Fall from and into grace

 

Following my years of (head) awakening, there were some years of a dark night. There was a reversal from deeply realizing all as Spirit, and luminosity, clarity, insights, effortless practice, and incredible energy and activity in the world, to the opposite of a complete absence of Spirit, being just a separate human being steeped in confusion, hopelessness and fatigue, unable to engage in any form of practice.

During these years, it definitely felt like a fall from grace. I was blessed with a spontaneous and quite clear awakening, and then fell down into identification with this human self and all its confusion and weaknesses.

Now, I can still see it as a fall from grace, but even more, it seems as a fall into grace. It is true that it did take me off track in terms of my plans of continuing my Zen studies and eventually becoming a teacher, and also getting a degree which would allow me to practice and do research in the mind-body field. In that sense, and in many other ways, it was a fall from grace. But in another sense, it was a fall into grace. It allowed some edges to soften. It allowed me to experience from the inside the suffering that so many experience, at least at times in their life. It allowed me, possibly, to drop into the endarkenment.

And it allowed me to learn about surrender. And loss.

Surrendering even that which seems, in every way, so good. A surrendering that allows space for something else to emerge, something not part of my plans, something that was not being “on track” as I saw it, something completely different.

It is certainly a fall from grace. And it is equally a fall into grace.

Stream of form, not fall from grace

 

The wider world and this human self is flux. It is always in change, always new, always dying as what it was and reborn as something else. It is a stream of form. If we try to hold onto it, even just by mirroring it in thoughts, what we hold onto is already gone.

So there is no fall from grace here. Wisdom, insights, clarity, revelations, compassion, bliss, desirable inner and outer situations, they all change. They too are flux. They are parts of waves passing through, waves with peaks and bottoms.

The only fall from grace is an appearance of it, when there is a belief in ideas of how it should be different. How some things in the world of form should stay, and other things should not take its place.

And there is no dark night, apart from what we create for ourselves by believing it should be different. Throwing a tantrum because the stream of form does not look the way we think it should look. Thinking we know better than the totality.

The stream, including beliefs, struggling against what is, and the appearance of a dark night, is all the local manifestations of the movements of the whole of the world of form. It is the totality manifesting locally, right here, as this human self and its immediate situation. It is God’s will. It is God itself, as awake emptiness and form. Already and always complete, untouched by any ideas of right or wrong, completeness or fragmentation, high or low.

Deity Mysticism, Witness & Fall from Grace

 

Even as the center of gravity moves to nature and deity mysticism and/or the Witness, there is still an identification with a segment of what is.

There is a belief in the idea of I, and it is placed on the soul (nature/deity mysticism, F7/F8) and/or pure awareness (F9). There is still a sense of I and Other, no matter how apparently transparent and subtle.

It is an awakening still with the presence of a sense of I, and identification with a segment of what is, so it is naturally subject of change with changing content.

Nondual awakening

From here, it can move on to a nondual awakening, to Ground awakening to its own nature of no I anywhere, allowing any content to come and go as it naturally does. This is an awakening where the context is the only thing that needs to change, from a sense of I to an realization of no I anywhere. Content – states, experiences, phenomena, come and go freely and naturally, as they do anywhere, but no with no trace of attachment or resistance to them.

Fall from grace

If this does not happen, if there is a stuckness here even as there is a deeper readiness to move on, there will be a fall from grace, a dark night of the soul. And this fall from grace invites to a gradual wearing off of any sense of I, eventually revealing the Ground – absent of I anywhere.

It seems terrible as it happens. It seems that everything is lost. But it is just another phase in the process of Ground awakening to itself, of God remembering who it is, of Buddha Mind realizing its own nature, of emptiness dancing.

Example

This is what apparently happened in my case.

The nature/deity mysticism awakening and the awakening as Witness initially came out of the blue, uninvited in any conscious sense (to somebody who saw himself as a die-hard materialist and atheist!). It deepened and stabilized over some years.

At some point, there may have been a deeper readiness to move on to a Ground awakening, yet there was also an attachment to and holding onto the belief in I and to the nature/deity awakening and the sense of Witness as I.

So there was a fall from grace, a dark night of the soul, also lasting for years, gradually wearing off attachments to a sense of I, to segments of what is, to any content. And it is still far from complete.

Finding Peace with Fall From Grace **

 

I have struggled finding peace with the fall from grace which happened some years back. So many plans got thwarted, so much seems lost.

I have done several inquiries on it, I have stayed with whatever emotions and other experiences come up around it, I have set the intention of it to unravel and clear, and it has helped – but some remnants of the regrets are still there.

Today, I suddenly saw clearly that my specific role is to find peace with this particular life.

It seems so simple, yet it hit me like a ton of bricks. And there was a huge relief and sense of coming home in it. Finally, this is what my role is – at least in relation to this life situation.

