Awakening includes rude awakening

 

If you have a rude awakening, you have a severe shock when you discover the truth of a situation.

– from The Free Dictionary

An awakening process can be a rude awakening.

Some parts of the awakening process is what our personality likes. It aligns with what our personality likes and wants. For instance, an early and temporary transcendence gives us a taste of freedom from trauma, pain, and hurt.

Other parts may be more difficult for our personality. They can challenge or clash with habitual patterns our mind initially created to stay safe. These include but are not limited to:

Disillusionment. Awakening includes disillusionment and especially disillusionment about what awakening is and what “we” get out of it. We may hope for a state of eternal peace and bliss, and what it’s really about is awakening to and as that which already allows any experience and state, including sadness, anger, and pain.

Awakening to the shadow. Awakening means awakening to everything, including our own very human pain, trauma, and hurt. At some point, this comes to the surface with an invitation to question the unquestioned stories holding the hurt in place, feel the unfelt feelings and emotions, and love all of it as it is including any reactions we have towards it.

Most people have a lot of misconceptions about awakening or enlightenment. This is partly inevitable since awakening is a change of the context of our experience rather than a change within our experience, and most of us are only familiar with the latter until there is an initial opening or awakening. These misconceptions are also partly encouraged and perpetuated by some spiritual traditions and teachers, either for strategic reasons (which I happen to not agree with) or because they don’t know better.

It’s difficult to know in advance how much of the trauma is healed or cleared up by the initial awakening, or any practices we engage with before or after the initial awakening. It’s also difficult to know how much is there in the first place. A lot of it is “collective” trauma passed on through the generations and by our culture, and some may also be due to epigenetics. I was certainly surprised by the amount of pain and trauma that surfaced for me.

What do I mean when I say that awakening is a shift in the context of our experience? It’s because an awakening is an awakening to – and then as – what experience happens within and as. This is sometimes labeled awareness, presence, Spirit or something similar, although any label will make it seem more discrete and like an object than it is. Content of experience doesn’t have to change at all, although it often does as a side effect of this shift in context.

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Adyashanti: Enlightenment is very ordinary

 

Do not think that enlightenment is going to make you special, it’s not. If you feel special in any way, then enlightenment has not occurred.

I meet a lot of people who think they are enlightened and awake simply because they have had a very moving spiritual experience. They wear their enlightenment on their sleeve like a badge of honor. They sit among friends and talk about how awake they are while sipping coffee at a cafe. The funny thing about enlightenment is that when it is authentic, there is no one to claim it.

Enlightenment is very ordinary; it is nothing special. Rather than making you more special, it is going to make you less special. It plants you right in the center of a wonderful humility and innocence.

Everyone else may or may not call you enlightened, but when you are enlightened the whole notion of enlightenment and someone who is enlightened is a big joke. I use the word enlightenment all the time; not to point you toward it but to point you beyond it. Do not get stuck in enlightenment.

– Adyashanti

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Adyashanti: Enlightenment may not be easy or positive at all

 

We must give up the pursuit of positive emotional states through spiritual practice. The path of awakening is not about positive emotions. On the contrary, enlightenment may not be easy or positive at all. It is not easy to have our illusions crushed. It is not easy to let go of long-held perceptions. We may experience great resistance to seeing through even those illusions that cause us a great amount of pain.

– Adyashanti

I don’t use the word enlightenment much. We can have a taste of it, or shift into it, by noticing content of experience and allow it, or rather notice it’s already noticed and already allowed. And that’s clearly not about “positive” emotions, which is another term I don’t really use.

It’s not easy, because it means a continuing disillusionment. It means looking at any belief, any identity, any identification, any hope and any fear, and see it for what it really is: a bundle of images, words, and sensations. It doesn’t exist outside of that. That disillusionment. We “see through” our most cherished identities, fears, and hopes, and that’s not always so easy, even when we cause ourselves a great deal of pain by not seeing them for what they are.

In this process, there is also an opening to anything unloved, unquestioned, and unhealed in us. All this tends to come to the surface, sometimes as a trickle, sometimes in great chunks at a time. And that’s not easy either.

So why do people seek this? That’s a whole other question, and the exploration could – and probably do – fill several books. The simple answer is twofold. One is that we seek awakening or enlightenment because we think it’s something else than what it is. We project our hopes into it. We think it’s a state. We think it will make everything easy. We seek it as an escape. The other is that it’s a natural movement for many of us. It happens whether we like it or not. We seek a more real truth, love, reality. We sincerely seek truth, love, reality. Truth, love, reality seeks itself through our life.

Enlightenment is….

 

In my mind, enlightenment can be defined quite simply:

Seeing images as images. Words as words. Sensations as sensations.

It sounds so simple – and perhaps ordinary – that many will probably reject that definition. That’s understandable. And yet, it’s the simplest, most clear, and most accurate pointer I can come up with now. It’s the one closest to my own immediate experience.

This means that we can, as Byron Katie points out, be enlightened to the thought that’s here or not. It’s clear that we can tend to be enlightened to thoughts to different degrees. And yet, what really matters is how enlightened I am to the thought that’s here and now.

Some side notes:

As so many point out, it’s not that a person is enlightened or not enlightened. It’s the thought of a person that “we” are enlightened to. We recognize the images, words, and sensations creating the appearance of a particular self as images, words, and sensations. (And “we” here means…. what a thought may call consciousness, presence, that which images, words, and sensations happen within and as.)

