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Integration of Awareness and the Individual Life

41PrIv5n6YL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Once we discover that Awareness is our True Nature (not some identity composed of thoughts that we call the ‘ego’), it can be quite an upset to our way of life.  While the discovery that Awareness is who we are may take considerable time and energy, it is not the end of the process that we call Enlightenment.

The discovery of Awareness creates a seismic shift in the sense of identity.  Okay, we’re Infinite, Eternal Awareness (or Emptiness or any of the 100 other names) which has become these body-minds.  Our actual identity is simultaneously the Infinite/Eternal and the here-and-now person (in this particular writer’s case, called “Jonathan Labman”).  Both are true, paradoxically and at the same moment.

The implications of this discovery will take us a long time to embody, or ‘live out’ truthfully in the real world.  All of our ideas of who we ‘are’ or in this case ‘were’ will actually be only partially true.  The ‘ego’ doesn’t really exist?  What does that mean?  That’s what we begin to discover as we continue the journey of Enlightenment after discovering that we are Awareness.

This discovery that we are Awareness and so is everyone else, will also have a profound effect on how we interact with the so-called ‘others’ (all of whom could be seen to be aspects of the same Awareness).  How can we know we are Awareness, and exploit, harm, abuse, ‘use,’ or steal from others?

However, some people stop too soon in their Enlightenment trajectory.  This is why some people appear to be so injurious to others.  (More to follow.)

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Dealing with Fear

Dealing with Fear

In the silence of this moment, everything is okay.  If my mind starts up again, chattering about the future, it can get ‘lost’ momentarily in the chatter.  Then fear can arise, and the whole tiger fearego-process can start up again.  This is the path of delusion, physiological contraction, and unnecessary suffering.

Sometimes this whole process can be hidden in the hustle and bustle of taking care of daily business.  This is true, especially if something challenging has come along in the external reality, and I have to ‘keep going anyway.’  If that happens, though, there will be a physiological “signal” that the mind has ‘gone off the rails of reality’ and into ‘fantasy land’ or ‘catastrophe land.’  Usually it’s physical tension in the body.  That tension is an indicator that there is some self-inquiry to do.

Usually, at that point, I start to ask a simple question, ‘when did I start to feel the body contract?’  That’s followed by ‘what was I thinking about when my body started contracting?’  Then finally, ‘is that thought really true?’  Usually, when I hit on the truth of what’s been bothering me, my body will relax.

Yesterday, I did some of this digging and realized that my mind had begun catastrophizing.  It started sometime between the unexpected death of a family member, the unusually low arctic temperatures we’ve been living with for 10 days, and the less than stellar business receipts in November and December. I started feeling ‘The Absolute is out to get me, and the future is going to be a Catastrophe.’  Of course, the moment this thought was discovered, it was obviously a lie because ‘me’ is really The Absolute in form, and why would It be out to ‘get’ Itself?  The body began to relax again with that discovery and the mind returned to silence.

May all people who read this ‘wake up’ in this lifetime: it is possible!

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Death is Our Companion

tutankhamun-death-mask-pharaonic-egyptDeath is Our Companion

My 13-year-old nephew died of a rare blood disorder that stayed hidden until three days before it took his life.  The shock of the statement is enough to stop people in their tracks, let alone the reality behind the statement.  Death can come at any time, at any age, in any circumstance. If we are wise, it is our constant companion, reminding us to stay awake. It can rattle us out of our normal calm and complacent acceptance of the dreamstate, if we are still unaware of Reality with a capital “R.”  However, even aware of Reality, the shock of the sudden death of a young person brings a palpable heartache.  Certainly, it has produced a shattering of the hearts of those close to him.

The human body is frail.  Even those who take exquisite care of their bodies, and have the resources to spare no expense, will eventually succumb to illness and death.  How do we live in light of this truth?  Soberly.  Compassionately.  Adroitly.  As the shock wore off, and the numbness gave way to feeling, grief was and is my companion, as well as Death.  There is no adequate explanation to offer the bereaved, even though inwardly my thought is ‘The Absolute is taking back a part of Itself: it gives Itself into human form, and returns to Itself when it decides to dissolve that form.’

