Awakening and the directionality of the Divine: Where is Spirit? Above? Below? In us? Outside?

 

In our culture, we tend to imagine Spirit or the Divine up – above us, in the sky, in the heavens. It is purely cultural. In some other cultures, it seems they imagine the Divine in the Earth and plants and all around them.

When there is an awakening, these imaginations are revealed as cultural and we realize that all is the Divine – everything in all directions. Spirit is not more up than it is down, or to one side more than another, or inside this human self more or less than in the wider world.

Some spiritual practices reflect this and help us re-imagine and notice the Divine in all directions. For instance, in one of the basic meditation practices both in Tibetan Buddhism and Eastern Christianity, we visualize an expression of the Divine – Buddha or Christ – in our heart, above and below us (ca. 1.5 meters), to either side, and in front and behind us. We sit in the presence of the expression of the Divine in our heart and around us in all directions – and allow it to work on us. Which it does.

This reminds me of this prayer, attributed to the Navajos:

Beauty is before me, And beauty behind me, Above me and below me Hovers the beautiful. I am surrounded by it, I am immersed in it. In my youth, I am aware of it, And, in old age I shall walk quietly The beautiful trail. In beauty it is begun. In beauty it is ended.

And it also reminds me of the Deer’s Cry, beautifully put to music by Arvo Pärt.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in me, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me,
Christ with me.

Samuel Bercholz: A guided tour of hell

 
I went to an excellent talk with Samuel Bercholz and Pema Namdol Thaye at the Asian Art Museum earlier today. They are the author and artist of A Guided Tour of Hell: A Graphic Memoir. I can highly recommend the book. (Samuel Bercholz also happens to be the founder of the Shambala publishing company. I must have read hundreds of their books.) A few things about hell. It’s created by our own mind, and more specifically by our beliefs and identifications. Beliefs and identifications are at odds with reality, and create unease and sometimes suffering. This hell is with us as long as we have these beliefs and identifications, whether in this human life or between incarnations. We create our own hell. What’s the remedy? It’s partly to heal our very human trauma and wounds. And more to the point, to heal our relationship with our experience. To befriend our experience, independent of it’s content. To find kindness and even love for it. And to recognize our experience as awakeness and even love. And this goes for all of our experience, including other people, the world, ourselves, different parts of ourselves, and our own discomfort, pain, and suffering. My own experience with hellish states. It’s a good reminder for myself. As I have written about before, I have gone through a difficult few years. Following a nondual opening that lasted a few months, I was plunged into chronic fatigue (CFS) and later PTSD. Adyashanti talks about how an awakening or opening can “take the lid” off anything suppressed or avoided in our mind, and that’s what happened to me. There was no chance of holding it back or pushing it away. A huge amount of unprocessed material surfaced over the following months and years, and it led to PTSD and several months where I hardly slept and all I could do was walk in the woods in Ski, Norway. (While listening to the audio version of the dark night chapter of Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill and Adyashanti talking about the dark night and other topics.) Fortunately, I had some guidance by someone who had gone through it himself and understood (Barry Snyder) and I also did The Work and found TRE, both of which helped me tremendously. And still, a great part of this process was something I just had to ride out. Practices and healings helped in taking the edge off some of it, but the vast bulk of it just had to live its own life and was something I had to find a way to live with, even if it often felt indescribably unbearable and overwhelming. As so many describe, it has gradually tapered off although I still feel I am in it to some extent. I am very grateful for having found Vortex Healing which has been and is a great support for me in the healing and continued awakening process. Note: As I wrote the section above, I was aware that this is a good example of hellish states but not a good example of how we can work with it. The unprocessed material that surfaces is something I have worked with extensively and continue to work on healing and clearing – mainly through inquiry (Living Inquiries, The Work), TRE, resting with it, and – these days – Vortex Healing. As the intensity has gradually decreased, it’s easier for me to work on it. Read More

Feeding Your Demons: Ancient wisdom for resolving inner conflict

 

I have read about half of Feeding Your Demons: Ancient Wisdom for Resolving Inner Conflict by Tsultrim Allione, and am as impressed by the book as I am by the practice. It is beautifully written, simple, insightful and always very practical and helpful.

The five steps of the practice itself is outlined at her Kapala Training website.