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When Awakening Happens

waking upWhen Awakening Happens

When Awakening happens, one realizes the big joke…there is no one to awaken, and there is only a condition of being part of a Mystery.  Words can never describe what the Mystery is.  Try as teachers have through many thousands of years, even the best teacher can only ‘fail better this time than the last’ at describing the indescribable.

What one is, is the Mystery Itself.  No one needs to mediate that for anyone else: no priest or guru needs to be an intermediary between us and the Mystery.  No one can discover it for us, though it may be helpful if they point the way.  Though ‘one’ doesn’t really exist as a discrete “I,” that Truth can only be uncovered by certain basic practices that this one, a seemingly ‘discrete person’ does, until realizing paradoxically that one was never really a discrete person at all.

These practices need no special garb, no beads, no jewelry, no crystals, no singing bowls, no banners, no decorations, no special languages and no actual money.  (Money might be an exception, if one is being helped by a mentor or teacher, and if there is no other way the teacher supports herself or himself.  The Buddha himself carried a ‘begging bowl’ and Jesus told his disciples ‘the workman is worthy of his wages’).  Truthfully, however, all the practices necessary are available in open source literature: meditation, practicing presence, seeing thoughts as inaccurate or untruthful, valuing and speaking truth to oneself and to others.

Make the practices simple and you may uncover the Truth: in your essence you are Simply Awake as The Mystery.

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The Core Discovery that Heralds Awakening

Awakening as Sunrise

Once you’ve had enough practice at meditation, staying Present, and seeing through thoughts so that you know that you are NOT thoughts, it’s time to explore what you really are.  If, in meditation, you’ve reached the ability to experience Silence and Stillness, you can ‘sit’ in that awareness for a good length of time.

If you can sit in meditation for a significant time, you can get to the heart of what awakening is about.  As you have begun experiencing your deepest identity as the Mystery or Consciousness or Awareness or Emptiness or Christ Consciousness or Holy Spirit (to name a few of the names various traditions use) see if you can explore the boundaries of that identity.

Does Awareness (to use one name for sake of brevity) have any sense of time at all?  In your inner Being is there any sense of age?  When you look for the spatial boundaries of Awareness can you feel them?  Are there any Boundaries to Awareness?  Is there some felt place where Awareness ends and no longer exists?

My own experiential answer to these questions is that the Awareness within has no sense of time so it’s Eternal or Immortal.  It has no sense of SPACE or spatial limitations and so it is unending.  Awareness can be felt to transcend time and space; you can know by your own ‘experience’ that this is the Truth.  The Awareness within you and the Awareness ‘outside of’ you is the SAME AWARENESS.  It is the Transcendent Awareness.  In the Mandukya Upanishad of the Hindu tradition the Sanskrit uses the words “Ayam Atman Brahman” to summarize the finding (loosely translated) that “this individual Awareness IS the Divine Awareness” in other words they are one and the same.  Or, for my Buddhist friends “this internal Emptiness is THE EMPTINESS” that the Buddha discovered.

Sitting deeply in meditation, you can feel, sense, and intuit the Truth which is that there is only One Awareness and you are part of it.  So is everything and everyone else.  Also, you’ll find it true that even if you lose touch with the feeling/sensing/intuiting of Awareness (usually due to some physical and emotional stress), it doesn’t go anywhere.  You are Always That Awareness, which is in a mysterious way what is registering your feeling, sensing and intuiting of Itself.  This is The Mystery that We Are.

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Releasing the ‘Me’ into Silence

Silence and StillnessReleasing the ‘Me’ into Silence

One thing that I’ve noticed lately is that although a ‘self’ no longer exists, the ego-mind’s lone remaining trick is to keep the body-mind tied up with MUSIC now, of all things.  Music! with all of its abilities to affect ‘my’  moods. This has been going on for a long time.  I’m sick of it.  The intention has arisen to find the Silence and Stillness underneath the music and make it permanent.  I know It’s there, what else could be aware of the music arising?

