Adyashanti: What the universe will manifest when you are in alignment with it is a lot more interesting

 

What the universe will manifest when you are in alignment with it is a lot more interesting than what you try to manifest.

– Adyashanti

Yes, and as usual there is a lot more to this.

In one way, we are always in alignment with the universe. We are the local eyes, ears, thoughts and feelings of the universe. (As Carl Sagan said.) What’s here is the universe feeling, thinking, acting, doing. It’s not two.

In another way, it’s possible to be more or less aligned with the universe. When I am caught up in fears, beliefs, velcro and drama it’s difficult for me to act from kindness and clarity, and follow (the quiet) inner guidance. When there is more clarity, and less trauma/beliefs/velcro/drama, it’s much easier for me to act from kindness, clarity, and guidance.

So there is always and already alignment with the universe. It’s unavoidable. And I can be more or less aligned with the universe, through (a) recognizing what I am (what this experience happens within and as), (b) healing my human self, and (c) relate to what’s here – including unloved fears and unquestioned fearful stories – with love, presence, and gentle and engaged curiosity.

Focus, field and curiosity in meditation

 

In meditation, there are three dimensions I think of as field, focus, and curiosity.

Focus can be narrow or wide. Bringing attention to the sensations of the breath at the tip of the nose narrow focus. Bringing attention to lines or colors of an image, or the shapes of letters, is also relatively narrow. Bringing attention to the sensations of the breath as a whole, or a contraction in the shoulders, is wider. Bringing attention to the space a sensation, image or word happens within and as is wider. In either case, it trains a more stable attention. And a more stable attention benefits just about any activity in our life.

Attention can also be brought to any content of awareness as awareness itself. And the whole field of awareness, with its content, as awareness. The latter is an even wider and more inclusive focus.

Curiosity is an inherent part of this exploration, at least if the exploration is held lightly, and comes from a natural interest in who and what we are, and how reality reveals itself to us.

We may notice…..

How training a more stable attention allows attention to naturally stabilize over time.

How attention is drawn to identifications, to beliefs, to velcro (sensations “stuck” on words and images.)

That any content of awareness – any sensation, word, image – is awareness, it’s “made up of” awareness.

That any content of awareness, and the whole field of experience as it is, is already allowed – by life, mind, awareness.

That what we are is really this field of awareness, as it is. And looking more closely, the capacity for awareness and its content.

That identification with ideas – a.k.a. beliefs, velcro – creates an appearance of being a small part of content of experience, an I with an Other.

And much more.

Traditionally, these three are spoken of as distinct practices. We train a more stable attention. (Samatha.) We notice the field of experience, that it already allows its content as it is, and that this is what we are. (Natural Rest, Shikantaza.) We find a natural curiosity for what’s there, and explore it intentionally. (Inquiry, self-inquiry.)

It makes sense to speak of them separately, and it makes sense to begin our exploration of each of these separately. And yet, the closer I look, the more I see that they are all woven in with each other. Explore one for any length of time and you’ll notice and find the other two.

Note: I was reminded of this when a friend of mine said “those are two very different practices” when I had spoken of focus and natural rest in the same sentence. Yes, they are distinct. And yes, they also blend into each other.

Focus can be explored within the context of natural rest. We can bring attention to a sensation, image or word, notice it’s already allowed, and rest with and as it. And this focus can be expanded to include the whole field of awareness – as awareness, already allowing its content.

(more…)

Befriending flatness

 

Over the last few days, I have experienced a sense of flatness and dullness, and also a sense of emptiness and nothingness. There has also been a relatively quiet mix of a wide range of feelings and emotions experienced all at once.

I notice how a part of me sees this flatness and dullness as a threat. It feels wrong, unfortunate, even a hindrance. And a thought says it’s always going to be that way.

It may also be that I have set aside and pushed away this feeling of flatness and dullness most of my life, and it’s now surfacing to be included, befriended, and met with love and understanding.

This flatness and dullness is also an experience, as any other experience. Why not befriend it? Meet it with curiosity? Find love for it? How is it also to befriend my fear of befriending it, and any shoulds behind befriending it?

What’s the worst that can happen if I befriend it? What actually happens?

How does this experience appear in images, words and sensations? Looking at the images, one at a time, is it flat or dull? Are the sensations actually flat or dull? What’s actually there?