I don’t need to process it to death and harvest every little gift and nutrient in it (although I will most likely continue to do that). I can just find peace with it as it is. That in itself is my role.

I can find peace in not completely finding a resolution to it. It is OK.

And of course, this is not just about me. This is the role we each have: to find peace with our particular life. And to demonstrate how to find peace with this particular life. We are all teachers for each other in this.

Buddhist God Realm, Identification with Witness, and Fall From Grace

 


I am sure this is detailed in Buddhist philosopy, although I can’t recall having seen this in the sporadic readings I have done in the area.

One of the six realms is the God realm, defined by bliss but also impermanence.

It seems that this describes an awakening as formless awareness – as the Witness, F9, causal realm – quite well.

There is bliss and a certain release from suffering, and it can certainly last for a long time. Still, there is the belief in an “I” here, now just placed on pure awareness. The seeing is made to appear as a seer.

With this subtle “I” there is also a subtle “other” and attachment to content. And as content always changes, it inevitably leads to a fall from grace. It is temporary.

All of this sounds a lot like the God realm.

From I to No I, Dark Night, Deepening into the Nondual

 

Here is a summary of recent slightly obsessive ruminations (!).

Three phases: from I to no I

When there is a belief in the thought “I” and it is placed on my human self, then there is a blind caught-upness in whatever is happening. I am identified with some parts of what’s happening, and try to either hold onto or push away other parts, and there is a sense of struggle and suffering. I see myself as an object in the world, at the mercy of an infinite number of other and unpredictable objects. So, naturally I am also caught up in emotions such as fear, desire, aversion, anger and so on.

When there is an an awakening to pure awareness, to the Witness, there is still a belief in the thought “I” but now placed on the seeing. There is a sense of release here. I can work on and learn how to allow anything and everything to come and go as guests, to arise, unfold and fade within space & awareness. Learning this is a process and involves some effort and attention.

When what is awakens to itself as having no “I” anywhere – when no segment of what is revealed as having no inherent “I” – there is a more complete release. There is the same content – awareness and phenomena, seeing and seen – but no “I” as either our human self or awareness or anything else. It is all just happening. And there is an immediate realization of it as emptiness, as emptiness dancing. Again, there may be the same content – pain, anger, confusion, grief and so on – but it is all revealed as emptiness dancing. There is no suffering anymore.

Dazzled and dark night

During the awakening as formless awareness, there may be a good deal of bells and whistles going off. Bliss, miracles, synchronicities, seeing and engaging with energies, experiencing all as God and Spirit, and so on. And since there is a belief in an “I” there is also an attachment to phenomena, however subtle it may seem at the time. We are dazzled by the show – by the content, and since it is subtly experienced as “other” there is also a subtle holding onto it.

Two things can happen here. Either we continue and awaken as the nondual, as no “I” anywhere. Or we continue to hold onto I and other, and as the content moves – as it always does – there is a fall from grace. It seems that one way this can be triggered is through exhaustion of the human self, from the high energies that can be experienced in this awakening.

In Ken Wilber’s framework, the awakening to Witness is F9, and it can be accompanied by awakening to F7 and F8 which is nature- and deity-mysticism. At all of these levels, there is a belief in the thought “I”, and a subtle sense of I and other. And this can occur even if there is a clear sense, feeling or intuition of God being completely beyond and including any and all polarities. We have an immediate and (apparently) clear realization of this, yet this whole beyond all polarities is subtly “other”. “I” am here as pure awareness, experiencing Existence as beyond and including all polarities. There is a oneness of “I” and the whole of Existence, of God.

During the dark night of the soul, there is a sense of loss of connection with God and of “dryness”. No content gives comfort anymore. And this is exactly what is needed for the awakening to ground, to the emptiness which content arises within and as. To the context for all content and experiences, to that which never changes and is always right here now. To what is, with no “I” inherent in any segment of it.

No I

The irony is of course that this experience of “no I” seems to be all of ours immediate experience. We just don’t trust it, and add a belief to the thought “I” onto it. Somehow, it seems safer that way. We become familiar with that way of operating.

And we have trouble becoming childlike again, to drop what we have been trained to see and experience, so we can realize that there is indeed on “I” anywhere in our immediate experience.

It is what aways is. Indeed, it is that which time unfolds within and as.

Or more accurately, it is that in which the fluid seamless whole of form (time & space) unfolds within and as.

Deepening into the nondual

There may also be a deepening into the nondual (I don’t know too much about this). First, it may be a nondual awakening with same content as before. Then, it may deepen to be present to itself during the sleep and waking cycles of our human self (as it seems that it can be at F7-F9 awakenings as well). Then it may expand in space for all I know.

Transcend and include

As the nondual awakening has the same content as before, only with no “I” anywhere, it is another case of transcend and include. Nothing is lost, apart from the belief in the thought “I” and the struggle and suffering that brought with it. There is an effortless inclusion of our human self and human life, in its fullness – and its continuing development and maturation.