Fortunately, long ago I received a gift.  There is something called the ‘unstruck sound’ or ‘anahata nadam’ (unstruck sound in Sanskrit) that is said to be the sound of the Om vibrating the Universe.  Or, in laymen’s vernacular, the sound of God vibrating in/as/through the Universe.  Sometime around my 24th birthday in 1979, I started hearing this sound which, is not really a sound.  (No, it isn’t tinnitus and doesn’t interfere with normal hearing.  It’s like a very high-pitched, electrical, G-sharp note that plays  constantly.)  It was curious and puzzling at first.  Because I was an evangelical Christian at that time, I called it the sound of the Holy Spirit but, told no one about it.  After all, I lived in a cult in those days and only the leaders could pronounce truth.  The rest of us were to be ‘sheep’ and were taught not to use our own discriminating awareness: so that we wouldn’t notice the difference between the Truth and the lies of the leaders!

Somewhere around 2000 when I was 45, I finally read what that funny no-noise sound was in my inner ear.  Yup, ‘unstruck sound’ or ‘anahata nadam.’  The instructions said to use it as a meditation focal point and, said it would be a speedy way to ‘wake up.’  It certainly helped!

Today, I’m realizing that listening to that ‘unstruck sound’ moves me into thoughtless awareness quickly.  I’m also noticing that it pulls me in deeper, the more I listen to it.  Eureka…a way into inner Silence.  Inner Silence is to be commended….all of our pre-existing patterns eventually disintegrate there and we are open vessels for the Mystery to do with, as It will.

How will you find your own way to Inner Silence and lose your ‘me’ too?  I’m guessing you’ll love it when you do.

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Why ‘Simply Awake?’

Simply Awake

The real ‘difficulty’ of ‘waking up’ or ‘getting enlightened’ is just how simple it actually is but, how complicated we make it.  . Academic scholars have written endlessly, people argue about what the ‘right words are’ to describe it relentlessly, and there are thousands of teachers who seem to teach a torturous path to get ‘there.’ Many groups led by teachers only venerate the teacher as ‘awake’ and will never recognize anyone else as ‘waking up.’ Others offer elaborate rituals, sequential studies, developmental programs, etc. that take lots of time and money to complete but, still never lead to ‘waking up.’

The reason I’ve called my business, my website, and my Facebook group ‘Simply Awake’ is because it is my experience that the simpler we make the language of ‘waking up’ and the simpler we make the means of ‘waking up,’ the more people who can benefit from figuring out what ‘waking up’ is and how to live an ‘awakened life.’ Ego has run amok on the planet and it’s time that more people lived from the Truth of their Being, rather than the false premise that they are only an ego.

There are three basic ‘practices’ that I’ve elaborated on before: meditation, practicing Presence, and ‘thought busting’ (questioning the truthfulness of your thoughts). There is one basic goal: discovering that you are The Absolute, Consciousness Itself, Pure Awareness or Being…..and that you are is already THAT. You just have to learn how to access it. What you are can never be undone, it can just be hidden until you are ready to find it. There are plenty of people alive now who can help you. Find one but, never give your power away. If I can be of assistance contact me or post a question on the Facebook Group Page called Simply Awake.

May all who read this awaken in this lifetime: it is possible!

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Using Intuition to Wake Up

Using Intuition to Wake Up

When the logical, language-generating mind is ‘foggy’ as mine has been this last week or so, I like to change the focus of attention to my intuition.  Intuition is another way of ‘knowing’ or ‘learning something’ that seems to bypass the normal channels of words and logical thinking.  It’s easier to access, the more you are willing to drop the “story of me” which could also be described as ‘the thought-feeling complex that makes up the false self.’

The Merriam-Wesbster Dictionary definition of intuition is: “(1) quick and ready insight or (2) (a) immediate apprehension or cognition, (b) knowledge or conviction gained by intuition, (c) the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference.”  This useful definition leads you to intuition’s use as an important spiritual tool.