As implied above, I am suspicious of the idea of “being enlightened” in general. Obviously, there is a tendency to see images, words and sensations as images, words and sensations (or not), and this tendency may be relatively stable (or not), and may deepen over time (or not). And yet, even if there is such as tendency, it’s still possible – and sometimes inevitable – to get caught in the apparent reality of the creations of our own mind. We may still be mesmerized by our own imaginations. That especially seems to happen when traumas are triggered. Deficient selves that we haven’t yet thoroughly examined.

This is all much simpler and more ordinary than how many spiritual traditions presents it. I don’t really know why they present it in a way that seems more extraordinary, mystical, and unachievable. Is it to get more followers? Because many people in the traditions didn’t quite get it themselves, and created fantasies about it? Because the main role of traditions is to maintain themselves, and they are not primarily about reality and truth? I don’t know. Perhaps it’s a combination of these things and more.

Also, saying that I am enlightened (or not) to the thought that’s here and now, makes it sound a bit simpler than it is. Right now, there may be several thoughts and beliefs operating in me, and I am aware of only one or a few. Many of the unquestioned thoughts I operate from are partly or completely outside of my conscious awareness. And yet, through inquiry, they do tend to come to the surface. They seek the light, when it’s available to them. It just requires some attention, intention, and sincerity. And it’s ongoing. It’s an ongoing exploration.

Spirituality myths

 

Some myths about spirituality, and how they are valid and not.

I initially kept this post private as it’s written in a different tone than most. It’s more conversational, and perhaps less nuanced and balanced compared with many other posts. I’ll make it public anyway, since some of it may be useful.

Awakening or enlightenment is mysterious and distant.

It’s a noticing of what we already are, and what’s already here, in immediate experience here and now. It’s what we are – that which any experience happens within and as – noticing itself. It’s not very mysterious or far away. It’s closer than anything, since it’s what we are. (And it’s as close than anything, since anything is what we are.)

The grain of truth: Awakening or enlightenment can seem mysterious and distant, if we approach it through thought alone, and especially if we believe the thought that it’s mysterious and distant…! That’s how we stop ourselves from actually looking and exploring for ourselves, in immediacy.

Awakening or enlightenment is unachievable.

It’s actually not that difficult to glimpse or have a taste of what it’s about. The Big Mind process is one way that works for many. Headless experiments another. At the end of a Living Inquiry session it’s often quite obvious. And there is a lot of other approaches that can help us get a glimpse or taste of it. This is very helpful, since it tends to dispel a lot of myths.

From here, it’s the work of keeping noticing, and inquire into our identifications and beliefs that tends to temporarily cover up this noticing.

And when this noticing becomes more clear and frequent (or stable), it’s about deepening and living from it.

The grain of truth: Awakening or enlightenment as you think it is, may well be unachievable. What it’s actually about may be even better than what you think you want. (And what it “actually is about” keeps opening up.)

Awakening or enlightenment is a destination, an endpoint. When that happens, it’s all done.

 No. It’s an “end point” in the sense that what we are has glimpsed itself, or deepened into this noticing to a certain extent, and even is exploring how to life from it.

It’s also an ongoing process. What we are noticing itself can clarify, deepen, open up. And living from this new context is an ongoing exploration, clarification, deepening, and maturing.

There are also many facets to what we are, some of which a thought may call clarity, love, intelligence, presence. And some of which can be associated with the head center (clarity, intelligence, recognizing all as Spirit), heart center (love, recognition of all as love, a love of all as love), and belly center (emotional maturity, felt sense of all as Spirit).

The grain of truth: The recognition of what we are can happen suddenly, and it is – in a sense – an “endpoint”. Something has shifted. And yet, it’s also – equally or more – a beginning.

Awakening is the same as enlightenment.

These words are used in many different ways. Some equate them. Some differentiate them. I tend to differentiate them.

I tend to see awakening as referring to an initial awakening, or awakening to a new phase of clarity and insight, or a new facet of reality.

And enlightenment is more what we are recognizing itself, in an ongoing way, with most of the identifications and velcro that obscures this noticing having found their liberation. In a way, it’s an either/or term, and in another, there seems to be a gray zone here. What we call enlightenment continues to clarify, deepen, open up. And the liberation of identifications and velcro certainly does.

Awakening or enlightenment is what I need.

Are you sure? What do you hope to get out of it? Love? Feeling OK about yourself? Contentment? Aliveness? Authenticity? A sense of coming home?

Are you sure it’s not easier to go for those, rather than something that can seem more abstract and unachievable such as enlightenment?

Of course, these are really the same. And the approach to explore either can be the same. It’s just that it can be helpful in a practical sense to (a) identify  what you really wish for, using ordinary words, and (b) go for that.

The grain of truth: What we really want (love, authenticity, kindness etc.) may be more available when there is some awakening there, some recognition of what we are.

Awakening or enlightenment is what the world needs.

Are you sure? What about love? Practical wisdom? Caring? Isn’t that more what the world needs? And isn’t that more achievable and doable? Isn’t that something we can do here and now, each of us, in our own life?

Why not look at what in us prevents us from living more from ordinary caring and practical wisdom? Why not question unquestioned and painful thoughts? Why not find love for what’s unloved in us – what’s unloved in our experience and who we (think we) are?

The grain of truth: It probably wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Awakening or enlightenment will fix my human life.

No. It won’t. You’ll still find yourself in the same situation as before. You’ll still have to be a good steward of your own life. You’ll still have to live your life as anyone else.

If you think you need your life to be fixed, look at that. Look at the fears, the identifications. Allow those fears and identifications to find liberation now. Don’t wait for an awakening or enlightenment. You don’t need to wait.

