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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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Awake or Not, You’re Still in a Body

I just finished writing a book and was looking for inspiration to share in a post.  There wasn’t much to be had!  When you or I are uninspired and tired, it’s better to rest.

Remember that Brahman/Emptiness/The Radiant Darkness/The Mystery, has taken form into, as, and through our bodies.  The body isn’t a perpetual motion machine but, needs rest and care; the mind, likewise.

The particular body-mind that each of us inhabits, has its own unique requirements for balance.  We do better when we pay attention to those.  Because I’m more introvert than extrovert, having three days of social events in a row (while finishing a book) has exhausted me.  I need time alone to recharge, read fiction, and lay around relaxing.  Extroverts and athletes probably wouldn’t need this same amount of time alone and would be better with MORE company and more exercise.

Whatever kind of person you are, take time to find out what your body-mind needs.  In the New Testament of the Christian Bible, Jesus summarizes the commandments (the Western version of yamas and niyamas) and says, ‘love God above all else, and love your neighbor as yourself.’  If you’re not taking care of and loving yourself, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be much good to others nor a good servant to The Mystery.self-care-cat

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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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Our Mind’s Ability to ‘Lay Waste’ to Our Lives

mind's waste pileOur Mind’s Ability to ‘Lay Waste’ to Our Lives.

How many times have we seen our minds make a totally incorrect evaluation of something going on in the present, or about to happen in the future?  How many times have our minds stopped us from doing some productive, fun, or wonderful spontaneous action that arose in us?  How many times have our minds made “a mountain out of a ‘mole hill.’”  How many times have our minds produced terrible ‘dramas’ and problems because of incorrect assumptions?

Usually, this is due to baseless fears our minds dream up, isn’t it?  Some prediction of a ‘bad’ or ‘catastrophic’ future that will come as a result of the action?  Or some idea in our minds that someone will hate: our actions, our words, our creative endeavors, or us?  (Such a thought occurs nearly every time I sit down to write my blog!  I’m learning to ignore this kind of thought.)  It’s a lie: we can’t predict the future or what others will think.

There’s a simple solution: test our mind’s assumptions.  Challenge every emotional interpretation, subjective opinion, or prediction about the future that our minds can make.  Especially, challenge every thought we have about what someone else is saying, thinking or doing when we can’t possibly know.  And, while we’re at it, let’s also challenge every opinion/prediction that every ‘talking head’ makes in the news media, and in academia.  Let’s even challenge the notion that we know what the world is! Our senses only take in a limited range of light, sound, etc.  What IS the real nature of the world?  Can we know it as it really is?

One simple question changes everything: “Can we absolutely know that statement or thought is absolutely true?”  If not, the statement or thought is a lie.  Yes, anything is possible, but, if it’s not absolutely true, then it’s a lie.

‘Let not our minds’ lies, lay waste to our lives.’  Life is a Mystery, outcomes are unknown…now why not find out What’s Possible?

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Who IS Jonathan?

Who IS Jonathan?

One of my Facebook friends suggested that I was ‘teaching’ too much and not letting people know the human side of who Jonathan Labman is.  So, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to try to answer that question.

In previous years, I’d have answered with biographical and statistical details: 5’10” tall, male, blue eyes, gray hair, almost 63 years old, a Licensed Professional Counselor (Master’s Degree-level Psychologist), married, no children, etc.  I’ll leave out my weight until I lose the 20 pounds that my physician and I agreed I had to lose at yesterday’s check-up!  At a certain point “I” would have said that “I” was “awake” or “enlightened’ or something of that sort.  I’d have talked about a book I wrote some years ago, my website, my work helping other people to ‘wake up’ and my blogposts.