Intuition is most easily accessed for beginners, when you sit in meditation or practice being Present in this moment.  As attention is moved away from language to the breath or a mantra, it’s possible to notice certain things, especially with practice.  This ‘noticing’ is done by using physical sensations and the resulting intuitions, to give us a felt sense of What Is.

For instance, in meditation, or even when practicing Presence, have you ever attempted to find the spatial boundaries of Awareness?  Have you ever noticed that your sense of Time seems to change in meditation?  Is Awareness limited by Time?  Can you use your intuition to ‘drop into’ the ‘immensity’ of Awareness?  Can you use intuition to feel or sense that what is actually looking through your eyes is not the ‘false self’ that chatters in your head?  These are some very good uses of intuition and can be quite helpful in helping you to awaken from the slumber of the false self.  May all beings who read this awaken in this lifetime: it is possible!

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Self-Care in Different Seasons

Self-Care in Different Seasons

In the Northern Hemisphere, where I live, it’s getting darker and colder by the day.  Sunrise is currently at 7:11 AM and sunset is at 4:33 PM.  This is a very short day with less than 9 hours of daylight.  If I use awareness and check in to how the body feels right now it is: often tired, the mind feels foggy, and I want a lot more rest than I do in the summer months when the days are very long.  If I lived in the Southern Hemisphere, such as a friend of mine from Australia does, I’d likely have a lot of energy, be very active, and need much less rest.  However, I’d probably need more water to not get ‘foggy’ or ‘muddle-headed.’

Spiritual aspirants sometimes ignore the body and its needs and rhythms.  We think we should ‘push’ the body to do exactly what the mind wants it to, no matter the season.  If we’re doing spiritual practice, and it’s a lengthy, daily practice, we hesitate to modify it to the rhythm of the seasons.   However, your Awareness and your perceptions are channeled through the vehicle of the body.  Your deepest intuitions are often sensed as ‘body sensations’ or ‘feelings.’

It could be useful to consider the health and well-being of the body as an integral part of your spiritual practice.  It could also be useful to consider altering spiritual practice and providing alternatives at different seasons, and even in different kinds of weather.  Again, I notice that if it’s raining or snowing, my body feels heavy and slow.  It may be the opposite for you but, the point is…it’s quite wonderful for your body AND your spiritual practice, when you let the body have a ‘voice’ in your decisions, rather than just pushing from the mind.  May everyone reading this Awaken in this lifetime!  It is possible.

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What ‘My’ Enlightenment is for ‘Me”