What are you most afraid of if there is no awakening or enlightenment? What’s are you most afraid will happen with your life? What is it that’s most uncomfortable to you about your life? Look at those fears.

The grain of truth: You may recognize the OKness of what’s happening. You may have more clarity to act in a slightly more wise and kind manner. (Although even that is no guarantee. The clarity and kindness can easily be covered up by remaining identifications, hangups, velcro, beliefs, wounds, trauma.)

Awakening or enlightenment is a state.

Awakening or enlightenment is a state…. of being always happy, content, joyful, satisfied, of never experiencing any “negative” emotions or states.

That’s the “dream of the ego”. It’s much more about (a) noticing all of our experiences, as they are, are already allowed, (b) and noticing that what we already are is that allowing. It’s a shift of identification from thought-created identities to that which already allows this experience, as it is, and is this experience as it is. It’s an OKness with the experiences that’s here, including what may go against our very human preferences.

In a sense, that does come with a sense of OKness, contentment, even quiet joy. It’s all very quiet, and allows for any other human experience. So there is a grain of truth in the initial idea, but in a more differentiated sense than we may think.

It’s actually better than the initial idea or hope. It does give us that quiet contentment and joy, and also allows for the full range of human experience as before.

The grain of truth: Awakening or enlightenment is a state of what we are recognizing itself. It does seem like a state in that sense. Also, there is often that quite undercurrent of contentment, OKness, and even joy when that recognition is there.

It’s all an illusion.

Really? Why don’t you see what happens if you don’t pay your taxes, or eat junk food for a year, or act like a jerk with your family and friends? It may be that all is Spirit, and that anything you look for is unfindable, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, or that all is an illusion in an absolute sense. Our actions still has consequences, in a very ordinary and human way.

The grain of truth: It’s all Spirit, yes. Whatever I look for is unfindable. In that sense, it’s an “illusion”, but I wouldn’t use that word. It’s too easy for the mind to make it into a one-sided reality for itself, and act from it.

If I achieve X, I’ll be safe, OK, acceptable, loved.

If I get enlightened (saved, come to heaven) I’ll be OK, safe, acceptable, loved…. by myself, others, God, life.

No you won’t. But it can be better than that. You can see through the painful stories of being deficient (not OK, unloved, unlovable, unacceptable), and you can find love for the parts of you that feel that way. That’s more doable than hoping to get it through achieving some (imagined) state or realization. It’s much more available than that.

The grain of truth: Yes, if you love the unloved parts of yourself and your experience, you’ll be and feel loved. You’ll have what you sought. If you love what’s unloved, question unquestioned stories, feel unfelt sensations, you’ll find a deep sense of OKness, acceptance, even safety. And it’s because you are giving it to yourself.

I need to do X to be awakening or enlightened.

I need to eat a certain diet, read a certain book, do a certain practice, worship a certain god, study with a certain guru, dress a certain way, have a certain type of sex (or no sex), sit in a certain posture, move my energy a certain way…… to awaken or be enlightened.

Are you sure? Certainly, some things may be supportive and helpful in a very ordinary way. A reasonably good diet helps us feel and function better. Sitting mostly upright during practice (prayer, meditation, inquiry) reduces drowsiness. Some teachers may give us helpful pointers. And more. And yet, none of this will magically give us anything. It’s helpful (or not) in a very ordinary and mundane sense. It’s still up to us to actually do the work.

The grain of truth: Yes, some of these may be helpful in a very practical and ordinary way.

X will be a shortcut for me.

Shaktipat. Praying for divine intervention. Saying mantras. Whatever it may be that we think will be a shortcut for us.

Are you sure? Again, some things may be helpful in a practical sense. Some practices will work better for us than other. Some are more appropriate for us, where we are, than other, because we are more ready for them. And as before, it’s up to us to do the work.

The grain of truth: Some things may seem like shortcuts, such as shaktipat. But it sometimes comes with a time-consuming cost, and we still need to do the work – to clarify, stabilize, deepen, life from it.

This is it. I have arrived.

Not likely. It keeps opening up. It’s ongoing. The noticing of what we are is ongoing, with new facets and “layers” revealing themselves. The living from this is ongoing. And the deepening, maturing, reorganization and healing of who we are is ongoing.

The grain of truth: We can indeed “arrive” at a stepping stone, and it may seem like “it” for a while. And yet, it’s a stepping stone. Any insight, realization, clarity, healing, experience, is a stepping stone.

Understanding = realization.

Not quite. One thing is to understand something intellectually, perhaps connected to some degree of experience. Another is to be familiar with it through personal experience. And yet another to live from it, from that deepening familiarity.

If I didn’t go to understanding now, what would I have to feel? Feel it.

If I replaced the words with blah blah blah, what would be left? What’s here? 

The grain of truth: Understanding is often a helpful stepping stone to experience, it’s a pointer and invitation for exploration.

This insight is UNIQUE!

This insight that I have, this realization, this experience, is UNIQUE! Nobody has ever had it before. It’s a new realization. It’s the next step in human evolution!

Are you serious? How can you know? If you are honest, how can you know? And what are you afraid of if it isn’t? (That you’ll feel less than? Not OK? That you’ll have to feel something you don’t want to feel?)

The grain of truth: Any experience and insight is, of course, unique. It’s never happened before and will never happen again, even if a particular insight may be expressed in similar words as someone else expresses theirs.

More people are awakening today than before. Humanity is awakening.