Whether we’re here in this three-dimensional construct, or awake from this dreamstate, we’re still in a body.  We can say, speaking a bit too imperiously from the Transcendent point of view, that “Nothing is happening and Everything is perfect, even the death of a boy.”  Yet even as we speak or write those words, we feel the sensation in our throats, or the perception of our fingers striking the keyboard.  Death will take the one who takes refuge in the Transcendent and refuses to acknowledge the Immanent (here and now 3-D world), just as quickly as one who denies the Transcendent and acknowledges only the material world.

What do we do in the face of Death?  Wake up to our True Nature as the Absolute Itself.  Live as free from the distraction of the chattering mind as possible.  Serve The Absolute in as many ways as possible.  Comfort the grieving, even if they are ‘lost in the dreamstate’ and without denigrating their lostness.  If we are no longer lost, we once were!  The Absolute goes ‘down’ into form, awakens in and as and through these bodies, in order to serve Itself and know Itself in a multiplicity of ways.  Our job is to cooperate with that, to surrender to that, and to accept the real suffering that exists in many forms here, including in saying goodbye to a wonderful 13-year-old boy.  May our grief serve the good purpose of breaking our hearts open, so that more light shines through them in all directions.

May all people who read this ‘wake up’ in this lifetime: it is possible!

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Embodiment: Awakening Occurs in a Body

Human Forms Heart pexels-photo-256807Embodiment: Awakening Occurs in a Body

Today I’ve been thinking how very esoteric the terms ‘waking up’ or ‘enlightenment’ often sound, and how very divorced from our bodies and our human experience they are ‘advertised’ to be.  One of my early fantasies about being ‘awake’ was that all physical and emotional distress would somehow disappear with ‘waking up.’  With my 13 year old nephew suddenly and currently fighting for his life, I can tell you that the latter is definitely NOT true.  There were other ‘enlightenment myths,’ some passed down via spiritual traditions and religions, and some made up by my own fantasy-oriented mind.

One thing that most people who ‘wake up’ know for sure is that the way we ‘sense into,’ intuit, or ‘feel into’ Awareness is through the body.  The body can be perceived as a ‘receiver’ of Awareness, a ‘transmitter’ of Awareness, or perhaps both.  The Absolute or Awareness or Consciousness takes form in, as, and through these bodies.  The body isn’t something that needs to be ‘wrestled into submission’ as if it’s the origin of sin, or starved into submission (starved either from food, or sex, or human contact), or treated as an ignorant and destructive ‘thing.’  It is a living form of The Absolute.

Just as it takes the perception of the body to begin to intuit Awareness or The Absolute, so it takes listening to the body, its physical sensations, and its emotions (a subset of physical sensations, entirely composed of them) to live an awakened life.  Though the body is temporal (most cells are being replaced at some regular pace), it is more reliable than the ego-mind in terms of the accuracy of its reporting.  It is also the vehicle through which The Absolute serves and knows Itself in Its many other forms (animals, plants, inanimate objects, human beings).

Waking up, doesn’t produce freedom from physical pain, disease or death.  It doesn’t automatically produce freedom from all deeply held traumas (such as in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), or from physiological reactions to physical dangers.  It doesn’t produce physical perfection, in short.  Perhaps a few mythical human beings have moved into some exalted and perfected physical state but, the vast majority of people who wake up are still subject to every human, physical limitation.  Some of the well-known masters even died of cancer.  It does, however, offer a brilliant, clear, unobstructed view of Reality….much to be appreciated and grateful for.

May all people who read this ‘wake up’ in this lifetime: it is possible!

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Dialog

Dialog

It’s been a real pleasure interacting with people as a result of the (usually) daily posts that I’ve been doing on Facebook. I’d also say it’s a challenge. The challenge is, as I just discussed with a Facebook friend, that the mind habitually wants me to contract into proving it is ‘right.’ It is so very easy in our world right now, to back into a corner, and say “I’m right and you’re wrong and I have nothing to learn from you. So, let’s go to war, and whoever wins is right.” Unfortunately, in the United States, our political system has never been more divided by this particular type of egotism.

This is the heart and soul of what our egos do: we divide into ‘us and them’ or ‘me and you’ and reinforce our ‘rightness’ by pointing to our ‘superior’ words or logic or argument. In fact, ego is all about words and is composed of: words, false assumptions, and the feelings generated from false assumptions. As I’ve written before, however, ego is an ephemeral ‘ghost’ trying to act like a continuous, solid, Being. Therefore, it needs constant reinforcement from the ‘inner voice’ and the ‘outer voices’ as to its own existence. Because of that, it either wants praise or if it can’t get praise, it wants war (inner war or outer war will do, whatever keeps the chatter going continuously).

