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.

Transcending the Inner Committee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.awakeningguide.com

Questions for Awakening

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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 .

 

Awakening the Light in Troubled Times

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I am looking at the ocean in Santa Cruz on an unusally bright December day and many sparks of light are dancing over the surface. In the great depths below much activity is likely happening, but all I can see is the grey-blue rippling surface and thousands of dots of light, resting below a greyish pink sky so that the world from this view is simply a peaceful and sparkling watercolor.

As we move through a world that has many troubles, among people with worries and sorrow, we hold a potential to be a spark of light in the grey, the one who can reach out and be a friend, or a helping hand or a smile. Beneath the surface much may be going on but still that potential for light is always there. I believe non-duality is about the light available in the darkness, the wholeness of One  alive and bright ocean within the apparent separation.

Those who are spiritual “seekers” sometimes get their lives out of balance. The very longing to know Truth or God or “What is it all about?” demands a kind of passionate focus that can disturb all the normal rhythms of a life, along with slowly destabilizing the conditioned identity. We can begin to feel isolated, lonely and misunderstood, and withdraw from the opportunity to interact with others.

Perhaps your longing for Truth or awakening arose because of dissatisfaction with the cultural mindset , or because of difficulty in facing ordinary challenges of living in an intense and competitive world, or possibly you just came into the world wondering from a young age what life was all about. In some cases a major life event or a trauma or simply even a dream or a phrase in a book , can trigger the longing to know more. Although it sometimes feels like a desire to escape,  this is actually a longing to feel whole and intimate with all of life.

A few centuries ago you would have found your way to a monastery or ashram or temple to study the secret mysteries that could help you go so inward that you would move beyond yourself. Today all levels of practices and teachings, both valid and distorted, are sprouting up everywhere. No preparation required. Little understanding provided. It is easy to get lost and confused in the inner world and the phenomena it offers, and drift away from engagement with your humanity.

One of the challenges of awakened consciousness is seeing more clearly the insanity in much of human behavior, and choosing our response. We are likely the only species willing to destroy our own environment, neglect the basic human needs of one another, and become prone to self-limiting self criticism. At some point it is natural to want to escape to a deeper peace inside and try to ignore the outer world, but awakening paradoxically makes us more sensitive to human loss and trauma. We cannot refuse to see.

Many spiritually-oriented or simply compassionate people are disturbed today by the direction of our government and institutions. It appears likely values we believe in such as equality, freedom, compassion and opportunity for the poor, open-minded education, environmental protections, ending nuclear proliferation etc. are threatened. Fear and anger can overwhelm us as our minds create the possible scenario for a new and more cruel world. We have to go beyond the mind for our response.

We only need a slight glance at history to see that these same concerns, or worse, have plagued humans since the beginning of civilization. Human life has long been a struggle between opposites and each generation must find a way to stand for the light within. Our generations have dealt with WW2, Viet Nam, the Gulf wars, the Civil Rights movement, assassinations, floods and other environmental disasters – cultural trauma is nothing new – like energy it doesn’t disappear but simply changes form.

As spiritual seekers we can become attached to the light, and develop strong aversions to the cultural and political battles of our world. Generally we are not people who are adept at fighting, and prefer retreating into meditation, interior calming and prayer. Perhaps we are holding the center for those who are out on the edges demanding change, but when we are very passive, sometimes the changes generated are not the ones we seek. Perhaps there will always be waves of power-driven people creating havoc in the world – there always has been so far – and yet there has been human progress too and great inventive minds that contribute to the rising of all.  So how do we find balance and inner harmony in a world that seems to deny its value? And can we have a useful impact by offering our own light?

Here are a few quotes of Krishna speaking in the the Kula-Arnava Tantra (1.16-27) that I recently found in Georg Feuersteins book “Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy”. They remind me that we must nurture our own lives, including our bodies, and offer kindness to others, if we are to awaken to Truth. Even under a political system that is not offering the supports we think are needed, we can offer this to one another. I’ve added my own interpretation of the stanzas.