Again, are you sure? What tells you that? What’s your evidence? (Isn’t it equally likely that it just seems that way because it’s easier to find likeminded people today through the internet, people are more outspoken about it than before (less of a taboo), and people interested in these things tend to congregate physically (workshops, talks, Bay Area). Would it seem like many are awakening if you lived in Congo, or most places in the world where few are interested in these things?)

What do you fear would happen if that wasn’t true? If you realized it wasn’t true? Question that fear.

Isn’t that what you really want? To find true freedom from that fear? From the fear that humanity isn’t really awakening? (Whether it is or not.)

The grain of truth: More people may be awakening because there are more people than before. And more information about these things is out there in the open, with valuable pointers which can support an awakening.

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Adyashanti: Enlightenment makes another movement of consciousness possible

 

Bit by bit, it began to reveal itself. I began to realize that our spiritual unfolding doesn’t really have a goal called ‘awakening’ or ‘enlightenment.’ There’s not an end point. To spiritually awaken or become enlightened is actually something that allows another movement to happen – and another and another and another. Spiritual awakening is the ground from which a whole new movement of spirit starts to occur, and that new movement that comes out of our own sense of freedom is what I call ‘awakening into our true autonomy.’

In fact, enlightenment makes another movement of consciousness possible. This other movement of consciousness is not really a waking up from our humanity, waking up from time and space, waking up from an individual identity. It is almost the opposite, where spirit comes into form and discovers this true autonomy.

– Adyashanti, Falling into Grace

Scott Kiloby: how to ascend the stages of enlightenment

 

Here’s my method for ascending through the various levels of enlightenment that are proposed by certain methodologies and philosophies. Here’s a “how to.”

Simply place yourself on whatever level you think you are truly on. Look at the people above you. Find out what story of deficiency they mirror back to you. See that this story is not you. Then look at people on levels below you. Look at what stories of superiority they mirror back to you. See through that story. 

When you see that there are no levels, see through that story too. Then go see a movie or enjoy life in whatever way shows up for you, and never concern yourself again with any of that!

– Scott Kiloby 

Yes, yes, and yes 🙂

Adyashanti: The challenge of enlightenment

 

The challenge of enlightenment is not simply to glimpse the awakened condition, not even to continually experience it. It is to be and express it as yourself in the way you move in the world. In order to do this, you must come out of hiding behind any superstitious beliefs and find the courage to question everything. Otherwise, you continue to hold on to superstitions that distort your perception and expression of That which is only ever awake.

– Adyashanti in The Impact of Awakening

Adyashanti: Awakening is not a magic cure for all that ails you

 

Awakening is neither a magic cure for all that ails you, nor an escape from the difficulties of life. Such magical thinking runs contrary to the unfolding of Reality and is a great impediment to its mature expression. The aim of this teaching is to wake up to the absolute nature of Reality, then embody and live it to the fullest extent possible. Such awakening does eventually bring a sense of deep peace, love, and well-being, but these are the by-products of the awakened state, not the goal.

– Adyashanti in The Way of Liberation

Adyashanti: No spiritual teaching is a direct path to enlightenment

 

No spiritual teaching is a direct path to enlightenment. In fact, there is no such thing as a path to enlightenment, simply because enlightenment is ever present in all places and at all times. What you can do is to remove any and all illusions, especially the ones you value most and find the most security in, that cloud your perception of Reality.

– Adyashanti in The Way of Liberation

Seeking Enlightenment

 

Seeking Enlightenment.

Why do some of us seek enlightenment?

It may be to avoid suffering. Or to find peace/love/joy. Or from love of love and truth, and a wish to live from love and truth.

It can also be to seek the ultimate approval – from life, Universe, God, and then also other people. To gain respect, love, and confirmation that I am OK.

None of these are wrong. It’s very natural, and very human.

And it’s good to notice.

How is it to give myself – here and now – what I seek?

Is it true that what I am seeking is not already here?

When I look, can I find what I seek for – outside of words, images, and sensations? Is it findable?

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Seeking as a way to avoid pain

 

One reason for seeking – whether it’s seeking enlightenment, money, love, insights, the perfect partner, sex – is to avoid pain.

Or rather, to avoid the experience of pain. We are, at least in our culture, trained to avoid the experience of pain. We are in the habit of avoiding pain, and teach that to our children through our example. We teach that that’s how we live here.

And one of the ways we avoid pain is to medicate it with….. any number of things, including seeking insights, clarity, and enlightenment. It’s all innocent. It’s worried love.

There are a few ways of exploring this. Here are some I find helpful:

Meeting the pain, and the part of me wanting to escape it, with love. Ho’oponopono can be helpful here. I can also hold satsang with it. (You are welcome here. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me. I love you. What would satisfy you forever? What are you really?)

Looking for the pain. The seeking. What I am seeking. The one in pain. The seeker. Can I find it, outside of images, words and sensations? How is it to look at each image and word that comes up around this, and feel the sensations?

When we examine this, meet what’s here with love, and feel what’s here, something shifts. We see it’s possible to experience what’s here without escaping it. And it’s actually more satisfying. Far more satisfying. And if we can do this individually, it’s at least conceivable that we can create a culture where this is the norm, and this is what we teach – through the way we live our life – our children.

Inquiry on Enlightenment

 

Seeking anything is often fueled by a sense of lack. And it can be very helpful to address that sense of lack.

So, if I seek enlightenment (which I did for a while, and less now) I can ask myself….

What do I hope to get out of enlightenment? What’s the best that can happen if I reach enlightenment?