After this week, there’s a different understanding.  There is supposedly a “physical being,” “living” on the “Earth” with certain “characteristics,” who inhabits a “body” in the “Immanent, Three-Dimensional construct” we call the ‘here and now.’  All the definitions of what or who “Jonathan Labman” is, however, are man-made ideas.  The ‘story’ of who Jonathan is, is a series of memories that are strung together as if they’re somehow the ‘truth’ and form a ‘coherent narrative’ of ‘Jonathan’s life.’  It only takes asking my siblings what really happened, to find out there is no such thing as one coherent narrative: everyone’s memories of what happened are different.  So even the story arising in “Jonathan’s” own mind isn’t Truth, with a capital “T.”

All of the ‘story of who and what Jonathan is’ is composed of words that are vague representations of a Mystery.  They are not “Reality.”  “Jonathan” is more accurately a “mystery.”  Also, the idea that anyone named “Jonathan” is now “awake” or “enlightened” is another set of constructs or ideas.  There is no way to prove that in general, or to prove it to “anyone else” in particular.  As a result, in my last blogpost I wrote about this ‘little mystery’ being part of the ‘Big Mystery.’  That’s the best I can do now to accurately answer the question of who or what Jonathan Labman is.  After 47 years on an active spiritual path, the current answer is: “a Mystery.”jonathan[1]

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MYSTERY Emerging….

Mystery EmergingMystery Emerging

When concepts of “I” and “awake” and “enlightened” die, what happens next?  In my last blog I said ‘Mystery’ is next.  Mystery looks like a release of deeply held muscle tension.  Hearing from a long-ago dharma buddy whose wife read my blog somewhere on Facebook.  An offer to host an internet radio show for veterans, and a whole week of almost no work….like a vacation without the planning.

This Being, or whatever one wants to call it, doesn’t miss the “I” and it doesn’t miss “awake” or “enlightened.”  The bodymind is more relaxed than it’s been in its entire lifetime.  The spiritual/therapy group that I led last night was a ‘hoot’ as we say.  (For those unfamiliar with American slang, we had a lot of fun and did a lot of laughing.)  Lunch was delicious.

What’s next, after this blog is finished, is unknown.  Not ‘good’ and not ‘bad’ just ‘unknown.’  There are some lightly held ‘preferences’ including the wish to work with all kinds of people from all over the world.  How will that ever happen?  No idea.  Also, no idea if The Absolute cares about these particular ideas.  “Doubtful It does” you say?  “I” don’t know.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s episode of “Big Mystery Living as (little) mystery.”  It promises to be as unexpected as today’s.

Have fun being the little mystery part of the Big Mystery that you are!

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Infinite Mystery

Infinite Mystery

A recent interaction with one of my gurus (currently alive) has left ‘me’ puzzled and looking at the search for ‘awakening’ and ‘enlightenment’ in a whole different way.  I think I got addicted to the approval of teachers, so I have wandered around for the last 45 years looking for it.  Now that I’ve got it from some and don’t have it from others, I wonder what I’ve been looking for.

‘Awake’ and ‘enlightened’ are human constructs like any other human construct.  The ‘ego self’ is another such construct.  It’s true that there is something deeper than the ego self.  What it is, perhaps will always remain a Mystery.  We can try to explain it but, words ruin Mystery.

What we are and what Reality is can’t really be known in any final way.  It has to be lived from one moment to the next without clinging to any identity, even the identity of being ‘awakened or enlightened’ or ‘a teacher.’  Sometimes it takes failing to get a teacher’s approval to realize the truth that’s right in front of one’s nose all along.  No ‘I’ to get ‘awakened’ or ‘enlightened.’   No final ‘understanding’ that will be universally accepted.

Today it also seems that there is no condition called ‘awake’ or ‘enlightened’ that can be universally verified in all traditions.  “I” could chase “it” eternally and never be “done” depending on the latest teacher’s vision of ‘done.’  So “I” am giving up.  What remains, lots of tools and methods for going deeper and a desire to help others deepen.  What doesn’t remain?  Ultimate Answers or Identities.

What’s next is…a Mystery.