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Enlightenment: the Embodiment of Realization

When Awakening first happened, I considered it to be the end of a long spiritual search to know the truth of my own nature.  In the Mandukya Upanishad the Sanskrit phrase, transliterated as “Ayam Atman Brahman” brought me to the intellectual conclusion that This Individual Consciousness is the Divine Consciousness, which is the translation of those Sanskrit words.  My own experience in meditation introduced me to the pure space of Transcendent Consciousness as the fundamental reality of existence in this body.  The intellectual and experiential meshed, my teachers validated the realization, and to put it simply, Awareness Awakened to Itself in this body-mind complex.

In reality, the Ego doesn’t awaken to the truth that Jonathan is Awareness Itself.  In fact, at first my ego was only too happy to try to appropriate the ‘achievement’ of spiritual awakening as a new attribute of itself.  However, the set of mental and emotional processes that make up the Ego were entirely subsumed and pushed out of the ownership of this body-mind at the moment of awakening.  However, the Ego is only too eager to try to keep establishing its centrality, and its right to oppose What Is, and the way Reality shows up, at any time it can.

As time went on it became clear that the Ego dies a slow death in most of us.  Only the rarest has an instant Ego death upon awakening.  The whole body-mind complex then begins a journey of eventual surrender to the truth that Awareness/Consciousness/God/the Divine/The Absolute, whether experienced as ‘internal’ to my body-mind or ‘external’ to my body-mind, is what ‘wins.’  The Ego is a set of temporary processes that arise in Awareness.  Awareness doesn’t arise into the ego.  Ego wouldn’t be experienced without Awareness but, Awareness doesn’t need ego to exist.  Therefore, ego eventually becomes less and less important.

As the Truth sinks into the body-mind, then, a transformation occurs.  The body relaxes whenever the mind stops fighting with Reality as it is.  The relaxation process, for me at least, has continued over many years and is still proceeding: it’s a cumulative process.  Also, the body is the vehicle through which the Divine is ‘experienced’ and so: body awareness, emotions, and the thought-producing mind never permanently disappear.  Our awareness of the body, emotions and thoughts may be subsumed to the underlying experience of Awareness over time but, they never disappear.  We develop a dual focus: the imminent world of the ‘here and now’ and the Transcendent aspects of Consciousness, which could be viewed as two halves of the whole.

If God/Consciousness/etc. wanted to appear as a ‘wispy’ ‘transparent’ thing, it wouldn’t have picked a solid, corporeal body to Realize itself in, as and through.  So, contrary to my early ideas of the process of Enlightenment, my body and its pains and pleasures, my thoughts with their attractions and aversions, and my emotions (whether based on true events or false thought-forms) have continued.

Enlightenment doesn’t bring the end of any of these, merely their transformation.  The common idea of spiritual awakening and Enlightenment is that it’s a one time event that leads to a constant, lived state of bodily bliss, permanent open-heartedness, and freedom from all false thoughts.  This is a fantasy.  Awakening changes the point of organization of the body-mind from Ego to Awareness or Brahman (or the other thousand names we could use).  Then transformation and deepening occurs as a result of the Awakening.  This transformation or purification is a process that we can both actively and passively participate in.

Over time, the transformation occurs because the Realization gets embodied.  How the Realization got embodied for me?  I’ll write about that next week.

Cheers,

Jonathan

 

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The Only War Worth Fighting

Ordinary people know that generally wars aren’t worth fighting.  The military industrial complex makes lots of money, and we lose fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters, friends, and children.  About 20% of those lucky enough to make it back alive will suffer with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  The local populations who are being bombed and killed, usually didn’t want the war in the first place, unless they were highly brainwashed into thinking war is good.  From my point of view, egomaniac leaders ramp things up so that they can have a giant contest, to see who is the ‘best.’  In the meantime, they make the worst mess of the world, its people, and the environment.  No matter who wins, everyone loses.

From my perspective the only war worth fighting is the war against egotism, greed, and the ego’s need to reassure itself that it is real and permanent.  The ego (yes, your and my ego)  is actually made up of ephemeral thoughts (often lies about the past or future) and the resulting fantasy-based feelings that the lying thoughts create.  Personality seems to be a separate type of manifestation….since it can be seen at birth, long before the development of speech and thoughts.  Ask any mother with more than one child how different the personality was before speech even began.