What do I fear would happen if enlightenment eludes me? What’s the worst that can happen if I don’t reach enlightenment?

Also, if I look in immediate experience – at words, images and sensations – can I find enlightenment? A real, actual object called enlightenment?

Do I find enlightenment? Lack of enlightenment?

Can I find me, a person who can be enlightened?

Can I find a person who is enlightened? (Adyashanti? Byron Katie? Scott Kiloby? James Eaton? Jesus?)

Can I find a person who is not enlightened? (My neighbor? A friend? Myself?)

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Cathy Woods: Enlightenment and surrender

 

Enlightenment is commonly believed to be a state of “all-knowing,” whereas surrender is relinquishing oneself into the unknown. One senior student describes surrender as “devastation, annihilation, utterly and totally disappearing.” Once cannot surrender oneself, but can only be surrendered by a greater force.

– Cathy Woods in Surrender and Service

And I can look for each of these – enlightenment, surrender, the unknown, devastation, annihilation, disappearing, oneself, a greater force.

Can I find each of these, on at a time, in words? In images? In sensations?

Can I find a real, not imagined, threat (or promise) for each of these in words, images, sensations?

Can I find a me that fears (or wishes for or has) each of these in words, images, sensations?

Is the word surrender a real and not imagined surrender? Is the image of surrender the real surrender? Is the sensations associated with it the real surrender? Can I find surrender in any of these? Is there a threat in the word surrender, the images associated with surrender, the sensations? Can I find a me that can or should surrender in these words, images, sensations?

Enlightened to a thought

 

The truth is that there’s no such thing as enlightenment. No one is permanently enlightened; that would be the story of a future. There’s only enlightenment in the moment. Do you believe a stressful thought? Then you’re confused. Do you realize that the thought isn’t true? Then you’re enlightened to it. It’s as simple as that. And then the next thought comes, and maybe you’re enlightened to it as well, and maybe not.
– Byron Katie

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Spirituality and seeking perfection

 

What came up for me here is any confusion around my spiritual path being about ‘improving’ or ‘bettering’ myself so that I only think ‘perfect’ thoughts or behave perfectly (whatever that may be!). This is a clear example of the war within myself, and how I may take myself overly seriously.
– S.F. posting in the forum for the telecourse on turnarounds

I find it helpful to look at my motivations for being on a “spiritual path”.

Partly, it may be an innocent seeking for clarity, peace and returning home. And there may also be a set of equally innocent beliefs here.

Some beliefs:

This is not home. I don’t feel at home here. I need to feel at home. It’s better to feel at home.

I need to be perfect. Perfection is possible. It’s better to be good.

I can improve myself. I need to improve myself. I need to better myself.

I am not enough as I am. This is not enough. What’s here is not enough.

Clarity is better than confusion. Awakening is better than staying confused.

What I seek is out there (in others, past/future).

Wishing for a permanent solution

 

It seems that beliefs fuels fears, and fears fuel beliefs. I go into beliefs in an attempt to feel more safe.

One way I can attempt to feel safe is to wish for a permanent solution. If only…. everything will be fine. 

And this solution may be an idea of “enlightenment”, what it will bring, and also that it will be permanent. All of which is a projection of what’s here now onto others or into the future, and also a story of an imagined future.

To me, it seems more honest and accurate that – as Byron Katie says – we can only be enlightened to the thought that’s here, and the next thought may be taken as true or not. There is no way of knowing in advance.  (more…)

Surface to find clarity

 

When a bubble of confusion surface (wound, belief, reactive emotion, unease) it does so to find clarity. In a quite real sense, it is a being that wish clarity and liberation from it’s suffering.

So how would it be to meet these beings as a friend? To meet them with some clarity, wisdom and kindness?

Here are some ways to meet them:

(more…)

Awakening and further

 

Adya has a good way of talking about awakening and enlightenment, if I understand it correctly.

Awakening is a glimpse of what we are, or of what we are noticing itself. It can happen more or less clearly, and for shorter or longer periods of time. (Non-abiding awakening.)

Then, there is a process of clarifying and embodying this awakening. To clarify what we are, and to reorganize and realign our human life within that new context.

Eventually, the last bits of identification with stories may wear out and identification shifts (back) into what we are. (Abiding awakening.)

And before and after that happens, our human self continues to realign and reorganize. To heal, mature, develop skillful means. Live more and more in integrity.

Human self as the finger pointing to the moon II

 

st-john.jpg

Buddhism and Christianity both use a “pointing beyond itself” analogy.

In Buddhism, it is the finger pointing to the moon. The teacher, teachings and practices point beyond themselves to what we really are, this awakeness with a content which is awakeness itself. Don’t mistake the finger for the moon.

In Christianity, it is the realization that it is all from God. Nothing happens here which is not from God.

This also shows where the traditional teachings sometimes don’t go quite as far as they can.

In Buddhism, it is not only the teacher/teachings that are the finger pointing to the moon. It is also this human self. When it points to itself as the final truth, it is deluded. When it notices that it is already and always pointing to awakeness as reality, it is awakened.

In Christianity, it is not only that I as a human being give all credit to God. It is also that God is all there is. It may appear that there is a human being here, with a separate I, but there is nothing but God. There is no separate I here, only God.

In both cases, this human self becomes a finger pointing beyond itself.

And this shift has to be thorough for it to be real. For this human self to really notice what is already and always is.

(Leonardo’s beautiful painting of St. John the Baptist shows him pointing up. He has to point somewhere, so it may as well be up. But it is really in all and no directions.)

