as form and the form has specific limitations that the spirit does not

This is why no matter how deeply you have felt your True Nature you may at times have medical problems, you may sense waves of the suffering in others, you can feel loss as loved ones pass, and you may still have patterns of conditioning arise to be met and released.  The difference is that when undivided you can have compassion for or perhaps even laugh at your human vulnerabilities because there is no one there who cares to judge them.  And when the events in the world are troubling, you understand that human form by its limitations produces troubles and challenges, and if you feel an inclination to engage you can do it without attachment to results or acquiring new karmas (conditioning) to be worked through (the true meaning of karma yoga).  You are unbounded formless consciousness living within the patterns and boundaries of energetic forms, imprinted with the uniqueness of your conditioning and DNA, and thus you are One and Undivided.

 

Awakening and Engagement

      Like many of you, I am thinking more of politics these days, and concerned about the impact on millions of lives as our leadership in Washington undergoes major changes.  I wonder within a non- dual perspective if I can offer a useful response to decisions (or for this moment, threats) that seem to undermine the health and well-being of the whole – our country and our planet. Non-duality, a perspective that points out how all that we live and experience is transient or impermanent, encourages us to find inner peace by being fully present and non-resistant to what is.  This implies that non-attachment is relevant to inner realization. But does this mean non-engagement as well?h042luminousearth-5x7s-1

       What I have seen in those who are awakening is not only the awareness of no separate self but the realization of one universal Self.  This brings the opening of the heart, the expansion of compassion and sensitivity, and the realization that all of us are One beingness united eternally with all of life.  There can be the sense that as individuals we are nothing but vibration, but as awareness/consciousness we are everything. What awakens is the realization of connectedness with All and what dissolves (often this is gradual) is belief in separateness.  As forms we appear separate and have unique experiences but as consciousness we are All. In Buddhism many take vows to incarnate over and over until all of humanity is awake.  In Hinduism it is understood our spirit returns over and over burning away karma until we realize we are One with all. In the heart of Christianity is the understanding that we should love one another as ourselves, and in Islam is the teaching that God is all things.

           But our religions do not protect us from our failings, our fears and our habits of separation. Human minds tend to be preoccupied with “me”, an illusion of spirit  evolving from the moment of birth and hardened through our life experiences and conclusions.  The sense of being part of the whole collapses under the pressure of personal survival, fears, cultural beliefs, and desires. This is our human condition, not to be judged but to be understood.

         Awakening does not free us from our human experience, but it can give us an opportunity to see these experiences with clarity and objectivity, and release their impact on us..  It is not a freedom from any need to respond in our world, but a freedom to respond without fear and with no attachment to results.  It is a freedom to move from love rather than rage, to seek truth rather than conditioned belief.

         Within this framework what can we do when we feel in our heart a need to respond to political positions that cause harm to others?  Thousands may march but in the end these massive displays of the longing of people seems to have little impact on our politicians, who seem to be far removed from mainstream concerns.  But if each of these thousands of people, and the millions who identify with their concerns but are not called to march, chose one heartfelt cause to support or a few congressman to write weekly, there could be a groundswell of letters, phone calls, volunteers, and other activities to slowly shift the country into an America for all. 

         Looking at the whole picture can feel overwhelming and most of us feel helpless to influence those who make the big decisions.  But each of us can have an influence on a few others, and if millions of us speak up from compassion for humanity rather than fear and anger there will in time be a rebalancing of our political priorities.  We can each choose a cause to advocate for or raise funds for if we see government funds being withdrawn. We can each find in our uniqueness what we can contribute.

        We are living in a time of great upheaval and change throughout the planet – politically, environmentally, economically and spiritually.  But if you look at history there have been huge upheavals in every century.  This is our century and each spirit brings a perspective, a message, a potential for evolution.  If you are awakening now and touching your own authentic connection with Source, and seeking what your heart would have you do in this lifetime, then listen to your deepest longings for the world and the humanity in it, and find your own unique gift – it doesn’t need to be dramatic, just a movement that is true for you. You are not abandoning your true nature by engaging in service to life and others. Instead of being burdened by fear and angst and all the other mental resistances that arise, let go of yourself at a deeper level, and ask what you would like to do, what you can contribute to making this day better or this world better for someone else.  This, to me, is the embodiment and manifestation of non-dual realization.