If you want to be an influence for peace, the best way I know of is to start looking into your own self-deceptions, including the assumptions about other people and groups of people that you take for granted.  Take a look at how many of your thoughts are absolutely true.  Take a look at how many ‘facts’ we believe today are really just theories that have current scientific or social backing.  Eliminating relative truths which are really just lies ‘dressed up,’ and thinking critically instead of lazily assuming that someone else can do your thinking for you, you’ll see just how little is really true.

This can be one way of beginning to live in Reality as it is, rather than in your (and others) blind beliefs or untested theories of Reality.  Eliminating lies is a big part of coming to a baseline understanding that the truest ‘part’ of you, is the Awareness that has no sense of age or spatial boundary but is eternal and transcendent.  Understanding that you are Awareness, and so is everything and everyone else, gives you a new foundation for an inclusive morality that treats all creatures, people and environments as if they are You….since you are actually inseparable from them.  Charles Eisenstein (I believe taking the concept from Thich Nat Hahn), calls this moving into the new story of InterBeing.  It’s a worthy view, and one that would eliminate any ‘war’ in the physical world, if we came to understand and experience the truth of it.

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Absolutely Ordinary

There are days when life is so absolutely ordinary, that I wonder if Enlightenment happened at all.  Enlightenment, however, is only recognizing what was always already here, inside and outside of ‘me.’  So, why would it seem extraordinary to know what has always been true?

If I look at what has changed in the day to day experience of life, it is that I am no longer paying attention to an endless stream of mind-generated ‘problems’  and the accompanying negative emotions they produce.  Generally my mind is quiet, or if it’s working, it’s because I’m reading something (and trying to determine how subjectively true/false it is), writing something, or doing some tasks that requires organization.  Occasionally there is a relationship problem that arises with my clients (I’m a counseling psychologist) or my spouse and the mind is called on to help communicate and solve the conflict.

Though I do spend some time planning future activities, the planning is not because I have to get OUT of this moment.  It’s looking at other things I might do with the time in each day, or how I might serve differently, or literally a thought about what I want to do in the next moment.

I notice flashes of happiness and sometimes joy at odd moments: playing with our dog Maya is one time I often notice this.  Walking her on our relatively quiet road in the morning is another.  Eating a blackberry that I’ve just picked off the vine, smelling a rose, and wandering around in the garden is another set of activities that seem to be associated with happiness.

No one I know who’s enlightened: walks on water, pulls gold out of thin air, is able to do healing ‘miracles’ or is particularly extraordinary.  Enlightened people continue to exist in the three dimensional world of time and space and continue to have relationships with that world and its people.  No one builds an ashram around most enlightened people, we just continue to live and work.  While other people may not be aware of the totality of their nature, they are nonetheless still the Absolute in its many forms, and worthy of compassion and respect.

There is an oft-repeated phrase that makes more sense as awakening lives itself out, ‘before Enlightenment, I chopped wood and carried water; after Enlightenment, I chopped wood and carried water.’  What changed wasn’t the activity but, the loss of the sense of a ‘doer’ with ‘problems.’  That is fading away to nothing.

 

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The 95% Factor

The 95% Factor doesn’t refer to all of those in the U.S. and otherwise who aren’t seeing a fair share of prosperity, while the top 5% prosper.  The 95% refers to the fact that about 95% of the thoughts that go through your head every day are either absolute or relative lies.  Did I say lies?  I did.  These lies create unnecessary suffering in your life, and you can do something about them.  For an author who works this realm to the total logical extreme see Jed McKenna’s book Spiritual Enlightenment: The Damndest Thing.

The “three ring circus of the mind” is what I like to call categories of thought that are most often causing us unnecessary suffering.  Category or Ring #1, where the lies are absolute contains: thoughts about the future.  Other than the earth spinning around its axis and around the sun (until it doesn’t, so this isn’t an absolute truth either, not really)…we can’t count on being able to predict anything at all.  Not anything!  Try predicting the weather in the age of global climate change?  Forget it.  Try predicting whether the power will remain on during a storm….forget that too.  Predicting what will happen in the fields of knowledge and study?  Impossible.  Predicting what your partner, spouse or friend will do tomorrow.  Maybe you’re a little more likely to guess correctly but, at your peril.

Category or Ring #2, where most of the thoughts are lies contains: thoughts about what other people are saying, thinking, or doing when you’re not with them.  Now, here I say ‘most of thoughts are lies’ because sometimes people will act the way they usually do…if you’ve been able to observe them over long periods of time and they’re not in therapy or doing spiritual work to change their normal modes of behavior.  Nevertheless, it’s still notoriously difficult to predict what people will do because….see above Ring #1!  And, it’s impossible to know what they’re saying, thinking or doing, unless you’re with them.  These thoughts about others are pure fantasy and cause relentless ‘drama’ and suffering.