Koan: withered tree

 

In ancient days an old woman made offering to a hermit over a period of twenty years, and one day she sent her sixteen-year-old niece to take food to the hermit, telling her to make advances to him and to see what he would do. So the girl lay her head on the hermits lap and said, how is this?

The hermit said: The withered tree is rooted in an ancient rock in bitter cold during winter months. There is no warmth, no life.

The girl reported this to her aunt, and the old woman said: That vulgarian! How outrageous! To think that I have made offerings to him for twenty years!

So she drove the hermit away and burnt down his cottage.

Zen, in my limited experience, is of course about awakening in the traditional sense, the realization of no I with an Other. But it is equally much about becoming more fully human, and how the practice before awakening, and the awakening itself, allows us to be more fully, deeply and richly human.

In the beginning, and depending on what teachings we are exposed to and practices we engage in, it can appear as the two are somehow in conflict. But after a while, and even right away with the right teachings and practices, we can see very clearly how they are not only aligned, but support each other. When we deepen into one, we can deepen further into the other.

Including both not only makes the path much more enjoyable, and allows us to get something out of it even if there is not a stable awakening of Big Mind, but it also allows Big Mind – however clearly it has awakened to itself – to express itself more fully, richly and fluidly through our human self.

It helps who we take ourselves to be, before awakening. And it helps what we find ourselves to always be to express itself more fully and richly, following awakening. (Big Mind always expresses itself fully and perfectly, whether it is awake to itself or not, and no matter what shape the human self is in, but there is still a difference in how maturely, richly and fluidly it is expressed through our human self.)

To use God language, we can say that all is God, no matter what, and it is all God expressing and exploring itself. But there is a difference in whether it is awake to itself or not. And there is a difference in how healed, mature and developed the human self is that it is awake (or not) to itself through. Why focus on just one?

In this case, the test was not only how attached the monk still was to beliefs and identities, which is the awakening aspect, but also how fluidly any awakening and release from beliefs and identities was expressed. The monk failed in both respects.

As with any koan, this one must be resolved by living it. It is never resolved by insight alone, however clever, even if it comes from a clear and stable awakening.

Ikkyu, that crazy monk, knew this:

The old woman was bighearted enough
To elevate the pure monk with a girl to wed.
Tonight if a beauty were to embrace me
My withered old willow branch would sprout a new shoot!

Allowing and owning

 

There is a beautiful complementarity between allowing and owning whatever arises.

As awakeness itself, we already and always allow whatever arises. Shifting into finding ourselves as awakeness, there is a release of identification with whatever resistance there is to it. We can now hold whatever arises and the resistance to it, without blindly taking ourselves as either one. There is a passive allowing of it all. It is just a noticing of what is already and always here. (Although the shift into noticing it is often active.)

Yet at our human side, it is also important to actively own whatever arises. To actively become familiar with it, see that it is part of me, widen my conscious identity to include it, explore how it already shows up in my life, explore what it asks of me, discover how it supports the life of this human self, bring it into the active repertoire of how this human self lives in the world. This includes noticing a part of this human self that was already around, actively bringing it into my conscious identity at my human level, and actively exploring it in and bringing it into my daily life.

And as so often, there is a mutuality between the two. One supports the other.

Allowing whatever arises helps me more easily actively own it. I can release identification from any beliefs and identities that stopped me from seeing it as part of my human self, and I can now more wholeheartedly embrace it and find its gifts.

And actively own it helps me release identification with old beliefs and identities that previously kept it as “other”, which in turn makes it easier for me to find myself as awakeness itself, already allowing it all.

The allowing is the enlightenment part, finding myself as awakeness and everything arising to and within awakeness as no other than this awakeness itself. And the owning is the self-realization part, the healing, maturing and development of this human self.

Or we can say that the first is the Self-realization, and the other is the self-realization. It is the realization of the Self, as Big Mind, Brahman, the divine mind, or whatever fancy name we have for it. And it is the realization of the self, of the wholeness of who this individual self is and can be.

There are as many examples of this as there are experiences.

(more…)

Enlightened to a thought

 

The definition of enlightenment is quite simple, although can be put in different ways:

  • Ground awakened to itself (emptiness, awake to itself)
  • Realized selflessness (no separate self anywhere, just awake emptiness and form, and form as no other than awake emptiness)
  • Differentiation of the absolute (awake emptiness and form, as is), and the relative (any stories about it, filtering the absolute through stories)
  • The timeless now (awake emptiness) awake to itself, that which time/space unfold within, to and as.
  • The complete allowing of any forms (inherent in Ground) awake to itself.

Of anyone, I appreciate the most how Byron Katie talks about this… as usual, it is simple, clear, and uncompromising in a kind way.

No one is permanently enlightened. That would be the story of a future. There’s only enlightenment in the moment. Do you believe in a stressful thought? Then you’re confused. Do you realize the thought isn’t true? Then you’re enlightened to it. It’s as simple as that. And then the next thought comes, and maybe you’re enlightened to it as well, and maybe not.

This way of looking at it explains why people who are not “officially” enlightened still can be very enlightened in some situations and areas, and people who are officially enlightened sometimes are not… still stuck in rigid beliefs (I certainly saw that a lot during my time at the Zen center…!)

The quote is from chapter 13 of A Thousand Names for Joy by Byron Katie, edited by Stephen Mitchell.

How to see all posts on endarkenment and related topics

 

Note: This relates to Blogger, before the move to WordPress, but you can still check out the links.

As mentioned in the previous post, when you display posts with a certain label, only the most recent 20 are shown.