After obtaining a human body, which is difficult to obtain and which serves as a ladder to liberation, who is more sinful than he who does not cross over to the Self?(Think of sinful meaning blind or neglectful. Krishna encourages us to use the great gift of incarnation wisely)

Therefore, upon obtaining the best possible life form, he who does not know his own good is merely killing himself. (Recognize that your birth offers great opportunity! Use this precious time to awaken to Truth.)

How can one come to know the purpose of human life without a human body? Hence having obtained the gift of a human body one should perform meritorious deeds.(As humans we have a sacred purpose and can do good things for one another.)

 One should completely protect oneself by oneself. Oneself is the vessel for everything. One should make an effort in protecting oneself, Otherwise the Truth cannot be seen.(Love yourself and care for the vehicle of the body/mind. This is essential in finding the Truth of who you are.)

 One should cultivate the highest good while the senses are not yet frail, suffering is not yet firmly rooted, and adversities have not yet become overwhelming. (Life is short – seek truth from an early age. However, I would add it is never too late.)

             Of course, this was also the message of Jesus, on whom Christianity was founded. He advised us to love our selves and our neighbors and told us that heaven was all around us yet we did not see it. He even pointed out the kingdom of God is within. Although many so-called Christians seem to have lost this theme under the stress of greed or fear, it is likely many more embrace it. Christmas is a time we try to reignite generosity and renew family ties, and remind ourselves of our capacity for love and transformation.

Can we use these challenging political times to come back into balance and inner harmony – valuing our bodies, our lives, our neighbors, our families, strangers and nature?  By bringing gratitude and consciousness into our own personal environments and discovering what we each have that can be contributed to the common good we may even bring a gradual balance back to the planet.

Despite the darkness reported in the media we are the people, and what brings about the deepest change lies in how we treat one another. Politicians and corporations and criminals are not the majority of the people. Money is not the only commodity. We who seek or have found our Oneness, even briefly, can rebalance ourselves by moving beyond our personal contractions and finding our own unique way to contribute to the whole. Your way may be very quiet, touching only a few, or you may find yourself in a larger role. Truth and awakening have always been present in the world, holding the center amidst the chaos. Could this be the true message of Christmas and the life of Jesus, who himself lived in very troubled times?

 

 

Out of the Shadow, Into the Light

 Those who long for love, compassion, universal equality and protection of thIMG_4158e environment as a foundation of society are likely feeling despair today over an election that has forced us to see the shadow of our country in its willingness to support  fear, bigotry, misogyny, ignorance of science and lies in a man who will become the acknowledged leader of the free world.  But the worse thing we can do to ourselves is fall into the abyss of fear caused by our own projections of what will happen next.

            Each of us, no matter who we supported in this election, was born with the capacity to create the energies of fear and anger in our bodies.  This is a body/mind dynamic built in for protection in times of danger that is activated in the face of physical or psychological threats.  Even the thought of threat can make us ill, but when the threat is only in the mind’s image and not in the immediate now (when we may need to run from a bear or a flood), it festers like cancer and destroys our capacity to do anything creative in our lives.  We might feel paralyzed. We might run aimlessly even though we know we cannot successfully escape our own minds. We are part of a collective and just protecting oneself is not enough. We feel for the whole. The tragedy of 9/11 showed us we can hurt for everyone.

             I recently listened to a Sufi talk about chillas.  Chillas are challenging tasks a spiritual seeker requests from a Sufi Pir or teacher that force one to discover or develop new capacities within themselves, an inner strength they did not realize they had.  It brings forth a new perspective that serves a spiritual seeker in finding his or her inner spirit, growing inner strength and awakening to the sacred in all of life.  They are sometimes very challenging, such as going to an unfamiliar country with limited funds and finding someone, or walking through a desert. In ancient times they lasted 40 days and 40 nights but today they can be more condensed. They may be as simple as giving public talks when you are frightened of speaking or serving the poor for a few weeks.