Category or Ring #3, where most thoughts are lies contains: thoughts about yourself.  Who taught you to think of yourself in the particular ways you do?  What was their agenda?  What were their neuroses?  Were they trying to control you so that you would give them a sense of power, or give them your money, or something else?  Were they parents, teachers, religious instructors?   Are their views of you already out of date, and no longer in sync with the current condition of the world?  Have you ever questioned your basic self-critical voice, and called it out on being a liar?  If not, then it’s time.

Now, here’s the really interesting thing.  When you let one of these thoughts flicker in and out of your awareness, and you don’t challenge it’s truthfulness, it’s basically the same thing as accepting that it’s okay to tell a lie (either internally to yourself, or externally to another).  Guess what happens when you tell a lie….your body contracts: your adrenaline is released, your blood pressure goes up, your heart rate goes up, and your respiration rate goes up.  How does a polygraph (lie detector) work, when it does?  It measures these changes.  As the teacher Adyashanti says, (paraphrased) ‘your body is the best truth meter.’  Your body knows when you’re living in truth, even about yourself; the truth will relax your body, lies will contract it.

So, when you’re allowing lies to run through your mind, you’re going to feel a physiological contraction.  You’ll either go into fear, anger or grief.  All for something that isn’t even true.

If you want to learn what your true nature is, and you want to wake up and get enlightened, start catching your mind/ego in it’s lie-generating tricks!  This is one of the “BIG THREE” ways to help you understand your true nature.  The other two are learning to meditate, and contemplating existential questions that arise in your own mind.  We’ll look at one of the others next week.

Cheers,

Jonathan

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The Sound of Silence

Aren’t you sick of all the mental ‘noise’ in the world yet?  In a world of constant talk: texting, tweeting, voicemail, blog posts, news headlines, email, and what remains of faxing and paging….relief is available in Silence.  Deeper than the level of the chatter of your mind, lives your truest essence: Silent Being.  Moving from the upper levels of the mind and its chatter to the deeper levels of Being and its Silence, is a proven remedy for stress, tension, confusion, false assumptions and obfuscation.

You will have noticed by now that neither political party in the United States seems to be capable of telling the truth about much of anything.  You will also have noticed that most ‘news’ stories on the 24-hour cable news cycle, on mainstream media and in the alternative media are really sets of opinions or predictions about the future that are labeled as ‘news.’  They are as much the truth as the statement that ‘I have a crystal ball and can predict the future.’  In recent weeks, I’ve been eliminating some of the blogs, news sites, and news reading that I’ve been doing for the past 9 years.  I find many of them too ‘noisy.’  Those that remain, I’m perusing for actual events instead of opinions and predictions…that eliminates about 90% of the so called ‘news’ that I used to read.

Since there is almost nothing that can be proven to be Truth in the world of ‘talk’ and ‘words,’ I find it refreshing and more truthful to shut out all this ‘noise’ and return to Inner Silence.  Stare out the window, take a walk in the woods, listen to music without lyrics, play with your dog….leave words out of these experiences.  When your mind starts chattering, move your attention to the sounds, sights and feelings that your body is having.  Dare I say, ‘meditate!’ The Silence will be a healing balm to your body and mind.  It may also put you in touch with the deepest part of you, the Awareness that has no boundaries of time or of space, that is your Truest Identity.  Who knows, once you relax enough to be Awareness Itself, you may just want to live there permanently.

Cheers!

Jonathan

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What is the Awareness Looking Through Your Eyes?

Try asking the simple question ‘What is the Awareness looking out through my eyes?’  The transformation that’s possible is astounding.

After awakening, in 2001, I remember standing at the corner of 43rd and 10th Avenue in NYC outside of La Madeleine, waiting to go into a birthday party for a friend.  I asked myself where the limits were to the Consciousness or Awareness?  I had recently discovered Awareness was the real truth to my ‘true nature.’  For a long while that afternoon, it seemed as if the back of my head had opened up and try as I could, I couldn’t find the spatial ‘ending’ of Consciousness or Awareness.  It was as if the whole of the Infinite Universe were peering through my eyes at 43rd street! It was amazing and also frightening.