To get around this and see all posts on endarkenment and related topics, go here:

The older posts are at the bottom of the page. Also note that many of these posts will show up under more than one label.

The field filtered through the head and belly centers

 

I have written about this before, but it is still alive in my immediate awareness, and wants to be explored further…

There is a perfect (slightly asymmetrical) symmetry in how Existence is filtered through the head and belly centers.

Head center

Through the head center, it is awake emptiness and form. Crystal clear. Empty luminosity. Awake emptiness in the foreground, and form as nothing other than awake emptiness. It is transcendent. Detached. Free. Absent of any separate self. Full of the whole world. Masculine. Yang. Solar. The Ground of all form, and all form as no other than this Ground. Impersonal. It is the traditional enlightenment.

Belly center

Through the belly center, it is luminous blackness. Velvety. Smooth. Fullness. A full void. Nurturing. Giving birth to and holding all form. That which all form arises within, as, and that which is in all form. Immanent. Absent of any separate self. Nurturing this individual, allowing it to deeply heal, mature, soften, be more rounded, become more deeply human. It is feminine. Yin. Lunar. The ground of all form and that which is the context for, is, and is within all form. Deeply personal. It is the endarkenment.

Difference in emphasis

The head center gives an emphasis on awakening as awake emptiness, and as form which is no other than this awake emptiness. It gives freedom. Transcendence from identification with any segment of Big Mind, including this human self. But alone, it is detached, aloof, impersonal.

The belly center gives an emphasis on the deep transformation of this individual. A deep healing, untying of knots, maturing, softening and rounding of the personality, deepening into the human.

The coolness and nurturing of the belly center balancing out the fire and the impersonal of the head center

Having been familiar with the head center awakening (spontaneously in my teens, and deepening over several years), I now deeply appreciate the belly awakening as well. It gives a new depth, richness, sense of peace, of being deeply nurtured, of a coolness to balance the heat of the head center awakening. In addition to what I have described in other posts on this topics, I have, over the last few weeks, also had glimpses of an amazing (to me) new depth and richness of being, far beyond anything I have experienced before.

New realms of being opening up through the belly center awakening

Through the head center, this whole universe is nothing other than God, an alive presence behind and as everything, and without any separate self anywhere. And through the belly center, there another facet of the void and selflessness, but also new realms of being – of this individual – revealing themselves and deepening. Even the few glimpses I have had so far, over maybe just minutes or hours, are far beyond anything I had ever imagined.

Heart center

I should also mention a few words about the heart center. Existence filtered through the heart center seems to have two aspects: Big Heart and the indwelling God.

Big Heart is a love and compassion that is independent of any particulars of form. As Big Mind, it has no beginning, no end, no form, yet can take any form. It is both impersonal and personal, when expressed thorough an individual, but the impersonal tends to be in the foreground. It is the love and compassion that comes up spontaneously and naturally when Big Mind awakens to itself while still connected, and functioning through, a human being.

The indwelling God is an alive presence, located in the physical heart area. Infinitely loving, intelligent, receptive, and responsive. A most intimate guide. It is an aspect of God, placed in and for this particular individual.

While Big Heart is connected with Big Mind, universal and slightly impersonal (although can be made personal when expressed), the indwelling God is experienced as intimately personal, an alive presence in the heart area of this individual.

In both cases, it is universal, and this is in the foreground with Big Heart, and in the background – or as a context – for the indwelling God. And in both cases, it is personal, and this is in the foreground for the indwelling God, and a possibility – when made personal through a human self – for Big Heart.

Again, when the indwelling God became more alive in awareness around Christmas, it was something new opening up (yet also very familiar somehow.) An infinitely loving, intelligent, receptive and responsive alive presence, in the heart area. An aspect of God, for this individual. A most intimate guide.

Three realms of being

 

Here is one way of slicing the cake of our being, into three realms…

First, the formless… Awake emptiness, capacity for the world. Selfless, timeless, spaceless.

Then, this awake emptiness as form, including innumerable individuals (selfless), unfolding in space and time.

And finally, not less important than the two other, me as this particular individual self, as an individual soul and human self alive here and now, in this little spot of the whole wide world of form. And this is where shadow work, healing, development, maturing, and unfolding as an individual takes place, deepening over time, endlessly (at least as long as this individual is around.)

This corresponds roughly to the three centers…

Spirit filtered through the head center reveals itself as the formless, as awake emptiness, as form as awake emptiness, as individuals inherently selfless.

Spirit filtered through the heart center reveals itself as formless love, and all forms as no other than formless love. It also reveals itself as love for all form, including all individuals, no matter their particulars, as Spirit.

Spirit filtered through the belly center reveals itself as a felt sense of all as Spirit, and as the luminous blackness which, among other things, gives a deep sense of nurturing, fullness and healing for this particular human self.

Each of the three centers include the formless, form and selflessness, although the head center reveals the formless in the foreground, the heart center form – including individuals – in the foreground, and the belly center this particular individual in the foreground.

Head and belly, and heart follows

 

When I see and feel into whatever arises, the heart seems to follow.

Seeing, feeling and loving

The seeing is the witnessing of whatever is, it is free from what is seen, and can even be a recognition of what is seen as no other than awake emptiness itself. The feeling into it is a felt sense of what arises, it is the body joining in feeling what arises. And the heart is a receptivity and love for what arises.