One of the admins of one of the Facebook pages that I post on, is a respected master in another tradition, and he wanted me to answer the question above, plus give a history of my own path towards Enlightenment. He wanted a ‘step by step’ description of the process, which I immediately knew was impossible, since the process began at 15 when I questioned the faith of my parents and began a conscious exploration of other paths and faiths. I am now nearly 63!
There was no tidy linear progression as in some of the venerated Buddhist traditions, although I have experienced each of the Buddhist jnana meditation fruits, if my self-evaluation is correct. They just weren’t in the expected order! Also, something I found out today that they recognize, which is meditating on the Anahata Nadam (or Unstruck Sound, said to be the sound of the Aum vibrating in the Universe), I have been doing unconsciously since 1980 or so when I started to hear it, and consciously since 2000.
I wrote a whole book about the pathway I took to awakening, and revised it sometime after 2010; it’s called An Ordinary Being. This book holds the more detailed version of the story. I never publicized the book and it sold very poorly. I’m not ‘pushing’ it in this post either, it’s just to let you know there is a record, and to let the Buddhist Master know that too.
Even since 2010, however, there have continued to be changes to ‘my’ experience and understanding of what Enlightenment is. I doubt that I could even summarize those changes in a step-by-step, linear progression.
There was a lot of adversity after the initial awakening in 2001. There was dissatisfaction with my path, at almost every juncture, too. My dissatisfaction drove me to finally question every last truth that I’d been taught, including the truthfulness of the ego’s existence. My experience of enlightenment is that there is no ‘person’ who awakens. No ‘ego’ gets to claim Enlightenment. Enlightenment is about Emptiness being embodied in form to use Buddhist language. To use Hindu language we would say that Consciousness/The Absolute/Brahman is being embodied in human form. From my perspective, Enlightenment is a never-ending horizon…there will always be more growth.
However, there was a time recently, when the understanding finally dawned that there wasn’t anything that could be done to make Realization clearer than it was. There was not another practice, another set of words, or another teacher that would un-do the ‘ego’ anymore than it had already been undone. Consciousness/Emptiness exists in this form, and there is no permanent ‘self’ here. There never has been, but, this mind just wasn’t aware of that until the last year or so.
It is now possible to watch the entire arising of an ephemeral ‘ego self’ that wants to be identified with. In this bodymind called Jonathan, that usually occurs when there is a ‘problem’ or ‘challenge.’ I began to be able to do this at a six-day silent retreat with the teacher Adyashanti in September 2016. It still occasionally can arise in the mind even today, for a few moments, if the ‘problem’ is ‘serious’ or gets the emotions involved. However, there is no self here. It is clear now that there never was one, just a very fixed illusion or delusion that there was one.
So, even the question ‘can you tell me what your enlightenment is for you as a person?’ is a tricky question to answer. There really is no person to be enlightened. There is spontaneous action, speech, compassion, peace, love and rest that arises. The mind and thought-generated emotions arise and are generally ‘seen through.’ This bodymind now knows that the nature of reality is that it is impermanent, and therefore that all pleasure and pain is impermanent. It also knows that all experiences, whether physical or spiritual are inherently unsatisfactory because they are temporary and don’t create any change in a ‘self’ that doesn’t exist.
To live like this in the three-dimensional world of people, places, and things is tricky business. “I” had wished that I could just live my life out in a cave, or someone would build an ashram around me but, such things are unknown in the West as appropriate ways to live. While knowing that All are Emptiness or Consciousness, it’s clear that most people are asleep to their True Nature. Mostly, compassion arises for those not awakened, and certainly spontaneous ‘help’ seems to arise. Other emotions also arise including anger, and fear, and sometimes there is grief at how much suffering there is in the world. The emotions are generally as ephemeral as the ego is in general, and the bodymind no longer attempts to build an identity around them. That’s the best “I” can do to answer the revered master’s question in a short form. May all beings Awaken to their True Nature!
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Words, Words, Words…

This “Enlightenment Now” Blog is the first time that I’ve attempted to do a weblog on a regular basis, and is the most writing that I’ve done, since writing a book in the 2000s.  Though the blog is posted here, I also post it on other Facebook pages and groups.  The purpose is to learn how to communicate better with people as a teacher of spiritual awakening and enlightenment.

Sometimes, I’ve had some difficult comments to deal with, as a result of posting.  People accuse me of acting ‘better than’ others because I claim to be Awake, and say that I look down on others who don’t know they are That.  Other people repeatedly accuse me of not writing in the appropriate, proper, Non-Dual language.  Others are offended that I am not recognizing their level of enlightenment because my words are for beginners and I’m assuming they are beginners.  (How dare I assume they are beginners?)

I feel their hurt, behind their anger.  I also wonder at the hurt and the arguments over words.  I’m not Non-Dual and Absolutist enough in my language for some.  However, how does one communicate with a person from the Absolute point of view, when from the Absolute point of view nobody exists at all except Consciousness Itself?  Communication is impossible: there is no speaker and no listener.  So, how could I hope to speak a novice’s language and help a novice uncover his or her True Nature from an Absolutist point of view? I cannot. I will fail, unless I adopt the dualistic view and treat this novice as an individual, three-dimensional entity.  Also, what’s the point of communicating with a novice if they already know everything about Who They Are?  There isn’t any.  However, ask any novice if they know who they are and see what they say?  Awakening isn’t a given, it is arrived at by uncovering the truth, and that is a process that takes practice and effort (from the relative dualistic viewpoint).  Do you forget all of your efforts to understand Awakening now that you stand in the Absolute point of view?  Do you forget where you came from?  Remember, someone reached out to you, too, didn’t they?