From states, to insights, to recognizing it through changing states

 

Some states of consciousness highlight an aspect of reality. For instance, a state may turn the volume of bliss, love, oneness or selflessness up so it’s unmissable. States can also highlight and turn the volume up on aspects of delusion, such as suffering, or even how suffering is created.

Combined with curiosity, this turned up volume of an aspect of reality can give insights.

And the invitation is to take these insights as a question and starting point for inquiry in any state, and through changing states.

Here are some examples:

There is a state of bliss. An insight that consciousness is bliss, it’s inherent in reality. And an invitation to find this in any state of consciousness, including those that at first look anything but blissful.

There is a state of love. An insight that consciousness is love too. And an invitation to find love through other states, including those that do not appear particularly love-filled from a conventional view.

There is a state of oneness. An insight that reality is one, always. And an invitation to notice this oneness, perhaps especially when mind makes reality not appear one.

There is a state of selflessness. An insight that there is no I here. And again an invitation to notice this through changing states and experiences.

There is a state where the dynamics of identification, delusion and suffering is particularly clear. There is an insight into these dynamics. And an invitation to recognize this as it happens through the changing states and experiences.

 These states of consciousness are a gift in that they highlight aspects of reality. They offer insight. And this insight is then an invitation for inquiry through the changing states and content of experience. It’s a starting point for inquiry, and this inquiry may lead to further insights.

(more…)

Life’s purpose

 

What’s the purpose of life, life with capital L, also known as reality, the universe, God?

In a way, it’s a silly question since “purpose” is only created in thought. It’s not inherent in reality.

And yet, some stories can be helpful as a way of balancing a habitual view. For instance, the purpose of life is for life to experience itself in always new ways. That fits with what we see and observe, and it gives a sense of the creativity and openness we see in life. It’s aligned with what we already see, which is that life allows what’s here in it’s infinite variety. It also fits with the idea of evolution.

If that’s a very basic purpose, there are also other layers of purpose. For instance, a though may say that the purpose of life, and specifically the life we know, is to bring what’s here into awareness. For life to discover and become conscious of what’s really here. And that happens through curiosity, sometimes combined with guidelines and tools such as meditation and inquiry. This pointer helps us release possibly stressful ideas of what the purpose may be, such as be happy, or successful, or being a good person, or maturing, or awakening, or something even more abstract. Just noticing what’s here, with some curiosity and sincerity, is much more concrete and manageable.

So here we have three facets of this question. (1) It’s a meaningless question since purpose can only be found in a thought. It’s not inherent in reality. (2) A very basic purpose of life is to experience itself in always new ways, and in it’s infinite variety and inherent creativity. (3) Another layer of purpose, perhaps more specific to our human life, is for life to bring itself into awareness, for life as it’s happening here to bring itself into awareness. What’s really here? What do I find when I look? What’s more real for me than my initial images and thoughts about what’s here?

Whoever among you becomes a child

 

But I have said that whoever among you becomes a child will recognize the kingdom and will become greater than John.
Gospel of Thomas, Verse 48

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Mark 18:2-4

What does it mean to become like a child?

It can mean a certain orientation of receptivity, curiosity and sincerity in our relationship with God, ourselves and practice, all within a context of don’t know. Shifting into this, and then noticing that these are already here, they are a natural expression of what we are. (When not clouded over by beliefs in images and stories.)

It can also mean to ask questions that seem silly and naive, to leave no stone unturned, to question that which seems most obviously a given and true – and especially those stories I at first don’t even recognize as a story.

(more…)

Growing and waking up, and reasons for practice

 

Just to summarize the previous post…

To me, right now at least, it seems helpful to differentiate practice aimed at growing up (healing/maturing) and waking up (to what we are).

If my motivation and intention is to reduce suffering and find happiness – to get/compensate for/escape from something – it seems appropriate to emphasize a practice aimed at healing and maturing, finding my wholeness as who I am, this human self.

And if my motivation is truth and love –  a quiet curiosity or love of existence – it makes more sense to aim at waking up, inviting what I am to notice itself. (And also working at maturing which aids awakening, and helps it be expressed in a more fluid way.)

It can be helpful to sincerely investigate and clarify our real motivation. Although in real life, it doesn’t necessarily make that much difference, especially if we use tools that work simultaneously at both levels. The ones that help us grow up, and invite in a waking up as well.

(more…)