                  It was a synchronistic talk for me because instead of falling into grief today I am seeing this event as a chilla for all of us.  It is an event that will challenge all of us to grow through our personal and collective shadows by starkly meeting them, and finding new ways to live in love and truth despite the existence of our own fear, bigotry, ignorance and dishonesty. It will challenge us to see the darkness in our own political structures and their impact on the world.  If we are all One, then this country and this world is all One, including all the shadow that we desperately wish was not there.  How do we find the will to overcome our personal and collective shadows? How do we find in our autonomy the courage to stand directly for what an awakened heart and intuition is encouraging us to express?

            Our personal darkness is fed by fear. To the extent we let this energy overwhelm us we become helpless and victims of the shadows.  Out of this victim identification we risk becoming perpetrators, when our ego claims we must destroy those who think differently than us.  But how do we stand up against our fear?

              Michael Singer, in his book “The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself” has offered some guidelines on living with fear.  He says to be free “You must  first accept the fact there is pain in your heart.”  But he points out that joy, beauty, love , peace and even ecstasy and freedom lie on the other side of fear.  He writes that freedom and greatness is available when we  find the courage to relax with the pain instead of blocking it.  It calls this the core of spiritual work.  We can use our pain to become more open rather than contracted and closed.

                This may seem paradoxical – as most true spiritual teachings are.  But think of the freedom gained with complete acceptance of tragedy and trauma, darkness and pain.  When we are able to connect with the deep center of Truth and Love within ourself no matter what the world throws into our path, we become free inside from the grinding, suffering, and resistance of our ego and let go of our personal demands that life be as we want.  Because every life will have tragedy and loss not matter how we try to protect against it, no matter how good we are, or even how awake we are.

                 Our internal survival depends on our ability to overcome the downward spiral within ourself when these events occur, and to use this new-found strength to create change where we are able, rather than falling into paralysis, hatred or revenge.  If our house burns down we must clean up the mess and create a new house.  If our environment is threatened we must find within ourselves our unique role in protecting it.  Life (or God, if you prefer) works through us but we have to let go of our noisy  demands before we can hear the whisper of what it can enable us to do

                 Our minds believe we must fight in any way we can for our beliefs or when we feel we are “right” and others are wrong.  No matter which side of politics you are on this is likely your motivation.  No one fights for someone else’s beliefs.  But this battle of the egoic stances denies wholeness, denies freedom, and energizes the fear and despair, the least helpful psychological qualities in our lives.

                 When awakening happens there is an opportunity to step out and back, to align with a sacred witness that sees the division in our human world without identifying with it.  This does not mean an awakened person has  detachment with indifference to the problems of the world.  A deep awakening brings love for the whole and asks for our deepest, most authentic, unselfish and creative response to what is needed.  We won’t find this if we succumb to fear and anger.  We have to acknowledge our human fear  – but choose not to let it be the decision maker and ruler of our spirit.  We must find something greater, more inclusive within ourselves that brings forth our contribution to the greater good.

             We have to refuse the projections of the mind about what will happen and face change day by day, acknowledging there is as much good as there is ignorance and greed in our world, there is as much light as darkness, and that both are within us, but we can choose, because we are awake, not to let the fear drag our life down into the shadows or allow despair to limit our lives and the acknowledgement of the sacred within and around us.  Only then can we move forward and face change with integrity and compassion for others, and become effective agents of positive change in our collective consciousness.

              I’ve always loved a comment  by The Mother, who was the partner in the spiritual teaching of Aurobindo, and the founding of Auroville in India. She said that if there is a great darkness within you, you can be sure that at the core is also a great light.

             Perhaps by seeing the shadow of our country with clarity and compassion we can contribute to bringing forth the light.  If it be the will of the universe it will be done. We will all do it.