In the case of a person who is offended that I dare offer simple instructions or views about Awakening or Enlightenment to people on a FB Group Page, I have a question.  How would I know the level of understanding of every reader who reads the page?  Also, if Awakening and Enlightenment is the end of ego, then why is a person offended by my words?  Isn’t that ego speaking? Isn’t ego saying, ‘Oh, that man, he doesn’t see how very advanced ‘my’ understanding is, he’s talking down to ‘me’?  Who is the ‘me’ who is offended?  Also, why make the untested assumption that everyone who reads a post is already Awake?

Some people object that I am ‘looking down on’ those who have yet to Awaken to their True Nature, as if by not calling them Awake, I am making the assumption that they are inferior to ‘me.’  I don’t make that assumption because I know that we are all Awareness Itself.  However, if we are interested in truth, why would a reader make an untested assumption about me as a writer? Is that inquiry into the Truth or untested assumption?

It’s puzzling how anybody Awakens to their True Nature unless they get some help to uncover that Nature.  If the novice feels temporarily inferior and hurt because someone calls himself Awake and claims that others may not be, that is an ego idea (inferior/superior are both ego constructs) and ego/thought-generated feeling that will pass as they understand their True Nature as beyond ego.

It is difficult to make any statement about Awareness, because Awareness precedes all statements and all words.  But, “fools rush in where angels dare to tread,” and all of us who attempt to teach are that kind of ‘fool’ and ‘fail often.’  We can all argue about words endlessly but, words will never accurately describe Awareness. I don’t pretend to be a perfect speaker, teacher, or writer about ordinary things.  Trying to speak about Enlightenment to the novice is like trying to describe water to someone who never drank it.  I can speak in analogies and parables…individuals must experience Awareness themselves to know they are That.  I only hope that those who read this blog and these posts, will check their own assumptions about what is being written, and ask questions if they don’t understand something in the writing.  I do answer all the questions I can, as time allows.  I will be as tender as possible in replying.

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Believe NOTHING: Validate Everything for Yourself by Your Own Experience

Walking the dog this morning, I was remembering a conversation I had with a client this week about belief and faith.  Awakening or Enlightenment is NOT a faith-based activity.  You do not have to believe the arcane religious dogmas or doctrines of any faith in order to wake up.

In fact, quite the opposite.  You have to test everything for yourself to determine if it’s actually true or not.  If, in an earlier article this week, I tell you that you can awaken with three essential practices: meditation, practicing presence, and thought-busting….why would you believe my word?  You need to test out what I, or anyone says, to see if it’s actually true or false.

Many of the world’s current religions are closed systems that are self-referential.  In other words, they tell you to believe what they tell you because they say it’s true!  You’re not allowed to question the basis for that truth.  You’re just told that you ‘haven’t believed strongly enough’  if you’re having doubts.  You’re also told to ignore the obvious inconsistencies, hypocrisies, and blatant contradictions in the sources of the faith or its followers.  Your rational mind isn’t allowed to question the sources of doctrine or dogma, it’s only allowed to ask for clarification on the content of the doctrine or dogma.

You don’t have a rational mind so that you can ignore it.  You have it because if you allow your mind to ask the single question ‘is this really true?’ it will free you from the oppression of everyone else trying to control you with their interpretations of reality.  Usually they want you to give them attention or money or both.  While it might be helpful to have a guide to help you awaken, the role of guide is not permanent: you must eventually be your own guide.