The head and the belly sees and feels what arises. There is a being with what arises as seeing and feeling, and really as seeing-feeling since when both are there, they are just two aspects of being with whatever is, with the experiences as they are here now, with the content as it unfolds. And this seems to invite and allow the heart to join, to soften, open up for whatever is, here now (with the sweetness and pain, rawness and tenderness, a sense of the universal and personal, that often seems to come with that for me, at least right now.)

The process reflected in stories

Last night, after having seeing these dynamics throughout the day, I wondered how this would be represented in stories and mythology, and if I could find any stories that reflects this process?

The view, seeing, witnessing, is from the head center, and is yang, masculine, transcendent, free from what is seen. The feeling into, the felt sense, is from the belly center and is yin, feminine, embodied, engaged with what is felt. And the heart is the receptivity, openness, love, with equal amounts of yin and yang aspects (which is probably why the Bodhisattva of compassion – Avalokitesvara, Kwan Yin, Kanzenon, Chenrezig – is depicted as sometimes male and sometimes female, and always quite androgynous).

Our lives mirroring the dynamics of head and belly coming together, awakening the heart

So of course, the natural way to depict this process of the head and belly coming together, inviting the heart to follow, is of a man and woman coming together, awakening love. And not only is there no lack of those stories, it is at the core of our existence as humans. Our very lives are metaphors, or mirror, this process.

Also mirrored as Spirit, human and soul

At another level, the seeing is Spirit, the felt sense is the human self, and the love is the soul. So here, we can say that when Spirit and human comes together, love awakens. And this is the typical process of a Buddhist practice where there is an emphasis on Big Mind and the human self, which allows the love (and the soul) to unfold.

Parallels with Breema and Gurdjieff

In Breema, they say that when mind and body comes together, the feelings join. When attention is brought to the body (the movements of the body, posture, tone of voice, weight), the feelings join – as a sense of nurturing fullness. From the little I know of Gurdjieff, it seems that these are the three centers as he described them: head is in this case attention, belly is body, and feelings are heart.

(This is quite different from how I experience the three centers: The head center filters Spirit in its aspect of pure seeing, awake emptiness, seeing all as Spirit. The belly center as feeling, form, feeling all as Spirit. And the heart center as love, loving it all as Spirit. The centers and the dynamics between the centers as described here seems to be similar, but the descriptions – and experience – of them, apparently quite different.)

Deep center and excitement

 

I had a process work session with Gary today, and I noticed how there was a sense of deep center and excitement.

The belly awakening, the endarkenment, gives a sense of a deep, rich, dark, silent earthiness and fullness everywhere, yet also centered in the belly.

And it allows whatever else to happen, including the more flighty and light excitement that comes when exploring some of these things in words and ideas, especially when talking with someone who shares the excitement about it.

In the past, there has always been the swing of a pendulum between excitement and “going up” and a sense “going down”. I went up, then down, as if to compensate for it, and the other way around.

This time, after the endarkenment and the dropping into alive luminosity, both are there simultaneously. Easily. Effortlessly.

There is the deep dark rich infinite ground. A womb holding it all. Deeply silent.

And there is the flights into excitement and ideas and conversation within this deep darkness and silence. The silent darkness is there as a context for it, and also there before and after.

A wonderful experience: finding that larger whole of light and dark, of head and belly, of ground of form and form, of yin and yang, feminine and masculine.

During the enlightenment, seeing all as Spirit, as awake emptiness and form, there was of course the seeing of forms as empty, of the ups and downs as empty luminosity. And there was a silence in the midst of it all. But this is different. This has a different depth and richness to it. It is a different dimension of being.

Alive luminosity

 

As I described in a previous post, there has been yet another shift, this time into alive luminosity.

It happened during and after the diksha Sunday, and the codes for the three soul centers (visualizing and sounding Hebrew letters at the head, heart and belly, as well as above the head, much as they do it in Tibetan Buddhist practices with the form and sound of certain Tibetan letters.)

Right away, there was a sense of the alive luminosity, everywhere, infinite, and infinitely loving, intelligent, receptive, responsive and personal. It deepened somewhat during the evening, and when I went to bed, it came out more fully, very strongly present everywhere. There was an immense sense of bliss, and of gratitude.

I saw how this alive luminosity is here always and already, and can be communicated with. The words of Jesus, ask and you will be given, suddenly had a new meaning for me. I saw that this must be what I talked about, this immensely alive, loving, intelligent and receptive light, waiting for an invitation from us, a clear intention and a surrender, to transform us at any and all levels of our being.

The head awakening seems to open for seeing all as Spirit, as empty luminosity, as awake emptiness and form. And for me, this empty luminosity has always had a sense of intelligence, love and responsiveness to it, but it has been in the background.

The belly awakening seems to allow for a whole new dimension of this light to reveal itself. As immensely alive, loving, intelligent and responsive. Its emptiness is in the background and its aliveness in the foreground.

So it seems that two aspects of the one luminosity. When filtered through enlightenment, centered in the head, its empty aspect is in the foreground and its aliveness, love and intelligence in the background. When filtered through endarkenment, centered in the belly, its alive, loving, intelligent and responsive aspect is in the foreground, and its emptiness aspect in the background.

In both cases, it is infinite, and it is an aspect of the awake emptiness and form of everything.

I knew that there had to be something like this, even in the midst of the initial awakening, but had never dropped into it like this before. Whole new dimensions of being are opening up, and there is a deepening into it.

This is all written in a second person perspective, as I and Thou, because that is how it appears to me now. But it is of course all aspects of the One I, of Spirit absent of I anywhere and arising as all these forms of itself, exploring itself also through a sense of I and Thou.