Among those on the path of ‘waking up’ in all spiritual traditions, I’ve already noticed that it is still a challenge not to make the other wrong. As I mentioned, I have this challenge personally. Also, I’ve actually stopped participating in some Facebook groups because my language is always challenged in the group as ‘not orthodox enough’ even when the ‘orthodoxy’ is Advaita Vedanta, the path of Non-Dual Awareness!

As we begin to understand the Truth, and awaken to what is True and Real and what is not, it’s helpful to keep an open mind, and not defend our words just for the sake of being right or using the ‘approved language.’ In this way, we open a dialog to find the commonalities in the many paths to ‘waking up.’ There is so much of value in listening to the other person and trying to understand the other’s point of view. After all, in the experience of ‘waking up’ we find that the Other IS you.

May all beings reading this post awaken in this lifetime: it is possible!

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freeimage-14639718-web Monkeys in Dialog

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Ordinary Life

Ordinary Life

“When you’re hungry, eat.  When you’re tired, sleep.”

“Before enlightenment, I chopped wood and carried water.  After enlightenment, I chopped wood and carried water.”

There is a lot of mythology in the world about what happens when a person ‘wakes up’ or ‘gets enlightened.’  First of all, the ego doesn’t wake up: Awareness wakes up to Itself.  Second, once Awareness wakes up to Itself, It continues a transformation process in the body-mind of the person through whom Awareness has woken up to Itself.  (Many more myths persist but, whole books have been written about them, so no need to list them all here.)

This is akin to the Christian tradition of salvation, being followed by sanctification.  The individual will bows to The Absolute will.  The ego is seen through and given up.  Sometimes, in other traditions, the ‘sanctification’ process is called ‘purification’ or ‘transformation.’  This is not always easy, and is often painful!  The ego doesn’t give up without a fight.

Looking at it from a three-dimensional-life point of view, this process of purification takes time.  Simultaneously, a new way of living comes into being: decisions are no longer made based simply on what is ‘good for me’ because ‘me’ doesn’t exist.

While this transformation is going on, ‘normal life’ continues.  We work, pay our bills, buy and/or grow food, shovel snow off the driveway (for the third time in ten days), and go to seasonal holiday celebrations.  Life looks and is ordinary.  People who ‘wake up’ still look like regular human beings, and aren’t ‘special’ in any way.  When we’re hungry we eat; when we’re tired we sleep.  We still chop wood and carry water (if we need to), or do the modern equivalents of those activities.

All the while Consciousness is busy transforming the life of the body-mind it’s awakened in, punching holes in the ego’s idea that it is real and rules the world, and bringing Silence to an ‘internal world’ formerly dominated by chatter.  This is generally done quietly and ‘behind the scenes.’  It is something to look forward to, because everything changes for the better.

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

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The Best Things in Life ARE Free

The Best Things in Life ARE Free

In the Northern Hemisphere where I live, the daylight is waning and the darkness is waxing.  Winter Solstice is next Thursday, so the days are very short.  Nonetheless, I am noticing a few of the many free blessings of being alive:

  • Feeling the cold on my face, helping me awaken when drowsy or sleepy,
  • A crisp walk on a cold day with my dog Maya
  • being able to sleep at night,
  • the overall general health of this body though it is nearly 63 years old
  • new friendships and old ones
  • the sunshine no matter how brief in the winter
  • the entertaining play of chickens in the backyard
  • the trees, bushes, shrubs and herbs, all asleep for the winter (and so not needing to be tended!)
  • love in its many forms
  • the greeting of my wonderful spouse when I return after a long day
  • the comfort of sitting after standing too long
  • rest after work
  • air to breathe and water to drink.

In the life that I used to live, when the ‘false self’ was in charge, I was never content with myself, others, or the world, let alone grateful.  As that identity has died and the new one, Awareness Itself, has emerged, gratitude is also emerging for life’s many gifts.  See if you, too, can feel and be grateful for some of the many gifts life has freely given you.  You might even reply to this post with a few things that you are grateful for today, things that came to you without paying money for them.

Perhaps you too will come to understand that the greatest free gift you have is your true identity as Awareness Itself.

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.