Our experience of being Awake, may be guided by a history of others who were able to awaken from delusion.  However, it doesn’t need to be guided by their rituals, or their preferred way of doing things.  We also don’t have to believe their books, just because they tell us they are holy books.  Awakening will happen when we go deeper than thought, even religious thought; not when we get inundated or lost in thought.  Our experience of The Absolute/The Divine/God or even if we call it Emptiness, is not mediated by words, it is a direct experience.  Aren’t your most peaceful moments of communion with whatever you call The Absolute actually wordless?

But, don’t believe me: test it out for yourself!

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Enlightenment Now: Three Essential Practices to Uncover Your True Nature

In my many years of spiritual practices, and the study of various religious and spiritual traditions, I find myself offering three basic practices to those who come to me for psychological or spiritual guidance:

  • Meditation
  • Practicing Presence (meditation in the midst of everyday life and activity)
  • Thought-busting (challenging all thoughts for truthfulness)

There are so many other practices and experiences and accessories that we could have in our possession to make us look spiritual or feel spiritual but, these are all unnecessary.  I don’t even consider one particular guru, or only one particular path to be important or ‘the way.’  People wake up using the resources of many gurus and many paths.

Bottom line: the simpler the practice, the more widely you can apply it to your life, and the more impact it has.  Complicated things might be helpful for a while but, you will forget them during stressful times and then they will be useless.

Let’s look at each of the three practices that I’ve mentioned above briefly.  Much more can be said about each practice but, this post serves as an introduction.

To begin with we have meditation.  Meditation is deceptively easy: it is simply the act of moving your attention from your thoughts and emotions, and directing it to the physical sensations of breathing (usually focusing on the sensation of breath in the nostrils).  I say it’s deceptively easy, because that seems like a simple task to do.  However, the body-mind’s attention is addicted to listening to the thought-generating capacity of the mind all the time.  To break the fixation of attention on thought takes a tremendously strong intention.  However, it is worth it.  Once you have a continuing experience of a level of awareness or consciousness deeper than your own thought-feeling processes, your whole view of yourself, the world, and life will change.   For a breathtakingly excellent book on how to meditate, I recommend a book by Culadasa (also known as John Yates, PhD,) The Mind Illuminated.  I’ve been meditating for nearly 30 years and this is the clearest set of instructions I’ve ever read.

Practicing Presence, or Staying Present, is another essential practice.  It is essentially a form of meditation in which you are standing up, walking around, and doing things.  However, while in the midst of all of this activity, your attention is NOT focused on thought, it’s focused on the simple perceptions of your five senses: smelling, tasting, touching, hearing and seeing.  When in conversation with another person, staying Present means simply listening to the other person with total attention, rather than paying attention to your own thoughts OR trying to formulate a response to their comment before they’ve finished making it!

Thought-Busting is my name for the process of challenging the truthfulness of your own thoughts.  In psychology, this is sometimes referred to (in a more complex form) as ‘Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.’  Most of us never learn that our thoughts are inaccurate, or just plain lies.  We accept that whatever thought arises in our mind is true!  Upon a simple examination, we find this is not the case.  First, all thoughts are merely mental representations of reality, not reality itself.  Second, the content of most thoughts is false.  If you have a thought about the future, it’s not the absolute truth, and therefore it’s false.  How could you possibly know what’s going to happen in the future?  Thoughts about what other people are saying, thinking, or doing when they’re not in your presence, speaking to you, are also false: they are simply your fantasy about the other person.  Even most thoughts about yourself are false.  In coming to the ground of Being, we need to eliminate every falsehood from our experience.  While we can’t stop the mind from generating whatever thoughts it does, we CAN STOP LISTENING TO THEM and treating them as if they’re true.  If your thoughts aren’t absolutely true, then they are lies; plain and simple.

I have made a lifetime spiritual practice out of these three varieties of practice.  I highly recommend them to you.  You can awaken to your True Nature as the Absolute with only these practices, plus a little guidance.  Try them for yourself and find out if what I’m writing is true or false!