“What will happen to the small ‘me’ if this is really the truth? I wondered.  In the meantime, a well-known singer got out of a limousine to go into the party and said to me ‘I’ll have what you’re having’ because my condition looked so enticing to her.  In spite of her recognition, the experience actually frightened me so badly that I avoided repeating it again for months.

On our vacation at home this week, I’ve read two books that describe the initial awakening and what happens afterwards.  The first topic is aptly introduced in a book by Fred Davis called The Book of Undoing.  He’s got some simple exercises to discover the truth about what everyone is looking for when they begin to be a spiritual seeker….to actually experience Awareness.  We’re deluded into looking outside of ourselves for Enlightenment/Awareness/the Divine, when actually it’s the Divine Itself that’s looking out of us.  Fred’s book is a great reminder of that truth.

The second book, which I had given away and then bought again, was Adyashanti’s The End of Your World.  Adya (who is my current guide to the eddies of Enlightenment) answers the question that I posed to myself in 2001.  The small ‘me’ actually dissolves over many years after the initial awakening for most people, including this ‘me’ called Jonathan.  Some lucky few, like Eckhart Tolle, may see the whole of the small ‘me’ dissolve upon the initial awakening. For the rest of us…it’s a long and difficult slog.

This journey is the ego-process or small ‘me’ being worn threadbare by the constant challenges which it gets from the Awareness that so engulfs and marginalizes it.  Life happens and we discover that our old patterns of thought, emotion and physical life are not: helpful, needed, truthful, nor even useful.  We continue to practice self-inquiry by asking ‘is this thought absolutely true?’ and many of the patterns dissolve by being seen as LIES!  We are not our thoughts, physical sensations, feelings, and not even our habit of ‘freaking out’ when we (I, in this case) see a new roll of fat on our body.   What a relief!

However, I have to admit that at first, I clung to those old patterns.  Did ‘I’ exist without them?  No!  In fact, when I read Loving What Is by Byron Katie in 2005, I threw it at the sofa opposite and said ‘this must be bull!’  She was propounding the view that I create my own suffering by believing the world shouldn’t be as it is, and by believing that my thoughts about reality are true.  At the time I thought, ‘you lying piece of….you’re telling me that I’M CREATING my own suffering?  And I’ve been doing it all these years (I was about 51 at the time)?  Damn you, if I’m gonna’ believe THAT!’

When I thought about it, though, I realized that she was right.  99% of my suffering came from the false identity that my ego-process created out of false thoughts and the negative, contracted, feelings that the thoughts created in me.  Then I understood that if I practiced ‘thought-busting’ as I call it, I could reduce my daily suffering significantly.  I conceded that it was better to be wrong (with regard to Byron Katie’s views), than to continue suffering for the REST of my life.  What kind of idiot would choose continued suffering, just so I can avoid admitting I was wrong?!

Over the last dozen years, I put Byron Katie’s method into practice with amazing results.  In doing so, I was unconsciously cooperating with the process the awakening started in the first place!  My identity with the thought-and-feeling-patterns that made up my ego, diminished over time with this simple spiritual practice.  And, after discovering significantly dissociated childhood trauma and all of the negative thought/feeling patterns that trauma had created in me, I began using ‘thought busting’ on everything I discovered.  It became an automatic impulse to question everything, and still is.  I can tell you that this IS what creates the transformation or purification of the original ego-oriented person.  That person turns into the person oriented to an identity as Awareness.  (It’s also indispensable for helping other people heal from trauma, and in its form as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, is one of the most well-proven method of psychology when working with thought-feeling patterns.)

Try it and tell me what you experience.

 

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7/10/2017 No Past, No Future

7/10/2017 Part 2

This moment, you have no past and no future.  There’s no world and no you.  There is simply I AM.  What is it that’s aware of every thought, emotion, and physical sensation.  That’s “I AM.”  What is unchanged by every thought, emotion and physical sensation?  That is “I AM.”  What, accessible to your deepest intuition, and which you’ve had tastes of before, has no boundaries of time or space?  That’s “I AM.”  This is a use of ‘intuition’ to understand your true condition.

To use your intellect to establish your true condition….simply ask yourself ‘is that true?’ about every thought you have about: the future, the world, yourself, and others.  Think scientific truth is true?  Come back in a year, a decade, a century or a millenium.  Think anthropological truth is true?  Do the same.  Are you really called a ‘human being?’  What’s that?  Is this planet really called ‘Earth?’  Who says?  Are we really the only intelligent species in the Universe?  Who knows.  Are we really the only intelligent species on the planet?  Likely not, though we treat other species as if their intelligence is less than ours because it is different.  Can we really say we know that anything is true?  Good question to start with.

