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.

Surrender As Art

I begin to see surrender as an art, having recently witnessed the most graceful surrendering in form at the San Francisco ballet in a sequence called Hummingbird, danced to the music of Philip Glass. A male and female dressed in white, floating across the stage, she in drifting chiffon, completely releasing their bodies into one movement, a merging beyond form as she was lifted above his head, or melted her body over his back to back.

I’ve rarely seen ballet so this vision of surrender was a new realization. I have thought of the form as demanding great discipline and even very painful practice as young girls learn the challenging task of standing on their toes.   And while we might see great sequences of grace and strength, coordination and agility, it was a revelation to view the total surrender of the dancers body into the strength of her partner, whether falling back to back, or being lifted and carried in another sequence from one set of arms to another.

So of course this made me think of the act of surrender in spirituality. This moment of letting go seems terrifying to some people – they feel they are “losing” themselves, or that they might never know how to function again, if they relax into the mysterious unknown that arises at some point in the spiritual journey. They lack trust in the Whole, in the strength of that which is eternal and vast to hold them. So when moments of grace are at hand they contract, and the energy of fear washes over and paralyzes them.

Adyashanti wrote a book about awakening to life called “Falling Into Grace: Insights on the End of Suffering.” Another remarkable book on awakening during the process of dying was written by   Kathleen Dowling Singh , called “The Grace in Dying: A Message of Hope. Comfort and Spiritual Transformation”. This grace, which we do not easily understand and often wonder how to “achieve”, is actually the response to surrender, to slipping gently into the arms of another dimension, with a profound trust and relaxation of every cell in our body. We need this surrender to fall into Truth, into the recognition of our true nature, and ultimately to have a peaceful passage into the unknown vastness beyond our lives. Like the ballerinas, we each struggle and seek discipline within our own destinies to become capable and agile in our own lives and spiritual practices. And then at the right moment, we must utterly surrender and trust in the emptiness and the fullness in which consciousness rests.

She must trust her partner in dance. We must trust our partner in that which has enabled our existence.

Perhaps we are touched by great artists, whether in dance or painting or music, because it holds this paradox – the passion, the power, the hard work and the grace of surrender.

Jesus as Metaphor for Spiritual Awakening

I’m facilitating a study group around Adyashanti’s latest book Resurrecting Jesus: Embodying the spirit of a Revolutionary Mystic. This book is a wonderful invitation for those of us who have drifted afar from Christian teachings to rethink the story of Jesus, reflecting on his life as a metaphor for spiritual awakening. Great myths are metaphors for deep truths, and have a way of grabbing the unconscious and paving the way for transformation of the psyche. When they are penetrated and taken in they bring new hope and a bit of understanding of the mystery of human experience. They impact how we think and act.

This book about Jesus is ground-breaking, because Adyashanti brings to it his deep realization and the depth of his years of Zen practice, blending this with a transformative recognition of love that he encountered when exploring the deeper meaning of Christ. In a world that sorely needs hope and fresh ways of understanding the true radiant source of human life this book offers a way to penetrate the experience of the early Christians, before the church fathers created a business and behavioral philosophy around it. He says churches have ignored the sacred and the true potential for understanding how all of us are the sons and daughters of God, and instead limit that potential for the divine to the man Jesus, and tend to preach politics, morality and guilt, rather than transformation. It appears they ignore the model Jesus gave us of living a radiant life that reflects our own divinity, and is anchored in truth.

The story of Jesus parallels the journey to enlightenment — the simplicity and the gifts of the magi at his birth (we all have both), his disillusionment with organized religion, His initiation symbolized with baptism, the release of his siddhis or powers and the need for healing, the struggle with his inner demons in the desert and in the garden of Gethsemane, the surrender to his fate, forgiveness, and transcendence. Implied in his life is also the theme of an engaged spirit.

 Today, as in the time of Jesus, spiritual awakening must go beyond transcendence and calls for an engaged spirituality. Those who fully awaken are reborn into a service or destiny with the world, not one defined by the ego but rather a movement from the depths that longs to be followed. Adyashanti blends the wisdom of awakening with service through his teachings and his transmission, and this book in some way catches that energy and gift so that it can be an experience for the reader and not just an intellectual study.

He urges us to clarify our “aspiration” and to reflect on our two “orders of being“, the human and the divine, the form and the formless. Just as Jesus expressed his humanness and his divinity it may be possible, even essential, for more and more humans to discover this possibility, go through the shedding of our old identities, and surrender into our destinies,

I’ve always felt the tragedy of the death of Jesus, not because he was god but because he was human. All humans that are subjected to the betrayal and horrific suppression that he was dealt are equally caught in tragedy. Every violent death is as horrid as the death of Jesus. As we learn of people, innocent or guilty, who are slaughtered by those who are ignorant of the sacredness of life we can feel the suffering that the family and friends of Jesus must have known, and find some hope in the archetypal resurrection of this timeless story. Jesus lived the whole of life, the beauty and the trauma, just as most of us must. Can his life as myth or metaphor give us hope, and new direction for awakening out of the blind collective adherence to the mind’s divisive point of view about who is valuable and who is not? This is never the perspective of an awakened heart.

If Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and all the rest of us alike began to see the truth of who we are, just as Jesus did, who would be left to cause such harm as crucifixion? Or murder families? Or drop bombs?

 

The challenge is that all of us must crucify our blind adherence to separation, collective belief systems and conditioned reflexes before we can be awake as a species. It may never happen, certainly not in our lifetimes. But if we as individuals can play our small part in the whole perhaps in time the collective field will transform just as the inspiration of Jesus must have intended. Ignorance may always exist but so does the potential for transformation and resurrection.