Have fun,

Jonathan

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Surprise!

7/11/2017

Surprise.  One of the benefits of being Awake is that things surprise me from time to time.  With no particular expectations, almost everything is a surprise.  The weather is different than what was predicted (surprise!?!).  The news stories we were told were true, aren’t true.  (Surprise?!?)  The diet that was sold to you ten years ago as healthy (remember, the one high in polyunsaturates like margarine?) is now NOT good for you.  (Surprise?!?)  The world didn’t end today.  (Surprise?!?)  Everybody’s ideas are hokey…since they’re only distorted representations of reality, not Reality Itself.  Even who appears as the ‘me’ today can be a surprise.

Do you think the same person shows up every day as ‘you?’  Only in thoughts, and only if you try really hard to have the same exact thoughts that you had yesterday.  Have you noticed that ‘you’ learned something yesterday?  That means there’s a different ‘you’ today.  A simple example….I made coffee in the Chemex yesterday, and today, having learned something from yesterday’s coffee experience, I waited until the water boiled before I ground the beans.  Yummy.  Was ‘I’ the same person as yesterday?  Not entirely.  Do I have any real idea of who I am today?  No.  And, since I’m on vacation, I have no clear idea of what will happen today!

If you want an experience of being ‘awake’ without a ‘me,’ just walk down the street or the trail listening to the birds sing, or the cars go by….without thinking about your ‘problems.’  If you stop thinking about your ‘problems’ they disappear into the last thought you had about them.  Your physical sensations arise and disappear, over and over again.  Your emotions arise and disappear.  Your ideas about who you are arise and disappear.  If you just let them fall away…what’s left? “I Am.”  If you let the tension in your eyes and body fall away, can you tell where ‘you’ start and the ‘world’ ends, or where the boundary is between ‘you’ and ‘the world?’  Your thoughts will tell you but, without them what’s Reality?

Surprise…another blog post today when this was going to be a ‘weekly’ blog.  Never know what Reality will show up with.

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Simply Awake Blog: Enlightenment Now

Enlightenment Now is a blog to share the experience of Enlightenment with anyone who cares to read about it.  It’s being launched due to an inner impulse that won’t die.  I’ve been Simply Awake for 16 years as of today.  What was Real recognized Itself in/as/through the ‘me’ of the ego-chattering mind and began a process of dissolving most everything that seemed apparently real in this finite life called ‘my life.’  Nonetheless, external circumstances of the 3D world keep ‘me’ chugging along to some extent.  ‘Me’ is an invention of the mind but, since no one has built an ashram around what remains of this person, there is a necessity of interaction with the so-called ‘external world.’  “Before Enlightenment, I chopped wood and carried water….After Enlightenment, I chopped wood and carried water.”  In this blog and elsewhere, ‘I’ continue to use ‘I’ and ‘me’ and ‘my’ and ‘mine’ for convenience sake, not because it represents an accurate depiction of reality.

Having had many roles through many ‘jobs,’ my current ‘chopping wood and carrying water” is as a mental health counselor (M.A. with a concentration in Counseling Psychology).  This is now changing because of the above-mentioned inner impulse that won’t die.  My simple goal is to introduce people to their natural condition, what is called ‘Enlightenment,’ as simply as possible.  Three main vehicles can be used to do this: the power of thought to challenge every thought we’ve ever learned until they have no power over us, the power of meditation to give us an intuitive experience of our true nature, and the power of contemplation…asking powerful questions that integrate the intellectual/intuitive understandings.

In the role of ‘psychologist’ I’ve worked with some people who actually awaken to their true nature as ‘I Am’ or ‘Brahman’ or ‘Emptiness’ or ‘Consciousness Itself’ (the labels are approximations and are culturally assigned).  My goal is to work with more people who want to awaken.  The main benefit: you get to leave behind everything false and be everything you truly are.  The cost: your entire idea of yourself, the world, and your place in the world.

To work with me, you can be any age over 21, anywhere in the world in any timezone.  I take no notes, charge no insurance companies, and simply ask for your commitment to try at least three one-hour sessions.  The cost $100 per one-hour session.  We can meet via Skype or in person.  To arrange an appointment write to me via j@simplyawake.com

I will continue blogging on a regular basis, at least once weekly.  Your constructive feedback is welcome as a way to improve this blog.

Cheers,

Jonathan